Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Bible

One thing I've encountered in arguments with Bible-believers is their opposition to the idea that the Bible is absolutely riddled with glaring inconsistencies (both internal and external). They ask, completely incredulously, "Like what?"

Are you kidding me? What isn't inconsistent?!

Miracles? Prayer? Angels? Eternal life? They're no more believable than the Tooth Fairy, or Santa Claus with his "naughty and nice" list. They all have equal quantities of hard evidence, too---which is to say, none.

"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a man a religion and he'll starve to death praying for a fish." -Judith Bandsma

Moral arbiter? Oh, please! Claiming to get some sort of "superior moral code" from the Bible is utterly ridiculous! It is loaded with awful things, many of which are explicitly commanded by God. People are murdered left and right, women are quite consistently downtrodden and treated like dirt... Not even Jesus denounced slavery; the closest he ever got was basically "don't beat them excessively". And, you can't make the argument that these are intended to show the bad choices or actions of people and the resulting bad consequences because, as I said, some of these atrocities are explicitly ordered by God!

"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says; he is always convinced that it says what he means." -George Bernard Shaw

The common excuse given that "it was a different world then" is entirely vacuous and irrelevant. It simply doesn't matter. Christians believe God is omnipotent, omniscient, etc. It's total crap to try to use such excuses when you believe such a God was crafting the single most important book of all time---an unassailable moral code and almighty revelator of eternal truths.

Speaking of which, if this "perfect book" is supposed to be the word of God, then why didn't God directly write (at least some of) it himself? (Not even Christians make this claim!) Doesn't anyone even notice that God passed-up a golden opportunity to get it right, once and for all, guaranteed? (Of course, this shouldn't actually be any more "convenient", since he's omnipotent and all, but whatever...) Specifically, he went through all the trouble of "sending himself" to Earth in human form, and then he waited for thirty years to "begin his ministry". So, hello... why the hell didn't he write the New Testament while here, as Jesus?! Christians can't answer such obvious and simple questions with anything more meaningful than "God's ways are mysterious", which isn't an answer at all! (And, just how are the Councils of Nicaea and all the other man-made insertions and deletions supposed to fit in here, anyway?!)

Here's a quote from one online "debater" with whom I was once arguing: "I'm a dedicated bible reader and Christ follower and even *I* haven't read and fully comprehended the entire bible."

And, here's my response to him, verbatim: "This just in! Nobody 'fully comprehends' the Bible, just as nobody 'fully comprehends' Jack and the Beanstalk. (I honestly was trying to think of something ridiculous to compare to... but frankly, the Bible itself tops it all. I can't think of anything else as 'out there' as Revelation, for example. lol)"

How many stories must be disproved by science and forced into "metaphorical interpretation" before it becomes obvious that it's all just made-up? The Genesis story, the Flood, and all the rest. I mean, really, if we're going to accept the commonly used metaphorical interpretations for all this stuff---including time durations and whatnot---then, while we're at it, let's just accept that when we say "Jesus died for all our sins and arose three days later", what we really mean is "Sin is imagined, and Jesus is still dead." (If he ever even existed in the first place.) And, then we can just forget about the whole ridiculously hopeless mess and move on to doing something productive. Like making digital watches.

The ironic thing is that virtually everything in the Bible that Christians consider to be of critical importance is traceable to "pagan religions" that pre-date the Biblical writings. This includes both moral teachings (e.g. the golden rule) and many of the stories---including the supposed miracles. Right down the list, the ideas and events derive from older pagan stories: virgin birth, water to wine, death and resurrection (even down to the details of how (crucifixion) and when (three days between death and resurrection)), December 25th birth date (celebrated in Christianity, even if not dogmatically accepted as fact), shepherds bearing gifts, traveling teacher, specifically twelve companions (disciples), eternal life, body (as bread) eaten by followers, etc. None of it is original! (Look it up!)

It's all just so ludicrous. Here... let's do a thought experiment. Suppose:
1) You are extremely intelligent.
2) You are very, very long-lived.
3) You are completely ignorant of everything, except the most basic of survival skills.
4) You are entirely isolated from everyone else---say, on some remote, unknown island. (This includes total isolation from all books, etc.)

Now, let's consider the implications of this situation. How much of modern science do you think you could eventually discover, given enough time? How much of Christianity (or any other religion) do you think you could "discover"? What kinds of generalized rules do you think you'd establish for learning new truths---i.e. filtering out the baloney from reality? For example, do you think evidence is important, or should you just believe whatever you want? And, finally, back to reality---what is it that makes people genuinely believe that some self-contradictory book, that is clearly fantastical by any reasonable standards of the "island man", somehow has an inside-track to ultimate truth that trumps all else?

What really is the difference between the "island man" and a newborn baby (like mentioned in my "Atheist Me" blog), in terms of the sorts of rules it should use to identify truth? (The answer is: nothing.)

Bottom-line: we can imagine innumerable things that don't actually exist (and some that really do). We need a system to reliably distinguish fantasy from reality. I submit that evidence, reason, and honesty compose that system. And, the Bible flunks miserably. It's clearly just a bunch of fairy tales---a total farce. And, it's one of the most anti-knowledge, anti-intellectual books I know of, from the "forbidden Tree of Knowledge" in the very first story, onward.

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence." -Bertrand Russell

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