Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Ethon Lowe | What’s good about the Good Book?

Published:Saturday | January 18, 2020 | 12:15 AM

What’s good about the Bible? Well, it has history, biography, ethics, law, wisdom and poetry. It teaches us how to live, with tips on human relationships – love and marriage, and even money management.

To build a sane society, free from the violence plaguing our country, shouldn’t we look to the Bible for answers? Hardly.

The Bible is a rather unhelpful guide to get one’s morality. It is full of dysfunctional families – Lot copulating with his daughters, how to kill your headstrong kids and your virgin daughters.

Consider the Old Testament God – flawed, tyrannical and vengeful. In one of His foul moods, He committed an act of genocidal proportions, when He killed all the inhabitants of the earth in a massive flood except for Noah and his family. All the other inhabitants, including children, infants, pregnant women and their unborn, are sinners and therefore perish. By happy happenstance (for Noah’s three sons, that is), Noah’s sons manage to annex the only three virtuous women in the entire world as their wives. Lucky guys.

In another barbaric instance, Moses is incited by God to attack the Midianites. Here again, virgins are singled out. God obviously has a thing with virgins – “kill all the male children and females, but spare all the virgin females for yourselves”. Distinguishing virgins from non-virgins is difficult at the best of times, but with God, all things are possible.

His cruelty extends to His son. Angry at the sinful ways of the people He created, He is willing to forgive their sins, only if they kill His son – “I am angry at you, but if you torture and kill my son, I will reward you.”

In the New Testament, Jesus’ morality is just as draconian like the tribal warlord of the Old Testament. Jesus said, “I have come not to bring peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34-39).

His own family values are appalling: He turned away His mother time and again at meetings. At a wedding feast, Jesus said to His disciples, “send her away, you are my family now”. Adding, “whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:26). Obviously meant to be allegorical, but what a charming way to express His love.

PEOPLE WROTE THE BIBLE

God did not write the Bible, people did. Discrepancies and inconsistencies abound. The Gospels were written decades after Jesus died by unknown authors, not by people to whom they are attributed, that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Moses did not exist, the Virgin Mary is just a myth, and there is no evidence that Jesus bodily rose from the dead. When was Jesus born? Before 4 BCE (Matthew 2:1), when King Herod was still alive and the slaughter of the children (the innocents) mentioned, or after 6 CE (Luke 2: 1-4), when Quirinius the Roman Governor of Syria conducted a worldwide census?

There is a discrepancy of about 10 years between the two events. To be born twice is a feat impossible even for a supernatural being. Apart from the gospel versions, historically there is no mention of the slaughter of the children and the worldwide census.

When did Jesus die? In Mark, Jesus eats the Passover meal (Thursday night) and is crucified the following morning. In John, Jesus does not eat the Passover meal, but is crucified on the day before the Passover meal – the Day of Preparation for the Passover.

Whether the Bible is true (that God exists and its teachings are factual) or not, it really doesn’t matter. It inspires, it promotes peace (not very often) and is very practical – it gives church sisters and brothers an opportunity to be together and enjoy a beautiful interlude of peace and tranquillity among themselves. I suspect that on these occasions, the question of whether God exists or not is far from their minds. It’s the experience that matters.

But as Pascal the French mathematician reckoned, you are better off believing in God (presumably Yahweh), because if you are right, and there is a God, you stand to gain eternal bliss.

If, on the other hand, you don’t believe in God and there is a God, you suffer eternal damnation.

So, to be sure – believe in God. Hopefully, your God had better not be of the omniscient kind or he’d see through your deception. And let’s hope you are wagering on the right God. Good luck.

Email feedback to ethonlowe@gmail.com and columns@gleanerjm.com