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.
Because the Sumerian/Akkadian mythology is just that, while his mythology is the truth.
The Sumerian/Akkadian gods created Man as worker bees because they were tired of doing all of the work to sustain themselves, so they created Man to grow the food and bring it to them in the form of sacrifices, while HIS god created Man as pets, who would grow the food and bring it to him as sacrifices.
But they DID behave similarly - according to the Epic of Gilgamesh, when King Ziusudra (Utanapistum) finally grounded his trading barge on the shores of the Persian Gulf, he sacrificed to the gods who helped him through the storm: "The gods smelled the savor, the gods smelled the sweet savor and collected like flies over a sacrifice."
When Noah's version of the USS Minnow came to rest on top of a mountain, which there wasn't enough water in, on, under or above the earth to put there, he too made a sacrifice to the entity that just destroyed 99.999999, almost to infinity, percent of the Human race: Genesis 8:21 "the Lord smelled the sweet savor."
See the difference? I do hope I was able to clear that up --
It seems to me that the Christian scriptures get it right and the Sumerian mythologies, etc. do not. I find no defeaters of my view in those myths. Further, I find no consistent earmarks of myth in Christianity.
Let's see - the "Gospels" of "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke" ande "John" were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, but rather were written anonymously, and the four names arbitrarily ascribed to the four sometime in the 2nd century AD; Paul, who basically hijacked what, at the time, passed for the Christian religion, which was little more than a philosophy, never met the man he referred to as, "the Christ" - in fact, none who wrote of the life and death of Yeshua can actually be proven to have ever met or known him, leaving no evidence that he ever existed - I'd call those "Christian scriptures," Christian myths.
Did you know that Paul claimed to have met John, the brother of Jesus? Interestingly, he followed this claim with, "Honest to god, I'm not lying!"
Is this the point where christians claim that they have confounded the learned and saved the rest? Its ok. It just seems to be a great work of art/world. I have to thank quantum mechanics/god/M theory/"The Unnamed One" for such an interesting trip so far!
And Kevin, get a life!
You've got that backwards. There are many things one could spend time examining, more than could be examined in multiple lifetimes. One must first determine whether they are true before deciding to invest the precious single lifetime, or even part of it, examining the internal workings of the idea.
Heather's right. You are just rationalizing, which is made obvious by the fact that you are getting further and further away from the original teachings of your religion. This is happening because they are indefensible. Unable to defend the original teachings, you are altering them to rationalize away the doubt introduced by reason and evidence.
You'll have to show me where you think the process of canonization failed.
And, sorry to waste your time. I just hoped to clear up some things I hear as objections all the time.
Some followers of Christ have come to him via a lengthy study of competing worldview options. I did not at first. But keep in mind that to fault a view based on how, when, or where one comes to hold the view is the Genetic Fallacy.
This brings up what Plantinga calls proper basicality and the objective nature of the witness of the Holy Spirit, but suffice it to say that I began scrutinizing my view during my teen years. I have found no adequate defeaters of my view. Instead, I continually marvel at the wealth of knowledge available which strengthens my trust in Christ! I would be very selfish not to try to share it with others!
Thanks so much! I truly appreciate thoughtful people and dialogue.
Maybe it would be selfish to not share that view, but not with people who don't want to hear it, don't care, and/or have heard it before ad nauseum. I think it's rather arrogant of Christians or followers of Christ or whatever people are calling themselves these days to think that other people, who are not seeking that information out, need to hear it.
I think a lot of people need to eat better and exercise, but I'm not about to go around trying to get people to change. What I will do is walk the best walk I can and maybe, as a secondary effect, I might empower someone else. I think the most effective evangelicals are people who don't evangelize at all. They just live in such a way that people want to be in their presence and know how they are the way they are.
Did you ask us what we believe? Do you care? What if what we believe or don't believe is very important to us? Why can't you respect us enough to just let it be?
I wouldn't care except for the immense power and influence wielded by Christianity. Beliefs get translated into laws, policies, courses of action, etc. that affect everybody, not just the people with the beliefs. The last Christian to whom I pointed that out told me I was free to leave the country. Lovely.
You have not been rude to me or anybody else in this thread anyway, as far as I can tell, and I appreciate that. That speaks volumes. It won't change my mind but it is at least pleasant. Thank you!