Friday, May 7, 2010

Objective and Subjective Criteria

**IF** people insist that they are getting an inerrant message from the Bible, there are only two possibilities.

1. They are inerrant themselves.
2. There is an objective rule for when passages in the Bible should be read literally and when they should be read figuratively.

Even **IF** the Bible is the Word of God and the authors of the Bible made no errors when transcribing it, the receiver – the reader - also has to be inerrant or else mistakes are possible. The many different interpretations of the same book show that this is an undeniable fact.

So the only possibility is that there be an OBJECTIVE criteria for determining when to read a passage metaphorically and when to read a passage literally.

What does it mean for something to be "objective"?

That means that everyone can apply the same criteria and reach the same conclusion.

Imagine that we are looking for a criterion to determine whether someone is "tall".

We could define it as:

Anyone taller than the person making the decision is tall.

Anyone shorter is "not tall".

That criterion is clearly subjective. Different people will get different results. Someone 5-foot-6 would say that someone who is six feet tall is "tall" whereas someone who is 6-foot-6 would say that the person is NOT tall.

So that criterion wouldn't work. It's not objective.

However we could possibly agree that anyone taller than six-feet is tall and only six-feet or less is "not tall". Then we have an OBJECTIVE criterion. Using such a criterion anyone could independently measure someone's height and arrive at the same conclusion as everyone else.

In the same way, we need to be able to define an objective criteria for how to read the Bible. If we can't define such a thing, then we are only reading the Bible subjectively and we will all get different interpretations. So the Bible will say anything to anyone.

Right now, it appears that the ONLY criterion is whether or not you agree with a literal interpretation. **IF** you don't believe that the Earth is flat, but the Bible says that it is flat, then you say that it is a "colloquialism". Otherwise you interpret the passage literally.

But that criteria is VERY SUBJECTIVE. People are then completely justified in interpreting the book of Genesis metaphorically or using "colloquialisms". Such people are those who accept the Big Bang and evolution.

Clearly, unless an OBJECTIVE criteria can be defined for how to read the Bible, the Bible can say anything to anyone.

But a book that can say ANYTHING actually says NOTHING.

Without such an OBJECTIVE criteria, the Bible is useless.

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