• The interpretation cop–out

    When it is noted that massacres like those of Paris, Brussels or Nice can be linked directly to the holy book of a religion, many believers —and even postmodernist atheists— say that such is not the true meaning of the text, or that whoever commits atrocities based in the Bible or the Koran is “interpreting the Scripture” in a wrong way. There is even an initiative to make a ‘good’ Koran which, actually, is just impressive mental gymnastics to have the book say what it doesn’t.

    And the point is very simple; religious books are not susceptible to interpretation — thus explained by someone on skeptic Raúl Buendía:

    The interpretation of a text occurs when it is unclear in its literalness, so it is necessary to go to the context or the principles assisting it as motivation. On other occasions, and more in the case of antique normative books, the interpretation is needed because changes in societies render the rule inapplicable for it is outdated, forcing an interpretation or a change to fulfill the purposes for which it was issued.

    However, why is it assumed that a sacred book, inspired by the Holy Spirit, would be affected the same way as any text written by anyone in the world at any time? Really, are they going to argue that god dictated its magnum opus in such a way it would lose consistency over time, or with metaphors that would cause confusion depending on who interpreted them? If that book is the best a god could do, then god accounts for very human difficulties and limitations when it comes to writing or to inspire writing.

    Both Leviticus 20:13 and Surah 7:80-84 are far from being unclear in its literalness — actually, in both cases it is very clear that they prescribe the murder of homosexuals.

    I understand that many people resort to the excuse of the ‘wrong’ interpretation so believers won’t feel bad, but this makes no sense, since we are only responsible for our own feelings and no one else’s — yes, some believers find it painful to be in the predicament of questioning the principles of their faith, but that’s only on them, not anyone else.

    And the opposite is also true: whoever insists on the ‘wrong’ interpretation and gives believers the comforting and politically correct answer to spare them the hassle, have a responsibility for all lies have a cost.

    To deny that ‘sacred’ books and religions in general have homophobic, sexist and bigoted teachings keeps us from having an honest conversation about the causes of a large part of human suffering and from taking effective measures to prevent it.

    Category: Atheism

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    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Fact-checker

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    • Jeff Pinner

      I have to admit that the Fundamentalists in each of the religions have this one right, you can’t get the bacon without killing the whole hog. Of course, it is the contents of the whole hog that get us all into trouble – ’cause the bacon is SO DAMN GOOD!

      How do we make the NON-Fundamentalists see that it is their cafeteria reading of their holy books that creates the climate where the Fundamentalists can do their damage?

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