Asimov's Guide to the Bible: - Isaac Asimov
The Blind Watchmaker: -Richard Dawkins
OK, back to lunch.
Apparently satan loves Chinese food because we had QUITE the anti-religious discussion (me and my coworker, not me and satan). My friend and I share similar beliefs so I can’t claim him as a conversion, although, it would have been a good day for a baptism.
Straight-forward as he always is, my friend asked me, “What are you searching for?”
Wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this one. Usually from Christians --- since this is their standard hook. Ironically, I always wonder the opposite. “Why aren’t YOU searching?”
But still, it’s a good question and for me it’s easy. Logical answers.
Answers to questions I never asked. Answers to basic questions that actually explain the unknown by the known. I spent half of my life with a typical belief in the infallible word of god and frankly, I feel like I wasted those years on nonsense. I assumed any contradictions were the result of these translation inadequacies.
Warning: The following contains a dangerous premise. Skip this section if you want to avoid evil ideas.
From my past religious experiences I believe I can honestly conclude that most Christians will not (subconsciously or otherwise) allow themselves to experience free thought. They do not search outside of scripture or scripture related discussion. They rarely question -- lest they exhibit a weakened faith or doubt. This is not a hard and fast rule but it generally applies.
For example: Pursuing a line of questioning that would could cause you to doubt:
>Is the account of “X” historically accurate?
>Why does one writer’s account of “X” not agree with this writer’s account of “X”?
>Does Genesis’ account of the creation of the universe/earth/mankind make sense?
>Does an account of a worldwide flood/ark make sense?
>How can I reconcile a merciful god with the millions of killings (by god) accounted for in the bible alone?
>Why would we rely on tales from ancient Sumerian leaders and legends from 4th generation account to formulate a perfect, inerrant doctrine?
Asking the core questions like these lead to many, many other questions. So I wonder, why aren't Christians asking them honestly?
Some are lazy and content. Some have no idea what/why they believe and sheepishly refer to this as faith or a “personal matter”. And those that I consider real theists (and who I do have a respect for even though I do not share their ability to bridge that chasm by ‘faith’) fall into another category – those unable to set aside the assumption of inerrancy to examine their faith.
It wasn’t until I allowed the presupposition of inerrancy to be put on hold that I honestly examined my belief system. Then, in the blink of an eye, the proverbial house of cards collapsed.
OK, you can pick up here.
I’ve seen countless definitions of faith - many with cute anecdotes and implied noble undertones. Regardless, everyone can agree that it is the glue that holds it all together. Faith is the foundation of religion. Faith has to be built on something and when that something is examined with an unbiased perspective it will, in my opinion, fall apart at the glued together seams.
When we speak of inerrancy one might refer to translational contradictions. Yes, this was and is a reasonable stance. Contradictions in this sense are plentiful. One could write for days on verses that could account for translational inconsistencies. In fact there are countless collections of these that can be found anywhere you look. Many are legitimate question marks (and would/could be explained somehow) but many are also stretches, to say the least. I haven’t the life-force or time to begin to examine any of these nor any obvious genealogical contradictions.
Yet there are contradictory verses that I would question the translational inadequacy aspect. For instance, one that has always stuck in my mind relates to the general understanding of a people at the time.
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Now notice that Matthew didn’t say that the devil (by the way, I love the idea of a devil with horns and such, sounds very Halloween-ish) took Jesus up to just any mountain. It says a very high mountain. The writer’s view was still that our world was flat and floated on the waters gathered below the firmament…and that one, if high enough, could take in the whole view. Sounds pretty absurd to those who understand the curved, spherical nature of our home. But this was the concept of our world at that time….even through the days of Augustine.
Can the bible be perfect and divinely inspired if the tools of communication were men obviously ignorant of general science? And ones who, consequently, blessed us with this ignorance. Would god allow his words to be marred with absurdities?
I think we encounter a catch-22 in any dialogue concerning inerrancy. As a non-believer, I’ve stepped away from the premise of inerrancy to determine the legitimacy of such claims. Believers, though, cannot set aside that premise because it is contrary to the fabric of their faith. And then the entire discussion reverts back to faith.
Again, what am I searching for? You might say I have a “god-sized hole”. But rather, I’d say I have a hole created by “god” that is being backfilled with logic.