On Religion as Blasphemy
I think it’s perfectly logical to be an atheist, though you might find my premises a bit strange. Here’s the deal. It’s easy for me to say that I’m an atheist because I’ve read the Bible, but that’s not the whole truth.
Yes, I’ve read the Bible in its entirety, and one of the things that stick out are the numerous warnings against presuming to know the mind of God. Basically, if God wants you to know what he wants, he’ll use his words and tell you.
These warnings are often taken by modern believers to treat the Bible as authoritative, but are believers justified in assuming that the Bible is in fact the Word of God? I doubt it. It would be one thing if Christians learned Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic so that they could read Scripture in the original languages, but most Christians aren’t that dedicated. Instead, they rely on English translations of various quality.
It should be obvious that God did not translate the Bible. Human beings did that. They might have believed that God was guiding them, but we’ll never know for sure. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that God wrote the Bible. Many of the individual books arose out of oral tradition, which would explain why there are two accounts of creation in Genesis. Others are collections of letters or epistles allegedly sent by various apostles to the bishops of various early churches. None of them were written at the same time, so you have the Old Testament attributing one name to the prophesied messiah, and the New Testament including all those begats to somehow “prove” that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the messiah in the four official Gospels, none of which were actually written by the apostles to whom they were attributed.
Speaking of Jesus, here’s an example of Greek influence on Hebrew culture and early Christianity. The whole bit about the holy spirit impregnating Mary has no precedent that I can find in the Old Testment. YHWH doesn’t get horny. In fact, one of the reasons he flooded the Earth in Genesis was that too many of his angels couldn’t keep it in their pants, knocked up a bunch of human women, and spawned the nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4.
I think it’s more likely that Zeus is the father, or that the notion of God being incarnated as a human being after the holy spirit impregnated a human woman was one inspired by Greek myths involving heroes like Herakles and Perseus, who were sons of Zeus and mortal women.
Finally, the Biblical canon reaffirmed by the Roman Catholic Church at the 1543 Council of Trent wasn’t fully developed until the fifth century of the current era. It shouldn’t have taken that long, and there shouldn’t have been any need for debate on which books belonged in the Bible after the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.
All of this strongly suggests to me that both the original Bible and its translations are not the Word of God, but the work of human beings. As such, the Bible itself – indeed, all human religion – is an attempt to know the mind of God.
Is the Bible itself blasphemous? I don’t know. What I do know is that if God exists, and has any sort of plan in mind for me, he hasn’t bothered to tell me anything. Though, in fairness, any attempt on his part to talk directly to me would probably have me running to the nearest psychiatric ward on the assumption that I am experiencing psychosis.
In the absence of independently verifiable gnosis, the only reasonable position for me appears to be that of the agnostic atheist. I don’t know if God exists, I currently don’t have a good reason to believe, and it would take a literal miracle to change my mind.
However, I don’t always feel like being reasonable. When I don’t feel like being reasonable, I believe that God is a crazy woman.