March 11, 2012 by Bill
From time to time, as do all writers, I receive anonymous letters. In some of these I have been asked, “Why do you always quote only men and women? Why don’t you read the bible and quote God, where truth is?” That always reminds of a great cartoon in the New Yorker magazine. A minister is standing, robed, in his pulpit, with waving arms and saying, “And now, reading from the bible, God says, and I quote of course…”
Which “God” of the last 50,000 years do they want me to quote? Yahweh, Elohim, Ahura, Mazda, Ra, Osiris, Zeus, Jupiter, Dionysius, Demeter, Asklepios, Hermes, Aton, Odin, Thor, Varuna, Shang-ti, Amaterasu – Omikami, and we have not even touched the Goddesses.
OH NO, it is only biblical Gods that these writers are interested in, so again I would ask them, “Which ‘biblical God’ do they want me to quote, ‘Yahweh, Elohim, Hadad, El Shaddai, Ba’alim or Anath’?
Or maybe the anthropomorphic “God” who walked and talked in the garden; or the “God” in Genesis who came down from the mountain to sire children by earth women (what a deal), or the jealous and vindictive God, the God of war, the vicious and cruel God who commanded a scorched earth and genocide, or the God in the Book of Numbers who commanded a young woman to be raped?
Even now, there are still some who believe that the bible is “infallible,” “without error,” the “word of God”…this God they want me to quote. Which story would I use for moral and spiritual edification? The inspirational story about Lot’s two daughters who got him drunk with wine and went to bed with him? (Genesis 19) Today, we call it incest. You could call it holy debauchery I guess, since it is God’s infallible “word.” Well more of God’s “word”: There is the rape of Tamar by her brothers (2 Samuel) or a little gang rape in the Book of Judges (19-25). The “word of God” says “they abused her all the night long until the morning.”
Thomas Paine, who gave us the name of The United States of America wrote, “Any system of religion that has anything in it that would shock the mind of a child cannot be a true system.” Can any thoughtful person, say with honesty and integrity, that the majority of biblical concepts of “God” are not an insult to contemporary knowledge and spirituality?
It has been, and is, an uphill fight against narrow superstitions, antiquated religious doctrines and dogmas, combined with biblical illiteracy. We ask, “How could they have believed those asinine things?” Tragically, millions do. And still, when people die, millions still say, “Gods will.” In the magnificent words of the Rig-Vedas: “Thou, before whom all words recoil, only silence can name thee.”