Michael Battalio

Monday, July 13, 2009

This I Believe (13)

Christianity is a leap of faith, and that leap is believing that everything in the Bible is 100% true and inspired by God. If you can accept that, then everything else taught by Christianity follows. If that isn’t obvious, then Christianity is a leap of faith.
The following is in response to some possible proofs of the credibility of the Bible.

1. The unity of the Bible--
Thanks to Wesley here are several examples of the Bible contradicting itself. These could be attributed to human error of course, but if there are these obvious contradictions, how many more non obvious untruths are there?
God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
* Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
* Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
* Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
* Seven (Genesis 7:2). Despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)
Did Joshua and the Israelites capture Jerusalem?
* Yes (Joshua 10:23, 40)
* No (Joshua 15:63)
Who was the father of Joseph, husband of Mary?
* Jacob (Matthew 1:16) 
* Heli (Luke 3:23-38)
In the count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
* Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
* One million, one hundred thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
Jesus descended from which son of David?
* Solomon (Matthew 1:5-16)
* Nathan(Luke 3:23-38)
Did Jesus bear his own cross?
* Yes (John 19:17)
* No (Matthew 27:31-32)
Who killed Goliath?
* David (I Samuel 17:23, 50)
* Elhanan (2 Samuel 21:19)
Does the Earth spin around in space?
* No (1 Chronicles 16:30)

So when it comes to specifics the Bible isn’t consistent all the time, but the major themes are connected throughout the book, those of love, faith, hope and a righteous God are well maintained. I’m not sure if this is coincidence or if it is a sound argument. It does seem improbable that the overarching themes would remain intact, but simply because it is improbable without intervention does not mean impossible. In my mind this is one of the (few and) best attributes the Bible has going for it: its consistency.
2. The Bible is non-mythical---
This is a matter of opinion and interpretation. Yes, the creation story in Genesis can be interpreted to fit with science, but what about other stories, Noah and the Ark, Moses parting the Red Sea? What is the difference between the “miracles” of the bible and “myths” of other religions? The only difference is that miracles of the Bible are not myths because the Bible is assumed to be true; besides that, the two are different in name only. The Bible is miraculous because the Bible says it is true and miraculous. Some of these stories you might call miracles, but others are obviously just stories, like the fashioning of Eve from a rib of Adam. And if some stories are just metaphor, how does one determine which stories are miracles and which are just stories and myths? Also, just because the Bible has historically accurate accounts of ancient peoples does not mean it has accurate accounts dealing with God.
3. The Bible is intact---
Define intact. If by intact it is meant that the Bible is how it is right now, then it’s intact, but what about all the purported books and manuscripts that aren’t part of the “intact” Bible. If the Bible is correct just because there are a lot of really old pieces of paper with transcriptions on it, then what about the gospels of various other people, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Judas? Those are really old accounts of Biblical happenings. And there are other books that are accepted in one version of the Bible and not in another. There are seven books in the Catholic Bible that aren’t in the King James Version, including, for example, the book (2 Maccabees) that contains one of the major passages that Catholics take the concept of purgatory from. The acceptance of some books and not others appears random or if not then motivated by politics, power, and personal preference. The Bible is not intact; it only appears intact.
4. The Bible tells events ahead of time---
I’ve explained this point as illogical several times already. I predict that in a couple of lines I will randomly say the word “tomato” in the middle of the sentence. You cannot make predictions, then fulfill them yourself, and call them inspired by divinity. Can passages be specifically and undeniably dated so that an absolutely accurate timeline be created for when prophesies were made and fulfilled? No, so the Bible cannot be independently verified. The Bible is believed because the bible says it should be believed, therefore tomato this argument is moot. Wait, did you see what just happen? The prophesy I made was fulfilled, there must be a God. See how silly that is.

Again, do I want God to exist? Yes. Do I want the Bible to be true? Yes, but there appears to be reasonable doubt as to the veracity of the Bible. Reason does not appear to be helpful in proving the existence of God or the truth of the Bible. At best it is also not possible to prove the inexistence of God or the falsehood of the Bible. So again I say that Christianity and any other religion requires a leap of faith.

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