Apologetics 102: The Bible

This summer, I’ve spent some time going through an apologetics book called Emails to a Young Seeker: Exchanges in Mere Christianity. The author is a professor at Grove City College, from which I recently graduated and where I encountered this book during an assignment in an English class. Throughout campus, Dr. Hogsette, or “Prof Dave”, as he calls himself in the book, was praised as a gifted author and apologist, but with every page of this book I find myself disagreeing more and more. (Check out my full introduction and Part 1, too!)

This week, I read email exchanges six through nine between the writer and the fictional Christian seeker, an airheaded college student. The questions are as follows:

Exchange 6: I’m having some problems accepting the Cain narrative in Genesis.
Exchange 7: Why are there genealogies in the bible and can they be used to date the Earth?
Exchange 8: Isn’t the bible just a bunch of tales compiled by men to achieve their subjective agenda?
Exchange 9: I don’t know if I can trust the New Testament record.

Upon my first inspection of the table of contents of this book, I was immediately puzzled by Exchange 6. If the seeker is reading through the entire bible as he says he is, and he’s read the entire book of Genesis, I can’t help but ask: why the Cain narrative? That’s really what you had a problem with? Not the fall, or Noah’s Ark, or Moses and the 10 Commandments, or Abraham’s age and God’s command to sacrifice his son? My theory is that this question was included because it was the only hole in Genesis’ plot that Prof Dave had a (very illogical) answer ready for.

The seeker’s main problem with the Cain narrative was, when Cain was out wandering, who was he afraid of if the only other living people were his parents? Prof Dave first rambles on for a while that every human is fallen and sinful and needs Jesus, then he goes through the idea that Genesis’ genealogies don’t list women (which isn’t sexist, it’s just how it is!), before getting to the fact that since Adam lived for 930 years, he probably had time to help a lot of ladies pop out a lot of babies. He explains how people lived that long before defending the fact that most of these ladies would have been Adam’s own daughters:

that's not how any of this works.jpgincest

So there you have it. Fool-proof apologist logic.

I have to admit that Exchange 7 begins with possibly the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. “Can the bible’s genealogies be used to date the earth?” Really? You can’t figure out on your own that that is insanely unreliable? The inane response from Prof Dave matches the stupidity of the question itself. He begins with the excuse that Earth-dating is not an exact science (I suppose it’s not, but using actual science, we’ve gotten pretty close), so he doesn’t know for sure. I’ve said it before about Dave here, as well as about Lee Strobel’s claims in The Case for a Creator, but I don’t know why apologists seem to love the big bang so much and hate evolution. As for the whole old-earth thing, they really go hand-in-hand.

Prof Dave argues for a literal Genesis, a big bang, and strictly microevolution. On top of all that, he claims in this exchange that he “grapples with what amounts to overwhelming evidence that the earth is old.” This is understandable because there is overwhelming evidence that the earth is old. He is held back from the truth only by his religious beliefs. I’ve never heard of anyone who knows the true age of the Earth grapple with any evidence that it is young. Anyone who is compelled to believe that, only does so because of the book of Genesis.

Exchange 8 deals with the biblical canon and how we ended up with the books that we have. I myself think this is a fascinating topic, although I haven’t really started looking into it yet. Prof Dave provides five extremely vague ways that the church fathers determined which books were biblical. They are:

1. “Was the book written by a prophet of God or a person accredited of God?”
2. “Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?”
3. “Did the message tell the truth about God and his nature?”
4. “Does the message come with the power of God?”
5. “Was it accepted by the people of God?”

If I were to structure a holy book myself, I would use much more specific criteria; maybe that way, it would have fewer contradictions, but that’s just me.

Exchange 9 consists of Prof Dave pulling out all the classic stops on why the New Testament isn’t a myth. His strongest argument? The writings don’t feel like myths. It’s written in a nonfictional tone; therefore, it is nonfictional. It seems to me that it would feel like nonfiction because it was meant to be believed. The bible wasn’t written to be a fairytale to read to your kids at bedtime. It was written for an audience of gullible adults so that they would believe every word and become easier to control. If it sounded mythical, it couldn’t have done that.

Dave’s next argument is one that I’ve heard plenty of times, but I must be understanding it wrong because I don’t know how it correlates with whether or not the New Testament is true. He claims that there are many, many copies of New Testament manuscripts from relatively not long after the events are said to have taken place. This is supposed to attest to the writings not being tampered with as they were passed down, but even if they weren’t, who says we should believe anything they said to begin with?

The author predictably compares the New Testament to the writings of Homer and Plato, which have a higher chance of having been tampered with, and he argues that no one questions those writings. It should go without saying, however, that these writings aren’t said to be the only relic on Earth that we have from the one true god, complete with instructions on how to live our lives, how time began, and the secret of the meaning of the universe. So yeah, the bible is going to be scrutinized more thoroughly than other works.

What do you think of Prof Dave’s arguments? Is there anything I missed? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!


Read next:

apologetics 102 theological paradoxes

45 Replies to “Apologetics 102: The Bible”

  1. “…I don’t know why apologists seem to love the big bang so much and hate evolution.”

    On the one hand, Christians’ opposition to evolution puzzles me. For this reason:

    If one were making the case that a local woman is not a mother, it would be self-defeating to point to her newborn baby as evidence, would it not? My point being: If the god of the Bible really is the creator of all, as Christians believe that he is — Colossians 1:17 — than why would he be threatened by any aspect of his own creation?

    On the other hand, in articles like this one, Christians’ make their reason(s) for opposing evolution painfully, embarrassingly clear:

    “…it is evolutionary theory that reduces all creatures to the circle of life, which is eat or be eaten. It is evolutionary theory which relativizes morality into ever-changing subjective feelings or molecules in motion—which justifies all brutality. For if morality is not objectively true, but merely a social construction, then all appeals to objective morality are delusional, and only power matters. Only the strong survive, period. Yet they think they can then judge other beliefs, like Christianity or the ‘image of God’ as being immoral or wrong, AFTER they have destroyed all right to do so.”
    ~Brian Godawa, “The Shape of Water Reveals the Soul of Hollywood — Bestiality”

    And, for what it’s worth, it’s a Catholic priest — Georges Lemaitre — that is responsible for what is known today as the Big Bang Theory.

    “…the biblical canon and how we ended up with the books that we have. I myself think this is a fascinating topic, although I haven’t really started looking into it yet.”

    From my understanding of the subject, during the Protestant Reformation, reformers such as Martin Luther took a look at the Bible and basically said “This doesn’t fit with what I believe,” and removed certain books. Which is why a Catholic Bible (73) contains more books than a Protestant Bible (66).

    Regarding why a Catholic Bible has the books it does, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”
    “For Holy Mother Church, relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.
    God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.”
    ~Sections #105 & #106

    Like

    1. From my understanding of the subject, during the Protestant Reformation, reformers such as Martin Luther took a look at the Bible and basically said “This doesn’t fit with what I believe,” and removed certain books. Which is why a Catholic Bible (73) contains more books than a Protestant Bible (66)

      Both the Protestant and Catholic did this. They both rejected texts that did not fit their own ideology

      Regarding why a Catholic Bible has the books it does, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      It was human beings who selected the books that would make the cut

      God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

      It is easy to claim that your message is sanctioned by god, many cultures and people in times past has done that so, the supernatural origin has to be proven because everything about the bible points at human purely. The transmission of the scriptures, the recopying, editing and recopying, the addition and removal of various parts of the scriptures point at a human origin
      Many parts of the bible have been disproven by science, archaeology etc

      Like

      1. “Both the Protestant and Catholic did this. They both rejected texts that did not fit their own ideology”

        The key difference between the two being: The reason(s) why they “rejected texts that did not fit.”

        “It was human beings who selected the books that would make the cut”

        By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as the Catechism notes.

        “It is easy to claim that your message is sanctioned by god…”

        Indeed.

        “The transmission of the scriptures, the recopying, editing and recopying, the addition and removal of various parts of the scriptures point at a human origin”

        I agree: It all points to the fact that it was humans who did the writing.

        Humans, at the instruction of God, as the Catechism notes.

        “Many parts of the bible have been disproven by science, archaeology etc”

        This doesn’t surprise me. Why? Because: Not every single part of the Bible is meant to be taken literally.

        Like how one wouldn’t read a poem in the same way that one would read an autobiography, the different books of the Bible should be read accordingly.

        Like

        1. The key difference between the two being: The reason(s) why they “rejected texts that did not fit.”

          What was the difference

          By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as the Catechism notes.

          Like I said it is easy to claim divine guidance. Both the catholic, protestant and many other religions make the same claim, so you have to proof it

          Humans, at the instruction of God, as the Catechism notes.

          So because the catechism says so that means it is true. I don’t think you accept the claim made by the Qu’ran that it is the word of god because the Qu’ran says so

          And this Qur’an is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah (Lord of the heavens and the earth), but it is a confirmation of (the revelation) which was before it [i.e. the Taurat (Torah), and the Injeel (Gospel)], and a full explanation of the book (i.e. laws, decreed for mankind) – wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn, and all that exists).

          Quran (Surah Younus, Verse 37)

          This doesn’t surprise me. Why? Because: Not every single part of the Bible is meant to be taken literally.

          Can you show me were in the bible that give credibility to the claim that the exodus, the millitary campaign of Joshua or the Genesis creation story, or that Noah flood was meant to be taken figuratively
          Jesus coming in the gospels is directly linked with Adam and Eve in genesis. So if you take genesis creation or at least the account of Adam and Eve to be figuratively then Jesus has no reason to come
          Can you tell me why the death and resurrection of Jesus is to be taken as history, but the fall of man or Noah’s flood was meant to be metaphors

          Like how one wouldn’t read a poem in the same way that one would read an autobiography, the different books of the Bible should be read accordingly.

          Sure you are right. Can you tell me why different elements of the torah are to be taken as metaphor when it was original believed to have been god revealed story to Moses

          Like

          1. “What was the difference”

            Discernment, done with the aid of the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism notes.

            “…you have to proof it”

            One piece of evidence: Apostolic succession. (2 Timothy 2:2)

            The Catholic Church can trace its origin back to Peter — Matthew 16:18 — which is not a claim that a Protestant faith like Lutheranism, which has its origin in Martin Luther in the 16th Century, can make. Peter’s latest successor was chosen on March 13, 2013.

            “[G]ive credibility to the claim that the exodus, the millitary campaign of Joshua or the Genesis creation story, or that Noah flood was meant to be taken figuratively”

            I see it as just common sense.

            Since there was no human around to see the creation of the world — since no one existed at that point in time — is it really so unbelievable to state that the creation of Adam and Eve shouldn’t be read in the same way that Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of Judea, who served under Emperor Tiberius, should be read?

            “Can you tell me why different elements of the torah…”

            Now we’re talking about the Torah?

            Let’s not move the goalposts, alright?

            Like

            1. Now we’re talking about the Torah?

              The torah refers to the books of genesis, exodus, leviticus, numbers and deutoronomy
              How did I move the goalpost. We were talking about the bible, unless you don’t regard the first 5 books as part of the bible then you are right, I shifted the goalpost

              I said ‘Torah’ in this statement Can you tell me why different elements of the torah are to be taken as metaphor
              because as anyone will know that is easier to write than
              Can you tell me why different elements of the books of genesis, exodus, leviticus, numbers and deutoronomy are to be taken as metaphor
              You tell me which of those 2 statements are easier to write

              Since there was no human around to see the creation of the world — since no one existed at that point in time — is it really so unbelievable to state that the creation of Adam and Eve shouldn’t be read in the same way that Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of Judea, who served under Emperor Tiberius, should be read?

              Sure the stories of Adam and Eve were written later, why do I say that Adam and Eve story should be read literally. Because the fall of man as a result of Adam’s action is the reason that Jesus came
              “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:15-18)
              As can be seen, the reason the bible says that Jesus came and died was because, he wanted to repair the relationship between humanity and god that was destroyed by Adam. Is Adam did not exist, then based on the bible, Jesus has no reason to come and die ( this may not be a problem for you, if you regard Jesus to be taken as a metaphor just like you said about Adam )
              “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
              “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
              “By canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Colossians 2:14

              Another reason why Jesus supposedly came was to save us from sin. And the bible tell us that sin came into the world through Adam, so if Adam did not exist, then based on the bible then sin wouldn’t have come into the world.

              Also in Luke 3:23-37. The ancestral line if Jesus was given and it went back to Adam ( you can read the bible portion for yourselves ). That is clear that Adam was considered to be a historical person, Like when you said that we shouldn’t read a poem in the same way that one would read an autobiography
              I don’t think there is any historian, who will see the “supposed” ancestral line of an individual and claim that the genealogy is meant to be taken as a metaphor. Add that to the fact that Luke is supposedly a historian

              “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37-39)
              First, not only does Jesus know the catastrophic historical events recorded in Genesis 6 and 7, but He also knows His audience is familiar with them. Their prior understanding of the flood’s unexpected, total destruction is the basis for His comparison.Here Jesus referred to Noah as a literal human being and his story of the flood and the ark to be literally true. He claimed that His own return would be, to the unprepared, just as surprising and potential as cataclysmic as the flood was in the days of Noah.

              Second, Jesus describes the normal actions of the people living in Noah’s day as “unaware” that a flood was coming. This is how we hear people describe natural disasters; they are consistently surprised by them. It is an interesting note of historical authenticity that plays into His comparison.

              Third, Jesus says the flood swept them all away. The fact that Jesus is linking an event where “all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind” to His eventual return, means something about that return. It’s going to be big, and it’s going to affect everyone.

              According to Jesus, Noah, the ark, and a global flood that killed all the birds, beasts, and people on the earth, were as historically real as His second coming.

              Like

            2. Having given your words more thought:

              “How did I move the goalpost. We were talking about the bible, unless you don’t regard the first 5 books as part of the bible”

              As you point out, the Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible — not the Bible in its entirety.

              Which is why comparing the Torah and the Bible strikes me as comparing apples and oranges. Hence my “moving the goalposts” comment.

              “Can you tell me why different elements of the torah are to be taken as metaphor … why do I say that Adam and Eve story should be read literally. Because the fall of man as a result of Adam’s action is the reason that Jesus came”

              To quote my previous words:

              “Not every single part of the Bible is meant to be taken literally. Like how one wouldn’t read a poem in the same way that one would read an autobiography, the different books of the Bible should be read accordingly.”

              The reason I quote those words is:

              Though a poem is written differently than an autobiography, is there not truth to be found in both?

              The answer to that question is why I don’t see taking some books of the Bible more literally than others as an invalidation of Jesus’ mission on Earth.

              Like

            3. Discernment, done with the aid of the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism notes

              So because the Catholic church says so that means they are right
              In that same way,
              Because the Qu’ran says it is from god, therefore they are right

              This is just circular reasoning

              The Catholic Church can trace its origin back to Peter — Matthew 16:18 — which is not a claim that a Protestant faith like Lutheranism, which has its origin in Martin Luther in the 16th Century, can make. Peter’s latest successor was chosen on March 13, 2013.

              For one thing I have seen the Jehovah Witnesses trace their origin back to not just Peter but to Abraham. So does that make their claim have any weight. Even lutheranism can be traced back to Peter, all current christian denominations can be traced in one way or another back to Peter
              Again how does tracing yourself back to Peter serve as evidence that the Bible is divinely quided

              Islam can be traced back to Muhammed, does that make the Qu’ran and Islam divinely guided

              But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad – for it is the Truth from their Lord,- He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition.Quran surah47 verse-2

              “Muhammad (S) is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All Aware of everything. (Quran, Surah Al-Ahzab:40)”

              Like

            4. Having given your words more thought:

              Regarding my “circular reasoning”:

              When pointing out what the Catholic Church teaches, it is only logical to look in that faith’s catechism, is it not?

              It can be historically verified that a faith like Protestant Christianity has its origin in men like Martin Luther. It can also be historically verified that the Catholic Church has its origin in a man who says he is the “son of God.” When it comes to trusting either Martin Luther or the son of God, I choose the son of God.

              On a related note:

              Whether one is Catholic, Protestant, Jehovah’s Witness, atheist, or Muslim, when it comes to belief and non-belief in a higher power, as the existence of the Flat Earth Movement shows us, evidence only goes so far.

              Videos, interviews, and written records are ultimately meaningless to the person who is unwilling to humble themselves.

              So, if evidence can ultimately only go so far, what else is left for a human to hang their worldview on? Faith. Hence sayings like “Take a leap of faith.”

              When discussing the existence of God, I’ve heard it said that “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

              And so, starting from the claim of “God exists and wants to have a relationship with the beings he has created,” it could be said that “An extraordinary relationship requires extraordinary trust.” (Trust being the foundation of relationships. Would you marry someone you didn’t trust?)

              What is more extraordinary than an all-knowing, all-powerful, being that transcends space and time?

              And what is another word for trust? Faith.

              So, when it comes to belief and non-belief in a higher power, I find that it comes down to a question:

              How humble is one willing to be?

              To make a long story short: I believe in the god of the Catholic faith because that is where my answer to that question leads me.

              Like

            5. When pointing out what the Catholic Church teaches, it is only logical to look in that faith’s catechism, is it not?

              We know what the catholic church teach from looking at its catechism, we know what Islam teach from looking at the Qu’ran. My issue is not with knowing what any religion beliefs, my main point is,
              Yes you say this is what you belief, based on what is found in this text or stories etc, but is what is contained in the text valid
              Many urban legends are found in both written and oral sources. But just having a story in a piece of paper, tells us nothing about the validity of the story/claim

              Let me give an example,

              in lovecraftian mythology, the universe, all of existence. all of history, and everything that will come to pass, is the vivid dreaming of the blind idiot god. Azathoth

              So what I’m saying concerning the bible and religion in general is that just because this story about Azathoth is in a text that doesn’t automatically make it true

              Trust being the foundation of relationships. Would you marry someone you didn’t trust?

              You are right, relationships are built on trust and I won’t marry someone I don’t trust
              BUT
              The trust or faith required here, is not me trusting that you exist.

              Trusting that a supernatural being exist is a not the same kind of trust that I would have in a marriage partner

              It can also be historically verified that the Catholic Church has its origin in a man who says he is the “son of God.”

              It can’t be historically verified
              All christian denomination can trace their origin to Jesus

              God exists and wants to have a relationship with the beings he has created

              This is a claim, which I don’t agree with. So I can’t just accept it without any form of evidence

              So, when it comes to belief and non-belief in a higher power, I find that it comes down to a question:

              How humble is one willing to be?

              To make a long story short: I believe in the god of the Catholic faith because that is where my answer to that question leads me.

              Though I was once a catholic. But we are all on different paths in life, if your pursuit for truth leads you to the catholic church that’s good and fine ( you don’t even require anyone’s permission talk-less about that of a random stranger on the internet ). My own journey has obviously lead me to a different destination

              Though I don’t agree with you on your stance on ( it is expected that I would disagree ) How humble is one willing to be
              For me, like you rightfully pointed out with flat-earth. The issue, is not evidence or lack of, but it is rather what you consider as evidence ( I arrived at this conclusion after series of discussion with a flat earther on some wordpress blogs I follow )

              I would say belief and non-belief in a higher power all boils down to
              What you consider as evidence
              I think this is were our disagreement lies. You see the bible and the catholic church teachings as valid evidence, a muslim sees the Qu’ran as valid, a Luther sees his church teachings as valid, the ancient greeks saw lightning as valid evidence for Zeus, voodoo practitioners see death as valid evidence for baron samedi, similar with the hindus and all other beliefs in the supernatural that have existed, I don’t agree with any of these

              Like you said this conversation is going no where
              But it was nice having this conversation

              Liked by 1 person

            6. “is what is contained in the text valid”

              A good question. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

              I currently have no reason to believe that it is not valid.

              “It can’t be historically verified”

              On the contrary, it can. See the line of popes and bishops, beginning in Peter’s time and continuing to the present day.

              “So what I’m saying concerning the bible and religion in general is that just because this story about Azathoth is in a text that doesn’t automatically make it true”

              There’s also the fact that we know exactly where this text — this “lovecraftian mythology” — has its origin: The works of H.P. Lovecraft (1890 — 1937).

              As a result, we know that Lovecraft’s fiction is just that — fiction. Inspired by his worldview, no doubt. But fiction nonetheless. To quote the man: “Plots may be simple or complex, but suspense, and climatic progress from one incident to another, are essential.”

              My favorite stories of his currently being Herbert West — Reanimator.

              “This is a claim, which I don’t agree with.”

              I know it’s a claim. Which is why I said:
              “…starting from the claim of ‘God exists…'”

              How humble is one willing to be?”

              Humble enough to keep an open mind?

              “I would say belief and non-belief in a higher power all boils down to
              What you consider as evidence”

              A thought-provoking point.

              “I think this is were our disagreement lies. You see the bible and the catholic church teachings as valid evidence”

              My reasons for belief go beyond just those. But that is a different subject entirely, beyond the scope of our current conversation.

              “Like you said this conversation is going no where”

              Where did you hope it would go? When you wrote your first reply to my comment on this post what, in your eyes, was the best-case scenario?

              Whether or not you choose to answer: For what it is worth, I am glad I decided to continue writing.

              Have a good day.

              Keep up the search for truth. (Philippians 4:8)

              Like

            7. There’s also the fact that we know exactly where this text — this “lovecraftian mythology” — has its origin: The works of H.P. Lovecraft (1890 — 1937).

              As a result, we know that Lovecraft’s fiction is just that — fiction. Inspired by his worldview, no doubt. But fiction nonetheless. To quote the man: “Plots may be simple or complex, but suspense, and climatic progress from one incident to another, are essential.”

              Lovecraft could have made a claim in his work that the stories he is telling is divine revelation ( as a matter of fact we could find some dialogues/statements made by the supernatural beings in his works )

              we know exactly where this text
              That’s the point, many of these written stories can be traced back to human authors or group of authors

              We can out-rightly say that Lovecraft’s works are fiction ( though I know a couple of people who believe that the stories are true ) because it is more recent, and we have better historical records, we have better understanding and knowledge of the author, his take on the matter, what he meant was figurative ( most of his work was by the way ).
              But most religious texts and mythos don’t have this luxury

              Imagine for a second that Lovecraft works were released around the time of Homer or lets say far back as 3000 BC. The fact that the work was meant to be fiction would be lost in history and what we would have is a lot of classical scholars and historians spending their time debating what was history and almost all of them would agree that Lovecraft just put down the religious beliefs of his time to writing
              You can see how this would be wrong. Or lets consider in lets say a post apocalyptic future someone ( who has almost no knowledge of history or the sciences ) came across the Lovecraft stories, would he or she be right to say that because the texts say what they say then the stories are valid

              This wouldn’t be correct

              The reason I chose something that we both know to be fiction, was just to demonstrate why I don’t exactly buy the divine claim of the bible and other religious texts
              As with Lovecraft works we know that just because the text claim something it doesn’t make it valid. Any text has to prove their validity

              With a lot of years and lack of surviving history, out-right fiction and religious beliefs could become indistinguishable. An example, consider wiccan and voodoo religions with something like Harry Potter

              This is another reason why we can critique newer religions like Scientology, Raëlism, Mormonism and many new christian denominations. Because the religious movements are happening right in front of us or atleast fairly recent in history

              The same way, I see a lot of the bible, qu’ran, the vedas etc is fiction, mostly influenced by the conditions of the time, whose history “may” be somewhat similar to that of Lovecraft stories or one due to constant retelling or a mixture of both, but in any case their origins are far back that much of their histories are lost in time

              How humble is one willing to be?”

              Humble enough to keep an open mind?

              I try as much as I can to be as open minded as possible

              “It can’t be historically verified”

              Actually, I wasn’t referring to the Catholic chirch

              My reasons for belief go beyond just those. But that is a different subject entirely, beyond the scope of our current conversation.

              I do know that. I did not mean that what I said was the entirety of someone’s faith

              Where did you hope it would go? When you wrote your first reply to my comment on this post what, in your eyes, was the best-case scenario?

              To be frank I didn’t expect this conversation to go anywhere. But here I am still replying

              “is what is contained in the text valid”

              A good question. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

              I currently have no reason to believe that it is not valid.

              Though I have always seen the literal bible interpretation done by many christian denomination as flawed, I still do as that ignores the main point of the message

              But I would admit some of the divine and extraordinary claim are unverifiable. E.g they is no way that anyone can verify if Mary’s meeting with angel Gabriel took place, there is no way to verify if the 3 wise men visited baby Jesus or the events of the transfiguration took place and many more others.
              Same with some claims in other religions e.g I can’t verify that the angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith, or angel Gabriel visited Muhammed or did Hercules kill the Nemean lion or that Krishna returned to his transcendent abode
              These all unfortunately for me requires faith

              An exercise I had done when I started having doubts. Was, I admit that they are some parts of the bible and many religions that are just unverifiable. But most of these religious texts occasionally say a thing or two about the natural world, about history, these parts were verifiable, but l encountered a problem because I never bought the idea of a literal interpretation and there was virtually know way I could do this without taking a literal interpretation
              Based on what I did using a literal interpretation, the bible falls short
              Using a more figurative approach, the bible passed and so did other religions I had chosen for my study

              At the end it comes down to faith, which I don’t have

              Like

            8. “Based on what I did using a literal interpretation, the bible falls short
              Using a more figurative approach, the bible passed and so did other religions I had chosen for my study”

              The Bible has been described as a book, but I believe a more accurate description would be: The Bible is a library.

              The Bible is, after all, the home of more than one book. (Genesis, Exodus, Revelation, etc.)

              And what does one do regarding the contents of a library? Read them accordingly.

              “I try as much as I can to be as open minded as possible”

              Good.

              “To be frank I didn’t expect this conversation to go anywhere. But here I am still replying”

              I’m flattered that, when you don’t know what to do with yourself, you think of me. But: I recommend doing something more fulfilling with your time. Like learning a new skill.

              “At the end it comes down to faith, which I don’t have”

              Everyone believes in something. To quote Ferris Bueller:

              “A person shouldn’t believe in an -ism. He should believe in himself.”

              Like

  2. The further we go back in genetic history, the more information-rich and diverse the gene pool ( even though there were fewer people as we go back in history, each person’s DNA was informationally rich and diverse )

    Prof Dave is blatantly wrong here.
    A population bottleneck (and especially one as extreme as a reduction to two individuals) would greatly reduce genetic diversity

    The major factor for genetic diversity among humans is mutation. He has already stated that the level of mutation in the bible “Adam” and “Eve” time would have been low. That’s correct

    They is far more genetic variation and diversity now than could have existed in Adam and Eve time. The level of diversity we have couldn’t come from two individuals in a short period of time

    From Prof Dave answer to Cain, it is clear that he doesn’t know a lot about genetics

    1. “Was the book written by a prophet of God or a person accredited of God?”
    2. “Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?”
    3. “Did the message tell the truth about God and his nature?”
    4. “Does the message come with the power of God?”
    5. “Was it accepted by the people of God?”

    I am mostly talking for the new testament. Early christianity was really diverse ( more than Adam and Eve ).
    (1). Most of the books in the bible were not written by the names, that we know them as. Those names were attached to it to add credibility. If you use “a person accredited of God”, what should we make the Epistle of Barnabas, the gospel of James, the gospel of Thomas, the book of Enoch ( that we know that was once part of the bible )
    (2) How would a writer get confirmed by acts of god?
    (3) If not the books in the bible how then do we know the “nature of god”. Unless, you chose the book you want to use how would you know the “nature of god” and which is right. It is like me saying the greek writers that tell the truth about the nature of the greek gods are the authentic one. How will I know the nature of the greek gods if I don’t first chose the writer that agrees with my bias. So using this method is nonsensical
    (4) See my answer in (3) and just replace nature of god with “power of god”
    (5) This is the only thing he said that is remotely correct. Though I have my reservations for this method but he is correct this was one of the criteria for selecting the gospels canoon

    They were a lot of christian sects. The new testament canon we have was derived by one of those sects. What we ended up having is a book, that agreed theologically with what that sect believed and teached

    The writings don’t feel like myths. It’s written in a nonfictional tone; therefore, it is nonfictional. It seems to me that it would feel like nonfiction because it was meant to be believed

    This is outrageous.I am 99.99% sure that he does not accept this as a basis for the authenticity of the Iliad, Theogony, Quran or the Vedas

    He claims that there are many, many copies of New Testament manuscripts from relatively not long after the events are said to have taken place. This is supposed to attest to the writings not being tampered with as they were passed down, but even if they weren’t, who says we should believe anything they said to begin with?

    Like I said in this my post https://pathofelightenment.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/my-thoughts-on-teacher-we-wish-to-see-a-sign/

    Having a greater number of manuscripts can make you have better textual integrity. But textual integrity tells us ZERO about the validity of the contents of the text.

    Someone in a post-apocalyptic future where Scientology has become the dominant religion could potentially show that the text of their hand-copied manuscript editions of Dianetics had greater textual integrity than their manuscripts of Hawking’s A Complete History of Time. That would say nothing about which one reflected reality.

    OR, in a post-apocalyptic future where more copies of DC comics or the Harry Potter series or the Perseus Jackson series survive, they would have a really good textual integrity. But will that serve as evidence that a alien pod ( that was mistaken for a meteorite ) carried Kal-El ( superman ) to earth or that evidence for New York remains, then superman existed. Or the historical events mentioned in the Perseus Jackson book series make us conclude that Perseus Jackson existed as a historical figure

    An urban legend can be superbly attested (we can collect thousands of primary source documents containing the legend), yet 100% bogus

    So having a large amount of manuscripts does nothing to show the reliability of the manuscripts content

    Like

  3. I’m sorry for commenting when my opinion was not %100 positive. That’s not my priority here. I did appreciate your perspective on apologetics and was really meaning there are better books written on the topic than the one you are going through. Ones written more to the perspective of an inquiring atheist. Instead of one poorly written for a gullible “faith” filled crowd. This book sounds awful and I’m sorry you are slogging through it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah, yes. The old, “pretend I know what someone is talking about without knowing anything about the subject” interjection. No, that’s not what I meant at all, John. Your “rebuttal” is attacking and offensive. You should try another.

    Like

  5. I have not read a bible for about 60 years now, so I have fogotten most of it. But apparently when god gave the garden to Adam and Eve, he forgot to mention that he made people outside of the garden, so that when Cain was banished to the land of Nod it was likely already populated with other men and women.
    Now if the bible is to be believed in any way at all, it would be my understanding that Cain actually went forth and “spread his seed” among the local families of orangutans, being as they are our closest primate cousins–but such an idea relocates the garden to the Far East, which being the homes of some of the world’s oldest civilisations, makes a lot more sense than Africa.
    But, by mixing human “DNA” with orangutan “DNA,” would probably produce 1 semi-human-like being out of every four beings born of such parentage. Or something like that. And as the semi-humans inter-bred, more close-to-human babies would be born all the time. But that is just one theory, if it even could work, I am just speculating.
    As for how long people “lived” back in those days, a year was more probably measured by the revolutions of the moon around the earth, since at the time it was believed everything in the universe revolved around the earth. It would make sense–if the years were even being measured by celestial objects. But who among us today would measure time by the moon or stars if we had no idea that the stars were anything but pinpricks in the nighttime sky.
    I would be more inclined to measure time by passing seasons. That would make years about three months long or so, and make the age of a humam around 25 or 30 of our present years, which given the life-expectancy of hominids as the time, would be much closer to reality, don’t you think?
    Add to this theory that the female orangutans probably had no names, this could be why they wrre left out of geneologies. But, we all know women were looked upon as chattel as recently as the late 1800s, so, really, they had no importance in the early lives of men…
    I think I have taken up enough of everyone’s time for today, it is time for breakfast. I think I better do the cooking today, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Why? Being creative is what sparks ideas, and ideas spark more ideas. I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just giving a theory. Whatever you are trying to tell me, I do not appreciate your attempt at censorship.

        Like

        1. There are things we can be creative about, things that from the beginning have a bit of credit. Like if we find a herb that has been used to treat malaria with some success in the past, we can be creative about how it works. And what theories we come up with we go ahead to research. I don’t think there is enough credit to the mythology in the bible for us to work that hard at making sense of it. It instead seems to me that we give up too much in the process by making pseudoscientific claims in the process.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, Enock, now you are starting to get at my theory. We already know the bible holds no basis in reality, we being you and I. All I am doing is putting absurdity to the test, as far as the orangutan theory goes. Can you imagine the religious uproar if it was somehow proven that Cain committed beastiality on orangutans? Come on, have a sense of humour.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Sorry, send button got pressed too early. To continue:
            No one at present can read anyone else’s mind, so to “know” another person’s belief or non-belief system is impossible. As for your proscriptions, what makes them reasonable to you, without qualification. Whose word are you taking on that? Someone else’s, or your own? If these are reasonable to you, say they are reasonable “to you.” Don’t try to say they are reasonable to others– they may not be. If something belongs to you, own it. Make it personal. Atheism is a personal matter. Own that it is your brand of atheism. No one cares. You can believe there is no tooth fairy, as long as you claim it as your belief…
            I just realized I am probably answering the wrong comment. Guess I hit another wrong button. I’m clumsy that way. Let me see if I can find the correct comment to answer…

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Re “5. Was it accepted by the people of God?”
    This is clearly the case as there are many duplicates in the NT. For example, the “miracle of the loaves and fishes” occurs twice with only slight differences. In each the disciples are bewildered and astonished at what happened. If you were to take that as Miracle 1 and then Miracle 2, why were the disciples still clueless? They had seen it all before. The reason for the two is the “mark” couldn’t delete one over the other becuase each story had its fans, so he included both. So, they virtually admit that this criterion is not divinely inspired because the people favored one slight variation of a story over the other when there is nothing substantively different between the two.

    Re “He claims that there are many, many copies of New Testament manuscripts from relatively not long after the events are said to have taken place.” WTF? The earliest “copies” of scripture we have date to the fourth century, so we know nothing about earlier copies except what we can infer from scriptural analysis. (Note of the fragments identifies authors, they have all been added from “church tradition,” and we all know how accurate that is. Of the scraps we have, there are more differences in the texts than there are words (in total). The earliest gospel we have (Mark) dates to about 70 CE, which is four decades after the demise of the supposed Jesus. Think about your high school experience. If you graduate at 18, how many of the details will you remember at, say, age 58? Without the prompts of records or yearbooks, etc. How trustworthy will the memories you have be? Obviously the autor “mark” cannot have been at all of the events he describes, so he must have gotten the information from others. Who were these others? Answer: we do not know. Who was “Mark?” Answer we do not know. So much for “1. “Was the book written by a prophet of God or a person accredited of God?” If we do not know who “Mark” was, how can you believe the Church Fathers who decided the Gospel of Mark was the bone fide word of their god?

    Sorry for the length but the quality of apologetics is so poor now that this bilge is what passes for it. More qualified people aren’t bothering any more.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. In the Cain story we hear “And Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and dwelled in the land of Nod east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife and she conceived and bore Enoch. Then he became the builder of a city and he called the name of the city like his son’s name, Enoch.”

    So, they don’t mention the birth of women, but they did note Eve’s. Why was Eve mentioned? Why weren’t women’s births mentioned? There was no culture that was misogynist at the time. (How could there be, there was no culture? If they claim that their god created them that way, why are we not now?) So, Cain wasn’t married at the time of his cursing as neither the marriage nor the wife are mentioned when he went off to the land of Nod. Where did he find his wife? And, Cain built a city? Populated by? Even if Cain and his wife had children and their children had children and … how many generations do you need to have enough to fill a town, let alone a city? This was a cursed and marked man and he lived for, what, many hundreds of years? And his children inherited his long life? And the women kept pumping out babies for centuries?

    There are many holes in this story, these being only a few. And it is clear apologists make stuff up to fill those holes (like the births of women not being noted) willy-nilly with no shame for inventing their own scriptures. They never say “One way this could have happened ….” or “Another way this could have happened …” and rarely say “We can’t say as the Bible isn’t explicit here …” They just tell us what they believe as if that were scriptural. Of course, they can claim divine inspiration, but how would they know that? (Certainly, how would we know that?)

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Shouldn’t it be “cannons?” versions of scripture and parts of books are not the same (Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant) for all. I am not sure how the Council of ? (forget which) made the definitive decision or what their criteria was, but prior to that things were quite variable. No NT text is by an eye witness or original text and most have been tampered with during copying or translation. These are books of religion, not history or science, and should be seen as such. I’m not saying anyone should drink the cool-aid, but that makes it easier to swallow.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Your assessment doesn’t seem the most open minded, but I appreciated hearing your perspective. Perhaps you would be better off reading a book written for an atheist on the Bible, than one written for a believer. You may understand it better. After all, 1 Cor 1:18. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, yes. The old, “You may have head knowledge, but you don’t have ‘heart’ knowledge” argument. The problem is, most Christians have too much heart knowledge and avoid the head knowledge. As Luther said, “reason is the greatest enemy of faith.” Perhaps he could have added “knowledge,” too.

      Like

      1. “Ah, yes. The old, “pretend I know what someone is talking about without knowing anything about the subject” interjection. No, that’s not what I meant at all, John. Your “rebuttal” is attacking and offensive. You should try another.” This is where this one goes. As a response to “John”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Your assessment doesn’t seem the most open minded, but I appreciated hearing your perspective. Perhaps you would be better off reading a book written for an atheist on the Bible, than one written for a believer. You may understand it better. After all, 1 Cor 1:18. 🙂

      The author’s of the book assessment of Cain, showed a poor understanding of genetics
      I don’t know how you arrived at this

      I don’t know a lot about you but on what basis did you arrive at the conclusion that the bible is true and the Quran, the vedas, theogony and Iliad are false

      Perhaps you would be better off reading a book written for an atheist on the Bible, than one written for a believer. You may understand it better. After all, 1 Cor 1:18. 🙂

      This is the title of the book Emails to a Young Seeker: Exchanges in Mere Christianity. It is for someone seeking knowledge, even if the book was for a believer, the author’s take on the subject matter is that of a close minded individual

      Like

      1. I feel like this response is based on a few assumptions about my beliefs that I may not hold. I’m not sure why my comments are posting everywhere erratically but I am sorry for anything that was confusing.

        Like

        1. When you click “Reply” on a particular comment, your reply shows up under that comment. If you don’t click a “Reply” and just type in the comment box then your comment shows up at either the end or the beginning of comments (depending on blog configuration). Here, I think it shows up at the top of comments.

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s