Hello, everyone. I was an atheist until at the age of 27 I began to study the Bible in order to debunk it. I learned quickly that the Bible was grossly misrepresented by apostate Christendom's adoption of pagan teachings such as the immortal soul from Socrates, the trinity from Plato, the cross from Constantine, hell from Dante and Milton, Easter from Astarte, Christmas from the winter solstice celebrations, and most recently the Rapture from Darby.
Though I have never and will never be a part of organized religion, my beliefs are not entirely dissimilar to that of The Jehovah's Witnesses, due to the removal of the aforementioned pagan influence. I have studied briefly the history of the major world religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Taoism and have published sacred and non-sacred texts from each of these online: The Dhammapada, Four Noble Truths, Paradise Lost, Divine Comedy, Analects Of Confucius, Bhagavad Gita, Qur'an, Pirqe Aboth, Nihongi, Kojiki, Tao Te Ching and Chuang Tzu.
Having been an atheist most of my life and given that nearly everyone I know is atheist, I think I understand and respect where most of you are coming from. I don't believe in "converting" anyone to anything, but I do think the atheist tends to be mislead when it comes to the Bible. Not that that matters much, except for that I do enjoy, given the opportunity, to correct them in thoughtful and polite discussion and debate.
I hope we can have some interesting conversations.
Thanks for the welcome, Melvinotis,
The answer to your question of inconsistencies within the text depends upon exactly what you mean. The atheist often sites inconsistencies that are far more likely misunderstandings. Those I enjoy addressing and researching because it teaches me new stuff in a context or manner in which I wouldn't normally see them, namely, through the eyes of the atheist. For example, if you go to The Skeptic's Annotated Bible: Christian Responses one of them listed is The Pathway Machine. I had about 2 or 3 hundred responses to the SAB, including the 22 chapters of Revelation, many topics and What The Bible Says About responses. I have taken those all down and am in the process of putting them back up on my website The Pathway Machine beginning today. Not much done yet, so don't expect anything right away.
As far as inconsistencies that are not misconceptions, misunderstanding etc. I know where those are and what they are about. For example, the Jews bringing the harlot to Jesus who then said to them "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Never happened. It was added on much later. You can fairly accurately trace those things. There are some copyist errors, though most of those have to do with numbers.
The Bible was written by some 40 different writers who often didn't fully understand what was going on, they just reported what they were dictated by Jehovah God. It was very carefully copied with remarkable preservation of it's content. For example, a comparison of one chapter in Isaiah from two manuscripts 1,000 years apart revealed one word consisting of three letters that had been a copyist mistake inserting the word "light" which in Hebrew is similar to a copyist marking for keeping track of position. The word had no significant bearing on the context, and has been noted.
Occasionally some one will sneak a phrase in to support the trinity, or the word Easter or the aforementioned spurious scripture, but these are noted in a good study Bible.
On a different note, perhaps it is slow here due to the pagan holidays. I have been known to do 250 posts a day myself, but I will be spending the majority of time messing about with my website.
Dave, if you had spent much time in Atheist circles you would know that we are far more knowledgeable about the bible than the religious. If anyone needs correcting due to biblical misconceptions, it's evangelicals - so I suggest you evangelize to them.
Ah, that's so sweet, but what would be the point? I wouldn't boast too much about knowing the Bible more than the majority of Christians, considering their lack of knowledge it isn't saying much. In about 17 years online debating with both theists and atheists I have only met two people who I thought were sufficiently knowledgeable about the Bible. One was an atheist and one a theist, and neither agreed with my beliefs.
Tell me, if you can, how old does the Bible say the earth is? When science thought that darkness came from vapors from the ground and daylight from vapors from the sky which Bible writer said they came from the luminaries? How many thousands of years before science did the Bible say that the earth was spherical?
First and foremost, one should realize that the doctrine-infected believe the bible to be, and that is a message from an almighty creator on how to live. We know, for a fact, however, that this is not the case and anyone infected with that idea lacks the ontology to have a coherent conversation on the matter.
The bible does not claim that the earth is spherical - if it did, the earliest observers to realize this could have quite easily pointed out that their observations were in line with verse. You are no more intelligent than those people.
Genesis clearly illustrates the Bronze Age Semitic cosmological model that is known from many other sources - and that is one of the earth existing under a firm bowl that separates the waters above from the waters below. That bowl has windows in it through which the sun and moon pass on their various courses throughout the year - windows that also open on occasion to cause deluges.
So you can fire away with all the pointed questions you like, but that model is very well known, expounded upon over centuries in various Semitic texts and Rabbinical rhetoric and if you want to claim otherwise then you need to do more than try to look up some older meanings of some English words, you'll need to deal with a hell of a lot of text in various languages and explain why literally thousands of scholars are wrong.
The Hebrew word is raqia and is most accurately translated as expanse. "Let an expanse come to be in between the waters and let a dividing occur between the waters and the waters." So there was an expanse in between the waters above and the waters below. God called the expanse heaven. There were luminaries in this expanse and flying creatures. (Genesis 1:14 - 15 / 17, 20)
The Hebrew raqui, which means to beat something solid out but can also be figurative. (Job 37:18 / Isaiah 40:15 / Psalm 18:11 Compare Daniel 12:3) In Job 37:18 Elihu asks "With him can you beat out (tarqia) the skies (shachaq) like a molten mirror?" Shachaq can also be rendered as "film of dust" or "clouds" which is hardly a solid structure.
The Greek Septuagint translated raqia as stereoma, which means "a firm and solid structure" and the Latin Vulgate used the term fimamentum and so many Bible versions such as The King James Version, Revised Standard Version and others translate raqia as "firmament." In the marginal reading of the KJV the alternate "expansion" is given and the American Standard Version gives "expanse" in its footnote. Other translations support such rendering - "expanse"
There are some who believe the ancient Hebrew concept of this expanse was a solid vault arched over the earth with sluice holes for the rain to enter and the stars fixed within this solid vault. Diagrams to that effect appeared for many years in Bibles and Bible dictionaries, but as The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia points out: "This assumption is in reality based more upon the ideas prevalent in Europe during the Dark Ages than upon any actual statements in the O[ld] T[estament]." - (Edited by J. Orr, 1960, Vol. I, p. 314.)
During the Dark Ages it was commonly believed that the heavens were a solid structure and this has had an effect on translation and understanding to this day.
The pagan idea of there being literal windows in the arch of the sky for rain isn't an accurate representation of the thinking of the ancient Hebrew, just as Moses expressed in his writing of Job 36:27 - 28: "For he draws up the drops of water; they filter as rain for his mist, so that the clouds trickle, they drip upon mankind abundantly."
In the 8th century B.C.E. the Bible called the earth round or spherical, a globe, at Isaiah 40:22 using the Hebrew word chugh, which can be translated as sphere, circle, or globe. Only a spherical object appears as a circle from every angle of view. A flat disk would more often appear as an ellipse, not a circle.
You know, David, before you get into translating ancient Hebrew around here, you have about a dozen doctorates in Ancient Hebrew literature to overcome and your Liberty U line just isn't going to cut it.
Now if you want to make a solid case that the best of the best biblical scholars are wrong on this matter, and that your assertion of 'expanse' is in fact the only viable interpretation, then you had better start citing some sources for all your assertions -> and I'll expect to see peer reviewed authors who are highly regarded in their fields.
You spew a quality rhetoric but that doesn't hold any weight here - sources are required whenever your assertions counter the mainstream.
I spew quality rhetoric? Coming from you I will take that as a compliment. I have, with my own abilities, successfully refuted the claims you have made. You are free to gather your peers, my peers and the "best biblical scholars" you can find to provide a substantial rebuttal.
I will provide you with this. She agrees with me on the subject. A researcher in the fields of cell and molecular biology and microbiology. Paula Kincheloe. She said: "I have several years of experience as a researcher in the fields of cell and molecular biology and microbiology. I am presently employed by Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. I also work as a volunteer Bible teacher in the Russian-speaking community.
As part of my education in biology, I spent four years focusing on just the cell and its components. The more I learned about DNA, RNA, proteins, and metabolic pathways, the more amazed I became with the complexity, organization, and precision involved. And while I was impressed with how much man has learned about the cell, I was even more amazed at how much there is yet to learn. The obvious design evident in the cell is one reason I believe in God.
My study of the Bible has revealed who the Creator is—namely, Jehovah God. I am convinced that he is not only an intelligent Designer but also a kind and loving Father who cares for me. The Bible explains the purpose of life and provides the hope of a happy future.
Young ones in school who are being taught evolution may be unsure of what to believe. This can be a confusing time for them. If they believe in God, this is a test of faith. But they can meet that test by examining the many amazing things in nature that surround us and by continuing to grow in knowledge of the Creator and his qualities. I have personally done this and have concluded that the Bible’s account of creation is accurate and does not conflict with true science." Awake! Magazine, published by The WB&TS, New York. September 22, 2006.
Yes, David, that touch of Hovind really sets apart your Liberty U style. Now, the topic here was your assertion about the 'firmament', the Hebrew word used, and your definition of that word. Please provide your sources for that or leave it at the status quo of sorely mislead Bronze Age error.
You know as well as I that your interpretation has nothing to do with what mainstream scholars are saying - this is why you jump off to another topic. I don't expect you to actually back up your assertions so we'll just leave this here as a record of what is to be expected from you on this site.
You act like because you haven't been spoon fed this by some religious propagandist it is something unheard of.
Why not stop trying to blow smoke up my ass and tell me what all these scholars you keep not referencing have to say on the subject? I have given J. Orr and The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia as references.
Er, uh, how about this? T. Moreux, former head of Bourges Observatory, France, “this expanse, which to us constitutes heaven, is designated in the Hebrew text by a word which the [Greek] Septuagint, influenced by the cosmological ideas prevailing at the time, translated by stereoma, firmament, solid canopy. Moses transmits no such thought. The Hebrew word raqia only conveys the idea of extent or, better still, expanse.”
Théophile Moreux? Professor of Science and Math? J. Edwin Orr the evangelist? What scholarly articles did either of these men ever publish on ancient Hebrew?
You see, unlike your Liberty U days, in mainstream circles truth is discerned, not asserted. I know all your indoctrinated friends lap up your self-assured assertions backed up with vague references - but that Hovind style doesn't fly around here.
The Rabbinic tradition, going back to before the common era, is quite clear on what is meant by the firmament. Outside of some very backward, somewhat inbred, Orthodox sects of Judaism, even modern Jews don't assert that their book has literal value and they don't go around modifying it to try to fit modern scientific understanding of the cosmos.
You will be called on your bullshit here at every turn to if you can't hack it then I suggest you pack up your cartload and wheel off.
As far as what mainstream scholars think - well let's just start with one, Peter Enns, an evangelical biblical scholar, theologian, and writer. He has a masters in divinity and a Ph.D. from Harvard in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
He has an article in The Biologos Forum, a pet project of Francis Colins (whose academic and scientific accomplishments should need no introduction), that speaks directly to what mainstream and biblical scholars alike understand about the 'firmament', as well as the history of the Semitic cosmological model.
When you start looking for scholarly articles on the matter, you run into a lot of people who have post graduate degrees, lengthy lists of publications from books to peer reviewed articles, and very high accolades in their current lectures.
These people are rarely found amongst the Liberty U alumni and gravitate strongly away from the Hovind crowd. Their articles do not support your fringe views and I won't expect to see you sourcing any of them to support any of your malarkey here.
"The obvious design evident in the cell is one reason I believe in God."
This statement is ludicrously silly. The apparent design in the cell is a result of both the chemistry of the cell as well as external pressure (selection) and random mutation. As this results in a slow but steady change over time (evolution) it does appear as if the cell is designed.
Therefor, to claim that an intelligence is responsible for said design is ridiculous. In stead of providing evidence for such a designer it is simply asserted.
Another question follows from this line of thinking. If the cell is so complex that it is "obviously" designed, than that means that the designer by itself has to be so complex that it obviously has to be designed as well, this lead to an infinite regress of infinite deities.
The theory of evolution breaks that cycle as it explains how the appearance of design can follow from natural forces acting on organisms, it explains how you can get from something very simple to something very complex by very small incremental steps.
"My study of the Bible has revealed who the Creator is—namely, Jehovah God"
How do you determine what is god? What is your definition? Can you explain this in such a way that it on the one hand proof the god of the bible while also simultaneously disproving all other religions? If not, then why did you start at the Bible?
"Young ones in school who are being taught evolution may be unsure of what to believe.This can be a confusing time for them. If they believe in God, this is a test of faith."
It is not a test of faith, it is a matter of scientific understanding or scientific ignorance, faith has nothing to do with the question of the validity of the theory of evolution at all.
"I have personally done this and have concluded that the Bible’s account of creation is accurate and does not conflict with true science."
Ah, True science, the science that does not follow the scientific method and is always in complete agreement with the specific religious dogma of the claimant. The kind of science that does not require testing, hypotheses, education or anything of the sort. The kind of "science" that can simply be asserted.
You, mr. Henson, better come up with something a bit less silly if you wish to have meaningful discussions with other people on this site. It seems that you are the kind of theists who will claim all sorts of things without being burdened by any actual knowledge and we've had many, many of those before you and they could not contribute anything meaningful either.