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Comments: BBC’s The Big Questions

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Today I had the opportunity of viewing the full version of the Big Questions broadcasted on last Sunday (8th May) on the relevancy of the Bible in the modern time.

I must say Francesca Stavrakopoulou excelled among the panellists by her restrained expositions of the Bible’s historical authenticity and at the same time she was firm in her stand on the subject about which we all know from her programme on the Bible. The debate was not a suitable forum for Prof. Dawkins as this was not a venue for intellectual discourse; nevertheless he maintained a dignified position. Rabbi Janner-Klausner, though did not shift her position regarding the Bible’s relevancy, she was open to the teachings from the other religions. Among the panellists the Bishop Nazir-Ali cut a sorry figure in the intellectual expositions of his thoughts. His orthodoxy has remained firmly in the Victorian era when the evangelical Christianity was rampaging all overIndiain bringing the heathens into the fold of the “civilized” community. While the other members of the panels were discussing openness to the moral teachings of the other non-Christian communities, Bishop Nazir-Ali dogmatically stuck to his Biblical teachings as the supreme thoughts on man’s moral behaviour. In the discussion he raised the question of the Hindu cast system (relevancy?) emphasising why anyone should not veer from the Christian teachings, while ignoring the teachings of Buddha, the Bhagavad-Gita or the Upanishads, and thus showing the orthodoxy of a convert. One can understand why he should be so obsessed with the Hindu caste system. Historically most non-Arabic Indian Muslims are converts from the oppressed lower cast Hindu. Bishop Nazir-Ali appears to belong to a twice converted Christian community, which explains his blind entrenchment in the Christian holy book. From the audience there were two vociferous advocates of the Biblical supremacy who appeared to be converted Christians as well. If we compare Bishop Nazir-Ali’s stand with that of a cleric (Bishop of London?) from the audience, one could see how tolerant approach and the advance thinking the born Christian displayed than the entrenchment of a converted Christian. One member in the audience tried to bring the distinction between the historical Bible and the pastoral Bible but that was not followed through due to clamour of orthodoxy. The intervention by a humanist from among the audience carried the argument of the day among the thinking community.

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Written by Amal Basu

May 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Commentaries

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