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.
Matthew B - the problem with theists, is that they make no effort to uncover the actual history behind those who wrote the Bible - they decide that it is the truth and there is no other alternative.
The truth lies not in the Bible, but in the history of the Bible.
Kevin, since so much of Christianity is, you admit, a metaphor, haven't you considered that God, too, is a metaphor of sorts?
Kevin, I guess what you wrote did provide food for thought, but not the kind that will change my mind. You lost me at, "God will not allow..." as my other response might have indicated.
These seem to be the little untruths you tell yourself so YOU can believe. What you said has been successful as it has generated a lot of interesting discussion and has been rather entertaining.
Kevin - You are absolutely entitled to your opinion but if you adhere to the "Chicago Statement on Inerrancy" then you agree that the whole Bible is God's word:
- The word of God is filled with a "God" ordering the most despicable crimes, murder, torture, rape, pillaging, plundering, slavery, and child abuse and it is used to justify racial and sexual inequality, homophobia, slavery and hate. For example:
- In Judges 21, God orders the murder of all the people of Jabesh-gilead, except for the virgin girls who were taken to be forcibly raped (sex is what consumated marriage).
- When they wanted more virgins, God told them to hide alongside the road and when they saw a girl they liked, they should take her and forcibly rape her (make her a wife).
- God killed 70,000 innocent people because David had ordered a counting of the people (1 Chronicles 21).
- The "moral" God of the Bible allows slavery, including selling your own daughter as a sex slave (Exodus 21:1-11).
- The "loving" God of the Bible recommends child abuse (Judges 11:29-40 and Isaiah 13:16), and bashing babies against rocks (Hosea 13:16 & Psalms 137:9).
- God orders the destruction of 60 cities just so that the Israelites can live there.
- God orders the killing of all the men, women, and children of each city, and the looting of any valuable items (Deuteronomy 3).
- God orders an attack and the wasteful killing of all the living creatures of the city: men and women, young, and old, as well as oxen sheep, and donkeys (Joshua 6).
- In 2 Kings 10:18-27, God orders the murder of all the worshipers of a different god.
- In total God kills 371,186 people directly and orders another about 1.8 million people murdered.
Your god, it would seem is by the testimony of his own word, savage and evil or are these metaphors as well?
Diane, "what God allows" is a question internal to theology (Christianity). I mention this common saying because it sets people up for a fall. I've encountered several people who have rejected following Christ because they have experienced trials and hardships they could not handle, all the while thinking that God would shield them from all such experiences.
Relating to: United Interest Span moves similar to a Tau Rod or a Dahl Rod or a Dow Rod which ever image is according to your aware direct experiences at your life.
Relating to Jaret and Kevin: With this quote of scripture understood as by John who was and is aware to God, to Jesus and to Jesus when God used "Himself" there, you are understanding an interest with what is the full knowing about unity.
The exact interpretation that is able to be applied to this experiencing area when understood as a communication understood to united circumstances from God is: "I will do what is interesting". When understood as from Jesus it is provided this way: "There is something we can do together that is added to again and again at an experience that is God sharing God's glory with truth about what we see are doing and saying united with God's continuable interest span."
Jesus was caused to be an existence that God united with again and again to say something as God and it was not always the case that God caused Jesus this way. Jesus is not the only existence that God provides to the experience that is God and God is doing this at an area that is human beings doing and saying what is able to be added to understanding completely how they are caused to interest, activity, communication and knowledge united across experiencing areas.
There is no such thing as a false prophet which is defined as communication that is not supposed to happen. All communication be it appreciating or depreciating is happening specifically toward what is being seen done and known about at unity according to a shared interest span that moves around sort of like a Tau Rod or a Dahl Rod or a Dow Rod, however, you love to say and come to know about it within what has been your experience with life.
@The Wholey TV Set
You have a way of developing your thoughts through prose from which many theists could benefit - particularly Mr. Harris who keeps visiting us with his poeticidal claims. Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
I understand how some people who had believed at one time could lose faith because of hardships and perceived lack of divine intervention or protection. This is not what happened with me, by the way. I haven't rejected Christ, at least not more than I have rejected any and all other deities. I just don't believe they exist.
I once hiked up a cold, icy mountain with a Christian who tried to convert me all the way up. His angle was the same as yours, I think, which is much easier to swallow but still useless to me. Knowing that someone else believes that having faith in Christ will make the toil and hardships more easily endured still does not make faith materialize.
I sometimes envy people with that kind of faith, but I am not going to allow myself to become deluded to have it. From my vantage point, knowing what I know and cannot convince myself to deny about how life, the world, and the cosmos really operate, I would have to either see incontrovertible proof that God exists or be systematically brainwashed to believe. If God, Jesus, Zeus, The Flying Spaghetti Monster... whoever... wants to reveal its existence to me, "Bring it on!" I say.
To diAne able to be Cousin Ane united with Annie Lennox who has been called Cussing Annie by some misunderstanding her, how they understand to them communication wither whole or in parts and where communication is originating. Annie Lennox at this moment, by the way, is doing what she can always do showing by doing something interesting caused to be known about complete pertaining to participation at what appreciates. It is not the case that all life participates at unity and where that occurs it is supposed to be that way and that life is purposeful for change be it necessary and not appreciated or appreciated again and again. That area of life is of a volume that does not do anything different while their composition can not be described that way.
Relating to "I would have to either see incontrovertible proof that God exists or be systematically brainwashed to believe." Together with seeing there is the word EXPERIENCE which is akin to the word feeling if you build that up to a state or a state of being that you have not had before. What is meant by a brain washing is life that has come together with pieces and parts of human being nervous system information according to their interest span that is not being seen and positioned understood together when an existence is sitting down in division.
The term brain washing is interesting when understood within what is the useful removal of plaques or resistance occurring as a result of integration with information that is not useable about your interests. If you see it as a clearing so that trash if removed where it exits then this is a useful term within what is provided as understanding ability and this is why some understand to do what is called meditation where that is known to them never by a book or a TV set coming from religion of medicine. This clearing which is not only to the brain but all areas that are twisting, sticking together and then tightening (like spaghetti as a matter of truth) is supported to occur with some human beings who will understand the experience that you are speaking about. The removal of the spaghetti monster that you refer to is really what we are talking about and it is done through what is like a spaghetti noodle when it is not cooked looking like a vertical line when that is caused to precision removing what is not supported to be inside of you anymore within what you are interested with and can be moved to see and do. This is what washing is all about relative, of course, to the influence on you by media and the market place in the acquisition of detergents :)
How to use your eye sight to see and experience what you are discussing here as God is able to be communicated to you within what is called understanding ability which is always the same information provided to experiencing areas again and again when repositioning of separation is occurring. It is not something that life understanding their existence within christianity or any divided livelihood is caused to be able to say about until they depart from division and understand their interests with what is the son, sun, light, movement, communication, knowledge, and truth completely all together.
Going up a mountain is a good experience, however, not with an existence that is telling you what they do not understand completely preoccupied with causing themselves to be understood or causing you into something that is not continuable for you or them. Those kinds of reverse experiences are understood as necessary in some places in order to show you what is not supported to be done and said by way of a feeling you do not appreciate repelling you so that you can move over to what is continuable at a whole knowing about unity.
To diAne circumstances as a group of life who love her very much: There is no such thing as suicide it is not possible to do because there is no end to consciousness and an existence understood to have killed themselves is simply relocated prior to any ability to have an experience with death within what is a necessary reformation or an appreciating reposition. Doing what she knows how to do that no one is telling her about or has to help with allows her to be upgraded to doing what she loves to do and seeing what is added to that is made known to her completely. Knowing how and supported to use herself this way she is happy to see you circumstances understanding, doing and saying united with Always.
Unseen, I think it's for you --
I refuse to read posts that are longer than the fine print in my health insurance policy.
Can you spell ADD?