...And no philosophy, sadly, has all the answers. No matter how assured
we may be about certain aspects of our belief, there are always painful
inconsistencies, exceptions, and contradictions. This is true in religion as
it is in politics, and is self-evident to all except fanatics and the naive.
As for the fanatics, whose number is legion in our own time, we might be
advised to leave them to heaven. They will not, unfortunately, do us the
same courtesy. They attack us and each other, and whatever their
protestations to peaceful intent, the bloody record of history makes clear
that they are easily disposed to restore to the sword. My own belief in
God, then, is just that -- a matter of belief, not knowledge. My respect
for Jesus Christ arises from the fact that He seems to have been the
most virtuous inhabitant of Planet Earth. But even well-educated Christians
are frustrated in their thirst for certainty about the beloved figure
of Jesus because of the undeniable ambiguity of the scriptural record.
Such ambiguity is not apparent to children or fanatics, but every
recognized Bible scholar is perfectly aware of it. Some Christians, alas,
resort to formal lying to obscure such reality.
- Steve Allen, comedian, from an essay in the book "The Courage of
Conviction", edited by Philip Berman