Short Review: The Holy Bible

This book pretends to know how the universe was created. It mixes historical fact and historical fiction and is often mistaken. This book asserts, among other things, how the human soul works, the precise nuances of something called “sin,” and the arbitrary and capricious rules God has made for us. This book pretends to know precisely who and what God is, what God wants from us, and the rules for placating His violent and capricious tendencies.

There are now three separate archaeological digs at the site of Jericho which show definitive evidence that the Biblical story is not history, that the site had no walls and was basically uninhabited during the century Joshua was supposed to have had divine help in knocking down the walls and massacring or enslaving every man, woman, child, and animal. This means, if we are to believe our own clear and unambiguous evidence, that the writers of The Old Testament were creating entertainment rather than teaching us something which they knew and understood.

Extinction Chart — the basis for all paleontology

There is no evidence of a worldwide flood anywhere around Mount Ararat, let alone elsewhere in the world — none! No sedimentary layer, no bone beds on hills as people and animals congregated in ever more dense groups to stave off drowning, no record of the rotted vegetation submerged for months. There is, however, written evidence of the Egyptian civilization very close to Mount Ararat, which carried on right through this period without even mentioning an exceptional flood. Again, this is massive and irrefutable evidence that this story of a 600-year-old man and his Creator was an entertaining story rather than something to be taken as inerrant truth.

Paleontology has, however, found evidence of cataclysmic events where an unusual number of species met extinction within a short time (see inset). The most recent of these took place about 65,500,000 years ago when the closest thing to a human being was a rodent smaller than a squirrel. This worldwide disaster reflected sunlight away from the surface for about six or seven years which killed off almost all terrestrial plants and ocean plankton. Life on Earth, at that time, was over a half billion years old and there were still no large mammals, no grasses and no trees. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth 50 times longer than the current reign of man and their remains have been found on every continent, with no dinosaur fossils found above the distinct sedimentary layer deposited during the cataclysm and no large mammals found in or below this distinct boundary which exists everywhere on earth that hasn’t since been displaced or destroyed.

To put the Bible equal to the findings of astronomy, paleontology, geology (including recent geological findings on the Moon), and genetics is so perverse as to be absurd. There is no possibility of the Bible being even figuratively correct.

I don’t rule out Creation. I merely rule out The Holy Bible as a valid source of information about it.

The writers of The Old Testament did the best they could do at the time. They knew very little about astronomy. They knew nothing about paleontology or genetics or geology. I doubt they could conceive of, let alone write about, a world 4,540,000,000 years old and a universe at least 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (80 sextillion) miles in radius and at least 13,800,000,000 years old.

I disagree with the scientific side of the Creation disagreement on one significant point: the Big Bang Theory seems preposterous to me. (See my paper on the subject.) But so is Genesis. Rather than making this a binary argument, we must realize that the truth is coming out, but we will never get it all. Anyone hoping to find authoritative truth in a Bible is, I am convinced, asking to be deceived.

If I were to try writing a book about Creation today, I would explain the mystery of the atom, the only known perpetual motion machine, and the vast size and age of the known universe. I would talk about what we don’t know and can’t imagine and leave readers with a sense of mystery and awe rather than a smug sense of being better than everyone and everything else and entitled to the bulk of God’s goodness and mercy by believing in the details of a brief historical incident that may or may not have happened a mere two millenia ago.

The Bible pretends to be helpful, but it isn’t helpful at all. Take the centerpiece of Christianity: forgiveness of sin through belief in divine redemption using a sacrificial scapegoat.

Being forgiven without really feeling the weight and consequence of the error makes people feel better about themselves and soothes their guilty consciences, but it doesn’t make them better citizens or less likely to make the same mistakes again. It also makes them dependent on the authority which grants these dispensations since the erroneous thoughts and actions which caused the errors still exist.

The writers of The Holy Bible pretended to know the exact nature of God. According to their irrational pronouncement, actually created as a compromise in 325, God is fully one and also fully three, is at the same time, the combination of a racist, violent, dispassionate Jehovah of rules and the loving, kindly, humble, passionate and inclusive Jesus plus his rules-based alter-ego of Messianic prediction, Christ, as well as something the Bible calls the Holy Ghost.

The irrational nature of the Jehovah-Christ-Jesus-Holy Ghost amalgam forces us to accept illogical and contradictory information or receive disapproval and censure from parents and friends. We learn to think in magical terms and to believe in things that don’t make sense and are completely absent from our experience. We substitute mysticism and blind credulity for rationality, truth, experience and experiment. We are systematically taught to distrust our own reason and judgment.

As I interpret this book, Jehovah resorts to violence to demonstrate His power to disbelieving humans such as Eve, Lot’s wife, and Noah’s neighbors. According to this source, God’s most fervent desire is for all people to believe in symbolic redemption through ritual and belief. The penalty for not being credulous, the penalty for thinking for ourselves, the penalty for what I’m currently doing is eternal damnation, according to this supposedly “sacred” text.

If God hadn’t wanted me to use common sense, why did He give it to me?

I am required to accept the premise that the premature death of Jesus of Nazareth has special meaning and was a ritual by which God makes flawed, human souls acceptable to Himself, that believing in an unknowable historical fact or fiction is the most important aspect of God’s relationship to mankind.

I am further required to be obedient and to curb my curiosity and my intellect.

I must not wonder why Jesus changed his mind in the eleventh hour; why having preached tolerance, kindness, humility, and poverty to whomever would listen, he preached prejudice and dogma to his disciples and conducted an incongruous pagan ritual on a day held sacred by his Jewish culture.

I must not wonder why Jesus didn’t just stay alive on the cross and then fulfill his role as Christ, the predicted Jewish worldwide monarch, or, acquiring a second life, why he didn’t do it then. I understand why this kind and gentle being (whether man or god) would reject the task of sending most of the world’s population to Hell and ruling for a thousand years over the believers and sycophants who were left. It’s easy for me to see him as loving towards all men of all beliefs with equal compassion and charity and to imagine him rejecting the role others expected of him; a role placed upon him like a trail of tin cans, clanking against his gentle reminders for us to love one another.

I don’t believe Jesus of Nazareth was Christ. If he were to manifest again in a third life, he might AGAIN reject the messianic role as he did twice before. It wasn’t in him to damn us disbelievers.

I don’t believe Jesus of Nazareth was Jehovah, either. Maybe ancient converts could swallow the irrational fully-three-while-being-fully-one nature of the Trinity, but I can’t. Jehovah has far too many human flaws and idiosyncrasies to be any more credible than the pantheon of gods previously in vogue.

Jehovah loved conflict and violence. He even made “covenants” with “chosen people” to sponsor wars of conquest, murder and mayhem. Rather than have them assimilate with the rest of humanity, he insisted that they were special if their mothers were Jewish and were, as a birthright, entitled to the bulk of his love and attention. When Abraham and Sarah were barren, he first supported the statutory rape of their slave Hagar and the begetting of Ishmael and only later reversed Sarah’s sterility so that Issac could disinherit Abraham’s firstborn. He tortured Job, killing off his entire family just to prove a point to Beelzebub and, like furniture, he just replaced them to supposedly fix everything. And he sent two plagues on two different rulers who had been enticed with Sarah’s beauty and the couple’s evasions about their marital status. He sent plagues, pestilence, and famine when he could just as easily have sent manna and prosperity. Jehovah rewarded his faithful with money, power, and worldly success. All-in-all, I think of Jehovah as a petulant despot, unworthy of my credulity, veneration or obedience.

Jesus, on the other hand, gave us the Golden Rule, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the concept of humility in conflict (turn the other cheek; which, to me, means that we look to our part in a conflict rather than responding in kind), humility in retribution (“let he who is without sin cast the first stone”) and generosity. Jesus exhorts us to generosity, kindness and poverty.

Jesus and Jehovah are completely different. They couldn’t inhabit one essence. They couldn’t possibly be One. Not only is the Trinity irrational in concept, it is ridiculous in practice.

The Bible has created massive rifts in the human family. It started with race, homosexuality and gender. It set Christians and Muslims further apart even though they share the same God — albeit with a different name and a different religious text. It told people their homosexual sons and daughters were “an abomination unto the Lord.” And it clearly states that women should be subordinate to men, complete with “obey” in their marriage contract. It even makes us fear the doubting, scientific parts of ourselves, making us fearful that our own ideas might send us to eternal suffering.

The Bible splinters and divides us in other ways as well — and has from the start. The Old Testament rewards people because they are Jewish and uses the rest of humanity as cannon fodder or ignores them altogether. The oldest parts of the New Testament were letters by Paul, aka Saul of Tarsus, who calls other Christians with slightly differing views “accursed.” The Dark and Middle Ages came about right after Christianity became the state religion and forbade any freedom of expression outside its rigid belief system. Books were burned and learning suppressed or controlled systematically. Galileo was arrested, confined and somewhat silenced by the Church for casting doubt on the idea of a geocentric universe. Many of the people who populated the United States were fleeing persecution by various Christian sects. Israel was founded by believers in the Old Testament and maintains itself on belief in a bigoted God that gave them the right to dispossess others. The United States did something similar to its indigenous population.

It is clearly stated in The Holy Bible that sin causes disease while modern medicine and our own experiences prove otherwise. This misinformation alone has caused a great deal of death and suffering.

I have studied spirituality from several angles for almost 30 years. The spirit yearns for unity. Where someone is missing, the spirit longs for them. Where there is enmity, the spirit isn’t at peace until there is reconciliation. Neither victim nor perpetrator finds complete happiness until they are reconciled. Retribution doesn’t work spiritually. Excommunication is the spiritual crime, not heresy! Heaven and Hell would both cause a great deal of spiritual suffering if they existed.

Luckily, all souls of both living and deceased are right here. They find peace and happiness only when reunited and reconciled. (Bert Hellinger, Family Constellations + personal experience)

There is astonishing wisdom in the earlier teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Had there not been a prophetic narrative superimposed on his message of tolerance, forbearance, forgiveness, and generosity, this would have been a wonderful book, worthy of being the most popular in history.

But the prophesies of a Messianic mission of world domination, holding belief as the highest virtue with miracles validating belief, and presenting a schizophrenic God who is both horribly violent and personally benevolent depending on these beliefs is disinformation which not only alters the theme of tolerance, forbearance, forgiveness and generosity, but negates it. Saul of Tarsus sold this anti-spiritual message to his pagan converts who, not knowing any better and reading an improperly-translated version of the prophesies, wrote a “history” that substantiated these beliefs.

Christians have, for centuries, tried to ignore, avoid, or eliminate The Holy Bible‘s more obvious flaws while still drinking its poison of intolerance and disunity.

But I think the worst of the crimes against humanity that this book has inspired is to teach us to NOT think, to believe the unbelievable without thinking, without testing, without withholding our approval. It urges us to accept all this irrational stuff on threat of being excluded and shunned by family and friends.

Shunning, excluding, excommunicating others has been its stick from the beginning. And its carrot is a lovely inclusion, a welcoming into the “flock,” a “brotherhood” and “fellowship” which, much like cliques in high school, excludes and reviles others in order to feel special, to feel “blessed” and “forgiven” and thereby different from others with differing opinions.

This flaw in Christianity led to the Dark and Middle Ages, a period of stagnation and decay where learning and speech were rigidly curtailed by a powerful alliance between hierarchies of church, state, and military leadership and control. Only by defying religious authority and thinking for themselves did anyone gain ground in breaking free of this influence.

The person steeped in Biblical lore naturally longs to include non-believers, but is threatened by their ideas. Thus, most dialog between people of differing dogmatic beliefs doesn’t allow for much meaningful change on either side. Thus, the United States was founded mostly by people fleeing persecution by Christians with the same basic beliefs but rigid and restricted beliefs that set them at odds with each other.

Because The Holy Bible isn’t rational, it allows little leeway in its interpretation, persuading by threats and inducements rather than discourse and understanding. If you don’t believe that Jesus was resurrected or if you weren’t baptized, it says right here1 that you’re going to Hell – no other questions asked.

So arguing against this compendium of ancient opinion – or entertainment – can leave one jousting with windmills. It makes no sense to me. There are parts I love, but it has had more than enough time to bring “peace on earth, goodwill to all men” with very little success.

Maybe we should shut our Bibles and open our minds and hearts to a God with better self-control, kinder predilections, and more wisdom than the petty despot this book urges us to worship.

Must we limit our gods to one bloodthirsty, bigoted misogynist? Must we learn only from Saul of Tarsus and his converted followers? If some of what they have to tell us is pure hogwash, why should we believe the rest without any checks to see if it makes sense?

Why would God want us to believe first and ask questions later? Then why give us curiosity and the ability to think for ourselves? Or – alternatively – is this something a human ruler might wish on his subjects, making them malleable and obedient? Why else would people with kind hearts and working minds make war after war after war with each other with no personal gain possible? You need gullible people if you’re going to conquer the known world or gain the title of “the greatest nation on earth” bullying smaller, less advanced countries.

1Mark 16:16

©August, 2018, David N. Dodson, Phoenix, AZ

Categories Miscellaneous

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