Friday, September 30, 2016


I'd like to compare two objections that unbelievers raise to the Bible:

#1. Science has disproven Gen 2-3. 

#2. Stories like Gen 2-3 are fables. For instance:

As a child, I enjoyed reading Aesop’s fables and biblical stories. Both have talking animals, along with moral lessons and universal truths. 
But rather than just make fun of such fables, I also think it’s important to read the Bible and try to understand why it has so deeply influenced our culture. Even non-religious people can find meaningful messages in “holy” books. In a previous piece, I gave a few moral lessons from the Bible, including the snake fable.

Let's consider #2 in more detail. It's common for unbelievers to dismiss the Bible as a book of fables. From their standpoint, Gen 3 is a case in point. Talking animals are stock characters in fables. What is more, the Temper in Gen 3 is a trickster, which is another stock character in fables. On this view, the Temper is a serpentine variant on animal tricksters like the fox, coyote, raven, and rabbit. That's a common motif in world folklore.

But here's the rub: #2 cancels out #1. If Gen 2-3 is a fable, then science hasn't falsified Gen 2-3. On the fabulous classification, Gen 2-3 would be consistent with, say, theistic evolution. 

To my knowledge, American-Indian beast lore was pedagogical: cautionary tales designed to teach young people how to be shrewd like the trickster and avoid getting outsmarted like the trickster's hapless dupes. Such tales were intentionally fictional and satirical. 

Now, my point is not to endorse the fabulous interpretation, but to note that an atheists can't consistently deploy both #1 and #2. 

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