A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible
Hunc tu caveto.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Roughly all religious testimonies where someone actually claims to have come into contact with a primary source or ’God’ is the same. And I can say that because I’ve heard many testimonies in my life, and I’ve noticed the pattern.

Essentially, the person hits some hard times or some significant event leaves the person with no other option than to give up or surrender.
What happens next is where they make their mistake, because no one really knows what they’re surrendering to, but they sure would like to know.
Usually, they believe they are surrendering to God, and what God is to a desperate individual largely depends on what a person already believes God to be.

And that’s the problem. "God" is a word that carries with it certain baggage, and the word entails different things depending on the context. I’m pretty sure ancient Greeks, when in similar circumstances, petitioned with all their heart to Zeus or even Poseidon. If Hurricane Katrina occurred in ancient Greece, for example, people would’ve been praying their hearts out to Poseidon.

The person who first converted me claimed to have had God speak to him, and so he picked up the Bible and became caught up with its mythos. If you believe the Bible is true, then of course you will wind up believing that the picture that it paints is true. This becomes obvious in the choice of words people use.

A very common thing to say, something that I’ve said myself, is that "The Bible tells us that _________ (fill in the blank) is true" or "Jesus tells us (through the Bible) that __________ (fill in the blank) is true."

The entire statement is built on the assumption that the Bible is true.
I can’t say that I have personally met God, but I have met religion. My brush with religion is largely the experience that most people have. I really don’t think most people who profess to be religious really buy into their own religion. They try to, but they don’t really believe it. This is because most people do not meet face-to-face with a primary source, and are thus prone to doubt. And this is a good thing.

Most people have never seen a convincing miracle. Instead, they are religious because of some perceived social pressure, and thus become religious because of a secondary source.

This secondary source is extremely common and powerful. Church is, after all, important to certain families; it’s culturally important in certain regions; and sometimes it’s just a fun place to hang out. Most people go to church to be around other people.

The trick to not get into this mess, is to not make the first mistake of assuming that religion must be true. When you’ve managed to surrender and you feel that blissful feeling that everything will be okay, don’t run to the Bible or the Koran for answers. While I don’t doubt that when one manages to totally surrender, there is a feeling of bliss and vivid awareness of some sort of presence, we should quickly understand that this is a feeling that people of all religions have felt.

The first mistake comes when the individual gives this feeling of presence a name and subscribes to a background story that simply isn’t true.

And to you people who have never felt the primary source, it would behoove you to be more skeptical toward such claims.

1 comment:

Young at any Age said...

Almost 40 years ago, like you, I graduated with my BA in Philosophy. I was going to try for a Ph.D. until I realized everything, philosophically speaking, is true and not true at the same time. So I went to law school instead.

Good luck to you Andrew.