"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.
“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.
The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.
Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.
But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.
Of course, the opinions of a few English bishops is not binding on the Holy See which, so far as I know, has never denied the literal truth of any part of the Bible (and leave it to the Times of London to presume that the British bishopric speak for the church as a whole). Still, it is good to know that at least some of the Catholic clergy is willing to entertain the notion that Jesus' blood does not literally stain all Jews, as suggested by Matthew 27:25. Because that, too, would be icky.