Fundamentalist believers by definition regard their Holy Book (or Books, depending on the religion) as the litteral, historical truth. Though the reasoning for this may vary, it is typically circular, and comes down to “the Holy Book tells us the Supreme Being gave us the Holy Book, and therefore it’s true” (see e.g. here and here). What I found most astounding though is not having faith that the claims made in these books are true (supreme being not bound to laws of phsysics creates everything and prescribes the does and don’ts), but having faith that the book, in its present form, is True. Since, for it to be True, and to be the litteral, historical truth, we need a whole bunch of suppositions:
- There actually is a Supreme Being
- The Supreme Being tells the truth
- The Supreme Being directed a mere mortal (or more than one mortal) to write something down
- The mere mortal wrote it down in exactly the way the Supreme Being commanded him*
- When copies were created**, no copying errors were made
- When copies were created, the copyer did not willfully introduce alterations to the original
And the last two steps can be repeated ad infinitum, since there isn’t a single Holy Book that has been demonstrated (or even claimed, as far as I’m aware) to be an original or a direct (first generation) copy of an original (save perhaps the Book of Mormon).
So even if we accept the first two premises on faith alone (and there’s enough reasons to dismiss them), it may go awry with the subsequent ones. For example, christians will acknowledge that premises 3 and 4 may not hold, given that they deny the divine inspiration for the Quran. And certain orthodox protestant christians will acknowledge that premises 5 and 6 may not hold, given that there are differences between Protestant versions (“received text”) and Catholic versions (“Alexandrian text”) of the bible (see e.g. here).
So why believe one Holy Book over another, why one version of a specific Holy Book over another? I think that’s the most difficult and uncomfortable question any religious believer has to answer. In the next posts I’ll look at at least some of the answers I’ve heard in the past (and present a rebuke).
* I’m not aware of a woman having written down a Holy Book, ever
** Or when relaying the content to others (illiterates), which is analogous to copying