A blog that I visit regularly is Finding Truth. Most of the discussions contain substantial material (rather than simply one-liners) and they can get pretty intense. Recently, in reference to a discussion on the bible (found on the About page), there was a posting that contained many of my own views. I have reposted it here (with permission from “William”).
It’s interesting. The more I think about the bible, it’s teachings, it’s story, it’s history, the less it makes sense as a moral or divine guide. I used to pray tirelessly that I would learn the truth and that i would see what’s really from god and what isn’t.
More and more I began to see the problems with the bible – the errors, the inconsistencies, the flaws and the moral atrocities. As I’ve said here before, the biggest thing that did it for me, after seeing the a fore mentioned, was the realization that I had always and only taken “man’s” word on it. God never told me anything – never showed me anything. Where or what was my faith in? I realized it wasn’t in god and couldn’t have been.
And if it really does all boil down to simply choosing what to believe, then how does Christianity become better than any other religion? You can look at it this way, or look at it that way, but I think if we were to really open our eyes, we’d see that approach is wishful thinking and that approach is “us” making it work by either dismissing or ignoring the problems.
It becomes like sitting around a fire. When the wind changes and the smoke starts getting in our eyes, we move around the fire out of the smoke. When the wind changes again, we have to move again. When many people see problems in their religion, instead of saying it’s a problem, they shift their view so that the problem is no longer in view, but eventually another problem will become visible, and they’ll simply shift their view again, and the cycle will go on forever… No matter how you look at the bible, problems will arise, and no matter how you try to solve the problem, it usually only creates more problems that will either have to be solved or ignored.
It’s funny in a way because on one hand many christians speak about what makes sense, or “we know this is what it means because…” but then they’ll turn right around and criticize reason when it points to a religious flaw, or they’ll say the old, “we cant understand god because his ways are higher than our ways.” Well which is it? can we understand “his will” or cant we? The real question however, is why should we even think the bible is “His”?
I lost faith in the bible long ago. While I believe there are many passages that can inspire and encourage believers as well as non-believers, the essence of the book itself is so full of inconsistencies (and, as William noted, moral atrocities) that I can no longer see it as “Holy Scripture.”
Our friendly Tea Party "Patriots" often tell us that they love the constitution. In fact it takes second place only to that timeless book, the Bible--the one God wrote to tell us how to behave. Probing, (as I am always wont to do), I discover that it's not only the constitution that is revered, but of course the "founding fathers" who, as you know, among other things, brought us the constitution.
Excerpt from Things I Never Learned in Sunday School
Chapter 4 – “The Big Bad Guy: Is He For Real?”
The Crafty Serpent
Of all the stories in the Bible that relate to “Satan,” I find the one about the serpent in the Garden of Eden the most creative. Throughout my research, I came across numerous dissertations by the faithful about what “really” happened during the meeting between the serpent and Eve … and why. Again and again I read, practically word-for-word, what I had been taught during my Christian experience. The fact that there is little to no basis for this oft-repeated tale seems to matter little to the various expositors.
According to tradition, the downfall of humankind started because Eve, after a talking serpent told her that God was lying about eating a certain fruit in the Garden, went ahead and ate it and also gave some to Adam, her husband (Genesis 3:1-6). (On the surface, can anyone deny there isn’t at least a minimal amount of incredulity in this story?) After the first couple confessed they had shared the fruit, the Bible tells us God cursed the serpent and proclaimed it must forever crawl on its belly and eat dust. Nowhere does it say that God turned the serpent into an evil spirit.
In the original Hebrew language, the word for serpent is nahash and this is the word used in Genesis, not ha-satan. So where did the belief that the serpent was a representation of “Satan” get started?
You can read the answer to this question (and more) when you order a copy of Things I Never Learned in Sunday School at Amazon.com.
There is a portion of Bible scripture in Matthew (26:36-56) that has always left me wondering. It’s where Jesus goes into the garden of Gethsemane to pray. The gospel writer goes into considerable detail about what happened …
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” (From the New Revised Standard Edition)
Note that there are three instances in which Jesus retreats into the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Each time he requests the disciples to stay awake while he is gone … and each time he returns to find them sound asleep.
What I have never been able to figure out is how did the gospel writer know what Jesus prayed if the disciples were asleep the entire time?