Monday, 3 May 2010

The Problem of Leviticus

They say a coalition won’t work. I have to disagree – just look at the average marriage.

I had a response yesterday on one of last week’s posts – the one about the homophobic, Christian sex counsellor. An anonymous poster pasted several biblical references about homosexuality, none of which were attributable to Jesus and thus entirely missed the point of my post.

However, this got me thinking about how religious people revere ancient scriptures and treat them as fundamental truths which cannot be challenged.

Imagine, for a moment, if we applied this dogmatic philosophy to other texts – such as elevating the tracts of Galen to a higher status than ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, or Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’ higher than Einstein’s seminal ‘Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?’ I certainly wouldn’t want doctors treating my ailments on the basis of Galen and many of today’s scientific wonders would not be possible if we stuck rigidly to classical physics.

Perhaps humanists should put together their own scriptures, which in my mind would incorporate (amongst others) the following:

  • Charles Darwin: On the Origin of Species,
  • United Nations: UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,
  • Alfred Kinsey: The Kinsey Reports,
  • Watson & Crick: Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,
  • Penzias & Wilson: A Measurement of the Flux Density of CAS A At 4080 Mc/s,
  • Mrs Beaton: Book of Household Management,
  • Delia Smith: How to Cook.

Please feel free to contribute your own addenda (go on - just for a laugh).

The difference, however, between religious scripture and humanist scripture would be that the letter is not fixed in stone and treated as the ultimate truth. Quite the reverse, books would be replaced by more enlightened books as the generations went by and data was added to the corpus of human knowledge. The canon would evolve, hopefully getting closer to the truth with successive iterations – although there might be the occasional bit of backsliding.

The religious mindset does not permit this, being almost fascists in its claims of ultimate truth from the first draft, which is counterintuitive and simply the height of silliness, as it introduces ‘the problem of Leviticus’.

Leviticus, for the pagans amongst you, contains a plethora of rules, half of which are barbaric in the extreme and have been ditched by most Christians – at least the sane ones. Examples are the compulsory stoning of cheeky children and the acceptance of slavery.

Talking of dogma - I see the pope went to see the 12th century Shroud of Turin - a fake, according to scientific analysis, but still believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus.

Apparently we're suffering gridlock here.


  1. I don't know, Bill, all I know is I saw my Vicar buying a shitload of wine in Tescos the other day. And the Bastard didn't offer me any! What kind of Man of God is that!!!

  2. I was with you all the way - until I got to Delia, especially after this week's fiasco with the fishy risotto. Apparently, she forgot to include the two loaves into the recipe.

    I think she should be replaced by The Hairy Bikers - and not just because I am one too! Their recipes are not only delicious, they often don't even need a kitchen to cook them in. As they go out and about, cooking round the country, surely they are the new "Peoples Cooks"?

    Also, I'm pretty sure that "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams should be on the list. After all, it's the seminal work on inter-galactic travel and inter-species interaction so far published...