Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The fiction of the bible...

To follow up on my post 'Fictional Holiday..." I would like to add a bit of detail.

Since we know that a frightening percentage (some polls claim as many as 63%!) of Americans do not believe in evolution, it means that to some extent they believe that god had something to do with the earth's creation. And if god created the earth, then it seems important to look critically at the source which most people use to sustain their beliefs.

A small percentage of Americans are either Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish-- 4.6 to be specific. This means that a very small minority in this country believe in the creation stories offered by Hindus or Buddhists. Muslims and Jews actually believe in the same essential creation story as Christians so this means that a vast majority-- a stunning 80.7%-- affiliate themselves with a Judeo-Christian background. This means that they were told the stories of god's involvement with creation from a very early (and impressionable) age. Having narrowed down the source which we should work from, it becomes clear that the stories that originated in the middle east are the most influential in shaping many American's understanding of how the earth came into being.

It should be noted, before further ado, that some of the afore mentioned christians do not have any difficulty with evolution and simply want to hold out for the guiding hand of god over the development of... the turtle, for example (Richard Dawkins uses the evolution of the turtle as an example far more extensively in his new book 'The Greatest show on Earth'). However, the purpose for holding on to this belief in scientific discourse is uncertain and in fact possibly unscrupulous since it seems to be brought up a means to shut investigation and queries down rather than to allow for honest study and research- this is seen most particularly in classrooms across the country. But it does explain why so many people connect themselves with a faith while still believing in evolution.

I would also venture to say that many believers are even a bit skeptical about the biblical account of creation and would not have a hard time with saying that perhaps the Adam and Even story is not intended to be a literal account of how humans sprang to life. Yet biblical stories still hold the imagination of many of those of faith and even those who no longer go to church except on easter and christmas, know little about the stories that have been handed on to them as historical fact and take the tales for granted just like they do the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

So let's start at the beginning.

In the beginning god created--- oops, which beginning do we want? There are two different creation stories even within the biblical account. Well, never mind silly complications like that...

god created adam. Then god created eve. Whoa! In another ancient text, The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, a woman named Lilith was Adam's first wife. But she refused to serve under him and was quickly replaced by the more docile Eve. The Amarna letters are among the earliest texts that mention an Eve-like character. In them, she is actually a goddess named Kheba. A watered down and domesticated Asherah was also a "model" if you will for the biblical account of the first woman.

So apparently the biblical accounts of the earth's creation weren't original at all! They "evolved", if you will, from ancient texts that first sprang up around the 1300 b.c.'s in-- Egypt! So was god in touch with the egyptians before he told the early israelites they were the chosen ones?? And if so, why would god speak to them first? After all, god knew what the egyptians would do to his chosen race, didn't he? But in reality even the ancient Egyptian myths were preceded by even more ancient stories.

(For a brief, yet understandable, explanation about the Amarna letters, see Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia is often maligned as a source for misinformation, in this case the sources are sound and the explanation is accessible.)

Tune in next time for more on the intrigues of the (mis)leading authority on the earth's creation. Same bat channel. Same bat time. (Well, time is relative on a blog, I guess)


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