Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Morning Drop Quiz

Via Andrew Sullivan, an important question:  How much has to be true?  The original question came from this post.  A thoughtful response is here; the following Bible fact or fiction quiz comes from here.
Maybe we could break Brian's question down into some representative 'True or False' bite-size chunks.

  • Adam and Eve were literally the progenitors of humanity.
  • Satan is a fallen archangel in rebellion against God.
  • There was a worldwide flood that wiped all life off the face of the earth in the time of Noah.
  • God made the sun stand still so Joshua could wipe out his enemies thoroughly.
  • God commanded bloody genocide against the Canaanites in the Old Testament.
  • Daniel knew what was going to happen hundreds of years into the future.
  • Key events in Jesus' life were accurately predicted in Isaiah, Psalms etc.
  • Mary was a virgin when she fell pregnant.
  • Jesus turned water into wine.
  • Jesus rose from the dead in bodily form three days after the crucifixion.

Score ten for each which you feel are true (i.e. definitely historical), five for those you think might be historical but equally might not, and zero for those you think are patently false (i.e. pious inventions).
If you score 85-100, do you consider yourself a fundamentalist? If not, why not?
If you score 0, do you necessarily consider yourself a non-Christian? If not, why not?
When I teach mythology, I tell the young'uns that there's a difference between fact and truth.  The myths that we read may or may not be factual, but the stories may contain truths about the human condition or human nature.  Nearly all of he hero myths, for example, illustrate that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall, a principle that seems true.

Looking at these 10 questions, the only one that HAS to be factual in order for Christianity to be true is the resurrection.  The rest can be metaphorically true without being factual and the central tenants will still hold.

Tangential Update (10/23/11, 11:05 am):  BW Schwartz at The Great Plains Observer provides an interesting summation of the world's religions.


caheidelberger said...

My theological wife came home from class one day in Vancouver and said things in the Bible can be true but not fact. I found that statement highly bothersome at the time, but I'm coming to dig it.

LK said...

I think that most Christians have to admit that they take some things as metaphorical. For example, most fundamentalists who claim it all should be taken as fact, still deny that Jesus's statements about body and blood becoming wine were symbolic. Catholics who tend to take things more symbolically take those statements as fact.

I was going to add that several items on the list are widespread stories; many cultures have the flood and the sun standing still for instance. I don't know if that fact proves the events happened, but I find it an interesting coincidence, especially the story about the sun standing still.