How Genesis Views Our Universe

Virtually everyone knows that it’s hard to square the differences between the Genesis account of creation and what we now know through science. For centuries, people believed that the earth was less than 10,000 years old, because the Bible doesn’t seem to go back any further than that. Now, geology, biology, chemistry, anthropology, archaeology, and astronomy agree that the earth (and our universe) is far, far older than that. Now, it’s certainly possible that God spoke everything into existence 10,000 years ago, but with the appearance that it had been here for billions of years. That’s what I believed when I was a Christian. Others think that the “6 days” spoken of in Genesis is figurative for simply “periods of time.” But even if one of those theories could answer some of the problems, it can’t solve them all.

The average person living at the time Genesis was written did not know that the earth is a sphere, or that the sun is a star, or that the earth is just one of at least 8 planets circling the sun. Of course, if God miraculously inspired the writing of Genesis, then it doesn’t matter what people understood at the time it was written, because God knew everything we know now, and more. But that’s the thing: Genesis has more problems than just the age of the universe. When you read Genesis carefully, you get a view of the universe much like the one depicted by these images:


Let’s look at some passages, and I think you’ll see the similarities. Take Genesis 1:6,7, for instance:

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.

What? This is probably one of the most confusing passages in this chapter if you’re trying to apply it to what we know of the cosmos. What does it mean to separate the waters from the waters? And what’s this “expanse” that it talks about? Well, verse 8 answers that for us:

And God called the expanse Heaven.

In other words, the expanse is the sky. It’s not “Heaven” in the spiritual sense, as we’ll see from some of the other verses. But how does the sky separate waters? We learn more starting with verse 9:

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

So the waters under the expanse (sky) are oceans, rivers, etc. What are the waters above the sky? We can’t say it’s water vapor for two reasons: One, it doesn’t make sense in the context of the passage. But the second and more important reason is explained here (vs 14-18):

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

According to this passage, the sun, moon, and stars are stuck in the sky — the same sky that keeps back the “waters above.”

Now look again at the two images I posted above. Genesis is describing a system in which the sky acts as a dome around the earth. This dome has pretty lights stuck in it to help us see, even when it’s night. The business about water being above the sky makes sense when you think about it — why else is the sky blue? And where do you think rain comes from? We see this in Genesis 7:11-12, when God decides to flood the earth:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

For people living at the time Genesis was written, this was not a bad job of explaining things. It explained why the sky was blue, where rain came from, and why we have the sun, moon, and stars. We can easily understand why they held these beliefs. However, in today’s age, the Genesis account is absurd. Efforts to make it fit with what we now know about the universe is a bit like trying to rationally argue for the existence of Santa Claus. Why not just put an end to all the mental gymnastics and accept that like every other religious text in the world, the Bible is just the product of mankind’s imagination? It may be a difficult proposition to accept, if you’re a firm believer. But I can tell you from experience that the whole thing makes a lot more sense when you stop assuming God had anything to do with the Bible.

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264 thoughts on “How Genesis Views Our Universe”

  1. Why not just put an end to all the mental gymnastics and accept that like every other religious text in the world, the Bible is just the product of mankind’s imagination? It may be a difficult proposition to accept, if you’re a firm believer. But I can tell you from experience that the whole thing makes a lot more sense when you stop assuming God had anything to do with the Bible.

    This is a hard thing to ask most people for I guess there are countless millions who have never thought deeply about these passages

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  2. This is probably one of the most confusing passages in this chapter if you’re trying to apply it to what we know of the cosmos.

    On my first read of Genesis (many decades ago), I found that confusing. But, once I realized that it was presenting a naive pre-scientific account, it suddenly made sense and became quite easy to read. At the time, that led me to decide that the Bible could be inerrant only on theological matters, but certainly not on what we would consider scientific topics. I concluded that it wasn’t written for us. It was written for pre-scientific people. YEC creationists seem to find it hard to adopt that view.

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  3. When we first became very literal my husband and I sat down one evening trying to figure out why the stories in Genesis 1 and 2 were so different. We couldn’t and just swept in under the rug at the time and figured it had to be the same somehow.

    if God miraculously inspired the writing of Genesis, then it doesn’t matter what people understood at the time it was written, because God knew everything we know now, and more.

    Exactly!!

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  4. I have no problem marrying the science and Genesis. Because Genesis is read terribly wrong. The waters above refer to the atmosphere, the troposphere, etc. The Bible never gives us the age of the earth, people base it on genealogy and when they think Adam was created. Since they think he is the first man they make the earth that old. Adam was not the first man and the facts go on and on. The idea that you have to reject the Bible is the part that is nonsense.

    You can read more of what I think here: http://fluidtheology.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/creation-and-evolution-part-1/
    http://fluidtheology.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/25/
    http://fluidtheology.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/conflict-between-genesis-1-and-2/

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  5. John is so right about your patience Nate. I know I’ve said it before, but I really admire the patience you display on your blog. If I had just a small percentage of that I’d be better off.

    Very good points here Nate. For me the plain reading of Genesis 1 and 2 displays that the writers of these passages were all too human. As you say, if there is a God that really is all knowing and all powerful and He inspired these writings then you would think He would have had these things written correctly. Such a being would have known that we’d all be discussing this and confused about it almost 3000 years later.

    The moon being a source of light, the earth formed before the sun, stars and moon, there being light before the sun, the animals created after Adam in chapter 2 are all difficulties that are much more easily explained by simply admitting that this is a book written by imperfect humans. I think it’s the same reasoning that “exclusivist” Christians use to declare scriptures of other religions to be false, so I don’t think I’m too out of line with my own conclusions.

    Sure it’s “possible” that God could have allowed mistakes, but this isn’t the kind of conclusion that makes sense for me.

    Even some evangelicals (Peter Enns, Thom Stark, Kenton Sparks, etc.) are starting to concede that there are mistakes in these passages and others (although the likes of Norman Geisler would throw them out of “evangelicalism” if they had the power, much like he did to Mike Licona.)

    For me, if I can’t trust these writers to be correct about these kinds of things, or if I can’t trust them to be consistent in their morality (genocides, slavery, etc.) then how can I trust them to be correct in the things that are so important? (yeah, rhetorical question)

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  6. Then too, there the problem with translation errors:

    I have before me a book, entitled, “HOLY BIBLE.” Under that title, in smaller gold leaf print, the words, “KING JAMES VERSION.” Inside the flyleaf, the book assures me that it is, “TRANSLATED OUT OF THE ORIGINAL TONGUES: AND WITH THE FORMER TRANSLATIONS DILIGENTLY COMPARED AND REVISED, BY HIS MAJESTY’S SPECIAL COMMAND.”

    I also have another copy I found online from the Electronic Text Center of the University of Virginia Library, for comparison. Both texts agree with my above quotation of Genesis 1:20, “And god said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.” – word for word.

    But I also have a copy of the same verse from the Latin Vulgate, the original source for the King James version, which says: “dixit etiam Deus producant aquae reptile animae viventis et volatile super terram sub firmamento caeli” (emphasis, mine). Translated, – and yes Laurie, I’ve studied Latin – the bolded portion says: “over the earth, under (not “in”) the firmament of heaven” – “super,” meaning “above,” “sub,” meaning, “below.”

    These two copies of the King James Version of The Bible have incorrectly translated one Latin preposition, “sub” (“under”), to read, “in,” thereby changing the context of the entire sentence, placing heaven inside Earth’s atmospheric envelope. Yet the King James version is an English translation of the Latin Vulgate, which is a translation of the Greek Pentateuch, which is a translation of the Hebrew Tanakh, based in part upon stories handed down verbally from generation to generation for thousands of years, but otherwise, doubtless all true.

    One tiny preposition? No big deal. But one translation error at the very beginning of the book, leads me to wonder how many more are in there?

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  7. Welcome, chialphagirl, and thanks for flawlessly demonstrating the gymnastics I was speaking of:

    Because Genesis is read terribly wrong. The waters above refer to the atmosphere, the troposphere, etc. The Bible never gives us the age of the earth, people base it on genealogy and when they think Adam was created. Since they think he is the first man they make the earth that old. Adam was not the first man and the facts go on and on.

    I think you mean Genesis was written terribly wrong. If most of the audience understands it a particular way, that’s not the fault of the audience.

    To your point about the atmosphere, are the sun, moon, and stars inside our atmosphere? If so, then your explanation would hold water (pardon the pun), but I believe the scientific consensus is that the sun, moon, and stars are situated way beyond our atmosphere. That being the case, how could the “waters above” refer to the atmosphere, when the expanse containing all of the cosmos is supposed to be in between the earthly waters that the “waters above”?

    People view Adam as the first man, because the Bible says he was. Even the name “Adam” means “man.”

    I’m afraid that Genesis and science are simply at odds. For just a moment, try to honestly consider which position makes more sense: that Genesis was truly inspired by the creator of the universe, or that it was just written by people who had a misunderstanding of the universe they were living in?

    Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Thanks to everyone for all the great comments!

    @rodalena — I don’t think that drawing came from Clarence Larkin, but I’m not positive. I have seen a similar (possibly the same) picture in a Peter Enns book, Inspiration and Incarnation.

    @Howie — thanks for the compliment! But I do think you have as much patience as I do — at least, you seem to in your comments. And thanks for listing some of the other problems with Genesis that I didn’t get to. Also, I really identified with what you said here:

    For me, if I can’t trust these writers to be correct about these kinds of things, or if I can’t trust them to be consistent in their morality (genocides, slavery, etc.) then how can I trust them to be correct in the things that are so important? (yeah, rhetorical question)

    Apparently, Jesus would have identified with it as well:

    If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

    @Arch — I don’t know Latin (“it’s all Greek to me”), so thanks for providing that excellent insight!

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  9. I applaud your effort to find ways to make the Bible conform to modern views of science, chialphagirl – at least that tells me that you are conversant with science, unlike many theists I’ve known, who ignore science because they don’t want to confuse their little theist brains with facts. However, I have to be honest, once you trotted out “bara,” you lost
    me.

    I hope you dig deeply enough in your quest, to discover that Chapter 1 of Genesis was written by a group of Aaronid Jewish Priests, around 550 BCE in Mesopotamia, during the Babylonian Captivity, who collectively became known to biblical scholars as the Priestly Source, and was intended to entirely replace Gen 2, written by the Yahwist Source in Judah, around 950 BCE, that gives us a more anthropomorphic god who pops down to earth for walks, “in the cool of the day,” sometimes, when the heavenly air conditioning system is on the fritz, and who zaps down his celestial Singer and sews clothes for Adam and Eve. The Priestly Source felt the Jewish god should be more ethereal than that, more dignified and untouchable, but the Redactor, who pieced together the entire Torah from at least four different sources, had second thoughts about tossing one of the biblical books – what kind of trouble might he find himself in, if he tossed the wrong book? So he kept both in, which is why we have two conflicting chapters in Genesis, or “bereshit,” as it was originally known (having nothing to do with a bear’s extracurricular activities in the woods).

    But you’re off to a good start – keep digging, keep writing, and always remember:

    “A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to atheism.”
    — Donald Morgan —

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  10. Oh, and chialphagirl, don’t just spam and run, stick around and join in our discussions! There are other theists here, you won’t be alone and picked on unmercifully —

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  11. Arch, I am sure you know that your documentary hypothesis, is indeed just just that, a hypothesis. It seems really, that you just use it to get a rise out of people who believe in the scriptures. I know my opinion doesn’t rate with you, and I hate to be redundant, but if you want to understand the Hebrew scriptures it helps to look at them from a Hebrew perspective. I believe Ya gave Mosheh the Torah, and that what you find difficult to interpret is nothing more than a chiastic structure, which was a very common practise in Bereshit.

    Welcome chialphagirl!

    Don’t go ganging up on her now Arch 😉

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  12. Good morning, Laurie, glad you could join us – I trust the goats, chickens, daughters are well —

    RE:

    I am sure you know that your documentary hypothesis, is indeed just just that, a hypothesis. It seems really, that you just use it to get a rise out of people who believe in the scriptures.

    You’ve mentioned before that you attend Catholic services, though I’m not sure if you consider yourself a practising Catholic, or just a person who attends their services.So I’m left to guess that you at least have access to a copy of the Catholic’s “The New American Bible,” in which case, when you find time, would you please turn to the article in the front of the book – p xxi – xxxiii – the section entitled, “How The Bible Came About,” by Jerome Kodell, O.S.B., and continue on through the section to follow, “How To Study The Bible,” by Orlando R. Barone – note especially page xxxi, on which author Barone references the exact biblical sources, J (Yahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomist) and P (Priestly), that I’ve repeatedly presented to you. I can’t help wondering if they’re just throwing that in to get a rise out of people who believe in the scripture. After all, those Catholics can be more laughs than a barrel of monkeys when they really put their minds to it, the Inquisition springs to mind — Laugh? I thought they’d cry! I thought their pants would never dry!

    People have doubted, Laurie, ever since the 1500’s and possibly longer than that, that Moses (which means “baby” in ancient Egyptian) didn’t write the Torah. Let me give you a little history to ignore:

    15th Century: Bishop Tostatus suggested that certain passages were written by one of the prophets, not by Moses.

    As early as 1520, Carlstadt, a leader of the Reformation movement in Germany, wrote a pamphlet arguing that Moses did not write the Pentateuch.
     
    In 1574, A. Du Maes, a Roman Catholic scholar, suggested that the Pentateuch was composed by Ezra, who used old manuscripts as a basis.

    Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher, concluded in 1651 that Moses wrote only parts of Deuteronomy. 

    In Tractatus theologico-politicus (1677), Baruch Spinoza, the Jewish philosopher, recognized as one of the founders of modern biblical criticism, reached a conclusion much like that of Du Maes, that Ezra compiled Genesis to II Kings from documents of varying dates.

    Shortly afterward, Richard Simon, a Roman Catholic priest, often called “the father of biblical criticism,” gathered together the substance of critical analyses up to his time and raised the problem of literary history, thus opening the door to the application of techniques used in the study of non-sacred literature to the Bible.

    Further, explore the works of German minister Henning Bernard Whitter in 1711, French professor of medicine and Court Physician to Louis XV, Jean Astruc, in 1753, and noted and respected German scholar and son of a pastor, Johann Gottfried Eichhorn, in 1780.

    In 1806-7 W. M. L. DeWette, a German scholar, published a two volume introductory study of the Old Testament in which he suggested that the book found in the temple in 621 BCE may not have been written by Moses, but by a later author.

    In 1835-36, Wilhelm Vatke, a student of Hegel, wrote a critical work, Die Religion des Alten Testaments nach den kanonischen Büchern entwickelt, which contained the seeds of a revolution in the ideas held about the Old Testament, which was followed, in 1862, by K.H. Graf, also a student of Hegel, who wrote Der Prophet Jeremiah, in which he proposed that the Book of Deuteronomy, surprisingly “found” in the temple, just when its laws were needed, was written by none other than Jeremiah himself.

    Then followed, in 1876/77, Julius Wellhausen, a student of Graf stood on the shoulders of these giants who dared to look at the Bible critically, and put together what is now known as the Graf-Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis.

    Belief in the documentary hypothesis was triggered by a number of factors, such as:
    • Anachronisms, like the list of the Edomite kings
    • Duplicate and triplicate passages.
    • The flood story appears to involve the meshing of two separate stories.
    • Various passages portrayed God in different ways.

    These factors led theologians to the conclusion that the Pentateuch is a hybrid document which was written well after Moses’ death, and much later than the events portrayed.

    Sorry, Laurie, but I am not alone in my opinion, and if it IS “just a hypothesis,” then it’s one that Catholicism accepts as a valid one.

    Sorry for taking up so much space, Nate, but some things can’t be explained in a “tweet” and Laurie deserves to know that I’m not just making this stuff up.

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  13. The formation of the sun and planets has gas, liquid, and solid phases. The gravitational forces begin planetary formation Genesis 1:2. The gravitation forces initiates the fusion of the sun Genesis 1:3. The formation cloud of the solar system dissipates Genesis 1:4 and 5. The planets in liquid form are separated by space Genesis 1:6 -8. The surface of the earth solidifies and the early bombardment period brings water Genesis 1:9-10. The sequence of life formation in the remainder of the first chapter of Genesis follows what is scientifically accepted.

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  14. Wow!!! Not Catholic Arch! Don’t want to be burned at the stake for heresy Ya know! How could I be Catholics when I have clearly stated that I am not a christian and I don’t believe Paul was anything more than anti Christ?

    So many things to say, but my youngest is not feeling well so I’ll have to get back to you on Sunday.

    Before I go though, the scriptures teach that Satan deceives the world through religion. Not trying to be malicious here, but the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon in Revelations and Christianity is is just another daughter. I was reading another blog this morning talking about speaking in tounges, and wanted to clarify that Yeshua never condoned “vain babble”, and the tounges they spoke were real languages. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am not. Way off topic though.

    The only reason I brought it up is that Ark wonders how we know who is right when all religions manifest “spiritual gifts” and feel that they are right. Maybe someone should proof text Paul’s OT quote on God giving US gifts. He seems to have a knack for misquoting scripture, just like someone else

    Not judging, just making an observation

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  15. And beyond all of that, Laurie, you have to imagine a scales, on one side of which is a hypothesis, with hundreds of years of supporting evidence, and on the other, a fable, with nothing factual to support it.

    Had no one ever analyzed the Bible, researched it, then researched the world to see if it matched (and I mean matched, not warped the world to fit the words of priests with no scientific knowledge whatsoever), I might be inclined to believe those fables myself, and in fact did for ten or twelve years of my childhood, but as Magellan pointed out, when you’ve seen the shadow of the earth on the eclipsed moon, you can never go back to believing the earth is flat.

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  16. @Marc — I’m sorry, but Genesis 1 simply doesn’t support what you’re saying. Just consider this section:

    Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

    14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

    20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

    In verses 16-18, it says God made two great lights — one to rule the day and one to rule the night. He also made the stars (sounds like an afterthought, though we now know that these are other suns and planets). God’s creation of these things came after he created all plant life, but before he created any animal life. That is not at all what we find through science. And remember, there’s still the “waters above” that must be dealt with. And those waters are separated from the “waters below” by the same “expanse” that contains the sun, moon, planets, stars, and other galaxies.

    I know how difficult it is to consider the possibility that the Bible wasn’t inspired after all. It took a long time for me to come to terms with it, and it’s a horribly frightening prospect. But once you let it sink in a bit, and you start reading the rest of the Bible with an open mind about whether or not it’s inspired, many things start to fall into place.

    Why does Paul say there’s 430 years between Abraham’s promises and the coming of the Law? Because he simply made a mistake. Why do Matthew and Luke give such irreconcilable accounts of Jesus’ birth? Because they’re simply recording two different and separate traditions — the accounts were never meant to go together. Why does Ezekiel’s prophecy of Tyre fail so utterly? Because he was just a regular guy making a prediction — sometimes they don’t come true. Why is Jesus’ prophecy that the end of the world would happen before 100 CE so problematic? Because he was wrong.

    Realizing those things doesn’t mean you have to jettison your belief in God. It may just mean a realization that “God” does not equal “god of the Bible.”

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  17. Laurie, sorry about your daughter – by all means, take care of that, we can always argue —

    But as long as I’m here, I never said you were Catholic, I was referring to the comments you’ve made – and I can wade through a pile of comments and find them if you make me – in which you said you attended the Catholic Church because there was something about their structure or service or something, that you liked – now PLEASE just admit it, and don’t make me crawl back through all of those comments to prove it —

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  18. lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs

    I found it especially amusing, though at the moment, I don’t have chapter and verse at my fingertips, that a later point in the Bible, using the stars for “signs,” i.e., astrology, will be considered a sin, but according to Gen, that what they were created for.

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  19. Laurie, a few additional thoughts beyond the excellent content supplied above…

    One reason the documentary hypothesis is *necessary* and inevitable is that the record of where the Penteateuchal texts came from is so woefully inadequate.

    They do not declare an author.

    They do not declare a date of origin.

    The versions that we have are decidedly not written in the language extant in Moses’ day.

    All references to Moses are third person and past tense, often distant past tense.

    At a minimum then, it cannot be said that there is any firm footing on which to say that Moses drafted these books. Perhaps the best explanation for the traditional view is an incremental conflation. They contained the Law of Moses. They were the books of the Law of Moses. They therefore were the books of Moses. And they did need an authoritative author to wield authority. Being honest about their anonymity simply wouldn’t do.

    So we cannot – unfortunately – given any airtight case for when or where these books originated. And that is odd, for God’s Word. Instead, we must quite simply do the best we can with the little we’ve got. And the documentary hypothesis does well given the meager data we have.

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  20. Brisancian — great points. The “books of Moses” also contain his death and burial, which he obviously couldn’t have written. Also, they record the different times that Moses wrote things, which means he was writing something other than what we’re reading.

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  21. Hi Nate. The atmosphere of the early earth would not have allowed the Sun, moon, planets and stars to be seen from its surface which is the point of reference in the creation account. The vegetation created on the third day reduced the CO2 levels and produced the oxygen that cleared the atmosphere so that the heavenly bodies became visible on the fourth day. It is also interesting to note that until the 20th Century is was assumed that the Cosmos was eternal, yet Genesis 1:1 confirms it had a beginning and that agrees with our current science. To get so much right in such an ancient document gives it much credibility.

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  22. Furthermore, I’ve already pointed out the many, many Mesopotamian events the Bible has either plagiarized outright, or reworded and rehashed, the most famous of which was the “Flood.” It’s also believed by many that not only was Moses not an historical figure, the fictional figure was modeled after a combination of the great Akkadian leader and subsequently ruler of all Mesopotamia, Sargon, son of a temple priestess, who placed him in a basket, caulked with bitumine, and released him in the Euphrates, where he was found by a gardener, and the other most notable of Mesopotamian leaders the great Amurrite king and lawgiver, Hammurabi.

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  23. Marc and Chialphagirl,

    I suggest looking to several sequencing points for the real trouble points. The sequence of appearance of (1) fish and birds, followed by (2) land creatures, simply does not bear out per the evidence. Fish, land creatures, then birds. This is an argument from evolutionary development.

    The second point I would make is that the oldest Homo Sapien skull that we have in hand is 195,000 years old, which ante-dates Adam by about 189,000 years. Now, we can propose a 97% genealogy compression, but there is no precedent for doing so, and more to the point, there is no *biblical* basis on which to justify doing so. Note that this is *not* an argument from evolutionary development… we simply have human remains that are that old. So it is an argument from anthropology, but there is no need to assume evolutionary development to have difficulty here.

    Likewise with the third point: we are left with Hitchens’ observation of absurdity. Human remains this old would mean that anatomically and cerebrally modern people existed for about 190,000 years before God finally began interacting with humanity. We would be left to accept that he just watched us and our hominid ancestors live in ignorant squalor and terror for a very long time. And that seems rather absurd.

    As Nate said, gymnastics follow… I look forward to seeing what explanations may come.

    But one thing is certain: the text informed us not at all about any of these problems. It manifests not the slightest insight about the actual cosmos in scale, in age, or in development. And it hints in no way about how long people have actually been here, or how we actually came to be here.

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  24. Marc,

    How many origin myths believe the cosmos had a beginning? All of the ones from that region do (to my knowledge).

    We need to start giving equal credit to all of them, on your argument. I’m quite serious. If this is a good argument, given that the cosmos either having or not having a beginning was 50/50 odds either way, then we need to take Enuma Elish very seriously. It made the same 50/50 gamble and also hit jackpot.

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  25. Nate, agree. I was aware (of course) of the death of Moses being recorded, and the associated gymnastics of explanation. But I actually hadn’t realized it recorded him as writing the way you described. Coolio.

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  26. That’s not entirely true either, Marc – while science does indicate that the known universe had a beginning, there is no indication that it has an end, and since we don’t know what, if anything came BEFORE the BB, there may well have been something else, the ingredients for the BB may well BE eternal, but we can never know for certain.

    There’s no way a Jewish priest, writing in a mud hut in the middle of Bronze Age Iraq, with a bird-quill pen on a piece of sheepskin or mashed papyrus reed, is going to have any acquaintance with science as we know it.

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  27. Not to pile on, but I think Brisancian and arch are right. There’s nothing in the text to indicate the scope, age, or layout of the cosmos as we now know it. And as has been mentioned, if we’re going to go to such lengths to save the Bible’s version of things, why aren’t we going to same lengths to salvage other religious works?

    As I said before, I understand the desire to make all of it work out. Rethinking one’s worldview is scary and painful. But surely you feel the stretching you’re having to do to accommodate these texts?

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  28. The first five entire pages of my own website consists of creation stories from various cultures, and I listed only the biggie – all of them believe the universe had a beginning, nothing miraculous about that!

    Amazingly – and theists are quick to point this out – the majority of them had flood stories as well, which theists use to say, “SEE! There really was a Noah’s flood!” but most areas flood from time to time, and there is no indication that these stories all refer to the same occasion.

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  29. But I actually hadn’t realized it recorded him as writing the way you described.

    Well, I know it speaks of him writing the Law when he’s on Mt Sinai, and we obviously don’t have that, since it’s been woven into the narrative. I think there are some other places that talk about him writing something, but I can’t think of them right now, and I could be wrong about those.

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  30. Exactly so. Excellent point – glad to know your site catalogues the myths. I’ve said elsewhere thy one of the biggest problems facing bible backers is an honest ignorance of other contemporary and antecedent accounts.

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  31. Nate, I’ll keep an eye out, but interesting to consider. Doesn’t really tilt anything, but it would not surprise me. I think your boil down in the “pile on” was apt. Good distillation and an honest challenge… I’ve mentioned before that the biblical community always manages to find further “stretch room” in the texts to accommodate what we learn elsewhere. But always a posteriori. If left to the texts, we would still be quite misled – and misled due to misleading…

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  32. I think one of the things that helped me come out of Christianity was being raised in a very conservative denomination. We were taught to see the way that other denominations would twist certain passages to get the end result they wanted. Not to say those people have nefarious intentions, but confirmation bias plays a big role in making passages say what you need them to say. We’ve already had some examples in this thread. Language like “you’re not reading it from the proper perspective,” or “the passage really means…” tend to give it away.

    Once I got used to seeing those kinds of arguments, it got real easy to recognize them when my own group began using them to “explain” the problems I was finding with the Christian religion as a whole.

    Like you’ve said before, questioning a religious text is not the same thing as questioning God. It’s like the Old Testament story of the young prophet that was misled by an older prophet and died because of it. He should have tested the old prophet’s claims. That’s what we’re doing. I just wish more people saw it that way.

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  33. Knowing that any theist readers would automatically anticipate me making fun of their religion, I thought it might be a good idea to get them laughing at the religions of others, before I began laughing at theirs.

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  34. It just allows me to make sure that people who I don’t know don’t say wildly inappropriate things. Once you have commented and been approved your comments go on automatically so you are all good.

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  35. I didn’t mean to “spam and run”. I only get notified if some one actually hits reply to me. So I went about my day doing other things, came back to check on this and there were 40 comments. Sorry that I missed everything.

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  36. I answered this more extensively in my posts if you want to check them out. It is a lot to put in a comment discussion.

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  37. The bible says that the earth and the water should bring forth the animals in their kinds. It doesn’t say that they all magically appeared at once. This is the beginning of intro level species. I believe the bible is addressing what was happening on the earth – that evolution had worked to the point where animals were starting to appear.

    Adam was not the first man, he was the first representative just like Jesus was a representative. Paul explains this in romans. So when adam existed has no bearing on how anything is dated.

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  38. The first paragraph does not answer. The very first birds – or pterosaurs, etc – appeared long after the very first land creatures. The latter are derivative of the former.

    Please provide chapter and verse for the second paragraph.

    The representative/headship format that you speak of is derivative of covenant type theology. But this is without question a late innovation, and post Christian – arguably post reformation.

    At any rate, you cannot prove Genesis from Paul – the latter is derivative of the former. And Paul never states that he thought Adam was not the first man.

    In order to have any merit, you have to be able to demonstrate that ancient Jews saw Adam in this way. I’m not aware of a good pre-Hellenism source for such a view.

    But I’d like to point out the tactic that’s being employed here: you’re arguing not to lose. You’re not arguing that the text actually gave us any insight as to where people or the earth came from. You’re simply trying to say that the evidences of science have not completely disconfirmed Genesis.

    This is pretty a meager corner to fight from, given that this is the one revelation from the creator who was there. And these are all recent reinterpretations of the text that do not actually stand up to the tests of consistency or antiquity.

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  39. I don’t actually. I have more than enough atheist comments. 🙂 I just don’t like typing lengthy replies when I have already written posts about them.

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  40. Uh-oh – you said the dreaded “P” word!

    Ever see the cartoon character, the Tasmanian Devil? This is what our pet theist, Laurie, becomes, whenever she hears Paul’s name – she believes him to be the anti-christ, or a prophesied false prophet, or some such nonsense. Personally, I just think of him as having hijacked Christianity from those originally involved with it.

    Good luck, or better yet – run!

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  41. Thanks Arch!

    Chialphagirl, as I am sure you have realized already, you can’t believe most of the crap that comes out of his mouth.

    It is true, I am not a christian, but some how he thinks that makes me a Catholic.

    Yes Arch, I am going to make you provide evidence for that statement.

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  42. Chialphagirl,

    Perhaps I should rephrase… in order to have a *tractable* solution, you must demonstrate Genesis intent/claims/scope/validity sans the NT, and sans Paul. Paul gives some first century commentary on Genesis, but he does this mostly as a fulcrum for his Christology. But Israel was God’s chosen people, and Genesis must have stood quite well on its own for them, else we have a major character problem for the Divine.

    Further, Genesis – and Genesis alone – provides a creation narrative. If the Bible includes a *history* of creation (and I’m not entirely sure you’re endorsing that it does), then we must discuss from Genesis. There is no other historical material on the table. Paul is not talking history; he’s talking Christology. The who-what-when-where is covered only in Genesis. On the traditional view of scripture, it had to stand for well over a millennia on its own (not that I endorse an inception that far back personally). And given that it is the only narrative account of creation to speak of, it has to stand today as well.

    Anything from the NT can shed additional light on it perhaps, can provide a second and deeper layer of meaning perhaps, but it cannot redraft or alter the original meaning. It cannot contract or expand the claims of the narrative. If Genesis was written by a 12th-14th century BC Moses, then we have to go back to that context to talk about what it meant, and more importantly, what it *claimed*.

    I’ve read the leading lights on all of this… Remembrance model, Wisdom model, Homo Divinus model, etc. Biologos, Walton, Enns, Collins, the other Collins, Lennox, McGrath, etc., etc. If you’re sort of dangling that you have a new slant on it, then you’ll have to give some type of taste before I’ll be willing to plow through longer blog posts. So far I’m not seeing that… the answers thus far are fairly cookie cutter and seem to dismiss the actual complexities of the subject.

    Biblical defenders of Genesis continue to ever play a game of redefinional catch-up with science. A couple thousand years of Christian scholars generally believed that Adam was the first man. You’re proposing that the quite plain meaning of the text is otherwise. I’ve seen that “abdication of former claims” before. You’re going to find yourself quite short of any clear and unambiguous passages to support it. On the other hand, we have many passages and church scholars that plant the regressing ancestral terminus squarely on Adam. As Nate has said, it is easy to find confirmation bias.

    So, three questions before I cruise the blog post:

    (1) Is Genesis – either 1 or 2/3 – a historical account or not?

    (If they are principally theological, then I think we have nothing to debate)

    (2) Who is Adam’s biological father?

    (3) If creature/hominid/human suffering ante-dates the Fall with Adam, how then do we have tractable theodicy, and how does the groaning of creation find its source in the recently arrived humanity?

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  43. Caveat, I have not read all the other comments so sorry for any redundancy.

    I fully agree with everything in this article about how Genesis sees the world. In fact I was taught this exact view during my coursework at a Southern Baptist seminary (which also strongly taught biblical inerrancy). It only undermines people’s faith because well meaning though ignorant Christians set up a dichotomy between faith and science. The reality is the belief dictated by orthodoxy on this matter is simply that God is “maker of heaven and earth.” No creed or council in any era mentions 6 literal days.

    Here is a good, quick-read article summing up this understanding from a Christian perspective: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/why-i-am-not-a-six-day-creationist

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  44. One rarely sees it mentioned that it is the rotation of the Earth within the light of the sun, upon which we base our clock, and hence, our day. Yet in the very first chapter of Genesis, we find that the sun wasn’t even created until the fourth day, which as anyone can surmise, implies that the “days” in question were not based on the earth’s rotation within the light of the sun.

    I once had a lady (to whom I may not have entirely confided that I was an atheist) stop emailing me because I even DARED to suggest that those Genesis “days” weren’t normal, 24-hour Earth days!

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  45. Hi Brisancian. You have great communication skills, and are very interesting to read.

    Because knowledge increases continually, I do not think it unreasonable that a written revelation meant to speak to people over time could have newly discovered facets.

    Genesis is a historical narrative

    Adam has no biological father. He was created with a body, soul, and spirit.

    Any animals that shared that same anatomical design of Adam, did not suffer anymore than any other creature. Physical death is a manifestation of entropy, yet Adam and Eve were created with the potential to exist in the material and spiritual realm. How the physics of the material realm may change remains to be seen.

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  46. Ever have a song stuck in your head, you just can’t seem to get rid of? While reading the above re-Marc, I kept hearing a rousing chorus of “Bippity, Boppity, Boo” – I wish it would go away.

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  47. True, many Christians will die on the 6 literal day hill. But they are in the minority historically. In fact, it seems in my judgement and limited experience at least, literal creationism is primarily found only in fundamentalist US circles. You don’t really find this tension elsewhere around the world.

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  48. Fairy god-mother/fairy god-father – either way, it’s gettin’ awful Disney up in here! Yours has a talking snake and donkey, and I have talking mice! Either way it sounds like Coke and popcorn time.

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  49. Marc,
    According to scripture, you don’t have a soul, you are a soul. Body + breath = soul.

    Also, I know you said this on a different post, but the people that are left behind are not the unsaved, as Tim LaHaye would have you believe.

    If you believe in YHWY, is there something wrong with believing in a literal 6 day creation? If miracles are real, what makes that any harder to believe? You seem to be well versed on the science side of things, and I really enjoy your posts!

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  50. Laurie,

    You are correct. We are living souls with bodies because we have the breath of life. This is also true of other creatures. It is the spirit that makes us unique and able to sustain the life of the soul after the breath of life departs from the body (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

    We are all saved, but there is a sequence to the general Resurrection that will take place as the events of the Day of the Lord unfold. Those who desire to be with the Lord, and have made some preparation in this life, will be harvested first. The need for tough love will determine the time of Resurrection harvest for the balance of mankind. Those who go kicking and screaming at the end will be more likely to decide to join Satan and the demons in annihilation.

    Well because day can mean a period of daylight, 24 hours, or a time specific to one’s actions, I believe I am understanding the first chapter of Genesis literally as the time specific to God’s creative actions. This approach in born out by Genesis 2:4 when the whole creation process is spoken of as one day.

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  51. If you believe in YHWY, is there something wrong with believing in a literal 6 day creation?

    Why yes, as a matter of fact, there is!

    First of all, it’s “YHWH,” not “YHWY,” but even with that error aside, if one believes in YHWH/YHWY, one must believe that the sun wasn’t created until the fourth “day” (1:16), without which, no Earth day is possible, nor a Mercury day, a Venus day, a Mars day, a Jupiter day, a Saturn day, a Uranus day, nor a Neptune day, not to mention a Sun-day, a Moon-day, a Tewes’-day, a Woden’s-day, a Thor’s-day, a Fria’s-day, or a Saturn’s-day – no sun, no day – no how, no way!

    It’s difficult to believe that even a celestial Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore would want his mighty works erroneously chronicled, otherwise, why bother with the book?

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  52. see 1 Thessalonians 5:23!

    Oh no, you di-n’t!
    Thessalonians was written by that nefarious PAUL, and we ALL know how Lady Laurie feels about the nefarious Paul!

    Better cross yourself, Marc – you are SO in trouble now!

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  53. Arch, This fourth day dog does not hunt. The sun, moon, and stars were not visible from the surface of the earth until the atmosphere was cleared by the plant life created on the third day producing O2 and reducing CO2. The narrative is from the surface of the earth. Hope you are enjoying the show along with the Coke and popcorn, and that you will live happily ever after.

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  54. Marc,

    As far as dogs not hunting, it looks to me like it might be your view that fits that bill. I’ve just been re-reading Gen 1 in 3 different respected translations and the plain reading says that God not only made 2 great lights but he also set them in the firmament on the fourth day. I don’t see your interpretation anywhere in the text. And the fact that the moon is a light is also not correct. I understand when people say it is a minor point, but again if there was an all knowing God who inspired the writing of these texts it really would have been very simple for Him to make this clearer and correct. Otherwise the text simply looks like writings written entirely by humans just like the creation stories of all the other religions of the time.

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  55. This approach in born out by Genesis 2:4 when the whole creation process is spoken of as one day.

    As I’ve previously mentioned, Gen 1 was written during the Babylonian Captivity, c.526 BCE, by the Priestly (P) Source, intended to replace the more anthropomorphic Gen 2, written by the Yahwist (J) Source in Judea, c.950 BCE, but left in by the Redactor, around 400 BCE, so one shouldn’t look to Gen 2, to back up Gen 1 – you people should really learn something about the HISTORY of the Bible, before attempting to intelligently discuss the Bible.

    This, from the notes in The New American Bible (p. xxix):

    “The Scripture does indeed supply legitimate conclusions on religious matters. But these conclusions are not reached easily and are seldom found in one pointed quote. And as for answers to scientific questions, the Bible is not really the place to look for them.”

    Certainly words to live by —

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  56. My phone auto corrected that Arch, and I neglected to change it back, but thanks the snarkey comment none the less.

    Marc, the Messiah tells several parables about this, and it is the wicked who are taken, and the righteous who are left behind. I cannot copy and paste unfortunately, but look into it if you feel so compelled! 😉

    Also, I do not believe that Paul was an apostle, so I do not consider any of his writings when I study

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  57. The sun, moon, and stars were not visible from the surface of the earth until the atmosphere was cleared by the plant life created on the third day producing O2 and reducing CO2.

    Marc, just really quickly if you would, please give us the chapter and verse where that atmosphere thing can be found —

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  58. “And as for answers to scientific questions, the Bible is not really the place to look for them.”

    Just wanted to make sure nobody missed that – and this, from a book approved by the freakin’ POPE!

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  59. Arch, Not everything we need to know is in the Scriptures. The Holy Scriptures, the material Creation, and the Incarnation are all revelations necessary for us to have a balanced understanding of reality. If you only rely upon the material Creation, your understanding is not balanced.

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  60. Arch, I hold the Pope with the same regard as Laurie. However, I do not believe that the revelations of the Bible are meant to address scientific questions, but rather questions about life and life’s purpose.

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  61. The Sun was created on the first day (see Genesis 1:3).

    Nay, nay, not so, Marcus – 1:3 tells of the creation of LIGHT, not the sun, for which one has to look to 1:16. See, this is what so many of us mean by the warping and twisting of the Bible, by theists, to try to get it to make sense in a world full of intelligent, educated people. Hate to break it to you, but Bronze Age ignorance is long gone.

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  62. Not everything we need to know is in the Scriptures.

    That’s probably the most honest thing you’ve said. You’re right, you need to look to Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale,” Sagan’s “Cosmos,” Friedman’s “Who Wrote the Bible,” Armstrong’s “A History of God,” Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” and all of the other sources, both scientific, sociological and philosophical, that illustrate Humankind’s latest conclusions about how and why things came to be. Once you have access to sources such as those, you can then file the fairy tales of the Bible in their proper place, the dumpster.

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  63. I believe that Ya is mighty enough that He could create in whatever order He desired and put it into motion when he was finished. I believe it was a literal 6 days. And since you cannot prove me wrong, and I can not prove you wrong, it doesn’t do any good to debate it.

    I saw on the other post Arch, that you actually admitting to being wrong, and I wanted you to know that I didn’t miss it! That must have been really hard for you. Nobodies perfect, I wouldn’t worry about it to much! 😉

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  64. Arch, Did you consume something other than Coke as in Coca-Cola during this move? Where do propose that the LIGHT in Genesis 1:3 came from?

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  65. I do not believe that the revelations of the Bible are meant to address scientific questions, but rather questions about life and life’s purpose.

    Yet it still purports to address scientific issues, and erroneously, at that – if I were presented with a science book that began by insisting that the entire universe was created in six days, that there was a dome above the earth holding back the waters of space, that man was created from dirt, and woman from a rib, why would I want to be so gullible as to believe anything else it had to say?

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  66. There will be no sun in the new Jerusalem, why would the first day have to have a sun. If it did, then it certainly seems that he created it twice. I do find your ideas very interesting, but I don’t think I agree just yet

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  67. Where do propose that the LIGHT in Genesis 1:3 came from?

    If I were a theist, trying furtively to validate a Bronze Age theory using Computer Age knowledge, I would likely obfuscate and say, the Big Bang – as it is, I would say the LIGHT in Genesis 1:3 came from the same place as any other thing in any other fairy tale – the imagination of the author, in this instance, a late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Jewish Priest.

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  68. You would get along with my better half well! He often says “you were right… I was just less right” 😉

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  69. “There will be no sun in the new Jerusalem”

    Wow! There’s gonna be a lot of dead plants, and dead animals that depend on them for food, and dead animals that depend on plant-eating animals for food. That’s a lot of dead, so expect a really bad odor.

    This just in: There will be no Son in the new Jerusalem either —

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  70. Arch, You have not been paying attention. Genesis 1:1 concerns the Big Bang, and then Genesis 1:2 becomes geocentric. Genesis 1:3 concerns the creation of the Sun. The universe was created in c 14 billions years, and the process of creation is revealed in Genesis as six periods of time specific to the creative actions of God. Arch, you were probably a good XXXX, fill in the blanks, in your day. Your distorted references regarding the history of the Bible are a bit laughable.

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  71. Laughable,” Marc, in my opinion, is most clearly defined in the person of a grown man who still believes in Bronze Age fairy tales.

    “If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood, or persuaded of afterward, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it…the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”
    — William Kingdon Clifford —

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  72. I appreciate your posts as well Laurie. I must admit however, that I am a bit confused on what your perspective is on these matters. I believe that you stated that you are not a Christian, but you seem to be a believer in a Creator and appreciate the revelation of Scriptures. Please fill in the blanks so that I do not make assumptions that you may find offensive.

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  73. Arch, Your criteria for truth is so blatantly self-serving, it remains laughable. Anyone who believes that the cosmos and our existence in it has no cause or purpose is not being reasonable. In fact I would have to say that atheists are probably the most delusional folks around. Given the history of the 20th Century and the destruction rought by the atheist regimes of Nazi Germany, Communist Russian, China, etc. Who in their right mind would want to buy into the atheist brand?

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  74. I am not offended very easily, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

    I believe in the scriptures as a whole, but unlike Christianity, I do not believe the law was done away with.

    I also believe that Paul was the false prophet of Genesis 49, Deut 13, and Revelations 2.

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  75. This should clarify things for you, Marc —

    Laurie:

    “I believe in YHWY and the Messiah
    I believe in YHWH, and I believe in Lucifer
    Although I would not call myself a christian, I do believe in the “old testament” and Yeshua as the Messiah.
    I may have said that I wasn’t a christian, but I didn’t say that I don’t believe in the scriptures.

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  76. “Who says I am not under the special protection of God?”
    — Adolph Hitler —

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith … We need believing people.”
    — Adolf Hitler —
    April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.

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  77. Laurie, Thanks for the clarification. I held similar beliefs about the Law of Moses for many years. I have since changed my perspective and now believe that the Law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His life and actions.

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  78. Your criteria for truth is so blatantly self-serving, it remains laughable. Anyone who believes that the cosmos and our existence in it has no cause or purpose is not being reasonable.

    Interesting, isn’t it Marc, that 90% of all scientists are atheists, but 90% of all those incarcerated are theists? There’s a whole lot of “unreasonable” scientists running around out there —

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  79. Arch, After the Disney movies, did you get one of the naughty movies out of the red box and decide to have another Coke?

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  80. The “Law of Moses” was plagiarized, as was much else in the OT, from the last great Amurrite king, Hamurrabi, the Lawgiver – I fail to see how the laws of a Mesopotamian king could possibly be fulfilled by an Early Iron Age Jewish Rabbi.

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  81. C,mon Arch, quit projecting you own subliminal fantasies. Not only are the vast majority of convicts theist, so is the general population. The atheistic scientists who remain primarily in academia are a very small segment of society and are known for their inflated intellects and egos. The thought of a higher power and intellect so disturbs their egos, they are mostly atheists.

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  82. How those who share your beliefs remain out of straight-jackets has always been a mystery to me.

    “Insanity is believing your hallucinations are real. Religion is believing that other peoples’ hallucinations are real.”
    — Dan Barker —

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  83. The 90 plus percent of us who share a belief in a higher power remain out of straight-jackets and concentration camps, as long the atheist like you do not control the government. But the prospects of a tyranny worse than the atheistic Communists and Nazis remain a real possibility until the Lord returns and sends His enemies to annihilation in the Lake of Fire.

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  84. Hey Marc – wow I leave for a few hours and I missed quite a bit. 🙂

    It is clear from the wording that the sun was created on the fourth day and placed in the firmament on that day. If it was the sun that was created on the first day then that is what would have been written – they would have wrote what verse 16 said in verse 3. But that isn’t what it says. It says the light was created on the first day. I don’t know exactly what the ancients thought but it is clear from the plain reading that they believed the sun was created on the fourth day and that a more general light source was created on the first. In a lot of ways this would kind of make sense to an ancient mind that didn’t know as we do that it is the sun itself that causes the sky to go from dark to bright blue. After all, they thought that there were a whole lot more “lights” in the sky during the night (stars and moon) and that didn’t seem to make the sky light blue, so why would they think that only one light (sun) would make it light blue. It would have been natural for them to think that God created some overarching light source to make the sky light blue during the day.

    Either way my conjecture about how the ancients saw things is not the important point – it is clearly stated that the sun is created and placed in the firmament on the fourth day and not on the first.

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  85. Arch, I really think you stepped over the line in your last comment. My father served in combat in the USN in WWII against the Nazis and Japanese, I served in USAF during the Cold War against the Warsaw Pact Communists, and my son served in combat in the US Army against the Islamic terrorists who would lob off your melon in a minute. Freedom of speech is not free, so please show more respect.

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  86. Howie, if you’ve read the post I did about the “lake of fire,” you should realize that nothing you say can possibly have any effect on someone with that degree of mental disorder – don’t waste your time trying to apply logic, that’s a foreign concept in the la-la land in which he lives.

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  87. Howie, The ancients probably did not give much thought to these issues because they understood the main thrust of the revelation of Genesis was to affirm God as the source of Creation, and reveal his plans for His Creation. Because the revelation of Genesis was not meant to be limited to the ancients, it has a timeless quality that makes it as relevant today as thousands of years ago. Many wish to discredit this revelation through the revelation of science, yet science affirms the revelation if we allow it to do so.

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  88. Marc says:
    October 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Arch, I really think you stepped over the line in your last comment. My father served in combat in the USN in WWII against the Nazis and Japanese, I served in USAF during the Cold War against the Warsaw Pact Communists, and my son served in combat in the US Army against the Islamic terrorists who would lob off your melon in a minute. Freedom of speech is not free, so please show more respect.

    Which comment is that, Marc? If you’re referring to my two quotations of Hitler’s, that indicated that he was in fact NOT an atheist, as you asserted, but rather a very religious person, who many historians maintain, felt he was doing the “Lord’s work,” by exterminating the Jews he believed had killed Christ.

    My father served in combat in the USN in WWII against the Nazis and Japanese

    What has that to do with whether or not Hitler was a theist, like yourself?

    I served in USAF during the Cold War against the Warsaw Pact Communists, and my son served in combat in the US Army against the Islamic terrorists who would lob off your melon in a minute.

    Again, SO? I was in Viet Nam, which places me somewhere between you and your son, but what has that to do with anything? Which Islamic terrorists, the ones in Afghanistan, or the ones the US Christian terrorists drew into Iraq by illegally bombing it on the pretense of destroying WMD’s?

    In fact, I don’t even see the two Hitler quotations – while I was posting them, we had an intense electrical storm here and I lost I’net connection just as I hit “POST COMMENT,” so I don’t even see that they ever posted.

    Other than that, I have no idea what you may be talking about, where you think I “stepped over the line” – possibly you could remind me.

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  89. Howie, if you’ve read the post I did about the “lake of fire,” you should realize that nothing you say can possibly have any effect on someone with that degree of mental disorder

    I don’t think anyone posting here has a mental disorder. We all seem pretty stubborn in what we believe (who isn’t) so it appears we are all “locked” into what we believe, but I know that very few people really are so incredibly locked that they don’t at least adjust some of what they believe (including myself) due to reasoning. Sometimes the short amount of reasoning in blog comments just isn’t enough to push us to change.

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  90. Arch, If you think that those that don’t agree with you belong in a straight jacket, then you have no respect for freedom of speech and you are out of line.

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  91. Can’t we all just get along? 😉

    Thank you both for your service!

    Marc, have you ever considered the fact that Yeshua said the false apostle was in Ephesus and that he taught it was okay to eat meat sacrificed to idols, which Paul did in 1 corinthians 8? Yeshua said if you want eternal life keep the law. Did Paul really have the authority to change that? You can’t serve two masters.

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  92. THAT was it? What was all of that business about all of the wars your family have fought in? First of all, I didn’t suggest a muzzle, even those in straight jackets have the freedom of speech. I just marveled that you had been able to avoid one. Lakes of fire?

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  93. Labeling those whom you do not agree with as mentally ill and suggesting that they need constraint is right out of the Communist play book.

    Actually the Lake of Fire is the love of God experienced by those who hate him. They would rather be dead for all eternity and God grants them their wish.

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  94. Nope! Read it again Arch. My phone is dying, so I’ll help you tomorrow, if you don’t figure it out by then. Goodnight Mensa! Goodnight Marc!

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  95. Laurie,

    I think the issue you raise is a matter of authority. If you do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and fulfills the provisions of the Mosaic Covenant, then you would not accept His Church as the pillar and ground of the truth.

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  96. I’ll help you tomorrow, if you don’t figure it out by then.

    I assure you Laurie, that between now and then, I’ll not give it a second thought, or even a first one, for that matter —

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  97. I think the issue you raise is a matter of authority. If you do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and fulfills the provisions of the Mosaic Covenant, then you would not accept His Church as the pillar and ground of the truth.

    This is where the fundamentalist wheels fall off, but they never seem to notice that the donkey cart has stopped moving.

    The Mosaic Covenant is a fabrication as is the person who it is based upon.

    The real problem with arguing with such intransigent people is even though it has been shown to be nonsense the Evangelist will still tell you that belief in the veracity of the Old Testament is not crucial to faith in the man-god Jesus.

    So, one could offer all the historical and archaeological evidence one likes, these people are so stuck in a groove the clearer the truth becomes the more obfuscated their view of reality.

    William Lane Craig was once asked what he would do if it was proved that his god did not exist, he responded by saying he would pray to god for guidance.

    While science has pretty much all the evidence it needs to completely debunk the Old Testament
    Fundamental Christians ( and lets remember their Muslim and Jewish counterparts)
    have been indoctrinated by their teachers and preachers to counter any and all arguments.
    They have even developed their own version of “science” ID/Creationism.

    Ask Nate.

    There is a mental blind spot that is so ingrained, so enmeshed in their psyche that merely contemplating that the bible is in some way wrong, or false is anathema and so their brains merely
    shut down and they assume that anyone or anything that falls outside of this dogma is in some fashion motivated by the Devil.

    There is really only one way a Fundamentalist will ever embrace normality and this is if something about what he has been inured against strikes an inner chord that causes him/her to back up and think : ”Wait a moment….”

    Many Jewish Rabbis are beginning to openly acknowledge that the biblical history of the Jewish people is pure myth.
    Once they are confident enough to present a united front , firstly against their more orthodox brethren, without fear of serious recrimination and the effects to the state of Israel, perhaps their message will eventually be disseminated throughout the rest of the Abrahamic world.

    When the Torah is acknowledged by the Jews to be a fictitious narrative – and based on what’s happened so far it looks promising – then normal Christianity is going to have to face some pretty tough questions, Questions the bible will no longer be able to provide answers to.

    And then the real unravelling of christianity will begin.

    And thank the gods for that…

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  98. If there is a personal God that guides and directs people above understanding or goes beyond our capacity to reason, then it would be unreasonable to not to seek after this personal God.

    And if a conviction or revelation is given by this God, then it would also be unreasonable not to follow.

    But I don’t think a conviction can be measured or observed by others, it is really what goes on within each person. And only each person really knows what it is that is going on inside of themselves.

    thats what I think anyway.

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  99. Welcome back Portal! It’s been a while.

    Using the word unreasonable may cause some confusion here because you suggested that the guidance from this personal God would go beyond our capacity to reason (perhaps unfair might be a better word). We’re all here trying to reason through things. Even the believers are using reason to figure things out – in fact Marc and Laurie are using reason to prove that each of the other’s conclusions aren’t correct.

    When conviction begins to contradict reason and evidence (and I realize it’s a bit tricky to try and figure out whether the source of the “evidence” is a trustworthy source) then people should try and re-evaluate whether their conviction is correct or not.

    If someone wants to get closer to truth it’s also important for a person to try and figure out where these “convictions” come from. In many cases these are things that have been ingrained in the person’s psyche by either family or cultural upbringing or caused by a very charismatic and influential person or group of people in their life. In those cases these convictions may actually be causing them to get farther from the truth.

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  100. Arch & Marc

    I have a belt buckle which was worn by a Nazi Soldier in WW II. It reads , “Gott Mitt Uns”. Meaning God With Us. Yes Hitler told his soldiers God was with them.

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  101. Interesting, isn’t it Marc, that 90% of all scientists are atheists

    @Arch: I’m curious where you have gotten that value from. I’ve seen other studies have that number quite a bit lower.

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  102. Marc,
    A matter of authority, you may be right. But the question is, who is your authority, is it Paul or Yeshua? Do me a favor, if you would, and read everything that Yeshua said. After you have done that, read everything that Paul said, and compare the two. Most people won’t do this out of stubbornness, but if you do, it may give you a clearer picture.

    In Revelations 2 Yeshua said that not only are these people claiming to be apostles when they are not, but also that they are liars. If I could show you a few places where he lied in the scriptures, would you consider the idea that maybe he is the one Yeshua was talking about?

    Don’t you find it odd that He taught all of his apostles while he was here, and then told them “if anyone says they have seen me in the desert, or in the wilderness, go not after them” and then several years after he left here comes Paul saying he saw Messiah in the desert, on the road to Damascus, which was the wilderness? John the revelator didn’t see Messiah, he was in vision. Why? Yeshua said that nobody would see him until every eye saw him at his coming.

    Paul created Christianity. Yeshua was a Jew. Yeshua said “freely I have given, now go and freely give” “do not call any man father, or teacher, or pastor, or Shepherd, for you are all brethren”. But Paul sets up this church hierarchy, and even says that the people at the top are due double. This is not scriptural. Tithe is not scriptural.

    Quoting from memory, cause I can’t cut and paste, so forgive me if I botched any of that, but you get the picture.

    Yeshua came preaching the law, and the very fact that Paul preached against it proves he was a false prophet.

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  103. Marc: The 90 plus percent of us who share a belief in a higher power …”. Whoops. You haven’t done your research. Only about one-third of the world (33%) and only about 75% in the U.S. are believers. And that figure has gone down from previous years. Of course, this is assuming (rightly so, I would venture) that by “us,” you mean Christians and by “higher power” you mean “God.”

    Laurie: If there is one thing I agree with you on, it’s Paul. I wrote about him extensively in my book and essentially came up with similar conclusions. Although I never actually considered him a “false prophet,” he did go against nearly everything that Yeshua taught. Of course, this is all dependent on whether Yeshua even existed. I do tend to think he did, but the arguments against his existence are worthy of more study.

    Ark: I couldn’t agree more with the two paragraphs in your comment above that starts right after, “Ask Nate,” Coming from a fundamentalist background, I fully agree — especially about the ingrained mental blind spot being so enmeshed in the psyche. (I believe it’s called being “brainwashed.”)

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  104. Marc gave us a bit of a history lesson, asking how I could “cross the line” and ask (I didn’t tell, I asked) how people with religious delusions, such as believing in “lakes of fire,” have escaped straight jackets. He explained that three generations of his family had fought for free speech, to which I must respond – thank you for giving me the freedom of speech, that allows me to ask that question.

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  105. These are the quotations I was trying to post last night, when a nearby lightening strike temporarily knocked out my I’net connection:

    “Who says I am not under the special protection of God?”
    — Adolph Hitler —

    “I trust God speaks through me.”
    — George W. Bush —

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith … We need believing people.”
    — Adolf Hitler —
    (April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933)

    How did that middle one get in there –?

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  106. Thanks Nan, one area of agreement is more than none! I also believe that the grass in my yard is green, so we probably can agree on more than we disagree on! Silver linings ya know! 🙂

    Arch
    Are you a bit cranky today or what? Cheer up bub!

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  107. I read so much stuff, Howie, that I can’t recall where I read everything, and if I made notes of everything I read, as well as their locations, I wouldn’t have time for anything else, nor space on my computer. If it was really essential, I could certainly spend a couple of hours and look it up, but until the theists present me with independent, verifiable proof of everything in the Bible that they maintain is true, I see no real need. My statement is easily as likely to be accurate, as theirs.

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  108. I know, because we’ve had this conversation before, Laurie, that you know that I agree with you that Paul hijacked the “Christian” religion – of course, you also know that I don’t agree that Yeshua “prophesied” this or that, because I have no belief in supernatural abilities.

    That said – and you KNOW I have no reason to defend any of the biblical characters – if you’re going to point out lies that Paul told in his letters, you should be aware – and I realize that the actual history of the Bible, OT or NT, is not your strong suit – that some of the letters ascribed to Paul are forgeries. You should be aware of which ones, before you assert that Paul was deliberately lying.

    Virtually all scholars agree that seven of the thirteen Pauline letters are authentic: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. These seven cohere well and appear stylistically, theologically, and in most every way to be by the same person, the author of which is claimed to be Paul. Though we can never know for certain, there is no concrete evidence to engender significant doubt – or, from my perspective, that it even matters.

    The other six differ in significant ways from this core group – three of them, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, are so much alike that most scholars are convinced that they were written by the same person, and that that was not Paul. The other three, 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, and Colossians, are usually assigned to separate, different authors.

    If you’re interested in researching this (and we know that will never happen, as cognitive dissonance will make your head explode), know that the doubts began as early as 1807, with the German scholar, Fredrich Schleirmaccher – as for pronunciation, I generally just sneeze, then glare accusingly at my listener, as though I can’t believe he/she didn’t understand what I said.

    If you write and tell me, on a stack of goats, that you have honestly researched what Schleirmaccher had to say, and are eagerly awaiting more sources, I will provide them, but until then, Schleirmaccher will have to suffice.

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  109. Laurie,

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts about Paul. My perspective is obviously much different than yours. I see in the first council of Jerusalem revealed in chapter 15 of the Book of Acts, the acceptance of Paul as an Apostle by the other Apostles. Because I believe in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, the Apostolic authority includes the teaching of Paul. Catholic means complete, and the writings of Paul were considered part of the New Testament canon agreed upon by the councils of the Church.

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  110. Arch, you did realize that I was talking to Marc right? I know what scholars believe, and agree with some of it, but thanks for your thoughts anyways.

    Marc, Catholic means universal. Constantine wanted to rule the world, and figured the easiest way to do that would be to create a religion that would join all religions. Change sabbath to Sunday to please the sun worshipers, he moved all pagan statues, and gave them christian names. That statue of Peter in St Peters basilica that everyone kisses, that is Jupiter. So you can follow catholicism, but it is nothing more than paganism in disguise.

    The church that sits on seven hills and wears scarlet and purple, and is drunk with the blood of the saints in Revelations 17 is none other than the Catholic Church who killed millions of true believer’s during the inquisition.

    If you had to choose between Paul and Yeshua, would it really be a hard choice? Do you believe his words are necessary for salvation?

    Just like Paul said, he really does preach a “new gospel”.

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  111. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and after reading my comment again, I admit it didn’t sound kind. Sorry if it was offensive, but most of it is nothing more than history. Constantine marched his army through a river, and then told them they were baptized Christians, but they were nothing more than wet pagans

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  112. Well… You went off on a tangent, when I wasn’t even speaking to you! You got the headbutt you deserved. He he he! 🙂

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  113. Laurie,
    I am an Orthodox Catholic Christian, not a Roman Catholic. I believe that we are all saved from eternal death by the sacrificial acts of Jesus Christ. We can make the choice to accept His sacrifice and gift of eternal life or reject it. I doubt that many of the readers of this blog will accept the sacrifice and gift of Jesus Christ in this life. However when they find out that physical death is not the end of the trail, there might be some changed minds.

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  114. Marc, there are many who believe physical death is not the end of the trail. And they aren’t Christians, Catholics, or any other “religion.”

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  115. “I wasn’t trying to be rude, and after reading my comment again, I admit it didn’t sound kind.”

    I never take offense, I’m accustomed by now to your dulcet tones. Besides, that’s what Freedom of Speech is all about, right Marc?

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  116. Ah, “Speak when spoken to!” I know your kind, you think we transitional fossils should be seen, not heard – or better yet, buried deep in some closet someplace, where our presence won’t rock the ark and confuse all of those Young-Earth Creationists out there!

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  117. Nan, Agreed. I am hopeful that when we get there, we will all come together in communion with our Creator.

    Arch, It is good that we agree on Freedom of Speech. What are your feelings about Freedom of Religion?

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  118. However when they find out that physical death is not the end of the trail, there might be some changed minds.

    And that’s how “After Life” religions work – nobody ever comes back, to tell you it’s all a crock.

    And by that, I mean NObody.

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  119. The point here Marc, is that the Messiah said if you want eternal life you need to be more righteous than the Pharisees. Meaning that they keep the law in all outward appearances, but not in their hearts, and we need to do both.

    Did Yeshua ever say saved by grace apart from the law, or all things are lawful?

    The Jesus that Paul preaches is “a different Jesus”, and a different gospel.

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  120. I believe that your right to swing your fist, stops just short of my nose. Believe what you like, but stay away from my First Amendment right to keep government and religion separate.

    That means keep your religious icons off of my courthouse property, your “In God We Trust” off of my money, your “Under God,” out of my Pledge of Allegiance, your invocations out of my public meetings and your hallucinations out of my schools – that’s what your homes and churches are for.

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  121. Arch, if it bothers you so much, why not use your mensa brain to build a time machine and go back and change it;-)

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  122. First of all, Laurie Love, Einstein – you remember Einstein, don’t you —

    “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
    — Albert Einstein —

    Has mathematically demonstrated that a journey back in time is physically impossible.

    However time travel into the future is not only possible, we’re doing it as we speak, and there are rational, superstition-free, secular people right this moment, that are working to scour our government of all of it’s religions trappings, and in time, they will be successful – Britain is a shining example, in which religion is at an all-time low.

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  123. Laurie,

    Jesus taught that all the laws are fulfilled in loving God and our neighbor. The Church is Apostolic in that it has been led by the eleven original disciples, Matthias, Paul, the seventy sent, and all the bishops they consecrated in a succession down to today. The leadership of the Church is conciliar. The Church council has the ultimate authority, not a single bishop or pope.

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  124. Jericho has inspired me to write my own blog. His story is near identical to mine, only we had different outcomes. I wish I could cut and paste the part where he talks about his research phase, cause it was so close to my experience it almost sounded like he read my mind. My study was of a different subject, or took a different turn anyways, and I was much less motivated. I started a 5 part document on Paul (shut up arch!) and when I finished part one, I gave it to my pastor. Needless to say, that was a very bad idea. I have lost friends, family, and my church. But….. I can safely say, it doesn’t bother me anymore. I never completely finished my document, because it only seemed to have a negative effect on people, but I am going to finish it now!

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  125. Until then… What is the first and greatest commandment? Love the lord your good with all your heart mind and soul, this is the first and great commandment, the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as your self. Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. If you love me keep my commandments, any man that sys he knows me yet keepeth not my commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.

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  126. Arch! You did not request permission to speak! What did you do in the military, with that Mensa brain of your anyways?

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  127. when I finished part one, I gave it to my pastor. Needless to say, that was a very bad idea. I have lost friends, family, and my church.

    So, you’re saying all of those people, even RELIGIOUS people, share my opinion of your – how can I put this delicately? – idiosyncracies, and yet you think I have a problem?

    When you start your own blog, I’m sure you’ll invite me over – won’t you?

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  128. In case you missed it Marc, that post about the commandments was straight from the mouth of Messiah, not from me. But it doesn’t really insinuate that all things are lawful. Further more, the real apostles told Paul that it was not okay to eat meat sacrificed to idols and even sent it in a letter, with escort, to make sure there was no confusion. But later he says that Peter, James, and John only seemed to be pillars, and that it was okay to eat meat sacrificed to idols. You either follow Messiah and his twelve apostles of you follow Paul

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  129. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to reading those, so I won’t.

    I hope you plan on more references for your assertions than you’ve supplied me – I’m still waiting on your evidence Moses little water-walk, his desert camping trip, and that whole lost-ark-found thing. Oh, and the 3,000-year old T-Rex.

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  130. “What did you do in the military, with that Mensa brain of your anyways?”

    Honest answer? I used that Mensa brain of mine to manipulate the Army into letting me do pretty much anything I wanted to do.

    During pre-induction testing, I was given an IQ test – since I didn’t want to go, I deliberately failed the test, getting only one answer correct. They took me anyway. The coded numeric classification on my dog tag indicated that I was mentally deficient. Then someone had a brainstorm, they concluded that by the law of averages, a blind man should have at least gotten a certain percentage – certainly higher than one – correct, even by accident, so they tested me again and I was off the scale – I figured since I was already in, what did it matter? None of us had any business being there anyway.

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  131. “You either follow Messiah and his twelve apostles or you follow Paul”

    OR, you let both of them wander off by themselves into traffic, and don’t give where they went a second thought —

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  132. You’ll miss me, and you KNOW you will! And when you do, and come crawling back to beg me to come and visit you — I will – ’cause that’s just the wonderfulness of myself! Well that, and my modesty —

    So is this goodbye, for reals? (Sniff!):-(

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  133. You didn’t have an MOS?

    Yes, I did. Possibly with an all-volunteer army, your MOS is decided before you go in, but prior to that, your MOS was assigned you, based on a battery of tests you were given your first couple of days at your Basic location – lucky me, I got Fort Polk, we used to go out on the weekend and shoot down mosquitos with a 50-caliber machine gun.

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  134. Sorry if any of this is redundant, but I didn’t take the time to read all of the comments I missed. I did want to cover a few things related to this topic.

    6 Days: In each creation event, Genesis says “…the evening and the morning were the ‘n-th’ day.” Genesis is defining what a day is: the period of dark followed by the period of daylight – in other words, literal days. I think believers are forced to say it is figurative when they become educated on the evidence of how the earth and life more likely came about. For itself, genesis seems to think it is 6 literal days, and if not, what is the figurative meaning of “evening” and “morning”?

    Waters Above: This one always confused me as a child, but verse 20 of chapter 1 says that god made the birds to fly in the firmament. The same firmament that god supposedly placed the sun, moon and stars in verses 16 & 17. I think verse 20 really drives the last nail in that coffin because it shows the waters above to be at what we would call the atmosphere (genesis places the sun and moon under those waters). Even if the “waters above” referred to the frozen ice bodies in the Kuiper Belt at the limits of our solar system, we’d have a hard time placing birds in outer space.

    The really curious thing is that the fundamentalist groups that I departed believed in what science tells us regarding the atmosphere and our solar system, but maintain a 6 literal day creation. Those fundamentalists, at least, cherry pick what’s literal and figurative – even from the same chapter.

    Origin of Birds: Chapter 1 says from Water, and chapter 2 says from the earth. Should we combine the accounts and agree on swampland?

    Genesis is simply incorrect. And only after learning it’s a failure do the believers start to claim it is really “figurative.” I guess if god is capable of anything and everything (even the absurd or impossible) then anything that can be imagined can be used to “validate” what one wants their holy book to say. When anything is possible for god, then any idiotic explanation becomes “possible.” It’s an “Emperor’s New Clothes” defense.

    Instead of trying to work it out, if the believers had enough faith in god, then they should believe that god is good enough to speak clearly for himself. If he is that good, then we should be able to take a writing that is attributed to him and weigh it against the known facts and then see if it stands up to that scrutiny. When it does not, I wish they had enough faith to discard it instead of make excuses for it.

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  135. I can see where your coming from William. But if you believe in a mighty God who created the earth, why put him in box. I believe he created the earth fully matured, with trees that were a thousand years old, and caves with formed stalagmites and stalactites for our enjoyment. Not a ball of dirt and seeds. If you believe, than its not impossible that he created it in whatever order suited him and then put everything into motion when he was done. So I believe in something that can’t be proven, AND so do you. Maybe that will change in the future, I guess we shall see.

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  136. Laurie, that’s what I used to believe as well. I thought that if God made Adam and Eve as though they were adults, why couldn’t he have made the earth as though it had been here for billions of years? I even thought it was reasonable that he might have made fossils of animals that had never actually lived. Where do you stand on fossil evidence? Especially on fossil evidence of human settlements, tools, artwork, etc? That’s where some of the theory broke down for me a bit, when I was a believer.

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  137. Nate, Good to hear from you. I believe that the antiquity of the earth c 4.7 billion years and the cosmos c 13.8 billion years are not in dispute. That God created it all over an extended period of time is a revelation in its self. It shows us that we are made in God’s image and likeness because we create in the same fashion. We “evolve” a creation through continuous improvement. The anatomical and physiological components of human beings developed as part of this process, and was completed sometime within the last hundred thousands of years or so. It was the addition of the human spirit that makes our creation complete, and I believe that is took place sometime before the Neolithic period began 12,000 years ago.

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  138. Hi Laurie,

    With regard to God creating the universe to “appear” to be crazy-old, while, in fact it is “really” young…

    …Does that rub you the wrong way?

    Why would God choose to be so deceptive, and, well, dishonest? Surely He realizes the huge mess that has become of our curiosity over origins and the foggy view we get from the scriptures. If God is “unwilling that any should perish, but that all should come to repentence,” why would he intentionally cause so much doubt?

    I guess I’m of the opinion that a God who’s fudging the log books has some real ‘splainin’ to do.

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  139. Ask that question often enough, and SOMEbody’s going to chime up with, “To test our faith!” which translated from religious-speak, means, “To test our gullibility!”

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  140. True, I’ve heard that excuse before too, Arch. But as you know, there are some significant problems with it.

    If there is a god, then he’s definitely left us at least one revelation: creation. And creation reveals itself to us in the languages of math and science. As we decipher that message, we discover more and more about the universe we live in, and it’s a message that can be translated by anyone, regardless of their culture. Math and science transcend cultural barriers. Doesn’t it make sense that if God was going to communicate with us, it would be in a way that people from every nationality and ethnicity could understand?

    So while it’s always being refined, there are still a great number of things we can treat as fact, based on what we’ve learned through math and science.

    In addition to creation, there are also a great many written texts that claim to be divine revelations. When it comes time to analyze those to see if any of them are true, wouldn’t it make sense to compare their claims to what we’ve already learned from creation — the one revelation we can count on? When the texts contradict what we already know from science, that’s a really good indication that the text is false. To cling to the text and shun science seems like the worst tactic one could take. And as rodalena said, if God really expects us to do that, what does it say about him?

    I don’t believe in a god, but I do understand why some people believe in one. I think there are some good, rational reasons for belief. However, I don’t understand the people that believe in the god of the Bible. It takes so much work to keep him propped up. The Bible’s account of creation fits what others in the Levant believed long ago, and it requires incredible amounts of twisting to warp it into anything resembling what we know of the universe today. The Bible contains many examples of contradictions, incorrect history, fantastical claims, failed prophecies, heinous morality, borrowed myths, etc.

    If you have to work this hard to keep the Bible’s god relevant and believable, how great of a god can he really be?

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  141. Hi Howie,

    I think you make a good point about using the word unreasonable. I don’t think the word reason defines what I meant.

    And it’s true that we all use reason in some degree to come to conclusions. I suppose one of the differences between sound reason and misguided reason is how effective that reason is in meeting goals, and also if it accurately reflects the systems and interactions we move within this world.

    Maybe the direction of our reasoning depends on the premises we start with. Jesus response to the Pharisees comes to my mind: He asked, Why are you reasoning in your hearts? When he healed the Paralytic (Luke 5:17-26).

    Hope things are going well 🙂

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  142. Sorry to disagree with you this early in the discussion, Nate, but I must take exception with your statement, “If there is a god, then he’s definitely left us at least one revelation: creation.” – even if a god did exist (and I certainly do not believe one does), it does not necessarily follow that he/she/it created anything.

    The Greeks, for example did not believe in a creator god – Greek poets envisioned various cosmogonies. The best preserved of these is “Hessiod’s Theogony,” in which hymn, out of primordial chaos came the earliest divinities, including Mother Earth herself: Gaia. Gaia created Uranus, the sky, to “cover” herself. The union of Gaia and Uranus produced creatures that later spawned the Titans, who in turn, bore such gods as Zeus Pater, Hera, Aphrodite, Apollo, and the rest of the clan.

    There are other stories of gods who did not create the earth, but existed separately from it.

    RE: “I think there are some good, rational reasons for belief.” Then we see in different wavelengths, because with all due respect, I can’t see them.

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  143. I agree with much of what you say Nate. I think we have to seek an integrated approach to try to understand any revelations of origins and purpose that are available to us. Observation using the tools of science is of the first order because it is current and widely accepted. Because I believe that any written divine revelation would not be limited in its readership to any particular time in history, the Bible has far more truth in it than any of the other written texts of religious origin available to us. That you speak of the creation, says that you are still open to the concept of a creator. This also says that you are being reasonable.

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  144. Laurie – “But if you believe in a mighty God who created the earth, why put him in box.”

    I dont know, why?

    I dont know that I believe that, and i dont think I’m putting him in a box. The bible claims certain things about god, so in a sense, the bible is putting god in a box. I’m just looking at that box and see that it’s flimsy and filled with holes..

    Again, without talking about evolution or age of the earth, I think genesis 1’s portrayal of the solar system is contrary to what has been proven. The pictures posted with the blog post are accurate representations of genesis 1’s portrayal – and they’re wrong. They are not at all accurate. Therefore, the box that the bible placed god inside is flawed and consequently brings their notion of god into question.

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  145. Arch, good thoughts. This one struck me: “RE: “I think there are some good, rational reasons for belief.” Then we see in different wavelengths, because with all due respect, I can’t see them.”

    I had been in agreement with nate on this one, but I find myself agreeing with you too. Perhaps If I were to accurately express my thoughts on this it would be to say that at a certain, early stage in a person’s quest for knowledge, it could be rational to think that god(s) created the world, etc. Like Thomas Paine said, I have seen nothing create itself, so it stands to reason that everything was created – ie, creator (paraphrased, or course).

    But once a person acquires enough knowledge, it may become unreasonable to continue in such a belief.

    Similar to Aristotle’s notion of falling objects; that the heavier would fall faster than the lighter seems reasonable on the surface…

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  146. I’ll have to take your word for Paine’s opinion on creation, but I do know he didn’t think too much of Moses:

    “Among the detestable villains that in any period of the world have disgraced the name of man, it is impossible to find a greater than Moses.”
    — Thomas Paine —

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  147. Oh yeah, i wasn’t arguing with you at all. Paine was a Deist, certainly no christian. The bible is bogus – we’re in the age of reason after all.

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  148. Hi Rodalena,

    I always like your comments – they are very insightful and make me think outside of the box which I like to do.

    Your comment here reminded me of James McGrath, a progressive Christian who wrote here that young earth creationists believe in a God who is dishonest and untrustworthy. He went on to suggest that they believe in a God who is actually a devil. While I don’t believe in devils or gods I see his point as well as yours that a belief in this kind of God is a belief in a God who is so deceptive that it is hard to call Him loving or caring at all. And if a God like that really wanted everyone to come to Him it would seem a very strange way to go about that.

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  149. Seriously! Rodalena, what you said may be a good description of the way you feel, but it is not logical in any way. If it was true now, than it would have to be true for all time. So, when we thought the earth was flat, and when we thought there were only 1,100 stars in the sky, or any thing else that was once supposed, if God was good, he wouldn’t have deceived any of them? That is not logical. What we know now is light years ahead of what they new then, and in a hundred years the same will be said about us.

    I believe the earth went through changes age after the flood, when the waters above where released. So what makes sense to science now, is irrelevant. The scriptures talk about at least three heavens, more of you believe Paul. Heaven is our atmosphere, the solar system, and the place where He dwells.

    Through the ages man has read scripture, and learned important things by investigating it’s claims. The valleys and mountains in the ocean, the hydrologic cycle, fact that blood is life, Springs on the ocean floor. Some science we seem to take for granted, like it has always been known. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that Matthew Maury discovered the current, which the bible revealed, and the springs weren’t discovered until 1977. What we know in another 500 years may prove to be that much more amazing! The bible isn’t meant to be a science book, the reality of each generation changes.

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  150. Hey Portal – Hope things are going well for you also and I hope the break from blogging was good for you. It’s good to see you back and commenting again.

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  151. Rodalena, when I said “seriously!”, that was not directed at you, but Nate, William, and Howie.

    Sometimes it seems that these men of science can be very unscientific when it suits, and maybe not notice it!

    I do enjoy reading your comments, although we will never agree.

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  152. Laurie, i think the first paragraph of your latest comment is missing the point, but i’m not intending on responding to that. It really speaks for itself, i think.

    Your second paragraph, though… genesis 1 places the sun and moon in the same sky as the birds (see verses 16, 17 & 20). Science proves that is incorrect. Do you believe the space program is a hoax, and genesis is correct?

    And your third paragraph is a stretch. If you cut something and it bleeds out, it always died. No one needed the bible to say blood was the source of life – which is still not completely correct. living things die without air, die without water, die without protein, etc… It’s actually a long list. The bible or anyone could name anyone of those life sustaining things and claim they “are life.” It doesnt make them a prophet, a scientist or even that observant. Same with currents, etc.

    And for every bible science “fact” there are bible science errors. Hares dont chew cuds. if a seed dies, it wont grow (contrary to jesus’ claims).

    You’re right in saying the bible isn’t a book of science, but since it speaks of a few things that we can (in)validate through science, we measure them accordingly and see how it plays out. of course the believer can always revert back to the default, that god can do anything, even the impossible or the absurd, so then any “explanation” “works out” with enough faith. Nothing is impossible for god after all. And strangely, if that’s true, then why couldnt it be possible for a perfect god to make mistakes – since nothing is impossible for him?

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  153. Yes Laurie, I believe we all fall into bias traps Laurie – I’m always the first one to admit that one, but I had biases when I was a Jewish believer as well as a Christian believer – we all need to search ourselves for being consistent and honest – you’re denial of so many findings of the consensus of science looks a bit suspicious to me in this regard as well, but only you can figure out for yourself if you have biases.

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  154. “Sometimes it seems that these men of science can be very unscientific when it suits, and maybe not notice it!”

    you’re free to point out the unscientificness.

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  155. You missed the point William. The scriptures may not be a science book, but with each new generation, we learn something about science. It may seem obvious now, that if you cut yourself and let it bleed bad things can happen, but there was a point in time where we thought the opposite. The was also a point in history where we thought we could get out hands clean in still water.

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  156. So when the Bible states things that have since been scientifically verified, it’s a sign of its divine inspiration, but when it states things that are scientifically inaccurate, that’s only because God was accommodating the less educated people of ancient times. Is that how the dance goes?

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  157. I think you’re mistaken. The loss of blood is the entire reason people devised sharp edge weapons. They werent trying to heal each other with cuts.

    Some people no doubt didnt understand currents, but people show spent their time in boats did. And yes, we are still learning things, and most of those things show the bible is incorrect. I think it’s you who’s missing the point.

    Again, ignoring everything else, is genesis 1 correct about the solar system, or is science? This isnt a “theory.” It’s not speculation or improvable. Which is correct? again, take a close look at verses 16, 17 & 20. the sun, moon and birds are all hanging out in the same sky, beneath the same blue waters above.

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  158. Good points William.

    And also Laurie, if we were being consistent with the reasoning you use we could declare the scriptures of all religions to be correct. That Jesus came to America doesn’t match up with archeological findings – well archeology changes daily, how can we deny the truth of the book of Mormon then? in 100 years we could find that there really is evidence that he was here.

    We’ve got to do our best on determining what is true given what we find with objective methods. That there is uncertainty in this is simply something we have to live with. If things we find in science do not line up with what scriptures say then it only makes sense to doubt the veracity of the scriptures. We’re not talking about complete certainty in anything we investigate, we’re talking about coming to fair conclusions given evidence and reason.

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  159. we’re in the age of reason after all” – well, some of us are, and then there’s Marc and Laurie, trapped forever in the Bronze Age, like a mammoth in Siberian ice —

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  160. I believe in science, I just happen to look at it from both sides, while you seem to only look at it to prove evolution correct. There are many unanswered questions, that need to be answered before science will prove Evolution.

    Darwin did not know anything about genetics. He believed that if an animal gained a physical characteristic it could pass that on to its progeny. That is not what science had proven. Even if it’s phenotype changes is genotype remains the same. And that’s a big if. Mutation as observed by science is almost exclusively negative. When mutation happens, disease happens. Positive mutations have not been observed.

    I believe our scientific view will change over the course of history, in what way I can not be sure. But you have just as much faith in evolution as I do in God.

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  161. Positive mutations have not been observed.

    Not true. Look into Richard Lenski’s ongoing experiment. Also check out this article, which talks about crickets losing their ability to chirp, which protected them against predators. There’s also the silver fox experiment.

    Are there still unanswered questions about evolution? Of course! But it’s the scientific consensus for a great many reasons. You don’t have to believe it, but the weight of evidence is substantially against you right now.

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  162. As I previously stated, I believe the universe changed after the flood. And because I believe in an all powerful being that creates, I am at liberty to believe that.

    But what you believe, does not grant you that same liberty. You have to side with science, and unfortunately that is not always what they teach in college. They still yeah things as fact that science disproves

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  163. laurie, I’m not talking about evolution right now. I havent spoken about it at all. I’m talking about about the solar system (the topic this blog post is on). Care to address my questions to you regarding that?

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  164. I wasn’t ignoring you, but by the time I post, there are ten more posts, and my comment is out of date!:-) I have to read the comments at the bottom and then scroll through 300 comments to get back to the top to reply. It takes forever!

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  165. I believe I do, but I need a computer. Give me a day and I will get to one tomorrow. Gotta run, life is moving along here with out me!

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  166. “genesis 1 places the sun and moon in the same sky as the birds (see verses 16, 17 & 20)”

    Normally, I’m all over Laurie’s statements, but once in a while, one is so over the top that, yes Laurie, I’m left speechless. Such was the case this time.

    However your statement, quoted above, isn’t entirely accurate, as I mentioned on another of Nate’s topics that I couldn’t expect you to have read. The Hebrew Torah was translated in Alexandria, Egypt – (actually, a small, nearby village) – into Greek, called the Septuagint, then later, into Latin, called the Vulgate. The problem lies with the King James Version – mine says exactly the same thing as yours – that the birds flew above the earth, in the heaven – but think about it, you and I walk the earth, in the same air the birds use for flight, are we not walking in Heaven? No, because there was a mistranslation of the Latin into the English of the King James:

    Genesis 1:20, “And god said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”

    Then from the Vulgate:

    “dixit etiam Deus producant aquae reptile animae viventis et volatile super terram sub firmamento caeli” (emphasis, mine)

    Translated, – and yes, I’ve studied Latin – the “bolded” portion says: “over the earth under (not “in”) the firmament of heaven” – “super,” meaning “above,” “sub,” meaning, “below.”

    These two copies of the King James Version of The Bible have incorrectly translated one Latin preposition, “sub,” to read, “in,” thereby changing the context of the entire sentence, placing heaven inside Earth’s atmospheric envelope.

    Your statement William, that the Bible is incorrect, is, in a sense, correct itself, but the REAL scary part, is that from a supposedly inerrant book, that was written in Hebrew after 2 or 3 thousand years of passing down stories by word of mouth (and who hasn’t played, “Telephone,” aka, “Chinese Whispers“? ), then into Greek, then into Latin, then into English – with such a glaring error in the very first Chapter, who can say how many others there may be? And why did no one catch that error before I did?

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  167. I do enjoy reading your comments, although we will never agree.

    I must confess to being extremely crushed at being excluded from your insult, it was as though I wasn’t even important enough to insult, but your statement, above, left me wondering – with exactly whom DO you agree?

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  168. I dont want to exist in an echo chamber and I want to learn and correct misconceptions or errors I have, so thanks for the correction, Arch. I’ll have to check into that – I have no doubt that you’re correct.

    I do typically read the king james version, for no other reasons than it’s the one I have, the one I grew up on, and the one that many fundamentalists swear by. When I first noticed the genesis 1 issue that nate wrote about here, i did go to an interlinear bible (years ago). Of course, i am not a hebrew scholar so i was probably only verifying the word for “firmament” and didnt pay attention to the surrounding words as much.

    And the fact that my head’s in the air and birds fly in the air never stopped me from calling myself a land dweller or birds creatures of the air – but i get your point. And even if I am incorrect about genesis’ portrayal of birds and the sun being in the same place, that still appears to be all I was wrong about here – although i now feel compelled to reread the entire passage in other translations and go back to the interlinear sources.

    let that be a lesson for the rest of you. measure twice, cut once.

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  169. @William – do you mean she hasn’t told you about the 3000-year old T-Rex? Ask her for evidence – let’s see if she gets back to you with it any sooner than she did me, which so far, is never.

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  170. That’s a primary difference, Laurie, between you theists and we people of reason – we’re OK with filling gaps in our knowledge with, “I don’t know,” whereas you (pl) feel the need to fill the gaps in yours with, “Goddidit!”

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  171. I think it goes like this: “When god created man, how old did he look? Adam looked full gown, so I’m sure he made the earth to appear ‘full-grown’ too.”

    The questions I have, like others, is if god did indeed make the earth appear to be older than it is, then why would he be upset that people think it’s older than it is? It’s like installing a stop sign on a street and then ticketing people for stopping… “Sure there’s a stop sign there, but you should have known that you’re not supposed to stop there.”

    And one more step further, it seems as though it isn’t enough for people to live morally, but that god also wants to people to acknowledge him. I can’t help but think that portrays god as selfish and self-centered – a “do as I say and not as I do” god. According to the bible, the biggest thing is to acknowledge god – the moral stuff comes second.

    You can live morally but go to hell if you don’t recognize god. You can live fairly morally but go to heaven if you believe in god. It just doesn’t seem to be the winning example of a merciful, forgiving father.

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  172. You have to side with science, and unfortunately that is not always what they teach in college. They still yeah things as fact that science disproves.

    Laurie, does that include a 3000-year old T-Rex?

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  173. No, no, William, you’re not wrong, you were earnestly quoting the King James, it’s the translators of the KJV who are at fault, not you. You can’t be expected to be conversant with the Hebrew Torah, the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate and the English KJV.

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  174. “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just,
    then they will not care how devout you have been,
    but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.
    If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.
    If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life
    that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
    — Marcus Aurelius —

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  175. I believe in science, I just happen to look at it from both sides, while you seem to only look at it to prove evolution correct.

    Hey Laurie,

    I’m not sure what to make of this statement you’ve made.

    I look at science to learn what is true, simple and plain. I do not look at science to prove a preconceived idea that I think or want to be true.

    At work I look at the scientific findings in electronics in order to figure out how to build the things that I build. I use the consensus findings of scientific studies to do this – I can’t prove and do lab research for everything that relates to solid state circuit design because that would take inordinate amounts of money and time – and even if I did I’d still need others to perform those analyses to make sure I’m not injecting my own biases into it. I need to rely on what the consensus of scientists have found and then use that to build my views about what is true so that I can put things together at work. Is it possible that there is a conspiracy going on and they are feeding me lies about the way transistors work – sure why not, anything is possible, but this seems very unlikely, and when I try to apply their findings, then the things I build actually work the way they predicted they would.

    Are you suggesting that I apply a different approach to finding out what is true about evolution? Should I change my view just for that particular field of science and then go against what the consensus (and again we’re talking 99+ percent from what I have read) of experts in the field agree to? I know you think you have found reasons why their findings are wrong, but you are not an expert in the field and everything you have brought up as problems have been answered by many who study this stuff every day and are experts in the field.

    Again, I am not looking at science with the express goal to prove evolution is correct…. the consensus of scientists have already shown that and there are tons of materials that have been written to show the evidence they have found to support this.

    Besides – William is right – this whole thing was a diversionary tactic to take us off the topic of the even more obvious fact that Genesis 1 simply doesn’t square at all with science.

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  176. Howie, if you would scroll back up to the top you would see that I answered William before he ever made the comment that you say alluded to me using “diversionary tactics”. He must have been typing when my post came through.

    And as for not trying to prove “preconceived ideas” that is exactly what evolution is, an idea that Darwin had, and we now try to prove. If the evidence doesn’t support it, it gets swept under the rug. Just like the fossil record, and layers of strata. Tomorrow I will have a computer for a couple hours, and will submit my evidence

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  177. Laurie, when did you answer William? I went through your last several comments and didn’t see anything, unless it was where you said that the flood changed things around.

    I think I’ve seen you state that you believe a substantial amount of water was in the atmosphere, but it was released at the time of the flood, and this is what you think is meant by “waters above.” Is that right?

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  178. Ya know Laurie if you feel that there is some kind of conspiracy within the scientific community about evolution then I won’t have much to say except that we disagree and I can respectfully move on. I’ve said many times that we all have to do our best to figure out what is true given our experiences and whatever information we have so I can leave it at that. And I believe you are trying your best to honestly come to conclusions. We simply disagree.

    But when you go and say something like “I just happen to look at it from both sides, while you seem to only look at it to prove evolution correct” then things start to look a bit off and I wonder if you’ve considered if the opposite might be true. You can peruse my blog and find out that I am very open to the idea of the supernatural as well as the existence of gods, but I just doubt their existence. I have no doctrinal beliefs about that – it’s just my current conclusions and if the consensus of scientific evidence were to disprove my current beliefs I’d change right away.

    You are going against 99+% consensus of experts in the field. And the thing is that many of these scientists are Christians – and not only of the liberal type but the evangelical type – biologos.org and godofevolution.com are just 2 websites that prove this. I know you don’t agree with their doctrinal beliefs but that is not the point – the point is that these people all have a vested interest to disprove evolution because that would help fit better with their beliefs but they have conceded because the evidence is becoming more and more overwhelming as the years pass on. Francis Collins, an evangelical, has said that the genetic evidence alone proves evolution’s truth.

    400 years ago you would have been having this same kind of argument with people about the sun going around the earth but that one finally died out.

    How is quote mining Stephen Jay Gould (when he believes evolution is fact) like you did in the last post going to counter the 99% of experts in the field? Are you suggesting that I should trust your opinion over all of these experts? Are you an expert in this field?

    Laurie, again this is my own perspective and if you disagree that’s cool, but when you start to suggest these strange ideas that I am starting with the belief that evolution is correct and then from there I am trying to grab whatever I can to support that then I have to say that you are way off base.

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  179. I’d like to add a little to what Howie has just said.

    I can’t speak for anyone else in this discussion, but for me, evolution has nothing to do with my position of atheism. I stopped believing Christianity long before I ever spent any time learning about evolution. If the Theory of Evolution were overturned tomorrow, that would be fine with me — I’d be very interested to see what the new leading theory was! But I have a strong feeling that whatever the new discoveries uncovered, it wouldn’t support the Bible’s creation account; therefore, I still wouldn’t believe in the god of the Bible.

    So the only reason I view evolution as the likely scenario that got us to this point is because the current accumulation of scientific evidence supports that idea. I don’t have a personal stake in it, so there’s no real bias for me to confirm…

    Also, it’s extremely difficult for conspiracies to actually work, especially when they involve the kinds of people that like to search for answers. Scientists are not usually the kind of people interested in maintaining the status quo or hiding information.

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  180. Nate, Even though you have rejected the Christian God, and the gods of other religions, I still suspect that you harbor a concept of a creator.

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  181. Let me try and translate that for you, Marc –

    “Nate, Even though you have rejected the Christian magician, and the magicians of other religions, I still suspect that you harbor a concept of magic.”

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  182. Hi Marc

    I acknowledge that there could be one. I think it was Descartes that asked why was there something rather than nothing. I think it’s a good question. However, I also acknowledge that it might be the wrong question. It’s possible that “nothing,” as we think of it, doesn’t actually exist.

    But aside from that, this is what it comes down to for me. I haven’t personally experienced anything that couldn’t be explained naturally. Maybe there is a supernatural realm, but I’ve never encountered anything to actually make me believe in it. Also, I know the universe is complex, which is why so many people believe it must have been created by an intelligent being. But if that’s the case, then it seems to me that the creator would have to be even more complex than the universe we see around us. So if I have to see one of those as having always existed, or having never been created, then I have to opt for the simpler one.

    That, in a nutshell, is why I don’t believe in a god, even though I can see why others do.

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  183. Thanks, Nate.

    I have great respect for you and your honesty, patience, and kindness. I believe that God also respects and loves you, so what ever happens after death you will be OK. Even though you disagree with folks like me, I never sense any negative judgment on your part. I suspect that is why I would prefer your company to that of many Christians.

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  184. Laurie,

    I disagree with your assertion that my observations about the Genesis writer’s narrative are illogical. (Imagine that…) Your comments about the increased knowledge of mankind serve as a fine example: increased knowledge (the world is round, there are more than 1100 stars, etc…) are observations of things that are also found in the scriptures (Job, for instance, addresses both of those topics, calling the earth a sphere and the stars numberless). However, when human knowledge completely refutes biblical observation, the fault does not lie with the science, it lies in the disproven biblical observation.

    Observation is only the beginning of science, but it is the foundation of literature. And, as has been noted ad nauseum in this conversation (seriously, it’s a full-time job keeping up with you people), the bible is a work of (deeply moving and beautiful) *literature*. I love the bible, and the King James is seriously the most beautiful text of any genre that I’ve ever had the privilege to read. But, it is not, nor is it trying to be, a scientific text. It is a *story*, and should be read and analyzed as such. There are huge amounts of vitally important truths contained in the Biblical story, but they are truths of the heart and the soul, not science. The story itself and the details contain therein are. not. facts.

    Part of the problem is the text itself, which archaeopteryx has kindly done the legwork and study in order to illustrate so vividly: we’ve got copies of poorly translated copies, reworked and re-marketed a zillion times over, and some schools of thought are betting the farm on the information contained therein, even if it’s unclear, muddled, impossible to understand, or just flat wrong, simply because it make the audacious claim to be the “written voice of God.”

    If you need the Bible to be a *factually accurate* brief history of the beginning of time in order to believe in the God found within its pages, you’re going to encounter some hard struggles. I speak from experience here, and know how deeply these conversations can cut into one’s faith. But, if you can let it be a story (which is not to diminish its worth at all; in fact, it increases it in my view: our great stories are some of the most powerful and enduring things humans have created), and believe in the truth of that, then these issues regarding the science can be observed as they are without taking away from the other more important truths one can and does find in the bible.

    (And, dude, Arch: bonus point for use of the word “prithee.”) 🙂

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  185. Nate,

    Because I subscribe, I got a notification email right when you posted this ten days ago. As soon as I read the title of your post I knew I was going to have a lot to say about it. It’s taken me all this time to calm down sufficiently to form my thoughts into a comment. I did, of course, read the entirety of your post and — as other commenters have mentioned — I was completely amazed at your patience, working your way through all these points. I appreciate the effort you took but I wonder if you needed to belabor the point as much as you did. Before I got halfway through I had the feeling you were beating a dead horse.

    Why is this even an issue? You proved that we human beings have learned a great deal about science over the past 3500 years and, well, “Duh!”

    Let me begin by bringing up the objection I made as soon as I read your title. You set about to describe how ‘Genesis’ views our universe. At the risk of belaboring my own point, I shall take note of the fact that ‘Genesis’ is a book. It’s ink on paper, bound between two covers. In other words, it is ‘non living’. It’s a thing, it’s not a person. A person — or more likely — many people put the book together (and I will get back to that); but the book itself is a ‘thing’ — incapable of learning, incapable of protesting that it’s being misunderstood, incapable of correcting any misstatements, incapable of admitting that it offered a confusing rendition and begging for another chance to explain itself.

    You have a ‘view of the universe’, so do I; but we are human beings and we can do all the things I just listed that a book cannot do. Stephen Hawking has a view of the universe and his books on cosmology are breathtaking accomplishments. Hawking is alive, but his book is dead. More likely than not he will eventually say something along the lines of, “there have been a lot of scientific discoveries since I wrote my book and I now see that what I wrote on page 73 isn’t true at all. Blah. Blah. Blah.”

    When he makes this statement nobody will lose his faith in science, or in Hawking, or even in his book — since we’ll all allow for the fact that a book is only a book and overlook the shortcomings that books have in comparison to living things. Who knows how many scientific discoveries we’ll make in the next 3500 years. Would you like to guess how many mistakes the people of that time will find in “A Brief History of Time.”

    But even these great-great-so many greats-grandchildren of ours will be respectful of the book for what it actually is and they will respect Hawking’s accomplishment and his contribution to science. If someone, at that time, were to write a post and call it “How ‘A Brief History’ views the universe” he’d be able to do as good a job of making that book ridiculous as you’ve done here with Genesis — but that future poster would be picking a fight with somebody (actually something) that can’t fight back. How fair is that?

    As highly as we all regard any of Hawking’s many great books, our “faith” isn’t the books themselves. Our faith is in actual, living, scientists — and human organizations such as universities or professional societies. At some later date if people want to understand something about our universe they’ll turn to the living people, and the ongoing organizations that have demonstrated expertise in science. Anyone who were to say, at that future time, “ah, but look what it says in the book! How can you defend that? Everyone knows such-and-such is wrong! You scientists are a bunch of boneheads!!” — anyone who said that would be a perfect ass. He wouldn’t be debunking science — he would simply be demonstrating his willful ignorance about how science works.

    And you seem to me to be demonstrating willful ignorance about how the Church works.

    🙂

    Captain Catholic

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  186. Thanks Cap’n.

    I think instead of demonstrating ignorance about how the church works, I’m attacking a particular perspective — the same perspective I grew up with: that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, perfect in every way. That may be a naive point of view, but it’s one that’s still very much alive, especially here in the southeastern US.

    I actually agree with your take on Genesis, now that I no longer believe the Bible was divinely inspired. I don’t think the people who wrote it should be demonized or patronized for what they knew at the time. As you said, people a century or two from now will be able to do the same with us. All I was trying to do was show was that the Bible (and specifically Genesis, in this case) has too many inaccuracies for it to literally be the words of God.

    But I’m sorry if I struck a nerve. Thanks for your feedback!

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  187. Nice response Nate, I agree with you all the way. The difference between Stephen Hawking and Genesis is that Hawking, mortal that he is, can certainly be mistaken. God, as the purported author/inspirer of Genesis, should not need and cannot sustain such a critique. As long as we agree that Genesis is merely human in authorship, with no divine layer, all is well. It takes is place nicely beside the Akkadian, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian creation myths.

    And as you say, the problem is that people do not and will not regard Genesis that way.

    As much as I appreciate the Captain’s sentiments, they can only stand if he is willing to admit that Genesis and Enuma Elish are dead equals to one another. Rescind the claims that people really are made in the image of god; drop the notion that Adam is any more historically real than Hansel and Gretel; and treat its insights about human nature as we do those of the Odyssey or any other literature. If those concessions are made, then I think the analogy of Hawking has validity. Human knowledge will grow and be surpassed. No sacred cows (or texts).

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  188. One of the beauties of science lies in the fact that those involved with it can guiltlessly say, “I don’t know.”

    “Science consists of questions that may never be answered. Religion consists of answers that may never be questioned.”
    — Ken Harding —

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  189. Yeah, that’s an excellent quote!

    And thanks for your comment, Brisancian. Yep, the issues in the Bible are all very human. If it’s a human book, then no big deal — it’s when people attach the “authored by God” attribution that we have a problem.

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  190. @archaeopteryx1
    @Nate
    @Brisancian

    Thank you for responding to my comment. Sometimes, on my own blog, http://reflectionsofacatholicchristian.wordpress.com/, I feel as if I’m talking to myself. The great appeal of Nate’s blog — to me, anyway — is that one can actually get into a conversation (which, according to my values, is a far more gratifying experience than that of talking to oneself.)

    Comments, comments, comments. You’ve commented on what I said and now I will comment on what you all have said. I hope you won’t be disappointed when you find that I am not going to contradict you or decorate this string with “evidence” that you are all mistaken. I gather that Christians, when they visit this ‘site, are expected to play the role of ‘foil’ or even ‘straw dog’ and I’m afraid I’ll be next to useless for that function.

    Aaah, I won’t comment on everything. I’m not willing to put out the effort, not on somebody else’s blog (sorry Nate). I’ll just respond to one of arch’s remarks: “Stephen Hawking isn’t using his book to tell me how to live my life. When he does, he will share my criticism.”

    I agree that there are lots of people who use the Bible to tell everybody else how to live their lives, and I agree that Hawking has never used his book to achieve that end — but now we’re talking about people rather than books. I certainly never use the Bible to tell people how to live or what to do (quite the opposite, as you will see when I get myself up into a lather about it.) With a determined effort, I suppose, somebody could figure out a way to marshall Hawking’s book in service to her/his plan to make other people do as s/he says; but that is not the fault of either the Bible or of “A Brief History…” — it’s the fault of the people USING the book.

    Quick example: a lot of folks are upset with Paul and particularly upset with his comment in the letter to the Ephesians that wives ought to subordinate themselves to their husbands. They note (quite rightly, I will agree) that female subjugation has long been a scourge on our culture, a source of unending misery and injustice

    The folks who are upset are barking up the wrong tree! Paul is dead nearly 2,000 years ago — he did a lot of good and he did a lot of bad but he did those things a long, long, long time ago. He has zero power now and, thus, zero responsibility. Those of us who are alive, who still have some power, are the only ones who can take credit or blame or responsibility for anything. Let poor Paul rest in peace!

    The responsibility for the injustices against women doesn’t lie with Paul. It lies with all the assholes who quote Eph 5, 22; the pinheads who preach sermons on it; the ya-ya’s who drag it into every conversation we have about women, or marriage, or family life. They are under no compulsion to do this! Surely you realize that there are huge portions of the Bible that nobody quotes, portions that virtually nobody even knows about (except, of course, atheists who scour the Bible from top to bottom looking for anything that’s entirely fucked in the head).

    Anyway, we could all do the same with that passage. We could let it rest in peace in the same cold grave its author currently resides.

    Now I’m going to sound exactly like one of those 2nd Amendment loving gun nuts (so feel free to criticize me for that) but there really is merit in the observation that “the Bible doesn’t foster injustice — the people who QUOTE the Bible do.”

    Aaah, I have more to say and you all deserve a more thorough response to your thoughtful comments but I’m getting tired of and, quite frankly, a little bored with my own line of thinking. Allow me to rest a few days and I’ll come back to it later.

    Be happy,
    Be well,

    Captain Catholic

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  191. RE: “one can actually get into a conversation, which, according to my values, is a far more gratifying experience than that of talking to oneself.”

    Oh, I don’t know, I often engage in such an activity while walking down a crowded city street while wearing my aluminum foil hat – sure, I get stares, envy is everywhere!

    RE: “I certainly never use the Bible to tell people how to live or what to do” – Ah, but it isn’t YOUR book —

    “a lot of folks are upset with Paul and particularly upset with his comment in the letter to the Ephesians that wives ought to subordinate themselves to their husbands.”

    Many sources are convinced that Paul did not write Ephesians.

    “Now I’m going to sound exactly like one of those 2nd Amendment loving gun nuts”

    Allow me to join you, Captain C (not to be confused with Captain Crunch):

    “Gods don’t kill people. People with gods kill people.”
    — David Viaene —

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  192. Hi Cap, thanks for the reply. It actually sounds like we all view the Bible pretty similarly. It was just a collection of writings by people, much like today’s commentaries. Do you believe it was divinely inspired in any way? And what role do you think the Bible is supposed to play in the lives of Christians?

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  193. Religious Experience Linked to Brain’s Social Regions

    * Posted by Eric Allen Bell on October 3, 2009 at 7:00am

    Brain scans of people who believe in God have found further evidence that religion involves neurological regions vital for social intelligence.

    In other words, whether or not God or Gods exist, religious belief may have been quite useful in shaping the human mind’s evolution.

    “The main point is that all these brain regions are important for other forms of social cognition and behavior,” said Jordan Grafman, a National Institutes of Health cognitive scientist.

    In a study published Monday in Public Library of Science ONE, Grafman’s team used an MRI to measure the brains areas in 40 people of varying degrees of religious belief.

    People who reported an intimate experience of God, engaged in religious behavior or feared God, tended to have larger-than-average brain regions devoted to empathy, symbolic communication and emotional regulation. The research wasn’t trying to measure some kind of small “God-spot,” but looked instead at broader patterns within the brains of self-reported religious people.

    The results are full of caveats, from a small sample size to the focus on a western God. But they fit with Grafman’s earlier work on how religious sentiment triggers other neural networks involved in social cognition.

    That research, published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggested that the capacity for religious thought may have bootstrapped a primitive human brain into its current, socially sophisticated form.

    Grafman suspects that the origins of divine belief reside in mechanisms that evolved in order to help primates understand family members and other animals. “We tried to use the same social mechanisms to explain unusual phenomena in the natural world,” he said.

    The evolution of our brains continues, said Grafman. “The way we think now is not the way we thought 3,000 years ago,” he said. “The nature of how we believe might change as well.”

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  194. That research, published in March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggested that the capacity for religious thought may have bootstrapped a primitive human brain into its current, socially sophisticated form.

    Oh, the gods, Arch, you would post this…
    What are the odds this is posted over the interweb thicker than the manure on my roses?

    And all the religious will be saying..”Caveats? What caveats?”‘

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  195. “…suggested that the capacity for religious thought may have bootstrapped a primitive human brain into its current, socially sophisticated form.”

    OK, not sure, Ark, of exactly what you’re saying, but let me tell you my take on it, and perhaps you can tell me if we’re saying the same thing, only phrasing it differently – I understood it to be saying that evolutionarily, we developed certain social skills that allowed us to survive as a species, and that religion piggy-backed on those social skills to establish and entrench itself.

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