It occurred to me recently (courtesy of a wonderful visual image involving William Lane Craig, the fundamentalist Creationist, a stick, and a plastic beachball) that for the past 200 years or so, we sceptics and atheists have been doing not much more than poking holes in the “bubble” of delusion that anyone in any religion lives within.
Blowing Bubbles (not the chimp!)
This bubble they live within consists of all the faery stories, myths, and legends they’ve been taught (explicitly) and absorbed through constant interaction within the cult (i.e. implicitly). It’s invisible to anyone casually observing them from the outside; but it’s opaque to the person within. It’s an awful thing to contemplate.
This bubble then protects the cult follower from the harsh reality of the universe. That is, that we’re the incredible result of known random (or at least undirected!) processes operating over billions of years. We have an unbelievably tiny time in which to try to weave some sense into what is essentially a theme-less process before we are no more, and eventually won’t even be remembered. This is before the heat death of the universe plays out in its interminable hiss of energy loss on a timescale of trillions of years, until the final darkness of eternity sets in.
Think about it for just a few seconds…
Amazing! Incredible! …well, actually, not at all incredible. With a little learning in mathematics, a smidgin of calculus… a tiny pinprick of matrices… oh, and a willingness to concede that the world is a ball and not a tabletop… Then all this information, and more, become both visible and credible. It’s kinda like seeing a planet for the very first time through a telescope – it’s strangely different than you imagined, but then it dawns on you that that’s a real, live, planet, whirling in space not far from you. A stone’s throw, in terms of astronomical distances. Right there, wobbling in the eyepiece. Right next to you, and a billion kilometres away. Amazing, isn’t it?
What a time to live in!
Look, the simple fact is, we’re here, for a far too-short time, and we get to try to figure out what it all means – in other words, we’re a way for the universe to inspect itself!
And we’re priveleged to be right here, right now, as some of the most exciting (and energy-filled) experiments are being run to try and find out the why of why.
I can’t think of a cooler, more fascinating time and place to be alive, than right now, just when we begin to approach the raggedy ends of the universe we’re capable of knowing.
And yet, religionists everywhere deliberately blind themselves to this wonderful 3D quantum melodrama unfolding around and even through them!
They build their impermeable bubbles around themselves, and disagree amongst themselves about what aeons-old and impossibly out-dated writings actually mean about their view of some aspect of the same writings.
And then they try to spin their bubbles of sickly sweet, viscidly sticky disapproval of realiity around other people – whether they want that or not.
Seriously. That’s what they do – they spend their lives in capsules, casually calling up images of their holy writings for display as they float around the wondrous universe that lives and breathes and ages and flickers outside their little dark bubbles. Occasionally they bump into another bubble-wrapped follower and either a) disagree with them about some insignificant speck on a fly’s turd that somehow or other was incorporated into their text by a scribe who couldn’t tell a fly turd from an umlaut, or b) threaten to, or actually, kill them for their unbelief in their particular dislike of reality and fear of the end approaching.
Pssst! Wanna feel like it’s your first time?
Hey presto! So a fly shits on a manuscript page in 422 CE, and suddenly, where she was a girl before, now she’s a virgin! And what was “they’re” is now “their”. “His” becomes “he is”, “he is” becomes “he will”, and “he will” becomes “you will not”.
Who can remember all the changes, the corrections, the…the… the polishing needed in order to make the bible make some kind of sense (in the smallest, narrowest sense of the word ‘sense’)?
220 years ago, a very clever Christian decided to certify beyond reasonable doubt that the bible was absolutely inerrant. His final word? After more than thirty years’ work, he counted no less than 17,000 clear and important differences – between just six of the best manuscripts!
Since then, we’ve learned that there are more mistakes in the New Testament than there are words.
So that’s what these bubble blowers do. They spin their blinding web of forgery, fraud, and male domination into bubbles so that, no matter where they look, they see only the inside of their bubble. And any time they read something in their holy and indisputable writings that they disagree with personally, they simply ignore or delete it! Just like that, they don’t have to obey a rule about bleeding on the dovecote or something similar. Oh yeah, and killing your kids if they speak back to to. So nothing troubles them… except when they have to deal with the real world long enough to beg money and life force so they can entrap other wondering souls. What a loathsome, painful, dreary existence they must have…
Sticking it up ’em
Most of the fun you can have with religionists of every persuasion (see what I did there?) is, therefore, to poke holes in their bubbles – to let a little light into their depressing, regimented, horrible bubble world.
As a simple example, take the gospel according to Mark.
Now, there’s a problem right there – we have no idea who actually wrote this book! It almost certainly wasn’t someone called “Mark” or “Marcus”. It’s just as likely to have been written by someone called Brutus Urbanus, or Biggus Dickus.
In fact, since the writer of Mark’s gospel makes so many mistakes about jewish details in his writing, it’s absolutely certain it wasn’t written by a Jew! Worse, the strangled interpretation of some of the Old Testament passages shows it wasn’t someone even familiar with the Jewish testament!
So the Gospel of Mark is just as likely to have been written by our friend Brutus. Although the “Gospel according to Brutus” has an ominous ring to it…
So even without opening the cover, we’ve been able to poke a sizeable hole in the bubble of inerrancy or infallibility, using the very first book written about Jesus, about 40 or so years after the events that apparently only happened in the bible, apparently happened.
Biblical Battleship, or the “But…” game!
The response of the typical Christian apologists like William Lane Craig is, unsurprisingly, a mental and sometimes logical feat of gymnastry to “patch” the hole our logic and reason has poked in their bubble. (Yes, there was a reason why WLC was mentioned earlier!)
Oh, of course the name of the gospel writer is irrelevant, they say, it’s only a convention anyway. (patch) – but that begs the question, who wrote Matthew, Luke, and John? Certainly not Luke, Matthew, or John! Oh dear, more holes… and more patches…
Forty years after Jesus’ death isn’t long. Some of the people who were alive with Jesus would still be alive (patch) to phone up or get the police records from (patch, patch). Oh, it took weeks to just travel to these places, and there are no records outside the bible itself? Well, that was the way the world worked then, and it would’ve been just as possible then as now! (patch, patch, patch)
It’s possible that the gospel was dictated to an unbeliever, who wrote it down in a hurry (patch, patch).
OK, we ask, so again without opening the book, what about the fact that most Christian scholars believe the book of Mark ended at chapter 16, verse 7 (where Jesus is buried and the women agree not to say anything to anyone, before exiting stage left), and have known this little fact for nearly 160 years? And yet this part of the text that was obviously written 200 or more years after the rest of the book is still included in every modern bible, most without any annotation or comment! What’s the deal?
Well, Bill Craig says, not every Christian scholar believes this is an added extra from the 200th anniversary edition, just the 3 or 4 scholars who, like Bill Craig, can’t get their papers published anywhere outside of the university they attend. (patch, hole, patch)
…and the big one…
God moves in mysterious ways. (BIG PATCH).
…And so the game of ‘Reality Battleship’ commences, with facts poking holes in delusions, before we’ve even opened the damn book up! And the first chapter, and first verse gets ’em in trouble even worse! (bit of rap there, you see, I’m home with the downies!)
I’ll probably add some to this bubble-bursting if I can find the brain cells. I’d say stay tuned, but that implies someone tuning in anyway! (Canned laughter).
Mind you, I’m happy to chat.