Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Bible: Truth, Lies and Faith

Dr. Claude Mariottini recently wrote a post on his blog entitled "Did Moses Exist?" directing our attention to an Associated Press article: "Did Moses exist and what can we know about him?" Regarding the post and article, Mike G. of Louisville KY stated:

"To me, these are strong evidences of Moses' life at one period of time in the past and the Bible's authenticity. Real people, with real problems... wrestling with and relating to a loving and just God."

The following is not intended as a rebuttal of Mike or the article. These are some of my thoughts inspired by the article and Mike's comment.

If you were to see a non-biblical ancient text which portrayed a human in a similar manner, would you readily accept it as truth?

When we have based so much of our lives on the contents of the Bible, our first instinct is to defend against the suggestion that it may contain errors, or even worse, entirely ficticious stories. The very idea is outright offensive. But why? Because we don't like to look like fools? Because if one story is made up, all of it could be, even God? Because we might "loose our salvation"? We are offended because of all the things we fear we will loose if our understanding is wrong: salvation, pride, world-view, all the time spent devoted to scripture, purpose, hope, family, friends, God and so on. It is a scarey prospect, but what if the Bible isn't entirely factual?

Rabbi Sperling is a spiritual leader and I presume that he maintains a faith in the God of the Bible even-though he has doubts about the texts historical accuracy. On the surface it appears he is undermining the foundation of his religion and even his God. Yet, the faith of Israel was not originally based on the reliability of written words. Israel existed before Moses. The Israelites left Egypt and trusted God before His words were written in stone at Sinai.

Indeed, the Bible itself calls into question the accuracy of the Torah. Jeremiah writes:

"'How can you say we are wise, and the law of Yahweh is with us?' But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie." (Jer 8:8)

If Israel inherited lies after the passage of less than 1000 years, how reliable are those writings after 3000 years? Who is there today who can verify the accuracy of events 3000-4000 years ago? With the discovery of ancient cities and ancient writings, we can have a glimpse into the ancient world. Perhaps someday a copy of the Torah from the reign of David will be found. If that priceless artifact were ever uncovered, I suspect the Judaeo-Christian world will be both awed and shocked by the contents thereof.

How is the statement of Rabbi Sperling any different than that of Jeremiah? Yet, both somehow remain certain of their God. Does Rabbi Sperling undermine faith? or does he represent a faith that relies on something beyond written words. If the entire Bible is taken away does that take away God?