Friday, June 13, 2014

Worst Possible Exegesis - Discussion

I received a long reply on a post I did a while back called The Worst Possible Exegesis. It is quite long so I will reply in a new post.
There are several theories that can account for why mankind can get "sidetracked" into evil. This issues as well as the origins of morality continue to be the one of the sticking points in the debate of whether religion is necessary in culture. However as easily as the idea of sin can account for people acting 'evil' or perhaps a less rhetorical adverb, selfishly, so too can a Darwinian explanation.
That is not what I asked you. I asked if man got sidetracked, how would we be able to tell? You say moral progress is happening. I can see moral change. Some of it seems good. Some of it seems not so good. You seem to think it is all good. Is that a falsifiable claim? Could society go in wrong direction? If it did, would you know?
However I don't want to go down that road. Id really like to explore more of some of the original questions I posed. Do you indeed think slavery is ok? Or will you assert that I am somehow interpreting those verses wrong? I think it would take nothing less than, as you called it "bad exegesis" or eisegesis, to interpret it any other way. 
It would not be bad exegesis. It would be what we call, interpreting in the tradition of the church. We take the references to slavery in the bible to be cultural and not an endorsement of the institution. We do it because the Holy Spirit has led His church in that direction over the centuries. Catholics believe God's word is made up of scripture, tradition, and the magisterium rather than of scripture alone. So we have the light of what the church has said about slavery to help us the the right interpretation.

Do you believe that a task as casual as gathering sticks on a Sunday merits execution? Should a women be stoned to death if she is found to not be a virgin on the day of her wedding, Deuteronomy 22:20-21? There are other examples I could cite as well but for the sake of the argument Id like to keep the scope narrow enough to have some type of productive dialogue. 
With these texts you are talking about a different covenant.  Salvation history is long and progressive. The means God used in the time of Moses are not the same means God uses now. Humanity has grown and does not require such harsh measures. We should rejoice that God was willing to work among us even in such a brutal time. If he didn't we would still be there rather than being so scandalized by how people lived back then.
Which brings me to my next point. And that is that open conversation, a humility in knowing that you indeed don't know everything, and the pursuit of truth are good things. Science vs religion aside, those ideals in a few short centuries have brought about the enlightenment of the 19th century and the industrial revolution 20th century, greatly improving the quality of life not just in westernized countries but throughout the world. 
Science has done some wonderful things in the last few centuries. Nobody wants to go back or even slow the progress. I am not sure what I said that gave you that idea.
Religion however doesn’t promote those things. It stifles the sort of investigative approach to the world that I alluded to one that again is unequivocally good and has led to nearly all of the progress made by humanity.
This is just false. In general, religion does not stifle science. There are a few isolated examples of this but just a few. Catholicism generally encourages people to make an effort to understand the physical world. God is the creator so understanding the world helps us understand God. Many great scientists have also been great Catholics including priests and monks.
Its seems to me that your argument has put you and anyone else who argues for the bible in a corner. You seem to subscribe to Revealed Exegesis, or that the bible was inspired by the holy spirit. The other type of exegesis is Rational Exegesis, in which its believed the authors had their own inspiration and therefore are a product of their time and environment. 
I actually believe in both those things. The bible is 100% the word of God and 100% the word of man. St Paul was writing a letter for his own reasons and in his own culture. The Holy Spirit guided him to write what God wanted written.
Personally I don’t see the difference between rational exegesis and exigesis. IM not even sure that there is such a think as true Exegesis to begin with. Its impossible to read something and not make some amount of subjective interpretation of it. Words aren’t written in absolutes. They always have and they always will fail to perfectly convey the near infinite complexity of human thought let along the complexity of the will of god. It is for that reason that I as a young child first started to question whether god would, could, or really did reveal himself to us through the bible or any other so called religious text. 
That is a good question to ask. The bible could not be the word of God if it was just left open to such a wide variety of interpretations. The answer is not that the bible is not the word of God. It is that there is guidance on how to interpret it. God guides the church over time to embrace right interpretations and reject wrong ones.
Even if you could then you are forced to commit to the now clearly ancient mores and beliefs some of which are clearly in contrast with what we call moral today. This type of thinking is homophobic, patriarchal, genocidal and in stark contrast to the loving message most try to take from religion. Again this is the reason for people subscribing to a more rational exegesis of the bible. 
We are not forced to commit to ancient mores. We believe God revelation progresses. There were major advances with the arrival of new covenants though Abraham, Moses, David and eventually Jesus. Beyond that there has been gradual growth in our understanding of God's word over time.
The problem here of course is you get people who take it too far, who can justify any cause with the bible.
that article was written by walter wink who is a professor of biblical interpretation, and he says “the crux of the matter, It seems to me, quite simply is that the bible has no sexual ethic”. Or Ken Wilson the evangelical pastor who recently made a case for LGBT rights! Obviously we cant know what god wants for us if we allow people such free reign on what the bible is meaning to say. I am sure I could just as easily find another biblical doctor to find a quite different interpretation.
There is certainly a ton of disagreement about what the bible says about homosexuality. Are these legitimate new developments based on a deeper understanding or are these just errors? That is the question we turn to the church for. We recognize we are in the culture that is struggling with this and we and we are not immune from prejudice in either direction. We need God's help. His vehicle for helping us is the church. Through the bishops and the pope we can get one answer. It is not an easy answer but we don't expect God's word to be easy.
To quote Charles dawkins on the god of the old testament:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”
Richard Dawkins has always been given to the irrational rant. It does show it is possible to interpret the bible this way. So what? The only ones that do are guys like Dawkins who are not taking it seriously anyway. The way Christians interpret the bible is very different and the Catholic notion of sacred tradition explains why that makes sense.
Most people have the luxury of ignoring much of this in the old testament, they advocate the loving showed by jesus. But if you truly want to take the bible at face value, and you reject as I am sure you do conclusions like Ken Wilson, and Walter Winks, aren’t you left to support this unequivacolly?
I do not reject any of the Bible. It is all God's word. We don't take it all at face value, whatever that means. We take it for what was said by God and to whom it was said. Then we use the light of the rest of what God has said to make sense of it. 


  1. My point is that I don't know whether we would know if society goes the wrong way morally. Whether or not we do clearly we cant use the bible as a guide. As you pointed out "we need help" sometimes we have new developments based on "a deeper understanding" which is really just a fancy way of saying that as an institution you are totally changing the way you interpret something. But what good is that? if for hudreds of years the bible is not helpful in ending slavery or the persecution of women and then finally someday we interpret it differently so that it supports the way society views the world then, what good is the bible? The reason I bring this up is because I do see society going the wrong way today, on the topic of homosexuality. Jesus never speaks out against homosexuality. And the old testament as you mentioned is the old covenant, so then why are people so charged on this topic. I don't want to argue over whether its wrong or right. However I contest that today most people think homosexuality is wrong and they use the bible as their justification. Just like at some point most of the public thought slavery was ok based on the bible. At some point society progressed and instead of taking those verses literally as they had done, they as you said "looked more at the tradition of the church". To me these two situations are a perfect parallel. Someday in the future it will be commonplace that Christians don't view homosexuality the way they do now. Those verses will be written off to outdated time......I just wonder what purpose the bible is actually serving in our cultural morality? Isnt it in spite of what may turn out to be outdated interpretations of the bible that this change would have to happen against?

    1. You are say "the bible" in this comment, I would say "the bible alone" and I would agree with almost everything you say. The bible alone cannot be our guide unless we have an authoritative interpreter. Think of the US Constitution. Is it a useful document? Sure. Why? Because it has the Supreme court to tell you what it means. The constitution had the same issue with slavery. People thought slavery was constitutional until the supreme court said it was not. Does that make the document useless? Not really.

      The other thing you assume and Christians do not is that God plays no role. You see a deepening of our understanding on slavery as a purely human thing. You assume given the same human conditions the same thing will happen on homosexuality. The trouble is that God leads His church. He does not embrace every change. The pressure has been on the church to change its teaching on divorce since Henry VIII. Still has not happened.

      The church actually tells us when a doctrine has the potential to change and when it does not. That is another way the parallel with slavery breaks down. The church simple never endorsed slavery with anything near the same authority as she has condemned homosexual activity. In fact, St Paul in his letter to Philemon strongly suggested that he should free his slave Onesimus. St Patrick of Ireland, himself a former slave, was the first bishop to say the institution should be abolished back in the 5th century.

  2. In any case reading the passages about slavery and interpreting them in tradition with the church is entirely subjective. This could easily be described as you said originally as reading what you want the bible to say and not what it actually says. "How clear would scripture have to be before they would accept that God's word..."?

    With reference to a couple of the other verses, and saying that it is a different covenant is again another poor argument. I do believe in truth. However when in one breath you advocate that we must accept gods word, and then in the next breath say that certain verses aren't to be taken literally because you have to look more at the tradition of the church its getting ridiculous. Especially when some of those verses WERE taken literally for tens if not hundreds of years!!! Luke 16:17 jesus said "it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one title of the law to fail". I am sure you will interpret it differently but if I wanted to believe slavery was ok, and that I was taking an exegesis approach and I rejected whatever reason you don't take those words as literally on the strength of the aforementioned verse, how could you argue?

    Old covenant, new, or otherwise there is no possible way that to me god could EVER be capable of the heinous acts of the old testament:
    1) drowning the whole earth, I don't even need to cite that one
    2) God helping Judah kill 500,000 fellow isrealites (2 Chronicles 7:21-23)
    3) God murders all first born Egyptians (Exodus 12:29
    4) Numbers 14:41-49 god kills 14,000 people for complaining that god keeps killing them.
    5)Joshua 6:20-21 God helps isrealites destroy Jericho, including killing nwomen and children
    6) Numbers 31-7-18 Isrealites kill all the Midianites except the virgins who are taken as spoils of war.
    7) 1 Samuel 6:19 God kills 50,000 people for curiosity
    8)Exodus 32 God tells moses to kill everyone for making a false idol while on mt Sinai.
    9) Judges 16:27-30 God gives Samson strength to bring down a building to crush 3,000 members of a rival tribe.
    10)Judges 11:30-39 Jephthah burns his daughter alive as a sacrificial offering for gods favor in killing the ammonites.
    11) Deuteronomy 13:6-10 God commands that you must kill your wife children brother and friend if they worship other gods!!!!!!
    12) 2 Kings 1:9-10 Elijah gets god to burn 51 men with fire to prove he is god.

    1. The different covenants are part of God's word. Why can't God deal with people one way for a period of time and then start dealing with people another way? Humans naturally expect progress. Why should salvation history not be a story of progress? When society was violent God dealt with them using violence. Later He allowed mankind to progress so that such harsh measures were no longer needed. When they were no longer needed then God commanded us never to use them. Now we are at the point that we cringe at the thought that God ever worked that way. This is good news. We should thank God for bringing us so far. I just don't understand why it is not plausible that God should do this.

  3. If you want to just disregard all of that, which is absolutely ridigulous. even the new testament has plenty to rival what you may think of god or jesus:
    1) Jesus says he has come to earth not to bring peace but with a sword. Matthew 10:34
    2) Families will be torn apart because of jesus 10:21
    3)Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets, he has no objection to the old testament Matthew 5:17
    4)Matthew 11:20 Jesus comdems cities to hell for not liking his teachings.
    5)Jesus whose cloths are dripped in blood has a sharp sword sticking out of his mouth, thus attired he treads the winepress of the wrath of god. Matthew 11:20
    The winepress of course being the actual press for humans to be ground up)
    6) Mark 4:11-12 Jesus explains why he speaks in parables to confuse people so they will go to hell.
    7) Luke 12:47 Jesus oks the beating of slaves.

    I could go on and on and on. And to each one you will find a way to rationalize it. Am I not interpreting these how any normal logical person would? Do you really think that your interpretation of those views is more exegesis than mine? Wouldn't a person who never even heard of the bible read it and be as outraged as I am?

    There is just no way I can ever accept any explanation that god would do this. My conclusion however isn't necessarily that god doesn't exist its that for this time period this was the best people could conceive of a perfect god. Instead of ironically as you said trying to make the bible say what we want it to say I read it as what it and am left with no possible conclusion other than its fiction.

    What else could explain the mere notion of hell!? Perhaps nothing is more heinous than hell. Jesus said in Mark 9:42-48 that it is better to commit suicide or self maiming then to be delivered unto hell. So obviously hell is the worst place possible? If most people are rational, moral, nurturing, and that god if he does exist is our greatest thought magnified. Whatever emotion we feel as human, being created in his image, god is infinitely more feeling? why then would god ever condemn his children to hell? Because god is just you say? Is hell really justice or cruel and unusual punishment? the bible states the system of justice very clearly "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" there is another variation of that system "eye for an eye" God violates his own system when he damns his creations to eternal suffering for sins as menial as blasphemy. I hardly think, nor would any logical person, that throwing someone into the gnashing jaw would be justly befitting of nearly any crime. (with the exception of murder or rape and even so, eternal punishment is pretty excessive)

    1. You need to understand that hell is the status quo. That is if Jesus does nothing to help or harm you then you end up in hell. You say we are moral and rational. We are not moral or rational enough. We desire total love with God and man and we can't do it. We end up acting selfishly and hurting each other. We know we were mode for something better so we are never at peace with ourselves. That is hell. That is where we are headed. If God just leaves us alone for eternity that is what it will look like.

      Jesus came to interrupt that. He came to give us another choice. The choice to love. The choice to believe. It is not easy. It involves a transformation of our intimate self into a truly holy person. It is painful. Yet it is worth it. It is worth it precisely because we can never be truly happy any other way. Yet it is our choice.

      Somehow you got this idea that hell is God just being mean to people. It is quite the opposite. People reject God. God accepts it. It is just because it is giving people what they have shown they want. If they have not expressed a desire to be close to God then why would God force them into an intimate relationship with him? God is a lover. He is not a rapist.

    2. No according to you he 'Was" a rapist. But he has really turned it around! Literally the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.

    3. I didn't say God was ever a rapist. I said God allows the effects of sin to play out in society. Rape is one of those effects. God does not shield us from that horror. We chose the tree of knowledge of good and evil. We get to know good and know evil with everything that goes with it.

  4. Also Einstein was agnostic. While I am sure he did consecrate the eucharist on sundays at least for sometime, nearly everybody back then was religious. So its not really compelling to point out when scientists acted as religious people do from that time. However what is compelling is that today 93% of the members of the National Academy of Science, 93% are agnostic or Atheist. Einstein while agnostic wanted to distance himself from the term Atheist, preferring, he said, "an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." I view I happen to very much share.

  5. Its ridiculous to think that the creator of the universe would ever commit Genocide, sorry. God shouldn't need to progress with the way he "deals" with society. Its not even that idea that I take issue with. Its the fact that GOD KILLED thousands of people. And most of the time it was not as you say to make a point in a time when people were more violent. Besides that you would be hard pressed in history to fine a world more violent than it was during WWII. The extermination nof 6 million people truly is worth of the old testament not to mention dropping two atomic bombs both of which extinguished 10 of thousands of lives in an instant. Those examples wouldn't similarly merit god commanding someone to exterminate all of Germany including women and children, or to retaliate against America by killing all of their first born? Oh that's right God was on our side. So no its not plausible for god to ever act vengeful, with rage, or any other of the emotions that humans possess that make us imperfect.

    1. How does anyone die? God is all-powerful. He could prevent it. He does not always do so. You people die sometimes in large bunches. Whole families die. Sometimes whole villages die. God could prevent it. He does not. Why?

      We have chosen the path of sin. Death is part of that path. He allows us to sin but He does not remove the consequences. We die. Worse yet, we kill. We do all sorts of evil things.

      So God enters this world to enact His plan of salvation. He does not create genocide. It is already there. Yes He uses it. He uses a lot of things. David cheats with Bathsheba and God uses that. He is saving a world that is sinful. He does not wait for perfect people to do it in a perfect way. He enters a brutal world that only understands the language of violence. He speaks that language.

      WWII was brutal but at least people were horrified by the violence. The holocaust was kept secret by the Nazi's because even they didn't want to defend it in public. The Allies did engage in violence. It was within the Catholic Just War Doctrine. So in that sense it was God permitted violence. I would say it was even God's will. That the Allies would have been sinning if they had not violently responded to Nazi Germany. Yet today we have different moral standards about how we treat non-combatants. We don't kill women and children as was common back then.

  6. The US constitution compared to the bible is a great example only in that it proves the bible is NOT divine. The bible CAN be 100% the word of man and 100% the word of god ( I don't believe it is), but it can not be 100% the word of god and also influenced by the time it was written in. That is the whole point of 2Timothy 3:16-17.

    The constitution was written by man and was never intended to be perfect on the first try. Of course it needs modified interpreted and helped to evolve. God is supposed to have inspired the writters of the bible so that its all his will. It should be perfect. It shouldn't reflect anything from man and therefore should reflect the times. the mere premise that the bible was written by man but "influenced" by god over the next few hundred years is preposterous. God commits miracles regularly throughout the bible he wrote the commandments in stone. Yet not only did he have the bible written by several men throught many years instead of somehow doing it himself, no you say it has to be in interpreted by man too!??? I don't understand how anyone is supposed to believe that. If I told you that god spoke to me would you believe me? Would you believe me if I wrote it all down in a book and told you that you must follow it or go to hell? Except that fact that the bible is part or OUR culture here in America there is no difference in believing in the bible or any other holy text of any other religion.

    1. The bible is not the center. Jesus is the center. Jesus didn't write the bible. You are right that if the bible was supposed to be the last word on all questions it is hard to understand why Jesus didn't write it or even command anyone to write it. Yet that is not it. Jesus started a church. The church is what the gates of hell can't prevail against (Mt 16:19). The church is where we go when we disagree (Mt 18:17). The bible came from the church over time. She came to realize that certain writings had a special status. That they were inspired by God to give us a picture of what Jesus said and did and taught his apostles. That did not mean that God was done leading his church into all truth. It just mean that the writings that were close in time and space to the person of Jesus form a special gift that we need to respect. Does it contain everything? Yes and no. Everything is in there at least in kernel form. Not everything is developed.

      It does require faith to believe it. Still you need to go there. Start with Jesus. Is He who He says He is? Then move to his community. Is the church of the apostles and their successors something that legitimately extends Jesus' ministry? Then look at the bible. Did the church pick the right books and discern correctly that God wants us to read them and obey them

    2. No one ever disagreed on slavery until way after the bible was written, that's why it doesn't say anything to the contrary in the text. That's why its obvious the bible isn't inspired from god. Indeed, how clear would scripture have to be? Instead of trying to make the bible fit what we want it to say, then if you were a true believer you would be seeking out that which could truly be the word of god. That the magisterium and the catholic church is no different than the watch tower in the Jehovas witness, its guided by men. You would have me believe that god has decided to reveal his wishes in this imperfect work, written in the imperfect language of imperfect man, translated, copied, interpreted, voted on, related , and even now still interpreted by imperfect man (Magisterium). With the additional caviot that god is inspiring the whole thing? And that this authority has only been given to the catholic church? Meanwhile other Christian theologians, those who also are passionate about Christ are left unguided to interpret the bible incorrectly?

    3. "No one ever disagreed on slavery until way after the bible was written"

      Did you read the book of Philemon? It is only 1 chapter long. St Paul does suggest this slave, Onesimus, should not longer be a slave. The principle is clear. Slavery is problematic.

      "That the magisterium and the catholic church is no different than the watch tower in the Jehovas witness, its guided by men."

      Sure, except that Jesus picked the first apostles. The first watchtower members were picked by their founder, Charles Taze Russell. Jesus can start such an organization because He is God. Russell? Not so much.

    4. Its clear!? Thats just another contradiction a way to justify either cause. Before slavery was ok now its not. You must see that!? Whether or not the magisterium or the popes are inspired by god

      1.For many centuries the Church was part of a slave-holding society.
      2.The popes themselves held slaves, including at times hundreds of Muslim captives to man their galleys.
      3.Throughout Christian antiquity and the Middle Ages, theologians generally followed St. Augustine in holding that although slavery was not written into the natural moral law it was not absolutely forbidden by that law.
      4.St. Thomas Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin were all Augustinian on this point. Although the subjection of one person to another (servitus) was not part of the primary intention of the natural law, St. Thomas taught, it was appropriate and socially useful in a world impaired by original sin.
      5.No Father or Doctor of the Church was an unqualified abolitionist.
      6.No pope or council ever made a sweeping condemnation of slavery as such.

    5. If you want to know the history you should read this:

      The point is this is exactly what development of doctrine looks like. For a long time there was bad practice. There was no firm teaching on either side of the question. Then the church's statements start to fall consistently on one side and they get stronger and stronger. Does that mean the practice stops instantly? No. Slavery continues today. Still the church, led by the Holy Spirit, discerns that is is wrong.

      Was it wrong before that? Sure. Yet human society was not ready to face it. Jesus said the Old Testament divorce law was there because of the hard hearts of the people. Marriage was meant to be forever from the beginning. So God sometimes even regulates a lesser good because He knows we are not ready for the fullness of truth.

    6. As I pointed out before society morally progresses and the men leading religion follow along. This is again a quote from an article on Catholic answers.

      "Jehovah’s Witnesses will respond that the Watchtower is not acting as a prophet but is “still learning.” However, not only does this contradict previous Watchtower claims to being “God’s prophet,”[13] it also leads to a simple yet intractable problem: if the Watchtower is “still learning,” why trust anything it teaches now? If God were really guiding the Watchtower, then why would he allow his “spirit-led” organization to lead so many people into error about the end of the world? The simplest answer to these questions is that men, not God, guide the Watchtower, and so it should not be trusted with our eternal salvation."

      Just like here the simplest reason that slavery would go from practive to condemned is certainly not that the god really is leading the church. Otherwise why would god allow this "spirit lead"church to lead so many people into err? Its the same dilemma and the simple answer is exactly the same. If you can see the parallel here I am at a loss. We aren't talking about a short period of time where slavery was not only accepted but practiced in the church. We are talking about centuries. Do you really want to say the church discerned it as wrong!!!!!!? Unbelievable.

  7. Just out of curiosity what would you say to the following lists of contradictions in the bible. To me its simple, proper editing practices clearly didn't exist back then and MEN made mistakes. Again mutually exclusive from the idea that god inspired the bible.

    Theological doctrines:

    1. God is satisfied with his works
    Gen 1:31
    God is dissatisfied with his works.
    Gen 6:6
    2. God dwells in chosen temples
    2 Chron 7:12,16
    God dwells not in temples
    Acts 7:48
    3. God dwells in light
    Tim 6:16
    God dwells in darkness
    1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
    4. God is seen and heard
    Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
    Ex 24:9-11
    God is invisible and cannot be heard
    John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
    5. God is tired and rests
    Ex 31:17
    God is never tired and never rests
    Is 40:28
    6. God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
    Prov 15:3/ Ps 139:7-10/ Job 34:22,21
    God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all
    Gen 11:5/ Gen 18:20,21/ Gen 3:8
    7. God knows the hearts of men
    Acts 1:24/ Ps 139:2,3
    God tries men to find out what is in their heart
    Deut 13:3/ Deut 8:2/ Gen 22:12
    8. God is all powerful
    Jer 32:27/ Matt 19:26
    God is not all powerful
    Judg 1:19
    9. God is unchangeable
    James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
    God is changeable
    Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
    Ex 33:1,3,17,14
    10. God is just and impartial
    Ps 92:15/ Gen 18:25/ Deut 32:4/ Rom 2:11/ Ezek 18:25
    God is unjust and partial
    Gen 9:25/ Ex 20:5/ Rom 9:11-13/ Matt 13:12

    1. I believe the bible can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. That is true for those who believe it is true and are looking for life direction. It is also true for those who believe it is false and are looking for contradictions. It is not that they can't be resolved. It is that some people choose to read them in a technical, literal sort of way that leads to a contradiction.

    2. this is just a small example of things that are easy to see say the opposite things. in reality ther are millions of ideas and examples in the bibles that are also contradictory. Everything from as you pointed out saying slavery was bad, to endorsing it. From giving the message of doing unto others as you would have done unto you, to the story in Judges 19:34 where a man offers his daughter be reaped in lieu of harming his house guest. The bible can be used to justify any cause. It cant be the word of god.

    3. "The bible can be used to justify any cause. It cant be the word of god."
      Almost agree. I would add "without some solid guidance on how to interpret it." That is what Catholicism has that protestants don't. Often protestants get the right interpretation but they don't know why thye prefer it over one someone such as you suggests. The answer is tradition but they don't admit it. Catholics admit it and make it more precise and consistent.

  8. 11. God is the author of evil
    Lam 3:38/ Jer 18:11/ Is 45:7/ Amos 3:6/ Ezek 20:25
    God is not the author of evil
    1 Cor 14:33/ Deut 32:4/ James 1:13
    12. God gives freely to those who ask
    James 1:5/ Luke 11:10
    God withholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving
    John 12:40/ Josh 11:20/ Is 63:17
    13. God is to be found by those who seek him
    Matt 7:8/ Prov 8:17
    God is not to be found by those who seek him
    Prov 1:28
    14. God is warlike
    Ex 15:3/ Is 51:15
    God is peaceful
    Rom 15:33/ 1 Cor 14:33
    15. God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
    Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19
    God is kind, merciful, and good
    James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/
    1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8
    16. God's anger is fierce and endures long
    Num 32:13/ Num 25:4/ Jer 17:4
    God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute
    Ps 103:8/ Ps 30:5
    17. God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings,
    sacrifices ,and holy days
    Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9
    God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
    sacrifices, and holy days.
    Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12
    18. God accepts human sacrifices
    2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39
    God forbids human sacrifice
    Deut 12:30,31
    19. God tempts men
    Gen 22:1/ 2 Sam 24:1/ Jer 20:7/ Matt 6:13
    God tempts no man
    James 1:13
    20. God cannot lie
    Heb 6:18
    God lies by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits t deceive
    2 Thes 2:11/ 1 Kings 22:23/ Ezek 14:9
    21. Because of man's wickedness God destroys him
    Gen 6:5,7
    Because of man's wickedness God will not destroy him
    Gen 8:21
    22. God's attributes are revealed in his works.
    Rom 1:20
    God's attributes cannot be discovered
    Job 11:7/ Is 40:28
    23. There is but one God
    Deut 6:4
    There is a plurality of gods
    Gen 1:26/ Gen 3:22/ Gen 18:1-3/ 1 John 5:7

  9. Here are the things that it seems to me are most important to people whos faith means a great deal to them.

    1) they have experiences where a personal god is very real to them and in most cases even helped them through a tough time.
    2) THey believe in a personal god.
    3.) They believe in a heaven and maybe a hell
    4) They believe in the teachings of Jesus ( The good parts) loving their neighbor, helping the poor, essentially peace
    5) they believe in an afterlife
    6) they appreciate the Great community and relationships are built through like minded people seeking meaning in their life.

    Guess what, none of this is threatened by the bible not being from god. I think that so many people take this argument against the bible personally. It threatens them because of #1 on my list. But me telling you that god would never advise men to kill all the men in a village and take the women as wives (against their will). just because I can never believe Jesus would never say its ok to beat slaves, doesn't mean god doesn't exist. It doesn't mean any of those things aren't true.

    1. Is God's will knowable? Can we find in all the religions something solid that we can embrace as true? It comes back to Jesus. He claims to be that thing. If you accept that then you have to accept that he has something to tell us even today. If He is really God then modern society should not make Him obsolete. So what does that look like? Starting with the bible is a mistake. You need to start with Christian tradition and the church. What have Christians always believed?

      If you don't go there then you just end up saying some nice stuff about God and Jesus and assuming that whatever we already think is pretty much what God thinks.

    2. well then at the end of the day all if have is a few different men telling me that they have the word straight from god. For you personally why is it Christianity over say islam? Can you really say its because its seems more true to you? Do you really think that if you weren't somewhere else or to different parents you would believe as you do today?

    3. Islam is a very different story from Christianity. You do need to dig into both if you have questions. It is obvious you have not because you equate them so easily. Islam depends a lot more on the sanity and honesty of Mohammad. Quite frankly you look close at him and both are easy to question. Not so much with Jesus. Jesus had disciples who saw his miracles, saw the resurrection, eventually did their own miracles and faced their own martyrdom. Islam is explainable by its early military and political success. Christianity was illegal for centuries and still grew.

    4. the fact that religion grows isn't compelling at all. Anyone can see that it mostly only is passed down by parents. ANd actually that should be the alarming part. Why am I any more likely to believe any of the miracles that jesus allegedly did than I am to believe that Mohammed body shot up to heaven when he died? You can say they are different all you like but they are both selling the same thing, believing something for which there is no proof for. There isn't a single bit of proof to believe in Christianity over any other religion. You can say the story is more compelling but then why is there BILLIONS of people who subscribe to their religion? You really think that you are Christian because for you its more compelling and all of the people around the world that follow the religion they were brought up in are simply turning the blind eye to the real truth?

    5. "There isn't a single bit of proof to believe in Christianity over any other religion"

      That just is not true. The miracles of Jesus were really the only reason to take Jesus seriously, especially after he died. The fact that many people did take him very seriously very soon after his death is pretty much undeniable. Why? Why follow a guy who had a few nice teachings? The Greeks had philosophers. The Jews had Rabbi's and even prophets. Why not just say He was one of those? That question is not hard to answer for other religious figures.

    6. ok well then why Catholicism and not any other for of Christianity. How are we to know the church truly is inspired by god? Certainly not after they supported slavery for centuries. You can say they condemned it all you want. If they still did it for hundreds of years, THAT DOESNT COUNT. What good is the bible as a moral code if it could take nearly a millennium to get rid of something as heinous as slavery!?

    7. You man think blind faith is virtuous, after all what harm is it to believe in Christ? I agree it seems benign. However its not proof for Christ's existence any more than a billion Muslims is proof for Mohammed's. The danger in faith is that it lets imperfect humans think that they have all the answers when obviously we don't. even according to you under the council of god himself we are still understanding how to interpret the bible. I think we could better on our own.

    8. "ok well then why Catholicism and not any other for of Christianity"

      Catholicism is the original Christianity. It goes back to Jesus. The rest all broke from the Catholic church at some point. We believe Jesus got it right the first time and no new church is needed or permitted or wanted. That is more consistent with believing Jesus is God then believing Luther or Calvin or whoever had to fix the church of Jesus.

      "How are we to know the church truly is inspired by god?"

      We need to look at Jesus. Look at the church. Look at their claims. Are the claims madness? Are they deceptions? Is there a grace and a holiness there? Yes, we subject Jesus and the church to rational scrutiny but at the end of the day it is the beauty that draws us.

      "Certainly not after they supported slavery for centuries."

      You can ridicule Pythagoras for not coming up with calculus. It seems obvious to us now. Things take time. The good news is that new moral advances are waiting for us to discover them. If the Catholic church spoke the last word on morality 2000 years ago then it would be quite boring by now.

      Would you even know slavery was immoral without Christianity. The idea that every human person has great dignity is not obvious. Many of the abolitionists were Christian. Sure many of those who fought to keep slavery were as well. Still the question really is only raised in societies strongly influenced by Christianity.

      It takes time for mankind to give up its sin. God could force us but He does not. He waits for us to come to those conclusions on our own.

    9. "You man think blind faith is virtuous"

      I don't believe that. Faith must be purified by reason. Reason must be purified by faith. They must work together or neither is of much use.

      "The danger in faith is that it lets imperfect humans think that they have all the answers when obviously we don't. "

      I don't think that is because of faith. I think it is because of pride. Atheists are not immune from thinking they have all the answers.

    10. Moral advances are waiting for us to find them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????? This is the most outrageous and alarming thing by far that you have said yet. You have made the argument that things take time and you have justified changes in the church. However there shouldn't need to be changes or updates on morality if it is directly from god! If we are still learning how do we know if we are wrong about something today? That's the problem and what makes it worse is that religion doesn't welcome open discussion about how to interpret the bible or whether we have interpreted something wrong or not. Of course atheists are not immune from thinking they have all the answers but its not integral to the reason and science they subscribe to, while for theists it is. People like to say that science and religion can live side by side, I used to be one of those people, but now I don’t think it can. Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt questing with logic, evidence, and reason to draw conclusions. Faith by stark contrast demands a positive suspension of critical faculties. Science proceeds by setting up hypothesis ideas or models, and then attempts to disprove them. So a scientist is constantly asking questions, being skeptical. Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakeable truth through power of institutions and the passage of time.

    11. Why is this so outrageous? Is is pretty obvious humans have progressed morally. You keep saying that is inconsistent with the existence of God. Catholicism says No. God reveals moral truth over time. If we obey one thing He moves us to the next thing. He does not just dump the fullness of truth on us all at once. Some would say that is what the bible is. Those people would not be Catholics.

      So faith becomes a matter of constructive doubt, logic, evidence and reason. We have more than just empirical data to base it on. We also have revelation that has to fit. Yet the questions are much more abstract. We can know we are right based on sacred tradition. If we go down the wrong path the church will correct us.

  10. religion is widespread I agree, and A Darwinian faced with something which is ubiquitous in a species naturally starts to wonder, what is the Darwinian survival value of that thing , and so the fact that religion is universal in all cultures – not in all individuals but in all cultures – should lead us to ask that question. And I think there’s got to be, in some sense, an evolutionary advantage – although not necessarily to religion itself. We need to rephrase that question, as we often need to rephrase questions about Darwinian survival value. The question should be, “What is the Darwinian survival value of having the kind of brain which manifests itself in religion under some circumstances?” – under some cultural circumstances, in this case. A helpful analogy is moths flying into candle flames. It’s tempting to ask what is the survival value of suicidal behaviour in moths, but that’s the wrong question. Instead what we should ask is, “What’s the survival value of having the kind of brain which, when there are candles about, causes moths to fly into them?” Now in the wild state, when the moth’s brain was being naturally selected for, there weren’t any candles, and if you saw a bright light in the middle of the night it pretty well had to be a celestial object. It could be a firefly or something like that, but it was most likely to be the moon or a star, or, in a day-flying insect, the sun. At optical infinity, when light rays are travelling in parallel, those rays provide an excellent compass. And it’s well known that insects use light rays as a compass. They maintain a fixed angle, let’s say 30 degrees, to a source of light. Well, if you maintain a 30 degree angle to the moon’s rays, that’s fine, you go in a straight line. But if you maintain a 30 degree angle to a candle’s rays, you’ll describe a neat logarithmic spiral straight into the candle and burn. So, now we have rephrased the question. The question is not, “What is the survival value of killing yourself, if you’re a moth?” the question has become, “What’s the survival value of maintaining a fixed angle relative to light rays?” And now we’ve got a sensible answer. In the case of the candle it’s just a mistake.Well now, what’s the equivalent of the candle flame explanation in the case of religion. I think it might be the following.

  11. Children need to believe everything their parents tell them. On average, the rule of thumb, believe what your parents tell you, is a good rule of thumb for a child, because in a world in which wild humans lived, children could not afford to learn for themselves what to do, and what not to do. You can’t learn from experience not to bathe in the river because there might be crocodiles, you have to believe your parents who say it’s dangerous to bathe in the river. You can’t be programmed in advance with all necessary knowledge, but the rule of thumb is programming in advance that is designed to cope with whatever knowledge, whatever information, whatever statements your parents give you. And that kind of programming is automatically vulnerable to parasitic information, to mental viruses.So a brain which is designed to believe statements like “Don’t bathe in the river because of the crocodiles!” can’t help believing information like “Sacrifice a goat at the time of the full moon to appease the gods.” How can the child tell the difference between those two? Bathing in the river you’ll be eaten by crocodiles, if you don’t sacrifice a goat the gods will get you. It’s the equivalent to the moth and the candle flame argument. Given that children have that kind of brain, it’s almost inevitable that they will pick up some false information along with the true information. And once that false information has been picked up and believed, there’s no reason it can’t be passed on to the next generation and therefore the next and the next, and so what you would expect to find, and do find, is that beliefs like “sacrifice a goat at the time of the full moon” are passed down from generation to generation. The beliefs themselves are always different in different areas, as you would also expect. It is entirely arbitrary what that information is, the point is you believe it because you’ve been told it by strong authority, and you pass it onto your children with equally strong authority, and so on

    1. I respond to this in a new post.

      BTW, thanks for all the interaction. I quite enjoy it. God bless you.