Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Validity of the Bible - Amazing Work or Word of God

9. There are 1000's of "coincidences" of fact regarding the Bible that would give rise to an assumption that the Bible is special beyond any other "human" achievement. One can look at all of these facts and deny all of them, and therefore conclude that the Bible is merely an astonishing human work. However, once again, that is not how we look at evidence. Each of these 1000's of facts would need to be addressed individually, and then they would need to be viewed in the context of the entire lot of them.

Bernardo's response to #9. The authors of each book in the Bible probably had access to the most well-known/influential/popular books written up until that time. Besides, many of the authors were probably writing about the same stories, or about stories that originate in the same story. So it's not like each book in the Bible was written independently, in isolation: They were written to build on others, and they were written about common stories. Ah, and they were then EDITED, and selected very carefully by committees before being compiled. Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot, you don't believe in selection... ;]

Randy's response: There would be very few who would argue against the Bible being the most unique, well written, and by far the most important book in history. None of the other tribes who had similar stories put together a narrative of such beauty and substance. Is it just one more coincidence that this phenomenal book has at its centerpiece the most influential man in history?


Cordin said...

"None of the other tribes who had similar stories put together a narrative of such beauty and substance."

...Or brutal and immoral. I apologize for quoting passages in full, but I believe the Bible speaks volumes with its own words...

Condoning Slavery (Exodus 21:2-11, 20, 21, 26, 27)

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life…If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do…If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave gets up after a day or two the [master] is not to be punished, since the slave is his property.”

Mass Killing - Women as Slaves of War (Numbers 31:17, 31-40; Deuteronomy 2:31-34; 7:1-3,16; 13:12-15; 21:10-17; Joshua 6:17, 21-27; 8:24-27; 10:28-42; 11:10-20; 1 Samuel 15:2,3; Psalms 137:8, 9)

“Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. So Moses did as the LORD commanded. The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.”

“When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and make her shave her head. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, then she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go...”

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will punish the Amalekites…put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.

"Happy is he who repays [Israel’s enemy]… Happy is he who seizes your [enemies’] infants and dashes them against the rocks.”

Rape of Virgins (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives”

How can anyone love someone with all their heart (Deuteronomy 6:5) knowing that they demanded the slaughter of thousands of innocent children in such barbaric ways, simply because they were born into the wrong nation?

In many cases young boys would be brutally killed in front of their young sisters.

How do you explain to a girl as she gets older that the only reason she was able to witness her entire family slaughtered before her eyes, while she lived, was because she was a female, and more importantly, a virgin?

How do you explain that it had nothing at all to do with what she was inside as a person? How do you explain that, in this new nation called Israel, virgins can be raped and forced to marry as long as payment is made to their fathers without regards to the girl’s feelings?

How do you explain to her that her older sister, that was married, deserved to die simply because she had had sex with her husband?

How do you further explain that her other sister, a virgin, was now forced to become the wife of one of the soldiers who had just killed their family because he found her attractive? We are told the soldiers had to wait at least a month so that the virgin could first grieve the murder of her family. (Wow! What a humane gesture!)

Does any one really believe that she could have true love for her new husband? Would she not more likely be traumatized and scarred for the rest of her life? Could she be convinced that the God of Israel, though He did all this, was truly the most loving being in the entire universe and thus save her soul?

I would have a real hard time.
These are the kinds of things I pray to God to prevent, not for Him to command.

Duck said...

What are all these coincidences? Do you have a lin to a list of them?

Greek mythology is full of narrative beauty. Ever hear of Homer?

Ask a Hindu whether he thinks the Bible is more beautiful than the Upanishads. Your argument is highly subjective. There is no consensus that the Bible is the most beautiful collection of mythology. You're about as objective on that point as a child beauty contestant's mom.

Randy Kirk said...

As a starting point, the Bible is by far the best selling book in history. It has been translated into 100's of languages more than any other text. Moreover, it continues to be a text that is used for daily living and consumption as pure literature to a greater degree than any other book. The Greek writings are great. I read them as an assignment. I know not one soul who reads them as a source of enjoyment or to decide how to get through the day.

From a literary standpoint, it isn't just well written. It contains almost every form and style of writing known to man, and has created the underpinnings of the largest religion in history, the law and context of the most successful civilizations in history, and a richness of history, parables, proverbs, songs, etc., that has spawned massive amounts of other literature, art, architechture, and SCIENCE.

The "coincidence" of this book being a cohesive whole, even though it was written over 5-7000 years by dozens of individuals, and then edited and translated by committees, while still maintaining its beauty and style is pretty amazing. Then to see that after all of that time and the involvement of so many folks in the process, the words have almost perfect identity with the sections of dead sea scrolls and other early texts.

So, I wouldn't call my argument subjective. Giving great credit to the phenomenal writings of many others, this Book stands alone.

Then by a remarkable coincidence, the most successful Man in history is the centerpiece of this Book.

Randy Kirk said...


I want to make the issues you present here regarding the wrath of God, etc., into its own thread. Should happen later this week.

bernardo said...

"the Bible is by far the best selling book in history"

Well, it did benefit from hundreds of years of, shall we say, "aggressive" marketing...

And I should say, I realize there's a lot of good stuff in the Bible: Good lessons, beautiful and diverse and powerful writing, interesting and practical philosophy, and, yes, a system of theology that empowered people to seek justice and knowledge, much to the benefit of all of humankind. (And there's all the bad stuff Cordin mentioned, too). But given how it's basically a collection of the best writings produced by an entire culture (or two) over a couple thousand years, it's really not that surprising that it's so good.

"Then by a remarkable coincidence, the most successful Man in history is the centerpiece of this Book."

No, it's no coincidence. (First of all, the Old Testament is NOT about Jesus. It does mention a Messiah here and there, but that was a non-uncommon theme in the spirituality of the time, and you really have to stretch those verses to make them sound like they're talking about Jesus. I'd love it if we could dedicate a blog post to that). The stories about Jesus were adapted from popular myths of the time, and this allowed Christianity to "catch on" all over the Near East, since so many people who were exposed to the Jesus story would go "Yeah, we believe in that too!". From then on, Christianity was shaped (by the compiling of the Bible, and the views promoted by the Chuech) so as to be as "infectious" as possible - easy to catch, hard to escape. Memetic engineering at its finest.

Like I've said, I think modern Christianity does more good than harm. But you should be honest about its origins. Even if a guy lived once whose teachings of compassion and equality and humility were the foundation of the Jesus character, you can't expect me to believe the mythology that got attached to that character over the couple hundred years that followed.

Cordin said...

"First of all, the Old Testament is NOT about Jesus."

Thank God. Throughout the Gospels of the 'New' Testament we find Jesus overturning the cold, legalistic, archaic morals of the past where people were regarded as property and victimized women as damaged goods. The very fact that the Jesus presented in the 'New' Testemant "whose teachings of compassion and equality and humility" far surpassed the absurd rituals and racism of the "Old" (well not always; he did refer to non-Israelites as 'dogs' -Mark 7:24-30) provides further reason to see the Bible as a conflicting work. My point in detailing some of the 'LORD's commands' from the Old Testament was in hopes that those with some common sense of morality would be shocked that Jesus could ever have demanded these things while in the 'guise' of Yahweh. (If not, I thank God that he changed His mind before my niece was born.) The Bible displays all the hallmarks of being written by a male dominated, intolerant society that evolved and changed it's theology over time, especially after coming in contact with Greek civilization (probably a good thing). Hence, it is neither amazing, nor the Word of a loving God. On the whole, it is certainly not valid, or consistent, on the issues of morality or ethics. (More on that in your new thread).
True, there are scriptures that I look to for inspiration - but I also find wisdom in Gandhi, in Shakespeare, in Mark Twain, and sometimes written on the bathroom wall. Surely, the Bible has moments of insight, but it is also littered with utter nonsense.
Not the work of a Supreme God, but a collection of one peoples' view of Him as seen through the filter of their experience and the changing culture of their times.

"Is it just one more coincidence that this phenomenal book has at its centerpiece the most influential man in history?"

We might just as well have been debating the existence of Jupiter and his sons if dogmatic Christians had not taken power in Rome, destroyed the Alexandrian library, and eventually outlawed all other beliefs, punishable by death.

Cordin said...

In his book "The Case for Faith", Lee Strobel quotes philosopher Norman Geisler,

“The Bible is miraculously confirmed by the fullfillment of predictive prophecy...specific predictions that were made hundreds of years in advance and that were literally fulfilled…"

This is, however, not the case. What could be more obvious then the failed prediction of Jesus' return; that the nations would "see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." An honest and unbiased reading of Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21 quote Jesus as predicting the destruction of first century Jerusalem and its Temple. The Bible calls this siege of Jerusalem the time of 'great distress' or the 'great tribulation' based on the book of Daniel. At Matthew 24:29-34, we find Jesus prophesying that He would return "immediately after the distress of those days..." before the generation of people then alive passed away. He never did. The temple was destroyed in AD 70, over 1,935 years ago. Without ingenious symbolizing and twisting of scriptural prophecy, the claim that the Bible is prophectically, and therefore historically, valid falls flat. The implications of a failed prophecy that was echoed throughout the New Testament and its church should be obvious. Either Jesus and/or the Bible are fallible. Nor could they be inspired by an all-knowing perfect God.

Randy Kirk said...

You repeat this argument at least twice in this blog, and I think you have it over on yours as well. This is the only time I feel you get close to intellectual dishonesty. And I don't mean to be harsh. Only to be a bit brutal..

I call you out on this only because you are obviously so well read and knowledgable about Christianity. Thus you must be fully aware of the huge debate on the question of end times. While it is perfectly fitting for you or anyone else to argue streneously for this particular reading of prophesy, the vast majority of fundamentalists now take a pretrib view.

Keep your eyes on the sky over the next 25 years. There is much to suggest that the prophesy you so vigerously argue against is coming right up.

Don't you find it at least a little strange that so much of current and historic geopolitical activity is focused on Jerusalem and the surrounding neighborhood? Isn't even a bit more amazing that in this enlightened age, Jerusalem is the focal point of the entire world, even as the Jews have returned their from the far corners of the earth?

Cordin said...


May I copy your critique here to the appropriate thread on my blog and answer it there with a proper link to this post?

Randy Kirk said...

That will be fine.

Anonymous said...

This is my same post from laws of nature, but I think it applies here as well.

"If there is a God, and he is actually responsible for the laws of the universe (matter, energy, life), then why is it not mentioned in the Bible? Isn't the Bible derived from the words of God himself? In the Bible, there is no mention of the laws of gravity or the characteristics of energy. It almost seems that the Bible is merely a collection of ancient fantasy tales...."

And here's an extension...

"The Greek writings are great. I read them as an assignment. I know not one soul who reads them as a source of enjoyment or to decide how to get through the day."

That's only your personal experience, so it's not really a basis for argument. Personally, I don't know one soul who reads the Bible for enjoyment.

Also, I notice that Randy points out the fact that a lot of people are Christians and that a lot of people believed Jesus.

Well, firstly, like Bernardo said, this has a lot to due with the Church forcing it's religion on people. And secondly, just cause Jesus reached a large amount of people, it doesn't "confirm" his teachings. Hitler got a lot of followers, and so did that one guy who got hundreds of people to drink cyanide punch(mmm).

Anonymous said...

I'm 14, so i might get a few things wrong here...
there are more than 1 billion chritians in the world. you become a chritian at your own will and nobody forces you into it. And being a christian everything that you do, for God, is out of free will and faith. Many chrisitans read the Bible for enjoyment, so that they can try to understand the meaning of it. However it IS impossible for us to understand. A lot of people BELIEVE in Jesus,still do and always will until he comes. Read Revalations the whole chapter, especially the end. Wasn't the bible written by like 'people'. I mean yes, there are phrases from God. But isn't that People at the time recorded everything that happened, and what Jesus said, so its God's teachings through the words of God. Gravity and all that is Science.

Anonymous said...

Like the post! But, I guarantee you Jesus will not be coming down from the heavens. I'm pretty confident WE, the human race, will be our own judge, jury and executioner in the end. Religion will probably be the culprit in bringing our demise (as it is the basis for countless bloodshed throughout history) but it will be nuclear war or disease. The bible was written by prehistoric men in the bronze age and many of the twisted laws (slavery, non-existence of womens rights etc.) confirm that in my mind. If God was real and knew everything then as Corbin pointed out, he would have mentioned all the laws and rules of the earth, including Science. Because after all, did he not create science as the ultimate creator? But instead we get the 10 commandments which any body with a pinch of morality could come up with. Furthermore, 14 yr olds shouldn't think. The end.

Anonymous said...

I love the way that a simple debate on facts can become a debate on preassumptions. Its obvious that each post contained each individuals preassumed position based on personal belief. The funny thing is that personal belief does not make fact nor does it make truth. If we are to judge jesus by the same standards as other historical figures of his time we must conclude there is atleast something a little special about this man. Yes we have other religious texts but ironically even one of these the koran alludes to the person of Jesus. They thought it necessary to mention this man. Along with Tacitus and Josephus and the abundant writings surrounding Jesus life. No other religious figure has generated such a buzz. Does this solely mean that he is god? No of course not. We cannot say that he is god unless we do it by religious means. At the same time we cannot say he is not god by scientific means. We can however make a theory of belief on how we wish to approach jesus. To me it all boils down to Jesus' claims about himself. He said that he would die. He died. He said that he would rise from the dead. He did. If he didn't christianity may not have had the force needed to explode through the litle setbacks like the beheadings and lions and such. If the officials wanted to squash this uprising then they could have drug the body out and put a quick end to the superstition. Surely it would have been in their best interest. The only thing that I can know is what I experience. I can't truly know anything I haven't experienced, read, learned, seen, or heared. I base my belief in Christ off of what I have heard, seen, felt and experienced. I hope you too will have the joy that comes with him.

Anonymous said...

A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.
C. S. Lewis

What are we talking about here guys? Are we debating the existence of god or discussing different views of history. Corbin I can see that you are somewhat read in the gospels. I find it interesting that you mention the scriptures in the gospels referring to the destruction of the temple. Did this not happen? If we are going to second guess things that happen then why dont we debate the laws of gravity or hell we could just figure out if bacteria exist. The fact these scriptures have been a stumbling block to many not just you is not disputed. Even the disciples did not seem to understand what Jesus meant on a few occasions. This prediction is consistent with the writings of the day and uses some of the same language that is prevalent in the OLD Testament. For example we have many references in the old testamant to the LOrds Coming. This coming meant different things according to each situation from judgement to providence. I am not saying that this isn't one of the most difficult passages in scripture but the fact that it is speaks volumes for the validity of the gospels. We have here historicl prophecy that unfolded before the eyes of the ancient world. This debate could continue indefinately if we are to be concerned with how we interpret one scripture or the next. The true debate needs to center around the person of christ. Modern Historians have concluded that it is most probable that a bodily resurrection is the most likely scenario to account for that pesky empty tomb. Whats this talk about religious persecution? Yes I understand that christians have persecuted people throughout history but not during the time of the gospels! How does this have any bearing on any issue except the morality of people? We can argue all day about how we FEEL about the bible and god but this does not change reality. Just because im angry, sad or disillusioned does not give my argument weight. Lets get down to the crux of the matter and talk about the man of jesus. Here I will start the debate and will supply a link to a recorded debate between an atheist from infidels.org and a christian. They debate the historical probability of the resurrection. Man its fun when a skeptic starts to explain away the resurrection by explaining away to mutliple visions and concoctions. This argument breaks down very quickly as you will see. http://www.brianauten.com/Apologetics/CarrierLiconaResurrectionDebate.mp3

"it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISEN FROM THE DEAD, . . ."
(Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29).

K E Hawkins said...

"I don't know one soul who reads the Bible for enjoyment."

I do.

Earl said...

First of all, I consider myself to have a somewhat objective viewpoint as I am currently searching for the answers to the questions that have been posited or argued in this string. One thing I have noticed repeatedly is how no one has bothered to take the hebrew language itself into account. The language is one that is incredibly simple and complex at the same time. One word can have as many as ten meanings. Hebrew writers prided themselves on the ambiguity with which they wrote. It was their writing style. For example in Job 2:9 Job's wife says to him "curse God and die!" The interesting thing here is that if one goes back a Hebrew version the word curse can be translated as bless! With such ambiguity in the Old Testament, how can we really understand what most of their original intent is? Just a thought.

Earl said...

And as for the New Testament, it was put together at the Council of Carthage under the watchful eye of St. Augustine. This same church that put together the canon of the New Testament and gave themselves the GRAVE responsibility of adding to one of the oldest books of holy writ. How are we to read the writings of the New Testament knowing that these books were put together by a council of fallible human minds? And the argument that God himself was a guiding influence I find almost laughable. It was the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther, who himself believed that the Book of James did not belong in the canon of holy writ. If we are to dismiss him in part or in whole and cling to Roman Catholicism or Greek Orthodox (both find a strong base in the Council of Carthage) we cannot dismiss how BOTH religions have manipulated the Bible as they saw fit. If you disagree with this statement then please explain away Exodus 20:8-11.

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BoredInfidel said...

"There would be very few who would argue against the Bible being the most unique, well written, and by far the most important book in history."

What fatuous nonsense.

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Outstanding contribution to the argument. Well thought out and helpful to all.

Anonymous said...

A single question:
If "christianity" is the "only" one religion to serve under, why do there reside so many forms of it and not a unified one?

If all scriptures are inspired by god, then human institutions are not. The bible does not mention the word of church, yet everyone is required to attend? Only a few of many dualities the bible has accomplished with human perception.

Anonymous said...

Its not Christianity that you need to serve under. The Bible clearly stated that Jesus is the Way Truth and Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Him. Not religion but the Man. Jesus the Living Son of God. James 1:26;27 "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he decieves himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."