Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Father Barron Explains How to Read Genesis

Recently, I've been running into a lot of people who just can't wrap their minds around how we, as Catholics, read and understand the Bible (cf. 'Atheist Who Read Bible Cover to Cover Remains Unconvinced' and 'Is the Bible Too Complex to be Written by God?'). Most, in fact all, of these people are atheists and they, to a man, insist on reading the Bible the way Fundamentalist Christians do. Actually, they insist the only valid way for anyone to read the Bible is the way Fundamentalists read it, no more, they insist the only way to understand Christianity is the way Fundamentalists understand it.

Of course, this is patently absurd. Fundamentalism was begun by people like A.C. Dixon, James Orr, and Lyman Stewart, in the United States, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Christianity was begun by Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem, at the beginning of the first century. That leaves 19 centuries of Christians, including the Christians who wrote the New Testament and those who collected those writings into a "Bible" (Catholics, all), who were not Fundamentalists and who did not read the Bible the way American Fundamentalists do (i.e. in a flatly literalistic way).

Here is the ever lucid Father Barron deftly explaining the way Catholics have always read the Bible, looking especially at the first few chapters of Genesis (the atheist's favorite part of the Bible, no doubt):

Of course, Father is saying nothing new. The great Saint Augustine (AD 354 -430) gave the same kind of interpretation to Genesis 17 centuries ago (16 centuries before the Fundamentalist interpretation) and he wasn't doing anything revolutionary, anything different than what the Catholic Church had been doing since the first century!

It is an odd argument indeed to claim that only in Twentieth Century America did Christians finally figure out how to understand their own sacred books and then to reject those books (and all of Christianity) by saying this understanding makes the Bible ridiculous and impossible to believe! Well, maybe it isn't so odd, after all. The Fundamentalist reading is an easily refutable reading and that is what most of these atheists are really after - a Straw Man they can easily knock down.

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