A friend of mine once commented that my experience of religion, from the way I talked about it, reminded her of the way some people talk about a bad trip on LSD… the kind of story where someone ends by explaining, “And that’s why I’ll never touch the stuff again.”
Well, that’s not completely true. I do read about religion sometimes; look at the last book I reviewed here, for example! I sometimes read about the history of Christianity, or of scriptures, because quite frankly, that was the governing tradition of the West the way capitalism is our governing paradigm today. If you wish to understand Western culture, philosophy, and literature, you need to know about Catholicism and Christianity. (You don’t need to believe in them to do so — in fact, I’d argue believing in them makes understanding them that much more difficult — but you do need to know about them.)
But when I was reading this review of a book by Bart Ehrman — negative, of course, but I expected that — when I tripped on something nonsensical:
I do have some questions about the overall purpose of this book though, e.g., what’s the point? If Ehrman makes an airtight case for forgery in the NT and non-canonical literature then what are we supposed to actually do with that information? Should those of us who hold the NT as an authoritative text suddenly reject its authority?
I’m also curious about how/why a self-professed agnostic would write so much about honesty and deception as if those concepts actually have concrete meaning to a non-theist. In other words, Ehrman can talk about truth and lies all he wants, but I’m left wondering why he cares or how he grounds any kind of belief in such concepts without grounding them in God. It seems that he has to borrow from a worldview that is not his own in order for the issues he raises to even begin to be considered problematic. Ironic? Perhaps. Inconsistent? Definitely.
Now, those of you with your heads screwed on correctly will see the problem here immediately: the blogger in question seems to have some fundamental misconceptions about the relationship between religion and speaking the truth.