Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Blasphemy"? How so?

In a recent comment at the end of Part 2, 'The Futility of Debating Religious Believers', my Pastor brother has said he will no longer be posting on this blog on account of "blasphemy" directed at his assorted beliefs, and being "cussed out".

I don't know, but I have a sneaking suspicion that those aren't the real reasons for his departure. I will bet that - if you subjected him to a proper interrogation - he'd fess up that he and Rene simply couldn't hack it. They had the logic "leather" taken to them and they simply quit.

Using a few remarks to justify leaving is simply a cop out, but I do recall him saying (when I ceased posting on his blog) that I had "thrown in the towel". But only in an indirect way: in the sense of tossing in the towel that we'd ever have a meaningful debate.

Up to now, that remains a far away dream or distant illusion, especially after his fulsome blasphemy charge. A charge, incidentally, that rings somewhat hollow given that Pastor Mike has evidently asserted he wants to banish "all 14 other versions of the Bible, that are not King James, to the flames of Hell" (According to harleyman who checked Mike's website - but who also warned that now that he knows we know, he will quickly seek to remove the offending phrase. Not cricket, Mike!)

On scanning through the assorted comments in the wake of Mike's appearance on my site (along with Rene's) I simply see no evidence of any "cussing" or "blasphemy". I do see hard-hitting comebacks, some laced with justifiable impatience (including from my own hand) given how both Rene and Mike have dodged accountability and adhering to the basic rules of logic.

Looking at one or two specific remarks, I conceivably see where Mike got his blasphemy idea. One comment by Caleb (Shay) was to the effect that if aliens ever land the first thing they ought to do is zap and destroy all bibles with a raygun.

Now, this does sound a little over the top, but not when you think of it. Because theological writers from James Byrne to Pascal Boyer have warned that when people become fixated on secondary artifacts like religious books and texts (e.g. Bible) to the exclusion of the living principles - they risk idolatry.

James Byrne especially has noted the serious dangers of excessive attachment to the Bible and how toxic it can be to character.

In his book, 'GOD', Chapter Four: Facing the Wrath of God, he notes it is important to be aware and conscious when reading the Bible because it brings Christian (and to an extent, Jewish) believers face to face with the ornery, anthropomorphic caricature many of them worship.

The classical biblical reference as Byrne notes, is in Genesis:6:6
wherein this deity gets angry and even regrets creating humans. Can such an entity be real? Of course not! It’s an anthropomorphized projection emanating from the vicious and primitive brain cells of the scribes (or whoever) that wrote it!

Thus, using biblical and other examples, does Byrne brilliantly lay bare the destructive elements in many of the concepts of God which pervade ancient scriptures. The torturing monster who had his way with Job is another case. Anyone who takes this seriously as a reflection of an actual divine entity is definitely in need of some therapy or “clearing” of brain engrams (to use the parlance of the balmy Scientologists). As Byrne puts it, the lesson of the Book of Job is NOT about the suffering of the innocent (as Christian Michael Novak and others try to portray it) but rather the nature of an anthropomorphic God.

Toward the end of the chapter, Byrne shows how believers might purge such infantile
conceptions from their mind to at least gain more insight and arrive at a more sober
approach to Being. Purging these infantile conceptions also means they will be less likely to call "blasphemy" at each and every biblical criticism they hear or see -including the need to eradicate all bibles.

Which by the way, is quite logical when one thinks of it. If all bibles were to be eliminated then what? I believe the believers would finally be forced to LIVE their principles instead of endlessly regurgitating them by quoting chapter and verse. And then using those regurgitated citations to heap hate on all others who don't exactly share all their same beliefs. (Including the bible used to quote them!)

Pastor Mike, then, really needs to put down his King James bible and read Byrne's book. I am convinced it would open up novel neuronal connections.

As I pointed out to Mike in one e-mail exchange, of all the versions of the Bible the King James is perhaps the most discredited because it contains the most erroneous baggage. Most of this was acquired after the 12th century manuscripts of Erasmus were used to provide its substance - when we know Erasmus translated carelessly from the Latin Vulgate. Most serious copyists of the time, or even earlier, would shun anything as error-rife as the "KJV".

But hey, in its final transcription ca. 1611, some really flashy English was used, and it soon became the "hit" of the English speaking world. The truth is more sobering, that the Revised Standard Version easily trumps it.

I regret that Mike and Rene plan to depart, but it was as expected as my departure from their site. At the end of the day, we are too different- our thinking too radically divergent, as well as our language (not to mention logic) to have any meaningful dialogue or associations.

A pity, but perhaps the core of the human condition.

1 comment:

Caleb Shay said...

What a terrific blog piece! (And thanks for not condemning me like your brother does, as a blasphemer).

It was pretty clear to me from the outset that neither of those two bible-pounders could hack it over here. They were unable to control the posts-comments, or edit them or hold them up (until they could make replies) so they did the only thing left - gave up.

Sad, but as you said, kind of expected.

Somehow, I don't think anyone will miss them here.