My wife hit me with this one yesterday: “You know how you talk about the Big Lie? I want you to blog on that! Please!”
Actually, I was kind of planning on easing into this one. But she generally gets anything she wants from me (I’m soft that way). Like I said, I am pretty crazy about this woman.
Anyway, the Big Lie. I touched upon this a bit in one of my previous posts entitled The Compiler. In that post, I state the following:
Problem is: This preacher has been to seminary, and in order to graduate from any reasonably reputable seminary in the US, this preacher would have to learn everything that I have just said above. Hermeneutics (i.e., the interpretation of ancient texts, including the bible, for which we have only copies of the originals, and in which the copies do not agree) is a required subject in all reputable seminaries. Thus, this preacher is effectively lying, or at best withholding critically important information. You are being mislead if a preacher tells you that your current, modern translation of the bible is the “Word of God”, regardless of whether or not you believe the words of Paul to have been inspired.
And therein (as I like to say) is the rub: For some strange reason, this preacher is telling his flock a big fat whopper, and he presumably knows that is a very naughty thing to do, given his religious training. So why does he do it?
I remember the intro to Richard Elliot Friedman’s book Who Wrote the Bible in which he related a story about how he came to a Christian church to talk about the Documentary Hypothesis and where the bible comes from generally. At the end of his talk, an elderly woman approached him who appeared to be slightly incensed. She demanded with some heat to know why in all of her years attending a Christian church, she had never heard this information before. Which struck Richard Elliott Friedman as odd (Friedman is Jewish, and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia, so attending Christian meetings is not something I would imagine he would do very much). However, once he looked into it, he realized that the typical Christian is shockingly ignorant on Hermeneutics, which is, as I have said before, is a required class at any reputable seminary in the US (if not the world). Wikipedia defines Hermeneutics in this way:
Hermeneutics broadly, is the art and science of text interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics is the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law. A type of traditional hermeneutic is biblical hermeneutics which concerns the study of the interpretation of the Bible.
You get the idea. It is simply not possible to seriously study the “art and science of text interpretation” in the context of the bible without learning the stuff I have said earlier on this blog. Therefore, the likelihood of the physical leather bound book the preacher is carrying as being “The Word of God” is about as great as the earth being struck by a comet. And, again, the preacher knows this.
So, again, why do all of the professional religious folks lie about this? Simple: The truth does not sell. And that is what religion has become: A money making organization, which is, effectively, a form of entertainment. More on this in my next post.
One of the biggest obstacles for me, that I came across while living with my very conservatively Christian family, was the usage of thinly veiled, or evenopen usage of logical fallacies by ministers teaching their congregations.
Devotion through ignorance of the truth, to borrow a phrase… is as building a foundation on shifting sands.
I completely agree! This can dramatically affect your behavior as well. I have an exceptional example from diet and nutrition: My wife became involved in a Christian-based health program called the Hallelujah Diet. The founder, Rev. George Malkmus, gave a lecture that I attended, and as one of his main proof points, he tried to maintain that: “God designed man to eat a plant-based diet.” To prove this, he showed a set of human body parts (hand, foot, teeth, etc.) alongside apex predators’ similar body parts (tiger paw, lion teeth, etc.) While the human body parts seem very different from these animals’ body parts, if you add the herbivores’ body parts as well (which Rev. Malkmus conveniently left out), you are picking the carnivore every time. A human foot is much more similar to a dog’s rear paw than to a horse’s rear hoof. You get the idea. In the process, Rev. Malkmus radically misstates the fact (I would use the word “lie”, but I am trying to be charitable). The bottom line is that, if you look at the entire picture, the exact opposite of what Malkmus claims is the truth. This leads Christians down a blind path, and, again, dramatically affects their behavior, possibly to their detriment. It is definitely the case that I would do very poorly on the HD, for example, as I have low cholesterol, and the HD does not supply nearly enough fat to keep me healthy.