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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sabbath School 29/10/11 - Fiction

In our local Adventist churches, there is always a story told for the children before the main sermon every Sabbath. Usually, these take the form of morality tales that reinforce simple values like kindness and honesty, or retell Bible stories in the form of modern allegories. Occasionally, though, you'll get the miracle stories. Many are innocent enough - "answered prayers" wierd coincidences that are attributed to God and such, but sometimes there'll be truly fantastical ones, which tend for some reason to always be the ones set in rural Africa. The one we ahd last week was one of the former type. It was about a couple of kids who were lost in the bush when they came across a lion. One of them remembers that their mother had told them that they should sing if ever they're cornered by a lion, so they start singing one of the well known hymns and the lion leaves them be. A short while later, some villagers who'd been looking for them arrive at the scene. They remark that they'd been led there when they heard a multitude of voices singing, the implication being that angels had joined the kids and scared the lion away.

"Well, it's just a story," some might say. What's wrong with that? Well, I have no problem with stories. I do have a problem, however, when they're being peddled to children in order to reinforce superstition. We can almost be certain that no such event has ever happened, but a child has no way of knowing that. To a child, everything you tell them is true. Every word is laden with vivid fact and they find it hard to tell what is true, what is allegory and what is pure imagination. Fairy tales also deliver to kids the same type of feeling, one of wonder at things which are not 100% true. Unlike fairytales, however, stories told in a religious setting are reinforced and never revealed outright to be simply imagination conveying a message. In the same breath, children are also told similarly fantastic stories from the Bible, which they are told are 100% infallible truth. Such stories wind up being a tool for crushing minds to better take in religious indoctrination - the child grows up with a stunted ability to tell the difference between fact and fiction, ripe for inculcating with all sorts of superstition, stories of miracles and the like.

Tomorrow, I will talk about the admissibility of stories as evidence, with particular attention paid to miracle stories.

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