Friday, January 8, 2010

In the beginning...

Are you as excited as I am reading through the account of how God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo or out of nothing? How He established day and night, divided water from dry land, and created every living thing—from every kind of plant to every kind of animal. And God saw that “it was good.”

And then God created his finest work: He made man in His own image.

Astounding! And every word reliable! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Popular TV personality Bill Maher has made a cottage industry out of ridiculing Christianity. In fact, he has gone so far as to dogmatically pontificate that the Bible was “written in parables. It’s the idiots today who take it literally.”

Even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that Scripture is indeed a treasury replete with a wide variety of literary styles that range from poetry, proverbs, and psalms to historical narratives, didactic epistles, and apocalyptic revelations. To dogmatically assert that the Bible was “written in parables” as Maher asserts and that those who read it literally must be “idiots” is at best an idiosyncratic form of fundamentalism and at worst a serious misunderstanding of the literal principle of biblical interpretation.

In order to read the Bible for all it’s worth, it is crucial that we interpret it just as we would other forms of communication—in its most obvious and natural sense. Hence, as you read through your Bible, pay special attention to what is known as form or genre.

In other words, to interpret the Bible as literature, it is crucial to consider the kind of literature we are interpreting. Just as a legal brief differs in form from a prophetic oracle, so too there is a difference in genre between the historical accounts set forth in Genesis—the first book of the Old Testament—and the prophetic visions given to John set forth in Revelation—the last book of the New Testament.

The Book of Genesis is largely a historical narrative interlaced with symbolism and repetitive poetic structure. More specifically, the first eleven chapters are Hebrew historical narrative with poetic elements; Chapter 12 to the end are Hebrew historical narrative. Keep in mind that while the historical books of the Bible consist of accurate records of historical events and personalities, they, like all other ancient historical narratives, involve intentional selection and structure of the events recorded.

Getting back to Maher, if the events recorded in Genesis were merely reduced to “parables” for “idiots,” devoid of any correlation with actual events in history, the very foundation of Christianity would be destroyed. Taking this a step further, if the historical Adam and Eve did not eat the forbidden fruit and descend into a life of habitual sin resulting in death, there is no need for redemption.

Finally, keep in mind that while the Scriptures must indeed be read as literature, you and I must ever be mindful that the Bible is not merely literature. Instead, the Scriptures are uniquely inspired by the Spirit. As Peter put it, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21). We must therefore fervently pray that the Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures, illumines our minds to what is in the text.

57 comments:

James said...

Amen!

Thanks for the post.

Deak said...

Good work Hank, your the man!

Boris said...

Every word reliable? Are you kidding me? Uh, the Bible says that vegetation was on the earth BEFORE the sun and moon even existed. Whoever posited that idea (God?) was unfamiliar with the process of photosynthesis. If we go down to the science department at any CHRISTIAN college or university the Christians there will tell us that the Genesis creation account conflicts with the order of events that are known to science. Genesis says that the earth was created before the light and stars, birds and whales before reptiles and insects and flowering plants before any animals. From science we know that the actual order of events was just the opposite.

As far as people being idiots for taking these creation accounts literally let's read what one of the early Church Fathers wrote on the subject:

"What man of sense will agree with the statement that the first, second and third days, in which the evening was named and the morning, were without Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the first day without a heaven? What man is found such an idiot as to suppose that God planted trees in Paradise, in Eden, like a husbandman? I believe every man must hold these things for images under which a hidden sense lies concealed." - Origen

I believe Origen is calling Hank an idiot. I bet if Origen could somehow be brought back to life he'd be shocked that so many centuries after he had lived such idiots could still be found.

Second century pagan satirist Celsus was also astonished that people could actually believe such a silly story was actually literally true:

"God banishes man from the garden made specifically to contain him. Silly as that may be, sillier still is the way the world is supposed to come about. They allot certain days to creation, before days existed. For when heavens had not been made, or the earth fixed or the sun set in the heavens, how could days exist? Isn't it absurd to think that the greatest God pieced out his work like a bricklayer, saying, 'Today I shall do this, tomorrow that,' and so on, so that he did this on the third, that on the fourth, and something else on the fifth and sixth days! We are thus not surprised to find that, like a common workman, this God wears himself down and so needs a holiday after six days. Need I comment that a God who gets tired, works with his hands, and gives orders like a foreman is not acting very much like a God."

Also Hank doesn't know what a historical narrative is. There is no such thing as an ancient historical narrative that contains word for word dialogs and monologues with people speaking in complete sentences. There was no way to record things like that back then. When we read dialog such as what we find in the Bible we are reading fiction. The narratives in the Bible contain none of the elements of historical narratives and all of the elements of fictive and mythological narratives. That doesn't necessarily mean they aren't true or don't convey some kind of truth on another deeper level. God could have used ancient stories the people were already familiar with and retold them in such a way as to fit his own purposes. But that's a whole other argument. The narratives in the Bible are simply not literally true and my opinion of anyone who thinks they are is the same as Origen's, Bill Maher's or any other person of sense.

Johnny said...

Hank, your a good man! Keep it up!

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Anonymous said...

Boris, I've been reading back through some of your recent posts and I have a question for you (and then I plan to follow the very excellent advice to simply ignore you). When addressing Christians reading this blog, you say "I don't expect you to have the intellectual capacity to understand", and you also quoted PJ O'Rourke awhile back saying something about making fun of Christians being akin to shooting dairy cattle with a high powered rifle and scope. I am not sure if I quoted that word for word, but that was the idea.
Assuming you are right and we are wrong (obviously this is a hypothetical proposition), why do you hang around this blog full of people so intellectually inferior to yourself? If it is "too easy" to take aim at us, why do you? Are you only comfortable with the simple, Boris? Do you also go to playgrounds, teasing other kids because you can swing higher?

Boris said...

Anonymous,
The comment I made regarding a blogger's intellectual capacity was directed at that particular person. There have been a few people posting on this blog that seem intelligent. Also when Christians tell me that many intelligent people believe in God I usually respond by telling them I know this but then I ask them what these intelligent people really believe about God. Do they believe God created the earth only a few thousand years ago and do they therefore disbelieve almost every major scientific theory there is? No, of course not. Intelligent people don't take the Bible literally and they never have.

Now as for your hypothetical proposition let's think about that for a moment. Suppose you are wrong. Wouldn't you want to know it and exactly why you are wrong? I would. I see religion, especially monotheism as the worst and most destructive of all human tragedies. It's my duty to my fellow man to point his out. So I'm here doing you a favor and you want to shoot the messenger. Or at least put him on ignore.

SteveH said...

Boris, there are thinking Christians who believe in a young earth, and there are those who believe in an old earth. There are thinking Christians who believe Genesis should be taken literally and those who believe it is mainly figurative. There is plenty of room in Christendom for many different views.

At its most fundamental level, Christians believe in a God who created everything in the physical realm from nothing, 'ex nihilo'. A thinking Christian may powerfully argue that the natural world is ordered in such a way that an intelligent designer must exist; the observed order of nature could not have arisen from a disordered, random and undirected process. If then such a God exists He is powerful over all things in the natural realm.

Once a thinking person allows that a God capable of creating all of this exists; it is not at all difficult to reasonably believe that he could create and sustain plants in the absence of light, or do any of the other things that trouble you. Stated another way, once you believe in a Creator God its easy to believe the rest of the bible.

You probably feel that at this point the Christian can 'cease to think'. Every difficulty is answered by "well, God can do anything." But, my testimony is that the exact opposite is true. It is exactly at that point that I began to think even more profoundly. God Himself is the creator of reason, and He gave it to us so that we might love Him with all our minds. And, in a complex and inexpressable way, when we allow ourselves to believe in God and we earnestly seek to understand those things which trouble us, He miraculously answers us . . . in well reasoned ways. However, it begins with faith and without it, God will not answer your questions.

Ultimately, God knew the world would consider His wisdom foolishness. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men (1 Cor 1:25). A thinking Christian is not at all surprised to discover that the message of the cross seeems foolishness to an unbeliever(1 Cor 1:18); God said this would be the case.

On your assertion that you think religion is the most destructive of human tragedies--the numbers say you are completely wrong. Secularism, is the most profoundly obvious source of tragedy. Hitler, an atheist trying to impose his evoltionary system of eugenics on the world killed 6 million. Communism originated with Marx who was an atheist, describing religion as an opiate of the masses. Stalin killed 20-30 million trying to impose Marx's atheistic system on the world. And Mao Tse Tung outdid them all trying to impose the Chinese version of atheistic communism in China. He murdered 60 plus million. And the list of secular wars to impose a secular world view is quite long.

The practice of abortion is not biblical. God tells us not to murder. Secular society tells us its OK. In this way, a thinking Christian can argue that secularism (and perhaps you) annually condones the murder of millions of innocent unborn children.

A thinking Christian can argue that the greatest of all human tragedies is that men do not believe in God. Seecular thought wants to make you feel good and relieve you of the burden of guilt. And men without guilt are capable of hoorible things. Ultimately, it can be argued that men without God have shown themselves to be capable of unspeakable horrors beyond anything that can be laid at the doorsteps of true Christianity.

A thinking Christian might point out that there is a way that seemeth right to a man, but which leads to destruction.

My friend, there is only one who is good. Thers is only one who is right. And that is God. If you seek Him He will surely show Himself to you because God does not want to see anyone perish (2 Peter 3:9).

Best of luck as you continue explore what you believe to be the truth.

Anonymous said...

Boris, as I read some of your comments I see a man greatly confuse about how you see the world and how Christian see the world. You seem to hold a lot of anger towards Christians and possibly many other religions. I make wonder why you have such strong feels of anger toward Christians?

Form what I have see you said it seems that you take what ever science says as being true. However most of events you speak in your letter can never be proven by science because it can never be tested. A honest scientist will admit they will truly never know for 100% how the world was made.

As for Christians we also do not have 100% idea of how God made the Earth and the universe. One think I would like explain is remember when God wrote the Genesis he was not dealing with scientist of today 2010. Rather God was making creation account that recent slaves from Egypt would understand. Try explaining DNA or Photosynthesis to a slave from Egypt at that time it would impossible. So God makes it easy and simple for the slave from Egypt to understand by giving them the basic fact, that God made Universe and every thing in it.

Why do does God say that this day he made this and that he made that? This can be easily explain by the fact they (slaves from Egypt) would understand that through the course of a day you did work that add up to result. This God is try to communicate that God took time: create earth, sun, stars, moon, animals, and humans. It can also be understood of being a time period that the slaves would understand. The key understand much of the bible is also to read for how it was originally written for.

I would suggest at least one thing stop calling people "idiots" this is a offensive words that does not encourage conversation, but instead to encourages people to attack. If you are intellect you clam to be I encourage you top using this words if you really want to have a conversation.

One thing that you miss is that Hank many times is encourage people not to read the Bible completely literally, but to understand the bible from style and context it was written. It is no different then how read the news paper today. Not all news is fact, historical, or literal. Some news that is written the paper uses metaphors, simile, metaphors, and figures of speech. No of which be taken literal.

Lastly God resting on seventh day. This answer by one that God was saying that he stop and look at all that he was made and that his work was completed that he did not need to add anything else at that time. It also connects up with the Ten Commandments where God tells humans to rest on the seventh day just has He had rested.

One one fear Boris, is that all my words have gone wasted and you have not heard a thing. That during this time you have plain for how you will attack against what I have said. May you need to stop attacking and start to listen, search, understand and question. Questioning is important. Just remember the purpose of questioning is to find truth not to prove you are right. Anyone can prove themselves right, but only few take the time to look for what is true.

Don said...

"However most of events you speak in your letter can never be proven by science because it can never be tested. A honest scientist will admit they will truly never know for 100% how the world was made.

As for Christians we also do not have 100% idea of how God made the Earth and the universe. "

Amen brother! Good advice and words from you and SteveH.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points! But beware to dismiss Hitler as an atheist. I don't believe he was. Nor was he (obviously) a true Christ follower. People like to make Hitler out to be an example of how evil Christianity is, as he claimed that his (false) Christian beliefs entitled him to have and act upon his anti-semitic feelings. Hitler is a perfect example of someone who sickeningly mutated Chritianity to conform to his crazy ideologies.

Boris said...

Steve H,
First of all anyone who believes the earth or universe is only a few thousand years old not only is not thinking, they are a scientific ignoramus. I know Christians believe that God created the universe ex nihilo or out of nothing. In debates they often ask critics to explain how something could have come from nothing. This question is based on a false premise and is a leading question because scientific observation doesn't say the universe came from nothing. Since observation tells us matter can neither be created or destroyed scientists believe the mass-energy that comprises the universe must have always existed just in a different form prior to the Big Bang. If God could have always existed so could have mass-energy. Adding God to the mix doesn't answer any questions and just raises more questions. If nothing existed but God what was there for God to think about? Having an idea when nothing exists to think about would be like looking through a dictionary when you don't know any words.

A thinking person will always allow that God COULD have created all that exists. But a thinking person is never going to accept that as fact because there isn't any evidence to support that belief. If God is the creator of reason explain this comment: "Reason should be destroyed in all Christians." - Martin Luther
That's because as Luther wrote: "Reason is the greatest enemy faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but - more frequently than not - struggles against the Divine Word..." PGA tour golfer and CBS Sports commentator David Feherty once asked "If god wanted people to believe in him, why'd he invent logic?"

The Bible verses you supplied that you think are God's warnings that people wouldn't believe in him are nothing but some of the Bible's man- made built in defenses against free inquiry and critical thinking. It's pathetic that you can't see them for the obvious human arguments they are.

The claim that abortion isn't biblical is ludicrous. Numbers 5:11-21 describes brutal and abusive abortions to rid a woman of another man's child. In Hosea 13:16 God promises to rip open pregnant women. I could go on. Bible believers point to Jeremiah 14:10 in which God supposedly tells a prophet he knew them before he was formed in the womb. But that would imply God knew Jeremiah before the sperm and egg even came together. Go ahead try to make a case against abortion using the Bible. I absolutely love ripping that stupid argument to shreds.

It's easy to refute the Christian lie that Hitler was an atheist too by using Hitler's own words: "We are convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out." - Adolph Hitler. Adolph Hitler was a Bible believing Christian creationist and he did not use evolution as a basis for eugenics or racism. Proof of this is in the fact that creationism was taught in the German public schools rather than evolution and this continued until 1961. The only other nation to teach creationism and deny evolution in their public schools by then was South Africa. So we can see what kind of racism Christian creationism promotes.

The lies in your post are too numerous to count. The reason 20 to 30 million people starved to death in Russia is because Stalin considered Darwinian evolution to be a bourgeois Western philosophy and insisted his scientists adopt Lysenkoism instead. This form of Intelligent Design magic led Russian scientists to many failed projects like trying to grow wheat on the frozen tundra.

Boris said...

What you are doing is trying to blur the distinction between secularism and communism. Then you can blame an ideology (secularism) for the human rights violations committed by power mad dictators to further their pseudo-communist political agendas. This argument fails because the current secular leaders of Russia and China do not defend or condone the barbaric actions of their predecessors but rather go out of their way to distance their own administrations from them. If secularism is hypothetically responsible for political repression in Russia and China then Christianity is certainly responsible for the atrocities of the Crusades, Inquisitions, witch burnings, Holocaust and so on. Is it really fair to condemn any school of thought or ideology for perversions of its teachings?

Just because someone doesn't believe in God doesn't mean that they are relieved from guilt or the knowledge that there are real world consequences for unacceptable behavior as well as rewards for good behavior. Realists like me are good people because it is our own selfish best interests to be good people. I'm a good person because it gets me better friends and more of them, better opportunities and more respect. I don't need an imagined system of reward and punishment to be a good person. Obviously you do. So answer this question for me Steve: If you were somehow convinced that there was no God how would that impact your life? Would you still feel compassion for your fellow human beings? Or would you, as most Christians tell me they would, become an uncaring or even dangerous person who just looks out for themselves?

Boris said...

Anonymous,
I don't have any anger toward Christians in general just Christianity. Love the Christian hate the Christianity is what I always say. The claim that the events I mentioned can't be tested is false. Science doesn't always rely on direct observation to test things. So we know a lot about how the history of the universe unfolded and we are learning more every day. It's true that science doesn't prove things absolutely. Scientific method requires that no finding is the last word and all findings are subject to further revision. But science is very efficient indeed at disproving things. And young earth creationism and Intelligent Design magic have been thoroughly disproved scientifically. If you knew the first thing about science you would understand that this is how science works. Science discovers the truth by a never ending process of elimination: the single logical possibility still standing after careful scrutiny of all available data and all competing hypotheses becomes for as long as it withstands new challenges - the theory upon which new research builds. Science doesn't offer the absolute certainty that religion seems to so this is why insecure, less intelligent people cling to religion and feel a revulsion toward science.

Your argument involving slave in Egypt is based on a false premise. What slaves in Egypt? Without using the Bible prove the Exodus events really happened. A catastrophic event such as every first born Egyptian child and animal all dying on one night could not have gone completely unnoticed and unreported by the Egyptians in the wealth of historical inscriptions we have from these ancient people. This and the other events described in Exodus, had they really occurred, would have left a mountain of historical and archaeological evidence behind. Yet the Egyptians never even mention the Israelites even being in Egypt at all. Because they weren't.

As far as what is true and what isn't I already know Christianity is based on a misinterpretation of solar mythology as history. You and the others haven't heard me. The Jesus story is simply an allegory for the sun passing through the twelve signs of the zodiac. No such person as Jesus Christ ever existed. No one will ever convince me othrwise.

Anonymous said...

So why do you hate Christianity?

James said...

(Quote from Ice Age)
"He's just begging for attention, just ignore him."

A VERY good quote! ROFL

Anonymous said...

Anonymous I already answered your question briefly on the 'Happy New Year' thread on this blog on January 5 at 9:42. Here is one good reason to hate Christianity:

The Bible says demons cause diseases and says that Jesus and other people who weren't even true followers of Jesus cast out demons and cured diseases. This belief was promoted dogmatically by the Church leaders both Protestant and Catholic. "Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads." - Martin Luther.

For centuries the churchmen would not allow medical practitioners to examine corpses to determine the cause of death. Anyone practicing or developing any sort of naturalistic cures risked harassment, arrest, torture and death from angry Christians and their leaders. This stymied medical progress in the Western world for centuries which caused a lot of human suffering and premature death that could have been prevented.

The fact is that contrary to the Bible, there is no evidence that demons cause diseases. We now know, contrary to centuries of Christian preaching to the contrary, that diseases do have naturalistic causes and because we know this we have found many naturalistic cures for them. Especially since scientists discovered how nature structures itself through evolution by natural selection. Of course Christians are preaching against that just like they did anyone who practiced medicine a few centuries ago, astronomy or any other science for that matter. Some things never change. Bible believers have been on the wrong side of every scientific advance, discovery and theory ever since the Bible was voted on to be the Bible. The belief in demons and that demons cause diseases is just one of many false, damaging and dangerous beliefs Christians have gotten from the Bible. This belief is still widespread among many Christian sects today as the financial success of faith healers like Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Peter Popoff and the rest of the phony faith healers attests.

So God writes stories in the Bible that he knows will stymie medical progress on earth for centuries and cause people to die from diseases that otherwise could have been cured. Why? Because suffering brings people closer to God? They were going to die anyway? God writes stories in the New Testament that he knows will allow thousands of phony faith healers to rip off faithful Christians and give them false hopes and reinforce their false beliefs. What's God's excuse for that exactly?

I don't think you Christians realize why it is people don't believe in the Christian God. It isn't a God that is so absurd. It's YOUR God and all of his goofy friends and enemies like demons, Satan, angels, seraphs and all of the goofy beliefs connected to this God like demons causing diseases that people find IMPOSSIBLE to believe in. Got it? The word is IMPOSSIBLE. We don't reject God we find belief in YOUR God IMPOSSIBLE.

Now you tell me something. Why do you go to a doctor when you get sick? The Bible says demons cause diseases. Don't you believe that?

Boris said...

Anonymous I already answered your question briefly on the 'Happy New Year' thread on this blog on January 5 at 9:42. Here is one good reason to hate Christianity:

The Bible says demons cause diseases and says that Jesus and other people who weren't even true followers of Jesus cast out demons and cured diseases. This belief was promoted dogmatically by the Church leaders both Protestant and Catholic. "Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads." - Martin Luther.

For centuries the churchmen would not allow medical practitioners to examine corpses to determine the cause of death. Anyone practicing or developing any sort of naturalistic cures risked harassment, arrest, torture and death from angry Christians and their leaders. This stymied medical progress in the Western world for centuries which caused a lot of human suffering and premature death that could have been prevented.

The fact is that contrary to the Bible, there is no evidence that demons cause diseases. We now know, contrary to centuries of Christian preaching to the contrary, that diseases do have naturalistic causes and because we know this we have found many naturalistic cures for them. Especially since scientists discovered how nature structures itself through evolution by natural selection. Of course Christians are preaching against that just like they did anyone who practiced medicine a few centuries ago, astronomy or any other science for that matter. Some things never change. Bible believers have been on the wrong side of every scientific advance, discovery and theory ever since the Bible was voted on to be the Bible. The belief in demons and that demons cause diseases is just one of many false, damaging and dangerous beliefs Christians have gotten from the Bible. This belief is still widespread among many Christian sects today as the financial success of faith healers like Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Peter Popoff and the rest of the phony faith healers attests.

So God writes stories in the Bible that he knows will stymie medical progress on earth for centuries and cause people to die from diseases that otherwise could have been cured. Why? Because suffering brings people closer to God? They were going to die anyway? God writes stories in the New Testament that he knows will allow thousands of phony faith healers to rip off faithful Christians and give them false hopes and reinforce their false beliefs. What's God's excuse for that exactly?

I don't think you Christians realize why it is people don't believe in the Christian God. It isn't a God that is so absurd. It's YOUR God and all of his goofy friends and enemies like demons, Satan, angels, seraphs and all of the goofy beliefs connected to this God like demons causing diseases that people find IMPOSSIBLE to believe in. Got it? The word is IMPOSSIBLE. We don't reject God we find belief in YOUR God IMPOSSIBLE.

Now you tell me something. Why do you go to a doctor when you get sick? The Bible says demons cause diseases. Don't you believe that?

Don said...

Funny, James!

Jerett O said...

Boris, It interesting that much of reason you gave for hatting Christianity has very little with Christ faith/religion it self but more about how Christian have miss read the bible and done evil because of there miss readings.

The Bible never says to not to go to a doctor. In fact I would say good have give some people gift to be great doctors to heal people.

Yes, Jesus did heal people in past and God may still heal people today but does not mean Christian Should just rely on God to heal them with out doing anything themselves to help.

When Devil tempt Jesus, the Devil told Jesus to throw himself (Jesus) off the temple because God's angels would protect him (Jesus)for hitting the ground. Jesus responds by quoting the Bible "not to put the Lord your God to the test". So if we are sick we pray for healing but also go to doctor as well. To not go to the doctor would be putting God to the test, which God frowns on.

Yes God loves and protect us but he also wants us to grow and do things ourselves. I main problem you bring up is that Christian have not been loving to people in past by treating illnesses wrong and you are right. I would however remind that for during much of the same time secular doctors did as much harm in the past as well.

We can play this game of who has done more evil in the name of: Christianity, secularism, Communism, Capitalism, Republicans, Democrats, Democracy, Patriotism and so on but in the we will still be at the same spot. Lets agree that both sides have done evil and both sides have done good. That many of the evil done in name of such things had very little to with philosophy itself but with evil people using it for themselves.

Lets instead focus on Bible it self and the evidence and claims for the Bible. Lets focus on your questions and doubts Christianity. I Hope we will get to talk again.

Boris said...

Jeret O
I agree that we shouldn't blame ideologies or religions for the human rights violations and atrocities committed by people and power-mad dictators. We cannot however, credit any religions or ideologies for the good things individuals and groups of people have done in the past either, no matter what the stated cause or in whose name. It's a two way street we're talking about here. I'd also like to point out that atheists have never tortured or murdered people just because their religious beliefs conflicted with the laws of physics. In other words atheists have never told people to stop believing in God or die. Christians and Muslims on the other hand have. We should not blame modern Christians for atrocities and human rights violations committed by Christians in the past either. But some Christians are still fighting against science and doing everything they can to stand in the way of scientific as well as social progress. This cannot be forgiven nor can the people who insist on continuing the almost 2000 year long Christian war on science.

I don't really have any doubts about Christianity. The Jesus of the gospels is an allegory for the sun passing through the 12 signs of the zodiac. In other words the gospels are a version of an ancient solar myth. No such person as Jesus Christ ever actually existed. I have no doubts about that in my mind whatsoever. For me to be convinced I'm wrong I would need some evidence that Jesus or any of his disciples actually existed. There isn't any.

I'm of Jewish ancestry and I can tell you Judaism is a silly religion and the Torah a collection of ridiculous stories. So if Judaism is a false religion it follows that Christianity and Islam are too. Before Christianity grafted itself onto this olive tree it should have checked this tree out. It's an artificial tree.
All you have to do is read the Bible. For example did you ever notice in Genesis who Joseph's brothers sell him too? The story teller makes it seem like the Ishmaelites are some people from a foreign land when they take Joseph to Egypt with them. But Ishmael is the brother's great uncle, their father Jacob's uncle. Did you ever notice that? Jacob's sons sell their brother to their cousins! In the story these people don't know each other and are already foreigners to each other within just one generation. People should really read the Bible carefully before they start believing what other people say about it.

There are other instances where time seems to vanish in the Bible. In Moses' generation we read how the Midianites are completely annihilated to the last person except for a few virgins. Yet during the Joshua's time, the very next generation, the Midiianites reappear and this time so numerous they are locusts on the land and they defeat the Israelites this time. Now how did that happen exactly? There is only answer. it didn't.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Oh my, what a lot of words. Bill Maher missed that the first two chapters of Genesis not only present, long before the Hubble Telescope was even thought of, a very accurate summary of the creation of the universe, ex nihilo, just like the mapping of cosmic radiation has shown us in recent years, but also the foundations of evolutionary biology, some 2000 years or more before Darwin and Wallace stumbled upon it.

Read literally in English, it does appear to tell us that plants were created before the sun and moon. But, as Hank points out, "The Book of Genesis is largely a historical narrative interlaced with symbolism and repetitive poetic structure." Genesis is not a chronology, it is intended to let us know what God did, and that it was God who did so.

C.S. Lewis wrote that whenever a prayer is answered, there is a series of material events that are a necessary part of the answer. Thus, a cynic could say "see, it would have happened anyway" and use an answered prayer to "prove" that prayer doesn't work. We know from recent scientific observation and measurement that the material results of the divine commands took eons that, to our puny existence, are mind-boggling. There was some poetic symbolism used in Genesis to try to bring a transcendent event within our comprehension. The potential, indeed the certainty, that life would form were placed within the very nature of the earth from the Beginning. The material events didn't all happen at once. The original Hebrew. I am told by people who have studied it for forty years, is more clear that God commanded that the land would bring forth plants, which is different from saying that all the plants sprang up in the space of a human lifetime. Each eon of creation began with more chaos then at the ending, and more order at the close of the eon.

Boris said...

Oh please not this stupid argument again. By cherry picking passages and ignoring contradictions any ancient holy book could be said to be compatible with science. There's a reason Christians held to a flat immovable earth for so long. There's a reason Christians have believed demons cause diseases, that the sun orbits the earth, that comets were not celestial bodies but fireballs thrown by God, that ordinary events of nature were the result of magic, miracles, and the actions of angels and demons. They got these beliefs from the Bible and not because they were misinterpreting it. The Bible cannot be reconciled with modern science and in fact it can't even be reconciled with the scientific knowledge of the day. Most of the world knew the word was round. But the Babylonians, Egyptians and Hebrews did not.

Anonymous said...

Boris,
You seem to make the point a lot about how could plants survive without the sun. I have not seen anyone else make this point, so I shall make it here. 'God created light on the first day. There was light and darkness, evening and morning the first day.' The plants therefore had light for photosynthesis.
Secondly, the sun was created the third day, while the plants were created the second day. Please put a healthy plant into your basement or a dark closet for a 24 hour period and tell me if it is still alive. Even if a plant needed the sun (because you may not agree that the light created the first day was enough) a plant would survive for that 24 hour period (taking the Bible literally of course).

I would also like to know how evolution happened? I see that you know fundamental scientific laws (matter is neither created nor destroyed). I would like to know how evolution can happen when the world is wearing down. The first law of thermodynamics states that everything is tending toward disorder. How then do you explain evolution?

Boris said...

Anonymous,
It's really hilarious watching you creationists go through all of your mental gymnastics trying to explain away all the scientific inaccuracies and absurdities in the Bible. God made just made light huh? The light didn't come from anything, God just magically made light. The process of photosynthesis is driven by the sun not magical light from nowhere and nothing.

Thermodynamics simply means "heat movement." The second law states that "disorder in a closed system receiving no energy tends to increase." The universe is considered a closed system since the energy within the universe remains constant. The universe as a whole reveals an ever-increasing disorder. However within the universe local regions may receive an energy input and are therefore considered to be open systems. Our own planet is an open system because Earth receives energy from an outside source: the sun. Because the earth is an open system disorder decreases in localized spheres. Over millions of years life forms may increase in complexity as long as a constant energy source is maintained. Therefore the second law of thermodynamics does not in any way conflict with evolutionary theory.

The second law of thermodynamics states that there is no reverse entropy in any isolated system. Creationists argue that this means a complex system such as a living organism cannot form on its own as it would be a decrease of entropy. This oversimplifies the law to the point of ignoring its principle qualification which is that it only applies to a closed isolated system. If you attempt to apply it to any system, a plant, animal or deck of cards you've just proven that photosynthesis, growth and unshuffling are impossible too. Organisms are open systems since they exchange material and energy with their surroundings so the second law of thermodynamics is not relative to them. Many natural and artificial processes produce order from disorder in open systems using external energy and material.

Of course if you really wanted answers to your questions you could look them up or go down to the science department at any Christian college or university and they would tell you the same thing I just did. But your questions are an attempt to get me to doubt specific scientific explanations as if doing so would somehow automatically get me to start believing the ridiculous doctrines of your religion. You're not fooling anyone but yourself. Now don't ask me any more questions about science. Instead answer these questions for me: Why does every CHRISTIAN college and university in the world that teaches science teach evolution, common descent, Big Bang cosmology and the rest of the science you creationists deny and fight against? Why aren't creation "science" or Intelligent Design magic taught at any Christian colleges or universities? Do you really think scientists haven't considered your problems with their theories? And when have scientists ever had to revise any of their theories in the face of the constant centuries long never ending complaints from Bible believers? Until you answer those questions don't address any more questions or posts to me.

Anonymous said...

Boris,
Is it possible for God (or any god)to have always existed?

Anonymous said...

Boris,
Since you did not answer my earlier question, I will ask a new one. When the universe began where did that matter come from? And before that where did it come from? Where is the origin of matter (molecules and atoms that began the building of the universe)?

Boris said...

Anonymous,
Since I didn't answer your earlier question? Are you kidding me? What question exactly? Can you read? Not only did I answer all your questions in detail I asked YOU some questions and told you NOT to ask me any more questions about science until you answered MY questions. But like a typical creationist you keep right on yammering and just completely ignore the questions you were asked while demanding answers for still more of your stupid questions. You people are all alike and you're insufferable. And you wonder why the rest of the world wants nothing to do with you.

Now I'm going to answer your questions one more time. Like I said before however, you don't really want scientific answers to your questions because any idiot with a computer can google any question they want about science and get accurate answers from someone in the scientific community qualified to give that answer. So why don't you look up these answers for yourself? Because asking me these questions is part of your never ending proselytizing. You actually think that if you can get me to be suspect of scientific explanations for things I would automatically accept your creationist explanations. Not happening.

In the beginning of the universe there was not any matter. There was light though which comes is packets called photons. When photons have enough energy they can spontaneously decay into a particle and an anti-particle. This can be easily observed, as gamma rays have enough energy to create measurable electron-anti-electron pairs. Photons are just one a class of bosons that decay in this manner. The mass in the universe came from such decays. A more interesting question we know less about is where did all the mass go?

The thing you creationists don't realize is that we don't have to have absolute detailed explanations for things to know certain explanations are incorrect. This is how science works. By a never ending process of elimination of all possible explanations a single standing possibility is arrived at which remains the theory all new research is built upon. Creationism has been scientifically eliminated as a possible explanation for the universe, the existence of life on Earth or anything else.

Sure God could have always existed. But if God could have always existed so could the mass-energy that comprises the universe in one form or another. Theists say God created the universe from nothing. But when asked to define nothing they can't do it. Would you like to define the nothing the God supposedly created the universe from? Now if you're not going answer the questions in my previous post just ignore me from now on. You've already lost our little debate because you can't play by the rules, can't answer my questions and you have no responses to my answers to your questions.

Anonymous said...

Boris

Interesting answer - frankly, most creationists are lay people who have a read a few books - but are typically as ignorant about the sciences as they are about their theology including the rejection of the human person of Jesus Christ.

Bizarre that such would be arrogant in their responses to anything.

As for me - I humble myself before the Creator - knowing that I see through a very dark glass.

Best,
Greg

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Siarlys Jenkins said...

Genesis is best understood by consulting someone who understands the meaning and social context of the original Hebrew -- preferably an Orthodox rabbi with 40 years of study behind him, who has also studied quantum mechanics, calculus, and relativity. When God said "Let the earth bring forth..." various plants, God was decreeing the implicit capacity to produce vegetation, not waving a magic want while plants sprouted in a matter of seconds. Please, this was the creation of a very big, very complex universe. When God separated the light from the darkness, the earth hadn't even been formed yet -- the event was what astronomers call "the surface of last scattering," when everything cooled to the point that electro-magnetic radiation and matter could become distinct from each other. The words for "evening" and "morning" have connotations of chaos and order, not the sunset and sunrise we know today.

Ever notice that Genesis says nothing about the creation of the earth? That was, relatively speaking, an incidental detail to the purpose of Genesis. God didn't consider it important to mention, but it obviously happened somewhere between "Let there be light" and "God saw that it was very good."

The important points are, whatever we can observe happened, it would not have happened if God had not said 'Let it be so," including the existence of the universe, and the creation of life. The rest is mere detail.

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