1. a. A sacred writing or book.What is a sacred or holy scripture? Hundreds of millions of people around the world hold sacred the Bible, the Koran, the Dhammapada, the Vedas, Puranas and many other texts that are considered to be "divinely inspired" in some way or another. Countless people claim that there is a single god somewhere "out there" who directly inspired these texts, which are therefore infallible, since this god "himself" is infallible. Others see these texts as manmade and containing errors, although they may also possess much divinely inspired wisdom. Still others consider these so-called scriptures to be entirely contrived by human beings and a reflection of human understanding, rather than divine inspiration.
b. A passage from such a writing or book.
2. The sacred writings of the Bible. Often used in the plural. Also called Holy Scriptures.
3. A statement regarded as authoritative.
What is the truth? Is a book that contains endless stories of warfare and slaughter against infidels or unbelieving nations and individuals really "holy writ?" One which dictates that there are "chosen people" who are superior to others, who may thus be unreservedly dominated and exploited? Or that human beings are revolting "sinners" who can only achieve grace by believing in a "Son of God" who was hideously tortured and murdered "for our sins?" Is this sort of "scripture" truly the most appropriate and intelligent writing the God of the cosmos could come up with?
Let us briefly examine some of what these "holy scriptures" say:
"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth." Deuteronomy 7:6
"You shall suck the milk of nations, you shall suck the breast of kings; and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." Isaiah 60:16Phew! That's a whole lotta spewing. Now, of course, this collection represents only a small fraction of what is contained in those "holy texts." And, of course, there is some "good" stuff to balance it...slightly. But, again, is this type of sentiment - which permeates not only the so-called scriptures but also the ideologies themselves, oozing out of believers like some supercilious and smug sludge, heartlessly hurled at all who do not believe likewise - really the best and holiest concept in the cosmos, such that it merits the distinction of being deemed "divinely inspired" and representing the "infallible Word of God?"
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but with a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy." Matthew 10:34-37
"For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the sufferings." Matthew 24:7-8
"This Book is not to be doubted.... As for the unbelievers, it is the same whether or not you forewarn them; they will not have faith. God has set a seal upon their hearts and ears; their sight is dimmed and grievous punishment awaits them." Koran 2:2-6
"God's curse be upon the infidels! Evil is that for which they have bartered away their souls. To deny God's own revelation, grudging that He should reveal His bounty to whom He chooses from among His servants! They have incurred God's most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits the unbelievers." Koran 2:92-6
Or could there be something much more enlightened that deserves to be held up in a higher sacrosanct position?
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."The American Constitution may well be the "holiest of holies." It is not "infallible," nor does it address religion specifically, except for this particularly pithy amendment that is not only wholly relevant but also holy in its implications for securing liberty from religious imposition of all kinds:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."These remarks do not suggest that the constitutions of other nations are necessarily inferior or that the U.S. is flawless, but at least in this well-considered and well-written scripture - as defined by the third definition: "A statement regarded as authoritative" - there is a chance for humanity to be truly free and to reach its best.
If we were to fling open the doors of nations around the world and allow free movement in either direction, which way would most of the traffic flow? Would most people up and run towards "Oppressivestan," under the dominion of so-called holy law, or towards "Libertyland," governed by such a constitution? Think about it.
(This essay is updated and included in my book The Gospel According to Acharya S.)