Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fetch the Book of Armaments!

As many of my friends know, I used to be a member of a Reconstructionist Jewish congregation. Reconstructionism has been described as a more liberal approach to Judaism, but most atheists should realize that a liberal religion is still a religion. Reconstructionism takes a hypocritical stance, claiming that some parts of Jewish teachings may not be true, while teaching other aspects as the basis for a good life. It says that people should find their own meaning in religion, as long as they don't follow the (modern) socially unacceptable parts.

In other words, Reconstructionists realize that parts of scripture do not make sense, but are afraid to actually question their religion. In some cases, such moderation is worse that orthodoxy; as people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have argued, moderation provides the ground on which religion cannot be questioned. By admitting that the Bible is faulty while maintaining that this is nothing wrong, hypocrites such as the Reconstructionists become the people for whom "religion has been helpful." You know, whenever you're debating someone about religion, and they say "but mindless worship is good for some people!" Moderates are those people.

In many debates over religion with my Reconstructionist mother, she has claimed that the Bible is more than a random crazy book. She says that sure, it may not be literally true, but it is still a good source for people who are looking for morals…like moderates.

That insight could only come from someone who has not read very much of the Bible. After an hour or two of skimming, any rational person should realize that the Bible is not a stable source of morals. It is inconsistent, vague, and downright outrageous. Whether or not certain passages may be meaningful to someone, the book should not be relied upon as any sort of moral guide. If you want pretty poetry, there are better places to look.

Harry Potter has morals. The Series of Unfortunate Events has morals. Mein Kampf has morals. Does this mean they should be given a special standing over all other books?

In conclusion, acknowledging that the Bible is not literally true is not a significant step if one still believes that it is a valid moral source.


At 1/12/2006 9:18 PM, Blogger Enil Edam said...

Does Harry Potter have realistic situations?

Yes and no. I find Harry Potter to be highly fictionalized and dramatized and in a lot of ways it's like the Bible.

The major difference would be that the Bible was among the first of these "highly fictionalized and dramatized" stories. In a lot of ways, all books stem from the Bible (and 1984).

My point is, the Bible is an easy book to point to and say "AHA, morals" because it was among the first.

At 1/19/2006 6:01 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

oh bloody hell, way to take my idea.


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