Why believe?

TNT raises a solid point:

Anyone who can believe the bible is anything but a bad book of poetry can believe absolutely ANYTHING. I once challenged some xtians on a blog to provide evidence of a modern xtian genius – my point being that they are exceedingly rare – if not non-existent….

For all of the sense that Vox makes in discussion of most subjects, I have not resolved this one. How can Vox (or any intelligent xtian) truly believe the Noah’s ark fable, Jonah’s 3 day bath in stomach acid (with nary a rash), the trip Ezekiel made on the flying, burning chariot, (pulled by a flaming, flying horse), or the silliness of Genesis, where the plants on earth were burning for eons before the sun was created?

First, let me point out that for over two decades, I felt exactly as TNT did. For the most part, the Christians I knew were anti-intellectual idealogues, interested only in that which confirmed their beliefs. I was too young, naive and surrounded by Christians to realize that this is the normal state of all humanity at the time.

First, true geniuses of any kind are extremely rare. But considering who the Nobel Laureates have been over the last thirty years, I doubt you’d find more than one or two geniuses in the lot. I can only speak for my discipline, economics, and I can assure you that most of the prize winners in economics are dedicated to economic theories that are not only demonstrably incorrect, but require far more blind faith than the Bible ever could.

The truths of the Bible that I found ultimately convincing were two-fold. One, it stunned me then and it stuns me still that the life advice from an ancient book should prove to be markedly superior to that of experts operating with the benefit of two thousand years of additional human experience and the scientific method. The very notion sounds absurd, and yet anyone who is paying attention well knows that it is true.

Second, as an armchair historian, it is fascinating to see how the scientific “proofs” that the Bible is errant have continued to fall by the wayside over the years. Once, it was common to cite the mythical Assyrians as an obvious falsehood, now you can read the chronicles of their kings on the Internet, a people as psychotically savage as the Bible had reported. Then it was the nonexistent Hittites, until the excavations at Tel-Amarna chronicled their war with Egpyt which climaxed with the Battle of Kadesh.

We know so little about that which surrounds us – we still can’t even find 90 percent of it – that I consider the assumption that we have not yet understood or been able to detect the supernatural to be far more logical than to assume that it does not exist. I never, ever, expected to see clones in my lifetime, and yet I can drop $50k and get my dog cloned.

What it boils down to is intellectual humility and faith, I suppose. The Bible describes the world that I see and understand much better than do scientists who argue that life is accidental and morality does not exist with one breath then make morality-based pleas to save the environment with the very next. Perhaps some of them are geniuses, I don’t know. I do know, however, that one should never make the mistake of confusing intelligence for wisdom.

One final note. The Bible is masterfully written. Ask any accomplished writer or poet. It is also demonstrably solid historical document. On those grounds alone, it would be a book well worth respecting, regardless of your religious faith.