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The Next Great Challenge for Christianity

Updated on August 21, 2017
The founder of Christianity. A painting of the Sermon on the Mount, by nineteenth century artist, Carl Heinrich Bloch.
The founder of Christianity. A painting of the Sermon on the Mount, by nineteenth century artist, Carl Heinrich Bloch. | Source

Tolerance! It is a good place to start. We need more of it, but in some ways the word sounds like an insult. "I tolerate you," brings to mind a condescending and arrogant attitude. We need more than mere tolerance.

Radicalism is the last thing we need. A militant approach to proselytizing or enforcing one's social values is counterproductive at best. The Nazarene teacher advised us to turn away from those who reject the message, not to beat them over the head with it. Okay, so you knew that already. But how do we help remove such radicalism from the Christian landscape?

A recent article described how atheist student groups are flowering on college campuses. They are presenting a kinder, gentler atheism which is pleasing to the intellect. Let us be clear, intellect is not the enemy, but of course you knew that already. Those Christians who view intellect, intellectuals, science and skepticism as the enemy likely would not read this article, anyway. But how can we compete with something so fashionable as repackaged atheism? Or should we ignore it?

Can You Tolerate Biblical Interpretation that is Both Compatible with Science and Superior To It?

The Bible's Hidden Wisdom: God's Reason for Noah's Flood (Volume 1)
The Bible's Hidden Wisdom: God's Reason for Noah's Flood (Volume 1)
This book is from years of my own research into a biblical timeline compatible with those of mainstream science. I wasn't surprised that God's holy book would match his own creation (reality), but there were many surprises, including discovering through science the target of Noah's Flood -- a species which went extinct at that time.

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Deception , makes a good point about religious intolerance, though he makes the point with the venom of intolerance. Go figure! And I thought he was supposed to be an intelligent man. The problem is not religion, of course; it is people within religions who do not restrain their frustrations. What we need to do is make all aware of those potential frustrations and not allow the seeds of discontent a place to take root. Frustration is a product of vulnerability, and that vulnerability is a product of ego—the earthly master we are trying to shake off.

Carl Sagan, author of The Pale Blue Dot , also makes a good point when he condemns religion for being too close-minded with regard to the accomplishments of science. The late Mr. Sagan seems to forget, however, that many scientists are devoutly religious. But his statement opens to us an opportunity. And yet, what can we do about this opportunity? Instead of religion shunning the secular sciences, it should embrace them. I'm not talking about Jesuits in their laboratories or observatories. I'm talking about making the skepticism of science a regular part of everyday church life. Radical idea! But wait till you read the intent behind the idea.

Skepticism in Church

Now, hold onto your halo and try to understand what I'm about to say. I'm talking about applying a bit of skepticism to our worship, but in a very unusual way. There are certain constants that we can hold as perfect and never in need of change. You know which ones I'm talking about—God's love, Jesus' mission to bring us salvation, the verity of biblical miracles, and the like. Things like these are beyond interpretation.

So, skepticism about what? Quite simply, we need to question our interpretations and those of our pastors and priests. Interpretation is a major pitfall. What is at stake if we get it wrong? Let me give you an example.

One Christian with whom I talked was so enthusiastic to be saved because now he could commit any crime and still go to heaven. Does that sound right? Wisdom would seem to disagree with that one Christian's interpretation, but his pastor had assured him that his interpretation was correct. Yet, Jesus admonished the sinner to go and sin no more. Why would this be important? And why did that pastor not think of this? If one clings to evil ways, is one really "accepting Christ?" Is one really saved? I think not! Let me explain.

The skepticism of which I speak, then, is not a skepticism of the Word. It is only a skepticism of the interpretations we place on the Word. There is a big difference. Such skepticism of our own views is an act of humility, because we are not placing our meager interpretation above God or even equal to His word. By doing this, we show our great love of the Word. By this, we attempt to come closer to its true meaning through our own personal divine revelation. "Ask and you will receive" (John 16:24, excerpt). Humility is the mode of that asking. Thinking that you already know all the answers only blocks your ability to ask. The solution is to remain constantly hungry for answers.

The founder of Christianity completing his mission to Earth. A painting of the Crucifixion by seventeenth century artist, D. Velazquez.
The founder of Christianity completing his mission to Earth. A painting of the Crucifixion by seventeenth century artist, D. Velazquez. | Source

Responsibility for Salvation

We are each responsible for our own salvation. Jesus made it easy for us, but we can chose to accept it or turn away from it. Yet the one Christian of whom I spoke earlier only thinks he has accepted salvation. Has he really? Smiling and saying that one has accepted Christ, then turning one's back on God's law are a contradiction. While it is true that one no longer has to obey the law to become righteous (a keen trick of ego which the Pharisees learned too well), saying that one accepts Christ in order to commit all manner of crime is a form of deceit. If one truly accepts the New Covenant, and loves God with all their heart, the laws will naturally follow.

If we make mistakes along the way, we know that God still loves us. When a baby learns to walk, the parents do not give up when the infant falls down.

I think some pastors misunderstand the New Covenant of Christ's sacrifice. What does "accepting Christ" really mean? If one embraces selfishness, deceit, criminality and indulgence, are not we really "accepting" the master of this world, instead of Christ? It has been said that we can serve only one master. The New Covenant forgives all sins, but this does not include permanently turning our backs on God, even though we profess our love for Him. Such is the most profound form of treachery—wallowing in a "reassuring lie" of self-deception.

Later, if we discover our mistake, we are automatically forgiven. God's love is unconditional. Yet, how will we ever discover that a mistake has been made if we do not remain vigilant—in other words, constantly humble and hungry for answers—constantly skeptical of our own meager interpretations?

Interpreting a Small Universe

Interpretation remains valuable. It serves a purpose, but we should not stay attached to interpretation.

Carl Sagan said of the religious that they cling to a small God and live in a small universe. He was over-generalizing, of course. I have been an amateur astronomer my entire adult life. I am a computer scientist having graduated summa cum laude. I see the same universe that Mr. Sagan saw, with countless billions of galaxies, each containing billions or even trillions of suns. And this is no warm and cozy universe. There is unimaginable distance between each star. Just try it out. Imagine. How far would you have to step back from our own blazing sun to view it as a dim star? You know that a light bulb viewed at arm's length can seem very bright, but viewing that same light bulb when it is on the distant horizon, it can seem like a dim star or even too dim to see at all.

I can picture and understand Mr. Sagan's universe and still love God. There is no contradiction.

Some Christians interpret the Bible literally, or so they say. From this, they find that humanity, the Earth and the cosmos are only about 6,000 years old. They find that Noah's Flood occurred 2348 BC.

They think these things because of their interpretations. And yet, so many different interpretations of nature disagree with their one interpretation of the Bible. Who is right?

The great tragedy is that many of these Christian Fundamentalists equate their interpretation with the true meaning of the Bible. Could this contain a measure of arrogance? Is personal interpretation equal to God's Word? If such interpretation is correct in every way, then there might be no arrogance at all. Only the individual and God know their true motivation.

Scientists are the experts on reality. Just look at the technology driving our civilization. If science proved to be only 90% right, then much of our technology would not work. But the nature of empiricism demands we get it right. Either an idea of science works or it does not. Newton's laws of motion work very well until one moves an object at near-light speeds, then Einstein's Relativity takes over. Prior to the nineteenth century, there was no need to worry about near-light velocities. Newton's laws were all we needed.

So many different branches of science point to an ancient humanity, a more ancient Earth and a far more ancient cosmos. They cannot all be wrong. Too many empirical findings back up the conclusions of science on these matters.

If someone ignores reality and believes strongly something contradicted by reality, we typically say that they are "delusional." Delusion is a strong word and it applies strongly to some biblical interpretation. Yet, when the delusion is pointed out, many Fundamentalists feel that the Word of God is being attacked. This could not be further from the truth. The Word of God remains safe; their interpretations are the ideas in jeopardy.

Take Archbishop Ussher's date for Noah's Flood, 2348 BC. The biblical story tells us that after the Flood, Noah and his family were the only ones on Earth. Yet, three years after this date, Egypt's sixth dynasty started! Three years provides insufficient time to grow a dynasty of Egyptian citizens. Thirteen years after Ussher's Flood date, Sargon the Great conquered Sumer, soon establishing an empire which stretched from the territory of modern Iran to the Mediterranean. From whence did all of those imperial citizens come? Clearly, the "literal" date for Noah's Flood is wrong. If the literal event ever happened at all, it needs to have happened far earlier, when history does not contradict it. To cling to the Ussher timeline, as some Christians do, is to cling to delusion.

Such delusional activity only gives the skeptics and atheists more fuel for their arguments. Why give this to them? Why give the competition such ammunition when there are other, more divine answers awaiting us which are not based on delusion?

A painting entitled, "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man!) by nineteenth century artist, Antonio Ciseri, showing Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus of Nazareth to onlookers.
A painting entitled, "Ecce Homo" (Behold the Man!) by nineteenth century artist, Antonio Ciseri, showing Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus of Nazareth to onlookers. | Source

Fear of Letting Go

Some Christians are afraid to let go their "safe" interpretations. They are afraid, but also lazy. Some Christians feel that if we cannot take the Bible literally, then everything is subject to re-interpretation. How can we make sense of anything? How, indeed! That is where humility and a burning hunger come in handy.

Genesis 3 speaks of Adam and Eve falling from grace. God had promised them that they would surely die on the day they ate the Forbidden Fruit. Yet, did they literally, physically die? Genesis 3 ends with Adam and his mate being escorted out of the Garden. That does not sound like "death" to me. And Genesis 5 describes Adam living to the ripe old age of 930 years. Did he spend 930 years in the Garden, and then die the day he left the Garden? Probably not. Genesis 5 also says that at age 130, Adam had a son, Seth (born after Cain and Abel). Were these children born in the Garden? Genesis 3 says nothing of children being born there.

God did not lie. And yet, how did Adam die in the same day, if he lived so long afterwards? The answer is simple, but not literal. Adam and his mate died spiritually. Their death in the Garden was a spiritual death.

If we cannot take this lesson literally, then are there other lessons we need to interpret in a non-literal fashion? How thoroughly uncomfortable to the biblical literalists! They might actually have to do some work.

The trick is discovering the big difference between delusion and faith. And there is a big difference, there. Walk on water! If you have the faith to do it, only your feet will get wet. If you sink, then you are still clinging to the master of this world. Faith can be as empirical as the discoveries of science. But do not misunderstand. Seeking "proof" is the wrong approach. Faith precedes proof, not the other way around.

Everlasting Life and the Power of Miracles

Jesus told Nicodemus that we need to be born again. He told us all that we are promised "everlasting life."

What is the nature of "everlasting life?" Opinions differ. Interpretations of biblical passages are as varied as personalities. We have to ask: Of what value is understanding wisdom? What is the value of getting it right? Again, this is where humility comes in handy.

Some view "everlasting life" as the resurrection of their physical bodies and perpetual life for their Homo sapiens vessels. Is this right?

If consuming the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden led to spiritual death, could "being born again" refer to spiritual rebirth? Could "everlasting life" refer to continuity of consciousness after bodily death? Could it refer to life "in the spirit?"

Jesus frequently cautions his followers not to be so attached to the things of this world. The rich man has scant chance to enter Heaven. One needs to give up one's life in order to gain everlasting life. And he says, "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30).

How would you interpret the statement of Jesus that we can do the miracles he did and even greater ones? One pastor felt that this could not be taken literally. He felt that individuals could not heal the sick, yet Jesus sent his followers to neighboring towns to do just that. Walk on water? Peter did that, if only a moment, before doubt set in.

Why are Christians so afraid to perform miracles? Do some condemn the performing of miracles because they fear they do not have the faith to do them? Attempting miracles would reveal their lack of faith. How thoroughly uncomfortable.

I have performed a few meager miracles, and yet some Christians think this is an abomination—a thing of the devil. And yet, when I did these things, I felt at my most humble and faithful. The fact that I have done these things only means that we all can do these things. Doing them through Christ only means that we achieve the state of grace and faith with complete humility, forsaking ego (the false "self" of this mortal world).

The great challenge for Christianity may contain many things, but arguably the most important is that of gaining utter humility and the hunger of a beggar for the truth being offered us. We need to remain skeptical of our own mortal interpretations until it is obvious that we are walking on water by the grace of God. Then we will know that our journey is complete.

© 2010 Rod Martin Jr


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    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thank you, @Mandeeadair, for your complements. For the ego part of me to write this would have been impossible; not easy at all. For the spirit to speak through this humble vessel, writing this was entirely effortless. I only hope I can complete my quest to awaken the sleeping immortal within. I feel so close, yet so far away.

    • Mandeeadair profile image


      9 years ago from California

      This is fantastic! I commend you for writing about this subject, not an easy task. Very well done.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      (I sometimes lose power or connection to the internet)

      SAYING IT LIKE IT IS (continued)...

      ...I do it all the time. It keeps me humble. It keeps me hungry for a more perfect wisdom. I keep looking and comparing what I think is my Master's voice and trying to tell the difference between that and any mortal concern. On a few occasions, I have been humbled to learn that what I thought was righteous was really from the "master" of this world. I continue to learn and hunger.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      James my dear friend, I sincerely hope, we never lose this friendship. Though we agree on so much, we also disagree on some things. I think our hearts are ultimately in the right place—aimed toward God, but we each have varying experiences and knowledge.

      Not long ago, I got one of my biggest theological breakthroughs from a poor, low IQ man in Australia who is writing a book on the parables of Jesus. His YouTube videos are quirky and sometimes embarrassing to watch, but behind the quirkiness is a sincere desire to follow Jesus and to help others. Behind that ugly packaging is something truly divine.


      Advocate doing nothing? Please James, nothing could be further from the truth. The neutrality of which I spoke has nothing to do with action, but everything to do with the motivation behind one's actions (or inaction). Ego is positive AND negative on the dichotomies of human existence. Ego is perhaps the root of all evil. It is at the heart of what was wrong with the Pharisees who did "good," but for the wrong (non-neutral) reasons. I'm talking non-neutral from the ego point-of-view. Ego is the false-self we tend to hold as our Master in this world. Regrettably, I find myself doing this all the time, and ask God forgiveness for my frequent slips. It is becoming easier to let go of ego, but lively debates sometimes bring out that little "devil."

      James, why did you misread my statement about "enforcing one's social values?" You will see that the sentence starts out with, "A militant approach to proselytizing..." Isn't it far better, and far more powerful to approach enforcing social values and proselytizing with a peaceful attitude? And yet, I entirely agree with Jesus beating the money lenders in the temple. Anything which pollutes the path to our re-awakening must be eradicated. And yet, most people on this planet do not have sufficient wisdom to make such a call. I certainly don't. The Catholic church murdered the Cathars because they were doing it the "wrong way." How thoroughly arrogant.

      Neville Chamberlain was following ego. He was completely non-neutral concerning Hitler. He was afraid of rocking the boat. He was actively lazy in taking responsibility for the situation. His actions and inactions have ego written all over them. So do those of Hitler.


      Carl Sagan was stupid. He jumped to so many conclusions on subjects for which he held disagreements, that I seriously consider him a prime candidate for my Silly-Willy-Nilly-Scientist award. I agree with you completely about a large God and large universe. Some Christians think the universe is only 6,000 years old, so they disrespect science big time and gain nothing. I have never believed in a small God, either. Sagan was good at talking in generalities and half-truths. My brother told me of one Sagan book critical on the works of others he labeled as "pseudo-scientific." One chapter of that book was later retracted because Sagan misunderstood the subject, largely because he had never read the man's work! Duh!

      Sagan was good at creating rifts where there didn't need to be. He was good at the darker side of skepticism—self-indulgent ridicule. And, like a good little warrior, his friend, Ann Druyen, recently in the news, is reacting to the self-indulgent ridicule of so-called "Christian fundamentalists." All of that is non-neutral ego speaking, from both sides of the fence.

      James, you said, "You describe Ussher as 'delusional,'" but I certainly did not. You got that one entirely wrong. Never said it. Never intended it. Ussher was a brilliant scholar. If you will re-read what I wrote, you will see that only modern adherents to Ussher's timeline are described as delusional in my discussion of Ussher and his work. Ussher did not know of the findings of modern science. If he had, he might never have published his most famous work. Even Sir Isaac Newton created his own version of a biblical timeline. Either of these great men might have arrived at a completely different timeline because of the "reality" described by modern science. To ignore science is to ignore reality. That is a description of delusion. Ussher never knew modern science, so he was not delusional in this regard.


      James, you also said concerning my statement about lazy and "safe," literal interpretations of the Bible, "I take the Bible literally and I am neither afraid nor lazy. There is no reason to be insulting. That is not the humble attitude you espouse."

      Dear James, was I insulting you? Did it hurt? Did it feel uncomfortable or ruffle your feathers? I don't like to cause discomfort in others, but won't hesitate to shine a light on something if it serves a higher purpose. Unlike Neville Chamberlain, I sometimes welcome a little conflict, if there is something to be learned. If you felt "insulted," that was your own ego talking. And don't be offended by that, either. We all have this product of the poison of the forbidden fruit. Ego has poisoned everyone on this planet. We need to help each other. Calling laziness "lazy" is neither arrogant nor humble. Only God and I know my motivation behind saying such.


      Is your interpretation of the Bible perfect in every respect? Would you be arrogant in thinking it is? Would it be laziness not to explore other possibilities? My article did not say that James Watkins is lazy. But if James Watkins rests on his current interpretation and does not continue to hunger for more wisdom, then I would say that this would constitute a measure of laziness. I have no ego in saying that, though ego dearly would love to become involved. Some Christians who rely on their beliefs to keep their worlds from crumbling may be afraid to question any of those beliefs. They do not hunger for greater wisdom, because they are afraid of letting go of their current anchor on reality. I've seen a few Christians who fit into this category.

      James, you said, "I believe in the Bible literally. But the Bible doesn't say how old the earth is. I don't care how old the earth is. Why should I?"

      I agree that the age of the Earth, for most of us (including me) is no more than an interesting triviality. Some who believe in the literal Bible use Ussher and others to say that humanity has been around for only 6,000 years. Do you adhere to that literal interpretation? Or do you have a different "literal" take on it?

      James, you said, "Nothing in the Bible is contradicted by reality. God did not say Adam and Eve would die 'that day.'"

      I happen to agree with the first part, at least as far as I've discovered. But check out Genesis 2:17 where it says, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." It says, "in the day," which means to me on that same day. So, it looks like the Bible did say this.

      I have also discovered, through a thoroughly non-literal reading of Genesis, the existence of the "Tree of Life" mentioned in Genesis 3. The Kabbalists have known of this "Tree of Life" for thousands of years, but the fact that it is embedded in Genesis 4 and 5 is a very new and non-literal discovery. Now, I need to understand that "Tree." More work to do.


      James, you said, "What is a fundamentalist? One who believes in the 'fundamentals' of the Christian Faith? Well, they ought to!"

      Well, that may not be entirely accurate. These are the "fundamentals" according to whom? I agree that we all need to adhere to the fundamentals of Christianity. I just don't see anyone walking on this planet who knows yet what those fundamentals are. No one, not even myself, has gained sufficient humility and faith to achieve that. You can call something a "horse," but if it oinks and looks like a pig, then you don't yet have a horse. Believing and labeling something does not make it so.

      James, you said, "But I am not to call good evil or evil good. No sir." And bravo to that! I wholeheartedly agree. Just don't be afraid to look at the possibility that your own viewpoint could be evil. I do it all the time. It k

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Dave, most intriguing and thanks for the invitation. I'll check it out the Hub.

      Dreams can be so important for helping us along the road to understanding. Sometimes we can misunderstand those dreams, but that too can lead to challenges which ultimately help us wake up. I frequently learn (and re-learn) not to judge where others are on the path to salvation or enlightenment. I figure it's all good. Even Hitler, in his darkest madness, may have been getting and giving just what he needed in order to grow spiritually. I hope so.

      I continue to learn from others. But some teachings seem inconsistent with my own experiences.

      For instance logically, I can't see how our separation from God is "inherited from Adam." I personally think it was our individual choice to turn away from Him and accept ego as our Master. Ego is a physical cog of natural reality and must obey its laws. Ego is not a source of miracles and power. Ego is vulnerable and a source of great pain and suffering, but also a source of great ecstasy. And that's the trap. Too many think ego is the answer, and yet the dichotomies which make up ego are perpendicular to our path to God, and infinitely distant.

      If we start with Genesis 1:26, that we are created in God's image, we find that reincarnation is an easy idea to grasp. Sleeping baby gods, poisoned by the forbidden fruit need a way to wake up. In come Homo sapiens--the best possible answer in an imperfect world.

      Some teachings are inconsistent with the memories I have of prior lives. The Bible talks of reincarnation. Many of the ancient Jews believed in it. The disciples talked about it. Jesus talked about it.

      Ultimately, it matters not what the truth turns out to be. I value that truth above all else, though I do not yet know what that truth is in its entirety. I cannot yet walk on water, though I have performed several miracles. I'm still waking up to God and Jesus.

      I agree that faith yields instant results, but awareness is the key to understanding and wisdom. If you are unaware of many things, then faith is limited to only a few things. That is why we need to remain humble and hungry for answers. We can help each other in this.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Your article is fabulous! I agree with much of what you wrote, my friend.

      Tolerance is a word with many meanings. It is currently a buzzword for the disallowal of any protest against licentiousness. It reminds me of Herbert Marcuse when he wrote: "Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left."

      I am reminded also of Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I hope this is not what you are advocating.

      Or as Elie Wiesel said (which I apply to the killing of unborn children): "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

      You warn against "enforcing one's social values" but a wise man understands that SOMEBODY is going to do just that. If Christians cower in the corner, not wanting to offend the devil's minions, then Atheists, serving Satan, will cause great suffering among our brothers and sisters. Or do we not care about them?

      Neville Chamberlain was quite tolerant.

      I am not at all close-minded about the accomplishments of science. I use technology all the time and I love it, and am happy to have it.

      I have never believed in a small God, as Carl Sagan says. Any God who created the entire universe and all life in it; who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, as I have believed God to be since I was a boy, is in no way small. He couldn't be bigger than He is.

      You describe Ussher as "delusional." I would think "mistaken" a more Christian term.

      You write: "Some Christians are afraid to let go their "safe" interpretations. They are afraid, but also lazy."

      Are you talking about tribal peasants with IQs in the 60s? I take the Bible literally and I am neither afraid nor lazy. There is no reason to be insulting. That is not the humble attitude you espouse.

      I believe in the Bible literally. But the Bible doesn't say how old the earth is. I don't care how old the earth is. Why should I?

      Nothing in the Bible is contradicted by reality. God did not say Adam and Eve would die "that day." You wrote that. He said they would die. They did die. They became mortal.

      What is a fundamentalist? One who believes in the "fundamentals" of the Christian Faith? Well, they ought to!

      The Holy Spirit dwells inside me. This enables me to discern when something of import to God is wrong. When somebody tells me my great-great-great granddaddy was an ape, the Holy Spirit pipes up and says "False!"

      I have this light for a reason. Yes, I am to be humble. But I am not to call good evil or evil good. No sir. You don't see the Apostle Paul doing that. Or Jesus Christ.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      9 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Lone77star: I invite you to check out my Hub "Your Relationship Between You And Your God" There I discuss a theory on "Free Will" as related to me through a dream from God several years ago.

      Our being separated from God, was not something of our choosing it is inherited, through Adam. But our return to acceptance of each of us by God is dependant only upon our willingness to confess our sinfulness, sincerely repent of our sins, and total acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God and His ability to fully cleanse us of all of our sins through our belief and faithful acceptance of His crucifixion and resurrection. This faith instantly restores us with God Our Father.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thank you, Dave. Some interesting ideas.

      An even greater Catch-22, for me, is the fact that our trap (separateness from God) is held in place by a fear. Only "free will" can allow us to find our way back, but the very act of holding our escape as "important" feeds the ego which is the trap, making it stronger.

      For some, "free will" is arrogance. It is ego. But the only way to destroy ego--which almost always feels as though it is ourselves--is through humility and fearless faith. In a sense, we need to give up "free will," but that takes "free will" to accomplish.

      Humility and faith are the key.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      9 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      lone77star: I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You make so much sense with this Hub Healthy Skepticism is a good thing. If God wanted us to accept and agree with every word written in the Bible on "Faith" alone we would not have "Free will", something I still think was sort of a mistake by God, but I also believe that He was co-erced by Lucifer into giving it to man simply by challenging mans' love for God without the right to choose to love. This is a catch 22, by Lucifer, that God didn't count on.

      Brother Dave.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Jane, you said earlier, "It seems to me all this grappling for interpretations is just an excuse to reconcile it's absurdities and inconsistencies with the contemporary world."

      I understand your concern, but please tell me the top three "absurdities" or "inconsistencies" in the Bible, in your view. I have my own list. I would like merely to know yours.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines


      Thanks for the lovely conversation, and Happy New Year to you, too.

      You're making me work, and I love it! Your questions challenge me. And no, I don't see it as arrogance. Arrogance is holding to an idea obstinately without discussion. It is the attitude that "I'm right and you're wrong, no matter what you say." Mark Knowles and a few of his friends are like that. They seem to delight in ridicule. That's arrogance. But I've also seen arrogance from Christians, too. And it's all ego. Ego can come from any quarter. It is likely the root of all evil. It is the essence of selfishness and self-centeredness.

      Jane, you could disagree with me forever, but your honest lack of understanding of my point-of-view is far from arrogant. You seem honestly to want to understand. It is only then that a dialog can happen. Your insistence on something making sense is only commonsense.

      I have to admit, I try to change people's viewpoints, but I try to stay alert to something they say that might be more true than my own viewpoint. That way, I continue to learn and grow. But in my attempt to change someone else's viewpoint, I am examining my own viewpoint more closely. If I am honest with myself, I only grow from the experience.

      If I let ego get involved (and regrettably I've let it slip in, on occasion), then I lose and I likely help no one.

      If I search for truth constantly, then I hold nothing I say above truth. Any good scientist does this. If Einstein had held Newton's laws of motion as perfect, then we would never have received his wisdom of Relativity. The truth is out there. By our honest hunger and diligence we might discover scraps of it, as Einstein did.

      I love your analogy with the phone book. That is so appropriate. Any holy book might be no more valuable than the phone book--and perhaps far less valuable. How are we to know? We don't, unless we investigate for ourselves.

      Let me tell you my reasoning. I started out with the idea that the miracles of the Bible might be true. What if they were? what about all of the "absurdities and inconsistencies" as you call them? I saw them, too! I asked myself, if the Bible holds divine wisdom, why wouldn't it be more plainly written? That is the best question, ever, concerning biblical interpretation.

      Have you ever heard of the old saying, "give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime?" There is great wisdom in that.

      If the Bible were to give its wisdom openly and easily, the reader would "eat for a day" and then starve, spiritually. If instead, the reader is forced to work for their meal, to learn how to acquire that spiritual food, then they will eat for a lifetime.

      Another way to look at it is this: There are so many lottery winners who have lost their sudden wealth. Not only that, a few of them (including one fellow from West Virginia who won a third of a BILLION dollars) lost everything they had before their windfall. In other words, they lost more than they won.

      What's the lesson, here? Anything gained too easily is not appreciated as much as if it had been worked for. In the work, there is not only a learning to appreciate, but a learning to manage and to take responsibility for what one acquires. A millionaire who earns their money, learns to manage money. A poor man who has never managed money, and wins the lottery, will often loses that fortune. The same goes for spiritual wisdom.

      The wisdom required for letting go of ego and awakening the immortal spirit within is not easy. It takes more than wisdom, though. It takes a mental self-discipline and humility. If one approaches the Bible with the humility of a hungry beggar, then the wisdom becomes available. Training yourself to maintain that humility is hard work, but without it you don't stand a chance against ego.

      Jane, if you've read my other Hub on Anatomy of a Miracle, you will understand what can be done with such wisdom. But is such powerful wisdom to create miracles really in the Bible? Yes it is, but you have to know how to look.

      Just because I've created one miracle comparable to Moses parting the sea doesn't mean I have all of the answers. I don't. It took me 33 years to understand that one incident on Wilshire Boulevard. And I know I have much more to learn.

      My own exegetical research, especially in Genesis, has yielded answers to some of my most critical questions on apparent absurdities in the Bible. My "Reincarnation, Karma and Biblical Interpretation" article talks about some of these discoveries. So does my "What Was Noah's Flood Supposed to Solve?" article.

      I have long thought that the outrageous longevity of the early patriarchs was one of those absurdities. And I found a simple, but unexpected solution. The ages of those early patriarchs are too short! Science tells us that humanity has been around for at least 200,000 years. A literal biblical interpretation only gives us 6,000 years. If the Bible has any truth in its timeline, then Methuselah's 969 years are too short. And wouldn't you know, one clue is in Genesis 5:2, where it talks of Adam as a group, not an individual male.

      With knowledge of science and curiosity of biblical meaning, a completely new understanding is achieved. Humanity, according to this new Genesis timeline, has been around since 10,454,130 BC!

      Jane, I could discuss this at far greater length, but for now, I have to go to work. I make my own schedule, but sometimes I abuse it exploring all of these ideas with my friends (you included). But bills have to be paid. More later...

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks for that. I'll check it out.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Jane, regarding the kinder, gentler atheism, the original article has expired at, but another website picked it up. You can find more information on this development at:

      Makes an interesting read. And it does my heart good to see the debate become more civilized.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Lonestar, thanks for the response...

      "The Bible was not written to be read literally."

      I've often heard that said and I wonder how you know that? While some passages are obviously parables it seems much of it is just pretty straightforward. Not hard to read and not difficult to 'interpret'. It seems to me all this grappling for interpretations is just an excuse to reconcile it's absurdities and inconsistencies with the contemporary world.

      For hundreds of years most people did take the Genesis story as literal truth and, coincidentally, it's only when it was challenged by science that the *literalism* began to unravel.

      "Keep looking into the Bible for more of its hidden wisdom."

      Sorry, but I just cannot see how *digging out its hidden meaning* can be anything other than imposing your own subjective interpretation upon it, thereby rendering its claim to be Gods Divine Truth meaningless. I might as well take the phone book and look for hidden meaning. Besides, if it were truly a Divine book why would God want to wrap everything in obscurity...? It doesn't make sense.

      I suspect you will see this as 'arrogance'...I hope not. I don't mean it to be.

      Happy New Year by the way.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks for your question, Jane Bovary. This is at the heart of all conflict within Christianity and between Christians and secularists.

      The problem is that one group (a minority) says that their interpretation is the "right" one and "only" one. That wouldn't be a problem, if it was really the "right" one. Not every Christian agrees with their interpretation. Part of the problem I'm pointing out is that a lack of tolerance for other points-of-view is a form of blind tyranny. Under their rule, no one would be allowed to find other meaning, just as the Catholic church burnt people at the stake or held them under house arrest for their "unsavory" ideas.

      If you've ever heard of metaphor and understand what it means, then you should have an idea to answer your question. In writing, it is often said that one should "show" not "tell." But a far more profound technique is to "imply" not "show." This forces the reader to work to gain understanding of what is meant. It also creates greater satisfaction from that understanding.

      The Bible was not written to be read literally. Not all of it. Some parts obviously are literal. Many parts are not, especially in Genesis. I gave examples. The one about Adam and Eve dying in the Garden is perhaps the most profound. If you read it as written, then it seems self-contradictory. God said they would die on that day, but instead of dying on that day, they are escorted out of the Garden and Adam lives for 930 years. Reading "as written" leads to frustration and misunderstanding. Reading between the lines--searching for hidden wisdom--allows us to find meaning which is not stated literally.

      This, of course, leaves the Bible open to all sorts of interpretation. This creates problems, yes, especially when some cling too tightly to one interpretation and hit other people over the head with it. I have to agree with Richard Dawkins on this. Some Christians are just downright crazy.

      But there is purpose behind hiding the Bible's wisdom. Once we have the freedom to explore its meaning, now in our age of reason, the very act of digging out its hidden meaning, develops within us the requisite humility for our own salvation.

      The great challenge for Christianity, then, is developing an awareness and a sensitivity to arrogance, intolerance and a "know it all" attitude. A better focus is on the desired result--a Christianity with humility and a hunger for truth that remains as yet unfound. The Bible may contain the key, but we have not yet found it if our attempts to walk on water end in failure.

      Very empirical. If you cannot walk on water (not to prove it to anyone, mind you), then you have not yet found truth. There is still too much of this world holding you back. Keep looking into the Bible for more of its hidden wisdom.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      "They are presenting a kinder, gentler atheism which is pleasing to the intellect"

      Can you elaborate on this? In what way is it 'kinder and gentler'?

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Thanks Rod. You make some good points. I appreciate all of your input. The irrationality seems to come from ego, and Christians certainly do not have a monopoly on that.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 

      9 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hi lonestar.

      I love that Ecco Homo painting. I have to confess though, I didn't understand this hub:

      "The great tragedy is that many of these Christian Fundamentalists equate their interpretation with the true meaning of the Bible."

      What do you mean by the *true meaning of the Bible* and where can it be found if not through reading it as it was written?

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 

      9 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Interesting approach, lone77star.

      Richard Dawkins doesn't tolerate fools easily. I get the impression he is happy to let people believe what they will so long as no one is hurt or made to part with what they need to survive but is determined to state the alternative view to religion in general. He sees religion as a destructive force and it has and continues to be destructive when its power is placed in the wrong hands and is used to destroy. Jesus appears to have been a peace monger. It is a good thing to remember. When Christians act irrationally and/or violently naturally the skeptics arise.

      Interesting choice of painting of the crucifiction.It was obviously painted by someone very good at art but with no real knowledge of how a person is crucified.

      It is written that Jesus bled from the palms of the hands as a kind of sign before he was taken by the Romans for judgment and execution. Artists in Europe for centuries have taken this to mean that the nails went through Jesus' palms.

      This is not the way a crucifiction could be done. Definitely it couldn't be done properly with nails through the palms alone. There are no bones large enough in the palm area to hold a person on a cross. The wrist bones, however, could do the job and did the job on the crucified men whose bones were discovered in the middle east in the 20th Century. It is of course possible that the nails were driven into the palms of Jesus and rope was used to hold Jesus in place. There has been art produced in the 20th Century showing this and its fair enough to me.

      Dates of events, as you point out, can be a problem. Science as you also point out is not against religion at all. It is just another way of looking at life and our place in the world and in the universe.

    • lone77star profile imageAUTHOR

      Rod Martin Jr 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Sam9999, thanks for your comments. It's always a pleasure to hear from you.

      PWalker281, these are kind words, and I appreciate them. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      A thought-provoking hub! I enjoyed reading it. Rated up.

    • Sam9999 profile image


      9 years ago

      It is clear that you put a lot of thought into the ideas in this hub. You are right, of course, that the people who should read an article like this one would probably reject it right away, if they read it at all. They will continue to wallow in their own interpretations. Great Hub!


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