Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scriptures Demoted

Nicholas Kristof has created a quiz that exposes unflattering passages from all the leading brands of revealed faith -- Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. What is the point of his little quiz?

[T]he point of this little quiz is that religion is more complicated than it sometimes seems, and that we should be wary of rushing to inflammatory conclusions about any faith, especially based on cherry-picking texts. The most crucial element is perhaps not what is in our scriptures, but what is in our hearts.
To agree that "what is in our hearts" is more important than "what is in our scriptures" requires the demotion of "scriptures" to the status of mere books, at which point it becomes severely misleading to label the books with the word "scripture."

By definition, a "scripture" is not just another book; it is a very special book. A "scripture" is a book attributed to god -- perhaps by way of an earthly stenographer or authorized spokesman -- so to demote it to mere book is to negate the role of the god in its raison d'etre, conception, and more exactly, its authority.

To rank "what is in our hearts" above "what is in our [putative] scriptures" is to deny the salience of god in setting priorities. It sounds like a very good idea to me -- I've already done it. I have no idea why it would make sense to a practicing Muslim, Christian, Jew, or other theist.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Wow, well said!