David and Goliath

A page from a 15th century illustrated volume depicts the battle between David and Goliath. (Los Angeles Times)

Malcolm Gladwell's new book, "David and Goliath," arrogantly assumes that modern readers understand the data in the Bible better than those who provided it, and insupportably attributes the biblical giant Goliath's defeat to a medical disorder, wrote Joel S. Baden and Candida Moss in their Op-Ed article Thursday.

In response, readers rose to Gladwell's defense. Of the 16 who wrote letters, all but one took his side (and the one that didn't, see below, wasn't kind to Baden and Moss either).

This reaction isn't surprising. On the whole, when anything having to do with religion is discussed, our readers tend to be more skeptical than the general population. Consequently, the letters that run reflect that mix of opinion — as do the responses here.

-- Paul Thornton, letters editor

Monterey Park resident Ralph Mitchell defends the faithless:

"Baden and Moss suggest that using science to understand biblical events is an inadequate way to interpret ancient writings. This suggests there is some larger theological truth to the stories, even though they are loaded with the baggage of time and superstition.

"Modern interpretations of the Bible come with advancements made in the last few centuries, and we do understand the data better than 'those who are actually providing it for us.' Acromegaly and paranoid schizophrenia — mentioned by Baden and Moss — are better ways to understand the mythologies of the Bible.

"Unfortunately, we still look for magic answers."

Charles Reilly of Manhattan Beach says this is a matter of faith:

"Baden and Moss waste time overanalyzing Gladwell's book. Gladwell's explanation of Goliath's defeat in medical terms with an in-depth diagnosis of his 'condition' is ridiculous. For all we know, Goliath might have been an early version of an NBA power forward. Considering the size of the average person 3,000 years ago, a man of that size would've been a giant.

"Of course, all this pseudo-scientific evidence is presented to take God out of the equation. Gladwell's book is ludicrous, and

Baden's and Moss' critique is nearly as laughable.

"David and Goliath is a biblical story. It is based on faith, not fact. The whole point of it was to convey that it's always best to have God on your side. You either believe that or you don't."

Hemet resident Myrna James detects some discomfort:

"What a perfect article for Halloween. The writers were obviously spooked by Gladwell's book looking at the biblical villain Goliath through a modern lens.

"I have said to friends that I thought Goliath had acromegaly. Alas, we are not supposed to reflect on biblical writings in a contemporary way.

Bill Clawson of Santa Monica compares myths:

"It's nice that we have Bible professors to help us out, but as mythology goes,

I still prefer the adventure Odysseus has in the cave with the one-eyed giant Cyclops. He wins because of superior mental ability and with some really good tricks.

"Maybe Zeus had a hand in it, but we don't know."

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