May 7 2010

In Response to a discussion thread.

, Opinion , ,

Amanohyo, I teach Bible study courses and have taken many college-level course myself on Biblical analysis, interpretation, history, philosophy and comparative religion.

The Bible is, and always was until very recently, myth. A myth is a template for how humans deal with the divine.  It frames our relationship with it and defines the expectations of both sides of that relationship.

When the myth ceases to be a guideline, example, or expectation and becomes fact, historical record (as opposed to cultural history, which is something completely different) it distorts people's perception.

It would be as if someone watch 80 hours of classic western movies in order to prepare themselves for living on a ranch. Rather than treating them as a guideline of the sorts of behaviors they might find or be expected to learn on that ranch, a fundamentalist treats it as the reality they expect to find.  Some of them are so deluded as to perhaps expect the land out there to be in black & white.

Real-world Biblical scholars "beleive" the Bible is divinely inspired (not the words of God placed on paper...people wrote the Bible). They believe the events portrayed in the Bible to be a template for how to live our lives in harmonious connection to God.  They know that culturally the Bible contained the written law of the Tribe of Israel and so they treat that portion with respect, but don't count on it as the source of their law (unless they are of the tribe of Israel). The read the accounts of the Bible knowing that time, perception, dogma, politics, and just plain human error has distorted the pure message that inspired it.

Ultimately, any statement of belief (Creed) will be made based on a personal understanding of the Bible and not the understanding that comes from someone else.

Who am I to denounce a fundamentalist? i'll tell you what I have told many others.  I believe in God.  I believe in a God who lives inside and around the reality we've been able to decipher for ourselves. Any time I hear a scientist say "I don't know", I can confidently say "God" until that scientist says he does know.  There's a lot more that we don't know than what we do.  I am confident that my answer of "God" will be sufficient for a long, long time.

Once we understand everything and there are no mysteries left, then, and only then, woill I be willing to forego my faith.  However, I am more than willing to accept a rational, scientific explaination in favor of my faith if you have one to present. All I ask is that it be rational and scientific.

And this is the rub, there is no rational or scientific explaination for things you don't understand or else there wouldn't be a lack of understanding.  I am not denying demonstrable realities like evolution or theBig Bang, here.  I am talking mysteries such as life after death or an eternal soul.  I am talking about the moments before the Big Bang and the ultimate fate of the Universe.  My God lives there.  I use my Bible as a guideline for how pwople who have unanswerable questions get answqers from that God.  I use their (usually successful) strategies much as I would any book of stories to help me deal with my questions and doubts.

If I deny reality (defined as rational and scienntific) then i am a fool.  If I substitute an easy explaination for the unexplained I am a fool.  If I  accept that there are things I don't know and may never know then I am a realist.  If I place God in thoseholes as a way to help me rationalize reality then I am an optimist atworst.

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