Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Andy and Sam Show

Two cultural commentators are having a bit of a to do over the web. Andrew Sullivan and Sam Harris are having a back and forth about religion. Andrew believes but has doubts, Sam does not believe, and seems to have absolutely no doubts about Andrew's doubts. You can catch Andrew's January 25 sally here.

So far there seemingly has not been a thorough discussion of the anthropomorphization of the deity, and that is a subject which is actually central to all religious debates.

The scriptural texts, when they refer to the deity, are written in metaphorical language. These metaphors assign human qualities, good and bad, to the deity.

It is beyond logic for us to continue to assign to the deity such personality quirks as pimping--72 virgins in Paradise; or ethnic cleansing--most of the Old Testament. How very near to blasphemy is the concept that the deity is jealous? (No other gods before me.) Or petty? The farmer's sacrifice is not as worthy as the herdsman's? It's a metaphor. If you eat pork, and don't cook it enough, you'll die. And all this before the knowledge of how much heat it takes to kill the trichinae.

C'mon, Sam and Andy. Get serious. Rinse out the metaphors and see what remains; then get on with your discussion.

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