Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Bible as fact (?)

I was surfing the net the other day and I came across the statistic that 63% of our friends to the south (in the United States) believe in the literal truth of the Bible (Rasmussen Reports - April 21 - 22, 2005 survey of 1000 adults). This is an opinion that I have heard before from both people I know personally and from "celebrities" of one stripe or another, and that is fine. Anyone can have whatever beliefs they want. I think we call that freedom or some such thing, or at least we used to. I figure that as long as someone doesn't believe they have the right to cause somebody else harm then fly at 'er (I understand that this can be a slippery slope because there are always going to be those out there who will claim that any idea that offends them is causing them harm. These people should grow the heck up. Please. Really.)

With a little bit of imagination this brings us back to the literal belief in the Bible thing, if we ever left it that is. Back in the long ago (what a great phrase) we used to have Bible readings in school every morning. I remember being appalled by the Genesis story of Abraham and Isaac. As everyone knows Isaac was the son of Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and Abraham, instead of asking, "What are You, friggin' nuts?!" says, "Yezz, Boss," and leads his trusting son up Mount Moriah. He ties Isaac to a stone alter, pulls out his knife and just as he's about to start hacking away an angel appears and says, "Holdeth thee on there. Don'test do it. Slasheth thee not atest thy son for it wath only a testeth!" (or words to that effect). Abraham says, "Yup-yo", and upon finding a sheep conveniently tangled in a nearby thicket, sacrifices the sheep instead of his son.

As I understand it Christians view this story as one of faith and obedience. My own view is somewhat less generous but my point, such as it is, is this: people who believe the Bible is literally true must be okay with the "facts" of this story. So what would they do in the following circumstance? One of them is out on his or her back deck enjoying a nice morning coffee. They notice that their neighbour, a devout man of faith, has tied his son to a walnut tree and is about to cut his throat with a knife. Now as anyone would our protagonists first act would be to run over and stop his neighbour, but then his neighbour says, "God has commanded me to do this." What's a good Bible believing fellow to do?

The logical and common sensical thing to do is yell, "You're wacked, buddy!", grab the knife, cold-cock the nut with the hilt and call in the funny-farm squad. Unfortunately too much of religion has nothing to do with logic or common sense. It seems that what the bible believing fellow should do, according to his beliefs, is as there is precident for this sort of thing (remember Abraham and Isaac) , he should just stand back far enough so as to not get any blood on him. Now, is that blasphemy? I don't see how it could be. If someone who is a devout and faithfull person, then how can another believer not believe him when the first person says that god has spoken to him? What if one of Abraham's neighbours had followed him and Isaac up the mountain (or 'mount') and then yanked the knife out of his hand before the angel had showed up? How would the angel have reacted if s/he had appeared and found Abraham and one of his neighbours rolling around on the ground together fighting over a knife? Would s/he have smitten the snot out of the neighbour for trying to do the right thing, or would they have just rescheduled the testing of Abraham?

In any event, this is the sort of thing I wonder about when somebody says they believe the Bible is literally true. As I said, it is totally their right to believe that but I wonder if they believe it is my right not to? At least, without some cheezy little insult thrown in, like: "I guess you're just not ready to accept the Lord into your life", or something along those lines. Yeah, whatever.

Anyway... Humouroceros

PS: the painting is by Laurent de la Hyre from about 1650.

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