In mathematics we know that no matter how perfectly you carry out the calculations, if your constants are wrong, your answer will be wrong. In science, the assumptions you make before beginning your experiment can affect the outcome of the experiment.
Keep that in mind as we go forward.
There has been some amazing scholarly work done with regard to the bible over the ages. And yet I feel that much of it rests upon several erroneous assumptions about the nature of God that don’t hold up to common sense scrutiny.
Believers have told me that creation “bears witness of the creator”. In other words, we can see the hand of God in nature. I agree! I think that the creative/destructive forces of the universe do reveal their nature through creation. With that in mind let’s look to nature to see the nature of “god”!
God vs Satan
In the bible we are told that there is a cosmic battle going on between the forces of good and evil, i.e., God vs Satan. However, the separation of good and evil doesn’t hold up in light of common sense observations of the universe. Bad and good are NEVER completely separate things. Nothing is ever all bad or all good.
Here is an example:
From Wiki: “The parasitoid wasp Glyptapanteles lays its eggs, about 80 at a time, in young geometrid caterpillars. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the caterpillar’s body fluids. When they are fully developed, they eat through the caterpillar’s skin, attach themselves to a nearby branch or leaf and wrap themselves up in a cocoon.”
For the wasp, this is good. For the caterpillar this is bad. Horrifically so. (Ever see the movie Alien??) But this is how this wasp is “designed” to reproduce! So what are we to deduce about a god who would design such a system? The answer is either that he is very cruel, or at the very least very cold and indifferent to the suffering of one creature for the benefit of another. There is no other answer possible.
The truth of nature is that it is as cold and indifferent as it is warm and nurturing.
A wildfire on the prairie or in the forest may burn alive many creatures small and large. They die in searing pain. And yet the fire is necessary for new growth to arrive. There are even some seeds that need the heat of a fire to crack their coats! Within a short time after the fire the forest will be bustling with life again, even healthier than before.
The God/Satan split simply does not hold up if one is to examine the universe with an objective eye. There is no war between good and evil. That is a very primitive anthropomorphization of the normal ebb and flow of nature. Think of anything that you would call “bad” and see if you can’t find something good that will come out of it. If you can’t you’re not looking hard enough! Think of how a death in the family can often bring the family closer together, for example.
There can be no such thing as a “Satan” separate from a “God” because creation does not reflect that. Clearly the creative force and the destructive force are one in the same, work in tandem, and can not exist without the other.
So what are we to make of a book that supposes in its first few pages as its very foundation that a good entity somehow was betrayed by an evil entity and cast it out of a part of the universe that is all good into a part of the universe that is all bad where it dwells for all eternity and where our intangible essence will go if we don’t believe this story?
Seems kind of simplistic now, doesn’t it? The writers of the bible got it wrong. They misinterpreted what they were seeing in nature and put it in very human terms; Us vs Them; King vs King; tribe vs tribe; when it’s not really that way at all.
If the basic assumptions of the bible don’t hold up to an everyday common sense scrutiny how can all the centuries of scholarship layered upon that work have any validity? The bible’s basic assumptions clearly aren’t reflected in the everyday reality that we experience. Hence all that follows must, to some extent or another be in error, or at the very least, highly questionable.
I’m sorry if this offends some people but I make my points for a reason. Do I want to take away people’s faith and comfort? Is that what this is all about? Not even close. Do I want to live a sinful life without consequences? Hardly. My agnosticism often helps me to be MORE moral than a believer, but that’s another story!
I make these points to reinforce that this country was founded upon the notion that religion and government should remain separate. The bible may be correct in its scholarship, but it is wrong in its basic assumptions and therefore that book should never be used for anything other than private inspiration.
Do not base legislation upon it, deny people their basic rights based upon it, decide that a child’s genitals should be mutilated based upon it, instruct people that condoms are bad based upon it or tell me that you know what will happen to my essence after I die based upon it.
Because if you are basing those things on this particular book, you have solved your equation with the wrong constants.