Da Bible N’ Stuff.

Another comment about the bible (in-line response) I thought worth reposting.  Enjoy:

“So, as you read this, know that my mind is made up and closed like a steel trap and I care not what you think about it. As far as I am concerned the following are concrete facts, and to deny them as such is pure folly. “

To believe god is infallible is one thing, but to believe your own opinion or theology is infallible is to assume you are infallible, which really is folly. I believe in seeking truth, not and I will never assume I have all of it or a monopoly on it, because that just stops you seeking.

“1.) You have to ignore the declaration (six times over) that, “the evening and the morning were the _____ day.”

I’m no biblical scholar but I’ve heard it argued many times that this is a matter of translation, and that the word translated as “day” can mean other things. And then there’s also the issue of what form of literature you think genesis is, a literal historical document, an allegory, parable etc. A story being fictional does not mean it’s a “lie”, most parables are fictional stories meant to convey real, meaningful ideas that are simply too subtle to express plainly. This is what esoteric means, something which can be understood but cannot be simply taught. And many religious and spiritual teachings deal with the esoteric. Fundamentalists insist the bible is 1+1=2 and refuse to allow for the possibility that it could be anything more subtle or complex than that.

“2.) You have to ignore the declaration of God Himself, which He said twice over, that He made everything in six days.”

Well it’s a text written by people claiming to speak for god, so not technically a declaration “from god himself”. But yeah you can take it as an allegory. Or even as a myth tacked onto scripture, given that chapters 1 and 2 of genesis give different orders of the days etc, which creates problems if you believe the bible is literal and inerrant. Are your objections any more legitimate than the ones that arise from taking genesis literally? That it takes god the same amount of time to make the sun as it does to make the trillions of other suns in the cosmos? Or that light, night and day, the sun and the earth are made on separate days when night and day are just the shadow created by one half of the earth? Or that it says the stars were made to light the earth when the light from most stars is only detectable from outer space with extremely powerful sensors? Etc, etc.

“3.) You have to ignore the command by God for every living thing to reproduce “after his kind”, because you are saying every kind came from one kind. “

“Kind” has no definition, and every living thing does reproduce “after it’s kind” whether you mean cats make more cats and dogs make more dogs (each of their “kinds”) or whether you mean that cats and dogs are felines and canids which are both mammals which makes them both the same “kind”. It depends entirely what you mean by “kind”. This, to me, has always been an arbitrary “problem” creationists promote and not a real contradiction.

“4.) You have God declaring millions of years of mutation mistakes and death “good”.

The universe isn’t good? And the things creationists point to as “bad” are actually vital parts of the working of the universe and life. If life didn’t vary (which rarely results in birth defects btw) evolution would be impossible, and evolution is the heart of creation. It’s essentially how the universe generates new ideas to solve problems. In the same way that an engineer usually has to find 5 ways to solve a problem that don’t work before he can find one that does, life has to generate many solutions that don’t work in order to generate the one that does. It’s the nature of creativity, it’s like the universe perpetually brainstorming. And it yields tremendous results every day. Is it “good”? Well without it there would be no mind to conceive of good or beauty or love or happiness, so it is the source of all goodness (and badness) in the universe. Now you can say that god started life and started the universe and say god is the source, but as far as I know that can’t be verified so I make no such claims.

“5.) You have to explain how plant life survived for however long you are claiming each evening and morning actually are, for the creation of the sun – which happened the day after plants were created.”

Yup, it’s a problem. Unless they take it as an allegory, in which case critiquing the logic of it is like attacking the story of little red riding hood because a wolf couldn’t have swallowed a grandmother whole and she would’ve suffocated in it’s stomach and probably a hundred other “problems”. But in reality you can’t debunk or disprove little red riding hood because it’s not meant to be a literal historical text, but rather an entertaining story to subtly convey the idea that there are good and bad people in the world, and kids should be wary of strangers. It is essentially a dialogue with the conscious and unconscious mind, not just the conscious. It’s meant to make people think and feel, not just convey dry literal facts. Would it ever even occur to you to call a story like little red riding hood a “lie”? Also ask yourself how do we know it is an allegory and isn’t meant to be taken literally. The answer is of course that it has obvious clues like that it contains many entertaining impossibilities – the most common of which in allegories is talking animals. Does that sound like anything you’d find in the book of genesis?

“6.) You must ignore the declaration that man brought death into the world through sin. Death has been going on for millions of years before man existed.”

Again, allegory. And death has existed a long time before people. Fossils and what have you.

“7.) You also have a new problem explaining why bad things happen. In essence, why a perfect loving God created such an imperfect cruel world.”

How is that not a problem for you too?

“8.) You run into problems with the Biblical declaration that Jesus conquered death as “the last Adam”, because you have made death an integral element in the creation of man.”

This is a definite theological problem but that theology was built upon the assumption that genesis is meant to be taken literally and that the bible is inerrant. If that theology is incorrect then much of modern christian theology collapses too – but that doesn’t mean that that theology is correct. Just that many christians reeeeeeeally want it to be correct. But like anything it’s right only if it’s right.

“9.) (This is very important to me.) You are letting men who hate God tell you how you ought to interpret His Word.”

It’s wrong to confuse disdain for religion or a particular religious person with hatred for god. Jesus was one of the biggest heretics of all time, he pissed off the religious authorities of his day so badly they had him executed. Did he “hate god” too? No. But he had a lot of beefs with the religious conventions of his day. And so do many atheists, agnostics, deists and even many theists. I do not hate god. I’ve never hated god, or even been angry with him. I think the depiction of god some people believe in would, if he existed, be monstrous, but I do not hate that being because I have never believed him to be real and I could no more hate him than you could hate the tooth fairy. If you dismiss what someone says because they are different from you, and you assume they are hateful because they don’t share your views, that is just prejudice.

“Problems with denying a world wide flood (which usually goes hand in hand with believing in evolution).”

It also goes hand in hand with being christian in most parts of the western world. That atheists tend to accept science doesn’t make science atheistic. Atheists just have no reason to reject ideas like evolution, which were developed largely by deists and christians.

“1.) You make God a promise breaker and a liar, because He promised to never do such a thing to earth again. So every time you see a rainbow you can remember that broken promise it is to be a reminder of.”

This is also a sort of circular reasoning, part X of genesis must be true because if it weren’t part Y would be false. It ignores that both parts could be false or that the story could again not be meant to be taken literally.

2.) Apparently God is not very efficient, because it seems it would have been a lot simpler to just tell Noah to go to higher ground in that 140 years he had to prepare.

Again, allegory. It would’ve also been a lot simpler to just make everyone who wasn’t noah and his family drop dead and skip the boat altogether. Or just transport them to another world and blow this one up. After all if he can create a hundred billion galaxies in a day it would’ve taken him no time at all to make another solar system.

“3.) Now you run into problems with explaining the lifespan of humanity because all of a sudden they stop living so long, after this “local” flood.”

There is no objective evidence that the human lifespan was ever that long to begin with. It’s worth mentioning that genesis was passed on by oral tradition for who knows how long and when it was finally written down there were multiple versions floating around, so who knows what was original and what was an exaggeration that came later. Or even assuming there are divinely inspired books maybe genesis isn’t one of them. There are entire sections of the bible with fantastic stories like Bel And The Dragon (originally included in the book of daniel) that were included in the original KJV and later removed. In some versions bel is an idol to a fictional dragon god, in others it’s a literal dragon that is slain by daniel. Even if the bible were a literal history in the ancient world nearly all history is intermixed with mythology and it is up to us to figure out which is which. I remember debating with a christian who argued the bible was a strict, literal, inerrant history and said that if only we treated jesus the way we do alexander the great we’d accept every word said about him. So I, always willing to entertain a novel idea, googled alexander the great and found out that in his day he was said to be the son of god, born of a virgin and to be a fulfiller of prophecies, some from the bible. So why don’t we believe this? He was said to be the son of zeus, immaculately conceived when his virgin mother was struck by a lightning bolt… I later came to find that there is a great deal of mythology in most ancient histories and that such claims were very common, especially of beloved figures and leaders.

“In essence, like any time a lie is told, you have to make up more and more lies to cover the first one. So when you twist the Genesis account of creation to fit the lie of evolution, you then have to twist other things to force them to fit in the account also. And eventually you get to the heart of the whole need for a Savior coming into question.”

Oh the bible was twisted like taffy by kings and emperors and popes long before darwin came along. And again if you take it as an allegory then the literal details are irrelevant. And I always took genesis as being a commentary on the nature of evil, that it requires understanding. In the garden they were doing things which in the context of the story were bad (walking around naked for example, which they realized was wrong when they ate from the fruit of the tree), but they weren’t sinning. So I always thought this meant that sinning is not doing something evil, but rather it’s knowing something is wrong and doing it anyway. That you have to understand that something is wrong in order to be culpable for your actions. So in this way knowledge (understanding of right and wrong) brought sin into the world. It didn’t bring pain and suffering and death and stupidity and nonsense into the world, it simply made us responsible for our actions for the first time. Because once you understand that something is wrong you can’t claim ignorance anymore. It’s a good metaphor for the beginning of human civilization (which is what actually happened around 6-10,000 years ago). In the end of John chapter 9 (jesus healing the blind man) jesus says “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” and when the pharisees ask him if they are blind he says “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”

This seems to echo an allegorical interpretation of the adam and eve story. And of course it’s not hard to take this story as not talking about literal medical healing, but as referring to metaphorical blindness. Or do you think he was saying the pharisees were literally blind?

“I can never see any instance of Darwinian Evolution ever being compatible with the Bible.”

If you abandon the doctrine of biblical literalism and inerrancy and see scripture as a puzzle to solve rather than a plain text then it’s not hard. And besides, if gravity is a “problem” for your theology then your theology is wrong because gravity is an observable fact of nature. And evolution is too. Which is why even if every atheist and non-christian dropped dead tomorrow most of the world would still accept it. And the percentage of biologists, geneticists, geologists, paleontologists etc who accept it would change less than 1%.


About agnophilo

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12 Responses to Da Bible N’ Stuff.

  1. locomotiv says:

    i never believed that Adam and Eve had a belly button…do you ?

  2. I just had a conversation with somebody who was telling me that nothing can contradict the Bible. I asked if new science could change her mind, she said no, the Bible is the final word. Scientists just INTERPRET nature, the Bible is the direct word of God. Now, even when I was a Christian, I realized that the Bible was translated by man, and it seemed to make a lot more sense to interpret reality rather than words that were written down by humans, even if they may be divinely inspired.

  3. TheSutraDude says:

    The blogger in question is trapped in his/her own steel trap.

  4. PPhilip says:

    Where did mankind first start? The logical place is the mideast and ironically maybe the end of mankind will be because of the mideast.There is the logic trap and rationalizations. Some people want to shut off everything and not be distracted. Don’t hostages start to start liking the folks who hold them hostage? The logic trap is like that.What other subjects is interesting to talk about? The Bible thumpers who don’t believe in evolution are so out of it and no longer interesting except the new ways to tell them off.

  5. tau_1 says:

    Now faith is Substance means I can touch heaven by faith.Evidence… If I were called to be a witness in court, would I claim eye-witness EVIDENCE from a belief or a HOPE? The judge would not likely be impressedBy faith (belief and trust), we may claim the promises of God as certainty. This claim assumes that we will be faithful in meeting any conditions in the promises which depend on our choice. See Paul’s own witness2 Timothy1                                                                                                                                     12  For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. .13  Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. .14  That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

  6. Kraatakans says:

    @PPhilip –  Current data suggests the first modern Humans emerged from Eastern Africa actually.

  7. PPhilip says:

    @Kraatakans – According to my interpretation of what I have read is genetically the first Eve came from Africa or that there are more of the original Eve race there.Let us be realistic. In the Mid East is more evidence of man’s growing and cultivating experience (my field study is botanically slanted/biased)and signs of his writing ability is very strongly correlated to that region of the earth.

  8. agnophilo says:

    @locomotiv – You have to exist to have a belly button, so no. But the characters in the story logically shouldn’t have one. Then again it’s up to the arbitrary whims of god (or the author).@GodlessLiberal – Yeah you’re never going to convince someone like that using outside evidence. And unfortunately anything you say will also be not looked at very closely because you’re an outsider and the defenses are up. But if they study how we got the bible boy oh boy can that shred fundamentalist and biblical literalist assumptions.@TheSutraDude – And proud of it.@PPhilip – The oldest hominid fossils are found in africa. And the middle east is in no position to destroy the world. Bin Laden is just Timothy Mcveigh with more resources at his disposal. Nothing special about the middle-east, it’s just in it’s teenage years. In fact if you think about it much of the middle-east is developing socially at a faster rate than the christian world did – they should be 500 years behind them (age-wise).@tau_1 – People try to believe things to make themselves feel better, to get into heaven etc. People try to understand because they care more about truth than their own comfort. There is an element of self-sacrifice to it that is usually overlooked. I see nothing noble or particularly useful about trying to believe things.@PPhilip – There is no “original eve race” in africa, there’s just the one race (species). And I have no idea what your second paragraph meant to say.

  9. TheSutraDude says:

    @agnophilo – In the first paragraph the blogger states his/her opinion and theology is infallible (“So, as you read this, know that my mind is made up and closed like a steel trap and I care not what you think about it. As far as I am concerned the following are concrete facts, and to deny them as such is pure folly. “). Yet in the very next sentence he/she denounces his/her first stance by saying “…but to believe your own opinion or theology is infallible is to assume you are infallible, which really is folly.”

  10. agnophilo says:

    @TheSutraDude – No, the second part was me. It’s an in-line response.

  11. TheSutraDude says:

    @agnophilo – Oh I missed that, overlooked the closed parenthesis at the end of the first paragraph. Even so, what I said still seems to apply which now I see you pointed out already in your answer to the first paragraph.

Speak yer mind.

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