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Response to NoOneMan (Reply #25)

Sat Jul 20, 2013, 05:39 PM

54. No evolved/educated person takes those stories to be necessarily literal.

They were a needed way of passing along basic concepts and truths to an agrarian and often nomadic society. Needed at the time, though it isn't really intellectual to scoff at them today. Would you try to overburden ancient, illiterate (for the most part) people with the science of microbiology, for instance, or in order to reach them would you describe things in terms they could understand? You wouldn't get very far explaining atoms to someone who had no idea of things too tiny for the human eye to see, unless you used the term dust, which was probably the tiniest particle they could imagine. In that era, 'dust you are and to dust you shall return' is a lot more appropriate.

Ancients understood symbolism more than science. Jonah in the belly of the whale was probably never meant to be taken literally even back then, because there's still a regional saying about the gullible: "He swallowed a big fish!"

So put your anthropology perspective hat on good and straight, and you'll find less reason to scoff.

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