Friday, 24 September 2010

Praise be!

One of the problems with modern Christianity is the way it's been hijacked by socially regressive literalists. Despite the fact that they willingly edit out the bits of the Bible that don't suit their own lifestyle needs (shellfish and divorce spring to mind), they insist on taking some of the holy book's most unbelievable anecdotes as categorical fact.

So heavens be praised for an article in today's Daily Mail, which erroneously claims that many of the Bible's 'best stories' have a basis in scientific fact. I'm not sure who determined which were the best stories - maybe there's a Channel 4 pop culture list show where Fearne CottonLucie Cave from Heat and Fiz off Coronation Street select their favourite Biblical passages?

Anyway, the point is, the article attempts to apply scientific reasoning to some of the phenomena depicted in the Bible, as if to prove that they could have occurred.

Noah's flood? That would be global warming, as glaciers melted and flooded 60,000 square miles of land around the Mediterranean. The Ten Plagues of Egypt are attributed to a volcanic eruption and its impact on the amphibious ecosystem.

The Walls of Jericho may have collapsed due to an earthquake in Palestine. And The Burning Bush may just have been growing "over a natural gas vent". But what about the voice of God? Easy - "Hebrew University psychology professor Benny Shannon proposes that Moses was taking a local hallucinogenic substance derived from leaves of the ayahuasca plant found in the Negev and Sinai deserts." Hardly the thing that deathbed conversions are made of.

In typically supercilious style, writer Zoe Brennan argues that, in the case of Adam and Eve, "even the Godless believe she existed." And that's the fundamental flaw in her article. Brennan believes that attributing scientific explanations to biblical stories in some way validates them. In fact, it achieves precisely the opposite effect.

As a system of belief, religion makes the inexplicable understandable, in lieu of a more comprehensive or conclusive explanation. By picking apart these incidents and looking for a geological, anthropological or biological explanation, Brennan effectively eradicates the role of the Almighty in any of them.

Now who's 'Godless'?

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