I have been doing some lurking at other blogs for the last few days. I’ve not felt the “word” juices flowing in the old brain like I used to, so I haven’t written anything substantial. Writing to me is like having a bowel movement. Sometimes you’re constipated and nothing comes easily. Sometimes you have diarrhea with nothing of substance coming out, but other times, you have just the right movement; satisfying and perfectly formed. GROSS!!! 🙂 I suppose right now I could use some literary laxatives. But I digress…
I definitely attribute these bouts of inspiration to the spiritual mania I am prone to. I’ve never learned to discipline myself to be on an even keel when it comes to faith, spirituality, religion. I am a type of personality that is the personification of the Aries profile. Fiery, obnoxious, aggressive, you get the idea. I’m always whole hog for or against something, but never so-so, it would seem. I am never a big fan of the mundane, but love flash and color and excitement. If there isn’t any of that, I’d rather be asleep.
So anyway, I’m surfing and come across these guys. I love it when people can create a good web site with a catchy title and a running theme throughout. You see, I can’t do that. I’m decoratively and imaginatively challenged in the worst way. HGTV would never hire me. I can’t decorate my way out of a paper bag. So I really appreciate someone who can be creative and informative at the same time. Their recent post, “Is Atheism Rational?” brings up some very good points about the bible and spiritual reality, specifically:
…we here at Holy Bananas are of like mind with critics of the Bible in that it presents God as a genocidal murderer. It does. If you wish to argue this point, this is not the place. However, this is a critique of the Bible, not God. God isn’t a genocidal killer (or at least probably isn’t), but men are, and the ancients were full of great explanations for historical events. We call most of these explanations “religious”, which is anachronistic and unfair when we are speaking about a time when religious activities were tied into daily life and would not be considered anything different than one’s social life.
So now we come at a time in human history where, if we could erase the traditions of orthodoxy, these ancient beliefs are more or less absurd. But doesn’t that just make these ancient beliefs absurd?…
…does this discount all spiritual or unobservable realities? That is, of course, reasonably speaking?
Good question, guys. No, I don’t think it necessarily does discount spiritual realities. The one thing I’ve learned in my life here on earth is that all people everywhere are basically the same people with the same beliefs and hangups as people who lived before us. Sure, technology and levels of education are different, but deep down aren’t we all basically the same? The spirit that animates us and makes us who we are (I’m not sure it’s a “soul”) seems not to have evolved at all, meaning that what others may call superstition or absurd beliefs haven’t really changed all that much. Regardless of material circumstances and advances in technology, people still reach out to God and people still “receive” what they perceive to be revelation from God.
Now, what makes me an agnostic theist is my belief that no one can prove the existence of a deity or deities and that no one can experience supernatural/spiritual realities for anyone else, nor can they claim a spiritual reality as the prime spiritual template for everyone to follow. I personally tend to believe in such realities. However, no one can even prove that such realities exist, least of all me. I go on my own experience alone. Perhaps I am deceived, perhaps not. Who knows?
Also, no one can claim the same guidebook (i.e. bible) for anyone else. Just because I believe there is a book that contains everything we need to know about life (and I don’t), doesn’t mean that anyone else has to believe it too. For me, inspiration is what WE bring to such scriptures, not what is actually there, inherent in a book or set of books. These things are just dead, inanimate objects. Believing that the bible itself is imbued with the Holy Spirit and is waiting for us to open it and spill it’s magic contents, is spiritualism of the worst order. Magical thinking. The actual Spirit of the Universe can work through ANYTHING. It can work through my wristwatch if it wants to, although if I start listening to my wristwatch for daily instruction I’m sure I’d freak out my coworkers, and me too for that matter.
Now, I’ll state right now that I still read the bible and other books for inspiration and for a nudge from God. It’s not a prompt for anyone else. It’s a word for me. But the prompting of the Spirit is not inherent in the bible. No, the Spirit is inherent in me and in how attuned I am to the Spirit of the World. The bible is merely the catalyst for that, just like meditation, music, or even film. I don’t go to the bible to look up facts or to read history. The history of Israel is not in the bible, it’s in their history books. I go to the bible to read about other peoples’ experiences of God. So, I don’t turn to the bible to find answers about science or geography or history. To me, the bible is merely a tool to help discover what is already within me.
So, back to Holy Bananas questions about the bible and what’s in it and spiritual reality; for or against. Should we discount all supernatural reality just because a holy book depicts a deity acting badly? Should we dismiss religion because it makes a few million adherents crazy and act in murderous ways? Why is the bible such a polarizing document for so many? Thoughts?