I would like to hear your opinions and arguments on these verses.
I love these versus to argue with Christians because most Christians I meet say that they have UNQUESTIONING faith in their god. Yet these verses of the bible preach that such blindness is a symptom of a person who has "builds an idol" for himself!! In addition it suggests to me that not questioning the existence of your particular god makes you a fool.
New Living Translation (NLT)
15 Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire.
With it he warms himself and bakes his bread.
Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it
and makes himself a god to worship!
He makes an idol
and bows down in front of it!
16 He burns part of the tree to roast his meat
and to keep himself warm.
He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.”
17 Then he takes what’s left
and makes his god: a carved idol!
He falls down in front of it,
worshiping and praying to it.
“Rescue me!” he says.
“You are my god!”
18 Such stupidity and ignorance!
Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see.
Their minds are shut, and they cannot think.
19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
“Why, it’s just a block of wood!
I burned half of it for heat
and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”
20 The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes.
He trusts something that can’t help him at all.
Yet he cannot bring himself to ask,
“Is this idol that I’m holding in my hand a lie?”
It is also a misrepresentation of idol worship. Hardly anyone thought their idols were actually their gods. They believed that they linked to their gods.
I don't know about how effective this angle is going to be though. My spidey sense is telling me that they will say "That is different". I would rather get them on contradictions, and then on how their teachings don't make any sense. But you could use this to show how it is a misrepresentation.
Oh and stay away from the NLT. It takes a lot of liberties and oversimplifies everything a lot.
I have a feeling I'm in a minority on this forum on this issue, but in my opinion it's a mistake to try to use the Bible, or any religious text or story, against believers. In the first place it doesn't do anything to dissuade literalists, because all irregularities or unlikely events or embarrassing passages can be explained by God's omnipotence.
But there's an even worse result, in my opinion, of using religious content to debate believers who are open to dissuasion. Your interpretation of the above passage, for example, might convince a believer to adopt a more relativistic position of faith that is both less defensible and, paradoxically, more unassailable.
To make the point, I'm going to change examples. Think of theistic believers in evolution. Some Christians don't believe the creation story is literal, and don't believe that creation happened in six or seven days. Some believe that God set in motion the long process of biological evolution and geological development. This, to me, is a far more annoying position than that taken by fundamentalists, because it can't be actively debunked. We can prove creationists wrong using the fossil record, but that doesn't change anything for anybody; creationists can still claim (and why not?) that God intentionally planted a false fossil record, while theistic believers in evolution can continue to believe that God is out there, somewhere, overseeing the scientific process.
In my opinion what atheists ought to do, and what I try to do in my interactions with believers, is not to "tear down" religion but to "build up" atheism. Do not try to show believers that their views are internally inconsistent, because internal consistency is not necessary in the context of a theistic worldview; theists have a literal deus ex machina. Show them instead that science can and will provide all the answers to every question without a need to resort to metaphysics. The strength of knowing is more powerful than the appeal of faith, and atheism is naturally more attractive than religion when it is presented as a tangible, demonstrative system of scientific discovery rather than merely a guess about what might or might not be. I think the passage you quoted indicates that the authors of the Bible understood that.
David, I am actually also in agreement with you. I just don't hold it all the time. When I am dealing with people who are actively causing harm (like anti-gay people) I will use the bible to oppose them.
But my big concern is that the atheists who are hunting down the religious are undermining our efforts of looking like a more honest way of seeing things. So I want to make sure that any biblical criticisms are on target so we gain a reputation as a whole for honest thinking.
Believe me, this verse is not meant destroy religion wholey; my point in debating this with the religious is to show that questioning the existance of their god is not a sin! (which is a contradiction to many verses in the bible, I will give you that.) Thats the problem I come across mostly when I talk to people. Many get extremely offended at the mere thought of god being false, when this verse says that only a fool would have his eyes and mind closed to that possible truth! Its not meant to break the bible down and discredit it inherently. It just warns the reader to be mindful of false gods (which the first thought that came into my head was whether or not my God was false).
BTW thank you for the advice on the translation! I am never sure which version is the best representation of what the bible was meant to represent.
Yeah, go with the ESV. It is free online and pretty good. Sometimes it is best if you read the ESV and quote the KJV to Christians. Then they will guide you to "their" translation.
I think your angle is good. You seem to be coming at it from the right direction of promoting honest thinking.
I had a theist the other day attempt to tell me that Jonah was dead in the whale and his spirit had ascended into heaven.. Then on the 3rd day, his spirit came back into his body as he was spit out. So then I asked where in the Bible it said that... It doesn't, and this was coming from someone who says they're a literalist.