04
Mar
10

That Old, Old, Really Old Time Religion

In my previous post (here), one of my faithful readers, The Word of Me, brought up in the comments that fact that many Old Testament tales—such as Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, and so on—don’t bear up under scientific scrutiny.

And certainly, he’s right. There is no evidence of a global flood. Humanity didn’t begin 7,000 years ago. Language differences didn’t begin at the site of the Tower of Babel. I could go on, but I won’t, because it isn’t necessary.

His point was that is such material is false, then the whole Bible is suspect, and must be assumed to be false. And therefore, taken to the logical extreme, if there was no Adam and Eve and original sin or any of that other stuff, there would be no need for Jesus and therefore Jesus wasn’t the son of God. Not that there is a God, of course, in TWOM’s view.

I don’t fault TWOM’s reasoning. That is, if you begin from the standpoint that the Bible is a pack of myths or lies or both, then it all falls apart.

But why do all the stories in the Old Testament have to be literal? Particularly those appearing in Genesis.

It is a fault of both the atheist/agnostic camps and the fundamentalist/Bible literalism camps that the stories in the Bible must be true in order for God to be true. Both sides are dead wrong.

Look at Jesus. He told parables. He didn’t say, “this is an allegorical story” when he told them. He told them as if they were stories of real people and real situations. And it’s clear that many of those stories, perhaps none of them, had to do with real scenarios of which Jesus was aware. That did not, however, diminish the importance or value of those stories for teaching lessons and revealing truths.

The Son follows the example of the Father. Why can’t the Old Testament stories be parables writ larger, speaking to greater truths? Truths about human failings, broken connections with the divine, the need for redemption, the love of God, and so much more.

Whether there was a literal couple named Adam and Eve doesn’t matter. Whether the global flood really covered the Earth, or flooded a mere nation or valley, or never happened at all, also doesn’t matter. What matters is that God has shown Himself to humanity for millennia, most notably through his son, whose message and legacy endures, against all odds, even to this day.

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13 Responses to “That Old, Old, Really Old Time Religion”


  1. March 4, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Hi, Deacon Blue! I like what you’re saying here. Definetely food for thought and something for me to chew on. Taste pretty good!
    wrestlegod.blogspot.com

  2. 2 Deacon Blue
    March 4, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Thanks, Anna, and welcome. Always nice to see a new face around the comments section.

    Will need to check out your blog when I have a chance.

  3. March 4, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Whether there was a literal couple named Adam and Eve doesn’t matter. Whether the global flood really covered the Earth, or flooded a mere nation or valley, or never happened at all, also doesn’t matter.(Deacon)

    Come on man, be real, finish the job. Even Jesus doesnt matter, because if those all can be myths or pointing to some greater truth, so can the “Story” about the son of God. I mean it points to a greater truth doesnt it, so what does it matter if its all made up stuff. 🙂

  4. 4 Deacon Blue
    March 4, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    But Jesus DOES matter. And this goes back to the previous post that inspired this one.

    Until you can disprove Jesus’ existence to me, give me a logical explanation for the actions of those 11 original apostles, Paul, and the bonus apostle (Matthias, if I recall) after the crucifixion, and explain to me how Christianity was blessed (and I do use that word intentionally) enough to survive a few centuries AND become a global force, I will continue to maintain that Jesus worked miracles and rose from the dead.

    Also, the Bible as a whole is NOT made up. The specifics of the history are sometimes a little off, or confusing, but as a whole, the Bible is a historical document, replete with chronologies of kings and prophets, showing both their virtues and their warts, powerful poetry and collections of wisdom…along with the stuff that might be allegorical.

    And, I might point out, there is a huge difference between “made up” and “allegorical”

  5. 5 thewordofme
    March 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Hello Deacon,

    I think I’m going to get on your shitlist here…sorry. 🙂

    You write:
    “In my previous post (here), one of my faithful readers, The Word of Me, brought up in the comments that fact that many Old Testament tales—such as Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, and so on—don’t bear up under scientific scrutiny.

    And: And certainly, he’s right. There is no evidence of a global flood. Humanity didn’t begin 7,000 years ago. Language differences didn’t begin at the site of the Tower of Babel. I could go on, but I won’t, because it isn’t necessary.

    And: His point was that is such material is false, then the whole Bible is suspect, and must be assumed to be false. And therefore, taken to the logical extreme, if there was no Adam and Eve and original sin or any of that other stuff, there would be no need for Jesus and therefore Jesus wasn’t the son of God. Not that there is a God, of course, in TWOM’s view.”

    Yes sir this is a basic point that is going to be more and more debated because these facts are just that…facts, and it really will screw up the current dogma of most churches. I don’t know of any denominations that have confronted this problem. I think that any churches that have thought of the matter have just pushed it aside…because no one is talking about it.

    The New Testament and the life and times of Jesus are very dependent on the Old Testament, because of Paul coming up with the idea to tie the need for Jesus to be a blood sacrifice (who believes this crud anymore?) for the sins bestowed upon us by Adam and Eve eating the fruit of a sacred tree.

    If there was NO Adam and Eve…and there wasn’t.

    Then we humans have NOT inherited any sin from them, because they did not exist.

    If we have no “sins” to extirpate because Adam and Eve did not exist…and they didn’t…

    Where is the need for Jesus and all that entails?

    This in summary is the whole entrée of Christianity. Jesus dies for our sins that we accrued because of Adam and Eve. Believe in Jesus and his death/murder (this is a blood sacrifice) will atone for all you’re sins. When you take away ‘Original Sin’ it collapses. The Bible even says a few times that the son is not responsible for the fathers sins…it just can’t synchronize itself.

    You write”
    “But why do all the stories in the Old Testament have to be literal? Particularly those appearing in Genesis.”

    See the argument above, Paul and subsequent writers have tied the Old Testament people to the New Testament dogma. If the OT fails to be true…then so does the NT.

    So now we have most if not all of the OT being untrue…just myth, and many millions of people believing down thru the ages that it was real and that you had to believe or you went to someplace called Hell and burned forever. The whole thing is just a horrible story meant to keep you in line and out of trouble and tithing to the church and keeping all those priests, ministers, pastors, and rabbi’s employed.

    The Bible looses all authority if so much of it is shown to be false…and make no mistake, it HAS been shown to be false in many ways…some just prefer to ignore this fact.

    You write:
    “It is a fault of both the atheist/agnostic camps and the fundamentalist/Bible literalism camps that the stories in the Bible must be true in order for God to be true. Both sides are dead wrong.”

    And:
    “Whether there was a literal couple named Adam and Eve doesn’t matter. Whether the global flood really covered the Earth, or flooded a mere nation or valley, or never happened at all, also doesn’t matter. What matters is that God has shown Himself to humanity for millennia, most notably through his son, whose message and legacy endures, against all odds, even to this day.”

    I humbly and forcefully 🙂 disagree with you…the many hundreds, if not thousands, of things found to be wrong in the Bible, Christianities book of truths for all mankind, makes a strong case that the whole of the Christian religion is false…no more true than Islam or Hinduism.

    Referring back to something I wrote to you recently…If it were real it would be self-evident to everybody on earth…there would be no discrepancies or deficiencies such as there are…to be anything less is ungodly.

    Regarding the Apostles and what they supposedly went through for their faith…think about Jonestown…and Waco.

    Of course I could be wrong…

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    March 5, 2010 at 9:37 am

    You say:
    If it were real it would be self-evident to everybody on earth
    ——————————-

    Really?

    So the Earth being round was self-evident? Not until very late in human history, actually.

    Bacteria and viruses are self-evident? No.

    Dark matter? Big Bang? DNA/RNA? Need I go on?

    Few things are self-evident. They are learned and discovered. That too few people (be they atheist, agnostic or religious) truly explore things of the spirit changes not a one of my opinions. Humans are often lazy where they don’t see a payoff or see their self interest satisfied, and people rarely choose the spiritual over the temporal and carnal, nor even give them equal weight. Spirituality is largely ignored even by faithful people, some of whom are as faithful as they like to pretend.

    ————————
    You said:
    Regarding the Apostles and what they supposedly went through for their faith…think about Jonestown…and Waco
    ————————

    False equivalence.

    Jonestown and Waco were both about singular, charismatic nutcases who drew damaged people to them and then sacrificed them AND themselves.

    Jesus gathered people to him, but the movement went beyond him or some isolated compound. Also, he died and didn’t take people down with him. Nor did he choose death, but merely accepted the one that was thrust upon him. Also, the apostles carried on despite his public execution, which doesn’t make sense. A few might have been delusional and carried on for that reason, but several would have repudiated Jesus out of a sense of betrayal. NOT continued to put themselves at risk for a guy who lied to them.

  7. 7 Deacon Blue
    March 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Some other things I wanted to address about TWOM’s comments (and no, dude, you aren’t on my shit list), but didn’t have time to earlier…

    ORIGINAL SIN

    Adam and Eve and inherited sin are not necessary for this to still be a valid “doctrine.” Religion, philosophy, psychology and sociology alike will point to humanity’s vast wellsprings of wickedness, especially in mobs and without proper social controls to guide us. Those fields of study also all point to humanity’s capability to achieve greatness and to do compassion. Original sin and redemption are more about our self-centeredness and unwillingness to be accountable…along with the goal of pushing past that and being willing to shuck off such things and embrace the divine.

    OT / NT

    Jesus taught within the Jewish faith structure. His apostles came from the same faith structure. Paul was trained as a Pharisee. Their teachings will, by necessity, draw from the OT but the fact is that Christianity takes the relationship with God to a whole new level. And a better one, I would argue, as it frames things in a more familial and redemptive light. Something that is touched upon many times in the OT, but often overshadowed by other things in the OT.

    JESUS

    Comparing Jesus to whackadoodles who abuse or even kill their followers isn’t cool. I have yet to see anyone…in mythology, ancient history, recent history or current day that bears any comparison to Jesus, in terms of what he stood for, what he taught, who he claimed to be, the miracles he worked, the progressive stands he took, and his legacy.

    That such a unique man arose at such a perfect time, when historians were just becoming respected and valued and yet when there was still so little ability to communicate or travel quickly, also speaks to me of God’s desire to put someone (Jesus) in place to show the way, but to do so in a way where his son could make a lasting impact, but people could still doubt, and thus choose, freely.

    The notion that God must be “self evident” to be true flies in the face of free will and faith.

  8. 8 societyvs
    March 5, 2010 at 11:11 am

    “I have yet to see anyone…in mythology, ancient history, recent history or current day that bears any comparison to Jesus, in terms of what he stood for, what he taught, who he claimed to be, the miracles he worked, the progressive stands he took, and his legacy.” (Deacon)

    I have to impart something here…since you seem to be making Jesus look absolutely unique in Judaism (Israel)…and this may not be the case.

    Jesus resembles the Pharisee’s in his teaching style (the rabbinic tradition)

    Jesus served the One God – a Judaism idea (monotheism)

    Jesus worked miracles – like what is termed the ‘men of God’ in that era based on Elijah and Elisha vein of prophetic type stuff…see examples of people like Honi (and his two sons), Hinana, etc…I wrote a blog on this not too long ago. Israel did hold a belief like this and Jesus did seem to fit into that category in many ways.

    Jesus taught on the law – his ‘progressive stands’ (as you have said) are nor more progressive than most rabbi’ of his age period and the call the follow the Torah. In rabbinic tradition there is the idea of putting up a fence to safeguard the Torah…which is basically raising the standard a little higher for the ideas of the Torah – which we see in Matthew 5.

    Now his legacy I won’t argue – that is unique (no doubt there).

    *Fact is this person was Jewish and if we want to understand more of what is happening in those stories we need to start listening to rabbi’s on Jewish teaching to move closer to the flame (reality).

  9. 9 Deacon Blue
    March 5, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks, SocietyVs

    Good points.

    But what I was getting at was the totality of Jesus, and how I have yet to find anyone who comes close to being like him. People make up stories about how he’s just a re-hash of older myth figures, even though on closer examination, those older stories bear almost no resemblance, and when they do, it turns out that those religions modified their stories post-Jesus or that people in modern times completely rewrite and distribute the old stories, or mis-translate stuff ignorantly (one person actually tried to tie the “sun” god of a religion to the “son” of God thing, even though in the language people in that religion used, sun and son wouldn’t be homonyms.

  10. March 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Deacon

    Youre so biased by the culture you live in. There are many areas of the world who dont even know who Jesus is. And for the most part the only reason the majority may know about him is because they were conquered by a bunch of Christian fanatics. lol. 🙂

  11. 11 societyvs
    March 5, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    “But what I was getting at was the totality of Jesus, and how I have yet to find anyone who comes close to being like him. People make up stories about how he’s just a re-hash of older myth figures…” (deacon)

    He is a unique figure that’s for sure. I am not sure the mythical aspects of many religions can accurately explain him…although (to be honest) I think the Gentiles may have borrowed some ideas to relate to Jesus (ie: virgin birth). It’s kind of lent some creedence by the fact the way Paul spoke with Gentiles. In one story in Acts Paul does compare the ‘unknown God’ to his faith in God…almost lending a new idea to a mythical idea…so some of this may have happened in Gentiles communities later as they may have seen not big problems with it.

  12. 12 societyvs
    March 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    “Youre so biased by the culture you live in. There are many areas of the world who dont even know who Jesus is. And for the most part the only reason the majority may know about him is because they were conquered by a bunch of Christian fanatics. lol” (T4T)

    I am thinking of adopting John into the First Nations understanding of Canada based on this sentence…you are getting close my friend. lol

  13. 13 Deacon Blue
    March 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Everyone is biased by the culture in which they live, Tit for Tat. You’re not telling me something of which I am unaware.

    That doesn’t change my belief that Jesus was sent as beacon, as an example, and as the bridge between humans and God.

    Now, if you’re suggesting that my cultural bias has me believing that people who’ve never heard of Jesus or grew up in cultures where he is scantly known are going to Hell, then you have once again completely missed out on my opinions and views about such things. Because you’d be wrong.

    There is no doubt that a great deal of doctrine in the Christian church comes from people, and not directly from God or Jesus. That’s why, more and more as I grow in my faith, I care less about doctrine and more about Jesus’ message and the search for God’s place in my life and my place in His plan.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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