Answer The Telephone, Part 2

In part one of Answer The Telephone, I discussed the critic’s objection: the texts of the Bible have been edited and redacted (for whatever reason, be it clarification or theological tampering) during the history of its transmission so that we cannot know what the originals had to say, and the manuscript evidence for the transmission of the New Testament and why the criticism holds no merit given what we know about the manuscript record.

For all the accusations of blind faith aimed in the direction of the Christian, this seems to thoroughly coat the pot black.  My question to the skeptic is why he would find compelling an argument from silence that is completely reliant on speculation?  I have two theories based on my past experiences with skeptics regarding the reliability of the Biblical record.

Skeptics who are critical of the Bible display strong bias against the supernatural and a reluctance to accept a written account as historically accurate if it contains any record of supernatural events.  The Bible records events which ascribes supernatural intervention as its cause.  Jesus’ miracles, the resurrection and ascension, etc.  The Naturalistic bias prevents the skeptic from conceding the supernatural events (See: The Impossibility Of Miracles).  Thus, any historical account in which miraculous events take place — by virtue of the skeptic’s worldview — must be false.  Therefore, the New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus must be embellished regardless of the dearth of evidence supporting the claims of embellishment.

For the Naturalist, there is no evidence [of the miraculous].  Not because none exists, but again, according to the worldview, no evidence is possible.  Evidence in favor of a miracle claim is dismissed using any possible alternate explanation no matter how unlikely or implausible, since of course, any alternate explanation is more plausible than the possibility of a miracle given the naturalistic worldview.

In the eyes of the skeptic, Jesus — if he existed — was most certainly not God.  He likely was a man of great character, preaching good will and peace among men.  The text (or oral tradition) had been edited as it was copied to portray the legend of Jesus foreign to the real Jesus that lived in first century Palestine.

In conjunction with a bias against the supernatural and in favor of Naturalism, is the desire to relieve the real Jesus of his biblical portrayal.  The Jesus of the Bible is a bit too demanding, a bit too exclusive.  There are at least 100 verses which make the claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  And according to the New Testament, he was not the politically correct pluralist some wish he were.  Now, it’s not that an Atheist desires multiple paths to a God he believes doesn’t exist, but skeptics will generally concede Jesus was a good and moral teacher.  They are willing to believe that he preached peace among men, love thy neighbor, and turn the other cheek.  This is the Jesus skeptics can accept.  Garnering a concession that he was of good character is not usually difficult.  “But”, the skeptic says, “as those at the top grew in hunger for power and control over the uneducated masses, doctrines were introduced and revised in order to manipulate people into submission.”  Jesus wasn’t some authoritarian, he was more of a guru who offered advice and unconditional love.  It was the church leaders who inserted the words they needed Jesus to speak.  Paul and Peter (or those claiming to be Paul and Peter) revised what was considered orthodox belief and introduced their own into sacred texts.

Not every skeptic would agree with me, but that isn’t the point.  There is no evidence to suggest that the content of the message of the Bible has been edited and redacted in the way critics suggest.  So there needs to be reasons why someone who does not grant the Bible any authority would be so concerned with whether its message has remained consistent.  What would compel a person who claims to be otherwise concerned with hard evidence to adopt a position for which there is none?  Dismiss the Bible and its message if you will, but not on the grounds that it has been edited over time.  There just isn’t a leg to stand on.

Comments

  1. May I ask a question? Where you state…

    Thus, any historical account in which miraculous events take place – by virtue of the skeptic’s worldview – must be false.

    Would it not be more accurate to state that, IF someone makes a claim of events that appear to be supernatural (or “ARE supernatural,” according to the person) AND there is no evidence supporting a supernatural event happening, that claim can reasonably be treated with skepticism?

    For example, if someone claims to have been knocked off a cliff by a glowing purple unicorn but saved from death by being caught by a pink and blue striped pegasus and, in the real world, there is no evidence of either glowing purple unicorns OR flying striped pegagus, that this claim would rationally be treated with skepticism?

    Or in other words, isn’t skepticism (not claims that it “MUST be false”) the proper treatment of miraculous, otherworldly claims?

    Further, skepticism ought not be derided or dismissed, don’t you think, since it’s a reasonable response to such claims?

    Now, I would agree with you that anyone who insists any phenomena unknown to them MUST be false, that this is not a rational response. So, to the degree that anyone who insists upon that, we agree. But to the degree that in the real world, claims of paranormal activity are met with simple skepticism, I find nothing curious at all about that.

    Can we agree on that much, as a starting point?

    [And, just as a note of clarification, this is from one who makes room for the possibility of the mysterious and miraculous, I just don’t insist that those who greet such claims with skepticism are in any way morally or rationally deficient.]

    • Skepticism and dismissal a priori because your worldview does not allow for supernatural events are two different things. In the case of the unicorns, with no other corroboration and only having appeared to the one individual with no witnesses whatsoever is different than public, open, and mass witnessed events as recorded in the bible.

  2. First, which version of the Bible do you mean? NIV, NASV, KJV, Young’s, … There are many that people read and wave around as the literal word of god.

    The objection skeptics have at the editing, redaction, and original inconsistencies in the Bible is that Christians are not justified in treating the Bible as the infallible, literal, inerrant word of god. Feel free to continue to read and draw truth from it where you can, but raise the red flag on any scholar that combs through, word-by-word, trying to pull meaning from every letter, every word choice, and every idiom in the original language. That level of precision is not called for given that the manuscript, even in your estimation, is accurate in message but not in every single word and letter.

    Even if we concede the current text of the most Bibles is representative of the original texts, inconsistencies are still prevalent on the macro level. For example, there are inconsistent timelines reported, such as Creation, the lineage of Jesus, and the reports of his ascension, each of which have conflicting timelines in the Bible. (http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/short.html)

    There are also reports of supernatural events. JB is correct that this is a major issue. Put another way, these reports of supernatural events are inconsistent with reality as we understand it through every lens other than the Christian lens. We’re not rejecting out of hand any report of the sun stopping in the sky or plagues on Egypt. It’s just that these effects would be recognized. If the sun stopped in the sky, then that implies the authors didn’t know that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that the Earth itself rotates. And then there’s the matter of instant 1000 mph winds… But maybe it was just a miracle. Those are easy to write off. But this also includes supernatural events related in the Bible that don’t comport with other historical accounts of the time – like the entire Exodus, the characterization of Jewish slavery in Egypt, the trip of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for a census… The list goes on. It is necessary to reject the predominant evidence of science and history as well as much of the Bible in order to accept the accounts written in the Bible.

    And we haven’t even talked about the apocrypha? Why did the Catholics at Nycea pick certain books and not others. No matter how consistent a current version of the Bible may be with the Nycene books, there is still the glaring question of why other apocrypha weren’t picked? More specifically, why so many other books exist with messages inconsistent with the Nycene books.

    • Jason

      English translations are made by using the same manuscripts. They are not translations and re-wordings of each other, so different English versions are irrelevant to the discussion.

      I wish I had the time and energy to explain why SAB.com is such a poor reference for Atheists to use. There are no inconsistencies with the Creation account, or Jesus’ lineage. Sites like SAB don’t take into account language usage, idioms, or methods of record keeping that are common at that time but not now. By imposing anachronistically our standards of record keeping and documentation techniques is not to do proper investigation — nor is it being fair to the texts and the authors intended purpose.

      The apocrypha was adopted by the RCC counsels (1547) in response to the reformation (1517). The complaints about the Catholic church such as praying to people other than God and dead people (canonized saints, Mary, etc.), selling entry into heaven (indulgences), purgatory, etc. The canon did not support these Catholic doctrines but the apocrypha did, thus the addition.

  3. Jason…

    Put another way, these reports of supernatural events are inconsistent with reality as we understand it through every lens other than the Christian lens.

    They are or can be for the more literalist type of Christians, but for Christians who accept that parts of the Bible are written in the epic and mythic writing style common to the time period, it’s not so much a problem. We find a story in the OT that references the sun stopping in the sky, is that a problem? Not for those who consider that to be an example of epic writing, with some supernatural exaggerations one would expect to find in that sort of text.

    I would agree with you, Jason, that “It is necessary to reject the predominant evidence of science and history as well as much of the Bible in order to accept the accounts written in the Bible,” but only if one is insisting they must be taken as literally factual accounts.

    For others of us, the bible is a book of Truth, not dependent upon the facts, in general. In fact, for some of us, taking the Bible’s “facts” too literally would be to miss the point of the Truths, which are the very purpose of the Bible’s stories.

  4. Dan is the kind of Bible reader who interprets the bible according to his feelings and difficulty of defense. He has in the past said that the OT examples of God ordering Israel to wipe out populations are “metaphoric” because it violates Gods love, not because the text suggests it should be taken as metaphoric.

    Questions of the long day don’t appear to have an explanation so it must also not be taken at face value.

    Its easier for him to just claim metaphor than to actually defend what the bible says. He is a “seeker sensitive” Christian in that he panders to outsiders to the point where the Bible and Christian doctrine is sacrificed for the sake of non-offense.

  5. Dan,

    I thought John described your method of Biblical interpretation quite accurately.
    There is nothing logically difficult about explaining a genuine, factual 6-day creation taking place about 6000 years ago. Evidence internally and externally to the Bible is much more confirming of that being the actual happening than any evidence for a contrary cosmology. But your “feelings” that other views are correct prevent you from examining solid evidence, just as your “feelings” prevent you from accepting that God actually calls all homosexual behavior sinful. I have yet to see YOU to where the textual and contextual evidence leads.

  6. Cindy Sandifer says:

    So there needs to be reasons why someone who does not grant the Bible any authority would be so concerned with whether its message has remained consistent.

    hi john,
    i think there is one basic reason: people who do not believe the Bible is true do not want others to believe the Bible is true. They are disciples following their own Great Commission: Go ye therefore unto all nations and attempt to dig uproot the seed of faith.

    atheists and agnostics that i have encountered have one thing in common (among other things, perhaps): they cannot fathom faith. Or at least they profess that they cannot fathom faith. But many of them seem to place a truly stupendous amount of faith in science and man’s ability to REASON. It really is sad that so many choose to place their faith in mankind, who is so capriciously and/or maliciously capable of such evil. Not a very wise decision.

  7. Marshall Art says:

    Allow me to add as well, that we have indeed been down this road with Dan before. That he brings up his “logical basis” here is another example of him pretending that the objections put forth to his position don’t exist or were satisfactorily answered. Neither is true.

    Dan, like other “sophisticated” liberal Christians put more faith in science than they do Scripture. Science teaches us many things, but it teaches us nothing regarding the supernatural. I don’t know the age of the universe. But I don’t know that we can insist any more than that it only appears to be whatever age one wishes to put forth. How can we prove it? It ignores the possibility that God created all in the blink of an eye and the result of HIm having done so is that our human imperfection and imperfect technology is incapable of accurately assessing that age. (Not a purposeful act by God, mind you, but simply the result of His actions in creating everything.) After all, it is God about Whom we speak, not just a mythical being atheists would have us believe.

    In this way, my comments here actually connect with John’s post. The difference is that we have someone who professes to be a believer demonstrating a reluctance to buy into the notion of the miraculous (although it helps his liberal positions on public policy to do so).

    With this dismissive attitude, this “believer” dismisses Scripture in much the same manner as the out-and-out skeptic. Each questions the accuracy of the events recorded in their own way.

    As an aside, I continue to marvel, in the manner of an adult at the rantings of a child, that Dan insists that we mustn’t take Scripture literally (as historic record) because Scripture doesn’t demand in the text that we do, as if any history book does.

  8. As to the rest of Glenn’s and Marshall’s comments, suffice to say, ad hom attacks that falsely represent my position.

    I will address one point from Marshall, to clarify a mistaken understanding…

    I continue to marvel, in the manner of an adult at the rantings of a child, that Dan insists that we mustn’t take Scripture literally (as historic record) because Scripture doesn’t demand in the text that we do, as if any history book does.

    I don’t insist that you take the Bible literally, any more than I insist that atheists agree with me that there is a God. I’m simply telling you what makes sense to me when I read this ancient text and strive prayerfully and logically to seek God’s Truth in it. It is apparent to me, BASED UPON THE EVIDENCE, that, for instance, the Genesis Creation story is told in a mythic style and it would be logically and biblically a mistake to try to read something as literal when it was never written in that way.

    One of the first steps for any study of any literature (including and especially the Bible) is to understand the type of text you’re reading. If you read hyperbole as literal, then you can get WAY off on a proper understanding. If you read poetic language as literal, that could lead to poor understanding. This is a traditional and logical Bible study approach and that is what led me to my position. You and the others are adults and free to take any literature any way you want. I’m simply telling you what makes sense to me.

    Beyond that, fellas, I encourage you to give up the ad homs and stick to the point.

    • The comments were deleted because they got entirely too far off topic, which you began talking about something other than EDITING the biblical manuscripts. Or more specifically to THIS post, why skeptics of religion and Christianity would hold the opinion that the manuscripts have been tampered with to the point where we have reason to doubt the content of the New Testament.

  9. I note that you have posted commentary about MY positions (NOT about the topic, but rather, mistaken assumptions about my motives – “Dan is the kind of Bible reader who interprets the bible according to his feelings…” “Its easier for him to just claim metaphor,” “He is a ‘seeker sensitive’ Christian” – false, false, false) and NOT allowed me to clarify my positions. You have chosen twice now to delete my clarifications so that you could be corrected and not allow those false representations to stand.

    At the same time, you allow your OFF topic ad homs, AND allowed Marshall and Glenn to post similarly mistaken ad hom attacks.

    I truly believe you to be a good man, John, not wanting deliberately to be obtuse or post falsehoods. I believe that you’re just wanting to stay on topic. At the same time, you post and allow posts that are off topic and mistaken, and not allow me to correct them.

    So, what am I to make of that?

    And what will other people make of that?

    Aren’t you worried that it will make them take you less seriously? That you will appear to be flagrantly hypocritical?

    • Here is what you are to make of it: My comment stands, period. Your response went on rabbit trails. Glenn’s first comment was mainly about scientific verses biblical interpretations of the universe, which coincided with one of the original post’s assessments of skeptics — a naturalist filter of evidence. Second, rather than address that part (the pertinent part), you decided to address Glenn’s last sentence, rather than being the “bigger man” and saying to Glenn “I realize we differ on homosexuality, let me address the first part of your comment which is about this post”. No, you perpetuated an essay contest. If you feel you need to defend your reputation and methodology as it relates to interpretation,m take it to the discussion page. Third, Marshall’s comment stands because it is on topic. Lastly your comment at 9:14 stands because it is pretty much on topic.

      Fair enough?

  10. No, it’s not fair to post ad hom attacks that ARE off topic and NOT allow the person to correct the false claims. It’s hypocritical.

    Your blog, your rules, I’m just pointing out how it is inconsistent to allow folk to make off topic false accusations but NOT allow the “others” to defend themselves.

    Perhaps you’ll at least allow me each time you all engage in ad hom attacks and misrepresent others’ ACTUAL positions to say, “Suffice to say, on each of your points about me, it is an ad hom digression. Those are NOT my positions.”

    That is certainly the case on each of yours and Marshalls and Glenns misrepresentations of my positions.

    Again, I’ll suggest you just stick to making your points, rather than chasing rabbits off topic about wild and false guesses about others’ positions.

    That would be the respectful, rational, adult way to hold a conversation.

  11. If this (Marshall’s) is on topic, then I will respond to it…

    The difference is that we have someone who professes to be a believer demonstrating a reluctance to buy into the notion of the miraculous (although it helps his liberal positions on public policy to do so).

    With this dismissive attitude, this “believer” dismisses Scripture in much the same manner as the out-and-out skeptic.

    I have stated that I make room for the miraculous and for Mystery, so that would be a misunderstanding of my position. Rather, I strive to, 1. understand the type of writing being used and 2. go where logic and biblical teachings lead.

    Folk like me are not dismissing anything in so doing, any more than a reader who reads a poem takes it as a figurative poem, rather than literally factual statement of history, for instance. It’s just striving to understand the writing in context of what it is and actually purports to be.

    • Yes Dan.

      In case you didn’t notice the post is about why people would dismiss the bible and what it says. Marshall is addressing why he thinks you dismiss it.

      • I think one of the problems with people dismissing the Bible is that they do it by claiming it is written in poetic style at places where the intent of the author is factual history. It then becomes easy to dismiss as myth so as not to have to be responsible for the teachings. There are indeed poetic parts of the Bible, as well as apocalyptic, but the types are very easy to determine without abusing the text and its context. Genesis is an example of where the author is intending factual history (obvious from the text and context) but quickly is dismissed as poetic and mythological. Guess what: then the reality of creation instead of evolution can be ignored, there is no real Adam and Eve and there was no Fall, etc. And of course Exodus often gets the same treatment because of the non-supernatural worldview of those who come to it to dismiss it.

  12. But I don’t dismiss it. That seems to me to be the point you all are missing.

    People who interpret things differently THAN YOU (whoever “you” is) does not equate to dismissing, at least not necessarily. Striving to take an ancient document (or book of Truth, as we think of it) and interpreting the way that seems most logical and consistent, that is not the same as dismissing it. It is an attempt (well-done or not) to rightly understand the text.

    And so, my responding to the mistaken understanding that we are “dismissing” it is on topic, agreed?

  13. Marshall Art says:

    Dan,

    You don’t dismiss it? Of course you do. You dismiss the text that describes the events of creation in favor of what you feel is more believable. Your alternate explanations for what the text says is irrelevant. Like atheists, you deny the veracity of the authors’ words. Unlike atheists, who dismiss the text as total fantasy to explain away what you cannot resolve and thereby create a god in your own image.

  14. I dismiss it only in the sense that we ALL “dismiss” (if you want to call it that) a text wrongly interpreted. For instance, the person who “dismisses” the passage “the four corners of the earth” as suggesting that the earth is square or the person who “dismisses” Jesus’ command to pluck out our eyes as hyperbole, not an actual command.

    But I think to call that “dismissing” is missing the point. It’s INTERPRETING ARIGHT, not dismissing.

    To do that is NOT NOT NOT “denying the veracity of the authors’ words” in any real world sense of it. Do you “deny the veracity of Jesus’ words” when you take his hyperbolic command “pluck out your eye” to be hyperbole?

    Of course not. That is NOT dismissing or denying. It’s interpreting.

    World of difference tween the two.

  15. There are indeed poetic parts of the Bible, as well as apocalyptic, but the types are very easy to determine without abusing the text and its context. Genesis is an example of where the author is intending factual history (obvious from the text and context) but quickly is dismissed as poetic and mythological.

    I’ve a question for anyone: Who “gets” to decide which is “obviously” poetic, mythic, factual, historic, scientific, etc? That is, Glenn and I and John are all looking at the Genesis creation stories and Glenn appears to think it is “obviously” an historic retelling of how it actually exactly happened, in six days several thousand years ago, I think it is “obviously” mythic in nature and John appears to think that is some mixture of hyperbole and fact (feel free to clarify if you wish, John).

    Who gets to decide which is “right?” On what bases/using what criteria do we sort out the metaphorical from the literal?

    That is one thing that both the skeptics and Christians like me find to be a reasonable question to this demand that such a passage “must” be taken to be literally (or something like literal). Marshall, Glenn, if John and I are two Christians who don’t think this story must be literally taken to be six days that occurred several thousand years ago, are we both dismissing the text and denying its veracity?

    • The context of Genesis is historical, with not even a hint of not being so. It is only a recent phenomena which says it is not historical, and the only reason for doing so is to make it agree with so-called science. If there was no so-called science to say the earth is billions of years old, no one would question the veracity of what Genesis says. It goes back to your worldview – are you going to accept the infallible word of God or the fallible word of men?

  16. Marshall Art says:

    The issue here isn’t one of who gets to decide what about what Scripture says, but simply dismissing Scripture. You like to believe the creation story is mythical, not an accurate retelling of events. You like to insist that Scripture does not tell us specifically to take what is written literally. Fine. Where does it say to take it any other way?

    Glen wasn’t speaking of who gets to decide, either. He refers to obvious rhetorical flourishes. The example you lamely continue to use regarding “plucking out eyes” is obvious for two reasons: 1) it is a way over the top means of explaining a point being made and never said as a mandate or suggestion. And 2) there is no record of anyone actually plucking out their own eyes or any factions of followers who practiced or preached eye plucking.

    And while the creation story leaves room for speculation as to what extent the telling is accurate, it gives no indication that it tells the story in any but a direct manner. I happen to believe that God is capable of creating all in the time -frame suggested by a literal understanding of Genesis. Do I believe it actually happened in that manner? I don’t waste my time wondering as can’t be proven or proven false. It may indeed have taken a billion years, or, it may simply look to us like it did due to our limited abilities as imperfect humans trying to tackle an event of such proportions. I have less faith in the abilities of man to decipher the truth than I do God’s ability to create everything as Scripture said He did. Christians like Dan apparently have less faith in God’s ability than I do, and more faith in man’s.

    More important are the ramifications for our faith as suggested by Glen if Scripture is not accurately told. This can be easily seen in Dan’s position on various topics that he easily dismisses, discounts and re-interprets according to worldly preferences with the convenient perspective that OT Scripture is told in some “epic style”, as if the source of his alleged faith is equal to the historical record keeping styles of other cultures.

  17. Glenn…

    The context of Genesis is historical, with not even a hint of not being so.

    As I have pointed out several times, the context of the Creation story (ie, “context” meaning the time, other examples, language, writing styles, etc) is one of a time when the standard was mythic storytelling and before literally factual history telling in the modern sense that historians agree began around 500 BC – 500 AD.

    So, from what I see, the context is exactly mythic/epic/figurative.

    Who says that my understanding of this text is mistaken and Glenn’s must be taken as “right” (even though Glenn can point to NOT ONE SINGLE example of other modern historic writing samples from the same time period, and even though the physical evidence does not support Glenn’s rather fanciful conclusion)?

    I think what you appear to be trying to say, Glenn, is that for as long as we remember, Christians have understood this to be a fairly literal story, but that is extra-textual, cultural support, not textual/contextual support.

    Because we have discussed this before, I know one argument you all rely upon (really, the ONLY textual argument you have, outside the cultural for-the-sake-of-tradition argument) is that within the Bible (a mostly pre-modern history/modern science time period) people refer to the Creation story without calling it mythic. But as I have pointed out, MANY PEOPLE TODAY (my church included) will still refer to the Creation story in a straightforward manner without suggesting “myth,” but not intending to say that it is to be taken literally. So the “Bible characters refer to the Creation story” argument IS your one argument, but it is not conclusive or convincing, at least to this Christian student of the Bible.

    So, we have two people striving to get the right meaning of the Genesis story. What makes Glenn’s “right” and mine “wrong…”?

    You see, here is the critical question that I think you might be missing:

    what criteria do you have for determining which stories are to be taken literally?

    Your answer thus far appears to be, “Based on what is ‘Obvious.'” but then the question becomes, Obvious to whom? Who gets to decide? On what standard?

    It appears you are relying upon the subjective, “What makes most sense TO ME and folk who agree with me,” which is fine, but not definitive or authoritative or conclusive. It is, if you’ll excuse the observation, a rather whimsical standard.

    Do you have anything beyond that?

    • You just proved our point, Dan. MAN says before 500 B.C. writing was mythic and not literal history. The BIBLE claims to be literal history in Genesis. Do I believe the BIBLE or do I believe fallible man who wants to dismiss any truth that is uncomfortable. The “physical evidence” is the text of the Bible and the context of its claim to be history. Man has no physical evidence to the contrary.

      Dan accepts MAN’s vision of what the Bible is rather than what the Bible claims to be. THAT by definition is dismissing what the Bible claims to be, dismissing texts that have been plainly read and understood for centuries as written, but of later years have been dismissed as being myths.

      Again, those who treat the Bible this way have a very low view of Scripture, which is why they can so easily dismiss teachings in it that disturb their worldview.

  18. Okay, John, Marshall, can I get a more reasonable opinion…

    The BIBLE claims to be literal history in Genesis.

    1. No, it doesn’t. But, even if it did, from a skeptics’ point of view, that would still be a circular argument. You’ll have to do better than “We can know FACTUALLY that the Genesis story is literal history because FACTUALLY the Bible claims that Genesis story is literal history…”

    2. The Bible factually does NOT claim to be literal history in Genesis. But this is simple enough to make your case. Cite the place where God tells us that Genesis is literal history.

    Of course, God has not said this, factually. Further, the Bible does not make this claim. At this point, Glenn, you are citing claims that are wholly unsupported.

    I could claim that the Bible claims that unicorns once ate a marshmallow dragon, but that would not make it true. If you want to talk about facts, you’ll have to provide some support.

    Glenn…

    Dan accepts MAN’s vision of what the Bible is rather than what the Bible claims to be.

    Clarification: I support what the evidence says. There is evidence that the world is billions of years old, NOT thousands. There is NO evidence that God created the world 6000 years ago or that the Bible claims to be literal history.

    I support what the evidence says. You?

    • There is NO evidence that the world is billions of years old; only suppositions, assumptions and speculations – NO FACTS. The Bible gives genealogies from Creation, and even supposing some are missing, it still adds up to no more than 6-10,000 years. The Context of Genesis is historical; in Dan’s mind it has to state “This is literal history” or else he can dismiss it as not being so. I’d like to find a history book which says that!

  19. So, Glenn or anyone else, I still welcome the answer to this question…

    what criteria do you have for determining which stories are to be taken literally?

    Is it pure instinct and hunch on your part or is there anything not whimsical?

    • The answer to your last question, DAN, is CONTEXT! Proper hermeneutics. Something you have never practiced in any communication I have seen on any blog you have commented on. Now, I’m done with responding to you.

  20. Okay, so you have provided no evidence, no support, nothing to make anyone give your hunches much of any credence. Don’t be surprised when people don’t take bullying demands that we heed your unsupported claims very seriously.

    You are suggesting that all serious scientists are mistaken about MANY areas of science and basic laws of the universe. The burden of proof is on you, Brother Glenn. You have provided no evidence to support your position and it is a rather crazy-sounding position (that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the earth is only thousands of years old). People WILL write you off as nonsensical and your beliefs as irrelevant if that’s all you have.

    He who has ears, let him hear.

    • I provided evidence from the BIble itself. YOU have provided only the speculations and assumptions of man – NO FACTUAL EVIDENCE has been forthcoming from you. There are NO facts to support billions of years. NONE, NADA. There are no facts to support the claim that no literal history writing existed prior to 500 BC – NONE, NADA.

      With no evidence Dan has dismissed proper exegetical hermeneutics based on the speculations of man in the same way skeptics and atheists do. Simply dismiss the BIble as being anything literal in its history with no factual basis to support the dismissal and you can rewrite your theology to suit your worldview and make God in your own image.

  21. Glenn…

    The answer to your last question, DAN, is CONTEXT! Proper hermeneutics.

    And I have looked at the text and the context. I’ve used proper hermeneutics. What makes your answer the “right one” and everyone else here (except for maybe Marshall) have the “wrong one…”?

    Do you acknowledge that your hunches are subjective, whimsical and unprovable?

    For my part, I acknowledge that my understandings of the Bible are subjective, that is the nature of INTERPRETATIONS of an ancient text claiming Truth. But, at least on the creation story, my understandings have the benefit of being backed by OTHER evidence, whereas you are asking people to believe something based on NO evidence beyond, “cuz it makes sense to me…”

  22. Glenn…

    Simply dismiss the BIble as being anything literal in its history with no factual basis to support the dismissal

    I have to say that this is a strange conversation, brother Glenn. I DID provide facts. Here they are again:

    1. Historians agree that modern history-telling began ~500 BC – 500 AD. This is a real world fact. Do you need me to cite a source or do you acknowledge this?

    2. There is NO evidence that I have seen or that you have provided of histories from ~4000 BC told in a modern history style, with an emphasis on literal facts. This is a real world fact. If it isn’t, all you have to do is provide EVEN ONE instance of an ancient story told in a manner that is entirely factual. Do you have EVEN ONE? If not, can you acknowledge this.

    3. The creation story is written stylistically in a manner similar to other myth stories. It is NOT written in a manner that reflects modern history-telling styles. Do you need a source for this or can you acknowledge the similarity stylistically with other myths?

    4. Science is united in claiming the world is billions of years old, nothing close to thousands of years. You have provided no support for your spurious claim. My claim is mainstream science. Do you need a source for that or do you acknowledge that your position is contrary to nearly all of modern science?

    These ARE a factual basis which can lead someone to my conclusion. Do you see that these are clearly reasons for someone to hold my positions? If not, then you would have to support it by showing that historians DON’T think modern history telling began when I cited, that there ARE examples of literal history from ~4000 BC, etc.

    Do you see how, thus far, your claims appear to be a little on the delusional and belligerent side, brother Glenn?

    • Dan, this is getting repetitive and hijacking the post.

      In order for these “historians” – fallible men – to say no literal history exists before 500 BC they have to dismiss the Bible. This becomes circular reasoning. The Bible IS the evidence that they are wrong. It is indeed told in a style of factual history – dates, places, names, etc. You dismiss the Bible as being history by circular reasoning of claiming it isn’t literal history just because it is eliminated from consideration of literal history by fallible men. Yet Jews and Christians for thousands of years have accepted it as that. The style of the creation story is NOT mythical if read in context – you have to bring that idea into the context. It is straight-forward, not poetic. This allows you to build a chain of links to where you dismiss the idea that homosexual behavior is always sin.

      “Science” is NOT united in claiming anything – “science” says nothing, does nothing. That is the logic fallacy of reification. “Scientists” (people) are in disagreement with how old the universe and earth are. Creation scientists – yes, scientists – use the same facts and evidence as the secular scientists use and yet come to different conclusions about the evidence based on their worldviews. There are no facts which say the earth is any older than thousands of years old; there are only speculations based on assumptions. But you would have to study both sides of the issue to know that, which you apparently have not done. “Mainstream science” is not the arbiter of truth any more than is “mainstream news media.” Truth is not determined by popularity or majority view.

      By the way, “modern science” says nothing – reification fallacy. Modern scientists keep changing their theories virtually daily – the Word of God is unchanging.

      Now I am really finished responding to you. Have a Happy New Year.

    • Dan

      1, presumes the Genesis account is not. If in fact everyone agrees there were no historical accounts, then any historical account they may happen upon would be dismissed as such because it has been decided already.

      2. presumes Genesis is not the evidence you claim is not there.

      3. which creation myths are you referring to, I am quite familiar with creation stories from ancient history. So which myths are you talking about?

      4. Not going to argue this point.

      With the possible exception of (4) none of these are facts.

  23. 1. There is no evidence to support the suggestion that a literal six day creation 6000 years ago is a literally factual history. I’m going where the evidence leads.

    I’m not sure what part of “there is NO evidence” we’re not communicating on. Neither of the two creation stories in Genesis have ANY support for a literally factual interpretation, at least nothing that anyone here has produced. You yourself appear not to think it is a literally factual story in the modern sense of history telling.

    2. You would have to produce SOME EVIDENCE that the creation story is told in a literal fashion, since that is what we’re discussing here. You don’t seem to believe that the creation stories represent a literally accurate history telling yourself.

    3. Creation myths that explain how or why something came to be. “…and THAT is how the tiger came to have stripes…,” “…and that is why the sun appears in the sky each day…,” “…and THAT is why the rainbow appears in the sky…,” “…and THAT is why we rest on the seventh day…” The Genesis creation stories are not dissimilar from other mythic origin stories.

    Here is a link to some origin myths. You might begin by checking out the Sumerian and Egyptian stories.

    4. Of course we don’t really want to argue in favor of a universe that is billions of years old. That’s not really at question for most people. A thousands year old earth would violate too many basic scientific laws and understandings. You agree, right?

    • Well, dan, I guess you didnt read my comment thoroughly.

      your original #1 had nothing to do with science, but rather historian agreement that no one recorded history to be understood as historical prior to 500bc, so I’m not sure why you are now changing things around, unless this is a new numbered list of comments.

      2 the evidence is the straight-forward telling in the test. It is very unfanciful and direct. Mythical accounts are heavily detailed with much flourishment for the events, something Genesis 1 wholly lacks. It reads like “this happened, then this happened, then this happened…” not like a tale.

      3 I’m not doing your homework. In your own words give me examples of ancient creation myths from the sources, not from a site that makes the claims. Many people make the claim that Jesus was like other virgin born dying and rising Gods with all these liknesses, but when you look at the sources these people are making their claims from, they are nothing like they are represented to be. So pony up some sources. The link merely makes assertions, they source notihng.

      4 what part of “I’m not going to argue this point” was too complex for your comprehension?

  24. Glenn…

    In order for these “historians” – fallible men – to say no literal history exists before 500 BC they have to dismiss the Bible.

    No, in order for historians to say “literal history existed before 500 BC,” there would have to be SOME EVIDENCE that such a thing happened. Lacking any evidence for that, historians suggest that THE EVIDENCE shows that history told with an emphasis on factual reporting DOES NOT APPEAR to have been part of the culture.

    It would be akin to saying, “OF COURSE the ancient Aztecs wrote in English. Why wouldn’t they? Are you suggesting they were TOO STUPID to write in English??” without realizing that it is a modern cultural bias against other ways to insist that they MUST have written in a style like we do today. It doesn’t make any sense if someone were to make that claim about non-existent languages and it doesn’t make any sense when that claim is made about non-existent writing styles.

    Again, it’s all about THE EVIDENCE. You have nothing to support your hunch. If you would, surely you would have produced it by now.

    Again I ask you, Glenn: Do you understand how people are going to write you off as irrelevant and irrational if you keep insisting on baseless circular arguments? Yes? No?

    I’ll pass on repeating my evidence further and assume you concede you have no evidence if, in fact, you present none, and then we can move on.

    Peace.

  25. Marshall Art says:

    Dan,

    Why would you compare you faith against Sumerians or Egyptians? What makes you think that if the Sumerian stories are false that the Biblical stories must also be false? This is one of the holes in your position, that you regard Biblical accounts to be no more likely than gods of other religions? If you believe any miracle story at all in Scripture, such as the resurrection of Christ, how can you so quickly and easily dismiss the miracles of the OT? The telling is very similar from one Testament to the other in that both simply state that the miracles in question occurred.

    And Glen is correct about there being no evidence to support your belief in the age of the universe because there is absolutely no way to corroborate what is said to be evidence. There is only speculation based upon techniques and equipment that we have no way of determining can actually “look back” that far with any accuracy. It is faith in man’s abilities over the words of Scripture that is at issue here. Your faith is clearly in the former.

    You also fail to explain why we must regard the OT stories as “myth” when no historical narrative demands the reader take its words as true. Each historical narrative assumes the reader will not question what is written for the reader’s edification. You also don’t explain why, if the universe was created in six days, how else could it be explained that you would find convincing, regardless of how modern man might think of it.

  26. Marshall…

    What makes you think that if the Sumerian stories are false that the Biblical stories must also be false?

    I DON’T think that either the sumerian or biblical stories are false. I think they are stories told in a mythical style. That is not the same thing.

    You all associate “myth” with “lies” and “false.” Narrative styles are just that: Styles. A myth is no more false than a poem or hyperbole. It’s figurative, not false, BY ALL EVIDENCE.

    If you have some EVIDENCE to think otherwise, present it.

    Marshall…

    If you believe any miracle story at all in Scripture, such as the resurrection of Christ, how can you so quickly and easily dismiss the miracles of the OT?

    The earliest OT stories come from a time when a common story telling device was myth. Other stories later come from a time when a common story telling device was epic. Many of the stories in the OT appear BY ALL EVIDENCE to be told in the styles common to the day.

    Jesus’ story, on the other hand, comes from a time when folk had BEGUN (it was not totally in place, but they had begun) telling stories with more of an emphasis on factual accuracy.

    Additionally, whereas with the creation story, there are NO witnesses, with Jesus’ resurrection, there are many witnesses and other physical/historical evidence.

    I’m just going where the evidence leads. If you have EVIDENCE for a six day creation, present it.

  27. Here’s the thing:

    The O.T. is true, literal history from its first verse.
    Secular historians refuse to accept the Bible as literal history.
    ERGO, the claim is that no literal history exists prior to 500 BC.
    This is known as a circular argument.

    The evidence – i.e. actual data – supports a literal six-day creation in the range of 6000 to 10,000 years ago. There are no “scientific laws” violated by any interpretation of the facts in this manner.

    Most secular scientists view evidence from an evolutionist and/or uniformitarian worldview and will interpret the data with said bias even though no factual data exists, and even though the proven scientific law of thermodynamics refutes their position.

    All theories of origins are based on forensic evidence and none can be proven. One must examine the data and determine which theory best fits the evidence. When all the evidence is objectively examined, the only origin theory which explains all the data is the Biblical creation story.

    By the way, dating methods are all speculations based on assumptions; there is no factual data of any age of the universe.

    The evidence for a 6-day creation is the Word of God.

  28. Glenn…

    The evidence – i.e. actual data – supports a literal six-day creation in the range of 6000 to 10,000 years ago.

    You keep saying this but not producing the first bit of “evidence.”

    How about this, Glenn: The evidence supports flying pink hippos sipping tea on your back porch and saying “GOD SAYS Glenn is wrong…”

    Well, there you have it: Flying pink hippos speaking for God can’t be wrong and if that is what the evidence is (and clearly it is, because I JUST SAID IT), then I guess you’re wrong.

  29. From all I’ve seen here, it APPEARS that combined totality of your “evidence” is:

    1. I THINK THE BIBLE’S TWO CREATION STORIES ARE LITERALLY TRUE

    2.

    Am I following you correctly? That your entire basis for your hypothesis is built upon your subjective hunch that you are correctly understanding Genesis 1 and 2? That all the worlds’ scientists are mistaken but you are right because YOU THINK SO?

    Again I ask: Do you understand how reasonable people are not swayed by that sort of “evidence…”?

    • Dan

      the differences between us is you use hunches, I use conclusions. You are now severely annoying me.

      • Dan, how about you take some time and study evidence provided by Answers In Genesis http://www.answersingenesis.org/ or Institute for Creation Research http://www.icr.org/ You know, the other side of the issue. There are too many facts and evidences to go into here; I am not doing your research for you just because you are too lazy.

        Now you pull out the old “no true Scotsman” logic fallacy, i.e, “no reasonable people are swayed by your argument.” I hate to break this to you, but there are hundreds of thousands of reasonable people like me who were indeed swayed by the evidence of Scripture and the factual data supporting it. Apparently you aren’t reasonable.

  30. John…

    the differences between us is you use hunches, I use conclusions. You are now severely annoying me.

    I AM sorry I’m severely annoying you, but I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m being respectful, I’m acknowledging you all as my brothers, I’m being polite. I’m just asking WHAT EVIDENCE does anyone have for a 6,000 year old earth and a demand that these Genesis stories must be taken literally. My apologies for whatever it is I’m doing that you find annoying. If you’d point it out, I could try to avoid doing it. How about that?

    John…

    the differences between us is you use hunches, I use conclusions.

    Conclusions based on what? I’m asking a specific question. Glenn and Marshall are claiming that these passages must be taken literally, I’m asking if the entire scope of their argument as to why they must be taken literally is “cuz I think so…” and, if so, do they see that this is not a compelling argument?

    I see that finally Glenn has offered a link to what appears to be a conservative site. I’d ask for something a bit more serious, perhaps something peer-reviewed, not simply a bunch of people who are looking to validate their cultural beliefs.

    • Dan

      I have written a post on the Genesis creation that I will release either tomorrow or Wed, depending on whether traffic picks up on the newest commentary. I too read Genesis as a historical account to be understood literally.

  31. But not literally literal, right? I mean, you don’t think the word translated “day” means a literal 24 hour day. You think it ought to be better understood as something like “eons,” if I understood you right earlier, right?

    Any hints as to what I’m doing that so distresses you, Brother John, so that I can try to avoid it?

  32. For those who argue against the literal, 24-hour meaning of “day” in Genesis chapter 1, here is a citation you should find interesting:

    Dr. James Barr (Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University), who himself does not believe Genesis is true history, nonetheless admitted as far as the language of Genesis 1 is concerned that: “So far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s Flood was understood to be worldwide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.”

    I also recommend at least the following two articles:
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/isd/werner-gitt
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/could-god-have-created-in-six-days

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