As a former Bible-believing pastor, I've seen religion used to give hope for many mysteries of life and death. But, religion is also used by self-appointed biblical literalists as a tool to manipulate and impose their values and their rules of right and wrong, good and evil on one and all with virulent intolerance for competing views. Their apocalyptic declarations are enveloped in threats of destruction, hell and damnation. No subject attracts more distorted, bellicose commentary from the Jerry Falwell type biblical literalists among us than homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Biblical literalists state that their condemnation of homosexuality is based on an infallible, inerrant Bible. They claim, "the Bible is true because the Bible says so." This is the ultimate example of the "bare assertion" logical fallacy. This fallacy says "it's true because I said so" or in the case of the Bible "it's true because God said so." If a car salesman told you "this car is the world's best car," you might ask "what's the evidence?" If he answered, "the manufacturer's brochure says so," we'd leave thinking how valid is such biased evidence? This salesman is a con-artist. Yet, if a preacher uses this tactic, people think, "oh, oh, he's a man of the cloth, he must be right."
Today, many are recognizing the biblical literalist's "bare assertion" fallacy and threats as hollow. For those who objectively study the Bible, we find many inspiring thoughts, but know it to be lacking in both veracity and reality for its practitioners. Jerry Falwell asserts that homosexuality is immoral because I Cor. 6:9 from his Manufacturer's Manual, says so. That Bible verse is Falwell's only evidence. To Falwell, homosexuality is nothing more nor less then a "choice," like theft or murder.
As in many of the Bible's bare assertions, scientific research is suggesting there may be other reasons for homosexual inclinations. Some studies suggest a genetic flaw in the male XY chromosome. Others studies suggest the presence of certain chemicals in the mother's womb as a contributing factor. In any case, homosexuality could well be instinctive, an inward inclination which is far different from a simple "choice."
Still, it's the Falwell type preachers claim that if gay marriage is legally sanctioned, it would promote a gay lifestyle, seducing our children to "choose" homosexuality. Considering the societal guilt and ostracism perpetrated on homosexuals by many centuries of biblical literalist dogma, what else but a strong inward inclination must draw many to homosexuality compared to simple "choice." Remember, it was only 500 years ago that biblical literalists condemned Galileo for believing the earth revolved around the sun. Science may soon confirm that condemning homosexuality makes as much moral sense as condemning people for being left-handed.
Biblical literalism is dangerous because it demands an intolerant, narrow-minded condemnation for any variance from a particular Bible verse. In contrast, evidence-based reasoning of science and academia demands inquiry, investigation, critical thinking, and a continual willingness to alter one's views (a concept unknown to fundamentalists) as dictated by new discoveries. This "thought process" is the reason for the clash between fundamentalism (whether Jewish, Islamic or Christian) and secularism.
The Bible's "bare assertions" are contradicted by science and academia on many issues. For example:
Cosmology contradicts the biblical assertion that the earth is older than the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 1:10-18).
Astronomy contradicts the Bible's claim that the earth is immovable (Ps. 93:1), that the sun revolves around the earth (Jos. 10:12).
Paleontology and evolutionary biology contradict the creation story (Gen. 1 & 2).
Geology and paleontology contradict the Bible's 6,000 year genealogical record (Lk. 3:23-38).
Archaeology gives clear evidence of sites in Turkey, Egypt, and Persia existing before, during, and after the alleged total destruction of Noah's worldwide Flood (Gen. 7:4).
Ornithology contradicts the Bible's claim that bats are birds (Lev. 11:13-19).
Herpetology finds no evidence of the capacity for snakes to talk (Gen. 3: 1-5).
Veterinary science find no evidence for talking donkeys ( Num 22:28-30).
Mathematical contradictions abound in the Bible (Ezra 1:9-11).
Geographers find errors of incorrect locations (Gal. 4:25) and distances (Acts 1:12).
Historians find no non-Christian, unbiased 1st Century confirmation of Jesus' existence. There are 35-40 surviving manuscripts of 1st Century Jewish, Greek, and Roman historians, theologians, philosophers, poets, and moralists. Except for a four sentence later fraudulent insertion in the Jewish historian Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, 93 AD, not one single mention is found of a Jewish Messiah named Jesus of Nazareth (Mt. 4:24; Jn 21:25).
Many books, too numerous to mention have been written about the hundreds of contradictions, inconsistencies, and errors in the Bible. Considering the Bible's indisputable lack of scientific/academic corroboration, do we in the 21st century reject tolerance, reason and scientific inquiry so that the disciples of an ancient, archaic tome can dictate dictate right vs. wrong in condemning homosexuals and same-sex marriage?
Though I'm among many heterosexuals who have difficulty understanding homosexuality, biblical literalists have no rational grounds for condemning, let alone judging anyone. If they're truly concerned about the institution of marriage, then let them reduce their own divorce rates which according to Barna Christian Research is highest among Christian denominations.
Homosexuality is not going to disappear. To paraphrase comedian George Carlin, Christian fundamentalists really ought to love homosexual marriages, they never have abortions. My opinion: The issue for both homosexuals and heterosexuals is to enjoy our sexuality, preferably in a committed, monogamous relationship and to contribute to our communities for a healthy, respectful, harmonious society.
Lee Salisbury, Stillwater, Mn., was a former bible-believing Pentecostal pastor 1972-1986. He is founder/director of The Critical Thinking Club of MN, is a Columnist for www.axisoflogic.com, where this article originally appeared, and participates in public speaking/debates. Lee's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright (C) 2004 Lee Salisbury
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