Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What does the Bible say about Knowledge and Learning?

During the middle of the first millennium of the current era, the Roman Empire went through some changes that brought, first, a split in its governance, and which placed an Emperor in the East, at Byzantium, and in the West, at Rome. Then a “barbarian” chief attacked Rome, for reasons that are not pertinent to this discussion, which caused the collapse of the Western Empire. Non-theists tend to hold the belief that this happened as a result of the rise of Christianity. This is not true. Christianity was the religion of the Eastern Empire, and that survived until the eighth century when it was overrun by Islam.


Another mistaken belief is that Christianity was the cause of the “Dark Ages.” 

There is some truth and some untruth in that. While the church did not encourage secular learning and often punished people, sometimes rather harshly, for inventions that ran counter to its teaching, the church was directly responsible for the establishment of the ancient universities of Europe. The children of the upper classes were very well-educated. Most of them spoke, read and wrote, several languages, knew their history, and had an understanding of mathematics and some basic science, all of which, albeit biased by the teachings of the church, were taught at the universities.

Islam promoted learning in the fields of medicine, and more advanced science and Islamic teachers brought that knowledge to the West. 

However, ordinary people were not given the privilege of learning before the invention of the printing press and general widespread ownership of Bibles, which ownership was not overtly forbidden, but was not encouraged, simply because it was expensive to mass produce and before the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press was handwritten by monks. 

This does not mean that, even the people who were educated, or the ones who eventually owned their own Bibles, were actively encouraged to learn more than what was contained in those Bibles, because learning is not encouraged in the Bible itself. While the Middle Ages gave rise to the ancient centres of learning and produced some of the most erudite politicians in the history of the world (for example Queen Elizabeth I), that learning was encouraged only to the extent that it did not contradict the teaching of the "Holy Scripture."

In our time of global communication, and the ease with which we are now able to research whatever subject captures our interest, it appears that there is some correlation between lower levels of education and general knowledge, and the depth of the religious belief.

My comments in this website are directed towards specifically Judeo-Christian attitudes towards learning, which includes other religions which were founded on the principles of the Old Testament. This attitude tends to make people closed-minded and to base all their learning on the idea that God is all one needs to know and that the Bible explains everything, which eliminates the need to know anything else.

Deuteronomy 30:9 The Lord your God will then make you successful in everything you do. He will give you many children and numerous livestock, and he will cause your fields to produce abundant harvests, for the Lord will again delight in being good to you as he was to your ancestors.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Nehemiah 2:20 …”The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build…”

It encourages humility and in that humility, allowing God give you everything you need and want:

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Proverbs 22:4 The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life.
Isaiah 1:19 If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land;
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other you cannot serve God and wealth.
Matthew 23:12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

The New Testament says that the only learning required is to be able to understand parables:

Mark 4:11 He told them,  The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving  and ever hearing but never understanding otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!
Luke 8:10 He said,  The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.

In order to obtain this knowledge, it is necessary to remain forever a child. Thus obedience to God, and the acceptance of the “faith” 

Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said,  I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
Luke 16:15He said to them,  You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
Luke 18:17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. 

Believers are discouraged from questioning authority: any rebellion towards religion, authority and particularly parents, is worthy of death...

Romans 1:29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. 

… and knowledge of the world, i.e. secular knowledge is “foolish:”

1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified….so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
1 Corinthians 14:38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. 
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
1 Timothy 6:4:...he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
1 Timothy 6:20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.

The above verses certainly indicate that the Bible advocates leaving all responsibility in the hands of God. It appears that all the believer needs to do is to remain obedient to God (and his representatives on earth), trust that God will provide for his every need, and then spend the rest of his life (and I say “his” here because, as I pointed out in a previous post, women are insignificant) allowing God to direct his decisions which will show him how to provide for his family. In the early history of education that I referred to above, people were also discouraged from owning Bibles, even when they could afford them, simply because the ruling church hierarchy knew that reading and studying the Bible would lead to critical questioning of its validity. Thus keeping people ignorant and dependent on priests for its interpretation, kept priests employed and money rolling into the church’s coffers. 

Thus the low standards of literacy and secular knowledge are explained, but then what about the believers who do enter the fields of medicine, the law, architecture and even the sciences?

Doesn’t the very fact that there are people who practice medicine (and sometimes make vast fortunes as a result of their career choice) go against the teaching of the Bible? And what about captains of industry who fight for less government control in the running of their businesses? Surely that too is against the rules of poverty, humility and “amassing wealth” on earth? How do these people justify collecting vast fortunes against what the Bible says? I can understand theologians and clerics, they’re needed to interpret the Bible, but why wealthy farmers, lawyers, company directors and so on? Isn’t it a little hypocritical to encourage people to become wealthy so that they are able to contribute more to the church?

It seems to me that the religions of the Bible have an agenda and it is this: any learning that encourages people to give up their religion is discouraged. Otherwise, learning is acceptable as long as it doesn’t detract from the main aim of the religion, and that is to keep the religion flourishing, especially its bank account. The evolution of monasteries into universities, the development of the printing press, the general distribution of Bibles to the ordinary people, and the continued education of believers only to the extent that they understand their religion, is all part of the idea of encouraging the masses to remain ignorant of anything that is not related to religion. The purpose in this is to keep dogmatic belief and religion flourishing so that the churches will continue to amass wealth, and the discouragement of learning is not with the intention of saving the souls of the world’s population. Instead it is with the direct intent to relieve people of the money they accumulate in their labour and thereby to add to the wealth of the churches and the people who control them. Ron L Hubbard, the man who formulated Scientology is known to have said “if you want to make a lot of money, start a religion!”

13 comments:

  1. The Catholic Bible

    As Catholics were responsible for writing the New Testament (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), the Catholic Church doesn't "interpret" the Bible. We explain it.

    Protestants can only "interpret", because they are not the author (guided by the Holy Spirit), and therefore, can only guess at the possible meaning of a chapter, passage or phrase, just as anyone can only guess at any author's intentions in any other book.

    As the author, the Catholic Church is the only proper authority to consult in matters pertaining to the Bible.

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  2. How arrogant. Were you personally responsible for writing the bible? Somehow I think not. Thus, you were "not the author and therefore, can only guess at the possible meaning of a chapter".

    The original authors of the bible are the only people who can explain its meaning. They may have passed it on through the catholic church but meanings and stories get changed with time. Thus none of us trully have the authority to explain the bible except God. We are all interpreters.

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  3. I am agree with Anonymous. Mr.Michael is really arrogant. Where is written in the Bible that the proper authority is given only to Catholic??? Every person who believes in God, Jesus Christ has rights to explain and interpret the Bible being guided by Holy spirit. Any Christians have that rights, not only to Catholic.

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  4. I do believe the trend of the Catholic church outweighs Michael's comment. Very unlikely that God would work through such an institution. Denominational churches are tolerant, soft, and worldly. To condone people's worldly lives is to promote it. Seemingly all churches today do not speak against traditional life. Therefore, we see no one giving up anything to serve God. They don't study the Bible at home. So, bashing the Catholic church cannot be done without bashing the others. They are all highly flawed and false. One must learn at home and among friends. But without an human "authority" leading them astray.

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  5. Any person who is capable of reading is entitled to interpret that reading in the way that they see it. They don't need permission from any deity or organisation that claims to have a direct line to that deity to do so. If members of religious organisations don't want their books to be read, critiqued, or interpreted by the people who read them, they shouldn't publish them and make them freely available to people outside their religion.

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  6. "As Catholics were responsible for writing the New Testament (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), the Catholic Church doesn't "interpret" the Bible." These are the rantings of an idiot.

    The overwhelming bulk of NT documents were written in 1CE a time when the Catholic Church did not even exist as a single entity. So how is it that proto-Christians suddenly all get classed as Catholics? Fact is there were a myriad of churches and Christian beliefs at this time. A careful study of the NT texts reveals this, never mind the many other Christian texts not included in the canon.

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  7. What does the author mean by 'women are insignificant'?

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    1. What do I mean by "women are insignificant" (my own words, and my own interpretation of biblical references to women)? If you read the Bible, as I have, the only references to women are as goods to be traded in marriage, to bear children, to support men, and to, sometimes, as in the case of Esther, to save men from some or other fate. Other than that, and especially in the New Testament, they are to cover their heads, and remain silent. "Insignificant" as in "not of any significant value". The Bible is the quintessential guide to misogyny.

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    2. In the case of Esther, the saving from some horrible fate with tears and pleading, not as a man would have saved them with sword and slaying:
      "Esther 8:3 Then Esther spoke again to the king. She fell at his feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan of Haman the Agagite and the plot that he had devised against the Jews. 4 When the king held out the golden scepter to Esther, 5 Esther rose and stood before the king. And she said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor in his sight, and if the thing seems right before the king, and I am pleasing in his eyes, let an order be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman the Agagite..."

      See when women feature in the Bible, it's submissive, and tearful. That's what I mean by "insignificant". There is no woman who goes out to slay a giant with a single slingshot.

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    3. It doesnt mean that she is insignificant ... she is of a great value ... take Mary for example ..how is she insignificant... its just the way that a soul being in a female body has to be tested in this world...but you are right about misogyny references in the bible..makes me mad...as if Adam did not disobey god..but then its the word of God

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    4. Specific women play specific roles in the Bible, as Esther in persuading the king using her womanly wiles, Eve is created to bear children, Moses marries the daughter of a priest to bear sons to continue the line. Hagar is not considered "pure" enough to be the mother of the Children of Israel, so she is banished to the desert with her son.

      Look at these verses to see what I mean when I say their significance relates only to how they further the causes of men.

      Genesis 3:16
      Exodus 21:7
      Leviticus 12:2-5
      Numbers 5:26-27
      Numbers 5:27.
      Numbers 31:18
      Deuteronomy 22:22 -29
      Deuteronomy 25:11-12
      Judges 19:22-30
      Ecclesiastes. 25:13
      Ecclesiastes. 25:22-26
      Ecclesiastes. 25 26;
      Ecclesiastes. 26:9-10
      Ecclesiastes. 26:14-15
      Ecclesiastes.26:25
      Ecclesiastes. 42:13-14
      Hosea 13:16
      I Corinthians 11:3
      I Corinthians 11:8-9
      I Corinthians 14:34-35
      Timothy 2:11-14
      Ephesians 5:22-24
      1 Timothy 2:9
      1 Peter 3:1-7
      Revelation 2:22

      According to the Bible, women are tempters of men, even their daughters cause them to be more unclean after childbirth, they are given to men to be raped, and must be silent in the company of men. Women are nothing, they are insignificant child-bearing machines and nothing else, according to the men who wrote the Bible, even if there are women who stand out, they only do that because they have somehow made men greater, more important, more godlike.

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  8. Eve is not created for childbearing...Eve was created to be in paradise with Adam..after she sinned she had to bear a child through greater pain, as a result of her sin...Adam as well sinned, and cursed was the ground......as for Hagar , how did you come to conclusion that she was mistreated because she was not pure...the Bible states, that ,after she got pregnant by Abram, after Sarah's wish , she started to despise Sarah.So Sarah herself mistreated her so Hagar fled from her...Its not right to change was is written in the bible and mislead peoples understanding..

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  9. Of course she despised Sarah, it's a natural reaction of someone who is thrown out with their child with nothing but water.

    My job is not to "change" the Bible, but to interpret what I read. This discussion is now closed. I suggest you take it up further with the writer of this paper.
    https://www.academia.edu/10289955/Was_Eve_Only_Created_To_Be_A_Childbearing_Creature_According_To_Genesis_2.18-20

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