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Nightmarish fantasy fiction, fortunately reality isn't so bad.
on 2 August 2011
John Bunyan started his grim tale while imprisoned (1660-75) for breaking Church of England rules that banned preaching without episcopal orders. There is an interesting article about John Bunyan's life on Wikipedia.
It is a pity that Christian lived before the age of enlightenment otherwise he might have talked to Herman S.Reimarus (1778), Voltaire, Thomas Paine (1795 Age of reason ). Also later Bible scholars Robert G Ingersoll (1872),Joseph McCabe (1897),Albert Schweitzer (1901) Joseph Wheless (1925), Charles Darwin (1860s)
It is an even greater pity that Christian started up his steep, tortuous path before modern Bible Scholars were around. If he had been a time traveller he might have consulted Robert M Price & John W. Loftus who would have shown Christian a very different interpretation of the Bible texts. If Christian had been able to know the history & philosophy of religion that is now available he might have come to a very different conclusion. If he had studied comparitive religion and looked at the 1500BCE Egyptian papyrus of Ani he might have started to see that the Bible stories of 700BCE looked very similar. If he'd been able to consult Theologians Valerie Tarico, Dan Barker, Bart Ehrman, Ken Humphreys, G.A. Wells, Hector Avalos, Keith Parsons,Ken Pulliam and archaeologist Israel Finkelstein he might have concluded that the supernatural realm proposed by the Bible looks wildly improbable.
It is a pity that the atheist that Christian met on his travels only had a gut instinct to go on that there was no hell to escape from, otherwise Christian might have been able to relax and do what the writer of Ecclesiates 8v15 says- eat, drink and be glad. Then joy would've accompanied him in his work all the days of his life under the sun instead of fearing the phantoms of ancient texts. NB 8v14 There is something else curious that occurs on earth- righteous men who get what the wicked deserve and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. How come? Where is God to ensure justice?
The true new Pilgrims progress is where Christian realises that a truly good god wouldn't have allowed a hell to come into existence or would have redeemed all his creation.