Christians fall back on their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and is the best descriptor of his will. They will explain that although it is written by men it is literally the words of God breathed into men and put down on paper. Here is my question: Were the people of the Bible more infallible than the people are today? Were they any more honest? Any less likely to be mistaken? Were they any less likely to fabricate, manipulate or dominate others? Were they less susceptible to hearing voices or to having mental illness? Did any one of them have a better understanding of how the world works than we do today? If the answer to these questions is no, then why on Earth would anyone see what they have writtren as infallible, let alone the Word of God?
I would suggest that people in early Christendom had more reasons to believe that the Bible was “god breathed” and was his word from start to finish. Maybe a better way of putting it is that they had less reason not to believe otherwise. Most were illiterate and were beholden to the priests and to the powerful in society (often one and the same thing). All knowledge was controlled by the few and access to it was only really attainable by the rich.
Another reason for accepting the Bible as “the Truth” was that there were very few alternative explanations for how the world works. For over ¾ of the time since Jesus we lived in the dark ages. It is only in the last few hundred years that we have come to understand that the Earth is not flat or at the centre of the Universe. It is even more recent since we learned things like Evolution or Big Bang Cosmology.
So now many of us have the ability to question the wisdom of our forefathers. We now have alternative theories and world views. We, as Atheists reject the religious view and the need to accept that a “god did it”. We see how weak the god view is. While I do understand it and accept that had its merits in times long past, I see no need for anyone to hold onto it. It is all myth.
Theists now tend to disrespect Science rather than try to understand it. They want to hold onto the religious view, not because it answers questions about anything worthwhile but mainly because of what it promises; they cannot let go of the eternal life concept and the opium like love bug feeling they get from it. It is all built up on how they feel emotionally and they see and Atheism as “cold” because it is not based on emotions. It challenges them intellectually and that causes them to cover their ears because it takes away their crutches. If only they could see how much better off they would be standing on their own two feet and not on their knees.
I see the Bible and religion as completely outdated and of no use anymore. The worldview given by it is dangerous (yes, it does poison everything) and its morals and teaching obsolete and below par. Christians today are becoming more fundamental because they have to be. They have an imagined persecution complex about Atheism and the Secularist being out to get them. As they become so they tend to stress more and more often the “inerrant word” of their special book.
It no longer bothers me too much. We now have access to a world of knowledge via the Internet. We can see that god is redundant. The concept is not as advanced as we have become. It no longer works. We are a species that has grown up. We are a species that is educated and uses its evolved skills of logic and reasoning to work out more meaningful solutions. We may not know it all but we don’t claim too. Anyone who claims to have a monopoly on the “real truth” and that it is inerrant or infallible is wrong, plain and simple.
They were less adaptable. Christianity is an organism, it survives on adaptability (altar girls and gay pastors). They were less skeptic. But most of all I think there were just a lot of conditions at the time that allowed for the need of a strong movement to sweep through with promises of hope.
Do not look for rational explanations for irrational behavior.
I expect that 'infallability' is depended upon how much is actually known and how claims can be checked.
If nearly everyone would agree with you, because everyone around you accepts the local prevailing world view, then any statement generated might not yield disagreement. It is ability to check and to question where 'infallability' or 'rightness' can/would be challenged.
Reg, I like how you talk about people wanting to cling to religion because of fuzzy warm feeling that emotional kind of thinking connects one to. I think that is true. It seems like any other addiction that it might be best eliminated if they were to able to get that fantasmical-type of high somewhere else in their life.
I was just turned on to this lecture series where this professor talks about metamagical thinking and how it developed a usefulness in our genetics. He talks about how shamans who heard voices at the right time were deemed prophets, and shamans who heard voices and started chanting during the big game hunt (and scared away their dinner) were deemed insane. Thus making 'mild insanity' relatively acceptable. Good video. The part I'm talking about comes at about 20 minutes in. But interesting stuff. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WwAQqWUkpI