I live in America and in this country and around the world there are a lot of Christians who take their religion very seriously… and literally. I have met Christians who actually believe that evolution was made up by scientists to steal grant money. These Christians insist that Adam was created by God in human form and that God snapped a rib out of Adam to form Eve. I once appeared on a radio show where the host insisted that the story of The Tower of Babel was absolutely literal and that it accurately explains why people have different languages. The funny thing is that whenever I address these ridiculous claims, other Christians accuse me of making strawman arguments and insist that no Christian is stupid enough to take those passages of the Bible literally. Instead, they tell me that those passages were obviously allegorical and that I must be a moron for taking them so literally. So which is it? Is the Bible to be taken literally or allegorically?
Here it is folks: Every Christian takes the Bible literally; it is just a matter of how literally. When God creates the sun on the four day, despite the fact that we mark days by the Earth’s revolution around the sun, some Christians take that literally and some don’t. But when we talk about God impregnating a married virgin girl and giving birth to a man/God, pretty much every Christian takes that shit one hundred percent literally.
When Jesus died on the cross and there were earthquakes and zombies, some Christians believe that literally happened despite the fact that there is no historian of that time reported on it. Many Christians will however admit that this was just a style of storytelling aimed at highlighting the importance of what was going on. But when we talk about Jesus rising from the dead after three days, that shit pretty much every Christian takes literally. Lots of zombies equals allegorical, but one zombie… that is absolutely literal.
It is all just a matter of degrees. How far down the crazy trail are Christians willing to go. Some Christians are merely content to take the virgin birth and resurrection literally, while others will vehemently defend the talking snake. President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Dr. Russell Moore, gave a talk at the 2015 Religion Newswriters Association conference where he admitted that Christians believe strange things and he made no apologies for it. When a woman told him that she thought it was strange that his was advocating for a Christian view of sexuality, he responding by saying, “Well, I understand that, but you need to know that we believe stranger things than that. We believe a previously dead man is going to show up in the sky on a horse.”
So yeah, the reality is that Christians do in fact view the crazy parts of the Bible literally… pretty much all of them. It is just a question of degrees. Almost no one is arguing that the virgin birth was merely an allegory and almost no one is arguing that the resurrection was metaphorical. You may find some random person who identifies as Christian making those arguments somewhere, but that is just not what is taught in the vast majority of churches around the world or in the United States.
Personally, I think those who take the crazier stories in the Bible literally are being more intellectually honest about it. They have swallowed the whole thing and accept it despite the ridiculousness of it all. Those Christians who are quick to point out the obviously ridiculousness of these stories and yet will defend the virgin birth and resurrection are just being hypocritical. They think they are above the craziness, but the reality is that they are not all that different from their more literal-minded fellow Christians.
I’m just going to come out and say it because it really does need to be said. The Bible is fiction! None of it is real. The story of Exodus is not real. It isn’t based on anything real. It is one hundred percent fiction. The birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus… also not real! It is one hundred percent pure fiction. From Genesis to Revelations, the whole of the Bible is fiction. If you want to gleam some kind of wisdom from it, that’s great. I get that. I get my wisdom from Star Wars. I know it is fiction even though I haven’t traveled back a long time ago to a galaxy far far away and personally verified that Darth Vader doesn’t exist. I don’t really care one way or another. I get wisdom from the story. If you want to find your wisdom from the ancient fictional stories of the Bible, have at it. But at least recognize that they are one hundred percent not true.
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