The Holy Bible says God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of Eden.
It indicates a man named Noah loaded animals onto a giant ark to survive the divine flooding of Planet Earth.
And it also states the ancient prophet Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and remained in its belly for three days and three nights.
But Fox News anchor best-selling author Bill O’Reilly believes none of these events actually took place, but were merely allegories, designed to reveal a theological lesson.
O’Reilly made headlines last week when he told the executive producers of “The Bible” TV miniseries that “a lot of the Bible is allegorical,” and “there are some contradictions among Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”
To follow up on his claims and discuss the accounts of the Bible, O’Reilly invited on his Wednesday night program Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the 11,000- member First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.
“Let’s begin at the beginning,” O’Reilly said. “Adam and Eve: Did they literally live in the garden of Eden and usurp the evolutionary process?”
“Absolutely, they lived,” responded Jeffress. “They were actual human beings and Jesus affirmed that, Bill in Matthew 19, and so I think Jesus knew what he was talking about. … Jesus said that God created man and female in the garden and He brought them together in marriage.”
The complete interview can be seen by clicking on the video below:
O'Reilly noted, "If you believe in Adam and Eve, there are a number of other things that you have to believe. Incest is one of them because the race had to procreate off the children that Adam and Eve had. Then you have to reject the science of evolution and carbon dating and all of those things. So it's kind of incompatible with science. Or am I wrong?"
"I think you're wrong on this one," said Jeffress. "The Bible does not contradict true science. It may contradict the passing fads of scientific theory that are always evolving. For example, it used to be thought that the cosmos always existed. But then we had Sir [Fred] Hoyle, who named the Big Bang Theory, that said, 'Guess what, the universe had a beginning 13.7 billion years ago.'"
"Do you believe that the universe started 13.7 billion years ago?" asked O'Reilly.
"I think it very well could have," the pastor responded. "One of things that fundamentalists Christians mess up on is they try to say the Earth is 6,000 years old. The Bible never makes that claim anywhere."
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O'Reilly noted: "I subscribe and my belief system is that there is a Higher Power, and that the evolution was the way He created the world. Now I was taught in my Catholic school that a lot of the stories in the Bible are allegorical."
"Here's the problem with that," Jeffress explained. "If you start labeling these stories as fictitious or fable, where do you stop?"
"I think you stop, though, within human reason," said O'Reilly. "A whale swallowing Jonah for three days, that doesn't happen."
"Let's go to the New Testament," said Jeffress. "The virgin birth seems to defy reason. The resurrection defies reason as well. ... Why would you as a believer, and you're a believer, why would you just say the Old Testament – these stories are too fantastic to believe – but I'm going to believe in a virgin birth and resurrection?"
O'Reilly responded, "It's certainly possible that the Lord, the God who created the universe, could have had Jonah in the belly of the whale. It's possible if you're a believer at that level. But more pragmatically, it isn't possible that Jesus embraced the stoning of people and the enslavement of people. Therefore, when you start to look at the totality of all the stories by the prophets, you see that you don't have to take them literally to get the theological message."
"Jesus treated them as actual stories," Jeffress said. "He, for example, linked His resurrection to the story of Jonah. He said as Jonah was in the fish for three days, so the Son of Man shall be in the ground three days until God raises Him up."
"But I think he's doing that to illustrate His point. It doesn't have to be literal," O'Reilly contended.
"He linked the story of Noah to His Second Coming. He said as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be with the Second Coming of the Son of Man. Now think about this. If Jesus believed the story of Noah was fictitious, why would He link it to a future probability and certainty?"
"Because of its allegorical power to vividly show what it's going to be," O'Reilly answered.
Jeffress said, "That would be like saying, 'As it was in the days of the Easter Bunny, so shall it be when I come again. You don't link a future certainty with a past allegory."
In conclusion, O'Reilly asked if he could be a good Christian if he believed the Bible is allegorical in some cases.
"You can certainly be a Christian and go to heaven," said Jeffress. "All you have to do is believe in Christ as your Savior. But your faith – faith is built on fact."
The TV series "The Bible" was blessed with huge ratings when it debuted on the History Channel Sunday night, pulling in some 13.1 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings service. The Los Angeles Times said that made it cable TV's No. 1 entertainment telecast of the year.
As WND reported, the production sometimes strayed from the biblical account, showing, for example, sword-wielding Ninja angels going on a bloody stabbing spree to kill the sinful residents of the ancient city of Sodom. The Bible actually says the angels struck the people with blindness before God firebombed the city.