metaphors

I don’t like the voice of the vlogger but I agree with what he says in the first part of the video. Could we be provided with a manual for separating what is factual against what is metaphorical in the good book.

things people have said

it would be better to destroy every other book ever written, and just save the first three verses of Genesis

William Jennings Bryan

If Jennings was granted his wish, what would become of Paul? Of the talking donkey? Of the fall of man? Of the Abrahamic land grab and all those fancy stories told in the bible? Does it mean that only the first three verses are indisputable and the rest being noise?

If there is a contradiction between a definitive [Koranic] text and conjectural science, then the scientific theory is refuted

A speaker at the First International Conference on Scientific Miracles of the Koran and Sunnah

think about this for a moment. you are doing research and then you check your results against the Koran and they contradict the text of the Koran. You don’t even have to publish your findings. They are refuted for all time.

All quotes are from J Rauch’s Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

Things I never learned in Sunday School

By Nan Yielding

First, thanks Nan for the free copy. It is an interesting and easy read. I think a revised edition is due especially because I think you have in the intervening period learnt something that maybe was not available at the time of first publication.

This book is not a polemic against religion or an apologia. Maybe we could say it is an argument against taking someone as an authority without good reason. In this respect, I think Nan makes her point clearly throughout the book.

That said, I have a few issues with the book.

On the pentatauch, she alludes to Moses writing the first five books. First comment is that the existence of Moses is highly doubtful but that’s a story for later. On the authorship of the first five books, research that I have read point to a multiple group of writers. My preface to the African Bible( used by the Catholic Church) is explicit that while it is commonly believed Moses wrote those books, this is no longer tenable.

On Jesus, Nan writes in a manner that shows she is convinced of at least two things; he existed and had a message of love that he taught. The interesting question here is which Jesus. And having read several researches on Jesus life, I would ask with Ark, which Jesus? Nan writes we are certain Jesus died but this is putting the cart before the horse.

What can be said of the resurrection? She points out the various contradictions in the narratives telling of this special event. And I don’t think much needed to be added. Maybe we can say with Mangassarian that if he went to the sky it is best to live him there.

She writes a lot on Paul which is understandable because of his influence in Christian teaching. The first question is Paul who? Does the author of Acts know Paul? And while her conclusion is correct that without the Pauline literature, we would likely end up with a different religion today. She takes it for granted that Paul was. And I would think, as the theme of the book is not taking things on authority, a little bit of rigour would not be asking for too much.

Her exposition on the devil is quite illuminating. But in that chapter she says we are certain a supreme being exists? But does it really? Are we certain about this? What is the nature of this being & though in the final chapter she makes the argument that resembles that of Aviciena( via negativa) that maybe we can’t begin to name or even describe this being, this gives us no light on whether we should assume such a being exists.

I am not convinced the argument about the Roman empire persecution of Christians hold against scrutiny. I will have to dust my books & update this criticism but her position is not tenable.

I am African and it is a pet peeve of mine when I find African deities or religions referred to as tribal gods. This is following Hegel where everyone else has national gods or just religions but the African, no. His is a tribal god. I know it is not Nan’s fault here that most literature sees Africans only through the lens of tribe.

I think on matters where there is doubt, to express certainties must surely take away from the value of the work. To claim a supreme being/ god certainly exists is to stretch credulity a little far. My other general comment that covers the whole work is on miracles. The bible which is the source document for Christian belief is said to be a miracle- that is, it is not of natural production but involves the action of god(s) in unknown ways- is in need of defence.

While reading the book, a thought occurred to me concerning monotheism. Is it a belief in the existence of only one god or the belief in & worship of only one god While not negating the existence of other gods? The israelites are told not that other gods don’t exist, just that they should worship a specific god. Or as Nietzsche put it, the other gods laughed themselves to death when one of them said I am on the only god. Am I missing something?

Happy Sunday everyone. And thanks again Nan for the book.

just thinking

History is not about the knowledge of the events, it is about the ability to recognise the continuum of the resulting influences on our consciousness, carried through to the present day.

I have been reading a book, Civilised to death, recommended by my good friend, Mary and it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, the bible considered not as god speak but as a response to a changing a world. Consider the garden of Eden as the natural habitat of the first humans where they lived as hunters and gathers and the fall as the beginning of agriculture.

The many wars are not really about god’s chosen ones but intertribal wars over land and watering points.

The book of kings can then be seen as state formation with their rigid rules and demands. For example taxes and all. In this way, the author of kings is not writing about things to come but things already experienced.

Jesus, then represents the archetype of the socialist or anarchist opposed to big government (here I kid) but you see where this is going.

I think Schopenhauer, that pessimistic philosopher, already tried to give the bible a very generous reading. Devoid of the claims of god inspiration and what nots, the bible begins to make sense as a response of those living in the crescent to the changes in lifestyle from hunters ad gatherers to farming and all.

What are your thoughts? Am i making any sense?

Some theological aside

I am reading this interesting novel titled job, a comedy of justice. You can see it on the goodreads sidebar of this blog. In some place he writes

Many people seem to believe that the ten commandments forbid lying. Not at all. The prohibition is against bearing false witness against your neighbour- a specific, limited, and despicable sort of lie. But there is no biblical rule forbidding simple untruth. Many theologians believe that no human social organization could stand up under the strain of absolute honesty. If you think their misgivings are unfounded, try telling your friends the ungarnished truth about what you think of their offspring- if you dare risk it.

Job, A comedy of justice

did you know

that it didn’t matter whether the gospels had mistakes? I know you didn’t but now you know. It is important for you to know that Jesus died for your sins but you are still going to hell for that tattoo or for the shrimp you ate.

I don’t think there are mistakes in the gospels; but even if there were, it wouldn’t affect the core of the Gospel: Jesus died for our sins, defeated death by rising again, and is coming back in glory to establish the Kingdom of God. Those truths stand firm forever!

I am glad we have this cleared up.

Thank goodness for apologists.

Why are the pyramids not mentioned in the Old Testament?

I am on Quora and I get weekly digests in mail. Today I see the question where are pyramids not mentioned in the OT and I recalled I had written about it. In the post I wrote, the author argued that the bible authors were never in Egypt which would also explain other things as why the Egyptians don’t have them in their records anywhere. 

In short, the pyramids are not in the OT because the bible authors couldn’t have known about their existence given they were never in Egypt.

On homosexuality as abomination (Leviticus 18:22)

This piece below is not my own work but I couldn’t help but share it. It is what we call brilliant.

Laura Schlesinger a radio host who herself waxes and wanes in and out of Orthodox Judaism. “Agnosticism is to orthodoxy what a wild bull is to a China shop.” This letter is a testament to the above statement.
In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.
The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.
Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian)