Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pop-Theology & Profoundly Empty Quotes


A quote from my Facebook feed:
The Bible is a true story but not always factual. The truth of the Bible doesn't come from the facts of the stories, but rather from the spiritual meaning of those stories. The true ideas the Bible teaches have little to do with history, geology, or any matters of the natural world, but have everything to do with the spiritual world and the things that really matter in our lives.  --Amos Glenn
There is a serious and unbridgeable gap between believers and nonbelievers as to the logic of quotes like this. Look up Karen Armstrong to see more nebulous, say-nothing, clap trap. How does the Bible convey ‘truth’ better than other religious scripture? How do religious scriptures convey truth better than a naturalistic approach which can be observed and tested? How is this truth revealed through untrue stories? Poetic statements sound nice, but in many cases do not amount to much. Take the oft quoted line of scripture from the Old Testament that defines faith: 

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."                                                                                                   Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

Does this statement or the one by Amos Glenn actually convey useful information? I contend that it does not. Actually I contend that they are nonsense and in the case of Hebrews 11:1 it is self-refuting. How can faith exist as evidence? That is contradictory to the very definition of religious faith.

As to Glenn’s quote; I assume no spiritual world exists because I have no reason to. It is not enough for the believer to say that I and others ‘just don’t have our hearts open to God’ or some other religious judgment on skepticism. I could easily respond that believers are accepting conclusions based on false premises. The skeptical point of view is not to make assumptions. It assigns nothing to the unknown. It waits for a damn good reason to say that something is true. Religion and spirituality do not do this. It is an assumed premise whose conclusions could be anything even when based on logical thought. The problem with quotes like these is that they always amount to statements of faith. To believe something is true based on faith means one could believe anything.

And I have no need for any document, religious or secular, to tell me what really matters in my life. I am the judge of that.

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