In the study of religion, individual often apply varying degrees of interpretation to the Bible. However, the concept of Biblical literalism states that the Bible is to be taken literally, with each word and phrase seen as meaning exactly what is said. The text is seen as being without flaw, with any contradictions or conflicting information put there deliberately and with clear intention. The text of the Bible is not seen as an allegory or form of mythology, according to Biblical literalism. As such, this approach denies individuals the ability to read between the lines and find subtle meanings in the words and stories presented in the text.
Over time, the concept of biblical literalism has been used to justify some questionable or downright terrible behaviors. Acts 17:26, for example, was used to justify segregation in the United States in the form of Jim Crow laws and in South Africa as apartheid. Biblical literalism also ignores the fact that its primary source – the King James Version of the Bible – is rife with translation errors and differences from the original text. This reliance on an already-edited version seems to undermine the insistence that the text be taken in its full original form at all times. In addition, Biblical literalism flies in the face of well-established, well-documented scientific evidence that disproves many of the claims in the text. Further, some of the fantastical claims of the Bible – that the world was essentially fully covered with floodwaters, that the earth is only 6,000 years old, that a man can live to be hundreds of years old – are simply too far removed from reality to be accepted, making many perceive Biblical literalism as a mockery of faith and a sign of willful ignorance.