After much pondering, Dan R Allen favored us with:
The historical literalness of the bible is not as important as the
spiritual understanding behind the events told about.
 - Whether or not Cain and Able were farmers and herders of sheep, and the
direct literal sons of Adam is not as critical as the recognition that
anger and envy are tools that Satan can use to direct our actions.
 - Is it more important that the walls of Jericho fell as described, or
that the people of the covenant were successful as long as they followed

Personally, my testimony does not rest on whether or not the bible can be
proven historical or not. There are too many years, translations, and
interpretations, between then and now, and too many things that we will
never be able to physically prove - most evidence has been physically
destroyed by time. Sure, it's nice when evidence does surface that supports
some biblical event, but it's not critical to my understanding of His plans
for me.
For some reason this line of argument reminds me of those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon:

The Book of Mormon doesn't have to be literally a record of ancient America as long as the principles that it teaches are true. There probably weren't any Nephites and Lamanites in ancient America. It is an extended allegory that the Lord inspired Joseph Smith to make because of the wonderful, eternal truths that it teaches.

Sorry, but in my book, this kind of reasoning just won't cut it. Admittedly there is symbolism in the Bible. There is symbolism in the Book of Mormon, too. But there really was a Father Lehi, and there really were Nephites and Lamanites. And it matters very much to me whether or not the God of the Old Testament parted the Red Sea, or Jesus Christ and Peter literally walked on water. If they didn't, then the scriptures are a lie, and I might just as well chuck all this religion stuff.

I have to draw the line somewhere. Is it symbolism, or is it literal? If it is all symbolism, then we can all interpret the scriptures to mean whatever we want them to mean. After all, symbols mean different things to different people.

Nope. My mind is made up. God literally did part the Red Sea. And the walls of Jericho literally did tumble down. If scientists and archaeologist don't come up with the same answer, then they had better go back and try again, because they have certainly made a serious error.

You see. I know that the Bible might have errors in it. But there are undoubtedly errors in the findings, interpretations, and conclusions of archaeologists and paleontologist, too. Nothing that man touches can be without error. But I don't know why religious people would assume the error is with the Bible rather than the scientists. That is the crux of the matter. When push comes to shove, why would anybody put scientists above the scriptures?

You know what would make a good story? Something
about a clown who make people happy, but inside he's
real sad. Also, he has severe diarrhea. --Jack Handy
All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR

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