Sunday, 11 January 2015

No Holy Books, Thank You

It's been a funny old week in the online community. I do most of my socializing on the internet due to a) living in the middle of nowhere which at present is colder than Mars and is an all-white frozen landscape that everyone is avoiding, and b) I work all hours God sends.

So, anyway, talking of God, as we have done quite a bit this week, the poor dude has really been in trouble one way and another. Got the blame for a lot of things, but it has to be said, it's his own fault.

Are there any of you not slack-jawed and wide-eyed yet? What the hell is Melanie on? Wait, it gets better.

I have been accused this week of being everything. Everything, I tell you. Left-wing, right-wing, atheist, theist, anti-Christian, pro-Christian, anti-Muslim, pro-Muslim, anti religion in general, pro religion in general. If you can think of any two opposite within this area, I've been accused of both extremes. More than once in most cases.

Those of you who know me well know that I'm none of these, I'm just a philosopher.

I have read all the holy texts. All the ones available, anyway. I have a comprehensive collection. And I've enjoyed all of them. I also reject all of them, for my own life. I don't need them. If you do, well, that's OK, provided you are aware that they are old, and that things have changed.

Today I found this on Facebook:

During a missions trip to Ghana years ago, I found myself on a beautiful beach on the Gulf of Guinea one morning. I was surrounded by a swarm of bustling womenand children who waved goodbye to all the men who were pushing their small fishing boats out through the breaking waves in hope of a good day’s catch. The sand was white, the sky was blue, the sun was warm, yet – I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder at the ominous reminder of a horrific not-so-distant past – the towering Elmina Castle, a major hub in the Atlantic slave trade (as seen here, illustrated in the background).
Later that day I found myself struggling to hear any of the words coming out of our guide’s mouth. On the verge of tears for over an hour, I thought back to a trip to Auschwitz years earlier. Something about this castle seemed completely different. Why was it so different? As I stood inside the largest cell, the darkness barely lit by a single barred doorway far at one end, I heard the only words I remembered from that day, “600 men and 400 women.” What? In here? All at once? This cell was no larger than an elementary classroom! Then it hit me – this place was so different than Auschwitz because these prisoners were expected to live! In captivity, as property, forever… Lingering back to hide my tears behind my camera, I took a photo of… Darkness.
That evening, I found myself back on the same beach, trying to enjoy an amazing sunset for which the Gold Coast is known. Instead, I prayed… “What kind of a God would issue a commandment against coveting another man’s property but not against making another human being a piece of property in the first place? What kind of loving God stands by as millions of His own children are bought, sold, and slaughtered – justified by the laws given by His own Word and Law? What kind of Son of God would allow the foudner of the early church to utter a phrase such as, ‘Slaves, obey your masters…’”
So, there I was – a mere human, knowing full well that owning another human has always been morally wrong. I didn't need a commandment to define my morality. Meanwhile, my colleagues were out distributing Bibles that prescribed and promoted the atrocities for which Elmina Castle was built to facilitate. Looking back, as I sat on that beach with tears again filling my eyes, it may have been one of the final nails in the coffin of my Christianity.
“And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared
and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.“
- Jesus Christ, Luke 12:47 (NLT)
Of course, in ancient days, slavery was not about racism as we identify with today. Yet sadly, slavery still exists in many parts of the world today – from forced labor camps to sexual exploitation. Jesus apparently didn’t think it was important to rid the earth of slavery. We can do better - we must! You can wait for God, if you like, but I'm pretty sure it's up to us.
- Horus Gilgamesh
= = = = =
Remember: Don’t blame us, it’s in the Bible!
This illustration and commentary can be found in Vol #2:
I daresay this would raise all sorts of objections, but it's interesting isn't it. Slavery in the Bible is not seen as a problem, and the excuse that is given is that "that was then, this is now". Quite so. We have moved on from that. We now understand that it's wrong. There are many examples of things that go on in the Bible and other holy books that we don't do now.

However, it's rather selective, isn't it. Some things are in these ancient books and are quoted and used now and woe betide anyone who says "that was then this is now". You'll be told by the conservatives that it's the word of God, which doesn't change. Then the liberals will chip in with "....but our understanding of it does."

Could it not have been a bit clearer in the first place?

I don't believe any of these books are the Word of God. I think a being that is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent would be a better writer, frankly. She wouldn't obfuscate, she wouldn't provide different instructions to different parts of the world, and she wouldn't make errors.

No. These books were written by men, and they did their best. You can't blame them. Their intent was probably honourable. They were men of the times, they went by the culture they knew, and their writings were intended for their own, then. They had no way of knowing what the future would bring, and they couldn't make allowances for that had they wanted to. But that wasn't what it was for. It was for then, there, and them. These books have lasted in popularity because they were cared for. I daresay plenty of other really wise writings have vanished without trace. But these had special status so they survived. It doesn't mean they were better. You can find books in remainder bins that are FAR better than bestsellers, there's a lot of luck involved in writing, as a matter of fact.

Not only that, what we know as one book is often a collection of writings gathered together. I don't just mean that the Bible is many books, but that for example, Genesis is obviously from two different writers. Nobody seems to care about this, so it has kept its inconsistencies all this time.

Then there are the writings that are not included.

I do recommend reading all of these writings that were left out, you can find them all online. Why were they left out? Good question. We can only surmise. Or let's say...opinions vary.

So here we are, with very old books, written by people who lived a long time ago, who knew a lot less than us, and while they may have been good people with good intentions, and unquestionably some good ideas, I happen to think it's wholly inappropriate to use the ideas of these men to guide our lives today. 

I'm not swayed by the suggestion that some of their ideas were absolutely spot on perfect. They were not the first nor last to come up with the exact same ideas. Because some of their ideas were bollocks, as a matter of fact. Wheat and quote one of them. So in that respect these men were no different to any other writer.

And this applies to ALL of the holy books. They all have good stuff, and they all have nonsense and plainly unethical stuff. Use the good stuff, by all means. Pick and choose, why not, the followers do.

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