I’d like to burn some very typical straw men. Hopefully, in the debate over Christianity, these unnecessary issues can be avoided.
Creation - Neither Genesis nor any of the scriptures demands that the earth and universe is only 6- to 10- thousand years old. The Hebrew word for “day” (yom) could mean long periods of time. The words “there was morning and there was evening, the first day” could be translated “there was beginning and ending, the first (yom)”.
(BTW, the narrative moves to the surface of the earth in Genesis 1:2. While stars were certainly already in existence, their light was not visible on the surface of the earth until the opaque early atmosphere cleared).
Adam and Eve – While scripture does indicate they were specially created, there are gaps in the biblical genealogies that could place Adam and Eve back 60- to 90-thousand years. This would also predict increasing discovery of a common DNA originating between east Africa and the Mesopotamia.
(BTW, the word for “rib” means “side”. The story of Eve’s creation could mean God created her from Adam for symbolic purposes. I speculate a biopsy, of sorts, from the side, with a few million variations to the DNA producing a female. )
Talking Snakes - A boa constrictor with vocal cords is not in view here. That image comes largely from medieval art. The “serpent” in the garden was intelligent and used for evil. One can only speculate what sort of being it was (perhaps one no longer extant).
The Flood – The fact that a great flood is found in various cultures indicates that it happened. Two questions emerge: which account is most accurate and whether the flood was global or local.
I’m of the opinion that the flood was regional rather than global for several reasons. First, while the flood was universal in effect, it was only regional in extent due to human’s not having moved much beyond the Mesopotamia at the time. A global flood was unnecessary.
Secondly, language like “under all the heavens”, “all the earth”, etc. are most likely from the perspective of the observer, i.e. a flood from horizon to horizon. “Mountains” could be translated “hills” with rain and water “covering” (or running over) them rather than submerging them.
Thirdly, this would mean there were not polar bears and penguins, etc. on the ark, but only animals indigenous to the region and of special relation to man.
Fourthly, a global flood would have torn the ark to pieces, no matter how well built. And it certainly would not have landed anywhere near its original location.
Fifthly, the scripture itself said a “large wind” was used in the evaporation process. Such a wind would have virtually no effect in a global flood.
Finally, if the flood were only regional why not just have Noah, his family, and whatever animals needed, hike out of the area and be safe? Why a big specifically-built ark? I think because God often operates via symbols teaching important truths or significance, i.e. salvation in Christ or deliverance through troubled waters (trials).
Use of Metaphor – The scriptures use metaphor and other literary devices. One need only utilize common exegetical analysis and context to determine what any author meant as literal or metaphorical (and on a case-by-case basis).
Inerrancy – If there are consequential or factual errors in the Bible that does not mean Christianity is false. However, I find it remarkable how well the Bible holds up to scrutiny and that there are plausible answers to discrepancies. Personally, I hold to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.
Hell – is not a place of torture (external) but of torment (internal). There are many descriptions of hell in the scriptures. The “fire” is most likely not the chemical combustion we’re familiar with. It, combined with all the other descriptions, reduces to separation from God and the judgment of God.
This does not make hell more tolerable (that’s not possible). But it does dispel hillbilly theology that has poor souls swatting flames for eternity! Christ depicted conversation taking place “in the flames”. No person could have a conversation while on fire! On our familiar planet, one is in mindless torture if burning.
It is, however, a profound tragedy to be eternally separated from God. It is a “spiritual chaos” one enters when the intact “self” survives the physical body. There are indications that some kind of body could exist in hell.
Heaven – is a remarkably physical place. It is not ethereal or immaterial. It is a combination of a “new heaven and new earth”. We will live on earth in physical bodies that are “spiritual” which nonetheless have access to one another and continued exploration of the universe without many of the limits of current bodies affected by entropy, etc. Christ’s resurrected body could be touched and he ate food, etc. This describes the redeemed, resurrected body.
This is not to be confused with an intermediary state which is not physical. At death, one goes either into the very presence of God to await the resurrection of the body, or in a state of chaos to await final judgment.
“God will not allow anything to happen in your life that you can’t handle” – False! Scripturally, there are plenty of things that happen that one cannot handle! Devastating things! The accurate teaching is that nothing will happen that God’s grace will not get one through.
“You must become like children” - Christ said to “humble yourself like a little child”. It does not mean to be naïve, ignorant, gullible, or irrational.
Pascal’s Wager – This is not an argument for God nor necessarily addressed to atheists. Pascal used a popular gambling motif to shake the French laity out of spiritual complacency and to at least move them in the direction of God.
Further, the Wager, as it is commonly used, is not allowed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. He said if Christ was not risen, then the jig is up! Christianity is false! He did not say believe it anyway “just in case” or because it provides a positive way of life.
I hope these internal considerations provide food for thought.
Yes I have studied that and most scholars find that assertion false. One reason is the strict Jewish context that abhorred paganism. Also, similarities do not prove same source. Do the Lincoln/Kennedy similarities prove Kennedy was borrowed from Lincoln? Imagine future scholars thinking so!
Allegations of mythological borrowing must be examined on a case-by-case basis (e.g. Mithra, Horus, etc.).
Lengthy narratives of the Kennedy assassination that are framed very similarly to narratives of the Lincoln assassination are valid evidence of one author being influenced by the other and that in no way compares to asserting both were killed by the same conspirators - or whatever the hell you mean by "Kennedy was borrowed from Lincoln."
The Genesis 6 reference to the 'sons of God' and the multiple references to Asherah (known throughout Semitic mythology as the Mother Goddess) are clear indications of the polytheistic roots of Judaism. None of this, however, is relevant in light of the fact that the book documents a mythology that cannot in any way be interpreted as literal without some outside evidence of the existence of gods or God.
Find that assertion false or have proven that assertion false?
This argument can be applied to facts only not fables... Your still arguing that your mythology comes from knowledge and truth with no basis for said argument other than personal "revelation!".. What I consistently see in your arguments is that all other mythology is wrong because there is no basis.. Nothing.. Nada... so it can be ignored.. and I'm sorry there is no valid proof for your argument.. it is based on nothing but hearsay, constant misinterpretation and metaphor...
Your argument "similarities do not prove same source". If I wrote a story about vampires and werewolves.. It may not be Underworld... but based upon the information that has been been written before hand and accepted as interesting and exhilarating about vampires and werewolves there would be a vast amount of similarities or my story wouldn't sell..
Kevin is a superb vehicle for illustrating to new deconverts that the evidence abounds that the bible is utter myth. And there are so many examples of their replicated (and physically impossible) parallels, like virgin birthing. To compare Lincoln to Kennedy as an equivalent example, is simply preposterous. For the recovering believers who might want just one more of many places to review these data, check here. There are many links at the bottom of that page, as well.
Oh sorry, Kevin. I forgot you were there... So tell us, do you expect the thinking world to accept that the figure Jesus miraculously healed the sick, fed thousands with a single bread loaf, physically ascended into the sky, yada yada, and yet no one ever wrote about it in his day. Not for 40 years? What clever Lincoln/Kennedy example can you entertain us with on this point? No, very much unlike Julius Caesar, who appears throughout historical references from many external sources. Jesus, sadly, has none, save for the bible. Why? You can manufacture a really fabulous and convoluted spin about god suspending time and space, manipulating reality at his every whim. But get real. The simplest explanation (Occam's razor): Jesus is mythical.
In my opinion, anyone who asserts that Jesus is myth can be written off immediately as far as any reasonable dialogue and can be ignored as unreliable in virtually anything on the subject!
And you "deconverts" can check atheist/agnostic Bart Ehrman's book on the subject of the historicity of Christ.
Careful, Kevin - you are trying to enforce the rules of your cult here. Although there are many good reasons to think there was an historical Jesus, there is nothing blasphemous here in throwing his very existence into question.
I am very much reminded of those who take the Genesis creation mythology seriously. Can we disregard all creationist and 'anti-evolutionists' out of hand from public discourse? Will you fight the good fight to see to it that their meddling in the education system is put to an end? If not, then why should any of us who prefer to trade in facts come to your defense when you assert it more than reasonable to assume there was, in fact, an historic figure behind the Jesus mythology?
Which Ehrman book would that be, Kevin - I have an entire library of Ehrman --
You are allowed to have your opinions, but more importantly can you present facts of miraculous events preformed by a man named Jesus that were not also attributed to others but discounted by persons like yourself..
Why are you a follower of Jesus but not a follower of Appollonius of Tyana?
Excellent stuff, Gaylor. I want to spend some time on your points but here are some initial thoughts.
I am of the opinion that Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis do more harm than good. I have had my run-ins with him. The timing of creation is not an Essential of the Christian Faith but it is important. I am convinced that Young Earth Creationism is one of the biggest roadblocks to thoughtful people otherwise following Christ. And obviously, that He did it is more important than how He did it. The "how" can be a constant source of discovery.
Dragons, unicorns, and donkeys. The genre of Revelation is such that the symbols represent events and would be familiar to the original audience. The dragon is a case of a literary device.
"Stars" can be interpreted as various objects in the sky and could include meteors, etc. in the context.
"Unicorns" (KJV) is better interpreted "oxen".
Balaam's Donkey is abhorrent to modern minds (including mine!) but is an example of a Theophany. The donkey did not know what it was saying, the narrative is clear the "the Lord" spoke through the animal similar to the burning bush, etc. What's funny is that Balaam actually answers back!
Paul did not have an immaterial, ethereal body in mind in 1 Cor. 15. Soma always means physical body when referring to a human being in NT usage. "Spiritual" (pneumatikos) means "spirit dominated" or "spirit controlled". It can be translated "supernatural" (RSV). Paul was not speaking of an immaterial body but an immortal body.
In fact, earlier in 1 Corinthians (10) Paul used the same word to describe the physical rock and physical food God supernaturally provided in the wilderness.
"The image of God" does not refer to physical characteristics of God. He has no physical characteristics. It refers to internal attributes of personhood.
Christ used rabbinic hyperbole in his teaching and "plucking out the eye" is merely a case of stretching out a teaching so it can be more clearly seen (no pun intended!). And Jesus said not to "lust". This is not the denial of God-given sexual desire. It is the control of God-given sexual desire to fully maximize it. The more intense something is, the greater it's potential for joy. The greater its potential for joy, the greater its potential for corruption!
Secondly, "lust" refers to an extra step that de-humanizes an individual; that views her as an object to be used for selfish pleasure. We should all applaud Christ's words here!