Monday, October 23, 2006

The unbearable strangeness of faith-heads

Earlier this month a naive Xian created the thread "Greetings from a theist" on the RDF discussion board. This Xian, whose handle is "thegoodbook," introduced himself as the owner of a North Carolina bookshop which "specializes in religious materials."

Among other things he claimed:
The matter of the fact is that The Bible is the most perfect written work ever assembled and that if we fail to realize this, then we are in trouble.

A forumer challenged this so-called perfection of the bible by citing the inconsistencies between the lineages of Jesus provided by Luke and Matthew. thegoodbook rationalized and explained it away by saying,
although The Bible is not internally consistent does not mean that it is not perfect. Again, we are describing the same thing from different points of view, but I will try not to leave it at that. I believe that The Bible is perfect. I have many reasons for this.

Consistency is not a criterion for judging something perfect. Try to digest that. It means any book is a candidate for being described as perfect. And so would any government notwithstanding the presence of conflicting, contradicting policies and haphazard enforcement of the law. (Well, what do you know? The Philippines still has a chance of being called perfect.) So what are the criteria for perfection?

thegoodbook continues:
If The Bible were to say 2+2=6, then I would believe it because that is where I derive my truth from. But, the Bible is not a math book so I look to mathematics for the sum of two and two. If it is internally inconsistent as to the lineage(s) of Jesus, then there must surely have been a reason for this and only adds to the mystry of the whole idea of The Bible and its perfection. But I don't know, I wasn't there. All I have is faith and evidence (proof) that is coherent in the context of that faith.

Folks, according to the bible π = 3. I'm sure this bloke will have nothing of what his math teachers taught him to the contrary. I can almost see him furiously exorcising his car for having tires that don't conform to god's mathematical constant.

Note that when Xians finally get cornered and are unable to explain an inconsistency, contradiction, or whatnot, they whip out the all-reliable "God is mysterious" flash card (used particularly when the question is about the presence of horrid evils that God permits and how God fails to save people from them). "God's ways are mysterious" is meant to be the mother of all inquiry stoppers. "Mystery" is suppposed to be the Great Wall you can't possibly punch through or climb over--we can't possibly know; it's beyond our puny brains to comprehend. In fact it means two things. 1. It translates to "You got me there. I haven't the foggiest idea." 2. The believer is sending the message that there is nothing in the world that can possibly falsify his belief, that there's absolutely nothing that could change his mind--neither contrary evidence, inconsistencies, contradictions, ... Nothing. For such a believer faith always trumps reason, even in the presence of confuting evidence (e.g. a "perfect" text that contains inconsistencies).

Spurred by thegoodbook's mind-boggling math remark, a member asked, "[And] if the bible said it's ok to rape?" Our diehard theist replied:
Sort of a rediculous question, but IF The Bible said it was OK to rape, then it would be OK to rape. Many atheists like to cite The Bible as stating that it is OK, indeed required, to kill your family if they do not believe. Well, I depart from God on this point which I don't have a problem doing.

My jaw dropped to the floor. I had to read his position on rape twice to make sure my eyes didn't skip over any "not" before "OK." Go read that sentence again. This guy is telling us that if the bible permits heinous crime Y then in thegoodbook's ethical system Y would and should be permitted. Well, I think thegoodbook has a daughter. Sir, I really want to get to know your daughter.* Hand her over. What do you mean you won't allow it? Do I have to recite Genesis 19:8 to you? Now be quick about it.

On the other hand, despite his belief that the bible is perfect and is the source of truth, thegoodbook is his own god when it comes to slitting the throats of unbelieving family members. I take it he won't stone his children to death if they become agnostics/atheists, despite God's crystal clear instructions. By his decision thegoodbook apparently is telling us that he deems himself more perfect than The Good Book when it comes to provisions on treatment of unbelievers. Of course the simple truth is that thegoodbook cherry picks which verses he's going to seriously consider and which he'll simply turn a blind eye to.

Faith makes people irrational. It makes them unable to think clearly. It makes them unbearably queer.


* To know = to have sex


beepbeepitsme said...

Hw can someone seriously consider something to be "perfect" if it has inconsistencies?

Pefect: entirely without fault or defect

I would consider an inconsistency to be a fault or flaw.

Edwardson said...

It really boggles the mind, doesn't it? Despite glaring faults such as inconsistencies/contradictions text B is nevertheless perfect? What psychological process could possibly occur to make someone make such a claim?