|Did Jonah really spend three days and three nights
in the belly of a great fish?
When the scientific evidence against the literal interpretation of a Bible passage becomes overwhelming, educated, moderate Christians are quick to jump ship and find a new interpretation for the passage that is compatible with the scientific evidence. These moderates then label the previous literalist interpretation of the text as uninformed or even “ignorant”. Some people refer to this manner of Biblical interpretation as “Higher Criticism”. Moderate Christians often join with liberals and educated non-believers in snickering and looking down their noses at fundamentalists who maintain the old, (“ignorant”) literalist position.
So when scientific evidence became overwhelming that the universe is billions of years old, moderate Christians abandoned the long held Christian belief that the age of the universe is 6,000-10,000 years old, based on using genealogy calculations from the Old Testament, and adopted the scientific consensus position.
When scientific evidence for the natural selection of species became overwhelming, moderate Christians accepted that evolution is most probably true and that the story of Creation should be re-worked to fit with evolutionary theory, abandoning the long held literalist six-day Creation position.
When geological evidence became overwhelming that there never was a Great Flood that covered the “whole earth” with water, moderate Christians abandoned the literalist world-wide flood and replaced it with a regional flood of the Euphrates River valley.
When the research of linguists determined that the Tower of Babel could not be the source for the many human languages on earth today, moderate Christians abandoned the historicity of this story in favor of an allegorical interpretation. And the same occurred when biologists and other scientists pointed out that there is no hollow cavity inside big fish where a person, whether Jonah or Jepeto (Pinocchio’s father) could live for several days, with oxygen being supplied through a blow hole. So the story of Jonah too has been relegated by Christian moderates to the “allegory” category.
|Is that you, Jepeto?
And now we are told that the story of the Exodus didn’t really involve 600,000 thousand Hebrew fighting men and their families as the literal interpretation of the text states. So it wasn’t millions of Hebrews exiting Egypt all at once but just a few thousand. That is why there is no archeological trace of this mass movement of peoples. And when God said that he would destroy the “entire” Egyptian army he didn’t really mean the destruction and defeat of the entire Egyptian army, just an entire division of charioteers, and this is why no surrounding nation in Mesopotamia, Canaan, or in the territory of modern day Turkey, Greece, or Libya, mentioned any catastrophic defeat of the mightiest power on earth at the hands of their run-away slaves.
So then, my friends, why are moderate Christians horrified and outraged when liberal Christians (and skeptics) question the literal interpretation of another fantastical, miraculous (supernatural) story in the Bible: the alleged bodily resurrection of Jesus? If “day” doesn’t really mean “day” and “whole earth” doesn’t really mean “whole earth” and “entire army” doesn’t really mean “entire army”, then why should we believe that “resurrection” really means a literal, bodily, reanimation/resurrection of a three-day-brain-dead first century Jewish prophet??
I suggest that moderate Christians recognize and admit that by abandoning the literal interpretation of the Bible on so many other supernatural and historical claims they have inflicted a fatal blow upon orthodox/traditional Christianity; a fatal blow that I believe will be this ancient tale’s ultimate undoing.