XI. What Religion Gets Wrong: (Part 2) Life, the Universe and Everything

Countless times I have stood in awe and complete humility, on many occasions even being moved to tears, as I have contemplated our history up to the present moment. How incredible it is, that a living organism could evolve over billions of years into a bipedal mammal with opposable thumbs and a swollen neocortex, able to look out on and play with the Universe and actually ponder, with a surprising degree of accuracy, its existence and where it came from. And to think that all of this is possible because long ago, a star lived, died, and exploded, creating our basic building blocks. Unfortunately, many people do not know this story, and many refute their own history- in the face of clear and unanimously accepted evidence- in order to cling to a dogma that sadly, comes nowhere near being able to touch the true beauty and complexity of the cosmos.

The Structure of Things

Biblical Claims: The Bible (which I am using for this discussion not to single out any faith, but because this book is shared both by many faiths and by the majority of believers) simply gets many things wrong. Click here to read my post about the origins and evolution of life on this planet and how the Bible provides incorrect and insufficient information. The Bible also makes many claims about the structure of the Universe that are simply not true. It states in several different verses that the Earth is flat with edges, covered by a hard dome, sitting on a foundation of pillars, and that it is unmoving and unmovable. It also claims that celestial bodies were placed by God within the hard dome that separates the “waters from the waters” to light the Earth at night and to “give signs” (Jesus was a Capricorn).

The Bible goes on to make many more outrageous claims: Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still in the sky (he couldn’t have), the entire world flooded (it didn’t), Noah put two (or seven, depending on which verse you pick) of every species of land animal alive today on a 450 foot long boat (he didn’t), and that Moses parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites out of Egypt (the former is physically impossible, and there is absolutely no archeological evidence for the latter). The New Testament continues the tradition by describing the casting out of demons (Jesus at one point even casts demons out of humans and into a herd of pigs!), as well as healing blindness and lameness in the ancient world, virgin births, resurrections from the dead, calming storms and walking on water. And once again, if biblical scholarly calculations are correct, God supposedly created the Earth and the Heavens around 10,000 years ago…around the time that agriculture was being developed in Egypt, nomads from Asia were settling in what would become the southwestern United States, and beer was being discovered in Mesopotamia.

The Evidence: The Greeks, including Aristotle, had theorized that the Earth was a sphere hundreds of years before Jesus of Nazareth was even born. Eratosthenes even correctly calculated our globe’s circumference in 240 B.C. It was around this time that the first theories of a sun-centered model were also being developed, but unfortunately this anti-biblical idea would be mostly extinguished until literally hundreds and hundreds of years later when Copernicus and Galileo made the idea global and brave explorers of the sea made it fact.

We now know through observations in astronomy that our world is a 4 billion year old planet, orbiting around a slightly older middle-sized star, in the lonely backwaters of a vast spiral galaxy with hundreds of billions of stars, in a vast universe with hundreds of billions of galaxies (and yet some still have the weak and selfish notion that we were created as the purpose and center of it all). We also know now what Democratis hypothesized in 450 B.C., that everything is made up of tiny atoms. We know that these atoms were created in stars, and that one day they will return to stardust again. We know almost certainly that this stardust originated with the Big Bang around 13.7 billion years ago, although we have scarce details about what happened at that moment and before. But isn’t it fantastic that we can know even as much as we do, at this point in time, all these eons later? Scientists do have both plausible and at times seemingly incredible explanations for what came before the Big Bang (and how something can arise from nothing) and even now are trying to discern the secrets of those early moments to provide the answers to the rest of humanity. In science, it’s perfectly okay to say, “We don’t know yet, but we’re working on it.” Only religion claims unchanging and total truth. At this, and precisely because of this, it usually fails miserably.

How It All Works

Biblical Claims: Good people go to Heaven, bad people go Hell, and prayer is effective.

The Evidence: I will actually reflect back to the Holy Bible for an explanation about where we go when we die. Most Christians, for example, are taught that if you believe in Jesus and accept him as your savior, when you die your soul will rise out of your body and go to Heaven, where it will praise God for Eternity. If you do not have the appropriate telepathic conversation with this invisible god/man, when you die your soul will fall out of your body and go into Hell, where it will suffer and burn for Eternity. At some point, Jesus will come back to Earth, and those lucky enough to be around at the time will see the world destroyed, Satan defeated, a new Heaven built on Earth, and Jesus will raise the dead from their graves for some sort of morbid iSoul sinc/upgrade with the good souls already in Heaven.

Yeah. The only problem is there is absolutely NO description of this whole system anywhere in the Bible. Not once. Indeed, priests and biblical scholars have combed the Bible in search of a verse here that mentions someone going to heaven, and a verse there that paints some vague description of hell, and yes, Jesus says something about following him to have everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven, but he believed that the end of the world would occur within the lifetime of his disciples. You would think that in a book from God to his People, he would at least have one chapter entitled: “What happens when you die: The definitive lowdown on the whole Heaven and Hell thing,” (and a chapter on evolution, astronomy or even bacteria, for that matter, would have been exceedingly helpful) but instead we find nothing but ancient myths cobbled together in contradicting books written by different men, sometimes hundreds of years apart and after the fact, all with a somewhat unifying story but with absolutely no clarification on the details. It is these very differences in the Bible’s details and their interpretations that have led to the some 38,000 different denominations of Christianity. (I will talk more about the simple, elegant and beautiful truth of life and death in a later post.)

Finally, I cannot write a blog post about how religion gets it all wrong without mentioning prayer. It has been said in countless ways in countless ancient books in countless languages that men may ask favor of the Gods. Jesus said ask and ye shall receive. I am told every day that God answers the prayers of the faithful. I will discuss the nauseating moral implications of this idea in my next post, but for now, I ask you to look at the evidence. If you pray, look at your own prayers. How often does God let your team or your politician win? How often does God bring your soldiers home from war? How often does God get you that promotion, that girlfriend, that child when you are otherwise unable to conceive? How often has God saved your house from the fire, saved your marriage, saved you from debt, or saved your loved one from dying? If he has done some of these things, how often has he said no? How many people has he NOT saved while instead saving you? Are you God’s favorite? Are you a better person? Did you pray harder? To quote author Sam Harris, “Get a billion Christians to pray for a single amputee. Get them to pray that God regrow that missing limb. This happens to salamanders every day, presumably without prayer; this is within the capacity of God.” As it turns out, scientific studies have shown that prayer works as often as random chance, about 50/50.

The fallacy of the idea of prayer is evident in its illogical reasoning. A religious devotee will pray to God for a particular outcome, or they will pray for general health and happiness, or guidance. If the requested outcome happens, they claim it as evidence of God’s unending love and generosity. If the outcome doesn’t come to fruition, or if a disaster occurs, the religious person will claim it as “God’s will”, according to His “Divine Plan”. But if God already has it all planned out, and if He’s going to do His will anyway, and he already knows what you’re going to pray for and the outcome before you ask…then why pray to Him in the first place? You think that YOU can change God’s mind and convince him to move the cosmos for you by asking nicely before bedtime? Really. Maybe if you hold these beads and whisper these words over and over. Try that.

Now I am certainly a proponent of prayer as quiet reflection and contemplation (I will discuss more effective methods later), and I will also admit that group prayer in hospitals has been shown to help people heal by boosting people’s immune systems through elevated mood. Amazingly enough, however, you can pray all you want for Uncle Clyde’s heart surgery to go well, but the doctor still has to pay for and attend years of medical training, and he has to perform all of the operation steps correctly, and then with the proper antibiotics the wound takes its normal long time to heal, all regardless of whether you pray or not. Prayer is not an effective method of changing the world, but there are other ways that do work. More on that later.

Until next time, you won’t be in my prayers, but as always you will be in my thoughts. Thank you for reading.

Prev: What Religion Gets Wrong: Evolution     Next: What Religion Gets Wrong: Morality

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~ by christhehumanist on January 21, 2012.

17 Responses to “XI. What Religion Gets Wrong: (Part 2) Life, the Universe and Everything”

  1. Ah so … and to get more perspective on what Chris is saying I would refer you to “Beyond Belief” by Elaine Pagels …. a Biblical scholar who delves into the Aramaic gospels as written in the day of the Christ and without interference from outside interests that would “doctor” the scriptures out of ignorance or to suit their fancy and/or their pocketbooks. She sheds light on many misinterpretations of the scripture that open one to new insights.

    again …. always be careful to not throw the “baby” out with the bathwater.

    Chris … I would bet that you are not nearly as “penny pinching” in your dealings with others as you are in defending your own truth.

    I consider a true prayer to be sitting with a stilled mind for as long as you can and when you interrupt yourself go back and start over …. until you become friends with not thinking at all. Give the Source a chance to clue you into places that your mind cannot take you…. after that, if you feel like you would like to ask for a mundane or crucial something … go for it.
    The most potent gift in prayer is to get to know your nitty gritty self.

    addendum: when you tell someone else to “go to hell” are you directing them to a specific place or venting your anger …. if you want to describe the most awful thing that could happen …. do you have a word for it? ….could the references to hell be just one exaggerated explanation of how wrong you think they are ….. were the writers of the scriptures human and did they not have human failings ……. give the guys a break ….

    lemme see now …. oh yes …”fudge not that ye may not be judged” ??

    I am truly sorry …. couldn’t help myself ……….could I ?

    • Lois, thank you as always for reading and commenting.

      First of all, it is perfectly clear that some good things and awesome insights can be gained by reading the Bible. I mean, the Golden Rule is incredible, though the Bible is far from the first religion to develop that idea. And there are certainly good and interesting insights that can be found in “Mein Kampf”, or the “Satanic Bible”, or “The Art of War”, but none of these books can be considered as a reliable source for positive change or explanation of the Universe. And any third grade science book has more knowledge about the world than the Bible. As far as I’m concerned, the “baby” can drown in the bathwater. If you want to spend time perusing the Bible for nice bits of knowledge in and among the crap it contains, that’s fine. Knock yourselves out. But that is a far cry from believing that the Bible is the literal word of God, and that this 2,000 year old book can and should be used to make laws and science. Billions of people on this Earth do believe these things, and THAT is what I am trying to do away with because of the infinite harm it causes. This is not “penny-pinching”. This is searching for reliable truth.

      Secondly, I plainly stated that prayer is good in some ways, and that I have a better, more effective method of “prayer” that I will talk about at length in about 6 posts from now that speaks to what you said in your comment.

      Lastly, I don’t tell people to go to Hell. I think that’s vulgar. I don’t care what people mean when they say that–the fact remains that there is no evidence for a place resembling the Christian idea of Hell anywhere, and the Bible doesn’t even provide a good description. “Give the guys a break”? This tickled my funny bone Lois. Thank you for at least admitting that the Bible was written by men who had human failings. That is my whole point. I am thankful for the Biblical authors, because they provided an early set of morals for a largely unmoral society, because they set about to describe and explain their world, and because up until the last couple hundred years, the Bible was often the only way most people could learn to read. Good job boys! But again, their ideas are a far cry from what we now know about how things function, and admiring their work is vastly different from trying in vain to live your modern life according to their ancient words. THAT idea is killing us.

  2. seems we agree on more than we disagree …….I am not a “Bible person” per se either …. and perhaps I should just be quiet if it upsets you so….I go on the premis that if I am too afraid to explore it, it owns me….

    I am going to back off for awhile ……..
    I sense the anger in your reply

    your lack of concern for babies in the bath water says a lot …. it sounds like a door slamming shut … once the mind is closed I see no need to stay.

    have a good life

    Namaste
    Unci

    • Don’t worry Lois, you don’t upset me at all. I really enjoy our dialogues. I think it’s great when different people can debate an issue from the same side but different perspectives. If I sound angry, it’s just because I’m passionate, not offended. I want to make sure that my ideas are stated clearly.

      As for the analogy, it sounded like you presented the idea that disregarding the entire Bible while not considering the good messages in it was like “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” I continued this analogy by saying that the “baby” could drown for all I care. What I meant was that, using your analogy, I wouldn’t mind if people stopped trying to live their lives according to the few good things the Bible says while trying to incorporate all of the bad things. I would never try to repress or ban the Bible, and I think that all religions should be taught in school for historical context. And I certainly hope no one would think that I would ever condone drowning actual babies.

      I have made the claim time and time again that I am open to new ideas, and I am willing to change my ideas based on new evidence, which I have done many times. That is hardly a door slamming shut. But I will not hesitate to immediately and sternly correct anyone who seems to misinterpret my words, even you, who I have come to regard as a friend.

      I hope you decide to keep reading and commenting, but whatever you choose, I hope life brings you happiness.

  3. Ah so …. from one Grasshopper to another … it is happy I am to chat with you again.

    I actually think we agree on more than we disagree on … ” so let the games begin” …..(a joke) ……by the way, have you read the trilogy “The Hunger Games”? …… written for teen agers but able to stand an eitghty year old’s hair on end because of the implications of a possibilty.

    I read somewhere …long ago …. that every novel holds the kernal of a truth of what already is or is still unborn and ready to hatch. In today’s literary genre that is down right spooky.

    I like your explanation of what you said better than what you said.
    I know it is impossible to write to all audiences and that there are times when you want to make a point and that there are many ways to do that….I just happen to walk away from outbursts …. (everyone interpretrs them differently) and to me they imply a loss of center when I do not know someone well enough to perceive if they are the one in control and not their ego. That is a point I think authors might want to keep in mind … it is very easy to lose an audience simply by a choice of words. If you are looking for an agreeable audience you can use any words you want …. if you are looking for converrts ….think twice.

    at any rate, if you are agreeable, we will “carry on” …..agreeing where we are of the same mind and disagreeing when we differ…and I will pass over anything that sounds too angry to me and just sigh. Ha … I wll use a buzz word to let you know how I am interpreting what you say ….hmmmm
    …..”Yoda” ….. will mean ..please tone it down and/or … if you are in charge and not your ego say the same thing differently.

    I am a “happy camper” …..thanks for opening the door for me to re-enter ….. see ya later.

    Unci

    • Lois, you made my day. I have heard of “The Hunger Games” but have never read the books. I will definitely look into them. You have really great points about how I use tone and language in my writing, and it was pointed out to me years ago that this is something I should work on. In light of your words I think I should think about that more. Great use of “Yoda”! Thank you.

    • Just heard a quote that reminded me of what you said, by one of my heroes, Carl Sagan:

      “Books are like seeds: they can lie dormant for centuries, but they may also produce flowers in the most unpromising soil.”

      Thought that was pretty neat.

  4. …………………… :>) ………………

  5. Hi, again, Chris,

    You are quite prolific as an author and you have good skills in writing. I could only wish that you would apply your considerable talents to a better cause than the one you’ve chosen. But, you know I respect you and always wish the best for you. Not that I want to challenge you, but I care enough about you to offer an alternative point of view that I hope you will consider. So, I am humbly submitting this contribution to this post.

    First, to your comments about the age of the universe: very few, if any, true biblical scholars hold the view that the earth was created a mere 10,000 years ago. Modern biblical scholarship, in general, is far beyond such simplistic calculations which are based on the belief that God created the universe in six twenty-four hour days. It is true that some Christian fundamentalists and so-called “creation scientists” advocate a Young Earth, but few would seriously classify their views as scholarly. Furthermore, most scholars would not classify the Bible as a scientific text.

    As I said previously, science is a relatively new way of viewing and seeking truth about our world. And atheists are particularly fond of pointing out what I will call “scientific inconsistencies” in the Bible to show how untrustworthy the Bible is. An example is the story of Jonah and the whale. The book of Jonah says that Jonah was swallowed by a “great fish” and, yet, Jesus is quoted in the gospel of Matthew as saying that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Critics will harrumph that “everyone knows that a whale is not a fish, and a fish is not a whale”. So, they will use this as but one example of how the Bible is scientifically unreliable and should be discarded by those seeking truth. But, they have made a serious mistake: They are judging an ancient world view by the inventions of the modern world. Modern biology, which classifies animals by how they breath, give birth, and nurse their young is new. Ancient biology, by contrast, classified animals in relation to their environment. Animals were called “creatures,” that is, living created beings. And if a creature lived primarily in the water, it was a fish. If it flew, it was a bird. If it lived on land, it was a “beast of the field”. Insects were classified as “creeping things”. One could argue that the ancient system of classification was as legitimate as our modern one because it served the simple purpose of identification. And furthermore our modern biological classification system doesn’t always work very well, to wit: the duckbilled platypus.

    On the broader scale, the Bible just isn’t very interested in satisfying our scientific curiosity. We are told that Moses, for example, was raised in the very palaces of Egypt. But, nowhere does the Bible even so much as mention the pyramids or the amazing feats of engineering that made them possible. Moses was far more concerned with challenging the religious and political system that built those pyramids on the backs of slaves as burial palaces for ordinary men (pharaohs) who were held up as gods and whose hubris caused the nation to waste vast treasures of gold and silver, that could have been used to better the lives of its poor, to be buried with those pharaohs in their magnificent tombs. Moses was far more concerned with ethics and the convoluted religious cosmology that supported a system of oppression, inequality, and gross inhumanity. Argue with some of his teachings if you will, Moses presents the world with its first view of the cosmos as being governed according to a set of ethical precepts as instituted and upheld by a God who expects all people, king or slave, to abide by them and who will enforce them with the cosmological power of universal justice. The Exodus event of Moses bringing the ten plagues upon Egypt is the story of this ethical God overpowering the entire Egyptian cosmological system–darkness (power over Ra), Nile turning to blood (the economic life blood of all of Egypt), and so forth. This was not just to show that God was more powerful than their gods, it was to show that their entire system was corrupt, and that the universe is on the side of justice. To wit, the judgment of the universe was on the side of these Hebrew slaves whose baby sons had been sacrificed to the Nile and from which the infant Moses had been rescued by an act of mercy the daughter of Pharaoh himself. This, alone, was proof of the injustice and inhumanity of the Egyptian religious system.

    To judge the miracles of the Bible as being scientifically impossible is the wrong quest. I mean, some how the Hebrews escaped from the powerful clutches of Egyptian slavery, and that was a miracle in and of itself. In time these ex-slaves became a powerful nation in their own right in their own land far from Egypt. The story of the ten plagues and how they were set free from slavery may be more legend than fact, but they–and the Egyptians–interpreted their freedom as a fundamental shift in the cosmos: slaves overcame their masters, and the justice of the universe was served. The true miracle is what the slaves did not do: they did not claim that the victory was their own doing by their own power. In their minds, it was a triumph of God and his justice.

    Similarly, none of Jesus’ reported miracles were done to impress the rich and powerful. They were always performed for the benefit of the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the hungry. And Jesus came during a time when the Hebrew people–and indeed the whole world–was under the domination of an oppressive world power: the Romans. In fact, at the time of Jesus, there were more slaves than free men in the Roman empire. And, like Egypt, this oppressive regime also claimed that the gods had blessed this system; indeed, Caesar was worshipped as a god. Jesus’ ministry came about during this time. But, the purpose of his ministry was not to astound people with his wonder working, but to assure the poor, the oppressed and the lowly that God was a very real presence in their lives, and that, the justice of the universe would ultimately be served. Whether his miracles are scientifically provable or a fact of history is not the point: the poor believed in Jesus and his message and flocked to follow him. They believed that the power of God was with him in a unique way. And, they trusted him enough to believe that God would help them overcome if they followed the way of non-violence and peace. The result: within four centuries the Romans had abandoned their gods and embraced the teachings of Jesus.

    Isn’t this an underlying theme of Star Wars? That is, the universal justice of the cosmos is on the side of the the oppressed and downtrodden? The Evil Empire may enslave and control the weak and the powerless, but justice will overturn the corrupt regime. And, for the oppressed, victory will come from the most unexpected and most unlikely sources. Are these not presented to us as miracles? And don’t we cheer and rejoice when victory comes? And when the Jedi knights summon the powers of the universe that Yoda assures them are within, isn’t that prayer? Are they foolish to believe that the cosmos will hear them and give them the strength they seek?

    No, they are not foolish, because the universe is more than facts and figures.

    • Hello again, Carson!

      Thank you so much for complimenting my writing. It is truly something I enjoy, perhaps even more than performing music. As I have said, I respect you and your ideas very much, and I look forward to this type of discussion. If no one had ever posted any comments like yours and Lois’, I would have considered my blog to be an utter failure. This is exactly what I was trying to encourage. I would like to address each of your comments, debate-style, not as a challenge to you, but so that other people reading our discussion can weigh the evidence for themselves.

      In my response to your last comment, I presented that “According to a 2007 Gallup poll, about 43% of American believe that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” That’s great that biblical scholars don’t take some of the Bible’s cosmological claims literally, but again that represents a MAJOR shift in religious thought that has only come about recently and is not generally accepted by the public. It is this public that I am trying to help educate, because many people are making horrible decisions by taking the Bible literally.

      I actually haven’t heard that argument about Jonah and the whale. I think that’s a pretty weak argument on the part of the atheists who suggested it. I think the bigger issue is that a human cannot live in the belly of a whale for 3 days and nights, and yet many people take this and the other fantasies of the Bible as literal fact. That is a problem.

      As for the strange biology of the duck-billed platypus, the genome of this unique animal is fairly old, and contains genes from mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds. Except for birds, humans also contain genes from these animals, the results of common ancestry and natural selection.

      I’m curious as to why the Bible “just isn’t very interested in satisfying our scientific curiosity”. It seems that if God writes a book to his people, a chapter about how the world actually works would be extremely helpful. I don’t understand why God would not care about this, if he knew that one day people would be killing each other based on this extreme lack of foresight. Now, if the Bible is not written by God, which I don’t believe it to be, then it is a book written by men, and can be used as nothing more than philosophical discussion or historical context. Unfortunately, people all over the world are being told that this is the pure, untouched word of God, and that ALL TRUTH is contained within those pages.

      Why must we continue to filter all of our knowledge and experience through this one, really old and outdated book?!?!

      If you want to pick good moral stories out of the Bible, like Moses freeing the slaves from Egypt, fine. Be my guests. But the same book says that slavery is okay. So it’s not okay for God’s chosen people to be slaves, but it’s okay for them to own slaves. Smells like hypocrisy to me. There is insufficient evidence that these events ever even happened, so why in the world would you want to live your life by them?

      The story of Jesus was another religious development that I consider positive, because it shifted the relationship between people and God to a more peaceful and personal one. Too bad so many people had to die and continue to die because of the things Jesus supposedly said. However, I still believe, as I have explained in my post about Morality, that Jesus was not the best of role models. We can and have done better.

      As for the Star Wars references, just let me say that I believe that Star Wars is fiction, like the Bible, and I am not a follower of any Jedi religion. The movies do talk about forces of absolute good and evil, but I don’t believe in such concepts. They do talk about the meek overcoming the strong, which is cool. And yes being a Jedi and using the Force is cool, but I don’t actually believe in something called the Force or anything related to it (although for a short time years ago when I was agnostic I thought it was a pretty good model for what God might be like). So yes, interaction with the Force is a form of prayer, and yes, if anyone is trying this outside of Lucas’s film set, I am afraid they will be disappointed. I presented the blog post about Yoda because it helped me to illustrate the idea of “unlearning what you have learned”, and I really dug watching Star Wars as a kid. That’s all.

      Finally, I believe that the Universe is “more than facts and figures” just like you, and I will be offering an alternative way to connect with ‘All That Is’ without the religious dogma in a future post.

      Thank you for reading.

  6. thank you Carson

  7. Ok, Chris,

    I don’t think you’re getting me.

    Of course, Star Wars is fiction. It is a modern myth. It’s just that you held up Yoda as having something to teach us. Well, the story has universal appeal because it taps into the collective subconscious that all of us share that values justice. And the Bible stories that have so tripped you up because “they can’t possibly have happened” also tap into that collective subconscious. I submit that that was always their purpose. And those who wrote them knew that that was their purpose.

    The reason the Bible isn’t interested in science is because science is a modern invention. It is the dominant structure upon which the current philosophical system is built. What most of us can’t see is that our way of thinking is immersed in the point of view of whatever our current philosophical system is. Ours is rationalism. Everything has to be rational or it isn’t true. But, what you can’t see is that the rules of science–observation, experimentation, objectivity, and measurement–are artificial rules. Who says that observation, experimentation, objectivity, and measurement are how one goes about figuring out what ultimate truth is? You are a musician. But do you know what just about destroyed classical music? It was composers who decided that music needed to be more mathematical. It was guys like Arnold Schoenberg who made up a rule for composers that a melody needed to use all twelve tones of the chromatic scale before repeating itself. Consequently, classical music started sounding like the orchestra never stopped tuning itself. People would go to the symphony and listen to this intellectual riprap that sounded like agony and nod and smile like they really enjoyed it. But deep down they would rather listen to a cat puke as to sit there in their stiff tuxedos and try to stay awake while the violins and the cellos attacked each other. So, just because someone makes up a rule that everybody is supposed to follow doesn’t mean that that process will necessarily lead us to the important truths.

    The Jonah and the whale thing was just an example I used to illustrate how the modern (mostly western) mind is just too literal (which is what you accuse religious folk of being). It judges a very poetic (mythological in its purest sense) story by a rationalistic measure. It’s a completely different category. It’s like saying that whoever invented bowling balls must have been a complete imbecile because bowling balls don’t bounce well and are very hard on tennis rackets. You think that if the whale didn’t literally swallow Jonah then it never happened. Well, the guy a who wrote the story was telling an important truth. He was teaching the people of Israel (to whom it was written) that sometimes non-believers are more in tune with doing God’s true work than believers (sound familiar). And he was teaching them that God wasn’t just theirs; instead, he is the God of universal justice. He judged Nineveh, and he also forgave Nineveh just like he did Israel.

    As far as whatever genes we humans share with duckbilled platypuses, I’m not sure of the point. Whatever, I think we have made better use of our mix of those genes than them.

    Finally, your comment that my observation that most biblical scholars do not hold to a Young Earth view is a major change . . . I don’t think so. I think that true biblical scholars have long understood the mythological components of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. (I understand myth as any story–historical or fictional–that conveys a meaningful truth or that in someway speaks in an affirming way to the human condition).

    • Thank you Carson. I did misunderstand your meaning somewhat, and I appreciate your clarification. Star Wars and the Bible are exceedingly good at tapping into our most powerful societal archetypes. I think your remark about the intentions of the biblical authors was wonderful. I will admit that it’s not the factual inconsistencies that trip me up the most, its the darker parts of the morality and humanity’s obsession with upholding it. However, I do think that it is a huge problem that people refuse to believe in evolution because it contradicts the Bible. I also think it is a huge problem that some people believe that the Bible is the only needed source of truth. Again, you and the other biblical scholars who share your open-mindedness are much more enlightened than the majority of the population regarding these issues. I’m trying to change their minds as well.

      I will admit that the rules of science are the artificial creations of the human brain, but I challenge anyone to come up with a better available system of exploring the Universe. The scientific method and its discoveries have built the technological wonders of our society and have expanded our knowledge of life, the Universe, and everything, far beyond any religion or superstition. That being said, I liked your example about logic, rules and reason having a negative influence on classical music. That was an unfortunate and misguided application of reason. However, applying universal rules when they don’t work is something that religion does, not science. Remember how often medical science has flip-flopped on whether eggs are healthy or not? Some saw this as a criticism of science, but the researchers were simply following the evidence, even when it was contradictory. After doing enough research over time, we now know eggs are good for the most part in moderation. Thank goodness those classical composers used their reason and evidence to refute Schoenberg and conduct musical research on their own.

      Like I’ve said before, if people want to read the Bible as a work of literature and mine the moral moments and glimpses of truth from it, I have no quarrel with that. What I do have a quarrel with is trying to use the Bible as the ultimate truth and source of authority about life and what’s really going on in the Universe.

      Peace my Brother,

      ~Chris

  8. again …. thank you Carson ….. hello Chris …..
    Jed McKenna’s book “Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment” is centered, in part, around Melville’s book “Moby-Dick” ….. it is a whale of a tale ….(sorry, I just couldn’t help myself) …..:>)….. and it offers a view point I had never heard before and that “ah-ha-d me” …… (maybe I should word that as “had me” …… at any rate ….. I dare you to read it ……:>)

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