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.

Tags: Pascal's, Wager, adam, and, creation, eve, flood, heaven, hell, inerrancy, More…the

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[face palm] [like] [pwned] Where are these buttons?
Those buttons would be awesome right now,,, lol
How do those attempts differ from your own?  Actually, why should we entertain discussion of any of these rationalizations without some motivation for understanding why anyone would start with the perspective that either of these writings being rationalized have any rational basis to begin with.

If you want to see a religious text that literally teaches things that are incompatible with known science, go look at the Qu'ran.

 

Or the Bible. The last I checked, bats were not birds. Nor is leprosy cured by sacrificing birds.

Or the Earth, for that matter - but to learn that they actually need to look into the telescope.

Are the explanations of these misconceptions aimed at other Christians, non-believers, or both?

You call them straw men, however they are actually arguments that get thrown at atheists by fundamentalist Christians fairly often. I've had to argue against them myself and it's exasperating. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure these "straw men" were not set up by some atheist somewhere just so he or she could tear them down.

Both.
Do you mean is Christianity true or is the Bible true? The “internal consistency” of what is to be evaluated first?

I do not think “that the Christian Scriptures should apparently be worded with modern scientific and technical” language. I am saying they are not compatible. I do not see the bible as scientific. It bugs me when Theists who start from the premise that not only is a god responsible for Creation, but that it is the god of the Christian bible. As for “Earth’s rotation and DNA may not be incompatible with god” - They are completely and utterly incompatible with any concept of the Abrahamic god. Using modern science to back up scripture is pointless (when speaking to Atheists) because back then they did not even know the world was round. (lets leave the Hebrew word “chug” for ”round” aside ). The writers were not aware of “science” in the modern sense.

The bit about seeing the stars is irrelevant. Life was not around until a few billion years after whatever early opaque atmosphere there may have been.

Can you clarify the line “This would also predict increasing discovery of a common DNA originating between east Africa and Mesopotamia”. It seems to imply 2 points of origin rather than 1 migration from east Africa.d

As regards “Heaven” do you believe in eternal life through Jesus and that you will be in a “remarkably physical place” for more than (say) 200 billion years?

Pascal’s Wager – I dismissed years ago.

Could you maybe give a reason as to why DNA and the earth's rotation are incompatible with the Abrahamic God? Besides the fact that DNA isn't mentioned in the Bible? You have to get that the Bible was written for people BEFORE the scientific era to understand as well.

 

I think that DNA actually supports intelligent design theory, which supports Christianity. DNA is information. It has to have been written. Rocks can't write. Just throwing that out there.

DNA is a string of chemical patterns laid out in such a way as to cause a result which will eventually lead to the replication of that string of chemical patterns.  Chemical patterns are the natural result of the fact that chemistry is simply a description of naturally occurring patterns, which occur because atoms and molecules are also naturally occurring patterns.  Sorry, nothing "written" here.  Just one natural phenomenon building on simpler natural phenomena.
I was going to tell him to pick up a grade 8 text book and spend the next 4 years reading, but you've really done a great job summarizing the essentials.
That argument is a classic example of what I hate about theistic arguments:  They take a basic misconception that could only be born of circular thinking (i.e., assuming a priori that god exists), then wrap it in layers of obfuscating, misleading, rationalizing embellishment to the point where it takes one extra time to figure out what it is that they are really saying.  I think it is this little delay that they are after.  That little delay lets them think that they have "won" or at least hit home.

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