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8 May 2002Printer-friendly versionEmail a friend

And the word was whack
Today's cynical and savvy kids are unlikely to fall for Bible bull.

by Dave Hallsworth

As a former Congregationalist whose father had a stroke - dropping down on the floor after ordering me from the house for denying the Adam and Eve story - it gave me great pleasure to read that Creationism was being taught in certain UK schools.

You can just imagine them going at it:

'This aged carpenter Joseph managed to get himself a 14-year-old bride, Mary. Unable in his great age (we all come to it) to consummate the marriage, Mary remained a virgin. An angel appeared to her and told her that she would be impregnated by a ghost and would bear a male child named Immanuel….'

Just try convincing a young audience of even this start to the Joseph, Mary and Jesus story. Why exactly did Mary call the baby Jesus, when the angel had said he should be called Immanuel?

Youngsters today are suspicious of everything they are told. They are unlikely to go for something like the story of Herod - the ageing ruler who, after being told by the three Magi (wrongly of course) that his kingdom was under threat, ordered the killing of all the firstborn in the land (an event not mentioned in any historical documents anywhere). How come John the Baptist, who was born at the same time and in roughly the same place as Jesus, survived Herod's antics without a scratch?

Cynical kids are unlikely to be impressed by the conflicting accounts given by gospel-writers Matthew and Luke. Take the issue of Jesus' lineage to King David. Matthew gives us 28 generations between David and Jesus, while Luke offers 43. The only names that coincide between the lists are Jesus, Zorobabel, Salathiel and David. They weren't great on genealogy, the apostles. But many young people today, complete with computers, are well into genealogy. Try explaining to the internet generation where Luke's extra 15 generations come from.

Strange that no historian mentions such bizarre events
Matthew - the Stephen King of his day - describes Christ's crucifixion in graphic terms. The temple cloth was split in twain, earthquakes shook everywhere, and the saints rose out of their graves and proceeded into town - no doubt to the town's astonishment.

Strange then that no historian mentions these bizarre events, nor any of the apostles. Anybody who met a dead saint creaking into town would surely remember it? Although now that I think of it, surely it was the Roman Catholic Church that invented the 'saints', so that their punters would buy indulgences for the 'saint' to plead on their behalf to Jesus?

The hardest question of all is that asked instinctively by children (and by non-believers of the left-wing variety): 'If God made the universe, who made God?' And of course, teachers cannot answer such queries in the way a parent would - by telling little Johnny to go away and play, or by giving him a smart clip around the ear.

Most people today know that the Bible is a story for peasants and tiny tots. Like Father Christmas, it's a nice story (except for all those earthquakes, pestilence and plagues) - but hardly something through which you can understand the world. But I look forward to the Creationists' attempts to convince kids otherwise.

Read on:

Creationism teaching: who started it?, by Josie Appleton

Catholicism in crisis, by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick

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