Jonah and the whale is pretty much all allegorical. Really?

I was listening to Bill O’reilly at Foxnews who was telling his guest that the Bible, especially Jonah and the whale is pretty much all allegorical. What say you?

I did not see the segment when it aired live but from what I can tell, from watching the dialogue ( it appears that Bill’s entire argument is based upon applying the verification principle. The idea that nothing can be true or even false unless it can be verified or falsified by sensory experience. What is unverifiable is neither true nor false but meaningless (hence the need in Bill’s case to allegorize it). Unfortunately, if we were to apply O’reilly’s hermeneutic (particular way of interpreting scripture) consistently we will end up being forced to abandon the most foundational aspects of the bible since creation from nothing (ex nihilo) has never been observed nor has a virgin giving birth (in humans), nor has science any examples of a man rising from the dead. Yet Bill considers himself a Catholic and a Christian. The irony in relying on the verification principle is that the principle itself fails on it own terms, the verification principle (i.e. the idea that nothing can be true or even false unless it can be verified or falsified by sensory experience) itself cannot be verified and hence is meaningless. We can thus neatly dispose of this form of thinking since self-refuting ideas are necessarily false based upon the law of non-contradiction. Furthermore, Jesus Himself used the authenticity of Jonah’s event to buttress His claim that He would be dead for three days, He said:

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man [Jesus] be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
(Matthew 12:40)

Therefore, if Jonah’s encounter with the great fish was allegorical then we are FORCED to conclude that Jesus was not really dead for three days and if this stands then it follows also that He did not rise from the dead on the third day. So we see that a little compromise that Bill allows to slip in the door ends up undermining the crux of the Christian doctrine since Paul says:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:14)

Another interesting point to note is that in the Old Testament account of Jonah, the Bible says that he was swallowed by a great ‘fish’–not a whale–the Hebrew words (  דָּ֣ג dag fish  גָּד֔וֹל ga·Dol, a great ) mean a great fish–we are not told specifically what the fish was; therefore, even by Bill’s own reasoning we can’t speculate about the feasibility of such an encounter. Have scientists examined all the great fish that have ever lived and performed a study whereby subjects were compelled to dwell in the fish’s belly for three days? How can we be so arrogant as to assume that such a feat is impossible or unscientific especially when God is orchestrating the entire event?

One of my favorite Christian apologists, Ken Ham of AiG (, gave a few comments regarding other topics that were discussed in this dialogue that complement my comments, so I have included them below to enrich my response:

Here is a real ‘groan’ video segment. I was so saddened to hear a number of the Pastor’s responses to Bill O’Reilly’s questions:1. The question of incest? There is a simple way to answer this:
2. The Big Bang? The Bible states God created the earth before the sun, and the earth was covered with water–the Big Bang is wrong!
3. The Age of the Universe–when Christians accept it is 13.7 billion years old, they are accepting fallible man’s dating methods as infallible, and God’s Word as fallible!!
4. So Sad this well known pastor publicly came out against those of us who take God at his Word and believe in a young earth/universe. This pastor in my opinion really just sent a signal to the church not to listen to people like those of us at AiG. He really sent a signal not to support the Creation Museum and our resources.
It is so distressing that so many of our Christian leaders don’t seem to understand that to accept man’s fallible beliefs of billions of years, Big Bang etc, they are really undermining the authority of God’s Word. And to send a signal to coming generations that one can accept such false ideas like the Big Bang and billions of years they are taught at public school and secular colleges (and many compromising Christian Colleges) is a major factor why so many of the coming generations begin to doubt the authority of the Word of God.

Hope my reply was helpful. The bottom line is that Bill’s reasoning is self-refuting and irrational and is thus mistaken. He has not yet submitted his mind to the Words of God and yet he proclaims to his listeners that he is a follower of Christ. Ironically, much like the worldview that he aligns himself with, Roman Catholicism, he has embraced another gospel, a gospel that the Bible knows nothing of.

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