Truth in the Holy Books ???

I truly appreciate the Holy Books. They are Pulitzer Prize writings… works of high literary art that, like many other works of art, pronounce general, philosophical truths. The Holy Books tell compelling stories that give great comfort and insight into life, and into the spiritual struggle that human kind has been engaged in for thousands of years. But, as hard as it is to do (coming from a kid who spent most of his educational life in Catholic schools)… I must say that when I exercise my God-given free will, my God-given intellect, my God-given deductive reasoning power, my God-given sense of logic and my hard earned skill of critical analysis, I cannot (cannot) accept that the Holy Books are historically correct, nor that they actually reflect words and thoughts of God… from God’s mind and lips to the human scriveners who supposedly wrote them. I may be right. I may be wrong. But, stay with me !!!

Given the great disparity in the highly sophisticated human mind versus the mind of the animal kingdom, isn’t it a fundamentally “self evident” truth that the animal kingdom (although able to see us humans and follow our prompts) cannot read the human mind… especially when we are not even in their view ??? Hey, we humans can’t even read each other’s minds. Extrapolating further, given the infinite capacity of God’s intellect, and given the finite capacity of our human intellect… isn’t it also a fundamental, “self evident” truth that us humans cannot read the mind of God ???

Deductive reasoning and human logic alone tell us humans of “finite intellect” that we are not capable of reading the “infinite” mind of our unseen God. Yet, we humans have many, well intentioned (yet) controlling men and women from across the globe telling us we don’t have to read the mind of God to know what God “intends” for us or “expects” of us… because, well because… God’s actual words about his intentions and expectations were penned in the Holy Books by the human writers to whom God spoke… from God’s lips to their ears. For Jews, it’s Moses and the other writers of Old Testament (Ezra, King David, Solomon, Agur and others). For Christians, it’s Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (but not the other New Testament writers whose gnostic Gospels written by apostles Peter, Phillip, Thomas and Judas were discarded along the wayside). For the Muslims, it’s Muhammed and the Quran. Etc, etc for many other religious sects.

Am I to believe that the words of one God created three different (so-called) Great Religions (Jewish, Christian and Islam) with each professing to be the “one and only true religion,” supreme and unerring unto itself… with each of the great religions ready and willing to kill off the heretics and infidels from their own group and from other religious groups (all… as part of God’s thirst for death to the heretics and infidels) ???

My finite intellect, exercising my God given volitional power of “free will” and my God-given cognitive power of intellect, logic and deductive reasoning leaves me with of four possible choices of “beliefs“…

  • Accept the harshness of the Old Testament.
  • Convert to Islam and “believe” what the Quran says.
  • Stay with my Catholic School background, and “believe” without debate… that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had a pipeline to God, and faithfully wrote down what God told them to write, all of which was unerringly translated over the Centuries from many other translations to (eventually) English.
  • Pick and choose what I like about the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Gnostic Bibles, the Quran (or other Holy Books from other religions), and become an ecumenical member of all of God’s religions.


At the risk of being labeled as a “Cafeteria Catholic” (as I have been)… I am “momentarily” drawn to option four, above (“ecumenical member of all of God’s religions”). But, I must respectfully decline even that invitation of exalting any of the Holy Books (Old Testament, New Testament, Gnostic, Quran, etc) as a model of the one “Truth”… where the actual words of God can be found. Call me a Doubting Thomas… if you will. But (rather than put my God-given free will and my God-given intellect to bed, and become a “true believer” through the “indoctrination” of any particular Holy Book of any particular religion), I believe it a better service to the existence of God, to the miracle of life I received, and to the free will and intellectual powers bequeathed to me as a child of God… to scrutinize the Holy Books with logic, deductive reasoning and critical analysis, and see how their claimed “Word of God” Truth stands up. With (hopefully) no sense of hubris or lack of humility, I must report that a general scrutiny of the Holy Books leads me to doubt that any of them carry the full endorsement of God, Truth or History.

  1. If we have only one God, why do we have so many different, monotheistic religions with so many differing Holy Books… all claiming to be the one true “Voice of God” ??? Translated, why didn’t God just endorse a single religion’s Holy Books, so we could all rally around a single voice of a single God ???
  2. And, assuming the words spoken by God (or spoken by Jesus) were accurately heard and precisely written down by the Gospel writers, decades later (itself a leap of faith), the Holy Books are not a model of clarity. Many times, the Holy Books are vague and ambiguous… subject to subjective “interpretation.” Example. Bible scriveners, Luke and Matthew, both write that Jesus told his followers, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his Father and Mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters— yes even his life— he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26 and Matthew 10:37). What ??? What does that even mean ??? Does that mean what it literally says ??? Very doubtful. That passage attributed to Jesus means (“subjectively”) whatever anybody wants it to mean. Therefore, the actual meaning of the Holy Books (even if accurately recorded and accurately translated… another leap of pure faith) are still subject to a number of “interpretations” by a number of readers. And what do we know today (in the third decade of the 21st Century) about subjective interpretations ??? As the German Philosopher and writer, Goethe (1749-1832 AD), said about “subjective interpretation”… “we tend to find what we are looking for” (aka confirmation bias). As 19th Century novelist, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, said, “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” (aka more confirmation bias). As Paul Simon said in his song The Boxer, “All lies in jest, ’til a man hears what he want’s to hear and disregards the rest” (aka more confirmation bias). How much of the Bible’s (supposed) Truth is lost in subjective interpretations and confirmation bias with well intentioned men and women seeking out that which they are already looking for… before they even began their journey in search of the “Truth” ??? Who knows ???
  3. My 45 year history as a practicing Trial Lawyer informs me that a simple law passed in the 21st century, in a single language and for a single culture is often ambiguous, with certainly much more uncertainty in the Holy Books… works of ambiguous words, phrases and concepts, written decades after the crucifixion of Jesus, in numerous other languages, numerous Centuries ago, translated over the Centuries to many other languages for numerous other cultures ??? How much reality, “truth” and reliability can we honestly expect to find in the Holy Books of the Old Testament, the New Testament or the Quran ???
  4. The story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis is the story of God’s Creation of man and woman, followed by Paradise Lost (John Milton)… because Adam and Eve, contrary to God’s command, ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge (of good and evil). The Jews, however, were not the first people to pen such a creation story. The Babylonian story of creation came before the Adam and Eve of the Old Testament. How the Babylonian story unfolds is different, but the Babylonian version is the same story of God’s creation of man and woman. Since the Jews were captured and enslaved by the Babylonians, it is more than plausible that the Jews were aware of the Babylonian story of creation before Moses supposedly penned the Adam and Eve Story of Creation in Genesis. See the Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt. Genesis tells us of the creation story of the first humans, Adam and Eve, on the 6th day, standing-erect, walking on two feet. Oh, contraire. We humans did not simply dropped into the historic record fully formed and walking about. We humans of (predecessor) skeletal fossils evolved (as in evolution) over tens of thousands of years… not all at once with Adam and Eve just appearing as fully formed humans in a given moment in time… as Genesis would have us believe. The unassailable, historic record of humans from skeletal remains and fossils shows (beyond doubt) that humans are far, far older than all the “begats” of the Old Testament. Repeat for emphasis. Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species shows convincingly that the fossil remains of the human species spans tens of thousands of years of evolutionary adaptation and natural selection… not a one time cosmic event with an Adam and Eve dropping into Earth’s historic record at a moment in time, fully formed, standing erect and walking about on two feet. So, how do we separate Bible truth from Bible fiction ???
  5. After strong, initial rejection of evolution by the Roman Catholic Church (a rejection that to this very day in the 21st Century lives on in conservative, right wing Christianity)… Repeat, after an strong, initial rejection of evolution by Catholic leaders, the very conservative, Pope Pius XII finally relented somewhat by publishing his 1950 encyclical, Humani Generis (Of the Human Race). Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis (in rather defensive tone and controlling language) allowed Catholics to, at least, discuss the scientific concept of evolution. Later, on 10/22/1996, another very conservative Pope, John Paul II, in his message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, stated that, “Today, almost a half Century after publication of the Encyclical [Pope Pius XII’s Humani Generis] new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than an hypothesis.” Finally, on 10/27/2014, the present Pope, Pope Francis, a more liberal Pontiff, stated to the very same Pontifical Academy of Science that, “Evolution in Nature is not inconsistent with the notion of Creation.” If the Bible captures the literal word of God, how did the Old Testament get the Adam and Eve story so wrong, for so many centuries while stifling the science of evolution with the threat of death for heresy and imprisonment to so many ??? Think of the Scopes Monkey trial in 1925 in Tennessee with teacher, John Scopes (despite the brilliant representation of Clarence Darrow)… being convicted of the crime of teaching evolution along with the Creation story. See the Spencer Tracy movie, Inherit the Wind. Again, how do we separate Bible truth from Bible fiction ???
  6. Ditto for the story of Noah and the Great Flood (also from Genesis). The entire story of Noah’s Ark presents many similar dilemmas. One such dilemma was recently depicted in a cartoon in the New Yorker Magazine where (after the great flood receded), male and female Emperor Penguins stand on dry land in the Middle East desert at the bottom of Noah’s Ark. The male penguin, looking over his shoulder and up the gang plank to Noah, asks, “What’d we suppose to do now… schlep all the way back to Antartica.” Is there a little hyperbole in the Genesis’ story of Noah’s Ark ??? Again, how do we separate Bible truth from Bible fiction ???
  7. The great mind of Galileo (1564-1642 AD) borrowing from the great mind of Copernicus (1473-1543 AD) told the world that the Sun (not the Earth) was the Center of our Universe (really our Solar system)… with the Earth orbiting around the Sun (aka scientifically-correct, heliocentric theory). But, Galileo’s science contradicted the Biblical accounts (1) From the rising of the Sun to the going down thereof, the name of the Lord is to be praised (Psalms 113:30), and (2) The Sun also rises and then hurries to the place from which it arose (Ecclesiastes 1:5). Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church labeled Galileo’s scientific, heliocentric theory as “heresy”… forcing Galileo to renounce his scientifically-correct theory or be condemned to death. Galileo recanted, and lived to see another day. Five Centuries later, the Roman Catholic Church of 1993 (under conservative Pope, John Paul II) acquitted Galileo of heresy. Again, how do we separate Bible truth from Bible fiction ???

I ask ??? Am I to give up my God-given volitional power of free will and self determination and give up my God-given cognitive power of intellect, logic, deductive reasoning and my critical analysis skill… to those demanding my allegiance to the “unprovable” beliefs of religion ??? Those who insist I let them and their interpretation of their Bible control my life… such as the great, right wing, Christian thinkers of the 21st Century… Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett “I like Beer” Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and the Notre Dame, Homecoming Queen, Amy Coney-Barrett (who didn’t even have the sound parental judgment to put masks on her young, helpless children when she attended her own Covid, super-spreader inauguration) ??? I know her response… “God will provide.” My reply… “God provides to those who provide for themselves.” And, God provides for those who “knock on the door” and it shall be opened.

Bottom line. I take no pleasure in doing so, but I am compelled to say that, although I find the Holy Books to be filled with great writing and good stories about the relationship between God and his creations, I cannot, ultimately, rely on the Holy Books for Truth. My first football and baseball Coach, Benedictine Monk, Father Livius Poali, once wrote in the St. Scholastica, Sunday Bulletin that he had finally finished reading the Bible from beginning to end. He commented that he was more impressed with the Bible as a story that described the relationship between God and humanity… rather than the infallibility of the words therein. Jesuit like ??? No ???

Fred Lauck
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