I’m sorry to all who think I have a “sneer” or if I seem too harsh. I would like to point out that one can be disappointed and/or disagree without having strong ill-feelings toward someone.
To Dr. J. I didn’t mean that Erhman has no biases at all (of course, all humans do), but in reading the book (Jesus, Interrupted), in which he includes some details about his personal journey, it was clear that he had to work through and/or cast aside many learned fundamental Christian ideas (such as, the Bible being the infallible word of god) while he studied the Bible in university . So I meant that he was willing to come to conclusions about the Bible and its contents regardless of standards/dogma/personal feeling, so long as he felt the evidence was sufficient (so I suppose, as I gathered, he was biased toward the most consistent and rational evidence). I did find the book very interesting and influential to my views of the Bible, but if you think that his sources of evidence and his colleagues and such are unreliable, I’m certainly open to the idea.
As for my comment about “liberty, reason, and logic.” I do understand that many Christians believe that their beliefs match up with these values, and to a certain extent they may; but that doesn’t mean Christianity itself truly supports these values. I would argue that Christianity at its core (I can’t really speak for other religions, because I have no experience) runs counter to these values. First, let me say that I grew up as a Christian and I had a mostly amiable experience. I still have plenty of emotional attachment ideas such as god, the church, and a soul; but I’ve come to believe that Christianity can’t be rationally accepted (based on evidence and reason). So I don’t believe I’m biased on this subject (from an emotional and interpersonal standpoint, I would love for the religion I grew up with to be true), I simply want to find the truthiest truth possible. Let’s start with liberty. It seems apparent to me that a Christian doesn’t really support complete liberty, especially of the mind, because one must somehow submit himself/herself to god. If you choose to be a Christian, how much can you question the Bible and its contradictions? Are you “allowed” to accept scientific advances, even if they contradict doctrine? Are you “allowed” to raise your children free of religious indoctrination? To one degree or another, a Christian must limit these freedoms (whether this is “right or wrong” is another argument). So while a Christian can possibly argue for liberty from the authority of the State (I can, however, think of at least one passage that contradicts this), he must always submit his mind and certain other actions to god be considered a Christian. As for Christianity not being reasonable or logical, well, I think there is a lot evidence for this. The Bible (the supposed source of authority and truth) is riddled with contradictions and impossible feats. The creation account, miracles, and god’s intervention and deeds do not conform to reason, the senses, or science. We do not see any supernatural occurrences today, and scientific advancements (completely absent in those days) and reasoning can answer many of the whys and hows, although not necessarily our wants (which I think is largely due to cultural and childhood baggage). The idea of a god in and of itself cannot be reasonably explained… How can one reconcile the world we see and understand through science and the senses (indifferent to human wants and needs) with a god that is supposedly omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, just, AND loving (apparently fully concerned with human doings). It’s a self-destructing, circular idea; and even if you say that this being exists in a different realm then it’s simply irrelevant to our lives (we exist in only one realm, as even consciousness is a product of the physical). Add all this to the Biblical accounts of god’s cruelty, hypocrisy, and contradictions; and Christianity is highly unreasonable. These are the reasons I brought up “liberty, reason, and logic.” I’m sorry again if I sound too brash and insensitive; and of course, feel free to convince me otherwise if I’m being illogical.
To Porphyrogenitus. I think I made a poor choice of words and lacked in detail when I said, “overstating or legitimating its role in Western History.” I did not mean to imply that religious topics should be dismissed or are beneath me, as you suggested. I understand that religion (Jewish, Christin, Islamic, others, and their many forms) have had a HUGE impact on our history, and I certainly want to learn more about them from an anthropological standpoint. When I said “overstating,” I meant I had the sense while listening to the two lectures on the Hebrews that Dr. Jewell was saying that our basis of morality originated with the 10 commandments, but as I understand it, essential human morality (don’t steal, kill, etc) had been shaped earlier in history. This could be a misunderstanding or mistake on my part (I’m sorry if it is), and I probably shouldn’t of put it in such terms as “overstating.” As for “legitimating,” I was referring to the way Dr. Jewell was using many references from the Bible as historical accounts that I don’t think are legitimate (mostly the supernatural content); such as, god parting the red sea, god talking to Moses through a burning bush, and god knocking down the walls of Jericho. I think it’s quite reasonable to question some of this content and its implications on further content if Dr. Jewell is willing to teach the miracles of the Bible as historical fact. That’s my opinion, yet I don’t wish for it to sound mean spirited. I don’t care on a personal level if Dr. Jewell has religious beliefs and I have enjoyed much of the content. I am also obviously capable of setting aside my disagreements and decide for myself what is reliable content. I brought it up and said I was “disappointed” because I was surprised that a website seemingly non-affiliated with a religion has an entire Western Civilization course conducted by someone who quotes such parts of the Bible as historical truth. If he did not mean to quote them is such a way, I apologize, but I did re-listen to the lectures and it certainly comes off that way.