Sunday, February 5, 2012

Answers in Genesis

If you haven't read Genesis - you haven't gotten the foundation of the Jewish and Christian (and presumably Muslim) religions from the acknowledged source.

If you skip Genesis and read only Exodus through the later prophets, the Bible reads as if the central character - Yahweh - is nothing more than a human illusionist or scam artist. There are a lot of negative adjectives that can be used for Yahweh, but the most famous collection is found in this statement from Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion:

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."

"Insecure, murderous punk" is my personal synopsis. Without some establishing some credentials, Yahweh is no more than a petty tyrant.

Claiming "God did it" - as millennia of appropriately skeptical observers have noted, is not adequate validation that he-who-done-it exists in the reality that we all share. The first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible does nothing to establish the bona fides of Yahweh ... it simply presumes at the beginning of all things, God did it. It goes on to paint a picture that is well removed from modern understanding of the cosmos. Later, we get to the creation of man and woman, then propagation of their offspring - who amazingly meet other humans out in the world. These other humans are never explained. Then we get to the memorable, but supremely impossible story of Noah's ark - a boat which serves as a repository for examples of all life on earth for a whole year. When the flood dies down, Noah's family encounters "other humans" again, just like the post-Adam story. These folks aren't explained either. The book closes with the dying of Jacob, and the establishment of the twelve tribes of Israel, which sets the stage for the cultural history that follows in Exodus.

Apologists and "sophisticated theologists" have and do weave all sorts of convoluted, self-contradictory and illogical arguments and excuses that seek to 1) establish "proof" of God's existence; 2) clarify (or sell their personal spin on...) the Bible for the consumption of the faithful; 3) reinforce faith in current believers - or gain new converts; 4) defend the base stories and the layers of interpretation and spin against the data and understanding that have accrued throughout human history.

When will Apologists, "sophisticated theologists" and rank-and-file believers just grow tired and say "this is stupid, how could I ever have believed this?". Inquiring minds want to know.

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