…Nor the Battle to the Strong – Tue 3rd Jul 07

The bible is a book written by primitive humans.  In it, we see how the world looked through their eyes.  We see what was important to them, and how they anthropomorphised their culture and values in a supreme being.  As you would expect of a very ancient book, it reflects the horror and darkness of human history, but that’s not to say the bible is all bad.  It contains some beautiful poetry, good advice, and great metaphor.  If the bible was taken as the historical book that it is and not constantly treated as the inerrant actual word of a god, I daresay atheists would have more time for it.

Leaving contradiction aside, the bible tells us that murder is wrong; not to steal; don’t lie about people; treat the poor well.  Throughout the Old Testament, respect for father and mother is repeated time and again.  The punishment for disrespect is albeit typically biblical, but the advice is good.

The bible teaches that wisdom and knowledge can bring happiness [1].  It even says that we should take care of animals [2].

Perhaps ironically, Proverbs 14:15 tells us that simple people believe every word, but prudent people look carefully.  Perhaps this encourages us to think critically before we believe??

Consider the truth of “pride goes before a fall [3]”, and a good name is better than being rich [4].

Jesus told his followers to pray in secret [5], and to never make a big deal about fasting or public displays of honour and religiosity.  Jesus said we should be more concerned about being true to ourselves instead of seeking praise and admiration from other people [6].  Do you think the modern day church follows this advice?

Famously, Jesus offered the advice which I shall paraphrase: before you offer to remove the straw from your brother’s eye, remove the rafter that is in yours!  In other words, don’t go picking other people’s faults without noticing your own.

The bible also contains the golden rule.  Now, the bible didn’t invent it, nor was Jesus the first to say it (despite what some might like to think), but it’s still good advice.  In fact, it’s the single most important principle in my opinion: treat people like you want to be treated! [7] If the human race actually lived by this principle, would there be any avoidable suffering or death?

The story of the Good Samaritan is another excellent parable.  Rather than look to people of the same location, language, culture, colour, or religion, here we are taught that our “neighbour” is the one that shows compassion, regardless of who they are or where they come from. [8]

The apostle Paul later teaches: when it comes to malice be like children, but when it comes to understanding be like men.  Brilliant advice: be meek and humble and ready to listen, but when it comes to knowledge, don’t just accept and absorb like children do, but think, study, and scrutinise. [9]

Peter the disciple says something which ties in very nicely with the theme behind my blog: “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away”.  In other words, life is short, so make the most of it. [10]

I’ll close with one of my favourite passages from the “good” book:

“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” [11]

What is Paul saying here?  That it’s not about speed, or strength, or riches, because time and bad luck can befall anyone.  None of us know when our time is up.

There’s no reason the good parts in the bible can’t be appreciated for what they are.  In the same way the evil parts should also be acknowledged.  Just as we can’t pretend that the bible is perfect and flawless, so we can’t pretend that it has no use at all.  What atheists like me will maintain however is that the good stuff, like the bad stuff, comes from humans.  And we can have all the goodness that religion offers, without religion itself.

 

[1] Prov 3:3

[2] Prov 12:10

[3] Prov 16:18

[4] Prov 22:1

[5] Matt 6:5

[6] Matt 6:1-5

[7] Luke 6:31-34

[8] Luke 10:30-37

[9] 1 Corin 14:20

[10] 1 Peter 1:24

[11] Eccles 9:11-12

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3 Responses to “…Nor the Battle to the Strong – Tue 3rd Jul 07”

  1. tobe38 Says:

    Excellent post!

    It’s important that Christians don’t think we want to throw the baby out with the bath water. There is good content in the Bible and we’re happy to accept it – we just dispute the source!

    Well said.

  2. Rob Clack Says:

    Just found your blog and it’s terrific! Insightful, refreshing, riveting! Thank you.

  3. evanescent Says:

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks very much for the kind words! Glad you like!


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