while reading someone's blog the other day (my apologies, but i don't remember the source), the writer commented that one of the reasons he rejected religion based on a "holy book," was the inconsistencies and factual errors of such books. his reasoning, which i can't fault, was that if such a book is "divinely" inspired and supposed to be error-free, what does that say about the deity that is supposed to have "dictated" the book to its writers when the inspired book is filled with killing, racism, and mistakes. this got me to thinking about the christian holy book--the bible. the world is full of christian apologists who try to explain away its inconsistencies and defend it as literally true, but no thinking person who reads the bible could honestly believe that it is to be taken in that way.
so, what do we make of the bible? many christians believe it to be the only basis for their faith. others, like me, reject this notion. we believe that the bible must be read critically in the light of the truth God gives us, a truth that comes not from a book that is obviously not free of error, but rather a truth that comes from the heart and mind. are we to believe that God wanted the ancient Israelites to massacre the inhabitants of the "promised land," that God created the earth just as the bible describes (and which creation story is to be believed, since there is more than one in the bible), that God killed every person on earth except for noah and his family in a worldwide flood? are we to believe that God came to earth in the person of jesus to be executed by the romans at the behest of jewish religious leaders?
is there truth in the bible? i believe that there is. the bible teaches of a God who loves what God has created (despite some parts that seem to teach the opposite), that God cares for creation, that God suffers with us, that we must turn from lives of selfish self-indulgence and care for one another and all of creation. in this way, we embrace our true natures as creatures created in God's image. could we reach such conclusions without the bible? many have and continue to do so, some without subscribing to the existence of God at all but instead listen to their own hearts' needs to become compassionate towards their fellow creatures.
is it important that one accept that such needs are placed there by a creator God? i think not. the practice of compassion is what is important, the source of compassion not so much so. my prayer today is that each of us will listen to that inner voice in our hearts and minds, a voice that prompts us to reach out to others with love, respect, and compassion whatever the source of that voice.