Sunday, April 17, 2011

Can you hear that?

It has been far too long since I've put some thoughts down on this blog, and since a muse seems to have struck me, I'll ramble on a bit.  In my recent studies between my upcoming mythology class I'm teaching and a few books I'm wandering through, I've come to a rather chafing conclusion.  While I do not cast any judgment on the New Testament of the Bible, I am fairly convinced that there are some major errors of historical fact in the Old Testament.  This is not to say that certain, if not all, of the events chronicled did not happen, but there are certain anachronisms and archeological details that bring some issues to light.  In truth, the specifics do not matter to me.  I find the Old Testament just as interesting (and bazaar) as the next Christian.  But what I then must deal with is whether I take issue with the idea that the Bible is not "infallible," or that there can be mistakes in the "inspired word" of God.  A great deal of non-believers use such evidence today to refute the Bibles claims altogether.  I suppose I can see why.  How can we really hold much weight with the story of the Israelites when we can't even validate the date of the exodus, or even prove that Jerico was inhabited when Joshua was around?  In light of the extensive time frame, how could we possibly expect the Bible to have remained accurate to the assumed true story?  For some time I have not known what to do with this information.  I've been looking at the evidence, I've been reading up on these things.  I hardly know what I'm talking about, but it bugs me still.
I have, however, come to a revelation.  It doesn't matter.
I could go into a massive theology vs. science debate right now, or bloviate about how we either accept science, which gives a cold meaningless explanation for our existence, or accept God, which requires a leap of faith not to be truly validated (or refuted) until our expiration dates.  I could even talk about Pascal's Wager, and how it is in our best interest simply to accept God, because it is the only path of potential.  Science provides no salvation, but God promises something. 
I once had a very interesting conversation with a devout Catholic.  She claimed that Catholicism is still God's Religion, but since it is run by Man, who is of course sinning and broken, the state of the church is reflected in this issue.  I suppose I could make the same claim to the Bible, but I don't think I'd make a lot of friends (but I'd sure get some comments).  The truth is, if we nit-pick the details, we miss the point anyway.  We could read through the Bible and be moved to faith or disgusted with its agenda.  Either way, it is trying to say something, and the general consensus, even among the staunchest of atheists who know how to think, is that the message is good.  The Bible calls us to be like the God it tries desperately to describe.  I don't think this is a bad goal.  How to do this, well, that's another question.  If we truly mean to attempt such a feat, I don't think it can simply come down to reading what the Bible says.  Lord knows we've found a galaxy's worth of ways to interpret it.  Which leads me to my next conclusion.

We must listen.

We all are taught to talk to God, to prey to Him, to ask for things, to praise Him.  But rare is the time that we emphasize listening.  And I think He talks to us constantly.  Consider the involuntary actions of your body.  Breath, heartbeat, blinks, emotions, thought, inspirations.  The Bible even calls it "the still small voice" as if it knows we really must strain to hear it.  We don't really, though.  It's a conscious choice to listen or ignore.  We are just more often than not trained to listen to our own thoughts, even though we know we’ll get it wrong.  
I've often been told that we are "broken," that because of original sin we are all stuck in a state of imperfection.  I have never liked this idea.  I don't think it sounds right.  Call me an optimist, but I think we aren't broken so much as we are incomplete.  When God was in the Garden with Adam and Eve, He walked with them, He was with them in harmony.  When they chose to disobey Him, they were "kicked out" of Eden.  They didn't listen to him, and ever since we've been screwing up on our own.  Whether the story of Eden is a parable or not, I think it does well, at least on a spiritual level, explaining what we can feel to be true.  We are more than flesh and blood and we express something beautiful and powerful that we rarely live up to.  This is where I think the Bible is irrefutable.  I think Jesus was the model for this expression, because we simply had no conception of this relationship before him.  Jesus made many claims about his divinity, but I think it was ultimately his acts and character that gave us a guide to our own lives.  
So while we can read the Bible or other religious works and hope to find some comfort, we can only will ourselves so far along the path of salvation before we will lose our way.  We have to listen.  This has only gotten harder as the centuries have past.  As it is, today we are surrounded by millions of lost voices, and it’s up to each of us to hear the one that really matters before we all go completely deaf.

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