Friday, July 29, 2011

Bible = Truth? Depends on how you read it

When you read the Bible literally, it makes little to no sense.  It's quite obvious shown by the examples below,
  • God created everything in the universe in 6 days (148 hours)?! 
  • God created one sole couple, Adam and Eve, to populate the Earth?!  (Meaning their children had to...)
  • Snakes could talk?!
  • In John 14:10, Jesus said "...I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me" (What?!  How's that possible?  It would make more sense if it's the mother, before he was born...)
These are just a few examples (could probably find 9000 of them) to show you that at the surface, what the Bible talks about range from weird to utter nonsense.  Most Christians would read the Bible as literal as possible until science or what not refutes some of its literal meanings to the point where they cannot deny, then they would interpret those parts differently to avoid criticisms.  However, for the parts that haven't been refuted, they continue to cling on to them in literal terms (just as they are taught in hundreds, thousands of years).

The Point of the Bible

It's sad that they do not realize (or they just don't want to open that can of worms) the Bible was never meant to depict historical events accurately or to teach you physics.  The Bible may have parts that describe actual historical events or resonate with a scientific theory, but that's not point. The point of the Bible is to help you understand intangible truths in which our intellect can barely comprehend let alone being fully expressed in words.  Some facts to consider before opening up a Bible:
  • It was translated from Hebrew
  • It was written 2000 years ago, with heavy references to the culture and customs at that time
  • All truths are expressed in parables and symbolic language.
  • Parts of it had been censored or edited by various individuals over the years to manipulate the public.
You may think now: why bother studying something so distorted?  Well, for one thing, I've found Jesus's words to contain hidden wisdom quite apparently.  And since so many Christians and Catholics misinterpreted and misunderstood the Bible, there's no better way for them to seek the truth other than studying the Bible philosophically.

Genesis 1:3-5 (NIV) - And God said, "Let there be light,"
and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Three verses into the Bible, we see an obvious use of symbolic language.  This "light" that God spoke of is not the physical, visual light that we can perceive with our eyes.  This is evident because physical light was addressed later in Genesis 1:14-16,
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.
This "light" in Genesis 1:3 is actually referring to the light of intellect.  This light of intellect that enables us to discern the meanings of words, images, sounds, scents, etc.  Without this "light", the Bible is merely a bunch of papers without any meaning; like a USB memory stick without a computer that can read it.  There cannot be truth without the an intellect recognizing it.  It's always stressed that in heaven there's perfect light; while in hell, there is only darkness.  By this sense, we can say that this "light" is the understanding of the truth.  Without the light of intellect, we cannot conceive any concept much like having no physical light to perceive objects.

Saint Augustine also used "light" to represent our intellect in The Confessions VII.10.16,
I entered there, and by my soul's eye, such as it was, I saw above that same eye of my soul, above my mind, an unchangeable light.  It was not this common light, plain to all flesh, nor a greater light, as it were, of the same kind, as though that light would shine many, many times more bright, and by its great power fill the whole universe.  Not such was that light, but different, far different from all other lights, Nor was it above my mind, as oil is above water, or sky above earth.  It was above my mind, because it made me, and I was beneath it, because I was made by it.  He who knows the truth, knows that light, and he who knows it knows eternity.  Love knows it, O eternal truth, and true love, and beloved eternity! You are my God, and I sigh for you day and night!

Genesis 1:26 (NIV) - Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image,
in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
Do you notice that the Bible used the word "us" while there is only one God.  "Us" refers to creatures and God, therefore to make mankind in their image and likeness would mean that mankind contains both creature's physical aspect and God's spiritual aspect.   To "rule over wild animals" didn't meant that we have to really rule over all animals or to take care of them, but to control (not deprive) our animal instinct (physical aspect) with our intellect (spiritual aspect).

Genesis 1:27 (NIV) -
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Although the Bible refers God as "he", we see in this verse that God has no gender as he created both male and female in his image.  And by "image", it wasn't meant to be appearance as the Bible never talked about what God looks like.  If you think "image" means appearance, you'll have a headache as soon as you think about what God looks like.  What color is God's skin?  Most likely white as Jesus is the son of God and he's white.  So can we conclude that God favors Whites more as they resemble God more closely than Blacks?  Doesn't sound undiscriminating and loving to me.  The more logical interpretation is that "image" refers to God's attributes, his ability to reason and power to create.  Therefore, by creating mankind in God's image, we have inherited the ability to reason and the power to create.  O my God, this makes so much more sense.

The Cycle of Life

So, to summarize, we have to read the Bible philosophically in order to learn anything useful in it.  Bible = truth if and only if we use our intellect to discern the truth from it.  Or else, it would be like watching The Lion King while arguing with someone on whether or not lions could actually talk in ancient times!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your interpretation! You know? I think I have been a Christian for 2 decades, but I have never been baptized or accepted officially in Hong Kong just because I did't understand correctly about the idea of Trinity. You answered me the "us" is about all the existences - not GOD, Jesus, and holy spirit in God's creation of mankind. I believe I would better study the bible by my own. Church may not be an only option of me.

    Jack Ho