© 2020 by Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com
If You are there, I’ll just call You, “ God,” because I don’t want to adopt potentially man-made labels for You. Also, If you don’t mind, until I am inspired otherwise, I will not address you as “Heavenly Father” since I am not sure that the “paternalism” evident in the Bible was not an example of the writers making God in Man’s image.
Just as I now hope that you will answer my arguments while I “pray,” the authors of those respected writings must have also hoped for some kind of interaction, while—in their cosmic loneliness—they pondered their position and purpose, below the stars.
But may we address the crux of today’s argument now? As You know, my path has led from atheism, into a fundamentalist Christian cult, and finally, as the cult disintegrated around me, into a confused agnosticism. I’ve learned that agnosticism was known as άγνοια, (ágnoia) to those New Testament authors, meaning “ignorance.” I plead ignorance to the question of which words in those writings are Your words and which are human words—which stories are literal and which are metaphor or analog.
In a way, Dear God, I question what we are told about the whole thesis of the Torah and New Testament—the idea that You wish a lock-step obedience from humans, even to the minuscule degree mentioned in the Bible’s first chapter—that dietary restriction not to eat the fruit from a particular tree. But far from a minuscule sin, people have called the proto-woman’s first taste of that fruit, “the original sin,” a sin that bars humanity from contact with You, a sin that, if not compensated for by some sacrifice, leads to eternal, dark, disconnection from Your presence.
And so, the Torah-part of the Bible goes on to describe the what, how, when and where of animal sacrifices——in the most gory and repugnant detail (I’m just trying to be transparent here.) Christians say that such detail was merely aversion-therapy, making the ancient Hebrews go through the motions of a prototype of what the Christ’s ultimate sacrifice would accomplish: salvation—salvation from the eternal, dark disconnection from You.
You and I both know the Bible says nothing about burning in hell-fire; that was an invention of the poet Dante Alighieri (which was readily adopted by the mediaeval Christian church in order to heighten the penalty of sin from merely, “eternal lack of contact,” to “eternal pain, suffering and anguish.”) Yes, I know that such fear was, what we humans call, a good “business proposition.” People will give anything, and do anything, if they believe an intercessor holds the key to avoiding eternal pain, suffering and anguish. And people did; they gave money and obedience to the human intercessors — even gave their lives in battle.
And I also remember, Dear God, that in the Bible’s first book, Genesis, You are quoted as saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
And later, in the same book, the serpent (who we have assumed is a metaphor for Satan) says to the woman, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” To which she replies, “ … But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” To which the serpent replies, “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (In other words, “God” is a liar.) You wrote it. Supposedly.
So, you gave us these brains, Dear God, brains capable of figuring out the details of your creation up and out to infinity, and down to the quantum realm, and you didn’t give us the ability to figure out if behavior was good or evil, healthy or unhealty? Please throw me a bone, here. I’m sorry. Some would say my attitude here is blasphemous but I think you know my heart. I intend no disrespect toward the Holy Bible’s New Testament, nor the Torah nor the Quran nor even the Bagavadgita and Dao De Qing; I suspect that You are there, in between the lines, in those various traditions.
And Dear God, I’m not really asking you to answer, audibly any of this. If you did, and I revealed it, then anything I say thereafter would be considered the words of a lunatic. Maybe they are so considered, already. But I pray that no matter how unorthodox my approach it will bring maybe just one other person into a more familiar relationship with you.