Like a Bad Accident: You Know You Shouldn’t Watch, but You Can’t Look Away.
The Clock Ticks on Emotion: A Correction to Theology

Who We Are and Why We Are and Where We Are Going?

How can people believe Bible texts the way they do? People were superstitious then. And it is violent.

Maybe because they are enamored with its main character, God. Those not enamored with him are not attracted to the text. Psalm 34:8 is a favorite of mine: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good.” Some people think he tastes bad. Taste is not a provable topic. It resonates with some and not with others. It is not primarily a matter of intellect. Some people hate asparagus. Good luck trying to ‘prove’ to them that it tastes good.

The reason God and the texts long associated with him ‘taste good’ to people of faith is summed up in this quote from a newspaper editor, as true today as when he wrote it 60 years ago: “Here is a curious thing. In the contemplation of man himself, of his dilemmas, of his place in the universe, we are little further along than when time began. We are still left with questions of who we are and why we are and where we are going.” (Vermont Royster) People of faith want to know “who we are and why we are and where we are going.” They are convinced secular society has no answers (“we are little further along than when time began”), so they look to God. They are not put off by the fact the Bible is old. (You would hardly expect a message from God to all mankind to have been written recently) They don’t consider those ancients inferior. If anything, with less to distract them, they had the time to think deeper thoughts.

Nor do they think science answers Royster's question. Professor Viskontas* addresses how our present life is but an hour or two on the year-scaled cosmic timeline. "Does this mean that our short little lives hold no meaning? I would argue that it certainly does not. In fact, it gives us a sense of how far we've come and how connected we are even to the very beginnings of the universe. And surely life gains meaning through the connections that we make to each other and to our world," se says. I dunno. It's not nothing, but it doesn't compare to the thought of everlasting life. Isn't it more akin to persuading a speed bump to find meaning in its role on the highway of life?

Too, God’s revealed personality attracts some. To Moses, he presented himself as “a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth, showing loyal love to thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34) Those are good qualities to have in a God, particularly in a world not typified by such qualities. They draw people. He ‘tastes good’ to them. They see a world deteriorating at an almost visibly increasing rate. They see human governments have no answers. They look for one in the Scriptures, and there they find it.

They do not find it offensive that God would have requirements, as is intimated at the end of the Exodus phrase. It instantly strikes them as right that he would. They like the illustration of an owner’s manual for a product, say a new Ford. It makes perfect sense to them that Ford would be the one to consult as to how to care for the product it created.That’s why “people have believed in this text for so many years.” It is a vehicle through which one may get to know one’s Creator. Ordinary people find that very comforting, even if some more independently minded others find it offensive.

Is there concern that there is much violence in the OT? Don’t think people are any less violent today. It is just that modern societies have found a way to sanitize and corporatize violence, so that it can be inflicted from afar by horrific weapons, while the ones congratulating themselves at their supposed moral progress safely watch on TV. Some have heard the terrorist argument for attacking innocent civilians. There are no innocent civilians, they say, because these ‘innocent’ civilians willfully empower governments that go on to commit atrocities in their homeland.

No need to fuss about things that happened 4000 years ago, which is when most of the OT violence occurred. Parties have had plenty of time to reform, if they see fit to do so. Besides, you can always assign that Bible reading of Elisha calling down bears on the jeering children to a bald brother, who will tap his own shiny dome as though to say, ‘Don’t mess with me.’

...* Indre Viskontas, lecturer of 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, from Great Courses


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


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