I recently had the opportunity to hold forth in cyberspace, the occasion being my interview with the estimable Eric Mays on his internet series called “The Author Speaks.” Being the sort of person who is of almost continual interest to himself, I was struck by some my answers – ideas I didn’t know I had until I attempted to articulate them – and I wanted to share these with you.
Beyond the snippets I’m offering in this blog entry, you can read the entire interview here.
Asked by Eric whether we have “plunged int a post-theistic world,” I replied as follows:
“I believe our world is post-theistic in the sense that these days almost everybody in the political-cultural sphere feels empowered to speak for God. There’s a palpable sense in which Sarah Palin, Pat Robertson, Benedict XVI, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and other such scoundrels are indulging in an essentially atheistic discourse. When you are privy to God’s opinions concerning any and all matters of consequence, you really have no personal need of Him – do you? – except as a bully to call upon whenever your own bullying fails. So He might as well not even exist, right?
“But in another sense, of course, we are living through a plague of theism such as the world hasn’t seen since the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century. I shudder to imagine where it will lead. At least we have 9/11 to remind us that a belief in God guarantees nothing, and I mean nothing, desirable in the moral realm.”
When Eric asked me my thoughts about “the Good Book,” this is what sprang into my head:
“I suppose I should be grateful for the Bible. Were it not for Holy Writ, I’d be out of a job.
“That said, I think we’d be better off if all the world’s Bibles turned to vanilla milkshakes tomorrow. Over the centuries, humans have devised all sorts of diabolical institutions – genocide, slavery, misogyny, child abuse, homophobia, heretic hunts, witch cleansings, anti-Semitism – and you’ll find each and every one of them endorsed in Scripture, and almost no unequivocal denunciations of these evils.
“If it’s really the case that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent entity exists somewhere out there, I would have to conclude that the Bible is the Word of God the way The Iliad is the autobiography of Cole Porter.”