Originally posted by Proper Knob
How do you interpret Isaiah 45:7?
The short answer (as at http://carm.org/does-god-create-evil ) is that the bible is mistranslated and the word "evil" in English has different connotations to the original text, where it refers rather to misfortune or calamity such as natural disasters. Very satisfying.
The long answer is that the Bible only tells the truth after an expert has carefully interpreted it for us, with myriad issues of translation between languages, copying between earlier and later texts, editing, revising, selecting and deselecting as approved content, etc. So on the one hand, we must accept the wisdom of the bible, on the other, it would be foolish for an amateur to try and read the stuff looking for any sense. Even if it means what it says we are not entirely sure what it does say. Obviously some passages cause more confusion than others but the principle remains. And then when we think a passage is clear enough, we are told we cannot interpret this out of context, but must study the bible as a whole to find a correct reading, which might (if necessary) be the opposite of what is written there.
What we are offered as received wisdom, in other words, is a social product, processed so many times that its ostensible heavenly origins can only be asserted and never demonstrated.
A simple example is the allegorical one of passing a message along a WW1 trench, which gradually shifts in meaning and content to become quite different by the end.
Another example is the Genesis account of the creation. Instead of arguing if it is true or false, it is worth reading to appreciate that it says so little that this hardly matters. True or false does not arise, as it says next to nothing anyway. All the debate is really not about Genesis but about what some people would like to argue it really means (but never actually says).