Tuesday, March 30

Intelligent biblical literalism

There are odd fish in the sea:
Yesterday I had lunch with my philosophy professor... again (follow-up to this post)

Once again formalities were exchanged. This time a little more time was spent on “catching up.”

After all the pleasantries, I brought up the Catholic Church sex scandal and asked him his opinion. He replied that it is ignorant to view any church leader, from the ushers to the Pope himself as a moral authority. He reiterated his position that all human being were “flawed” and that none could be considered any more moral than the next. I quickly moved to the subject of the Bible.

My question concerned the book itself and how it was written and assembled. He told me of his theory that the Bible was “an evolution of revelation” and how god decided to reveal himself a bit at a time, as our “frail minds” began to seek more answers, thus the assemblage of the New Testament some 300 to 400 years after the founding of Christianity. We discussed the ecumenical councils and how, with divine guidance, god did not allow that which is not “true” to be admitted into the final works. We also discussed the various ancient writing that were included in the Torah and the catholic bible, but omitted from the Christian bible. He insisted that these other religions had been corrupted and god had excused himself from continuing to guide the editors of other holy books. I asked how he was able to obtain this information, and his reply was the simple fact that the bible is absolutely consistent throughout while the others were not was proof enough. He was able to name specific dates, locations and even the names and titles of the people involved in everything from the various books of the bible, to ecumenical councils, and even the names, dates of reign and age at the time of death of each and every catholic Pope.

At this point, I decided to throw out some biblical stories that showed inconsistencies. No matter which one I mentioned, he was able to twist words and definitions (claiming that the ‘original text’ is much clearer, and these inconsistencies were only because of misinterpretation errors) using the 4 Greek words for “love” as an example. I then mentioned the story of Jacob in Genesis, this being the one absurd story that I studied prior to our meeting. (Jacob wrestles with god and almost wins until god dislocates Jacob’s leg) I though if my professor claims the bible is “literally rue” then he, too would find this story absurd. Alas, he had a defense for this story also. Using the several parts of the bible in which god refers to himself as “we”, he insisted it was the “angel of the lord” who did the actual wrestling, and that the whole story literally happen. He said he could see how most people would find this story absurd, but that most people would not know the context, and if they did, they would understand that it was literally true.

At every turn he seemed to be enjoying my objections. He is the best biblical apologist I have ever met. Sometimes he says that those who are truly in search of truth will understand the bible, and at other times he says that errors and inconsistencies are non-existent in the original Hebrew and Greek text. Regardless, he had a detailed and well though-out answer to every question I presented to him.

When I claim god is barbaric, he would often agree and claim that morality is relative and god is moral, even when do not understand his actions. When I questioned god’s requirement of blood sacrifices, he told me it was necessary. When I asked why the rule-maker couldn’t come up with better rules for himself, he said the rules were made so that humans could understand, and that just goes to show the infinite wisdom of god.

He told me he has seen each and every Penn and Teller “bullshit” episode and has read every book by Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. He made it clear that this is his life’s work and his passion.

I had previously told him that I was a devout Christian in my youth, and he said that because of this I had won a place in heaven, despite my current (lack of) beliefs.

Finally, I asked him if it were not for the Bible, would he still hold to his beliefs. He basically dismissed this question, citing that the assembly of the bible was always part of “god’s plan”, and that without it, god knew human kind would never know his character. It is a necessary part of the eternal plan for mankind.

As we were leaving, he informed me that from this point forward, he would refer to me as his “atheist brother.”

Something about him makes me want to call him my friend.

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