Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More Thoughts on the Bible

I had someone yesterday tell me that what I really needed to do was read the Bible and "open myself up to it", and then I'd realize the "truth and beauty of Jesus Christ."

Le sigh.

Thing is, I've read the Bible.  I know the Bible. I've studied it.   I know from experience, in fact, that I know the Bible better than the person who told me to "open myself" to it knows the Bible.

Its supposedly the "Word of God."   The problem is, the Bible reads like it was written by people.  It is of unmistakably human origin, and the images it provokes, the "knowledge" it provides (mistakenly or not), and the lessons it teaches are all human:  human images, human knowledge, human lessons.  Not only that, but it clearly reflects the culture under which it was written and the time period that culture existed.

In the Bible, the world is a fixed and unmoving flat disc covered by a dome of sky from which the stars (which are described as either being little fires or else living beings) are physically hung.  The sun and the moon travel along the arc of this dome every day.  Since the Earth is flat, if you climb a mountain high enough, you can see "all the Kingdoms of the world," because "the whole world" is only Europe, Northern Africa, and the Near East.  And Heaven, where God supposedly lives, is described as being "above the sky."

All of this reflects a primitive and limited view of cosmology and geography based on the limits of a Bronze Age culture that, despite being rather advanced for its day, simply wasn't interested in knowing anything that conflicted with its dominant religious view.

And it was wrong.  All wrong.  We know this for a fact.

The Earth isn't a flat disc; its an oblate spheroid.

It isn't possible to climb a high mountain and see the entire world from its tip, because not only is the world a sphere and thus not all of it would be visible, the world is simply much, much larger than the Ancient Hebrews ever suspected.

There is no shell or dome over the air, and the stars aren't hanging from it; stars are, in fact, suns in their own right.

The Earth orbits the Sun, not the other way around.  The Sun itself is orbiting the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

And believe me, this is just the Biblical view of cosmology. The Biblical view of chemistry, medicine, physics, mathematics... so many other sciences as well... is just as wrong.  The reason, clearly, is because the Bible was written by human beings who hadn't yet made the huge, cataclysmic, and ultimately world-shaping scientific discoveries that they would later on in their history.  This is not a bad thing, really.  As I said, it just reflects the time and place in which the Bible was written.  But it does provide conclusive evidence that the Bible is the creation of men.

I, for one, cannot understand how an omniscient and loving God, as the Christians insist he is, could possibly have either authored for himself, or inspired the authorship, of the Bible and not corrected the obvious misconceptions about reality that were held by the Ancient Hebrews.  Misconceptions such as the Moon merely reflecting the light of the Sun and not being a light for its own part.  Or the fact that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth, but vice versa.

Even worse than the fact that the so-called "scientific" information found in the Bible is so off-touch with reality is the fact that the moral code recorded in the Bible reflects the morality of the people who wrote it.  The morality reflected in the Bible is pretty clear that these were savage people living in a savage time.  People who endorsed slavery and execution for the mildest of crimes.  And people who approved of genocide in such a way that would make all but the worst of history's villains shy away in disgust.  Read Exodus 21 and Leviticus 25, in which the so-called "loving God" sets forth the precise rules under which the Jews can buy and sell slaves.  Go read Joshua 9, in which God gives an entire ethnic group over to the Jews to be their slaves forever.  And before anyone starts talking about the difference between the Old Testament and the New, let me point you to Collosians 4, which talks about the proper way to treat one's slaves, while Titus 2 teaches slaves to be subservient to their masters.  Not to mention 1 Corinthians and Ephesians 6, which is basically the New Testament counterpart to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Just a quick aside.  The Fugitive Slave Act is considered one of the greatest moral failings in the history of the United States.  What does it tell you about the Bible that it includes such a thing as a commandment from God?

I want you to use your imagination for a moment.  Pretend you're a time traveler.  Pretend for a moment that you've gone back to Palestine in the 1st Century CE and are witnessing the apostle Paul on his journeys preaching to the various peoples.  Would you be able to sit there silent as Paul ships an innocent man names Onesimus back into slavery as punishment for not wanting to be a slave anymore?  Would you be able to just sit there and not say anything when he gives the sermon to the slaves preaching servility and meakness and acceptance of their "just place in life?"

Let me tell you, you'd better be able to, because the punishment for being a troublemaker back then was execution.

But with all this, we're supposed to believe that Jesus Christ, the all-loving Lord God made into a man, the most perfect human to ever exist, walked among the slaveholders and never one said something as clear and easy to understand as "Owning human beings as if they were property is wrong.  It has always been wrong, and it always will be wrong."

Sorry, but as Huey Long put it, that dog don't hunt.

So yeah.  The Bible obviously isn't so much about God's moral code as it is the moral code of the men who wrote it.  And they were men.  Just fallible human beings like the rest of us.  That much is clear.

And I haven't even mentioned the various genocides listed in the Bible, or that many of them were done at the supposed command of that self-same "all-loving" God.

All-loving?  Really?  The same God who killed Saul outright, because Saul committed the sin of mercy when fighting the Amalekites?

That all-loving God?  Is that the all-loving God you're talking about?

Pull the other one.

In my opinion, the words "all-loving" could never, and should never be used in reference to any being, mortal or divine, who could murder someone for the "crime" of being merciful.

The point is that all of this clearly shows that the Bible was not divinely inspired or God-breathed or any of that.  It was written by the same Bronze Age, desert-dwelling men it depicts.  Some of the moral code found in the Bible is pretty good stuff and worth listening to.  But most of it is pure evil.  Some of the conceptions of the universe found in the Bible are accurate.  Most of it is not only wrong, but stunningly so.

None of it is divinely inspired.

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