Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Authorship

Each of us finds certain things annoying and one of my great annoyances is getting into a discussion with someone and having them hurl bible verses at me. I don't believe in the divine authorship principle, so the person would have just as much impact on me if they were quoting from Peter Pan or an Archie comic book!

I just cannot understand how any rational person could read the bible and believe that it was written by some supernatural being. (Yes, there was a period in my life when I was such a person and all I can say is that I was then a very irrational bloke.) Besides all the factual errors, inconsistencies and contradictions contained in this work, it makes no sense to me that, if a God exists, he or she wouldn't simply write the book his/herself and then disseminate it.

From a Christian standpoint, every person (with the exception of the man-god Jesus) is flawed and unworthy. We're all miserable wretches who can only find salvation through the mercy of the big guy upstairs. So, why would this supreme being trust imperfect humans to transmit his holy writ accurately? Wouldn't he worry that some ignoramus would botch the transmission and garble the heavenly message?

Have you ever tried the experiment of having one person tell a brief story and then person after person repeats the story to members of an assembled group? I have (with a peace group in Oregon). There were ten of us and the facilitator had a pre-written story of about three paragraphs. He quietly told the person sitting to his left. That person then tried as best he could to repeat what he had just heard to the person on his left. This process continued until each attendee had heard the story.

The last person was instructed to write down the story as she heard it. We then compared the two. Needless to say, the tenth rendition of the story barely resembled the initial version. Major facts had been added and just as many major facts had been omitted. The setting had changed, the number of people involved had changed and the moral of the story had changed too.

With this anecdote in mind, let's return to the bible. Most of the books in the Old Testament (we won't discuss the NT because most of those books are letters) are far longer than three short paragraphs. This god would necessarily have needed to dictate for hours on end, yet we're too believe that nary a word was out of place?

Not only that, but the books of the OT were written in an archaic language and have been translated numerous time over. It defies credulity to believe that the context and meaning hasn't been disturbed throughout this process, particularly when we remember who is doing this translating -- human wretches that, but for the mercy of the almighty, deserve to burn in hell for all eternity.

Now, according to the biblical tale, God obviously didn't trust human authors enough to dictate to someone the ten commandments. He wrote them out himself on tablets of stone. After receiving the tablets, Moses was a very bad boy and broke them. So, he had to go back up the hill to ask god to make some new ones.

So, if this supreme entity couldn't trust we miserable humans to write out accurately 10 - 12 sentences, it's absolutely irrational to think he would turn around and trust humans to write tens of thousands of words spanning a multitude of pages and various books. The ONLY way I could see someone making any sense of this tact is if they believe their god is wholly irrational, but that would sort of undermine the whole deal.

It simply makes more sense that, if there is a god, he/she would have written out the whole thing at the appropriate time and disseminated it in a multitude of languages so that there wouldn't be any need for translations and no chance that any human could screw the thing up.

But that's not how we're told it happened and that's why many of us think the whole thing is laughable bunk.

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