Thursday, November 4, 2010

Two Steps forward - one step back

I've been wrestling for days about what to say. Two steps forward - one step back - sums it up really. I've been re-reading "The Unauthorised Version" by Robin Lane Fox, this time concentrating on the inaccuracies in Mark's Gospel. . Evangelist friends talk about the Bible being "the word of God breathed" and get very defensive / aggressive when I point out some basic inaccuracies. The usual line is that these were probably written about by atheists.

Here's just a couple I can think of off the top of my head - There was no decree from Caesar Augustus to the whole world.  A Roman census would not have taken Joseph to Bethlehem where he owed nothing. The census was used so they knew who to charge poll tax and property tax. As this was his ancestral home and not his home town there was no relevance to going there other than for the Gospel writers it fulfilled scripture.

Even if Joseph had to go to his own home town, he could represent his family so didn't need to take Mary.

Further, at that time Galilee, unlike Judea, was under independent rule so was not bound by a Roman census or taxing. As to proof of this - well, you can turn to Josephus - someone who is frequently turned to to justify and give credence to the Gospels' veracity. You can also look at coins of that period.

I just feel so tired of it all.

At Christianity Explored this week - we studied and discussed the Resurrection. I could see the frustration in the eyes of the "believer" on our table. Each table is given a leader who is a believer. They are not identified as such and don't make themselves known as such. Everyone turns up and sits down in groups of six and then it soon becomes apparent. On our table I am the only doubting Thomas. 

The "Believer" challenged me, "Where do you think you will end up if you don't believe?" If I follow the logic of the course so far I would have to say "Hell". "And do you really want to go there?". I rejoindered "No, but I can't make myself believe something I don't". I was starting to feel a little aggression and judgmentalism, on her part. I pointed out that all I could do was keep reading the Bible and going to church etc and hope/pray for a good outcome - relying on God's Grace - and that perhaps as many people believe - he will come to me in my last gasp. I think she thought this was a bit of a smart ass remark. She replied "So you're willing to wait that long are you?". 

I told her that only 7% of academics are religious  - and I imagine a few of those must work in the Theology department. So why is it easier to have faith when you are not in academia?

I explained that I felt that if I was a bit more stupid I might believe or if I was more clever it might help but instead I was stuck in a limbo of unknowing. She countered that I didn't have to understand to believe.....doubting Thomas etc.

That is indeed true - but not helpful to my state of limbo.

I've been reading a great book by Dr. Nick Edwards (a pseudonym) all about life working for the NHS. 

For some reason I feel particularly atheist today.

They are praying for me.


  1. I live in a perpetual state of doubt and belief. Have you come across the Greek philosopher Xenophanes:

    But as for certain truth, no man has known it
    Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,
    Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
    And if by chance he were to utter
    The final truth, he would himself not know it:
    For all is but a woven web of guesses.