The difficulty of writing scripture

A few weeks ago there was a story in the NYT about historical controversies about Temple Mount, in Jerusalem: Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place. One of the issues is what various holy scriptures say about the place, given that they seem completely unaware of the specifics of the current conflict.

Because that's where the real challenge for a diety comes. You want to inspire your most loyal prophet with the words that will become the holy books of the religion dedicated to worshipping you. You want these confused and somewhat dimwitted humans to get this right. So you tell them all sorts of things relevant to their historical moment so that they get it.

But now you have a problem. You're not just the god of this generation, or even this century. The religion you are establishing is will last for thousands of years. People on continents not yet discovered, speaking languages not yet evolved will also take knowledge and inspiration from these holy books. How do you write something that is credible to a goat-herding, bronze-weapon-wielding audience that also covers all sorts of complex issues that will only be important in two thousand years?

When I had this thought, I realized that this, really, is the origin of all esoteric interpretation of scripture. How many differen ways did the diety encode information in these simple words? The actual text can only carry a limited number of messages. Too many, and it is incomprehensible to its intended original audience.

So how to communicate to future generations? Since you are a god and can do anything, you can write text transparent to its readers that also, simultaneously, encodes messages comprehensible to all those future generations. So it makes sense that each generation would interpret the text using a different method.

But what method for which generation? It can't just be up to us, can it?

So the book of the Bible that's missing is not any Gospel or other specific piece of content. It's the Users Guide. It is the "When it gets to be 2015 translate all the words into Urdu and take every fifth letter. This will be a set of instructions on how to build a small device that will scribe the interpretation you should use into a giant slab of granite. Do not use this interpretation after July 2016".

If we had that, it would be so much easier.