Monday 21 March 2016

intro: about the author

Many years ago, as a believer, I published a book on Bible prophecy. It was full of detailed charts and footnotes, the result of over a decade of careful study. It "proved" that God had foretold events thousands of years before they happened. And at that moment I lost my faith.

My story

A lifetime of searching for proof only proved how little evidence there was for a supernatural God. Indeed, how could there be evidence? If there was evidence it would be a normal part of the natural world, not supernatural.

At that time I ran my local church, I had served as a missionary, and I had a thousand page pro-church web site. But the more I studied, the more I doubted. So I wrote the book to try to convince myself. I found the best evidence I could - prophecies which came true - but the evidence just wasn't good enough. I rushed out a second edition with as many improvements as I could. But it was futile.

The most damning evidence against a supernatural God is not the arguments or evidence: it is his weakness. What good is a weak God? Even if he was real, all his promises of a better world seemed to refer to some distant future, after we die. Sure, people said "Jesus is coming back soon!" but they have always said that. Maybe they could wait for 2000 years, but people are suffering and starving now. The God I worshipped seemed unable to offer anything but excuses.

So I turned my attention to politics and history instead. To cut a long story short, I came to see the world in economic terms. World history is best explained by economic forces. Through good economics we can end poverty and create a just world in our lifetimes. Economics deals in proof and results. While the supernatural God is weak, economics is strong.

During this time I still read the Bible, but not for guidance. I was free to read it own its own terms, and not to "prove" what my church taught me. The Bible is full of people like you and me, some good, some bad, some struggling to make sense of the world. Just like us. And as I read I made four discoveries that changed my life:

What I discovered

1. The closer I looked, the less supernatural the book appeared. 

Miracles that used to seem supernatural now became easy to explain. And teaching that used to seem religious now seemed more philosophical, not much different from what the Greek Platonists and Pythagoreans were saying at the same time. The really supernatural stuff was either highly symbolic (e.g. Daniel, Revelation) or just tagged on at the end: the opinions of Paul and his followers. So, Was the Bible ever about the supernatural? To find out, I read what unbelieving scholars said. But then I made my second discovery:

2. Most unbelieving scholars still believe in the supernatural

(See the link for details). Critics are basically reacting to the believers, using the believers' assumptions. So I wondered, what would we see if we threw aside our supernatural assumptions and just read it like we would read any other book? That is, read it for its internal logic and its connections with the real world?

That is when I began writing this book. And that led to the final discoveries:

3. The only approach that makes sense is economic

The only question that matters about the Bible is "does it work?" And the only way to measure that is through economics. I discuss the reasons here.

4. The Bible has economic answers

The final and most exciting thing was, when I started to see the Bible as a book of economics, everything became simple. Moses taught us to tax land and not work. Read Adam Smith's book "The Wealth of Nations" for why ground rents are the best kind of tax. And if we do that we will create not just a prosperous world but a fair one as well, with no poverty. Read Henry George's book "Progress and Poverty" for why.

Don't take my word for it. The beauty of an economic approach is that you can test it. It is logical. It is about things you can measure in the here and now. The Bible is not supernatural at all.

And so I had come full circle. I began by thinking the Bible had supernatural answers. Then I found out I was wrong. The Bible's answers are not supernatural at all. They are real.

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