Tom Quinn – O Sweet Jesus

July 23, 2010

Tom Quinn has spent the past 15 years as a documentary TV writer and producer for Discovery Channel, History Channel, National Geographic and others. He has traveled the world producing programs that explore and deconstruct urban legends, psychic claims, religious myths and conspiracy theories, and has worked with the likes of James Randi and Michael Shermer.

He’s a graduate of the American Film Institute, he’s been a film critic, a story analyst for Universal Studios and HBO, and, in 2005, he received two Emmy nominations for his History Channel special, Beyond the Da Vinci Code. He has subsequently done programs for Discovery Shark Week and on the book, Angels and Demons.

Tom is the author of a new book, What Do You Do With a Chocolate Jesus? An Irreverent History of Christianity. He also gives humors lectures on all of these subjects, and blogs at

In this conversation with Robert Price, Tom talks about his new book and how satire can be an effective education tool. He discusses his views on the history of Christianity and how to best approach the books of the Bible. He explains why those who couple religion with morality are wrong to do so, and responds to the claim that one must be religious to have an ethical worldview, and much more.

This is point of inquiry for Friday, July 20 3rd, 2010. 

Welcome to Point of Inquiry. I’m Robert Price. Point of Inquiry is the radio show and the podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reasons, science and secular values in public affairs and at the grass roots. 

Tom Quinn is an Emmy nominated documentarian whose work has appeared on several cable television networks. He specializes in dismantling modern myths and popular delusions. He also promotes humorous dialog with both believers and unbelievers, with public lectures, including God Needs Therapy and God. The Unauthorized Biography. His new book is What Do You Do with a Chocolate Jesus? An Irreverent History of Christianity. Tom, welcome to Point of Inquiry. 

Thank you. It’s good to be here. And Tom, I know you’re a an award winning documentary film maker. Could you tell us anything about these nifty documentaries you did? 

Sure. I have spent the last 15 years doing documentaries for the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, National Geographic and others. And they range in topics from deconstructing urban legends to exotic travel and bizarre practices around the world to deconstructing The Da Vinci Code, which is the program where I got the two Emmy nominations, one for writing and one for producing. And we did another one on the book, Angels and Demons. And I’ve done shows about shark attacks for Discovery Channel, Discovery, Shark Week, others about, oh, gosh, cults and secret societies, UFOs, Satanic cults, a lot of bizarre stuff like that, alternative health ideas. A lot of my career has been focused on really deconstructing a lot of popular mythology that is out there and trying to straighten the record and give us sort of rational view on a lot of things that are popular misconceptions. 

The thing with the UFO is there’s that shows up on the History Channel all the time. I’ve probably seen some that you’ve done. 

I haven’t done them for History Channel. I’ve done them for the Learning Channel some years ago. And we did a one humorous segment called The Alien Highway. And basically we stopped that. All the famous spots across the country where UFO is where reported like Raslan an Area 51 and the usual places like that, and ended up in San Diego with a charming group of people called the Canary in the in Arius Academy of Science, which is a mostly elderly group of UFO believers who think that we are going to be invited into sort of a galactic United Nations anytime soon. And up the most charming people you ever want to meet. And we got to film this whole ceremony where they have a little flying saucer that they we allowed. And the women are dressed in these Sky-Blue, Star Trek and kind of looking outfits, mini skirts, and they open up the flying saucer and doves fly out and they each played trumpet. And each person represents a different planet in the Galactic Federation. They’re just a lot of fun. 

Yeah, that is no different, essentially, than many mainstream religion today. It just sort of updated to replace the supernatural with super science. And it’s always an interesting question as to whether there’s much difference between them anyway. 

I make that point often that in many ways, biblical religion and UFOs have a lot in common because they’re both belief systems that are centered on higher intelligences coming down from the sky to help us to lead us into a better life and to prepare us for a better world to come. Angels and aliens have a lot in common. 

Well, how about the the eyewitness testimony factor? I’m sure you must have interviewed people that claimed either to have seen things that couldn’t have been other than flying saucers or who have even been beamed up onto them. How do those people seem to you? Are they. Apparently not, sir. Have they been misled with leading questions by hypnotist’s or do they really seem to have experienced something? 

They are not as crazy as you would think they are. They actually are usually very normal people. And I think that people have been seeing things that don’t exist for a long, long time, ever since the beginning of time. People have seen centaurs, woodmen, elves, unicorn, leprechauns, witches, demons, dragons. What have you. History is filled with fictional creatures that people’s. Where they’ve seen and there’s libraries full of literature about all of this. I think aliens are simply the latest addition to that. I think that basically they there. You get different versions of these creatures that appear that jibe with the understanding of the universe as lone at the time. So in biblical times, you had people seeing angels and in modern times you have people seeing aliens because it squares with our modern concept of the universe. In both cases, they tend to avoid crowds and good photographers. 

That’s just like the T.M. people that claim that they can levitate. But of course, they can’t let you see him do it. That’s for some reason very, very important. And the thing or Jesus rises from the dead. But she’s too bad you weren’t there to see. 

It was only a command performance for a handful of his pals behind locked doors. Time now. Why am I never there? First in line. I look at cults and things much as an anthropologist did, and I forget her name. But she said that she loved reading the Oz books as a young girl and the idea of going from one Emerald City to another odd place in the Oz landscape delighted her. And when she grew up, she realized the way she can actually do it in real life was to go from one so-called cult group to another, because here were little self-contained universes with their own extravagant beliefs and assertions. And I’ve always felt the same way. And I’ve just read Joy start to meet, you know, Mooneys, anybody, Satanists, whoever they are, and just find out what makes them tick. 

Well, technically, Christianity really began as a cult religion because as most religions do, there’s nothing really exclusive about that. A cult is basically where you have a group of people who adhere regardless of the facts or regardless of alternative views to one specific set of ideas, and usually DFI their central guru and treat them as an infallible source of information. And that’s certainly something that Jesus called did in the early days and people continue to do. There’s something natural, I think, about people wanting to believe in these things and to have a charismatic leader sort of do a lot of the thinking for them about a lot of highfalutin philosophical ideas that most of us don’t have time to deal with. Most of us are working our jobs and paying our mortgage and so forth. And so we don’t have time to think about the nature of existence and what happens after you die and the great mysteries of this sort. And when you have a charismatic and wise people who come up with a very ingenious explanation for it all, people tend to flock around them and be attracted to them because there’s a sense of belonging, there’s a sense of emotional satisfaction. And so it’s very appealing. Whereas something like science is is sometimes harder to sell because it’s not very emotionally satisfying. You know, science tells us that we are basically pond scum that evolved in opposable thumb, whereas religion tells us that we are God’s top accomplishments. And while that, you know, may make him an underachiever, it’s certainly gratifying to know that the creator of the universe has got my back and wants to protect my right to free speech or my right to apparently to own guns. That’s a big thing God apparently supports these days. 

Well, after all, I mean, he sent Charlton Heston. Know, my beep will hear the den amendments fashion that the right to keep and bear arms. I mean, back then all year that that settles it. 

Yeah. Well well, you noticed, though, when he held up that rifle and said from my cold, dead hands he was holding up a musket. I’m in favor of everybody holding a musket. 

Are you working on any films at the moment? 

No, I’m looking for the next big thing. For a while there. I was going to work on a show about the USS Arizona and do a 3D project about that. But that fell through. And so now we’re kind of waiting on a possibility of working on a program about the Titanic. And I also may be working on the Morgan Freeman program. The one that’s on the Science Channel about the wormholes and the universe and whatnot. 

Wow. Wow. What an exciting work. Hear you’re really. Oh, I want to say lucky. Lucky to be doing what you love, but obviously more talent and rigor wouldn’t be in the position to do it. That’s really terrific. Well, it’s a lot of work and the whole. 

Boy, now, how would you compare the work there to do in the book? You you’ve just done. What do you do with a chocolate Jesus? Which which I cannot help mentally singing to the tune of. What do you do with a drunken sailor? But I won’t actually sing that out loud. How was working on a book compared to working on a film. 

Working on. What do you do with the chocolate Jesus was an indulgence for me. It was basically a lifetime of thinking and writing and learning about Christianity and the history of Christianity and its effect on our culture and about religion in general that I finally decided to put down in the book after 30 years of going through this. When I I grew up in a standard middle class Christian home. Basically, we had Christmas. We had Easter. I said the Lord’s Prayer every night. But that’s as far as religion really went in our family. We were not ardent churchgoers. And then after college, a friend of mine became a born again Christian. And I went down to Florida to visit him at a big revival tent meeting. And while I was there, I made all the confessions and discussions. They had a bunch of churchy paraphernalia for sale, including a hand sized portrait of Jesus made of chocolate. And I thought, well, the question that came to mind was, what do you do with a chocolate Jesus? Do you eat it? Do you work your way up the legs or go right to the halo? Do you share it with 12 friends? Is the last dessert? And does it change to the flesh of Christ when you eat it? And if that’s the case, is it OK for a low carb diet? So a lot of these kind of goofy, irreverent questions came to mind seeing these things. And it started me down the path of questioning the religion and questioning it in a kind of tongue-in-cheek and irreverent way, because that seemed to pry open a lot of truths and a lot of interesting information that the more dry academic approach didn’t do. And so I decided to write this book as a kind of history of Christianity is done by The Daily Show. It’s the side of Christianity that you don’t get in Sunday school because it’s it allows you to kind of kick the tires and look under the hood of the religion and see it from perspectives and ask questions that are not normally done by politicians or people from the pulpit. 

Yeah. And Matt Kibbe, Mayor, and what you’re doing is so well aimed and you’ve done well to spot that as a proper methodology, because the chocolate Jesus thing does raise genuine questions, which, however, start looking absurd. If you follow a mound like I do not as some do, oh, make fun of Christian sacraments like the Eucharist is, as some do to rile people up. I don’t see any point in that yet. You do come up with. If you can say the things they say about consecrated bread, that raises huge questions that start looking pretty silly. And if somebody makes a chocolate cheeses they’re asking for. That’s right. 

I do. A lecture is based on all this material as well. I do humorous seminars and lectures about this. I just did one yesterday or Sunday, rather, called God Needs Therapy. And it’s the history of the God of the Old Testament and his psychological evolution. And again, it’s almost like a stand up comedy routine about the history of religion. It’s educational, it’s factual, but it also laces it in with funny and irreverent questions and funny answers, because there’s a lot of funny stuff in the Bible. There’s some big laughs in there. And I think you get more people attracted to learning about it through the humor and the irreverence, as well as delivering the facts than you would in just the academic books. What’s a lot of folks are not going to plow through? 

Yeah, you are so right. I’ve taught introductory but critical Bible courses in different parts of the country for many years. 

And I’ve found that the taking I’m not a spiteful but a genuinely humorous approach, exactly as you say, just pointing out stuff. They can’t tell if it’s in there. That’s very winsome. And and they start being able to listen to a lot of things that they would have just stopped their ears at. You’re doing a great job. 

Well, that’s why I gave it a title called. What Do You Do with the Chocolate Jesus? Because it’s a funny title. It invokes a question. And as a result, I think it might lure in more people and get them interested. Whereas if it was a much more dry and straightforward title, they might be more off put. 

So you have a unique sort of a perspective amid this current debate among atheists, humanist skeptics, etc., as to whether one ought to just do a frontal savage attack on religion or try to be more gentlemanly and coexist. I just do not see the point of merciless ridicule, but I do in parody, especially if it’s if it’s educational. And it sounds to me like you’ve struck the balance. 

That’s what I’m trying to do, is kind of hit the balance so that I don’t alienate those. Agencies that might have a thin skin when it comes to this. At the same time, I’ve heard atheists and others talk in a way that is, you know, a turnoff to me, even though I may agree with them simply because they’re being so harsh and humorless and almost as dogmatic as those who would be, you know, ardently evangelical about the scripture. And I think if you just sort of take the attitude that we all need to be a little bit more humble about these ideas and opinions when it comes to eternal truth, religion is not, in my opinion, the eternal truth. It’s an opinion of eternal truth. And if we just talked a little bit more humble and realize that there are some great unanswerable is out there, then we can discuss these things more openly, more intelligently, and maybe prevent too many silly laws from being passed that impose these things upon people who don’t really buy into it. 

Yeah, I always like to remind fellow humanists that if you really do think humanity is so great and that one of the great things about us is our intelligence and our creativity, how can you just scorn religion which has given rise? Voet may be fiction two to two inspired small, I guess, work and conjecture and myth and so forth. It’s in some ways it’s the human imagination at its best. It only starts getting spoiled, as you say, when people lose sight of what they’re doing and become inflexible dogmatists. But why not have fun with it and be appreciative of it? 

That’s right. I mean, man created God in his image and everything in the Bible. All that genius, all that insight, all those moral laws are stuff that we thought up. And so we can be proud of the good parts of the Bible and shame that the bad parts of the Bible. Well, we should recognize that. I always read the Bible, sort of like Aesop’s Fables, a collection of morality tales that you didn’t take seriously. You can believe in the moral of sour grapes without believing that there was a fox who actually bitched about bad fruit. 

Yeah, I can’t said that, that if there’s no other than if these things do have a moral point. 

Well, the point is made whether there’s any roots of history to it or not. And if the point isn’t made, why bother with a story? You’d better be able to show that it’s worthwhile pedagogically in some way. 

Well, that’s what pathology is for. Mythology is basically a way of delivering truth in a way that you really can’t deliver by any other moves where storytelling creatures and by creating these stories in these characters and these grand epics, we can drive home very effective truths in quotes that simply stating facts doesn’t necessarily do. It doesn’t connect with people as powerfully, and nothing spins myths and drives home its truth. 

Through this method as religion, it is the master of doing that. 

One example I find very powerful, and it helps me in my understanding, is the somewhat obscure old Jewish and Christian doctrine of the principalities and powers that rule this age. It’s this this old myth based on the belief of the fallen angels that says, yeah, the world we’re in is mighty sorry and it’s very oppressive and it’s it’s very bad. And that’s the fallen angel Spart. But they are angels. At least at some order, it’s better than total chaos. So it’s kind of like living under mob rule in Chicago in the old days or under a tyrant. It’s bad, but it would be even worse. And it’s so darn intransigent because you’re not dealing with individual human beings who might be persuaded to repent or to give you a break. Are big, overarching, super personal forces that humans invented. But now they’re so entrenched that without any one face that a good luck changing it, that not to despair, but to say that’s why it’s so hard. And I find that myth so helpful, not in providing some false, primitive explanation for the phenomenon, but helping me grasp it as a sociological one. 

And there are other ones that are obviously more ready to hand than that. But the myth, as you say, says some things you just couldn’t otherwise. 

Well, it’s interesting that you bring up the idea of hierarchies of angels. One brief part of in. What do you do with a chocolate Jesus is I go through the nine levels of angels that some medieval monk with entirely too much time on his hands decided to figure out. And each level of angels has its own rules and duties and appearance and so forth. And it started out as nine levels. And I think it ended up as 12 levels of angels, which I guess means that even heaven is not. Immune to bureaucratic buildup? 

Yeah, that’s the truth. All religions and myths can be shown to simply projected their social and governmental structure on to the heavens or even economies in great adventure novels set in the ancient Persian Empire called the Dragon of the Ishtar Gate. Al Sprague Decamp has well, he’s got a lot of great stuff in it. But there’s one little vignette where the heroes are in Jerusalem and they’re talking to a day gone priest to sit down on his luck. So what’s the problem? This is what those priests of Jehovah have cornered the market. The rest of us can’t get any decent offerings anymore. And Decamp Jim Underdown is just saying they want to, you know, maybe a monotheism grew out of Monopoly economically I can believe in. 

As best we know and as best I understand the monotheistic religion of the ancient Hebrews, I grew up out of ancient Egypt. There was a pharaoh not named Okanagan who went against the normal multiple, multiple God universe that the Egyptians had and believed in one single God. And he imposed that idea on the Egyptian empire some thirteen hundred years BCE, which was just before the period when supposedly Moses and the exodus that everything else happened and once talking about and died, he was him. I think he ruled for about 18 years once he died. They destroyed all the temples to him and went back to their polytheistic religion. I think that perhaps maybe one group of people like the ancient Hebrews or some ancestors of them may have liked the idea of that singular God and stuck with it. And that’s how they became outcasts in Egypt, because they stuck without modern cannot lose old God while everybody else went back to the polytheistic religion. 

That was Freud’s theory, I believe. And. And one piece of evidence, Freud believed that he believed in a historical Moses, which looks unlikely to me, but he thought that he isn’t. Moses said grown up in Egypt as Exodus and Josephus say, and that he’d learned about 10 and so on. Though though now it appears probably monotheism was a gradual growth that you really find only in Jeremiah on the second Isaiah right before the Babylonian exile. 

But on the other hand, it’s interesting, the Psalm 19 appears to be based on a Canadian swam to the sun. So there was even a famous statement of Jesus father. No one knows the father except the son than any to whom the son will reveal him. That’s right out of Nitin’s him. No. 10, no man, no atha save only for thy son Akhenaten. So, you know, maybe there were there is some I cannot. And stuff Palsson around in the Bible wouldn’t be too surprising. 

Boy, it was so long ago and the records are so scant and so much conjecture has to be made of these things that it’s really hard to know for sure. But one would think once again that a god of the universe that wants us to know these things with absolute certainty and clarity would have waited until we had better to move move the communication in order to convey his message. You should have waited for videotape or something. Or at least the Xerox people. And that way everybody would get the same message. And instead, we’ve got guys like Joseph Smith finding Bibles in the woods of New York, which seems to be a very inefficient way of spreading the word to mankind. 

Now, when you talk to people and indicate that their belief in infallible revelations is perhaps a bit hasty, there are always going to want to know, well, wait a minute. Do you have any basis for morality to substitute for? And what are you. I know that comes up. What do you tell people like that? 

The great argument with religion is that you’ve got to base your morality and a belief in something changeless and a turtle like God, because otherwise you’re planting your flag in the shifting sands of cultural convention. There’s nothing to keep you. You know, God is supposed to be this unmoving polar star by which you navigate through the centuries. The reality is that. A lot of what we regard as morality and ethics today is based on secular philosophy from the ancient Greeks and the Romans. In fact, the Greeks were the ones who created the discipline of ethics. And the other side of that coin is that believing in a god is not a guarantee that your values were not will not shift and evolve, that the concept of God is a shifting and is evolving as any other moral issue. Just think about the fact that if I were in Italy and I lived for 500 years and I went to the exact same church every Sunday from the year fifteen hundred right up to today, their teachings to me would be radically different about morality today than they were five hundred years ago. Five hundred years ago, religious tolerance would have been heresy. Today it’s a right. Five hundred years ago, slavery was acceptable. Today, it’s a crime against humanity. Five hundred years ago, Christian monarchy was the only appropriate form of government. Today, it’s a pagan idea called democracy, women’s equality. All these different issues, these are fundamental civilizations shaping issues. And yet the church and the Christian religion has done a 180 on all of them just in the past 500 years. Never mind the past 2000. So believing in a God is no guarantee against radically shifting your moral system. 

It’s an artificial idea that somehow it’s a it’s a more staunch way of holding on to values because it didn’t so do so at all. 

Plus, all those changes you mention are accompanied by Bible quotes on all sides. 

One of the reasons why the Bible has lasted so long is not because it represents one clear set of values that have remained unchanged. It’s lasted because almost any point of view you take on anything can be found in the scripture. It’s like the salad bar at Sizzler. You know, it’s one source, but you can go and pick the lettuce and the tomatoes and the onions and have a nice, healthy salad. Or you can go right for the chicken wings and the tater tots and end up with a heart attack to go. You’re getting it from the same source, but depending upon which chapter and verse you do, you choose from. 

You end up with radically different faiths, which is why there are so many different versions of Christianity today, many of which don’t even consider the other versions. 

Even Christian, at least as far as I know, they haven’t gone so far as the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, which says if you’re not a Wahhabi, you’re not even. You’re not just not a real Muslim. You don’t count as a human being. And it’s hunting season. 

Well, the Christians have gone through periods that we’re pretty much like that. I mean, Catholics and Protestants during the counter reformation killed each other in numbers that rival the death rate of the bubonic plague. 

Now, that is true. Yes, the Unitarians really took it on the chin from the Calvinists and the Catholics and in holy wars in Eastern Europe, too. Yeah. 

The very first crusade was against the Cathars in southern France. The very first crusade was not against the Muslims in the Holy Land. It was against fellow Christians who had ideas that disagreed with the church. 

Everybody thinks they know what an irony in the Bible. Here’s Paul in First Corinthians 13 saying, you know, all we see are glimpses in a bad maRer. We’re far from now when the real thing. But all of a lackies that read em all air. Sure they’ve got the real thing. Oh, yes. Yeah, certainly. Certainly. 

Well, you know, there is no great religion without a great schism. All of them have it. And that’s because you’re dealing with something called faith. And faith is not something you can prove. Faith is personal opinion when you’re dealing with something with certainty, like, you know, science or logic. You don’t have that. There’s no wiggle room. That’s why history is not filled with warring math cults. You don’t because you can settle the issue. You can prove something to be right or wrong. And that’s the end of the argument. Next case, whereas when you’re dealing with faith, you can forever argue your point or another point because you’re dealing with intangibles. Personally, I think faith is what you ask of somebody when you don’t have the goods to prove your point. 

I love the way conversion is depicted in the great Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. Here the claim is so Kris Kringle claims he’s really Santa Claus. It’s self evident. Everybody that knows him and even likes him. The fist can’t be so. But when it comes up as as the apple of discord and he’s got to go to the mental asylum unless his claim is accepted, the people that like him kind of swallow hard and say, I guess I better start believing it, because if I don’t, I’ll betray my friend. And so much of church Yianna or any other kind of beliefs, if you say to somebody just in the pew, you. Why do you believe the doctrine of the Trinity is strew? Ultimately, the answer would be. Well, because the people in my church are so nice or because my grandmother told me to. Oh, well, that’s a good way of settling an abstruse philosophical issue like that. 

Well, that’s that’s one of the repeating themes that I have in the book, is that a lot of times when people think that, they assume that the virtues that their religion teaches can only be had through their religion. So if you reject Christianity, why that means you reject family and honesty and hard work and loyalty to your wife and America. What have you. And the fact is that you can believe in all of those nice, wholesome values without necessarily buying all of the supernatural stuff that goes with it. You don’t want to you don’t want to throw the baby Jesus out with the holy bathwater, but you want to be able to keep the good stuff and not necessarily have to wedded to mythology. 

And it’s clear enough, as Aquinas said, what the good stuff is. He said pagans without benefit of revelation, if they were the ones who were smart enough anyway, could easily tell easily enough. Tell what what this life requires. And Aristotle did it. So he said God revealed such things just for the Homer Simpsons in the crowd down at the foot of Sinai, who don’t get it and have to be just told, okay, here it is. Maybe you couldn’t have gotten it as Aristotle did. But anyway, here’s the bottom line. And then there are other matters that no earthly reasoning or observation could lead one to conclude, like the nature of God, etc.. And there Aquinas said, well, that’s going to take faith. 

But still, here is the major Catholic theoretician who admitted, you know, you don’t need revelation from God to know what’s right. Just look what functions well in a society. 

Right. And of course, he opened up a theological can of worms because Aquinas, you know, up until then, the School of Augustine was in session and the idea was that faith was the determining factor of truth and that logic was just basically a servant and shoeshine boy to faith. And Aquinas came along and reversed that. Instead, he did. They found all these works of Aristotle in Arabic mosques and so forth. And instead of burning them, he baptized them and he put Aristotle to work for Christian theology, basically saying you can logically prove the existence of God and therefore there’s no distinction between logic and theology, because he was wrong about that. And as a result, it kind of opened up a can of worms, because once they started figuring out logical conclusions that did not square with scripture, Aquinas had already given them permission to believe in those things. And that really sowed the early seeds of what became the Renaissance. 

Yeah, I was implicitly kind of double truth theory that like a Varo, as one of these Islamic arist Italians had said, if you look at it by just quoting scripture, well, you’d get one answer on big questions. But if you bracketed that and just use reason, that would look a whole lot different, nuff said, because he didn’t want to get the added, I suppose. 

Exactly. And that’s why we have the sense of science and religion often in conflict today. It’s because we really have two methods by which we arrive at truth and or I should say fact. It’s a truth is something that, you know, there’s a million definitions for. The problem comes when we try to use theology to come up with fact. And too often, that’s what the evangelicals do. That’s what fundamentalists do, is that they are not seeking simply truths. They are claiming facts based on the scripture. And you really can’t do that. 

Yeah, yeah. The most ironic example of that I’ve seen is in a book on inerrancy, an inspiration by a Christian philosopher, Steven Davis, who said that. Well, why not say we believe in the Bible as factually correct until we find out it isn’t and then will admit it? 

Well. Well, we did. 

That’s been done. We’ve we’ve figured out that it’s factually incorrect. The sun, the moon and the stars were not created after the plan, as it says in Genesis. The plants were created on the third day. And the good book and the sun, the moon and the stars were created on the fourth day. I don’t know how the plants existed before the sun, but that’s what it says. And so you hear a lot of you hear a lot of happy talk these days by people who want to reconcile science and religion and say that, well, you know, the story of Genesis really does parallel modern cosmology. Let there be light. That’s the same thing as the Big Bang. But when you look at it closely, beyond the superficial similarities, there are total irreconcilable, fundamental differences. And you have to make a choice not to make a choice, whether you’re going to take it figuratively or literally. And if you take a literally, then I don’t want you designing my holiday. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

And again, an irony as of Alehouse and pointed out so long ago, it’s pretty patent that the Jewish priest who wrote the priestly account, Genesis one, was trying to do what the Ione NS and others said, done like Faithless and Axum. And are all these guys at roughly the same time, they were simply natural philosophers. It doesn’t open up saying thus SRF the Lord. Here’s how it happened. It’s just an attempt to explain how it might have. And if you could put that priest in a time machine and bring him to the present and say, well, you did a fine job with what you had. But look at this telescope and look at all these instruments. Here’s what we’ve come up with. Is there any way such a person would have said, well, to hell with this stuff? I gave the last word on the matter. I know he’d say, to hell with what I wrote. Let’s go with what you know. But in the name of this same text, everybody say, like Falwell once said, I don’t really care what scientists say. I want the Bible. What a mess. 

Well, that’s a very evil mentality. That’s the mentality that simply says that logic and reason and empirical evidence are secondary to faith. Of course, what always strikes me is that, you know, what is empirical evidence? Well, it’s stuff you see with your eyes and hear with your ears. Isn’t that how you read the Bible? Is that what you hear in a sermon? Are you basing your theology in your belief? Nobody’s born with all of this information about Jesus and Moses and so forth. You need it delivered to your brain. And the way that happens is through the same eyes and the same ears that discovered the laws of gravity and figured out evolution. 

That’s right. That’s right. Extremely well put. Yeah. This just is shows what a fascinating book it must be the what he’d do with it. Chocolate Jesus. It must be fascinating if it’s anything like the discussion we’ve had here. I so appreciate your being with us on point of inquiry, Tom. 

I appreciate it very much. Thank you. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to get involved with an online conversation about today’s show or the book. What do you do with a chocolate Jesus? Join the online discussion forum at point of inquiry dot org. On our point of inquiry Web site, you can find a handy link to Amazon where you can easily order Tom Quins book. What do you do with a chocolate Jesus and the irreverent history of Christianity? Views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feed back at point of inquiry dot org. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York. And our music is composed for us by Emmy Award winner Michael Waylan. Today’s show also featured contributions from Debbie Goddard. I’m your host, Robert Price. 

Robert M. Price

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1954, Robert Price moved to New Jersey in 1965. At Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary he took an MTS degree in New Testament (1978), then, at Drew University, a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a second PhD in New Testament (1993). He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, North Carolina, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ, and Director of the Metro NY Center for Inquiry. He founded and edited the Journal of Higher Criticism and has authored scores of articles on the Bible and religion. His books include Beyond Born AgainThe Widow Traditions in Luke-ActsDeconstructing JesusThe Incredible Shrinking Son of ManThe Da Vinci FraudThe Reason-Driven LifeThe Pre-Nicene New TestamentJesus Is Dead, and The Paperback Apocalypse. Price is a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar. He served as Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and Professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center for Inquiry Institute in Amherst, NY. He and his wife Carol and daughters Victoria and Veronica live in Selma, NC.