Holy Scriptures in the 21st Century
It is fascinating to watch believers trawl through their ‘holy books’ attempting to find justification for what they think their religions should really mean. They pull out phrases such as “Whoever kills a person [unjustly] it is as though he has killed all mankind” (Qur’an 5:32) as if we are supposed to be impressed by their profundity.
They emphasise how progressive various passages were in the Bronze and Iron Ages as if they are still progressive in the 21st century
and that nothing else of value has been written in the meantime that may express a deeper understanding of our condition or expression of ethical values. These books, historical anachronisms, are certainly interesting curiosities, but that is not how they are being presented to us by believers.
What’s obvious is that all these books were written by men trapped within the cultural and social understanding, limits, and world-views of their times. Muhammad was clearly not a prophet, let alone the last prophet, Jesus was not divine, Vishnu not a Supreme God, the founders and leaders of the Bahá’i not the manifestations of god and L Ron Hubbard was a charlatan and Joseph Smith, a con man.
There is obviously no reason why individuals should not look to ancient writings or religious texts to find inspiration within them. Just don’t claim they are anything more than expressions of their all too human writers. If individuals choose to believe books are divinely revealed or inspired that is their right, but it’s not their right to therefore claim the rest of us should accept these claims, base our lives on their codes for living, care about them, or judge others by the yardsticks of these books.
Trying to make sense of these ambiguous, disjointed texts, can be intellectually interesting in helping us understand the minds of people from our distant history. But its rather like debating which hairstyle the King of France should assume. They can provide interesting academic diversions if one ignores the fact that France has no King.
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