If you’ve been reading the Bible, very good. You have picked up the best selling book of all time. Between its pages – more killing than Frank Miller’s 300 and more sex than Fifty Shades of Grey.
But who wrote it? If you ask the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to your door, they will say it was written by men, inspired by God.
We all know when a movie (or book) comes out that is “inspired” by real-life events, the screenwriters (or authors) have been known to take a few liberties to make the story more interesting.
Just ask someone who watched the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” the following question: In which city did Johnny propose to June Carter in 1968? For some reason, the city where this actually occurred was not good enough for the silver screen and a different city was used.
Now let’s play the telephone game. Take some ancient scrolls that tell a story. Now throw half of them away – they’re not going to make it into the final screenplay. Now take the remaining scrolls and translate them into a bunch of different languages. Is the message still the same at the end?
Now, let’s think about eyewitness accounts. Although they are used in our courts of law, they are extremely unreliable. Many poor souls have been falsely convicted by witnesses that were absolutely positive of what they saw. Science dictates that the pliable nature of our memory and visual perception means our eyes and minds can and will play tricks on us.
Let’s leave the scrolls in the deserts of the middle east for a second and go to our nearest Barnes and Noble. We pick up a Bible. We don’t know if it’s a New International Version or a King James. It doesn’t matter. It smells great, and we love those thin, crinkly pages. It really is a work of art.
We now have in our hands a story that was “observed” by potentially unreliable eyewitnesses, possibly embellished, partially discarded, and translated into English. Hopefully, the men of the time didn’t try to use this text as a way to propagate their own selfish desires.
So is a Behemoth’s giant tail a tail, or is it really a trunk? Is a manger a crib or a feeding trough for animals? I guess the only way I will know for sure is if I study up on my ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and do some candlelight scroll reading.
Accuracy of the translated work aside, how does one get to know this book even exists in the first place? I was born in North America into a household that was already indoctrinated into the Christian belief system. But what if I was born in Papua New Guinea, or somewhere in the Amazon? Would I be one of the lucky ones to be visited by a Christian ministry and handed a copy of the Good Book?
What if I was born into some other religion with a completely different ancient book? I would need to somehow find out about the Holy Bible, read it, determine it to be true, and discard my own family’s beliefs. My theoretical family would be just as sure that their beliefs were correct, maybe even enough to die for them. So how can their imaginary sky man be false and God Jehovah be true?
It comes down to faith. If one must believe in one of the deities that have been written about on ancient scrolls, there is only one scientific way to know which one is the true God. One must read and compare all religious texts that exist in their original languages and decide what is the truth.
Unless, of course, you are like the great Billy Graham and you have a hotline to the Great One. God speaks to you personally, as if you were a character on the mountain in the Old Testament. Then you have no doubt. Unfortunately, these stories cannot be corroborated with the scientific method (insert faith here).
Let’s say, like a good boy, I took what was spoonfed to me with blind faith. I took my Barnes and Noble Bible and read it cover to cover. I’m a man of science, so of course, most of the stories make no sense. I scratch my head and wonder why some of the content was included in the first place. It’s not cohesive. It jumps around from place to place. Why is God such a terrible writer?
In the beginning, God showed up and gave the people miracles firsthand (allegedly). It would be hard not to believe in God when he was kicking ass and taking names. Watching a snake or donkey talk might turn me into a believer. Watching a man and his family load every animal on the face of the earth into a giant boat would convince the hell outta me. Of course, there is no physical evidence for any of this (insert Christian “proof” of Noah’s Ark here).
Here in the twenty-first century, we don’t have the luxury of first-hand miracles. We only have the book to go on. For many homo sapiens, the book falls short.
Unless of course, you apply a complicated set of interpretations to it, and explain away any inaccuracies as being part and parcel of the time when it was written. I’m sorry, but I think an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful God could give us something better than that.
Let’s for a moment assume these stories are the truth. If that’s the case then God failed me, and many others, big time. He created us in his image and gave us these great big brains. Those brains used logic to determine that the book is nonsense. What would motivate him to do that?
Why didn’t God just write the thing himself and get it right? Write it in his heavenly way so that there would remain no doubt? If he can move mountains and create the whole earth in seven days, could he not cut out the middle man and hover a quill pen on some papyrus? Or better yet, levitate a chisel and carve some granite for us?
Obviously, it is because this is the work of man, not God. That’s why there are so many great stories of the raping of women and the killing of babies. That’s why there are so many contradictory passages. That’s why people live to be 900. That’s why grasshoppers have four legs. That’s why there’s no description of a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a Kangaroo. The people of the region where it was written did not know of these things. They didn’t know that a simple DNA test could prove that Mary’s immaculate conception story might contain a few exaggerations.
It’s not that I do or don’t believe in a higher being. I’m waiting for some good evidence. DNA, for example, could be potential evidence supporting intelligent design, but of course, it’s not mentioned in the Bible (insert Christian assertion that DNA is mentioned in the Bible here).
For now, I must stay true to reality, keep my eyes open to the tangible things around me, and take with a grain of salt the ramblings of an illiterate God.
If you are like me and have questions, please take a look at this website that asks almost every question you could ever think of about organized religion. The site goes down from time to time (maybe it’s the work of God) so be patient. Satan always brings it back online again.