Can we escape interpreting the holy books – or anything else?

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I’m not oblivious to the power of religious experience. When reading the Bible I’ve felt a tremendous sense of peace and certainty from time to time. But that doesn’t mean I agree with everything the Bible says. Or that I believe it all comes directly from the mind of God.

Call me irreverent if you like. But I just can’t wrap my head around the sexism, chauvinism, and violence advocated in a lot of holy books (the Bible included). True, the New Testament talks about love and peace. But at the same time it gives legitimacy to the Old Testament, which often runs counter to love and peace.

However, one thing I can say about the Bible. It’s realistic. It’s not some phony baloney sugarcoated gloss. All our human failings are found there. And maybe that’s partly why it has lasted so long. People can relate to it. It’s a human story. With God intervening and (apparently) showing us the way.


  1. Commenting particularly on your title, I don’t think it’s possible to escape the interpretive process with anything. For one, the fact is that we already approach every aspect of life from the unique sets of experiences, beliefs, values, and emotions that bias is toward particular answers. Secondly, everything we experience is digested through some kind of model or schema. To perceive is to interpret. Even subconsciously, our brain is interpreting incoming sensory data. If you ever look at an optical illusion and see both possible parts to it, this is because your brain is automatically competing over interpretations. Thus, it becomes our responsibility to attempt to critically evaluate and evidence our interpretations so that we stand a better chance of being correct or accurate. This now moves into the territory of epistemology, but that’s at least the starting reasoning.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of the questions that interests me is that of the interior experience of (supposed) ultimate reality. Some believe this can bypass personal and cultural filters. Others say no. But even then, the discussion can get way more complex. What if, for instance, God tailors a direct experience for a particular person? Or perhaps one does have a direct, unmediated interior experience of something, but then later applies all his or her personal and cultural filters while thinking about it.

    Also, are all revelatory experiences equally valid, as some suppose? Or might some be superior to others?

    A worthwhile but limited video on this is: (# 10)

    I watched it thru Hoopla via our public library website. Maybe other libraries carry it.

    Thanks for your thoughts.


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