I have to give a talk titled “Religious Nonsense” and am hoping some of you could recomend some ideas. I have lots of ideas but I thought a few more wouldn’t hurt.
I don’t know your audience and your own intake on things but without assuming the worst interpretation upon the mindsets of an individual due to culture or any particular religion, you could try focusing on particular reasons why people rationalize one idea as being acceptable while another isn’t. Culture and politics play a big role. Misinterpretation of historical concepts, methods of communication, and original intents apply too.
I don’t think, for example that the original story of Adam and Eve was intended to be a religious literal truth. There are wordplays involved with the names and their meanings that tend to suggest that the story was an allegorical mechanism for passing on their contemporary ‘scientific’ understanding of the world. “Adam” meant “of the ground” and was likely used rather secular (It is the source of derivation for the word, “atom”). “Eve”, also had the meaning, “that which follows”, and is the source of our present word, “evening”. The ‘rib’ is also likely a reference to Adam’s penis. It was likely understood that either a man came first or the woman came first. While some myths of the times used the idea that the woman came first using analogues like, the egg, the community that felt man was first, decided that woman came forth through the first man’s penis instead. Although they lacked sufficient means at the time to determine this, even Darwin’s ideas based its assumption that there was some unique causation. Evolution advanced this by showing that neither was necessarily, “first”, but that both can be derived from another causation all together.
The first words of Genesis declare an explanation based on the observations of the appearance of the day sky as water from above; the order for which this explains the Earth arising from the waters can be determined by their contemporary observations of sea fossils in higher elevations; the statement, “...and then God’s spirit hovered [between the waters (sky and sea) and earth]”, represented their observation that living entities require a need to take in an invisible air (spirit) in order to survive.
That we view those origins with the assumption that they were incredibly stupid, is absurd. The function of the paradise that Adam and Eve presided in represented another rational concept. To humans, it doesn’t make sense that we should have to struggle for existence and yet be oddly wise enough to have things like compassion, wisdom, and, in general, a moral sense of obligation, without some sensible causation. It’s fair then to presume that a preference was granted to humanity by an entity that originally imposed these favors upon mankind over other beings. To try to make sense why a God would both force man to have to struggle with death and yet be considered favored as well, was contradictory. To alleviate this uncomfortable predicament required some justification to even continue being moral. By assuming man as originally innocent, dumb, and naive as the very children they actually observe to have (they don’t seem born with this wisdom), it stands to reason a parent, God, provided his children with the presence of an original paradise (safe home), a place where, as children, they were protected from the dangers of the rest of the world.
The Tree of Life represented their ability to their source of cared-for sustenance, and the Tree of Knowledge represented the wisdom and intelligence of God (or the Gods) themselves. Like parents themselves, it is perceived that God wanted to keep his pet children from the burden of knowledge of a cruel world, but the Tree of Knowledge represented this truth that not even the Gods themselves can deny. After all, if we look up to our parents, we can’t deny their ability to know something more powerful then they do themselves. Thus it naturally motivates children to seek that power and understanding, their curiosity is unavoidable. That is why that Tree was represented as being apparently placed on purpose by God. It wasn’t a tease to encourage the potential “fall of man”. It was a representation of the impossibility of God to hide his children from his obvious power as an existent parent.
The serpent could possibly represent another phallic indicator of our drive to have sex without any intellectual rationale for its very drive. Thus, the snake teases Eve to the eventual sexual intercourse with Adam that brings forth their own parenthood responsibilities and power that God had over them. The act of eating the fruit is both the birth of their burden to be wise and responsible as God was to them and yet entails the wisdom to know the true nature of reality: that reality is not so innocent. Thus the curse was the recognition that they must now struggle to maintain their own existence as God would have to. And this also meant recognizing that we cannot live forever and are doomed to permanent death at the end of our lives.
So where is the rationality of this lost? In time, this story of Genesis became a fairytale. And since the characters of the past have lost their associative relationship to how their names and other ideas related to the changed vocabulary of its newer contemporaries up to this day, the greater the distance of its connections in time loses the effectiveness to represent the original meanings and intents of the stories. And thus, religion takes over where the functional science originated.
P.S. If you consider me a “crackpot”, then ignore what I just said.