Via John Schwenkler, I see that Palin may be a “Young Earth Creationist.” Young Earth Creationists evidently believe that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and that humans and dinosaurs once co-existed.
Leaving aside the accuracy of the report, this raises an interesting theological question. Can believers cherry-pick which verses are literally true and which are allegorical? For example, if you concede that the Biblical understanding of our planet’s origin is probably incorrect, doesn’t that implicate the accuracy of, say, the Ten Commandments?
Even if you are a believer, there are all sorts of plausible explanations for why the Bible isn’t 100% accurate. It is, after all, a human document that has gone through several different iterations. There’s a persuasive case to be made that the Bible isn’t the unadulterated Word of God, and therefore should be approached with circumspection and credulity rather than blind acceptance.
So how do you discern which Biblical injunctions are correct? For example, we no longer stone disobedient children, but that’s obviously the result of changing cultural norms, not a close reading of Deuteronomy’s theological legitimacy.
When viewed in this context, I actually think that biblical literalism is more logically consistent than the approach of “modern” Christian believers, who look down their noses at Young Earth Creationists while simultaneously accepting the legitimacy Christian morality. The Biblical literalists, at least, have a consistent approach to religious interpretation. Is the selective approach of modern Christians grounded in doctrine rather than cultural expediency? Is there a theological methodology in place for determining which Biblical passages are legitimate? If so, I’d love to hear about it.