Sunday, May 13, 2007

My problem with the Bible

I realize that a lot of people are religious, even some of the people that visit this page are religious, and I'm okay with that. You're free to worship Jehovah, Allah, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster for all I care. I just ask that you don't push your beliefs on me.

And that's where my problem with the Bible begins. There's a small percentage of Christians that believe that they have to convert all of us heathens to their way of seeing the world. In fact, the Bible even tells them they're supposed to. I have a lot of friends that are religious, and basically, they don't try to convert me, and I don't try to convert them to atheism...and we get along just fine. There are some heated debates, but they're debates and not friends are generally smart enough to know the difference.

However, the second that someone I don't know, or barely knows, tries to convert me, I get a little hot under the collar...especially when they try to tell me that the Bible is the literal word of God, and that the events in the Bible all really happened. At that point, it's war!

So, today I'm going to refute two of the most popular stories in the Bible, and by that I mean that I'm going to show they can not be the literal word of God. For starters, I'm going to ignore the heinous contradiction of the fact that thousands upon thousands of people are murdered in the Bible at God's will, even when he's preaching, "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Let's just leave that glaring contradiction to one side for now. Instead, I'm going to pick a story from each of the testaments and refute it, as it's told by the Bible.

Let's start with the New Testament and the resurrection of Christ, and I'm only going to use one source to refute this...the Bible itself. When I read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the other chapters of the Apostles, two questions quickly come to mind...

1) Where did Christ appear?

2) To whom did he appear?

Now remember, I'm trying to refute the people who believe that every word of the Bible is the literal truth. Why do I ask these two questions? It's simple. These chapters of the Bible contradict one another. Some say he appeared in his tomb, others say that he appeared outside of his tomb, and still others say that he appeared in a nearby town. Some say he appeared to one or more of the apostles, some say that he appeared to Mary, and others say that he appeared to Mary and Mary Magdalene.

If every word of the Bible is literal truth, how can these contradictions be possible? If I wrote these kinds of contradictions into a novel, the book would never appear.

The second story is the easiest to refute, and the most ridiculous story in the Bible (again if you accept it as literal truth.) This is the Old Testament story of Noah's Ark. I'm sure you all know the story, so I won't repeat it, but here are the problems...

1) Assuming that it rained for 40 days, and that on that 40th day, Mt. Everest was covered with water, it would have to rain one inch every 10 seconds. Have you ever had an inch of rain dump on you in a ten minute period? It's miserable, can you imagine a inch every ten seconds for 40 days? Also, who in the hell is bailing out this boat as it fills with water?

2) There simply isn't enough water on and in the Earth to flood that much.

3) The water vapor created by this kind of rain would raise the atmospheric pressure on Earth to the point that it would crush Noah's lungs.

4) Where did the other ethnic groups come from. There's clear evidence that they existed before the floods, so how did the all die off and then come back?

5) There is clear evidence of habitation all throughout the world before, during, and after the flood...and in the same structure. That kind of rainfall could pretty much destroy most of the man-made structures of the time.

6) The flood does not appear in other religions of the world at the exact same time. There are stories of floods, but they don't coincide with the Biblical flood.

7) There is no geological evidence to support a world-wide flood. There is evidence of a massive flood in Turkey at roughly the same time as the Biblical flood. There is also clear evidence world-wide of the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs...and that was long before the flood. It should have left some geological evidence.

8) There is no evidence of New World and Australian animals living in the Middle East at the time of the flood. How did the spider monkeys and other new world monkeys, as well as the marsupials of Australia get on this boat?

9) Speaking of the Ark...just how big was this thing? In order to get two of each animal on this thing, it would have to be huge!!! Again, how did one family bail the water out as it was falling at an inch every ten seconds?

This picture claims to show the Ark on Mt. Ararat. Further studies have show this isn't the Ark. In fact, this is such a highly glacial area that any wood remains that might have ended up here would have been destroyed.

The story of Noah is basically an exaggeration by Jewish priests of the story of Gilgamesh and other pre-Judeo Christian stories. Much of the Old Testament was borrowed from earlier religions.

If you want to believe that the Bible is a great source for moral guidance, that's your right. And in fact, once you strip away the death, mayhem, and destruction that proliferate the Bible, there are some good moral lessons...but please don't try to tell me that it's the literal word of God, and that these things really happened...


Keith said...

I have done a little studying about the early gospels, including Mark and something called the pre-Markian-passion. The earliest documents ended with Jesus being placed in the tomb and then Mary finding it empty. There is no mention of rising from the dead. In fact, it wasn't until the the council of Nicea, hundreds of years later, that it was decided that Jesus was divine.
I think that Joseph of Arimathea bribed the roman guards to take Jesus down early. Historically most crucifixions take days to kill someone. Jesus was on the cross only a few hours. Jesus probably took a few weeks to die of sepsis from the wounds he suffered, but in that time, the resurrection stories started.
This should not subtract from the message of Jesus, which is valid. Love thy Neighbor is the real meaning of Christianity and this is mostly forgotten. Jesus was a great philosopher and would have been remembered even if he had not been crucified.

Marva said...

Ah, drat, J! I was so looking forward to finding a dragon and a unicorn as described in the last chapters of the book of Job.

J Erwine said...

As I'm typing this response, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's "The Life of Brian" is playing in the background.

Keith-There were a lot of philosophers that taught that, but you are right. Ironically, there's some evidence that during the missing part of Jesus' life, he was actually studying with Budhists. I always remember the saying, Jesus told us to love one another, and we've spent the last two thousand years killing each other over how he said it.

Marva-Unicorns and Dragons? I don't remember that from Job...I'll have to go back and read it...

Jim Shannon said...

A good place to debate this topic is at A God/s fight. (AGF) It's an open forum on MSN with all different points of view. If you go to my left sidebar on my website under links you will find a link to AGF. AGF has been around for years. It began as a chat room on MSN but now it's just a debate open forum. I go there occasionally. Check it out.

Jim Shannon said...

OOps, more specifically it's called AGF Message board.

Keith said...

Jim, There is really nothing to be gained by arguing this stuff. People who believe will believe. I have known enough good believers that I don't have a problem with this. Many people are better humans because of their faith.

Marva, Job is the main reason for reading the bible. The book of Job is the best part and doesn't seem to match the rest of the book.

Job is the only book where the "problem of pain" (note Roger Zelazny reference) is really considered. If God is so good, why does the world suck?

Marva said...

Job capitulated to a bully after the bully sent evil out to get him. Yup, a kind god.

Chapter 39:9-10: Will the unicorn be willing...
Chapter 41. V 18: Out of his mouth (leviathan) go burning lamps and sparks of fire leap out...."

Marva said...

THERE IS A GOD! He finally decided he was sick and tired of Falwell's duplicity and knocked him off. Age 73? Just about 6-7 years short of average age of death for men, so clearly god was pissed off.

J Erwine said...

If there really was a God, I'd love to see his conversation with Jerry...

Anonymous said...

Theologians can probably run circles around your debunking of those stories, J. After all, they've been at it for 1000s of years and they continue to churn out ever-more complicated excuses. What's more, they always have that trump card -- God can do anything. It doesn't have to make sense or leave any credible evidence behind. We're just supposed to take their word for it, and do as they say.

They would enslave our minds. Black humor is perhaps the best response, a la Vonnegut.

Most everything that we know about the life of Jesus comes down to us through the authors of the New Testament, who embellished his story with old myths and legends as if to say his message was not enough on its own. I doubt the relevance and morality of what remains. It certainly didn't prevent later Christians from committing atrocities in his name. Far as I know, Jesus says that slaves are to obey their masters.

I prefer the words of Bob Marley:

"Emancipate your selves from mental slavery
"Not but ourselves can free our minds"

Robert E. Porter