Jack Kerouac - Carl Sagan - David Ray Griffith - Lee M McDonald - John Adam - William Shakespeare - Sam Harris - David Ilan - Mysteries of the Bible TV - Melvyn Bragg TV - Richard Dawkins - Jon Krakauer - Sheri S Tepper - Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God TV - Alan Sokal - Bible Hunters TV - Proverbs - Egerton Papyrus - William Schniedewind - The Venerable Bede - Augustine of Hippo - Aldous Huxley - Bhagavad Gita - Isaiah 28:10 - John 5:39 - Koran 2:2 - Koran 2:213 - Koran 5:15 - Christopher Hitchens - Roy L Smith - Elliot N Dorff - Eddie Izzard - Jaina Sutras -
When you’ve understood this scripture, throw it away. If you can’t understand this scripture, throw it away. I insist on your freedom. Jack Kerouac, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
What I’m saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could think of doing it, he could have done a better job. Carl Sagan
One of them, God Power and Evil, rejects the traditional doctrine of Omnipotence. It even specifically criticises this doctrine as held by John Calvin – of course the founding theologian of the Presbyterian tradition. Another book of mine denies God can interrupt the world’s normal causal processes. Which means there can be no miracles as traditionally understood. And no infallibly inspired scriptures. But no-one was fired for publishing these books. (God & Miracle & Scripture & Calvinism) David Ray Griffin, interview Guns & Butter 7th January 2009
Those who would argue for the infallibility or the inerrancy of scripture logically should also claim the same infallibility for the churches in the fourth and fifth centuries, whose decisions and historical circumstances left us with our present canon. This is apparently what would be required if we were to only acknowledge the twenty-seven New Testament books that were set forth by the church in that context. Was the church in the Nicene and post-Nicene eras infallible in its decisions or not? (Formation of Christian Biblical Canon) Lee M McDonald
What havoc has been made of books through every century of the Christian era? Where are fifty gospels, condemned as spurious by the bull of Pope Gelasius? Where are the forty wagon-loads of Hebrew manuscripts burned in France, by order of another pope, because suspected of heresy? Remember the ‘Index Expurgatorius’, the inquisition, the stake, the axe, the halter and the guillotine. John Adams
The devil can cite scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath! William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice I iii 97-101, Antonio to Bassiano and Shylock
The world is still deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt
But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament? ibid. III ii 74-80 Bassiano to self
Religious moderation is the direct result of taking scripture less and less seriously. So why not take it less seriously still? Why not admit the Bible is merely a collection of imperfect books written by highly fallible human beings. Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation
Every one of the world’s ‘great’ religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain – from cosmology to psychology to economics – has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture. Sam Harris
The further back you go in the Biblical texts the more difficult it is to find historical material in it. The patriarchs go back to Genesis. Genesis is for the most part a compilation of myths, creation stories, things like that, and to find an historical core is very difficult. David Ilan, Hebrew Union College Jerusalem
The diverse range of texts that existed long before the Holy Scriptures were compiled. Mysteries of the Bible s3e7: Who Wrote the Bible? A&E 1996
The Great Alexandrian Library: a treasure trove of almost a million scrolls and documents. ibid.
One man set out to translate the scriptures into memorable English ... Tyndale was persecuted for this illegal and majestic enterprise. Melvyn Bragg, The King James Bible: The Book that Changed the World, BBC 2011
And I want to show how the scriptural roots of the Judeo-Christian moral edifice are cruel and brutish. Richard Dawkins, The Root of All Evil? The Virus of Faith, Channel 4 2006
People get their morality from somewhere quite other than the scriptures. Richard Dawkins, lecture The God Delusion, Lynchburg Virginia
We pick and choose which bits of scripture to believe, which bits to write off as symbols or allegories. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion p238
Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. ibid. p282
Such criticism and mockery are largely beside the point. All religious belief is a function of nonrational faith. And faith, by its very definition, tends to be impervious to to intellectual argument or academic criticism. Polls routinely indicate, moreover, that nine out of ten Americans believe in God – most of us subscribe to one brand of religion or another. Those who would assail the Book of Mormon should bear in mind that its veracity is no more dubious than the veracity of the Bible, say, or the Qur’an, or the sacred texts of most other religions. The latter texts simply enjoy the considerable advantage of having made their public debut in the shadowy recesses of the ancient past, and are thus much harder to refute. Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Scripture worshippers put the writings ahead of God. Instead of interpreting God’s actions in nature, for example, they interpret nature in the light of the Scripture. Nature says the rock is billions of years old, but the book says different, so even though men wrote the book, and God made the rock and God gave us minds that have found ways to tell how old it is, we still choose to believe the Scripture. Sheri S Tepper, The Fresco
The ancient texts ... don’t do justice to what we know about the universe now. Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God, Frank Wilczek, Youtube 2011
There were all these books about apparent contradictions in the Bible. ibid. Professor Alan Dundes
Each religion makes scores of purportedly factual assertions about everything from the creation of the universe to the afterlife. But on what grounds can believers presume to know that these assertions are true? The reasons they give are various, but the ultimate justification for most religious people’s beliefs is a simple one: we believe what we believe because our holy scriptures say so. But how, then, do we know that our holy scriptures are factually accurate? Because the scriptures themselves say so. Theologians specialize in weaving elaborate webs of verbiage to avoid saying anything quite so bluntly, but this gem of circular reasoning really is the epistemological bottom line on which all ‘faith’ is grounded. In the words of Pope John Paul II: ‘By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals.’ It goes without saying that this begs the question of whether the texts at issue really were authored or inspired by God, and on what grounds one knows this. ‘Faith’ is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. ‘Faith’ is the pseudo-justification that some people trot out when they want to make claims without the necessary evidence.
But of course we never apply these lax standards of evidence to the claims made in the other fellow’s holy scriptures: when it comes to religions other than one’s own, religious people are as rational as everyone else. Only our own religion, whatever it may be, seems to merit some special dispensation from the general standards of evidence.
And here, it seems to me, is the crux of the conflict between religion and science. Not the religious rejection of specific scientific theories (be it heliocentrism in the 17th century or evolutionary biology today); over time most religions do find some way to make peace with well-established science. Rather, the scientific worldview and the religious worldview come into conflict over a far more fundamental question: namely, what constitutes evidence.
Science relies on publicly reproducible sense experience (that is, experiments and observations) combined with rational reflection on those empirical observations. Religious people acknowledge the validity of that method, but then claim to be in the possession of additional methods for obtaining reliable knowledge of factual matters – methods that go beyond the mere assessment of empirical evidence – such as intuition, revelation, or the reliance on sacred texts. But the trouble is this: What good reason do we have to believe that such methods work, in the sense of steering us systematically (even if not invariably) towards true beliefs rather than towards false ones? At least in the domains where we have been able to test these methods – astronomy, geology and history, for instance – they have not proven terribly reliable. Why should we expect them to work any better when we apply them to problems that are even more difficult, such as the fundamental nature of the universe?
Last but not least, these non-empirical methods suffer from an insuperable logical problem: What should we do when different people’s intuitions or revelations conflict? How can we know which of the many purportedly sacred texts – whose assertions frequently contradict one another – are in fact sacred? Alan Sokal