God, Romance and Christopher Nolan or: Blinded by the Light

Religious texts are absolutely wide-open to interpretation, and for books that claim to contain the word of god, that is a potentially dangerous situation.

I really love Christopher Nolan. So much so that I don't even see the flaws that others delight in seeing in his films. There's a psychological quirk that results in people in relationships rating individuals as less attractive than a single person would rate them. A defence mechanism to keep themselves happy with the fact that they're in a relationship.

"I don't want to be single because I'm already with the best person I can be with, no-one else comes close." A person in a relationship.

I don't think I suffer from allowing my love of Christopher Nolan to consume me and, perhaps, blind me to the truth. I get the benefit of enjoying his movies more than some people do. That's where it stops. With a relationship, someone may suffer from refusing to see the bad in their partner, of always finding an excuse for their actions.

"Get out of here, baldy!" they said. "Get out of here, baldy!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys." 2 Kings 2:23-24

A snippet there from the smash-hit novelisation of history, The Bible. Now, as an atheist it's easy to be seen as aggressive, arrogant and dismissive: because a lot of us are. Though I'm not sure entirely why an atheist would be so forthright, it isn't a position that you'd wish was true, except from an intellectual desire to be proved right. A world ruled by a creator who provides an afterlife of peace and tranquility and a chance to reunite with everyone you've loved - all you need to do is muddle through anywhere up to ninety years on a febrile rock and believe it was made by a god? That's a much better option than having up to ninety years and knowing that all the bad things just exist and could get you at any time.

There's a lot of tension: with Muslims denouncing evolution, Christians insisting homosexuals are living in sin, atheists blaming the religious for all wars and Scientologists taking every single biscuit going. What is very clear is that the religious texts are absolutely wide-open to interpretation, and for books that claim to contain the word of god, that is a potentially dangerous situation. There is a well-recorded history of using religious texts to back up political and social positions that we, in a liberal society, see as abhorrent: The Crusades, slavery, terrorism.

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah" Qur'an 9:29

"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel." 1 Peter 2:18

Women are frequently maligned in religious texts: portrayed as less than men, manipulative and an enemy to be vanquished. As someone who doesn't believe in the gods, I can view these books as works of their time, written by men in a patriarchal society, keen to maintain the status quo. If you are religious, it can be more difficult to separate the writings about your god, from god. Apologists spring up, eager to explain how certain words meant different things back then and how the passage is still compatible with modern beliefs and if that passage is used negatively then it's the fault of the user, not the passage. Sometimes books contain shitty things that you should denounce, without having to renounce your god. I know how easy it is to slip into this apologist way of thinking because whenever anyone suggests that the ending of Interstellar was silly, I start praying for a bear to emerge and slay them immediately.

With all of that in mind, here are some Old Testament passages that I think deserve a closer look.

Deuteronomy 20:10-14, 21:10-14, Numbers 31:7-18

Genesis 3:16, I Corinthians 11:8-9, Leviticus 21:9


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