I have not thought of a person of faith that I can ask about the mention of unicorns in the bible. It seems like such a trap to put them in that it is almost cruel. But then some have harassed me about being a non-believer that I would love to throw it in their face. But maybe they would come back at me and say something like what Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell said on June 25, 2008 https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/unicorns-in-the-bible/ “Modern readers have trouble with the Bible’s unicorns because we forget that a single-horned feature is not uncommon on God’s menu for animal design. (Consider the rhinoceros and narwhal.) The Bible describes unicorns skipping like calves (Psalm 29:6), traveling like bullocks, and bleeding when they die (Isaiah 34:7). The presence of a very strong horn on this powerful, independent-minded creature is intended to make readers think of strength.
The absence of a unicorn in the modern world should not cause us to doubt its past existence.”
Let me pause for a minute because I am laughing so hard I can hardly keep my concentration here.
Will you have the courage to approach a friend of the faith with this? If you do let me know what they say, please.
God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
Counting is hard!
[PB explodes a box of fairy dust in the room and keeps watching, for some reason...]
"On a fundamental level I'd say the person reading them decides on what their message is for that person. In terms of what is literal and what is not, I think some things are clearly poems and other forms of allegorical text from the context, some things are faith-history, and some are in between and ambiguous."
Is this the reason there are thousands of different denominations just within the ranks of the Protestant church in America? Interpretation of the texts on an individual level leads to vast differences in what followers believe the Christian bible professes. "Good News For Modern Man" represents how far from the original texts one can go.
If you admit that many parts of the bible are ambiguous at best then how does one derive "truth" from what they read. There is no objectivity, it is all subjective. Reading ancient texts that are fraught with ambiguity makes it damn near impossible to arrive at some so-called truth. One would be better to skip referencing such sources and look for truth in other mediums. That poses another problem as well for there is nothing beyond the written texts of yesteryear that supports or provides evidence that a supernatural world truly exists.
Ed...it's pretty obvious what we do. Everyone can agree that I (Davis Goodman) am a sound judge of what is literal and what is allegorical. So I will be the judge. All vagueries and confusion need not be an issue since one single source can clarify all doubt. Some may disagree with my judgement on the bible but that is normal and it need not be a problem as such people are easy to destroy. Truth is not an issue Ed. Truth is what I say it is. All problems solved. :)
Theists say that they can communicate directly with the Creator of the Universe telepathically in the form of “prayer”. Some of them have said that they get answers all the time so maybe those people could ask their god which verses are literal and which are symbolic. That would remove any ambiguities. I think that is the simplest solution. If a theist reads this could they report back with an update please?
You can try that for the Church of Davis Goodman, sure! There are lots of evangelical or just plain Baptist tradition preachers out there who do exactly that.
Personally, I don't think that method works well for any human discipline. Individuals are all a bit too limited. So instead, we build communities for discussion, peer-review, feedback, passing along the culture of the discipline to new members, building consensus, etc. Science does it, Economics does it, History does it, Religions do it, etc. There are some things in each community that we're pretty confident of (ex. conservation of energy); there are others we are less confident of (ex. string theory).
That doesn't mean that the community consensus can't be wrong, either. It often is. It's just a bit better than relying on the Church of Davis Goodman. <g>
Is this the reason there are thousands of different denominations just within the ranks of the Protestant church in America? Interpretation of the texts on an individual level leads to vast differences in what followers believe the Christian bible professes.
I would say that is at least a reasonable speculation. In American Baptist tradition (and some of the other Calvinist/Great Awakening traditions) pretty much anybody can hang out a shingle as a preacher, with literally no education whatsoever.
We older Christian churches find that ... odd. I can't even begin to tell you the origins or beliefs of a lot of the churches out there. There are disadvantages to hierarchies as well, but at least they do require some educational hurdles and like-mindedness to enter, and the offer some mechanisms for correction and stability.
Our Catholic approach is very much what you describe. We reference the scripture a lot... scripture provides common stories, that convey principles and attitudes primarily, and some history. Then we look for truth in other areas and disciplines - in science, in the lessons humanity is learning gradually in economics and governance, in the writings and actions of "saints", in the careful reasoned deliberations of scholars. We honestly have a hard time ourselves with the fundamentalists. They're like the annoying, exasperating cousin that we really wish would just shut up sometimes.
Why doesn't god shut them up?
Hey Stephen. Here is a piece with David Attenborough, which ties in with your theme for discussion i think. skip to 1.19mins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JThNvZdT2kU