I just finished reading Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D Erhman. It was one of the easiest reads I’ve done in quite a while. Not because it was over-simplified or non-scholarly. It is quite the opposite really. I think it was so easy for me, because it’s a topic that I find great interest in and one that I was deeply immersed in from childhood through young adulthood. In this book, Erhman discusses the many inconsistencies and discrepancies within the New Testament. These inconsistencies are not only in the actual words within the various manuscripts that we have of the books, but also its major theological themes between the various writers of the books (many of which are anonymous, contrary to popular belief).
Erman discusses how this information is found through the historical-critical method of biblical study. This is what all seminary students are required to learn. He outlines how we have no original manuscripts of the gospel books. And the versions we do have were passed down via word-of-mouth for several decades after the supposed death of Jesus before they were written down by people who never even knew Jesus. He also discusses the evidence that shows that Paul didn’t actually write many of the books that are actually attributed to him.
While I already knew of a lot of the inconsistencies and the history of how the bible was put together, Erhman’s scholarly approach was very interesting. The information he presented in the book is widely accepted throughout the world, by biblical scholars, as legitimate.
Erhman is a self-proclaimed agnostic even though he was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. He maintains throughout the book that the historical-critical study of the bible did not lead to his loss of faith. The last chapter of the book is dedicated to a high-level explanation of what led him, ultimately, to disbelief.
What amazed me most from what I read in this book is what I mentioned in an earlier paragraph: That all seminary students are presented with the historical-critical perspective as a part of their religious education. Ehrman explains, most Christian parishioners that he has talked to over the years, have never heard this information from their pastors. Why is it that pastors chose a devotional/emotional approach from the pulpit rather than ever discussing the history that they’ve been taught? Are they afraid of losing some of their congregation due to the obvious questions that would result from finding out that the bible is not the inerrant word of God? Are they merely history deniers? I wonder what the reasons would be. I know that in all the many years that I spent in church, I never heard this information until I started digging for myself, and from my perspective this information just goes to further secure what I’ve already been questioning for many years.
In honor of Darwin Day, I thought that I would just post some Charles Darwin quotes that I really like. So here goes:
* We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.
* I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can.
* There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
* It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
Happy Birthday Charles Darwin. Today I celebrate the life of a man who we may find, ultimately, caused more change in the worldview of human kind than any other in history. At least that’s my hope. Maybe one day everyone will find the path that I found and shed superstition and replace it with reason, science, and critical thinking. Maybe one day Darwin’s theory will be so common place that the debate is finally put to rest.
Maybe one day!
(** for the first few posts, I’ll be posting information that i’ve written in previous months. Once I catch up, it will be new stuff in real time**)
In recent months, I’ve found myself in a place I’ve never been in before. A place that is many things. Sometimes it’s a scary place. Sometimes it’s an enlightening place. Sometimes it’s even a comforting place. More than anything, I find myself in a confusing place.
I’m not sure what’s brought this period along in my life. Or why all of a sudden it’s here. Maybe it’s growing older that causes this. Maybe it’s me becoming more satisfied with my place in life and my mind has more time to think about things. I guess when it comes down to it, the ‘whys’ really don’t matter. The fact is, I’ve arrived here, and now I’ve got to figure out where to go from here.
I suppose I should explain what ‘this place’ is at this point. I seem to have developed an insatiable thirst for knowledge. More specifically, knowledge or our origins. By my use of the word “Our” I mean, this human race. In the 21st century. How did we get here? Why do we believe the things we believe about our past? What forces are really at work in the world, universe, and beyond? Why do the various religions of the world believe what they believe? What do they have in common? Who’s right?
One thing is for sure…I don’t appreciate people telling me I’m wrong in my beliefs. I’d like to know who they think gives them the authority to say or even think that. I guess that’s my problem with organized religion. It’s either their way, or you’re wrong (even to the point of claiming that your ‘lost’). I guess, though, in their defense, they’d be hypocritical to believe what they believe without thinking that every other viewpoint is wrong. I, personally, want to know what EVERY ‘religion’ believes…and how they arrived at their theories. I think it’s only through that knowledge that we may be able to come to our own conclusions and maybe some REAL truth to what’s really going on.
As for MY beliefs? Well, I guess that’s really how I got here. I don’t entirely KNOW what my beliefs are. I have some theories (I’ll probably get into those later), but I’m not totally sold on anything. For a while, I figured I was atheist. It was my logical, scientifically thinking mind that took me there. However, lately, I’m thinking that maybe there is something out there. Though, I don’t believe that there is a single omnipotent force that willed the entire universe into existence and that punishes non-believing souls to an eternity of fire and brimstone. My upbringing would like me to believe those things, but my mature mind tells me how illogical that really is. Never in my life have I seen or experienced ANYTHING that I would consider to be ‘supernatural’. If there was even ONE instance that I could refer to of something that happened and I couldn’t apply a logical explanation to it, then I would have reason to doubt myself. But, no, there’s been nothing.