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.
@JohnM - and that's why I stay entirely outside some of these arguments discussions!
Hey, watch it - that's his 'style'. While unnecessarily pompous, we don't make fun of his fru fru tendencies around here.
Do you mean like this?
Billy, you can be as judgmental as you like, but people in threads sometimes have history with the people they interact with.
If you went through all the threads with the two people I have had little patience with, you will find I have been like that because they have been terribly unkind to many people on this forum. At a certain point, there is no reason to put up with it.
Billy, people are more complicated than you can call or see, and things are not what they seem far too often. Assuming things is the wrong thing to do.
My wife defriended Heather because she trolled threads on my wife's Facebook wall after a petty argument. But even then, if you notice, until she started making it personal on this thread, considering our history, if you look on page 1 and 2, I was very respectful and reasonable with her. Reason and respect didn't work, so I changed my tone. You have to stop being nice to unkind people at some point.
@Billy - I doubt that anyone would accuse you of being a "poser"!
FYI. John is easily as intelligent as he appears, and far more educated than he admits - people who, "hit the hay," just might be out of their league in continuing this train of thought, but best of luck with that.
Thanks Archaeopteryx, with that I am going to duck out of this because he seems to want to turn this into a debate.
@Billy. Heather acts like a troll. She's done it to me and others. Like the hat BTW!
RE: "you embarrass yourself" - you have amply demonstrated the degree to which you are SO accomplished in that area, that I would only be accused of imitating you if I were to try, and I can't imagine why ANYone would want to do that.
And I rarely get lost, except once in a while in a good book. Have you ever read one? Rectangular, lots of pages between the front and the back, minimum of pictures?
Archeopteryx, sad to say, but there's no point in debating him. He already lost by not putting up a good argument in the first place.
I would never consider engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.
Well, then, there, now, Billy Joe Bob - looks like you come down from the hills on the weekend to use the Library computer. Good to see your back - no, wait a minute, that's your front.
You mention, "You are specifically knowledgeable on a specific subject via education, not intelligence." I'm not sure which it is for you (though I can certainly guess), education, intelligence, or experience, but considering how often you refer to it, you would seem to be "specifically knowledgeable" on the subject of - how do you like to phrase it? - "fru-fru" --
See ya next weekend, y'all - oh, and before you leave the libary (I'm trying to speak your language), ask them if you can borry one of them square thingys - they's called, "books," 'n' they got pitchurs in 'em and ever'thing!
Oh, here - don't fergit jyer spitbottle --!