This is unrelated to any other threads. My wife gets these books for her Adult Bible Study. I’ve opened them, found bad archaeology and theology on the first random page and put them down. The other night, she’s reading this one to me, because it’s quoting Hawking and Dawkins in the first chapter. That chapter is titled, “Is there a God?”
Hamilton is a master at avoiding the question. After presenting the scientific arguments against God, which, BTW, hurrah, he simply dismisses them. “Hawking was talking about the laws of nature,” he says, so apparently it doesn’t have to do with what’s in Hamilton’s heart. He goes on to talk about the power of community, never mentioning the studies about non-religious communities that supply the exact same benefits, and which I’m absolutely sure the guy has read. He raves about how great his life has been since making the choice, very important he says, that it was a choice, to believe.
In the next chapter he “wrestles” with the Bible. Again, hurrah, he points out the misogyny, the mass murder, the pro-slavery and anti-gay stuff. He does a little razzle dazzle by presenting some historical theological responses to these problems, then just moves on. Oh, he says, only 5% of the Bible is this troubling stuff. The rest is all about mercy, love and justice.
I skimmed a lot. The “Why Do the Innocent Suffer?” question has always been my favorite though. Again, he spends lots of time with examples, starting with people causing pain for people, which can be blamed on people and that pesky free-will God gave us, and admits that natural disasters are real too. But somehow, God doesn’t “intend” for them or something. I’ve seen this word play before, I don’t know how they come up with these, sitting at their keyboards. Anyway, God is there to comfort and guide us after our best friend gets cancer. That’s it.
So, big surprise, another disappoints, right? What would be great, is if one of these authors would start working on these questions and say, oh crap, this whole thing is a disaster. We don’t just need excuses for how someone wrote about killing babies 5,000 years ago, we need to make a Bible with all those highlighted and a page at the beginning telling people that’s not what love is about, that there is no redeeming value to this passage.
That would be a start. Highlighting entire books would be next. Putting explanations of how the Bible was assembled, and that it’s not a coherent narrative would also be good. I know there’s a website for this, I won’t look it up right now, it has almost every line annotated, but that would never make the Bible Study class would it? There must be a way to make it look like theology, but really be a study guide for how to stop believing. The New Testament took power away from the Temple and put it into the hands of those who choose to follow him. It’s time to finish the job and show people that power is only in their hands, nowhere else.