Saturday, January 5, 2013

Theists have a one track mind

Lately I've been wondering why it seems to me that theists have a one track mind. I have been knocking some theories around my head and upon reflecting on my own experience I think I have found the solution. The bible actually has a story that explains this pretty well and I would like to share that story with my readers with a little modern twist. I would like you to see this story from a secular point of view and no longer from a position of faith.

We find the narrative to our tale in the New Testament in the books of Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; and John 6:16-21. Specifically, it is the fantastical tale of Jesus walking on the sea of Galilee to rejoin his disciples who were instructed to go on ahead in their boat after the miracle of feeding the multitude with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. Before I outline the important aspects of this tale I would like to take a moment to point out some discrepancies between the three gospels that narrate it.

Matthew and Mark agree that the final destination of the boat the disciples were in was Gennesaret. John on the other hand claims that the final destination of the boat was Capernaum. The only problem with this is that the distance from Capernaum to Gennesaret is three miles apart. So which one was it? So we have our first discrepancy which happens to deal with location. Next I tried to figure out where the feeding of the multitude took place, only John is bold enough to give an approximate location: he places it near Tiberias according to 6:23.  Now taking Tiberias as our starting point on Johns account we will see even more discrepancies.

In the gospel of Mark the disciples are instructed to take the boat across the sea of Galilee to a point near Bethsaida 6:45. Verse 53 states that when Jesus rejoined them and the made the crossing they landed at Genessaret. The problem with this is that Genessaret and Bethsaida are about 9 miles apart in the opposite direction from one another! The bible does not indicate that they made a pit stop at Bethsaida nor that they landed there and had to board the boat again to head to Genessaret. Basically they were instructed to go one place that was about 9 miles away from where they finally ended up.

Finally, Matthew is the only gospel that narrates the aspect of the tale that we are going to be dealing with here. Mark and John both omit the miracle of Peter briefly being able to walk on water in response to Jesus command to join him. Now this little narrative will help you to understand the reason why believers are so closed minded when it comes to discerning discrepancies in the gospels. Even when they are made aware of those discrepancies they fall back on illogical and fallacious reasoning based on faith. In my opinion faith in and of itself is not even a valid way of obtaining knowledge on anything. When you see the words faith and fact or the interpretation of faith as fact you are actually seeing an oxymoron. Two contradictory terms with different meanings that don't even belong in the same sentence if interpreted literally.

Our narrative is found in Matthew 14:26-31 where after seeing Jesus walking on water the disciples were terrified and thought it was a ghost. Jesus then identifies himself and Peter asks him that if it was truly him if he could come join him across the water. Jesus calls him out and he steps out of the boat and walks towards the Lord. Verses 30 and 31 are key verses in order for us to understand why theists are so bone headed.

30 but then noticing the wind, he took fright and began to sink. 'Lord,' he cried, 'save me!'
31 Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. 'You have so little faith,' he said, 'why did you doubt?'

There you have it in verse 30! When he took his focus away from the Lord he began to sink. And Jesus then chastises him for having little faith. Peter was distracted by the winds and the storm and was afraid. Theists interpret this as an analogy for life and the many challenges it poses in adversity and tragedies etc. Personal struggles and inner turmoils are to not be faced alone but through faith in the power of Christ. Theists only see Christ in everything they see and do and believe and human reason and logic as folly since in their minds all true knowledge comes from God.

Paul made this point abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 which I will quote verbatim here:

26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many of you are wise by human standards, not many influential, not many from noble families.
27 No, God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong,
28 those who by human standards are common and contemptible -- indeed those who count for nothing -- to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something,
29 so that no human being might feel boastful before God.
30 It is by him that you exist in Christ Jesus, who for us was made wisdom from God, and saving justice and holiness and redemption.
31 As scripture says: If anyone wants to boast, let him boast of the Lord.

There you have it! I hope that this post has helped other understand the mentality behind the faithful and their inability to accept contradictory knowledge about the world in comparison to what their faith has led them to believe.

Note: All biblical quotations are from the New Jerusalem bible translation.



  1. Hey Chatpilot, good post. Why do you use the New Jerusalem translation? Just curious, I'm not very familiar with it. I started out with the KJV, and then the NASB, but I also use ESV and HCSB at times. However, I have seen great preference for the NRSV now.

  2. Byron thanks for your comment. When I first started this blog as you will see in my earlier posts I used the KJV exclusively. I actually even used it during my ministry days under the false assumption that it was one of the most accurate translations of the scriptures.

    Although personally, I think that there is no such thing as an accurate translation of the scriptures since any translation we use is someone or a group of scholars interpretation of what they believe the text meant. I like the NJB because of its language. There are no thees and thous and verilys that simply confuse most readers.

    What can I say, I like things simple and I am pretty straight forward. Even reading the texts in their original Greek form poses challenges because languages, words, and their meaning change with time. Not to mention the cultural contexts in which certain words or phrases are used.

    I don't fall into the game of which is the most accurate translation since in the end if you read any one of them alone you come to the same conclusion: that it is all bullshit and nothing more than myths.

  3. I agree with you, but I try to use the translation the scholars think is the most accurate in general, or I use the KJV out of my personal tradition, but for several months, I have not been able to even care, exactly for the reasons you just gave above. Thanks!