Monday, 13 September 2010

Doubts in faith

I think that even if a person is a nihilist one still must structure their thoughts around something. Be that religious, irreligious or otherwise there does seem to be a group of ideas that flavor someone's mind in a certain way. Being stuck in a perpetual limbo, as you suggested above, does strike me as a rather unenviable position. And I definitely respect making a decision about where one stands regarding these questions. I have written in other places outlining reasons for why I think that the proposition of god is unneeded and false. Be assured that I do not live life worrying about contingency. In my view there is greater beauty in a life without god or gods, but my atheism is not superior to your theism, nor have I found any so-called truth. I leave dealing in absolutes to preachers and politicians.

What I don't know exhilarates me and drives me to search for answers. Becoming stuck on a question or a dilemma is not pointless in my view, especially if the implied corollary is that it is more comfortable to stick with one's original belief even in the teeth of doubt. Sure, doubts are important for not everything preachers or peers say is correct and one needs to be skeptical. But reevaluation of a belief structure does appear to be necessary in some cases, even if it turns out that all is needed is a reinterpretation of particular texts.

At this point in the process of doubts if one feels as though they need to reinterpret holy texts, upon what authority do they claim to do such a thing? If the texts were divinely inspired or god-breathed and not, as scholars have suggested, man-made then any such reinterpretation would suggest that mortal man knows better than omnipotent god. This would appear to be a contradiction and leaves a choice between three equally disturbing options: A, the text is divinely inspired and completely true and any 'interpretation' by men is blasphemous and incorrect; B, the text is man-made from it's origin and therefore an incorrect myth about god; C, parts of the holy texts are god-breathed but other parts are not and these are up for revision when evidence contradicts them.

The first option is not as safe as it appears because clearly there are things in the bible that are incorrect as evidence will show. A cursory glance at some of the leading literature on biblical historicity and scientific advances should reveal these anomalies. So if one chooses option ‘A’ then one must wrestle with the fact that the god that wrote them is not all-knowing after all, and in fact is mistaken about a great many things. The second option is equally depressing for theists, but far more accommodating to available facts. If the bible was written by animals half a chromosome away from chimpanzees then one should expect to find inconsistencies and contradictions riddled among the pages. And the problems in the bible are not few. There is no theological problem when one adopts this view, and even less reason to suspect divine authorship. However, the last point raises further problems for the theist, and I think more salient for it is the choice most have chosen throughout history. Namely, how can a finite animal such as a homosapien tell which parts of the bible are inspired and which are not? If such a claim were made that some people can indeed spot the difference while others cannot, such as clerics and preachers, why then do they declare to know something they clearly are unable to? I view this as a terrible dilemma for a theist, and one that clearly cannot be answered without adding further contradictions.

Perhaps I’ve missed something, but the mere fact that any part of the bible raises doubts in a believer does appear to suggest human origin rather that divine. A perfect book would never raise doubts you must agree.

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