Thursday, June 3, 2010

271: The Most Selfish Toddler of Them All

Haggai 1-2
" 'Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,' says the LORD. 'You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?' declares the LORD Almighty. 'Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.' " - Haggai 1:8-9

For the first chapter of Haggai, God whines about how the Israelites haven't built his house yet. God says that everything the Israelites brought home, he's blown away. He's destroyed their things because they spent too much time worrying about their own comfort, and not enough time worrying about God's comfort.

This all seems very ridiculous. Why does this all powerful God, who made the universe, need the Israelites to build him a house? Build your own damn house. To add insult to injury, he has enough energy to huff and puff and blow the Israelites' houses down. Maybe he should channel some of that destructive energy into building the house himself. God also causes a drought, just for good measure.

I don't mean to ramble on here, but this chapter makes the idea of an all powerful (and certainly an all "moral" God) seem laughable. God's ultimate morality says that if you don't build a pretty house for him to be "comfortable" in, then he blows down your house and makes you suffer from drought? Grow up, God.

God spends the first paragraph of chapter 2 rambling on about his house, then the book goes a little strange. God tells Haggai to ask the priests this: "If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?". The priests answer "no". He then asks: "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?". The priests answer "yes". Then God says: "Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled". I guess those were the wrong answers?

I'm again baffled at what meaning I'm supposed to be getting out of this.

I don't even have an intelligent intro to this letter to the editor. I think reading it melted my brain.
Evolution as “survival of the fittest” sees mankind much like Genesis Chapter 1, in which man, made in God’s image, is the culmination of creation and is given dominion over the earth. Evolution as a cooperative model has a similar theme to Genesis Chapter 2, in which man, as God’s representative figure, is to tend to the earth and keep it.
Evolution in no way implies that man is the "culmination of creation". In fact, I'll venture to say that most humans would die in a matter of days if they were thrown into the forest and told to survive. And evolution certainly doesn't imply that we've been given the earth to tend and keep. I'm not sure how someone can be this far off base about the concept of "survival of the fittest" and evolution.
Science knows what it knows at the moment and dismisses what is yet to be proven as unrealistic, a fantasy or perhaps a myth. Science dismissed hand washing after working with a dead or diseased person as unscientific until science discovered bacteria, but the Israelites learned this principle in the desert. Religion can be equally close-minded. Whether the earth revolves around the sun or vice-versa is not a religious question.
Maybe science did dismiss hand washing (this was surely a very primitive form of "science", but we'll give the writer the benefit of the doubt). Then someone formed the hypotheses that hand washing prevents disease. This hypothesis was tested, and found to be accurate. Most of us now hold to the "theory" of hand washing. This seems to be a sound way of gaining knowledge.

How would religion have handled this new idea? What if the bible said that hand washing was a sin? I would imagine that the "evil" hand washers would be burned at the stake for awhile. Eventually, with the help of scientists, religious anti-hand washing zealots would eventually give in to the fact that hand washing prevents disease, and that passage of the bible would become yet another "metaphor". This seems like a not so sound way of gaining knowledge.
Knowing who we are and why we are here is not the sphere of science, and it is the answer to those questions that will have the greatest impact on each individual and each society.
Those questions may not be answered by science. But we can all use the same principles of inquiry, skepticism, and curiosity we use to do science to answer those questions. I'm not sure what benefit you get from blindly following a 2000+ year old book.

(via Knox News)
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