Were I to allow you to pass this off as the Bible, I would also be letting you omit all of the glaring, basic errors about the natural world it contains as well as troubling verses endorsing slavery, including the sex slavery of young girls abducted during conquest.

I would be allowing you to gloss right over the story of Lilith, the moral of which is that women should be fearfully obedient because they are disposable and easily replaced if they develop a mind of their own. Inclusions in the scriptures which read very plainly as self-serving inventions of ancient men, not the moral opinions of a cosmic being.

Similarly, many Muslims say that the whole of Islam boils down to “peace”, but we both know that isn’t true. We both know they are using a loaded definition of peace and that in simplifying it, they are deliberately omitting many sinister verses about the testimony of women being worth half that of a man, women inheriting half as much, women needing four upstanding male witnesses if she is raped, to testify that she did not enjoy/invite it, that Muhammad claimed to split and rejoin the Moon, that he witnessed the sun setting on Earth in a muddy spring, etc.

This is why it is very advantageous for followers of these books to present “Cliff’s Notes” versions of them but why it is also deceptive in the extreme. It’s like picking through a roll of photos and presenting only the flattering ones, or the way in which fast food restaurants depict their products in advertisements.

It is not that I don’t understand the Biblical narrative, scheme of salvation, or the emotional reasoning underpinning it. I was a Christian for the first half of my life. I received a private Christian education and was taught how exegesis is meant to be performed. The reason we disagree is not because I do not understand where you’re coming from. It is the reverse.

You are inside of a bubble made out of one-way, inward facing mirror. Because it is mirrored it appears to go on forever and you cannot tell you’re inside of anything. Like fish which do not see the water they are in. It is only possible to see your condition from outside of the bubble, where I am standing.

This may be irritating to hear but you have seen for yourself that this is also the condition of Muslims, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religions owe their success to the same viral formula that made Christianity successful. You’re looking at slight variations on the same thing you’re in.

But because you’re looking at those people from outside of the bubble they don’t realize they’re in, you can see it for what it is. You can see something about their religions which is invisible to them, looking from the inside.

A Mormon could regurgitate and elucidate page upon page of Mormon beliefs for you, as you did with Christian beliefs in your reply. But it would not move you, would it? It’s extremely meaningful to them. But is it meaningful to you? Not very. Is that because you don’t understand the Mormon perspective? Or because the Mormon does not understand your perspective, as an outsider?

I will cap this off with a question for you to ponder:

Suppose for a minute that there’s a group of people traveling about your area, led by a charismatic speaker who claims that the world is ending soon. He promises he alone can save you, but only if you sell your belongings, devote the rest of your life to him, and cut off family members who try to stop you.

He also wants to change your name, advises you to leave your home/job if necessary to follow him, and says that if you don’t love him more than your own family, you’re not worthy of him. His followers wrote a book about him in which he performs many miraculous feats, but no outside source corroborates those claims.

What sort of group is that?

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