While reviewing my Twitter feed a few weeks ago, I noticed a number of interesting posts from Steven Tiger (@SteveTiger999). After exchanging a few direct messages I was curious to learn more about his book Doctrine Impossible: A Journey from Dogmatic Religiosity to Rational Spirituality. Meanwhile, and unknowingly to me, he too was purchasing a copy of my book… As it turns out, our approaches are completely different, but we end up complementing each other very well. In the last two decades, many respected atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and the late Christopher Hitchens, have provided us with efficient arguments to refute the God of the Bible. And while many atheists around the world appreciate the efficiency of their rhetoric, one must also acknowledge that the same arguments have completely failed to sway bibliolaters who, paradoxically, are the ones who stand the most to benefit from loosening up their position. I came to realize a long time ago that it was mostly counter-productive to argue that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist when trying to communicate with bibliolaters. I can now also testify that it is even worse to offer them evidence suggesting that the God of the Bible likely evolved from a mortal overlord who got deified after his death! In all such cases, bibliolaters roll their eyes back the same way I do when they try to convince me that the Bible is the word of God. There is simply no common ground from which we can both develop an argumentation in a way that the other party can understand where we are coming from and where we are going. We stand too far apart to be able to engage in any productive dialog. This is where Doctrine Impossible offers new hope. It is a book that I will definitely be offering to my close Christian relatives and friends as soon as I return home. Why? Because I love them dearly and I am always looking for opportunities to engage and overcome the “Bible infallibility abyss” that stands between us. Indeed, Steven Tiger brilliantly circumvents this important gap by bringing believers to reassess their commitment – not to God – but to the infallibility of the Bible. And it works because he does so by asking a rather seemingly benign question:
Do you put your faith in God or in the Bible first?Most of the believers I know would have their ego piqued by such a question and would likely respond that they “obviously” place their belief in God before anything else. Yet, using elegant, clear and decisive arguments, Steven Tiger brings them to realize that if they believe the Bible is the word of God, they must actually be placing their faith into the Bible first, even if they are largely unaware of this. Tiger achieves this remarkable feat by efficiently demonstrating that the definition of sin and salvation, the two pillars of the Christian faith, are in fact contradictory and literally impossible to resolve when looking at the inherent logic of the Bible as well as commentaries from Augustine, Calvin, Luther and other Church fathers. And here’s the silver bullet: If bibliolaters choose to dismiss the logic and continue claiming that the doctrine of sin and salvation is infallible, then they reveal themselves as putting their faith in the Bible above all. If, on the other hand, they end up conceding that these doctrines are somewhat problematic, then Tiger might have just succeeded in cracking the nut – and these bibliolaters might be standing one step closer to liberating themselves from these dogmas. The fact that Tiger approaches the problem from a theological perspective provides bibliolaters with the familiar ground that should make his work more acceptable and accessible. And by offering them an opportunity to explore difficult questions from within the safe context of a comfort zone, he spares them from having to experience the dreaded gilt that comes from doubting of God’s existence and the fear of His wrath. Tiger concludes his book on an optimistic note, where he shares his personal view of what a dogma-free Bible-God might look like. He refers to it as “Cosmic Mindfulness”, a non-judgmental, non-punitive positive energy, source of all things and all beings – something like the God of Einstein and Spinoza, which happens to be quite aligned with my own view of the universe (see my previous posts).