Wednesday, 6 May 2009

God Vs the Bible

Has anyone come across this free e-book. its pretty good. And free. You should all read it.


Sir-Think-A-Lot said...

nothing new to see here...move along...

johnny said...

Hi Mike.

Just curious... have you read it yourself?

Let's start with the Preface and move along from there. Feel free to chime in, since this is your blog.

I think John Armstrong is off to a good start, using a couple of different translations to compare. Off the top of my head, i'm not sure if the NRSV is a good version or not. I personally like the KJV, but that's simply because that was what i grew up on... my church and the one i attended as a youngster have both used the NIV for quite a while now, and i've heard both bad and good comments about the NIV.
(for those that might not be aware, in a nutshell, some translations are more 'word-for-word' translations and others are more 'thought-for-word' and others are somewhere inbetween the two extremes... if i recall, the KJV is one that leans toward the more literal side, albeit older English, so this too, presents some problems)

He goes on to say why he fights...
I dream of a day when all of humanity is set free from the shackles of faith, especially the more dangerous forms like Christianity and IslamMaybe i'm nitpicking here, but isn't that statement itself, a FAITH statement?
For now, i'll leave the rest of the obvious failing of that statement alone... we only have to wait until the first chapt.

His next paragraph is an attempt to shield himself from attack, but it is a wasted effort, since it's simply a claim of himself that can not be corroborated just by reading his book (i'm thinking specifically about his claim that it's not because of his "selfish motives"

He continues in his explanation of (his) motives by building a strawman, in that this is all just a battle of worldviews, however, those 'atrocities, misery, stagnation and bigotry' etc. presuppose an absolute moral law... generally a deistic god (which Armstrong seems to be championing) wouldn't seem to be interested in moral revelation.

There are a few more points about his preface that i wouldn't mind making, but i'll save them for another time (the topics come up now and again).

I'll start with some or all of chapter one tonight and move along from there.


johnny said...

Hi Mike.

I'll use the KJV unless i note otherwise. If i use another version, i'll explain why the switch. I'm using the KJV because the program that i'm using, has Strong's dictionaries linked to KJV.

On to Chapt 1..

J.A. said, If we are to believe that the Creator also wrote a book (such as the Bible) shouldn’t we expect this book to contain an accurate understanding of how Creation operates?Accurate? yes, that is a fair assumption. However, J.A. goes on to name a few things that he believes are not accurate..
Let's look at John Armstrong's examples..

(Gen 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. )
Here's the word that's rendered 'giant'

נפל נפיל
nephîyl nephil
nef-eel', nef-eel'
From H5307; properly, a feller, that is, a bully or tyrant: - giant.

Some of the commentaries point out that the verse is distinguishing between evil and the Godly. Although the passage (Gen 6:4) itself is addressing that issue, i find that answer wanting, in regard to giants, since we are told of the brothers of Gath (Goliath).
But John Armstrong's claim that giants are "high fantasy" fails since there are giants among us today... Robert Wadlow (1918-1940)is one example. Zhao Liang and Sun Mingming are a couple more examples.

(Psalms 74:13 Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength: thou didst break the heads of the dragons in the waters.)

Here's the word rendered as dragon:

תּנּים תּנּין
tannîyn tannîym
tan-neen', tan-neem'
(The second form used in Eze_29:3); intensive from the same as H8565; a marine or land monster, that is, sea serpent or jackal: - dragon, sea-monster, serpent, whale.

Even though the Psalm is praising God for delivering His people through the Red Sea, there are other places in the Bible that dragons are mentioned.

For right now, i'm just going to present one possibility, simply to show that dragons being "high fantasy" is an exageration.

(Lev 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.)

the word for wizard...

From H3045; properly a knowing one; specifically a conjurer; (by implication) a ghost: - wizard.

Again, high fantasy is not necessarily the case, since there have been people claiming to be witches and wizards. Their claim does not mean that their abilities are genuine or unfaked.
However, there is also the possibility that the Devil gives them some amount of power. This is the claim given in the book of Revelation.

Illness is caused by demonic possession (Luke 6:17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;)

I don't see demonic possession in verse 17, however, in the next verse...

Luk 6:18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.

The passage is not saying that diseases are cause by demon possession. If you look more closely, you might notice that it says in v.17, "and to be healed of their diseases;"
and then in v.18 it goes on to say, "And they that were vexed with...".

The author is making a distinction between two seperate things.

some people live almost a thousand years (Gen 5:27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died)

Ok, two seperate answers on this concept...
First, and because i hold to a YEC, i disagree with this answer-- some scholars say that what is being claimed here is not long ages of individuals, but of tribes or families.
Second, since i hold to YEC, i think the long ages of individuals is a "left-over" from the Creation, for one possible purpose of populating the earth.

Either way, the Bible is not describing something that is current, but rather claiming something from the past.... and something that, post-Fall, isn't very desirable.

those of faith can drink poison without being affected

(Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.,)

In the Apologetics Study Bible there is commentary that says, "In 1910, after reading Mk 16:18 George Went Hensley introduced snake handling to churches throughout the Appalachian region. Although this passage is a part of the ending of Mk that is considered by many not to be original, much of the church for 18 centuries viewed this passage as authoritative. Therefore, if it is interpreted literally, one would expect to hear that early Christians obeyed the directive to "pick up snakes." No evidence exists that this ever happened. although the Apostle Paul was protected when bitten by a venomous viper (Ac 28:1-6)"For a second, let's suppose that it was part of the original...
I am reminded that, when Jesus was tempted...

Luk 4:9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
Luk 4:10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
Luk 4:11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Luk 4:12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

The last "high fantasy" charge i'll cover tonight is:

The universe isn’t structured the way we understand it to be. The earth is fixed in place (Psalms 93:1) and supported by pillars (1st Sam 2:8). The sky is a dome (Gen 1:6-8) and the sun, moon and stars are lights fixed in that dome (Gen 1:16-17). These stars will eventually fall to the earth in the end times (Matt 24:29). Anything is possible. You can even get to Heaven if you build a tower tall enough (Gen 11:1-9) but it will frighten the biblical god (Gen 11:6). Again, for right now, i'm going to just refer you to a link...

I'm putting the link there for the purpose of "home work".

Have a good night and God Bless.


ps tomorrow night our family is planning to have a bonfire. Saturday i have to set the pool up and then i should go to Mom's house to help getting it ready to sell. Sunday is Mother's day, so i plan on visiting Mom. I'll try to work on this a little bit here and there. If STAL or anyone wants to tackle a chapter or two, that would be wonderful... i know STAL said, "nothing new.. move along", and he is right, but if i were a skeptic, i would most likely look at that as hand-waving and think that the Christian didn't take my objection serious.

At anyrate... good night.


johnny said...

Why does the blog program scrunch up some of the replies???!!

I double checked and i had moved to the next line after the italicized quotes to differentiate from my reply.

Sir-Think-A-Lot said...

I dont know I'v seen the same problem at times. It's annoying.

Sir-Think-A-lot said...

Although Johny, I dont expect Mike or fifi to take any answer I have seriously either.

But on that note JP has an excellent article on 'Biblical Cosmology:'

The short version is: The language of the Bible is equivical on this subject. Most of the verses in question are either obviously poetical in nature or are making some other point that has nothing whatsoever to do with the shape/structure of the earth.

I may tackle an entire chapter a little later, but I'm kinda busy right now.

Jake said...

That reminds me, I have yet to make another edition to my critique entitled "God vs. JohnLArmstrong

Sir-Think-A-Lot said...

On to chapter 2:

Most of this chapter can be delt with by pointing out two fundimental flaws:

First, it beggs the question that God cannot use a book to reveal himself. I do actually happen to believe(in line with the author of this book) that God has revealed himself, or at least aspects of himself, through nature, its what Christians call general revelation. I also happen to believe God has given specific revelations throughout history, and these were recorded in the books that were later collected together to form the Bible. Strictly speaking the Bible is not, in itself, 'revelation,' but it is a RECORD of Gods revelation. Hence we say the Bible was INSPIRED by God, rather than DIRECTLY DICTIATED by God.

The second problem is that he fails to deal with this question: Even if the Bible is not inspired by God(which I believe it is, mind you), is it possible it is still accurate in what it records?

Now then the rest of his chapter is not much more than whining because God didnt do things the way things God should. But that said I can think of a lot of reasons God would do things the way he did, instead of a booming voice from the sky: For starters the 'big voice from the sky' method would have difficulty to pass along a comprehensive theology.

I actually wrote one of my term papers last year on this very subject: A complex, nuienced argument, simply CANNOT be passed along in a short period of time. Really there are only two methods of conveying such an argument that are effective: A socratic diologue(much how Jesus taught most of the time) or a lenghy, written work, in which the author carefully arranges and lays out his thoughts clearly. One of the problems with the internet is that it's killing the art of writing works of real lengh and depth, writing online requires 'instant action' instead of a careful, measured response.

As for his last complaint about why the Bible couldnt simoltaniously appear everywhere in the world: well for one thing not everywhere had a written language, the native Americans didnt, many African tribes didnt, the Australian aboraginies didnt. But even if it only appared where there was a written language, theres another problem: understanding the Bible requires an understanding of Middle Eastern culture. This is problamatic enough in the western world today(which has lead to a lot of misinterpertations of the Bible), so imagine if you lived in a place where you had no idea such a place and culture even existed, I think even these people had such a book, they wouldnt have hailed is 'the word of God,' they would have ignored it.

johnny said...

A little bit more from chapter one...

"Now return to the real world, the natural universe, and note the differences. There are no wizards or mythical creatures and yet it’s filled with enough breathtaking wonders to inspire the imagination for all time. Stable, immutable laws govern the real universe, indicating a Creator that is a pragmatic architect instead of the spoiled tantrum-throwing tyrant that is the Bible’s god (hereafter in this book, this mythical mockery of our Creator will be referred to by his biblical name, "Yahweh"). "

Although i agree with the author that the creation is the work of a pragmatic architect, the author's claim that God is a "spoiled tantrum-throwing tyrant" is very similar to a young child complaining that the punishment from mom & dad is unfair and that they don't love him anymore.
But the difference being that the child has not had enough life experiences to judge, where as the author should be able to study a bit more indepth and should be able to realise that the Creator of all creation, who claims to be a Holy and Just God, has every right to exact punishment for violations of His commands.

"Since God is defined as the Creator, it follows that the natural universe, not a book written by humans, is the supreme Word of God. Our understanding of our Creator should be grounded first and foremost in our observations of Creation. Any supposed books of divine revelation that don’t conform to these observations ought to be discarded as mythology."

The author is incorrect.
First of all, his claim that "it follows that the natural universe, not a book written by humans, is the supreme Word of God" almost sounds like his claim is from some sort of divine revelation...
that, or he is mistaken...

I'd say he's mistaken and his conclusion does not follow, since, if the Creator is the God of the Bible, the correct conclusion would be that God has also revealed Himself by Special Revelation.
Kinda important to note, according to Romans 1:20 (For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:)

That means that Special Revelation let's you know what is required to be Saved, but General Revelation is let's you know that God exists.

Armstrong asks of parent, friend, spouse, or pastor; "What gives them the authority to determine what is the true source of revelation? How can they be so certain?"
The same question can be asked of Armstrong... what gives him the authority or the certainty to determine that they have not had revelation? Convicted by the Holy Spirit?

In his section on 'Faith vs. Critical Thinking', he attempts to answer his own question (from the previous section), but i guarantee that he takes many things on faith. Things like the existance of other minds; that the world outside the mind actually exists; that the world outside the mind is more or less as we percieve it... things like those.

At anyrate, the author (and many like him) assume that most of the questions of "doubting" Christians and those of skeptics, have no answer other than "just have faith", but most of the time, the person giving those answers just don't know the answers or where to find them. This is a failing on the part of Christian leaders, but with God's will, it is changing.

"Zero Defects"
Since we are not divine agents ourselves, we can’t hope to be certain about the purity of any passage we read if we know that some are contaminated by human error. Once we acknowledge that some parts of this alleged “Word of God” are, in fact, bunk, how can we trust that any other part isn’t? If, for example, the creation story in the first two chapters of Genesis are admitted to be human mythmaking, having no relationship to the actual Creation, then how can we be sure that, say, the passages describing the Lake of Fire wasn’t made up by religious leaders seeking to control their flock?

This is part of the reason that i believe in a YEC.

He goes on to say that it is arrogant and cherry-picking to claim to know what parts of the Bible are corrupted or added by humans, yet he gives only one example that he assumes to be correct (his assumption, not the example).... is he being arrogant and picking a cherry of his own?

Just going to touch base with this for now, and then it's off to bed...

Here are some of the common excuses Christian apologists come up with for the Bible:

1. “This analysis is too literal. The Bible is a source of metaphor to be interpreted.”

Most of the metaphors in the Bible are distinguishable by context.

2. “(This or that passage) is just a mistranslation of the original Word.” .

With further study of the cultures and the words, we continue to understand more.

3. “We can’t put God in a vacuum. Some parts of the Bible may be incompatible with modern sensibilities and understandings of the universe but God had to speak to people in ways they could understand at the time.”Why is this an objection?

4. “God works in strange ways.”Again, why is this an objection?
By definition, we can not exhaustively know the mind of an Omniscient God.
We are limited to His revelation (be it general, special, or both)

5. “You can only come to God through faith, not reason.” .

According to the Word, neither are true. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10:17)
reason also comes from God.

OK, that's enough for tonight...

Good night and God Bless,

johnny said...

Hi Mike.

I can put 5 or 10 minutes into it for now..

Still chapt 1, the The Metaphorical vs. Literal View section:

Why would God write a book, especially a book so important that our eternal salvation depends upon our proper understanding of it,.

If it is so difficult to understand, let me sum it up..

We are sinners against the Holy God. We have done what is wrong in our thoughts, words and actions and we've failed to do what is right.
We were created with the ability to do right, but we want to do what we want to do, and generally, our wants are sins against the Holy God.
He is Just, therefore He must punish us. And since a sin against an infinite God would be an infinite sin, we would be paying forever.


He has given a gift that, if accepted by us, pays our penalty for us.

Jesus died on the cross, went to hell and rose from the dead.
Only an eternal God could pay an infinite sin.
Jesus is the Eternal God.

God paid our penalty for us.

and deliberately obscure the message so it can’t be easily understood?.

The metaphores in the Bible (for the most part) are not there to obscure or confuse.
Most are there to help explain concepts or to parallel other events.

Jesus did use parables in order to explain, and those were meant to explain to those that trusted Him, but to obscure the meaning to those that did not trust Him.

Part of that purpose was so that non-Jews like you and me had chances to come to Him.

OK.. gotta get to work.

Good day.


Anonymous said...

So when does Mike actually interact with you fellas?

Sir-Think-A-Lot said...

Not too often. I dont think he really cares about what our responses are. Actually I have my doubts that hes even read the book he linked to, or at least not the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad state of affairs. For the life of me I cannot understand why I keep checking in to see what he is up to. It is like watching a train wreck. For you and Johnny I see some merit as you two are actually trying to engage him in conversation. I think he has one fan, Fifi. I think I am showing bad stewardship of my time visiting this blog.

Sir-Think-A-Lot said...

honestly I dont know why I still come here either. Mike Trite doesnt listen to anything we say, and Fifi is the athiestic equivelent of the 9/11 truth movement and 'omg the moon landings were faked' crowd.

Anonymous said...

I long for the Velvet Revolver days. I thought I could actually Columbo him into a corner with an overly inquisitive sensitive atheist buddy. He even evaded poor hero worshipping Velvet's youthful exuberance. I do not think he is a parody, although he may be. If he is a Christian parroting an atheist he has wasted a lot of valuable time and proven nothing. If he is not a parody he is ignorant. When I say ignorant I mean it in the best possible way. I believe he is ignorant not stupid. I think he is ignorant of reality because he has not had proper teachers. One thing you can say for him is that he has resilience or else he is just too ignorant to quit. The other amazing thing is that I could insult him all day long and he would not respond. An enigma he is.

johnny said...

Here's how i look at it--
If they were drowning, i would continue to throw them a life-ring, even if they continued to reject it, i would keep trying.
And even when they appear to be not honestly seeking, love should still be patient.

The only way anyone comes to faith, is by the Grace of God. It's not our arguments (good or bad as they may be). We are told to go and spread the Gospel. And, as one that takes God's Word pretty literal, i believe in a rather straightforward understanding of what God said in Isa 55:11:

Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.


johnny said...

Hi Mike,

This next part of chapter one is a bit of a puzzle to me...

The author has told us that he is a deist. Philosophically, the main difference between a deist and an atheist is that the deist believes in a creator God. However, the deist's god is not personal, and hasn't given special revelation and it is only assumed that the general revelation is from a god...

With that in mind, take a look at this:

What would it say for the morality, maturity and emotional stability of a god who behaves in such a wantonly sadistic and deceptive manner? Could such a spoiled child be the true architect of such a universe as ours, governed as it is by natural law and not known for supernatural upheaval? This image of a god as an obnoxious ill-mannered brat doesn’t reflect the nature of our Creator but does it fit Yahweh?

Malachi 2:3 Behold, I (the Lord) will corrupt your seed and spread dung upon your faces

It would seem so.

So that is the puzzle! How could someone that believes that some god, somewhere, at sometime, created the universe, yet, somehow know that Yahweh is not the Creator?
J. Armstrong is in the same hole as the atheist in regards to what is moral, in which to attempt to judge the Living God, and deem Him a spoiled child who is obnoxious, sadistic, and deceptive.

In other words, if Armstrong is assuming a creator, simply because the universe exists, he needs some foundation for the existance of morality, in order to speculate about God's morality. But as a deist, there is no foundation for morality's existance. (in fact, i think the atheist slightly has the upperhand here).

Bottom line here... how can a deist know anything about a creator, without some special revelation?

One last little bit for the night...

Armstrong said, "For example, we may muse, “How long is a day to God?” when speaking of the “six days” of Creation. Fair enough. Perhaps these passages were not intended to mean literal days. However, when Yahweh creates plants on “day three” and the sun on “day four”, the metaphor breaks down in the face of what we know about the true nature of Creation. Our sun was created long before plants (or indeed our very world) came into being and we know that plants require sunlight to survive. The absurdities, errors and contradictions of the Bible are far too severe to be excused by even the most generous of poetic license.".

As a YEC, obviously, i don't take the six days of Creation as metaphor. And the statement that "Our sun was created long before plants" is actually a presupposition based on a philosophical worldview.

If Genesis is taken literal, plants a day before the sun is not a problem of the existance of plants... especially with the Creator creating. If God can make something from nothing, it shouldn't be a difficult task to sustain His Creation.

OK.... i'm going to leave this sit like this. Maybe Mike or Fifi will like to interact...

God Bless,

johnny said...

Good morning.

Since this Armstrong's book is regarding how to evaluate the Bible and Biblical claims, i thought i would share some counter-perspectives (apart from my own).

Just a few links for this morning. Prior to this morning, i have not read the content of these links.

(can someone explain to me, how to post a link on the blog, so that it can be clickable?
It seems the URL's get spread out, so you can't even do a quick copy/paste )



(Other Religious WritingsCan They Be From God, Too?)

(The "Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy" - with Exposition)
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy addresses most, if not all, of the claims of the first chapter of Armstrong's e-book.

More links to come..

As we have read most of your links, Mike. Please be honest enough in your own search for truth, to read these.


johnny said...

Here's some more regarding biblical reliability. I'm posting these links as a response to complaints in the "The Mistranslation Excuse" section.

Although i'm only half way through reading this next one.... (an interesting note is that Holding addresses some of Bart Ehrman's claims and some of mistakes Ehrman's followers make.)

Good night for now... i'll try to get back to addressing the e-book tomorrow or the next day.