Emergence – Chapter 3: Believers

The first book I ever seriously started was called Emergence, and it basically had to do virtually entirely with religious / philosophical topics.  This book will never be published as it never really had a sense of theme or coherence.  I had a general idea, but never really developed it to a book level document.

What’s more, my ideas are constantly changing and evolving.

In any event, I broke my readership at the beginning of the book into three breakout sessions, one for Theists (believers), one for atheists, and one for the unsure.  This is one of the breakout sessions.

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Emergence – Chapter 3: Believers

“Hello.  Yes, this is the breakout group for the believers.  Come on in.  Take a seat.  There’s plenty of room up front.  Barbara, it’s great to see you again.  Clyde, Diane, I’m glad you could make it.  Please just take a seat over there so we can get started.

“Is everyone comfortable?  Good.

“My name is Steve, and I’m going to be hosting this breakout group.  This is a smaller group, and we’re kind of informal here, so please feel free to ask questions at any time.

“But, before we do that, I have a couple of questions for you.  These are important questions, but I’m sure that everyone here knows the answers, as they are very, very simple.

“First question.  Who created the Universe?

“See, that wasn’t so tough.  That’s right . . . God.  I think I heard a couple of Allah’s out there.  You’re right, too.  For the moment, and for simplicity, let’s just call Him God.  Is that ok?  I see some reluctant nods.  That’s good enough for me.  The problem is I was brought up in the western culture so I just have a God / Bible kind of mind set.  This shouldn’t matter too much at this point, for what I have to say is applicable to all religions.  Can you just bear with me on this prejudice for a while?  It will make the writing here a lot easier.

“More reluctant nods.  Good.  At least give me the benefit of the doubt for a little while longer.  Thanks.

That last one was an easy question.  One of the reasons you’re in this breakout group is because you were sure of the answer to that question.  The next question is a little bit trickier, so pay attention.

Ok then, who wrote the Bible?

. . .

Same answer, very good.  But let me re-state the question.  I didn’t ask who authored the Bible, I asked who wrote it.  These are very different questions.  Who physically put the words down on paper, or parchment?  Who took pen, or quill, in hand to do the physical labor involved in the Bible’s creation?

. . .

Hmmm . . . a lot of murmurs . . . not quite as certain on that one.  And that’s good.  The fact is, virtually all Biblical scholars agree that many different individuals wrote out the Bible in many different time periods.  The Bible is actually a library of different books; 66 to be exact for the King James, 39 of which are in the Old Testament.  The word Bible is in fact derived from biblia, the plural of the Greek noun biblion, therefore meaning books.  Latin readers mistook the word for the feminine singular, which is why we use a singular noun for something that is very much a collected work.  We’re not even quiet sure as to whom the actual writer was in many parts.

My point here, and I want to emphasize this, is that the Bible is a document written by the hand of man.  No religion I know of states, or even believes, that the Bible was written by the hand of God.  There are other religions which believe that their Bible equivalent was written by men who were as gods.  Some followers of the Koran believe Archangel Gabriel wrote it, and while he might have been well connected, he still was not God Himself.

The Ten Commandments may have been written by the hand of God; written on tablets; etched in stone. The tablets themselves, unfortunately, are no longer available.

Why do I talk about this?  It’s because I want all of you to know exactly where I’m coming from.  Of all the breakout groups, this is the one I worry about the most; because where I place my faith is just a little bit different.  And while the placement is just a little different, the implications of that little difference are profound.

The placement of my faith is based on the answers to the above two questions, and it comes down to the question of authorship.  I am, as I said earlier, a librarian.  In library school, I learned about three different kinds of sources.  The first kind is called a primary source.  These are the original words, written by the hand of the original person.  These could be research notes, diaries, some magazine articles, and some books.

The second kind is called, naturally, the secondary source.  This is most of the stuff we see out there.  This is interpreted stuff, written by people who studied the primary sources and interpreted it for us.  Because it is interpreted, it is subject to the prejudices of the person doing the writing, and is therefore considered less reliable than primary sources.  It is, in effect, one level removed from the original work.

The third source level is called a tertiary source.  This is basically a compilation of secondary sources, and stands one level further removed from the primary, and is therefore just that much less reliable.  Examples of this are encyclopedias and textbooks.

Now, there are those who would argue that the Bible is a primary source, and that might include most of the people here in this room.  The Bible was supposedly dictated to its writers by God Himself, and is therefore supposedly just as good as if God had done His own writing.  The argument goes that God would not let any corruption happen to his words, and that God never lies, and that, therefore, what is in the Bible must be believed as if God were standing in front of us saying the same words.

And this argument is indisputable, as far as it goes, at least to the extent that it is not un-provable.  Not in an absolute sense, anyway.  We don’t have any other original works by God to compare it against.

Or do we?

Here is where we come back to my original question.  Who created the Universe?

For, of all the works of God, about God, and for God, only one was not written by the hand of man.  Only one can be said to bear God’s signature.

And that one is the Universe Itself.

By this argument, then, if you accept the idea that God created the Universe, then the Universe must be considered indisputably to be the Primary Source of God.

And here is where our slight difference in faith lies.  If God exists at all, then the Universe is indisputably God’s Primary Source.  The Bible can also be considered a primary source, but it is disputable.  If any differences exist between the Universe and the Bible, I take it on faith that it is the Universe that has it correct, because it and it alone was created by God’s hand.

Ok, that’s all I have to say for now.  Thanks for listening, and you can now join everyone else in Chapter 5 if you still wish to.  You are certainly welcome to peruse the other chapters if you so choose.  Through the miracle of the written word, the breakout sessions in those chapters are just starting to begin right now.

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3 thoughts on “Emergence – Chapter 3: Believers

  1. /me notes that none of the Bible was ever written in English… what of the differences between the original texts and what we read today?

  2. Another chapter of my book looks at the question of Faith. To quote…

    Many religions call on us to have Faith, don’t they? And whether they know it or not, they call on us to have faith in a lot of things, particularly if they are Biblical literalists. Just to mention a few, they want us to have faith that, not only does God exist, but that . . .
    He wrote the Bible
    That every word in the Bible is true
    That the Bible has not been changed over time or mistranslated
    That God always has our best interests at heart
    And that the preacher in the front of the church is actually preaching God’s word, or at least is not misinterpreting it.

  3. an excellent “breakout session” and and excellent topic for discussion. arguments i would possibly begin with:

    1) i would argue the bible could only be the primary source in that it makes claims as such within it. those claims are dependable based on the means one uses to judge the validity of books of antiquity; author credentials, available manuscripts, historical accuracy and collaboration, prophetic accuracy (where applicable), etc. all of which the biblical books meet and exceed in quality and quantity.

    2) in reference to “If God exists at all, then the Universe is indisputably God’s Primary Source. The Bible can also be considered a primary source, but it is disputable,” i would argue, in the case of the bible vs. physical evidence in creation, “nary the twain shall [diverge/contradict].” what does the evidence say?

    3) faith is only as good as the object in which one places it, so, test all things to see if they´re true.

    and as far as the comment of mykyl, i would say that, at minimum, a working knowledge of greek and hebrew, along with the proper study tools, is absolutely necessary in any serious study of scripture (in reference to the bible).

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