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.
I wonder how he re-explains this one where Jesus fed thousands with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish?:
32 ¶ Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.
35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.
36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.
38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.
39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Mag'dala.
@Unseen - I don't even remember writing this; thanks for drawing my attention back to it. I've always found it bizarre that Jesus was endowed with superpowers that defied both death and impossible catering situations. As a skydiving cook, I would say I'm following well in his footsteps.
I didn't realize this was such an old thread.
So, you what? You make Beef Wellington while hanging from a parachute?
No, I ascend to the heavens and then return under a shroud to feed the masses at the drop zone with just one box of burgers from the grocery store.
Lol. If only it was that easy.
Kevin... You're getting close, but you're not quite there. Desperate rationalization can sometimes be one of the final steps before realizing it's all illogical and made up. But lets look at something. 'Day until night', 'flood would look worldwide from a local perspective', etc... It has an Earthbound perspective and reads like it was written by primitive men ignorant to the knowledge we now have. There is a very good reason the Bible reads as such... because that's who wrote it. Had it actually been the perfect text of some deity don't you think he would know his floor wasn't worldwide? And wouldn't you expect it to much more accurate than it is? The Bible is actually quite laughable if you try to consider it a historical or scientific text. Heck, God apparently doesn't know bats aren't birds! But when you look at it as an old fable written by those without a firm understanding of our world and the cosmos, all the errors make sense and are understandable.
Also, I wouldn't say that what you have listed are 'misconceptions of Christianity'. At most they are misconceptions of your personal version of Christianity/the Bible. Many Christians would actually say that you are the one who has it wrong. Just food for thought.
Creation: Genesis 2:2-3 make it very clear that yom refers to day as we know it.
Adam and Eve: Genesis 2:19-20 makes it very clear the first woman was created after all livestock and birds were found to be unsuitable to serve the role as man's helper, then he created woman. This is completely inconsistent with evolution.
Talking snake: Why would god create a walking, talking serpent to be used for evil?
The Flood: If your explanation is correct, it is grossly contradictory to a literal translation of the account given by the bible. The Genesis account make it very clear that the flood covered the earth and that all animals not on the ark died. Genesis is very clear about the size and effect of the flood. The bible is flat out wrong if the flood was not world consuming and genocidal. Regardless the Genesis flood was borrowed from the Epic of Gilgamesh which almost certainly predated Genesis.
Hell: The gospels and revelations make it very clear that Jesus described hell as a "pool of fire" or "furnace of fire" or "unquenchable fire" or "everlasting fire". Isaiah describes it as place where the fire is never quenched. St. Augustine was certain that Hell was a an eternal place of fire. Hell is described as a location of fire too many times for it to be viewed as a metaphor for “internal torment”.