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.
You kinda have to wonder, don't you John, how many thousands of years, for entertainment, you can stroll over to watch some dudes smolder, before you ask, "Is there any way to change the channel --?"
ROFL. I was wondering if I was stretching it, but seriously, why else would you have it be the centerpiece around all the throneroom of heaven?
But the REAL thing is, John, that normal people, people like ones you and I meet every day, people with whom we could find ourselves friends, actually believe this stuff! They can't see beyond the book, to the nonsense it contains!
"Jaime, you bear a big burden of proof to declare that the way God has communicated is not the best way to communicate to mankind!"
Why does Jaime bear the burden of proof? It is your ideology, do your job of proving it to us. So far I am not impressed. There is so much to accept, even before a 'proof' could be mounted, that I look forward to your, so far, strained attempts.
"In fact, in Christian theology we are not left to our own devices and accidents of circumstance in order to know God. He has taken the initiative not only in General Revelation and Special Revelation but also directly to the "human heart"."
So 'God' can down link to the 'human heart'? HOW IS THIS DONE? YOU HAVE ONE MORE THING TO PROVE! Please try not to rely upon some convoluted metaphorical licence!
"And while free will is not necessarily the direct reason for miscommunication it certainly potentializes the evil that results in miscommunication. Christ spoke in parables for the express purpose that people who wanted more would get more, and the people who did not want anything from God would not only get less but even lose what they had.."
So you presonally now know the mind of Christ? Was this by a SPECIAL Revelation to you personally? Did you really understand the 'parables' yourself or are you only offering your SPECIAL Revelation concerning them?
"Again, in biblical theology, God gives us an "inner witness" of himself as well as revealing himself in nature. Sadly, people willfully turn from that for various reasons and therefore do not progress in their knowledge of God."
I would even grant you that each human being might have an 'inner witness'. This could be conscience, understanding, experience, rationality, etc. If 'God' has such a powerful force to direct that 'witness', surely the existence of even one atheist or non-christian would invalidate the assertion of such a power.
'God........revealing himself in nature'. So the 'inner witness', after 'God can't make his mojo work, is blamed for not get the message? The christian theists always have one more out! If their assertions don't convince, they try guilt, if that does not work they blame the 'inner witness' for not getting the message, if that does not work they try politics!
I do want to believe there is a mind somewhere on the other side of this email...;p(
I think it is a bit of a theological trap. It does toss the burden of proof on the atheists if atheists were claiming that it is a inneffective manner for God to work. We can't account for variables like that to say it is the worst or best or anything in-between. What we can say is just limited to probability. It seems very improbable. And probability is really important in figuring out if you should accept a claim.
So the point is that the real criticism isn't "Why did God do it that way, it is really: "It doesn't seem probable that God did it at all, because it doesn't seem God would have done it in such an ineffective manner if he existed"
With that, the burden of proof is on the theist, not the atheist, as the atheist has added evidence of more improbability.
Then it's a trap designed for only the very blind - once the word, god appears, the conversation should be over - why question what a non-existent entity would do?
Well we have keep that talk going sometimes when arguing with someone who believes it, to try to convince that person otherwise. Standing up for the truth, I guess you could call it. Not noticing trapping yourself, will reassure the believer of the validity of the position.
Like, if I say a magical pink monkey could only eat 20 bananas in one setting, it would be on me to prove that in such a situation that would be the case because I made the claim. If I was arguing that there was no magical pink monkey because it could only eat 20 bananas, then I have to defend that because I am pretty much saying that the "things that are known to us about reality make it so that such a monkey could eat no more than 20 bananas."
Once you have taken that hypothetical and tied it to the things that are actually real, you are stuck with proving that the tie you just made is valid. There's the logical trap.
It seems to me that Kevin and theists have been creatively just adding exceptions to any critical questions or concerns. They seem to want the absolute freedom of excape from from honesty via constant regression to one more layer of BS. The dazzle with brillience or baffle with BS. It is one way to try to stay one step ahead of a strait answer.
I tire of humoring them. I am thankful that I can plant my garden without spending years researching bronse age farming methods, or sacrificing a goat.
Christianity was not all about the future. It was also about a past, and eternal transcendent deity, who was unchanging, whose laws and ways were always eternal. The future was a major outlook, but not their only one. The YHWH of the future was not a different YHWH than the one of the past.
I don't care about what was. I care about Christianity today with the NT's Revelations about the end times and what the future holds for unrepentant sinners. Little else seems to matter to a Christian than what lies at the end of the road.
But Hebrews makes that pretty clear. That is why it says in 10:1 the law was a shadow, unable to work because it wasn't the real thing in the first place, therefore ritual sacrifices were not able to actually work. The same book also makes it clear that the OT things were copies of the heavenly reality such as:
"They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” (Hebrews 8:5)
You can interpret scripture to your heart's content, but when you say "that's whyit says in 10:1," it implies that you understand, not just their true intent, but what value the words had to a Hebrew writer's mind, whereas it is all speculation on your part.
You are right, that the outlook of Platonism and Christianity differed. But the outlook to the future, doesn't conflict with their incorporation of Plato's concept of archetypes. The result is something different than the religion of Platonism. But the influence is clear, in both Christianity and 2nd temple Judiasm.
So, if The Bible is the inspired word of God, then God studied and was influenced by Plato.
It is kind of like how Mormonism is polytheistic, yet is a derivative of Christianity.
You mean The Holy Trinity isn't on some level polytheistic? Well, gee, even Krishna is an "aspect" (avatar) of Shiva. Maybe they form a Holy Dualism, then?
Unseen, I only care about what the text actually says. We know the value the words meant thanks to thousand of surviving extant writings, such as the excavation of the trash heap of Alexandria. At this point it is not speculation. It is pretty darn obvious.
But humor me and please offer any potential alternate interpretation for 8:5 other than that it says that the tabernacle was made according to the heavenly copy according to a pattern given to Moses.
You seemed to miss that 8:5 is earlier than 10:1 which was the passage you were speculating about. You refute your own point with the last one, in that you haven't studied under language experts, whereas I studied this specific text under someone who translated ancient texts for publishing and wrote multiple books published by Oxford press concerning language translation and interpretation of ancient writings.
As for the Trinity, I don't think you know enough about the relevant council to have a serious discussion on the matter.
Plato said that the physical world is a shadow of the world of forms.
Paul and the author of Hebrews said the tabernacle and other things related to OT worship are a just a shadow of the true heavenly form.
You have to be dense, after that when he says the law itself was also a shadow to not realize the influence of Plato. And because you haven't been trained in the nuances of the day, and what words meant to individuals, you really ought not be arguing this with me, unless you are citing someone who has.
What, exactly, are your degrees in again, John? And from which schools?
My B.A in Biblical Studies is from Northwest Christian University. I took my Hebrews class under Ronald E. Heine but that was at PSCC. He wanted me to join him when he transferred to NCU when PSCC closed due to lack of donations so I did.
The books I am referring to are:
Origen: Scholarship in the Service of the Church (Oxford University Press, 2010)
The Commentaries of Origen and Jerome on St Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians. (Oxford University Press (2002).