Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Holy books?

Phil Paine critiques the practice of using books as talismans:

There should be no Holy Books. Our species would make a significant step forward if it forsook the habit of declaring books to be sacred scriptures. The belief that certain books aren't just the writings of human beings, but direct revelations from a divinity, or that they are "sacred" has caused no end of mischief. But I plead my case precisely because I love and respect books. There is some profound wisdom to be found, if one cares to look, in certain books. But there seems, in my view, to be no greater insult to a wise person than to turn their work into a silly magical talisman, to be mindlessly chanted and ranted, rather than read and judged with reason.

A noteworthy feature of holy scriptures is that people seldom read them. They may run glazed eyes over them. They may fix on whatever passages appear to confirm their base passions, their petty hatreds, or their tribal customs. They call on their authority as a trump card, usually under the direction of some self-declared religious authority. But they hardly ever actually read them.

More here.

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