Wednesday, March 31, 2010

207: The Dead Know Nothing & Ecclesiastes: In Review

Ecclesiastes 9-12
"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days." - Ecclesiastes 9:9

Chapter 9 is one of the first places in the bible that what happens after you die is talked about. You go to heaven if you're good, and hell if you're bad. Right? Wrong:
For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even the memory of them is forgotten.

Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
The dead know nothing? Where is this afterlife I've been promised by so many Christians? I don't see how anyone can read Ecclesiastes and leave thinking every word of the bible is the word of an all perfect God. This is the perfect example of two conflicting narratives in the bible. This one says there is nothing after you die, everywhere else (I presume) says that there is an afterlife.

Solomon tells us to enjoy all the days of our meaningless lives. Thanks Solomon. You sure know how to brighten my day.

As if we didn't feel bad enough, Solomon calls some of us fools. "The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." So you're a fool if you're left handed? Unless "right" and "left" have some wonderful metaphorical meaning.

Solomon finishes out the book by saying that young people should enjoy themselves while they're young. He mentions that God is going to judge you for enjoying yourself, but I guess you're supposed to do it anyway. His reasoning for this is that after you're young, you're going to realize that everything is meaningless so you won't be able to enjoy it anymore.

In the last paragraph, the speaker says everything said in Ecclesiastes is wise and true. So where am I going after I die, bible!?

Ecclesiastes: In Review
Ok, today made it official, this is the most contradictory book in the bible. My teen study bible keeps telling me that this is someone that's "fallen away from God". But that's not what the bible says. In fact, the bible explicitly says that all the words in this book are wise and true. If I had opened up the bible and flipped to this section, I would have a completely different view of the universe (namely, that everything is meaningless). The bible is a perfect book how?

Ecclesiastes says dozens of times that life is meaningless. How can every word of the bible be completely inerrant if these words so clearly contradict all of the others.

Should this sign be taken down?

My answer is an unequivocal no. This sign is absolutely protected under freedom of speech.

One atheist was so offended by this sign that he is filing suit to have it removed. I certainly hope his attempt fails. First of all, I think if you're offended by this sign, you're a little too sensitive. Second, even if this sign read "Atheists are complete idiots, and they have no friends" it's still protected under the first amendment. If we ban everything that offends anyone, then nothing will be allowed.

Don't think I'm picking on atheists. The Indiana atheist bus campaign had to go to court to be able to put "In the beginning, Man created God" on Bloomington buses. Free speech goes both ways.

(via News 24)


  1. Clearly, Solomon meant "left" and "right" in the modern American political sense. =D

  2. "Left" and "right" certainly have wonderful, dangerous metaphorical meanings. Erika's got it-- look at your ballot, or FoxNews, and you see how people play with meanings.
    Some of the meanings behind "sinister" and "dexter" are fashioned because of this way of thinking.

    As to Ecclesiastes, isn't it amazing that even after 2000 years this book still gets its place in the bible? Like you say, it's too obvious to ignore or just shoo away.

    My personal opinion here, but I think the book is important in that it shows there was at least one more ancient writer that was willing to admit to the limits of his knowledge. He's really trying to not make stuff up or let personal wishes trump experiences.

    The final meaning of life is unknown to him, but he is content to let it be an unknown (or maybe even let death be just death) rather than submit to a dogmatic priesthood or pursue some afterlife in vanity. It's important to see that the writer of a book in the bible doesn't know anything more than we know.

    Or, maybe God is just an inconsistent, testing, tap-the-glass kind of god. All the more reason we need to stop putting our words in his/her/its/their mouth.



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