We are all familiar by now with the Richard Dawkins of the world, “atheists” (I put that word in quotes becasue they have a god, just not a supernatural one) who are utterly dismissive of faith. They generally present “scientific” arguments against the existence of God, ignoring completely the limits of science itself and the imposition of their agenda upon the data. There is another “scholarly” avenue of attack against religion that has not caught the public’s imagination as much as Dawkins, et. al., but that I have personally watched undermine the faith of some very committed Christians when they reached seminary. This avenue is the critical study of the texts of faith, that is to say, the Bible.
Monday, the New York Times carried a piece by
Why, you may ask, is that so provocative? Well, the very word “written” challenges the deep faith of most believers. That word implies that the Bible was composed, that is to say authored or thought up, by those that wrote it down. Most believers would argue that the Bible was “recorded,” some believing in various levels of supernatural inspiration or dictation and others acknowledging that most of the Bible originally started as oral storytelling later recorded in writing. This latter understanding of “recorded” applies not just to the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, but to common literary text like the epics of Homer.
One can forgive a provocative headline as a means of drawing readers, but the Kershner piece is just chock full of such word choice prejudice. Continue Reading