Alleged Contradictions in the Bible

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Grand_Moff_Monkey, Jan 22, 2002.

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  1. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    Over Palpazzar's objections, ;) I'd like to continue the discussion on the burden of proof:

    Many of the Bible's claims would seem to conflict with what we know of the world today. The Bible alleges, for example, that a race of giants once roamed the earth (Genesis 6:4). Now, of course we've never found any extra-Biblical records of these giants--no bones, no tools, no ruins, nothing; and no, they aren't dinosaurs, unless dinosaurs could breed with man--but there are those who argue that, because we can't disprove it, the story stands.

    Imagine that one day you get arrested. For witchcraft. They drag you into court and accuse you of using your magical powers to bring misfortune on your village--and what's more, the concept of "innocent till proven guilty" hasn't been invented yet; to get off, you have to prove that you're not a witch. How do you do that--how do you prove an abstract negative? Does the burden of proof rightly rest on you, or those who argue in the affirmative?

    Belief that you're right isn't enough; kids have believed that putting on a Superman costume enables them to fly, but gravity still takes precedence when they jump off their tables or out their windows.

    Now if I claim to have seen Bigfoot, but offer no evidence, would you take my story at face value? If you knew me and trusted me, maybe; I wouldn't be the first to make that claim, and there's (questionable) evidence in Bigfoot's favor. What if I claim to have seen Bigfoot wearing a cowboy hat and a police uniform dancing around and singing "YMCA?" I'd better damn well be able to back that up, lack of disproof or no.
  2. Palpazzar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2000
    star 4
    Geist, the word you use as giant is in Hebrew "Nephilim". It means fallen ones. Apparently, they were of great size and strength. Nothing is said of them actually be what we think of as giants. They may have simply been a rather robust people. Certainly bones have been found that are large compared to some of their contemporaries. But to use 'giants' as you do distorts the word used. It only means big guys who are sinners.


    Want to tell me there is no proof of what I just described?
  3. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    "But to use 'giants' as you do distorts the word used."

    Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

    Numbers 13:33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

    Granted, the word "giant" may well be a mistranslation (although if it is, the "grasshoppers" quote is still problematic--a huge exaggeration, perhaps?), but there are many other large-scale supernatural events in the Bible which have no extra-Biblical parallel.

    Individuals live for hundreds of years, animals speak, food for millions falls from the sky on a regular basis (we could really use that one today), angels appear to the masses or swoop through cities taking lives, heroes such as Samson topple armies and buildings single-handedly, people rise from the dead, seas part on command, the sun stands still, floods cover the entire planet, and God Himself appears in flame and whirlwinds to deliver His messages personally.

    Either these events (and many others like them) are historically accurate or they aren't. There's no proof that they did or didn't happen, but given what you know of the world around you, which is the more likely answer?
  4. Palpazzar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2000
    star 4
    Giant isn't so much a mistranslation as it is simply ambiguious.

    It has long been held by some that David was never real. He was thought by some to be perhaps a metaphor or even an outright myth. Recently, an inscription was found on an monument (Assyrian I think) with bore David's name. The link to this article is no longer around, and I haven't looked for it elsewhere. However, at least in this case the events of the Bible are supported by evidence.

    As to the events in your example, I can neither confirm or deny by empirical evidence. However, I have no difficulty believing in God, and so it is not hard for me to believe those things. What I will NOT do is believe only in those things I can see.
  5. Wylding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2000
    star 5
    Either these events (and many others like them) are historically accurate or they aren't. There's no proof that they did or didn't happen, but given what you know of the world around you, which is the more likely answer?


    Hebrews 11:1

    "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
  6. Darth Geist Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 1999
    star 5
    There may have been a King David. There may also have been a King Arthur; that doesn't mean Merlin ever did any magic.

    I think there's more going on than we can perceive--but since it is, by nature, imperceptible, I don't think that anyone can say with any authority who's right and wrong about it.
  7. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    The I will not believe in only that which I can see argument simply doesn't wash. There's a difference between only believing what you can see with your own eyes, and refusing to believe anything for which a single piece of reliable evidence cannot be dragged up by any human living today.
  8. Palpazzar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2000
    star 4
    "refusing to believe anything for which a single piece of reliable evidence cannot be dragged up by any human living today."

    Oh, but I have seen evidence that supports my beliefs and have yet to find something to cast doubt on them. I don't expect anyone else to believe, although there are those that do.
  9. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    Contradictions...hmmm...let's take a couple of important ones.

    1. The whereabouts and length of Jesus' public life. If it lasted three years and was spent in Judea (John), it did not last one year, located in Galilee (synoptics).

    2. Christ as a historical person or as a purely spiritual figure. According to the gospels, Jesus actually lived on earth and was reported by eyewitnesses. However, according to the Pauline Epistles he was kept hidden for centuries, exposed through divine revelation, and was crucified in a realm of demon spirits. (The fact that the Pauline Epistles make no reference to an earthly Jesus is good evidence for those who, like me, deny that Christ ever existed. However, it can also be cited as a contradiction).

    Also, I see you've gone to great lengths to explain away minor "on the face of it" contradictions. If the Bible was really a divinely inspired book showing humanity a much-needed path to salvation, such malarky to make it fit would be unnecessary.

  10. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    The biggest contradiction I find are the passages that lead followers to believe that the Bible has exclusivity with the construct of God.

    The problem is that a variety of other religious text make claims of being "the one true way to god" as well... each of which has about as much objective evidence of its validity as the Bible.

    My conclusion is that either they are all exaggerations of the truth, arrived at separately... or they are all merely periodical interpretations of the unknown, by cultures who, historians and anthropologists can confirm, believed each that they were either the "chosen" or "true" or only people.

    It's like ten different people brought in separately to write a description of a bottle of water. The bottle of water is simple... but undoubtedly each description will vary... and the more complex the object (or person, let's say) being described, the greater the variances in description...

    To further complicate matters... as soon as those descriptions are passed on through generations.. when they are later compared, they're even more different... sort of like ten different chains of people all passing down a message... Haven't you ever done that experiment in school? It's bad enough when a message gets passed through several people for ten minutes... but 2000 years? How do we even know that the Dead Sea Scrolls weren't preceded by several stages of oral folklore passage?

    Reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons:

    Bart: You know, I heard Skinner say the teachers will crack any minute.

    :the message is passed by about 10 people:

    Guy: Skinner said the teachers will crack any minute purple monkey dishwasher!
  11. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    Palpazzar, perhaps you'd care to elaborate on your evidence for Christianity, and then send a copy to the nearest church. Theists are in dire need of evidence for the existence of god when they engage in debate with atheists.
  12. Grand_Moff_Monkey Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 29, 2001
    star 3
    Good to have you back, Darkside ;) We've missed you. Hope you had a good time reading.

    1] From John it's pretty clear Jesus' ministry lasts about three years from the number of times the various Jewish festivals come around. Nowhere in Matthew, Mark or Luke is it suggested that Jesus' ministry took place within a year. They often use phrases like "Some time later". It's not continual action.

    2] Jesus most certainly was real. No one else has even come close to the effect that Jesus has had on the world. Even today's date - 2002, is referring to the number of years ago that Jesus entered the world (give or take a few years).

    Paul never refers to Jesus as anything but a real being. Consider this:

    "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve." (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

    Paul definately regarded Jesus as real.

    In his letters he talks about Jesus's trial, last supper, crucifixion, resurrection and ascention. The fact that he doesn't refer to other things Jesus did while he was on the earth is irrelevant.

    Don't forget, Paul's writings were letters. Each one was addressing different issues in various churches around the world. My pastor once wrote me a letter when I was at college to encourage me to remain faithful to God. The fact that, in the letter, he didn't mention Jesus's earthly ministry makes no difference. What was he supposed to say?

    "Hi, GMM, just wanted to encourage you to remain faithful to God. By the way, Jesus once raised Lazarus from the dead.
    Yours truly, Your pastor."

    Have a good weekend, Darkside.

    By the way, Jesus walked on water. ;)

  13. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    Good to have you back, Darkside We've missed you. Hope you had a good time reading.








    Thanks. It's good to see that differences of intellectual opinion don't always have to create personal friction. :)







    1] From John it's pretty clear Jesus' ministry lasts about three years from the number of times the various Jewish festivals come around. Nowhere in Matthew, Mark or Luke is it suggested that Jesus' ministry took place within a year. They often use phrases like "Some time later". It's not continual action.








    Good point. However, the Galilee/Judea problem is far more significant than the 1/3 years one. I'd also point out that the different timespans, while perhaps unimportant in themselves, create problems regarding the actual events. For example, John tells us that the wrecking of the temple occured at the beginning of the ministry and there were no serious consequences, whereas the synoptics indicate that it brought on the serious wrath of the priests and led to Christ's crucifixion.







    2] Jesus most certainly was real. No one else has even come close to the effect that Jesus has had on the world. Even today's date - 2002, is referring to the number of years ago that Jesus entered the world (give or take a few years).








    Just because so much voice and ink has spread the name of Jesus, does not mean that he existed. The Egyptian pantheon had effects on that civilisation for thousands of years - does that mean that Atum-Ra originally ruled the world, that the throne then passed to the earth-god Geb, that it then went to the Osiris/Seth conflict, and was finally inherited by Horus?







    "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve." (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)








    "According to the scriptures" likely refers to the Jewish scriptures - i.e. a mythological character was created based on their prophecies. Moreover, the only possible reference to Jesus' existence on earth is "that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve" - and this could easily signify that Christ is perceived by revelation, not by witnesses to a historical character.







    Paul's Epistles are often cited as being impartial, reliable corroboration for Christ's existence, the crucifixion in particular. However, there is not a single line in any of them that makes reference to a historical Christ. All of Paul's references to the crucifixion and resurrection are in a timeless, spiritual realm, not in a contemporary terrestrial setting. His Epistles actually provide us with a snapshot of the early mythological Christ, and constitute significant evidence that Jesus' story could not have begun with a real human being. Paul is motivated by the spirit sent from God (2 Corinthians 1:22 and 11:4, 1 Peter 1:12, Ephesians 3:5) and Jesus has been revealed to apostles like him (Hebrews 9:26, Ephesians 3:5, Romans 16:25). This leads to the conclusion that Paul's Christ is told of through divine revelation, not eyewitness perception. The son of God is kept secret, hidden for generations (Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:5, Col. 1:26 & 2:2) and revealed only now. He was not crucified by Pilate and the Jews, but by demon spirits in a mythological realm (1 Corinthians 2:8, Col. 2:15). These letters are surely not the testimony of a person who witnessed, or thoroughly researched, a historical messiah while he was alive!







    For further substantiation, look at the "facts" of Jesus' life of which Paul knows absolutely nothing. It is alleged that Christ taught in parables; Paul is utterly unaware of any of them. The gospels tell us that Jesus performed many miracles; Paul, a proselytiser, wrote not a word about them. Christ is said to have visited Jerusalem when Paul was living there, yet we can deduce from
  14. R2D2-PENA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 3
    The problem i have is that you are trying to scholarize chistianity, assuming that since YOU don't have any physical evidence in your, hands you don't suscribe to it. The thing here is that as many classify it, it is a faith. What is faith? Well according to scripture it is the assuredness of things awaited, or the conviction of things not seen (roughly translated from spanish, sorry). Humanly, defining faith is a belief. Now if you look at all those classifications you can see that no evidence is presented when you believe in God. When most of us christians became christians, it was a miraculous conversion, because i/we never saw a fire cloud, never a burning bush, never saw an angel, never saw demons cry out in anguish when Jesus came into our hearts, etc etc. like what we read in the Bible. But the peace that came into our hearts in that moment was indescribeable, and that gave us evidence of the existence of God, or at least for me and most of the people that i go to church with, all of this being from the Holy Spirit. But the funny thing happens AFTER you believe in God, you start to see things that you never have before, curiously it's as if someone speaks to your mind, and firmly believe and know that it is God. And i have seen alot of things that have made me even more sure of my belief, i have seen demons leave people, especially those that have had something to do with satan worship, i have seen people healed miraculously, i have seen how God has peotected me from death many times, my prosperity is exclusive of God because i know that i am not as good as making decisions for my business as those that i have made (you can call it intuition but man if you only knew), i pray and everything has been answered except for one, but curiously 2 people have told me that they received from God the need to tell me that it is on it's way, and i have told not one person about that prayer, so obviously it was God talking. All of that has been evidence to me of His existence.

    Now you may not want to believe, and that is your right, but you are missing out on something very special. And before you can see you have to believe, and that is a fact.
  15. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    "But the funny thing happens AFTER you believe in God, you start to see things that you never have before..."

    This is what's referred to in medical circles as a placebo effect.

    Nothing wrong with placebos.... if that's what truly makes you feel better.
  16. R2D2-PENA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 3
    it's not placebo, because until you experience the difference between not having God in your life and having Him, i cannot explain the difference.

    To you it might be that, but to me it's not. And there are millions and millions who will testify of the same thing.

    Besides, no one fed me anything, it was a personal, lone experience between me and God.
  17. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    I believed in Christianity right up until three years ago. When I stopped believing, I felt intellectually liberated. So while you may have experienced something special (although SnowDog's point about the placebo effect is a good one), I haven't, nor have people like Dan Barker who were ministers for years and years but eventually lost faith.

    Note that psychologists have quite a lot to say about religion. Suffice to impart that a lot of religious doctrine (justification by faith, prayer, miraculous interference, etc) is designed to make the believer feel special.

    Regarding this incident with the prayer you told no-one about, I would like precise details please. What you've provided at the moment is too vague for any kind of satisfactory refutation.
  18. R2D2-PENA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 3
    To answer your question about the answered prayer. Well i am an architect and a musician, but i feel more attracted towards being a musician, so i prayed to God about it, but kept it personal, since anyone would think that it's a stupid decision to prefer to be a musician than a professional architect, i mean, the money, the struggling, there is no comparison. So some time later a woman minister friend of my mom's came to my house cause i had hepatitis, so whe came to pray for me cause she was visiting. And after she prayed she told me that God showed her a vision of me playing music on a stage in front of alot of people and that i would travel the world, etc. etc. Then some time later i gave up cause i felt that nothing was happening, but one day my mom came to me (who is also a minister by the way) and she told me that God says not to be impatient because that prayer was answered and that it will be soon when i will partake in that dream of mine. Note should be taken that i never told either of them of that prayer and of that desire.

  19. Palpazzar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2000
    star 4
    Being in the field of psychology, I have a lot to say about religion too. There is a fine line between things. Personally, psychology's limitations leave more than enough room for religion.

    So Darkside, why did you lose the faith?
  20. Kessel Runner Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 1999
    star 6
    Ironically, for me it took going to a Catholic University for me to fully admit my lack of faith. I felt more at east with my spiritual self since then.


    And I'd like to clarify that I think religion and spirituality do not need each other to exist. I think of myself on some level as spiritual, but I find religion always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  21. R2D2-PENA Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 6, 2001
    star 3
    Hey Kessel, you have made my point exaclty, i have always stated that religion is crap, and it has nothing to do with a true spritual relation with God.
  22. cydonia Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2001
    star 5
    Darth Snowdog said,

    "My conclusion is that either they are all exaggerations of the truth, arrived at separately... or they are all merely periodical interpretations of the unknown, by cultures who, historians and anthropologists can confirm, believed each that they were either the "chosen" or "true" or only people."

    Thomas Paine, in response to Darth Snowdog said,

    " Could we permit ourselves to suppose that the Almighty would distinguish any nation of people by the name of his chosen people, we must suppose that people to have been an example to all the rest of the world of the purest piety and humanity, and not such a nation of ruffians and cut-throats as the ancient Jews were, -- a people who, corrupted by and copying after such monsters and imposters as Moses and Aaron, Joshua, Samuel, and David, had distinguished themselves above all others on the face of the known earth for barbarity and wickedness. If we will not stubbornly shut our eyes and steel our hearts it is impossible not to see, in spite of all that long-established superstition imposes upon the mind, that the flattering appellation of his chosen people is no other than a LIE which the priests and leaders of the Jews had invented to cover the baseness of their own characters; and which Christian priests sometimes as corrupt, and often as cruel, have professed to believe."
  23. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    You must have had musical ability. Now, the two people, in all likelihood, simply recognised that to be a musician was your primary dream (there are many signs that you could have been giving off, even if you were oblivious to them). I can't believe that you could have been able enough to become a musician, yet inept enough for nobody around you to even consider that you might have embarked on a musical career. As for the "vision" of you playing on a stage, that's either the product of imagination (a knowledge that you're great at music leads to an image of great success), or invented to encourage you to pursue your dream.

    Nothing you've told me can't be realistically explained from within the precincts of the natural, knowable world.
  24. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    "To you it might be that, but to me it's not. "

    That was precisely my point... and also the definition of placebo.

    It doesn't matter. Whatever works for you.

    However, you cannot expect another person... such as myself... to accept that it would work for me. Knowing what I know, I realize that it is, in fact, a placebo because the path only works for those who believe it does.

    Similarly, if I believe that Buddhism works for me... it will. If I believe that Hinduism works for me, it will... at least they will in the same way and to the same level of consistency that Christianity works for you.

    Religion basically fails the litmus test of clinical consistency because there are good people in every faith whose prayers aren't answered 100 percent of the time.

    Now, you can say that this is because god is selective...or he tries to teach a lesson in everything. But that explanation is really a red herring that was originally concocted by institutions that could not explain why their subjects would experience the same kinds of tragedies under the new regime that they had with the old. Nothing changed, and the people wanted to know why... so institutions often rationalized with something like, "God works in mysterious ways."

    Mysterious indeed... If you remove God from the equation... almost consistently you will find that the outcome of a person's situation is directly correlated with either their actions or their perceptions, or their presence in a situation that is outside their control because of the overwhelming influence of someone else's actions or perception. In either case, it's clear to see that god is not a factor in the fate of these people.

    You are truly the master of your own fate.

    Now, if by being the master of your own fate you are simply carrying out seemingly subconscious choices that god is already aware of... then his/her omnipotence/omnipresence/omniscience would be a more plausible explanation.

    In other words, God already knows what you're going to do before you do it... making a conscious, externalized statement.... such as a prayer... doesn't really make a difference.

    You can take three people. Two who pray, in different religions, and one who doesn't... put them all in the same situation and instruct them to react in exactly the same fashion. They will each see similar or identical outcomes. It is neither safe to conclude that god was with the person who prayed and not with the person who didn't, nor is it safe to assume that god wasn't aware of the true path of action that each was going to choose... regardless of the way in which they externalized or failed to externalize their intentions.

    As a control, try including two more people, one who prays and one who doesn't, but in this subgroup they both act differently from the first three. Their outcomes will almost invariably be different from the first three participants, and no significant correlation could be made between their outcomes and their choice of religious expression or lack thereof.

    In any case... the conclusion from this experiment would be that it is one's actions, not merely one's beliefs... that determine their outcome. Furthermore, it can be concluded by years of psychological study that one's belief does have a marked effect on their perception of the outcome. Even if two people experience some sort of misery... one of them might look at the situation differently, more positively, than the other, because of their particular set of beliefs.

    My point is that... regardless of one's perception of a situation... all it changes is how one feels. It doesn't change what actually happened.

    EDIT: In the multivariable "real world", one's perception certainly can influence what path of action they will take... but then it is still the action, not the perception, that creates the outcome.
  25. Darkside_Spirit Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 9, 2001
    star 3
    Excellent post, SnowDog. Excellent post.
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