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Religion As A Consistent System

One of the minor claims that ex-atheist Leah Libresco made was that Catholicism was a consistent system. This is a claim most religious believers hold but rarely mention. I am glad Leah mentioned it, because it gives me the opportunity to criticize that claim.

“I’m a big Harry Potter nerd and I can see how the whole world works and think about the dynamics of that world without thinking it’s true. That’s kind of how I came to see Christianity, a really well thought out interesting system that a lot of smart people had worked on but I didn’t think it was actually a true system.”

Here is the problem; most religions are not really well thought out systems. Christianity for example is certainly not a well thought out system. When J.K. Rawling wrote the Harry Potter series, she had a general idea of how the whole world worked before she started. Sure, she made changes along the way, but the system of the world was pretty much the same. Babylon 5 is a better example of this. It is exceptionally consistent because the creator (JMS) had the story pretty much planned out from day one.

Christianity on the other hand is far less internally consistent because it was not created from start to finish early along. Early Christians had very different ideas of what Christianity was about and those ideas were patched together. Some of those ideas don’t fit well with others and the narrative (i.e. the Bible) doesn’t support all of the theology and is remarkably inconsistent and contradictory.

In order to create the appearance of consistency, the theology has to ignore parts of the Bible and has to create doctrine out of some extremely vague references. One example of this is the Holy Trinity. It doesn’t really exist in the Bible, but the Church has taken a few vague verses to cobble out the doctrine. The Seven Deadly Sins is another great example of doctrine not directly found in the scripture.

Hell, even the belief in Hell isn’t internally consistent. The Old Testament has no Hell. Hell is entirely an invention of the New Testament. So to say that Catholicism is internally consistent is a pretty odd claim. None of the examples I have listed here are at all in dispute among Biblical “scholars” or Harry Potter scholars.

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