Friday, May 14, 2010

Hey, Nice Book!

The biggest problem I have with the Christian Bible is that not even Christians actually believe it. I mean, sure, there are groups of Christians who adhere to every word of certain parts and other groups who cling to other parts, but not all groups of Christians give all parts of the Bible the same weight. They use distinct verses of scripture for their purpose-of-the-moment (would it be wrong to call them "Crusades?") and knowingly discard others as uncomfortable, indefensible, or just plain nonsense.

Cherry-Picked Scripture

Christians, for any situation, can pick out a single verse or short passage of scripture from the Bible that totally sets their mind at ease on the subject. It doesn't matter if it was the verse's intent or not; it only matters that it appears to support the Christian's position. For instance (the best-known example), the Romans Road to Salvation, consists of the following verses:

John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:13

Right off the bat, you notice one thing: the verses are from different books and completely out of order. They've been cherry-picked!

Out of Context Verses

Let's stick with the Romans Road for this one. If you look at the entire context of these verses, you'll notice that some of them are not messages of hope and peace (which would have the desired effect of drawing people closer to God), but of condemnation or injustice or nonsense. To whit:

John 3:16 is followed by John 3:18 which claims that anyone who doesn't believe in the name of Jesus is already condemned from the start. Makes you wonder about people to whom Jesus never appeared and who don't have a Bible.

Romans 5:8 is followed by Romans 5:12 which states the ridiculous idea that all of humanity's sin came about because of a single person.

Romans 3:23 is only a tiny snippet of a larger discussion on atonement through Jesus' death and the value of circumcision. At one point it says circumcision is a valuable part of obedience to God and later states that God is the God of the Jew and the Gentiles and justifies them in exactly the same way, regardless of circumcision.

Romans 6:23 is immediately preceded by the phrase, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God…" How comforting. I can see why they leave that part out.

2 Corinthians 5:21 is begging you outright to accept Jesus: "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."

Romans 10:9 and 10:13 are followed by Romans 10:14, which makes a profound statement: "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?" Indeed, how can they?

Here's the single, most important problem with the context of these verses: They weren't written to you. They were found in personal letters from Paul to specific churches, during specific periods of time in their development, to address specific concerns within that church. Nowhere does Paul indicate that these letters are to be disseminated to everybody, everywhere, for all time. In fact, an attentive reading through his letters shows him to be a misogynistic, racist slavery advocate who never actually met Jesus Christ but thought highly enough of himself to put words in Jesus' mouth that Jesus wouldn't have. All of Paul's letters are taken out of context, no matter how Christians spin it.

Suspension of Disbelief

Not all Christians believe in a literal six-day creation or Noah's global flood. In order to do that, they'd have to suspend their disbelief and convince themselves that something so completely silly is true. They believe the rest of the Bible is true, but they pass these types of things off as allegory or parable. This is a big problem with the Bible, and it can be seen clearly by the disparate groups of believers, that it is largely unbelievable. Some of the stories are cool, but they just have no basis in reality.

To summarize, it is clear by looking at "Bible-believing Christians" that the Bible has problems. They don't agree. They don't interpret it the same way. They don't give the entire Bible the same factual and evidential weight. Any rational, level-headed person can see where this leads. If it cannot be verified factually, then it should be considered fiction. If it is considered fiction, it is not a basis on which to live your life. If it is not a basis on which to live your life, then it is absolutely repugnant and morally outrageous to even attempt to base governmental and educational decisions and policies on it! Let's start thinking, people. Please.

Bible Warning

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