Metaphorical Christianity- what does it mean?

New Atheism gets a lot of flak for attacking religious doctrines at a logical and literal level. We are told that religion is really about metaphors, and that we should address it at that level. We are told that religion is really wonderful once we scratch the surface.

Here’s my question: what do these metaphors mean? How is religion wonderful?

Because I just don’t get it. They act as if we atheists read the Bible literally. Of course not. We analyze it literally, but we don’t read it literally. How could we when we don’t believe in any of it?

Let me take one example, and you tell me what the wonderful metaphor is:

Genesis 22

1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Sorry, but I don’t believe in this nonsense, so I’m reading it as a fictional story, a metaphor, and I just don’t get where the wonderfulness comes in. Can anyone explain it to me?

What about the life of Jesus? From a historical perspective, it makes sense. From a mythical perspective, it makes sense. But from a metaphorical perspective? What does it mean?

What “lessons” are grown humans supposed to get from these violent, corrupt, racist, misogynistic stories? Can anyone explain to me what I’m supposed to be learning from the Bible that will help me be a better person?


3 thoughts on “Metaphorical Christianity- what does it mean?

  1. JR May 20, 2012 at 17:32

    I wouldn’t claim there is any metaphysical lesson here. I would say there is a psychoanalytic significance. It’s part of the pathology of natalism.

  2. Kris May 11, 2014 at 13:52

    Not sure if you will see this, and I in no way speak for all Christians nor do all believe as I do. But the way I see it is like this: I believe more in living like Christ and loving all with open arms than I do in a Heaven or Hell. Heaven and Hell are more a state of mind brought about by living more or less like Christ. I don’t know what is true in regards to the supernatural beliefs, but then again, who does?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: