Prophecies and Other Illogical Stories at Garage Sale Posing as Culture Market
Can't Just Kneel to Believe
To make this article a little more bearable to the eyes of some devoted believers, allow me to mention that I do believe in a superior intelligence "behind all this" - whatever its real nature may be - but I am not following any of the existing organized religions.
If that doesn't pass as a "qualification for a real believer" - so be it, I am not planning to make it sound any better, while on my way to share some of my views well announced by the title. Having in sight the obvious popularity of religion on this planet, I would gladly join the believing majority, if I didn't have this chronic problem of basing my beliefs on logic. Take it as a shortcoming if you will, but I just can't "kneel and believe".
Not Really Shopping Much There
At the other side on the scale of my disbeliefs, I am having similar problem with accepting what's popularly called "common sense". It may help you to understand if I mention how there was a time in history when a "flat earth" was also a "common sense".
As we upgrade it into something that sounds more sophisticated, we are talking about a "paradigm", or a general belief system of a certain epoch and its cultural reach. I prefer calling it a "culture market", and after everything that I have said so far, I hope it's becoming obvious that my mind is not really frequenting that market, since there is so much that I can't "buy" there---or my "currency" would not be valid there anyway. To save the metaphor for another moment - I prefer "home-grown products".
Anyone Can Make Predictions
We could all agree upon one thing - humans are not known to spend their lives in a well protected "crystal vase", to use another little metaphor - but something like life happens to all of us. Here I mean a long repertoire of good and bad events only explainable by our incredible talent for complicating our coexistence.
So, how hard is it really to pick out any combination of those standard features in our "destiny" to make a prediction? If I tell you that you are bound to have some disappointments, unexpected calls, some problems with relationships, and someone is badmouthing you, and your health may turn to worse - am I describing your life?
No, I am describing everybody's life. Let me mix-in some wild guesses into this standard soap opera of modern living, and here is your fortune story - are you paying by cash or by a credit card? Here, for a bonus I can top it up with my own weather forecast.
Who Needs a Crystal Ball
While many of you may be waiting for my switching to the biblical prophecies, let me beat around the bush for another moment. Quite similar to personal fortune-telling are those global predictions that are worth mentioning.
With one advantage that the "prophets" have - a stretch of centuries to play with, and the world is crazy enough to fulfill just about any prophecy imaginable. Will there be wars? How about famine, natural disasters, greed, lust, assassinations, corruption, political deceit...O.K., you finish the list if you feel like it, and welcome to the club of prophets.
Even some of those biggies in the trade like Nostradamus, with his famous "quatrains" was too vague, and many are not taking the dude too seriously. And Edgar Cayce, with all his obvious and mysterious talent, really blew it big time by predicting the Atlantis to rise up from the ocean--in recent times.
We Make It "True"
Isn't it interesting how we are inclined to believe in the totality of a story just because some details have turned out true. Not only that, but as long as we believe, we are going to interpret the story in a way that it "has to be " true.
For a lack of a better name, let me call it "wishful thinking". It somewhat reminds me of a story in my Latin textbook about an ancient king that visited this famous fortune-teller before going to war to tell him about the outcome of his military venture.
As the story goes, the witch would fall in her trance and scribble down : "Ibis redibis nunquam peribis in bello." The royal idiot would interpret it the way he wanted it to be - while the smart witch actually gave him a double-meaning prophecy. Namely, if the comma comes after "redibis", it meant: "You'll go, you'll return, you'll never die in war".
But if the comma came after "ibis", then it meant : "You'll go, you'll never return, you'll die in war". Of course, there was no comma in her scribbling. Like I said - we interpret things according to our beliefs. Someone expressed it like this - "Believing is seeing".
What's Missing Is Telling More
Now, as for biblical prophecies, they didn't really foresee anything that would be out of the ordinary historical repertoire. I just can't get over a certain problem with those "visions into the future", and it's not about what was said there - but what was "missing".
Namely, let's get to the very crux of "seeing the future". For Pete's sake (no pun intended), how selective it turns out to be! For, anyone in those times making such claims must have seen the "whole" picture, not merely some details.
So, they must have seen these "things" on the road going by themselves without being pulled by horses. And some "shiny flying things". And some "sticks" that make a big noise and kill a person at a distance without touching them. And so many other wonders that would fill Part Two of the Bible, if not make a fat trilogy out of it.
Makes No Logical Sense
There are so many illogical pearls of inconsistencies, contradictions, and pure mythology which I won't go into, and which have been well cataloged by those scientifically minded scholars with whom I can't compete.
However, as these are strictly my own views on the topic, I might as well mention this thing about resurrection that I simply fail to put on any logical legs. Namely, if God Almighty and All knowing had known in advance about His only son's intentions to sacrifice himself for the salvation of the imperfect human race, why did He let him do it, rather than fix His imperfect creation - humans? You know, parents are known for warning their kids and protecting them from rushing into something dangerous.
But, then it comes to a much more mind-boggling question - if He had known that His son was going to resurrect, what was the point of the "sacrifice"? Just for the show? Sorry guys of all denominations, but I can't put everything under that umbrella of "God works in mysterious ways, and we are not supposed to question it." But you just go ahead, don't mind me, keep believing whatever makes you happy.
Take It as My Confusions - Not Your Illusions
I hope that you are still willing to see it as a problem in "my" reasoning, not that I am necessarily pinning it on "you". You just keep believing your stuff, I don't mind, I am not one of those bona fide atheists that are at times giving a bad name to logical folks.
So, while still presenting it as my problem, let me continue with another of my big confusions. Someone said it before me, so I'll paraphrase the dude who said the following about Jesus's healing some unfortunate folks with leprosy, blindness, and alike - "If I was a messiah with those powers, I would not heal a blind person or a leper, but I would make those terrible illnesses disappear altogether."
You see, that logical dude said exactly what's making me confused. And I wish that was the only example.
The Problem of Illiteracy
There is another question which keeps bumping into my sense of logicalness: Who was the Bible really written for? Now, don't jump the gun, the question is actually not as crazy as it may sound at first. You see, it is a historical fact that the great majority of those Middle Eastern folks were illiterate. Don't think of it as impossible - as if it was somehow "inherent in all humans to learn reading and writing."
To help you with some facts, even nowadays there are many illiterate folks - guess where - in these United States of America, and in many other countries. So I assume it's not so hard to imagine a society of a couple of millennia ago mostly made of shepherds, peasants, and those who would today qualify for welfare.
The minority were soldiers, merchants, and noble folks calling the shots and deciding who lives and who dies. And those doomed to die would coincide with those who wouldn't have dared to write anything that would have been against the religious polytheistic status quo of those times. Don't forget, they were hardly waiting to get an excuse to pin someone on a cross like a rare butterfly, or go into a delirious trance while watching gladiators getting torn apart by lions.
Now, my question is coming back in a gallop - who of all those would have been into reading a holy book - or any book for that matter? And if hardly any - why bother writing it?
Indeed, would you write a manuscript for which there is no market, no reading public, and even those few who might dare reading it would get executed just like you? What's the point of "opening someone's eyes" if those eyes are bound to be closed forever as the consequence of "getting opened"?
Look at the nature of the people these days - they have no problem at all living with a bunch of lies, and even making some fresh ones. Life is good - lies or not, so why expect from those poor devils of biblical times to give up that little of life they had?
Spirituality Was Not On the Menu of Life
Allow me to elaborate a little more, if I may, on the fabric of biblical era societies. Whoever bothered to write those scriptures couldn't have done it while having in mind some "future generations" when a whole bunch of literate people would make it more popular than Shakespeare's "Hamlet".
They had to be written in the spirit of that era, not for some future times. And no one, with an exception of a little number of advanced minds was really into "serious, philosophical stuff". Remember folks, those days you could only see all kinds of entertainers on a typical Middle Eastern street - like magicians, storytellers, clowns, acrobats, fortune-tellers, and of course---a garden variety of mystics and prophets.
People were gullible, simpleminded, easily swayed into any kind of believing. Indeed, how gullible does one have to be in order to believe in a complete catalog of deities depicting just about anything that one doesn't understand? Well, not that we have evolved very far in that respect, but those times were marked for something that we could call, without any mocking in mind: general public ignorance.
Those folks were working hard, life was hard beyond our imagination, and they just wanted to be entertained between two rounds of struggling with their everyday hardships - not to be smart, not to be enlightened.
No matter how Hollywood movies have been trying to romanticize those folks and their passion for spirituality and higher learning, they were simply not equipped in their heads for something like it. Unlike these days when everyone is mostly literate, relatively educated, and well advanced in the skill of texting while driving - those folks' minds were strictly tied to their hard routine of daily survival.
And now, before this text turns by its volume into some "unholy scriptures" of a sort - I might as well leave the theme, along with some other logically unexplainable puzzles relating to it. If it looks like my attempt to debunk anything, it's by sheer accident - I just wanted to share my own doubts.
The Magic Is in Those Words : To Each Their Own
For my last words of this article I have saved a little plea to those readers who may feel called upon or tempted to try "saving my soul from my confusions."
Well, they shouldn't bother, I appreciate the noble motive, but I am one of those, call me "incorrigible logical users of mind", with an accent on "incorrigible". Of course, neither am I expecting that anyone would find some fun in verbally smacking my ignorance around with their holy book.
For, look, I am perfectly fine with their believing, while I don't even claim to have all that love, tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance that religious folks have developed through their devoted following their religious idol, Jesus Christ---or any other for that matter.
So, let's keep nurturing our own gardens without throwing any stones over the fence - let's love our neighbor as we love ourselves, meaning those " confused by logic" as well!