Monday, January 3, 2011

Does it matter whether or not God uses frogs?

Here is the sentenced from some theological reading I was doing discussing the events leading to the exodus:

“Whether or not god uses frogs, bugs, disease, darkness, wind, and water as agents, clearly, God wills Israel’s salvation and Israel is saved”

Clearly? Really? What is being said here is that we don’t know if God uses frogs or not, but we do know Gods will and intentions. HUM. This sentence epitomizes a technique of rationalization. In the admitted absence of plausibility, the fall back is to say that it doesn’t matter whether something happened or not, what matters is only that there is an underlying truth, or that what matters is what the people believed. The people being the writers at the time and the people who are supposed to have experienced the events. For emphasis to this point we get a quote from a noted Jewish historian:

“It is irrelevant whether much or little unusual….. events happened, what is vital is only that what happed was experienced as the act of God. The people saw in whatever it was they saw the great hand and they believed”

In other words, don’t bother me with the facts.

We run into a type of phraseology often in our readings. Things like;
• such a search (for how the red sea could be parted) overlooks the central fact….
• Whether or not an event has supernatural or natural explanations…
• What is vital Is only that…
• Whatever the account…

The phraseology admits a lack of plausibility, but attempts to attach an alternative validity. Unfortunately, often the alternative is even less provable than what is being compensated for. The sentence above is a classic example. We doubt that god sent frogs. But we are certain of God’s will. Which is more provable? What it avoids is the uncomfortable frankness that many accounts in the book we call sacred are not true. The Red sea was not parted, it was the “sea of reeds”, and it may not have been a sea at all, but as we are told, perhaps a wet marshy area. And the manna from heaven… well, actually, that wasn’t from heaven. It’s a common plant. But the point is….

So what is the point? Does it matter if what I believe is true or not, or is it just important that I believe it? Does it matter if materials that are presented to me to persuade me to believe something are accurate or not? It seems to me the point of telling spectacular events is to convince some one that something significant happened. It is the telling of extraordinary occurrences that causes us to take note and think, gosh, if that happened, maybe I should look into this. Again and again, however, we are faced with the unavoidable revelation of fact conflicting with biblical accounts. And instead of just calling the bible stories untrue, we attempt all manner of contortions to somehow extract an essence of truth from essentially inaccurate stories. I may be idealistic, or silly, but it does actually matter to me whether or not God uses frogs.


John J. Franks IV said...

Preachin to the Choir sir.

You keep readin,
I'll turn the pages!

John Franks IV said...

I think you are more likely to find your answers in Aesop's Fables or the Brother's Grimm.