Thursday, April 1, 2010

More Bible musings

I have been reading John and Acts in the New Testament.  I continue to find things in the Bible that just boggle me and convince me that the majority of the people who suggest that they follow it have simply never read it.

God seems to have a very strange attitude towards people who do not do what he wants and his punishments range from nonexistent to maniacally punitive.  For example in Acts there are a few different situations where people do things that the apostles of Jesus do not approve of. 

Firstly there is a man who sells a piece of property he owns and gives most but not all of the money from that sale to the apostles to be distributed among the poor.  That man is struck dead on the spot and then when his wife comes to see what has happened to him she is struck dead also.  His crime was in not giving the apostles *all* of the money but keeping some back.

The next case is one where a group of Jews throw stones at one of the apostles and take him out of town to murder him.  Thinking he is dead they abandon him there but the by the power of God he gets up, is healed and walks away.  Nothing whatsoever is done to these Jews.  Their punishment for attempted murder is nothing.

The other thing that amazes me is the obvious fact that these passages are written with no knowledge of the real world.  Constantly people are referred to as having demons in them and Jesus or his apostles cast out the shrieking demons.  These are certainly referring to people with mental illnesses and yet to accept the Bible at face value we need to believe that people with mental illnesses have demons within them that can only be cured by application of sufficient faith in God.  Also, since God obviously has control over demons and everything else, why exactly was he so interested in tormenting people for thousands of years with demons inside their bodies?  Why create demons at all?  Why does no one with faith cure diseases instantly anymore?

I really had expected more of a kind, generous, feel good all over sort of theme from the New Testament.  Though there certainly are a lot of passages about how faith and good deeds will save you there are just as many about injustice, evil and suffering at the behest of God.  I don't know whether to feel sad or vindicated that the Bible has so little redeeming value.

This TED video is absolutely marvelous.  Regardless of which religion (or not) you subscribe to these thoughts are powerful and worth considering.

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