Slightly on topic
Reza Aslan on why 'fundamentalism' (the belief in the bible as a literal fact) is a new innovation - and not one held by those who put it together in the first place.
At the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Aslan discussed the relatively new phenomenon of biblical literalism
Professor Reza Aslan, who holds a master’s in theological studies and a Ph.D. in sociology focusing on religion, has bad news for biblical literalists: The Gospels are “replete with historical errors and with contradictions,” and for over a thousand years, religious leaders did not take the Bible as literal fact.
Aslan explained this to attendees of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in February; video of the event just became available in recent weeks. The professor was responding to a question about historians and whether the miracles performed by Jesus actually happened.
“Well, see, again, that is a question that a historian is not allowed to answer,” Aslan stated. “That is a question of faith.”
Aslan went on to explain that for those who believe in God, faith might lead them to believe that Jesus lives in a time where “magic and miracle” were a part of everyday life. For those who don’t believe in a higher power, they might believe that this was a result of “mass psychosis.” He did, however, have advice on how to read the biblical texts.
“I think the best skill that we can learn is how to read the Gospels,” Aslan said. “We come from a world in the 21st century in which we assume that biblical literalism, the notion that the Bible is literal and inerrant, is just sort of an inherent part of belief in the Bible.”
Aslan explains that biblical literalism is actually a relatively modern phenomenon.
“Let me just say that one more time,” Aslan continued. “In the 2,000 year history in which the Gospels have existed, the idea that what you are reading in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is literal and inerrant is a little more than 100 years old. It was the result of a very interesting movement, a backlash to Christian liberalism and the Scientific Revolution at the end of the 19th century … by a group of American Protestants who began a movement that was launched by a series of tracts that were written called ‘The Fundamentals’ and that is where we get the term ‘fundamentalism’ from. It’s a very new phenomenon.”
Along with biblical literalism being a new phenomenon, Aslan also points out that the Gospels are full of errors, and some of them don’t even match up in terms of date. More shockingly, he states that religious men in the church didn’t really have a problem with these historical inaccuracies.