24 Jan '17 18:24>
The following is an interesting take on this topic. The idea that it is a PRODUCT of the scientific method is intriguing. The article brings up some interesting points and should be read in full.
The heresy of literalism as such is a modern, post-scientific phenomenon. Its beginnings can be traced in seventeenth-century Protestant orthodoxy, but it bloomed with twentieth-century Fundamentalism, when the modern world fully embraced the dynamic power of natural science. Scientific method crucially altered the Western mind. After Descartes we became principled skeptics, doubting in order to find out the truth. The notion stole into the religious mind that biblical narratives make proposals that only appear to compete with testable scientific findings (to test our faith) while ultimately, if miraculously, conforming to scientific truth.
Hence the apt, related observation by another Episcopalian theologian, Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, that Fundamentalism is to be regarded as "the bastard child of science and religion". Heretical literalism is the issue of an adulterous mis-match: the bastard-child product of a modern religious imagination formed or perhaps deformed by uncritical embrace of scientific method.
So rose up in history a reactionary Christian mind, panicked and defensive, straining to assert scientific proof (thereby establishing absolute certainty) for its Scripture and the articles of belief it wished to communicate. Thus did literalism teach the "letter" to drive out the "spirit" of the biblical writings, effectively misusing the text in order to promote a corrupted theological agenda. The effect is a rigid constriction of the inspiring Word.