Why Does the Bible Now Seem Foolish?

The eminent scientist Stephen Jay Gould writes:

But if we laugh with derision, we will never understand. Human intellectual capacity has not altered for thousands of years so far as we can tell. If intelligent people invested intense energy in issues that now seem foolish to us, then the failure lies in our understanding of their world, not in their distorted perceptions. [My emphasis.]

This comes from “Wide Hats and Narrow Minds,” about a 19th-century French fascination with hat size as a potential way of determining brain size — in the context of exploring any possible connection between brain size and intelligence. But Gould’s point, it seems to me, applies here as well.

Apparently intelligent people over the past 30 centuries invested intense energy in writing and promulgating the Bible. Yet their efforts seem foolish to many today.

Is this because the people involved with the Bible were not as intelligent as they appear? Is this because Gould was wrong? Or have the people to whom the Bible seems foolish misunderstood the ancient world that produced it?


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