The Bible: free
2 GB flash drive: $7.99
2 GB flash drive with the Bible on it: $39.95
I’m in the wrong business.
If you’re like me, you probably grew up reading the Berenstain Bears books. You probably learned valuable lessons from The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food, The Berenstain Bears and the Bully, and The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Vacation. Your early sexual fantasies were probably shaped by The Berenstain Bears and the Female Fullback, The Berenstain Bears in the Freaky Funhouse, The Berenstain Bears And the New Girl in Town, and The Berenstain Bears and the Giddy Grandma.
And yet you probably found yourself wishing that the Berenstain Bears could also teach you some faith-based lessons. Well, wait no more:
At least one book, “The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors,” is a retelling of a biblical story, that of the Good Samaritan. Others use biblical themes or verses.
The full series is not complete yet, which means that we have lots to look forward to. As a long-time Berenstain Bears fan, I most eagerly anticipate the following:
If you’re a Christian (or a Jew), you’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to believe in both science and the Bible. Human Genome Project leader (and evangelical Christian) Francis Collins has noticed this too:
After his best-selling The Language of God came out three years ago, Collins began receiving thousands of e-mails — primarily from other Evangelicals — asking questions about how to reconcile scriptural teachings with scientific evidence. “Many of these Christians have been taught that evolution is wrong,” Collins explains. “They go to college and get exposed to data, and then they’re thrust into personal crises of great intensity. If the church was wrong about the origins of life, was it wrong about everything?
You’d like to think a “scientist” would conclude, “yeah, probably.” I mean, if I were to show up at a scientific conference and present my several-hundred-page “Grand Theory of Everything,” and if the first few chapters were filled with obvious falsehoods, you’d hope that the other scientists would laugh me off the stage, tell me to take a long walk off a short pier, or tar and feather me. And you’d certainly hope that they wouldn’t run off to their little science lairs and try to come up with harebrained justifications as to why the rest of my theory was probably still true.
Which is why, although I have great respect for the Human Genome Project (a scientific achievement on par with the Alan Parsons Project), I find myself wondering just how rigorous it was. And looking at Collins’s BioLogos website isn’t doing much to reassure me.
Here, for instance, is how he sums up his answer to “Question 11: Is there room in BioLogos to believe in miracles?”
This response provides a simple answer to the question of miracles, namely that BioLogos does not in any way remove the logical possibility of miracles. However, for the universe to behave in an apparently ordered fashion, such events must be rare. BioLogos is thus compatible with many faiths that have miraculous events at the center of their doctrine. Finally, although a scientific explanation does in fact take away a phenomenon’s miraculous status, it does not establish that God was not involved in the process.
In other words,
I am not sure what the word is for “let’s add an element to our theory that makes it more complicated and doesn’t actually explain anything, but that makes our theory more palatable to the superstitious,” but I’m pretty sure it’s not “science.”
Still, I’ll keep checking the BioLogos site, because I want to see what their answer is to “Question 39: This whole website is just a gigantic prank, isn’t it?”
Randal Rauser is an associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton. One day he bought a Bible for his seven-year-old daughter, and was shocked — SHOCKED — to discover that it was full of god-mandated genocides:
The page with Deuteronomy 20 features a factoid bubble with a green parrot which informs me that Israelite men could be exempted from having to fight if they had been newly married, had recently built a home, or were just plain scared. That’s sort of interesting. But I know that my daughter will ask not about who didn’t have to fight, but rather why those who did fight killed babies and children. After looking through the slickly produced “Adventure Bible” I’m still waiting for an answer.
If only Randal knew some sort of “professor of theology” he could ask. I’m no theologian, but I can take a shot.
There are in fact several theories designed to explain how a “loving” god could countenance genocide. Here are a handful of the most popular:
For reasons I can’t fathom, I tend to enjoy TV shows about religion (insofar as I enjoy any TV shows). “Bibleman” is of course a favorite, as are Joel Osteen and repeat showings of Left Behind. The latest discovery on this front is NBC’s “Kings”, an attempt to retell the biblical story of King David in an alternate-history present.
It is best if you don’t think about the show too hard, as it immediately raises a number of unanswerable questions, like
* in a world where “America” instead consists of the quasi-religious kingdoms of Gilboa and Gath, why are there still Beethoven sonatas, Liszt concertos, and Mercedes automobiles?
* how is it that a civilization capable of building a modern-NYC-caliber city from scratch has so much trouble figuring out how to destroy what appear to be WWII-caliber tanks?
* haven’t any of these people read the Bible (I am sure that Beethoven did, for instance) and realized that their names and lives are exactly the same as those of the Bible characters?
In any event, I am willing to overlook these flaws, both because the acting is appealing in an oddly-Shakespearean way, and because the Michal character is cute, and because I am curious to see how they incorporate all of the relevant Biblical plot points, many of which are truly bizarre.
In particular, I am oddly excited for the “Philistine Foreskins” episode, which I can only hope airs before the show gets cancelled on account of no one besides me liking it. (Which is the same thing that happened to the show about the grumpy priest who doesn’t really believe in god, the show about the history professor who doesn’t really believe in god, and the show where Jason Bateman and David Garrison try to kill each other in every episode.
Please, won’t you watch it? Foreskins!