Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Bible is the perfect word of God?

It's extremely common in Christianity to claim that the Bible is the absolute and perfect word of God, the perfect message from God to us, and that it contains exactly what God wants it to contain, no more, no less. The Bible is supposed to contain all the basic tenets of faith, and how we should live our lives.

Yet, when you examine the Bible, it's a really, really poor conveyor of such information. There's very little organization and order, tidbits of information are scattered randomly throughout the entire book, interspersed with random tidbits of unrelated things (like history, anecdotes, ancestor lists and parables) and overall it's very difficult to get a coherent picture of the entire doctrine.

This can be very easily seen by listening to any sermon or lecture on the Christian faith. The speaker or writer, when quoting the Bible, will jump wildly from place to place, often quoting small sections (usually just a passage or two) from here and there, in order to get a coherent description of even a small part of what constitutes the Christian doctrine.

And not only is all this information randomly spread through the whole book, it often consists of vague phrasings and expressions that are very much open to interpretation. It is, in fact, a very common statement made by Christians that in order to understand passages properly, you have to compare it to the rest of the Bible. This goes to tell how unclear many passages are.

And all this can really be seen. There are well over 30 thousand Christian denominations, all of them with more or less varying interpretations of the Bible, some of them with highly different interpretations than others, even when dealing with the most important core tenets of the religion (such as, for example, what is or isn't needed for salvation.)

How can this kind of book be called "perfect" in any way? The fact is that the Bible is far, far from perfect as any kind of basis for religious doctrine, and this causes a lot of disagreement between people and denominations.

If the Bible were really inspired by an all-powerful, perfect being who wants to convey to us a message that's as clear and unambiguous as possible, I would expect it to be much more coherent, organized and hierarchical. For starters, it should be divided logically into sections and subsections by type of content. For example like this:
  1. The basic tenets of faith (ie. what is necessary for salvation.)
  2. The law. (What God wants and doesn't want us to do. What's forbidden and what's allowed.)
  3. Life instructions. (Clear and unambiguous rules of thumb on how we should live.)
  4. The history of humanity and Christianity. (A methodical and clear description of the history relevant to Christianity.)
  5. Prophesies and the future.
  6. Aphorisms and other inspirational text.
  7. Glossary of terms, and additional notes.
Then, of course, it should use as unambiguous and clear terminology and phrasing as possible. (If there are terms that were foreign to the culture of the time, surely God could invent a new word for it and define it clearly in the glossary. That shouldn't be any kind of problem. Also if some terms had multiple or ambiguous meanings, the glossary could also be used to clarify them.)

This would have been perfectly possible even thousands of years ago. There's nothing in the languages of antiquity that would have made it impossible to organize a book clearly like this, or using clear and unambiguous terms and definitions.

In fact, if the Bible were written like this thousands of years ago, it would be quite a lot more indicative of divine inspiration than the current mess it is. (Of course it would still not be proof of it, but at least it would be a lot closer to the mark.)

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