Sunday, March 23, 2008

Too literal?

I suppose that anyone who has known me very close at all, has probably known that I am skeptical of religion. I'm not sure why, but I have always been. Maybe I'm too literal. Every subject besides religion is supposed to be highly scrutinized. You must be careful what you read, and double or triple check your work. Why is it the bible gets a free pass?

One of my earliest memories of religion is being taught the story of Noah's ark. I was fascinated with dinosaurs, and wanted to know if the dinosaurs were on the Ark. Apparently god saved all the other animals, but the dinosaurs didn't get there in time. As a big fan of dinosaurs I had a hard time trusting a book that killed them all off in a great flood because god was mad at humans.

As time passed, I realized that there are a lot of parts to that story that don't make any sense. The biggest problem with the flood story is the time line. Figuring out dates from the bible is a little tricky, but you can get a relative time for basically every event that happened in the bible (according to the bible). Noah's flood happened approximately 2500 BC (here is a bible timeline, you can find hundreds of them with similar results). Conveniently for us, there were a few civilizations around during that time that can confirm that the flood happened. Why don't we ask the Chinese and the Egyptians how they managed to survive a global flood, and still found time to invent silk and build pyramids? What's really amazing is that the Chinese and the Egyptians kept very good records, and yet some how neglected to mention that the whole of the earth was completely covered in water and their civilizations were destroyed! How rude of them not to collaborate with such an awesome story!

I know that most of you must be thinking in your head that obviously, the story of Noah's ark isn't literal, it's symbolic or it's allegorical. Okay, so I'll give you that, it's not literal. Where does it let you know that it's not literal? Which part of the bible is literal, and which part of the bible is metaphorical? Was Mary literally a virgin, or was it a translation error? Is the earth really less than 10,000 years old? Was everything in the universe created in only 7 days (6 really)?

There are probably a hundred other reasons the great flood can't literally have happened. There are hundreds of other stories in the bible that are in similar predicaments. How can I believe anything from the bible, much less find god through it?