Questions I Should Have Asked

Ever so often I come across things in my former faith that make me scratch my head and wonder why I never asked about that before. Things like extinct species and Noah’s Ark, the idea that we’re all descended from one person, or the lack of non-Christian testaments to allegedly famous miracles in the New Testament. These problems are all over the place. I never was fully aware of them.

Notice the text on the tablet. I thought that’s what was written on the real ten commandments.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Image is in the public domain in the United States.

It’s taken some effort to piece together what that is.
Case in point: what language were the Ten Commandments written in? Originally, I had the impression that they were written in whatever writing the Hebrews used at the time. But there’s a problem. If Moses existed, it would have been some time before 3,000 years ago. The earliest known sources of Hebrew writing are only 2,800 years old. That writing isn’t the modern script attributed to Israeli language today. Rather, it was a predecessor script.

Additionally, biblical accounts put Moses with the pharaohs of Egypt. At best, any of his writing would have been in hieroglyphs. So, for him to understand the commandments as he’s presenting them to the Hebrews, it would have had to have been written in Egyptian hieroglyphs. In order for them to get passed on, someone would have had to learn hieroglyphs until the Hebrew script had been developed. There’s no evidence of Hebrews using hieroglyphs before they used their own writing.

I mention all of this to note that here are many problems to a narrative I had taken as true and in full. This happened because I never did any digging into the circumstances around the Ten Commandments story. They were out there, ready for me to look at, but I never had the urge to dig deeper.

Even if I did have that urge, I also had other things in place to stop me from looking. The two times I did feel like I had a crisis of faith, I kept them to myself. Feeling like my faith had diminished terrified me. Knowing that others might punish me or think less of me also terrified me. It was easier to come up with a quick solution and then stop asking questions.

Now I feel like I have to look at everything I missed.
The process isn’t pain free. I’m often reminded of how willfully blind I’d been. How do I trust myself knowing I used to believe that someone could come back from the dead after three days?

In this regard, I feel like I’m working to rehabilitate my sense of reality. I want to take a look at what I used to believe and deconstruct it. I can put together what I believed with what I should have known. It won’t get me all those years of my life back, and it certainly won’t undo the damage and hurt. But I think that it might help someone else with their problems.

That is, these questions are big because they are made to feel important to people of faith. When a person really deep down believes in this stuff, the nature of Nature and the fabric of reality are at stake. It seems so small the further away from it that I travel, but the memories of fear and panic are still there. I want to go through them in a way where people who have doubts are free to have them without being insulted, and to know that you’re not alone or stupid for having them.

Maybe if I’d known someone like that thirty years ago, I might have saved myself a world of trouble.

7 thoughts on “Questions I Should Have Asked

  1. “It won’t get me all those years of my life back, and it certainly won’t undo the damage and hurt. But I think that it might help someone else with their problems.”

    I 100% agree with this. This is why I keep on sharing on my own blog. It is a sort of therapy. It doesn’t change the past but it helps to cope with it. And if someone else who is questioning things can see that they are not alone, it is well worth the effort. I absolutely cringe at some of the things I used to believe in based solely on hearsay. And I cringe when I think of how I tried to “recruit” others based on those things. I had insufficient knowledge, but an overabundance of confidence. That is a bad combination.

    I wish you the best and I look forward to reading more of your journey.

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  2. Dang, I missed that one, too! Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have some of these religious artifacts that are claimed to exist. We have none of the really important ones and too much of others (the fragments of Jesus’s cross are enough to make three crosses and we know that many of the fragments were destroyed in firs and the like).

    There are good reasons for Noah’s ark to no longer exist (surely it would have been dismantled for the only building materials other than local stone). But the ten commandments were carved into stone, no? Don’t we have well preserved stone artifacts from much longer ago, even tablets made of mud with cuneiform writing upon them. Why can’t they trot out those stone tablets and confirm what is on them?

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  3. You wrote: I never did any digging …. And neither do thousands and thousands of others who gleefully accept all that’s put before them by their “knowledgeable and studied” leaders.

    As “Jesus” told Paul on the Damascus Road … “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

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  4. I’ve never thought of the Bible from that perspective, so have never felt the need to examine it as “factual”. I remember as a boy of around eight or nine trying to reconcile the then three most popular theories of the origin of the universe (Big Bang, Steady State, and Pulsating) with the two contradicting creation myths in the Bible (Genesis 1 and 2). My problem was not trying to get the scientific theories to fit into the Biblical stories, but to attempting to get the stories to fit into any of the scientific theories. Even after allowing “days” to be variable of up to billions of years, the effort proved impossible, so I simply accepted the Biblical accounts as being myths in the same light as those from the Māori, or ancient European cultures.

    Looking back, I guess I looked at the Bible as an “Inspired work” but of human origin rather than “God’s Word”. I must have been in my late teens or early twenties before I realised that many Christians, although none I knew, believed the Bible to be “The Word of God” and historically accurate. As a child don’t recall anyone telling me the world was only thousands of years old instead of billions.

    Certainly in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s, Christianity was quite liberal, and fundamentalists were almost invisible. It was a period that gave rise to theologians such as Lloyd Geering and many other similar thinkers. Unlike today where differences between the rump of what’s left of the liberal and progressive Christian movement on the one hand, and the fundamentalists and evangelicals on the other, seem to be widening and it’s only the papering over the cracks that keeps some denominations intact.

    One only needs to see the example of Geering’s own denomination (Presbyterian) to see that it consists of congregations that value the concepts put forward by Geering, but just as many that vehemently oppose those ideas. It’s unlikely one would find a congregation where the liberals and progressives worship in harmony with the fundamentalists and evangelicals.

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  5. Excellent observation regarding the Commandments. Something I had never considered.
    I’ll bet five gets you ten some individuals probably think they were in English just like their trusty KJV.

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