The Bible has always fascinated me. I enjoyed reading it, esp. the Old Testament (never got round to the New), which I went through as a kind of novel. I had no doubt in my mind that most, if not all of it was based on some kernel of truth, sort of like the Mahabharat might have been based on clan warfare sometime in the past. But recently, this opinion of mine has been called in question. The more I read about biblical history and archaeology, I find that each and every chapter of the OT has been called in question. From Genesis to Kings to the Temple of Solomon, there isn’t much proof of what the Bible talks about. No mention of the Jews in Egyptian history, apart from some obscure reference in one text, no sign of the massive migration of such a large population across Arabia, no sign of the works of David, nothing. Even some of the major landmarks mentioned in there, Ararat where Noah’s ark landed, Moriah where Moses received the Commandments etc. are not known. A lot is just inferred and a greater lot assumed. I actually thought there might have been someone called Abraham, but even that seems a fantasy. The flood and the garden of Eden I always assumed to be fairy tales, though it was a shock to know that 40% of adult Americans firmly believe in Creation as set out in Genesis. I mean, seriously! The link between Eden and the Banishment and the actual agricultural revolution in the Turkey-Iraq area I’ve already talked about before. I always thought of these stories as allegory and now I find that people actually believe that as actual truth! I thought even fundamentalist Muslims, some of the most Medieval of people in their mindsets would know better. But no, 4 out of every 10 Americans believes the earth is only 10000 years old.
Add to that the fact that the OT was put together in its present form only in the AD era. And it was written down by people who didn’t properly understand the old Aramaic script. Plus the latest extant version is even newer. Add all this together and I wonder if any part of the original has even survived, and what, if anything did the actual OT say?
Looking back, I wonder why I accepted stories like the Ten Plagues and the parting of the Red Sea as at least partly truth. What part could be true? Which of those events might actually have happened? And if such miracles did occur, where is the historical record? I guess I never took things to their logical conclusion, which was that even if Moses did exist and the Jews were freed by him from the clutches of the Egyptians, he must have done it in some other fashion than by invoking miracles such as three day eclipses and fire falling from the sky and killing the first born of Egypt etc. not a very good thing for God to do by the way! Now of course, I wonder if Moses actually lived. I guess Dawkins is right. We are taught from infancy to accept whatever religion teaches us without much questioning. Even for someone like me, brought up in a very liberal family, where I was free to believe or disbelieve pretty much anything I wanted to, I never looked at the Bible critically, even less than I did the Ramayana or the Mahabharata. Of course, the latter are not religious texts like the Bible is, and I’m thankful that there is no such Canon in Hinduism, leaving every Hindu free to believe whatever or whoever he likes.
Dawkins book, “The God Delusion” fights at two levels. He tries to disprove God, and does a commendable job at it. I am an agnostic and have been for ages. Even when I prayed, I found it odd to believe there was someone listening in, but it was a soothing experience and had its run. The other thing Dawkins fights against in organized religion and does a much better job of it. Of course that could be because he had a more sympathetic ear in me in the latter argument. I’ve seen and read about the great injustices and genocides and misery and barbarism and utter inhumanity that organized religion has brought about and even encouraged, and have always been against it. Dawkins has just strengthened my opinions on both counts. I have to talk about what I think of his book soon.