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Another Week Off

Entry 1097, on 2009-10-12 at 22:24:21 (Rating 4, Activities)

For the second time in the last few weeks I have taken a few days off and disappeared away for a short break. This time it was Queenstown and I'm afraid we struck a second period of bad weather (just like the trip to Nelson at the beginning of the month). To make things worse I didn't have a reliable internet connection and not even 3G cell phone coverage, so I couldn't even connect at a decent speed through my iPhone.

Queenstown is a nice place to visit and we did manage to do our traditional trip on the gondola to the top of the hill and do a few runs on the luge there. We even experienced a few flakes of snow at the top although it wasn't really as cold as that might indicate.

Of course I had some computer work to do while I was there but most of the time we just relaxed. There was one aspect of the stay in Queenstown I want to discuss here though. The friend who provided the accommodation is a fundamentalist Christian and there is always a lot of religious material in the house we stay in as well as some new apologetics DVDs he wanted me to watch.

So I watched one of the DVDs which supposedly showed that evolution was untrue and bad for science. Naturally it was mostly nonsense although it was slightly more sophisticated than most of the material of that sort I have seen. When I read or watch this sort of stuff I usually make a few notes so that I can make a response but I thought why not this time put the critique of the DVD on-line. So I have started a new section of my web site for criticisms of this sort of material which will be available soon.

While I was doing this my 16 year old daughter decided she was going to read the Bible. None of my family are religious but, as I have said many times in the past, there's no harm in reading a religious book. I know that some religious families ban non-religious material and I would be just as bad if I didn't encourage curiosity about the Bible.

I am an atheist and frequently criticise the Bible but I really tried to encourage an open approach on this occasion. Even so, my daughter just couldn't believe what she was reading. Not surprisingly she started at the beginning and read the Old Testament stories like the creation myth, Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters, Abraham, etc.

The conclusion she reached was that the stories were quite fascinating to read (even if they are a bit violent and risque) but no one with any common sense would really believe they were true. If a teenager can see this then why can't the fundy Christians!

I did point out that there are hidden meanings behind the basic stories but when I had to explain what they were I realised that they are nothing particularly worthwhile. What's the story behind creation? Nothing. Its just an attempted explanation of the origin of the universe and life from a primitive tribe and, apart from its value as fiction (which is very little), there's no great hidden meaning there.

And the other stories are similar. They just seem to be on the same theme of being obedient to god or you (and a lot of innocents) will be killed. Not much of a message there really. And the stories all seem to have a lot more violence and sexual content than you would expect in a religious work!

Sure I agree that I'm only criticising the start of the Old Testament here and that there is a lot more worthwhile philosophy in the New Testament. But the NT is also awkward to read, and of very little literary or philosophical value in my opinion. Anyone genuinely interested in mythology, philosophy or literature would do a lot better to look elsewhere.

In the past some religious friends have accused me of deliberately turning my family against religion or even endangering their relationship with god (or something similar). In my defence I would say that I really do encourage them to explore these issues and think about it for themselves. I actually defended the Bible because my daughter's initial impression was that its a pile of crap. OK, it is in some ways, but read it as fun mythology or as an intriguing examination of the minds of the writers thousands of years ago and it becomes quite different.

As far as spoiling their relationship with God. Well I would expect most gods would be smart enough to notice that a person had been lead astray by someone like me and really if he decides to punish them with eternal torment because of that then he really isn't much of a god and deserves all the derision we can aim at him.


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