Friday, 16 November 2012

Baby and Bathwater...

The other day I reasoned that Ken Ham was afraid of the implications that the bible might not be totally true. I stand by that.

I also explained why the ten commandments were not the best of moral codes (or even in the top 5 for that matter), and I stand by that.

But I also believe in not throwing out the baby the bathwater.

Someone sent me a link to a video of Ken Ham saying that if the bible was wrong on astronomy, geology and biology then why should he trust what is says about morality and salvation.

A: Because they are separate claims made from separate positions.

I'm far from the first person to point out that not all the morality in the bible is good, infinite punishment for finite crimes is just one of the many things I dont agree with, but just because the book has many errors, does not mean it cannot also contain truths.

Kan Ham's desperation to defend the bible as absolute truth flows from his fundamental error in thinking:
"If it's partially wrong then it must be entirely wrong"

When all you can really say is:

"If it's partially wrong then it might be entirely wrong"

And while, as I said, the ten commandments are far from perfect, I dont think "thou shalt not kill" is wrong just because I dont agree with "thou shalt have no other gods before me".

Kens thinking seems to be stuck in all or nothing mode. It''s all right or it's all wrong.

I am worried that other creationists share his point of view, they seem to think that by accepting that one part of the bible may not be totally true they must throw the rest of it out too... Thus they lose the baby with the bathwater.

I'll be honest and say that I think treating the bible as an interesting book instead of the word of god would be the best possible outcome, but I dont think they need to go that far in one step, and I certainly dont think they need to assume that if the bible is wrong then the oposite of the bible must be right.

Even if the bible got creation wrong, killing is still not a good thing.

Even if mankind evolved from primate forebears, does not mean we should not be tolerant with each other.

Many christians are able to reconcile their faith without believing the bible as entirely literal truth, and many people who believe and understand the current state of science are able to get comfort from the bible without losing their understanding of the world. I dont think that christians fundamentalists can be helped however, as they are looking for a certainty and absolute truth they will not find it in more moderate churches.

But isolating christian fundamentalists will not help either, if any of them are to be saved from a life of fear induced radical misbelief then it will be because they can see another way, because moderates and atheists demonstrate that the world does not collapse or become a dark place when you allow yourself a little human doubt.

It's easy to shut the door on people with radical misguided beliefs, to stand back and assume that they cannot be salvaged. But as humans we need to be there and help them, we need to accept that they may find wisdom in strange places. But most of all, we need to show by example that there is another way that preserves the core ideal of "being good people".

For their part they have to realise that the world is uncomfortably complex, that while the simplest solution is the best the simplest available answer is not always a solution. And that being wrong on one issues does not mean you need to throw out all your values and start from scratch, only that you have to be willing to look at each belief honestly and judge it for what it is.

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