Happy Thor’s Day
Odin’s Eye is about a lot of things but every eight weeks or so one thing it will be about is taking on the Bible. I fairly sure that my Alma Maters of Trinity Bible College and Asbury Theological Seminary will not be proud of me during these posts, because I will be using knowledge I gained from earning my degrees with them and then turning it against them, but I know I am not alone in this department with either.
The amount of people who go to school to become ministers or Bible scholars and then turn their back on the faith is legion. In fact, one of the atheist contentions is that the Bible itself is one of the best breeding grounds for atheism or at least non-belief in Christianity is probably true. When you read the Bible objectively through the eyes of reason; you have to conclude ultimately it is a work of human beings and whether or not the divine has anything to do with its existence is pretty much a matter of opinion and blind faith.
I am not an atheist, but I get the contention and it is valid. In general, the Bible has some very basic problems that in my opinion point not to a divine authorship but a human one where human beings are giving their opinions about how god operates, giving an account where the author believes he (there are no female authors of the Bible) or someone else encountered God or wrote with the intention of ordering society using God as the authority to hush opposition to their plan. The nature of these problems are as follows:
- Contradictions – I spent the majority of my time as a Christian scholar and minister trying to explain contradictions in the Bible. To be fair sometimes a contradiction is not always present where one is said to exist, but there were many that I simply had no answer for. The bible does on occasion say two things about the same thing and there is a direct contradiction. Many Christians point to the idea of people taking these things out of context, but I would say I have taken context into consideration several times and still find a contradiction.
- Confirmation Bias – The Writers of Scripture want the God they are describing to exists. They want to the resurrection to be true, etc. So they never really address questions that a skeptic would ask. Questions that would help their case if they answered them, but because they are not asked or answered, it just shows bias.
- Timeline issues – Like it or not some things don’t mess with each other from a timeline perspective. When I was teaching life of Christ, the one area that gave me the most timeline fits was the resurrection itself. The accounts of who and where Christ appears and in what order vary widely.
- Historical – despite my Bible college apologetics professor’s assertion that the Bible is grounded in history; much of that is either unproven or there is a historical record, archaeology, etc. that contradicts the Bible.
- The Bible doesn’t live up to its own standard of confirmation of fact – the ‘two or three witnesses’ standard does not always hold up with the Bible itself for establishing every fact. Most events in the Bible are stand alone with no other account of them existing in the Bible itself or in the world for that matter.
- God contradicts himself or it seems that God cold have done things in a far more simpler way – the moral questions of the Bible’s god are at times overwhelming. This includes everything from the treatment of women to God plain out not following his own standards for ethics and justice.
I could go on and on, but whenever you see and Odin’s Eye with the Subtitle – Bible Problems; know this is where I am going to take the Bible and be very critical of it. I am not doing this to offend, but to point out how very questionable it is for the Bible to be a special revelation of God, but more a collection of men’s opinions and accounts of the almighty that should raise an eyebrow, not inspire devotion.
People ask me then where my faith is when it comes to the Bible. It’s not the Word of God to me. It might contain some observations that might help me understand the divine as a deist, but it certainly is no longer the divine special revelation I once thought it was. I think the notion of ‘special revelation’ is man-made so people can say something is of God when really it is just a man-made idea.
If the bible is not special revelation, then the basis for most of the Abrahamic Religions is non-existent. In these religions what we see most is them using ‘holy’ scripture to justify their existence and their use of force and religious ‘ethics’ to control the behavior of others. Sorry there i\s a great deal of truth to the idea all religions are cults and engage in cultish behavior to control and just because it has it has a billion followers doesn’t make this less true. Once you find yourself in the authoritative position to disperse the ‘proper’ interpretation of the bible, that gives you an incredible position of power over those who blindly believe. Religion thus cannot be trusted because it is very much about power and control most of the time. It is why I have sworn them all off.
Theologically speaking the so-called ‘special revelations’ might have some good theological observations at times, but I can get no confirmation as a deist that they are true and never will. The real challenge to me in theology now is that I know I will die ignorant of the truth of the divine, but I am OK with that. Ignorance simply is, the question is what to do about it. Sometimes the thing to do; the only thing you can do based on the nature of the questions, is accept being ignorant.
I would say over the years the Bible has been a tool of spiritual enlightenment. But so have my weightlifting sessions, my hikes in the woods and my reading of other books. I can’t say anymore that The Bible is my authority of faith and practice, nor would I say that I consider it a superior form of knowledge over all others. It is one voice of many and sometimes I think what it says contains the truth and other times I think what it says is bullshit. But that is true of pretty much everything I read so…
My Bible; that I preached from not so long ago, sits on my shelf. I don’t think I have opened since that last Sunday. It sits currently between The Armchair Economist and The Picture of Dorian Grey. I suppose the irony of that, and the fact my last sermon was on adultery while I was engaged in an affair, will sit with me forever. I also have no intention of allowing it to be master over me anymore. Where I walk, I take steps on my own and quite frankly I think my life is better for it. The Bible for me now is a collection of works that sometimes inspires wisdom and other times makes my eyebrow raise. But mostly it is just another book to me now as journey onward.
Continuing to Walk the Path,
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.