[The previous series, 121, can be found [url=https://forum.evangelicaluniversalist.com/t/jrps-bite-sized-metaphysics-series-121/627/1]here. This series, 122, picks up with the topic arrived at the end of the previous series. An index with links to all parts of the work as they are posted can be found here.]
[This series concludes Chapter 11, “‘On’ Metaphor”]
[The previous series ended with this: “If we believe in God, and if we believe we have communications from Him, then we can trust (given we have already established those other notions) that He is giving us true and useful information of some sort, and so we could reasonably attach great authority to the communication. But it will still be up to us to figure out what exactly is being communicated, and why, and to what degree later information may alter our perception of what is being communicated to us by God.”
[Entry 1 for “an unwanted level of religious complexity?”]
I realize this introduces what is perhaps an unwanted level of complexity for Jews, Muslims and Christians (like myself) who would prefer a straight-up straight-out reading of Scripture at all points. I am no different; but I also ought to ask myself whether the designs and intentions of God should perhaps be given some priority to my own wishes, on this matter!
And, as a Christian at least, if I do consider our scriptures to be in any useful sense historically reliable (which, as it happen, I do), then I have my answer about God’s actions on this subject. The man I believe to be God Incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth, rarely gave a ‘literal’ answer to any question, and the information he (or, rather, He) communicated to His followers was not always exactly what His followers thought He was telling them. Evidently, He did not even intend that His listeners would understand Him instantly! He expected them to work it out themselves; and sometimes the greater impact of what He said had to wait until His followers had other data at hand.
Or, as another example, if scientists (atheist or otherwise) now replace what we would call the ‘scientific’ details of the Genesis creation story (or stories) with more detailed information, then I think I am not working against God’s own ‘modus operandi’ to seriously consider whether their theories help us understand better what God may have had to colorfully abbreviate for the sake of His original audience. If I flatly refuse to take modern science’s attempts seriously, because God ‘would not’ tell our distant ancestors a story which was anything other than the pure ‘literal’ truth and could not be added to in understanding; then in taking that superliteral stance I would be (as far as I can tell) implicitly denying the divinity of Jesus–because that is not the way He worked!