Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Laziness or Overwork?

Yesterday, I quoted Christian physicist Karl Giberson about biblical literalism. I lifted the quote from an interview Giberson did with Salon in reference to his new book about how to reconcile Christianity and evolutionary theory. I haven't read the book, but the interview makes clear that Giberson doesn't believe in interpreting all of the bible literally but believes, instead, that if one interprets creation accounts as revelations through myth of or about God and God's relation to the universe, one can be Christian and still embrace evolutionary theory.

Giberson may well be correct, although I continue to wonder how one can be Christian in any meaningful sense and not accept equally dubious literal interpretations of other biblical accounts--such as the Gospel accounts of Jesus' unique divinity and resurrection--as fact.

But what I want to briefly address today is Giberson's explanation of why people, especially here in America, are attracted to biblical literalism. He attributes this attraction largely to sheer "intellectual laziness." Interestingly, this same laziness is commonly blamed for Americans reputedly knowing so little about science, politics, economics, history, international affairs, and so forth.

I agree with those, including Giberson, who say that we Americans are stunningly ignorant of important things. But I'm not sure I buy their explanation for this ignorance. For it seems to me that it may not be so much a matter of laziness as it is of overwork. That is, we Americans are so busy and frazzled working forty or more hours a week, commuting an hour or more to and from work, raising families, doing innumerable domestic chores, and trying to salvage a decent night's sleep that there is almost no time or energy left over for theological or any other kinds of studies.

Of course, I don't claim to know for sure that if most Americans had more time to devote to these studies, they'd do it, but I can darn sure say that if I had more such time, I'd use it this way, and I'd like to think that many others would do the same.

Would you?

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