I am sick to death of people using their religion as a cudgel. It’s disgusting, and the worst perpetrators are those who have no idea what they’re talking about. For instance, I had another verbal altercation with a woman who thinks gay marriage is the same as paedophilia and incest. Seriously. She wrote an article saying that if it was okay for people of the same sex to get married, then it should be okay for a father to molest his daughter. Excuse me?
The worst part is that she uses the bible to back up her claims. Here’s the thing. According to the English translation of the bible, the bible was not supposed to be translated from its original form…ever. So, by that measure the English-language bible should not be available to anyone. Unless this woman is capable of reading the ancient texts in their original language, she has no business quoting anything. The second portion of that issue is the reason why the bible was not supposed to be translated. Things lose their meaning. Think about it. Do you really think “chew the fat” would translate very well, or “I was canned”? If they were translated literally, they would make absolutely no sense. People have had their expressions as long as there has been formal language, and every language and culture has different expressions.
For example, the term cribbing has no meaning in North America that I’m aware of, but in India it means complaining. This is an English word that is used by people in India. How would we translate something like that? A person would have to be fully immersed in multiple cultures in order to do a proper translation of anything, and I have to say it’s very unlikely that the bible was translated by anyone who was open-minded enough to be well-versed in any culture other than their own. The bible was translated by people with a specific religious bent, and everything translated by them would have had that slant. Not just a biased opinion, but also a specific cultural mindset about what something means. If a term made no sense, they would have to improvise. Not a good thing when it comes to judging the morality of others, based on the supposed word of God. Never mind the whole, “Judge not lest ye be judged” thing.
Of course, the bible was not written by God. The bible was written by people. Even the account of Jesus and the crucifixion was written about fifty years after Jesus had supposedly ‘died for our sins’. Back then, contrary to what bible-thumpers believe, people simply did not live that long. After fifty years there wouldn’t likely have been anyone alive who had been around at the time the crucifixion story takes place. That relegates the story to the equivalent of our urban legends, if that. These days we have the internet to check up on facts and figures. Back then stories were told verbally. If you remember your bedtime stories even, there is a great deal of embellishment from our parents, let alone the stories being told back then about someone who was long dead.
Every tale that wasn’t written by the person it happened to, is hearsay, and then you have to be skeptical regarding the ones who supposedly had these things happen, because people lie all the time. They lied back then, and they lie today. In fact, it’s a lot harder to get away with a lie now, than it used to be. Communication is constant and instant now. We don’t have to wait for a traveller to bring word to us of our loved ones, hoping that the words are at least similar to what was actually said. No, we have e-mail and cell phones where we get the information “directly from the horse’s mouth” (another phrase that wouldn’t translate well I imagine) so to speak, and we get it as it’s being told. Even then the information is only as reliable as its source.
The sad fact is, there is no real truth in the world. There is only perspective. My viewpoint, even if my morals and beliefs are similar to someone else’s, will be completely different from that of another person. The information we take in and absorb will be different. Look at eyewitness accounts of criminal activity. Every account will be different, even when nobody is lying. We take in different information from the event than the information taken in by the person standing next to us.
Applying these principals to the stories of the bible, you can see where it’s not exactly reliable. I’m not saying belief in God is wrong, or even necessarily belonging to a structured religion. I’m just saying we can’t believe everything we read, even in the bible. Mistranslations, slanted beliefs, different cultural perspectives, hearsay, distortion from information passed through word-of-mouth (check the gossip mill for that one), embellishment by people wanting to entertain, and then the intake of differing information regarding an event – these things all add up to a confusing morass of nothing.
We can take the bible as a morality tale, if we like, but whose morality? It certainly isn’t God’s morality, seeing as the words were not written by God, and the translation itself forbidden. No, the morality we find in the bible is the morality found in the human beings who wrote the stories a couple thousand years ago. Are we supposed to compare ourselves to those people? We have nothing in common with them, except possibly our range of emotions and other human traits. Their lives looked nothing like ours.
They lived in times with a completely different governmental, social, and religious structure. The people then would have no idea how to cope with the lives we live now, and the reverse is true as well. After all, how many of us would survive in a time of disease-ridden filth in the streets, a complete lack of indoor plumbing, food we had to grow ourselves, and absolutely no protection from our governments? A time when most people were basically slaves to the various royalties.
If we took the bible at its word, we would also have to assume all people came from Adam and Eve. If that’s the case, then their children were banging each other and producing offspring from that incestuous coupling. Right. If we are all the descendants of Adam and Eve, our DNA should be similar. Siblings have specific markers that show them to be siblings. Alleles, they’re called. The same thing is found in parent-child relationships. If a child is born of two people with DNA that close, they share even more alleles. Our genetic structure would bear out the fact that we’re related to everyone else. So, not only is the idea repugnant, but it’s patently false at a genetic level.
I do find it funny when people go searching for the Ark. Noah’s, I mean, not the Ark of the Covenant. Why would anyone think there would be any portion of that Ark remaining, assuming it existed in the first place? It was made of wood, for crying out loud. Wood does not last thousands of years, with the exception of petrified wood which can last for millions of years. If the Ark had been petrified, it would have been found by now.
Faith in the ancient, and grossly inaccurate, stories is typical of the ignorant mindset I encounter with regards to these religious twits. I’m not saying they’re all twits – just the ones who choose to remain woefully uninformed, blinding themselves to scientific facts. If you want other people to believe what you believe, then you have to be able to present it to them in a form that’s believable. Logic would be of great assistance here.
As I’ve said before, the more I learn about science and anatomy, the more miraculous I think we are, and that science is not the enemy of religion. I’m agnostic, but I lean toward a belief in a supreme being of some sort simply because it makes more sense to me as I go. The complex structure of our bodies makes me feel there’s a lot we do not know about our origins, and there’s a lot we have to learn.
Our evolution into our current form is miraculous in itself. The various addresses/codes embedded into our stem cells that tell the cells exactly where to go and what to create when they get there, is beyond amazing to me. Embryonic stem cells are capable of anything. They start out identical, and then are routed to where they need to be. Once they’re there they create the part of us that’s supposed to be in that exact spot. The embryonic stem cells that create our hearts are the exact same as the ones that create our skin, and what the scientists are trying to figure out now, is how the hell they know the difference.
I think, if people would allow themselves to move beyond blind faith into a world of knowledge, they would find even more faith. Faith based on reality and not stories told by uneducated, illiterate masses. Ignorance may be bliss for the ignorant, but it pisses off everyone else.