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THE DOUBTER'S GUIDE: SPIRITUALITY FOR THE SKEPTICAL MIND
IGNORANT SUPERSTITION: THE ANTIDOTE













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DISTINGUISHING RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE FROM MERE  SUPERSTITION?
















Religious knowledge becomes mere superstition when bizarre  stories that fly in the face of scientific knowledge (e. g. a 5,000 year old earth) are taken literally.  One rationale for literalizing obvious myth goes something like this: "If the Bible can be proven wrong about one thing, then why shouldn't the whole Bible be wrong?  So we must take everything in it as inerrant fact."   
 
First of all we must realize there are two ways of attaining knowledge: (1) through factual description. (2) through intimate acquaintance.  Science, with its sensitive instruments and advanced mathematics, is the best at finding facts and drawing descriptive laws and predictive theories from those facts.
 
Religion on the other hand is best at producing deep personal acquaintance with mysteries beyond literal fact. Such deep acquaintance is given through the imagery and metaphore of poetry, the morals of heart-warning stories, the rich symbolism of allegory with many levels of meaning....
 
So it should be obvious that Scripture was not meant to be a scientific text in the first place.  Those who take it to be such do not penetrate even the surface of its richness and depth.  If  Scripture is inerrant, it is so not in trivial literalizations, but in the ever deeper meanings one derives from its ultimate mystery.  So let us now find more precisely how  this intimate knowledge by acquaintance works.
 
 
GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH SCRIPTURE:
 
How much of scripture was meant to be taken literally in the first place?  The part that was literal history we can leave to the archeologists in coordination with experts in reading ancient scrolls and engravings.  Beyond that the Psalms were meant to be sung, Lamentations were meant to be chanted, books like Daniel and Rvelation were meant to be interpreted symbolically. 
 
Even many of the prophecies were spoken from ecstatic visions - e. g. Ezekiel's Allegory of the Dry Bones (Ezek.37).  In fact prophets like Ezekiel were sometimes overwhelmed by visions for days (e. g. (Ezek.3:12-15;  8:1-14;  11;1).  Also many prophices were in the form of dreams.  (1 Kings 19:58;  Job 4:12-16;  Jer. 23:28-29) 
 
Moreover, some Hebrew scholars believe the Old Testament is rife with numerological symbolism with many levels of meaning. (See the book. "Biblical Numerology" by J. J. Daves.)
 
In the New Testament, the apostles themselves spoke in tongues that needed interpretation. (Acts 2:1-13;  1 Cor. 14)  And Jesus himself said he spoke all things in parables.  (Mtt. 13:35)  In fact in the New Testament  the morals to the stories were considered important, not the litteral descriptions of events.
 
So you would lose untold inspiration by  interpreting these songs, verses, parables, symbols, and ecstatic expressions literally.  Moreover, the more knowledge and life's experience you yourself bring to Scripture, the more inspiration and intimate knowledge you will retrieve from it.  Biblical inerrancy is not literal inerrancy. It was never meant to be.
 
Finally it must be understood that because Scripture is composed of many diffrerent books from different eras, and that revelations came through imperfect vehicles called human beings, it cannot help containing self-contradictions when literally interpreted. (See the classic, "Self-Contradictions of the Bible" by W. H. Burr.)  So it takes Biblical and historical knowledge to trace each strain of meaning to its source, and its evolution or devolution in later writings.
 
When finding different meanings in Scripture it would do well to ask yourself:  Which would be the most relevant meaning today?  How would the original writer express this knowledge if he or she were living today?  In this way we have a living Bible relevant to todays problems and events.
 
As far as faith being blind is concerned - in our post modern era, even reason and experience must now be based on faith; but in this case faith that is enlightened, not blind.
 
















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