|Toxic Drums • Home • Book Reviews • Site Navigation • Contact • Blog|
|See also: • God claims he doesn't exist! • Is God an abuser?|
For God's sake lets get real.
The Bible is a book (well a collection of books with many translations and revisions, but a book all the same) which is arguably the most prolific book on planet Earth. For thousands of years millions of people have lived with cultural paradigms based on the supposed content of this book. It has profoundly affected the course of human history and today millions of people claim allegiance with the substance of it's content. But how many people have actually read the bible?
I have been steeped in religion for a large portion of my life. For my sins (so to speak) I have found the whole subject of religion to be fascinating and rather profound. (Can something be "rather profound"? I doubt it. It sounds like a little bit enormous.) Having studied the Bible and Christianity at some length it is my view that generally speaking the Bible is totally misunderstood. You start with a question about the origin of this state of affairs in which we find ourselves. Hmm. You suggest that something like us but bigger and better must have made it all (Do I detect a little arrogance here?). At this stage don't worry about the "turtles all the way down" idea (see turtles all the way down page). From there you estimate that things are the way they are meant to be because God obviously got it right by definition. If he made a mistake then he's not God and there must be another one out there who made him. Then you start to try to figure out what is going on. Well the Bible is full of fantastic explanations of human behaviour and the dynamics by which they operate. In fact it is like any good story. It is entirely believable. As a fiction. What I mean by that is that it stands up. If you describe a fictitious situation like a golden ball appearing from nowhere in the middle of a crowded room and no one takes a blind bit of notice then the story doesn't really stand up. You would expect such a strange event to cause people to gasp in amazement. So it is quite possible to create a fictitious story which "stands up". And the Bible is largely that. All sorts of weird and wonderful things happen. Importantly the Bible illustrates many paradoxes and many assumptions about the way people operate. As such it is a good book to read. Like any good story it is largely a matter of reading it and making of it what you will. A story about a man who presses a button which kills some people generally leaves one feeling that that was not a nice thing to do. Then you find out that he thought he was saving a bunch of people and you sympathise with his plight. Then some more people come along and accuse him of being evil and your sympathy turns to desperation as you hope they can be made to understand that it was all an innocent mistake. But they are really out to lynch this man because they need someone to blame. So you begin to dislike them until you find that there is an evil mastermind behind all this and that the button didn't kill the people at all but it was made to look like it just to get the crowd to lynch the man. Then you feel sorry for the lynch mob. Well at least you feel angry at the manipulations of the mastermind behind it all. And so it goes on.
The actions of the characters in the story are there for you to make your own assesment of how you understand the story. They are there in a way for you to have your response to these situations. It is a creative way to afford more experience for a human being than the small set of personal experiences that they encounter in their own lives. It is educational (see: Educating Children).
But somewhere along the line people seem to have got the wrong end of the stick with the Bible. There is this very strange notion that it is somehow literally true. But that is neither important nor plausible. But because so much insight and revelation exists in the collection of works called the Bible people very quickly lose touch with the relative nature of it's words. Because some of it's content is so "true" in that they really agree with the ideas and couldn't have put it better themselves they mistake this for it being "true" like it really is an accurate and factual representation of physical reality. I am aghast sometimes at the way that religious people first claim certain things are true like Jesus magically (or is that mysteriously) conjuring up loads of food and as soon as you ask them to explain what exactly they mean by that they then come up with some explanation for how it could appear to happen. So was it a real miracle like magic or was there some other explanation.
As far as I understand it it is true that Jesus was killed and then rose again from the dead. It is totally true and I stand by that. Then why would I also claim that it is simply ridiculous to expect anyone to believe such a fiction? Here is the explanation. When someone dies who you really care about you experience a reaction. It is painful. It hurts. That is the way things are. It needs no explanation. A tree doesn't have to explain or justify why it is green. It just is. The pain one experiences is just what happens. And like all things in our experience we understand it in our terms and what we don't understand we might look into and discover explanations that we hadn't understood. But it remains the living experience that that is how it is. Now some would argue, and I am one of those, that the bereavement process is all part of the healing process and part of the healing is the comprehension of the reality in front of you. It doesn't matter if that comprehension is true in some absolute sense or not it is simply how you understand things at the moment. The very process of the experience that feels like grief is the resolution and understanding of the experience. So when the apostles were in the upper room they grieved the loss of Jesus. They loved him and this was a terrible loss. The realisation that he was no more gone than if he were in another place dawned on them. Just because someone goes to another place does not mean that they no longer exist. And the same is analogously true of different locations in time (since they are actually the same thing (see A Brief History of Time to get a better understanding of this)). It dawned on the apostles that Jesus was still alive. And so he was. In fact he had sort of come back from the dead. Moments before they were grieving his loss but then they understood that he was actually still with them. In so far as everything that he did still has resonance in the universe. When you are talking to someone you are only detecting the changed oscillations in the air that their existence causes. You are only seeing the effect that they have on the light. You are always distant from the object. And the disciples realised that everything Jesus stood for and everything that they understood from him had not changed. In fact the very act of dying reveals a lot. But significantly they realised that he was still with them. This then gets represented as him coming back from the dead. Then folk get the idea that he physically came back from the dead but they don't quite understand that and they turn it into a magic trick but because they are so convinced by so much of the content of the story they skip over that bit. They kind of assign it to a mystery. The problem seems to me to be a simple one and that is of the conceptualisation of what is meant by the words. If you are describing life in a biological context then it is simply ridiculous to suggest Jesus came back from the dead. Why? Because you have already defined dead as finally stopping being alive. But if you are talking about living as the significance of a life form's existence then it is quite reasonable to suggest that someone lives on after their death. Things would not be the way they are except for everything that has gone before. Just as a leaf can't exist without the tree that grew it so we are precisely at that place that is a consequence of everything before. And Jesus and Mohamed and Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi and John Lennon are all part of where we are now. In this context it is quite true that they all live now. Jesus is simply the living illustration of that. He gave his life for this revelation. But what do Christians do with it? They totally misrepresent reality and suggest that he was born of a virgin (another self-contradiction) and he died and came back to life and he was basically magic and lives in heaven with his father (who is also him) and the weirdness spirals into absurdity.
For God's sake lets get real about this and lets stop living in cloud cuckoo land and lets face up to fixing the real world where we actually live and stop imagining that hanging on to eye blinding fantasies like ostriches burying their heads in the sand as if not looking at reality might make it go away.
|See also: • God won't save stupid people • Global Warming & Self Help • Uncle Adolf Syndrome|