Monday, February 18, 2008

Yeah, Raph, let's talk about the Bible, shall we?


Oh, this is going to be entertaining -- Blogging Tory Raphael Alexander wants to get into thoughtful, nuanced Biblical apologetics, which should be amusing, given the embarrassing and illogical dog's breakfast of inconsistencies and self-contradictions that is the Old Testament. Where, oh dear Lord, where to even begin? There is so much airheaditude in the Book of Genesis alone that this is going to take a while, so let's start slowly. We don't want to scare the children.

Despite the best of intentions, Raphael starts off badly by reproducing complete crap:

God creates Adam from the dust of the earth and breathes life into him, making him a living being. God first created the animals, and Adam named them. Finally, God makes Adam a helpmate fashioned from his rib.

Um ... no, Raphael, that's not how it happened. At least, that's not how it happened depending on which chapter of Genesis you read since there are (as any decent Biblical scholar is well aware) two entirely independent creation myths in Genesis, and they blatantly contradict one another.

There is (as people like myself who have actually read the Bible appreciate) the first creation myth that begins, well, at the beginning, and lays out the chronology thusly:

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Now, did you catch all that, Raph? All the beasts of the fields, and birds of the air, and reptiles of the legal profession, and so on -- all done in chapter one, verses 20-25. Are we good here? Seriously, are we all in agreement that that's what's happened above? Good, because now we head on to verses 26 and 27 where, astonishingly, we read:

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, [b] and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Whoa, whoa, whoa ... what the fuck? That doesn't match what Raphael reproduced at all, does it? No, it doesn't ... and that's because Raphael is reading from the other creation myth -- that would be the one that starts fresh at Genesis, Chapter 2, Verse 4 and tells the story all over again (albeit written by someone totally different):

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

How curious -- that after God has just finished explaining how everything worked, he feels the need to tell you again, just to play it safe. And, apparently, he gets it wrong this time:

7 the LORD God formed the man [e] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Uh oh ... this doesn't quite sound like the first account, does it? Man and man alone -- that's not how the first story went, is it? But let's read on, as the hilarity is only beginning:

19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

Wow -- a full dozen verses later, and God finally gets around to all those beasts of the field and birds of the air and ... well, you get the idea. Methinks somebody needs to work on their chronology. And, in all of this, where's the chick? Oh ...

But for Adam [h] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs [i] and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib [j] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Whoopsie, that doesn't quite match the first account, does it? No, it doesn't. Not even remotely. And, no, you don't get to start redefining words to make them compatible. They don't match, end of discussion. Not an auspicious beginning for the inerrant, infallible Word of God, is it?

Don't go away, kids, we are just getting started. Next time: God as Tommy Flanagan.

P.S.: If you're not aware that even the first two chapters of Genesis had at least two independent authors, you are (and I say this with the utmost respect) way too fucking stupid to participate in this discussion.

Aesthetically alone, you can see that the Book of Genesis up to Chapter 2, Verse 3 invariably refers to the big guy as "God" whereas, starting at Genesis 2:4, the appelation used is "LORD God" -- that's because these were two different authors.

If you've never noticed that, then, seriously, you should not be discussing the Bible as if you knew anything about it.

28 comments:

Red Tory said...

I really didn’t think it was germane to his point getting into a critique of the sheer laughable absurdity of Genesis, but seeing as you’re having so much fun with the topic, how ridiculous is the notion that “He brought [all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air] to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”

Okay, let’s stick with just birds and mammals for the moment. It’s roughly estimated that the combined number of species of those groups is 15,400. So let’s say that it took Adam 20 seconds (it would probably have taken a lot longer given the logistics involved, not to mention the fact that he supposedly had no “knowledge” and it’s therefore somewhat puzzling how he had the gift of language, let alone taxonomy, but that’s another matter…), at that rate it would have taken him over 200 days to name all of them. Again, that’s presuming he rattled off a brand new description for each animal every 20 seconds, uninterrupted by anything whatsoever.

This of course doesn’t include all the fish, amphibians and reptiles, in which case it would have taken him about 40 years (again at the rate of every 20 seconds, uninterrupted).

Even with no need for physical demands like sleep, eating or defecating, one suspects he would have gone mad long before ever completing the task.

CC said...

RT rites:

"I really didn’t think it was germane to his point getting into a critique of the sheer laughable absurdity of Genesis, ..."

No, it wasn't directly related, but I will be addressing his main point shortly, and I needed the above to set the stage properly.

Be patient, we're getting there.

Red Tory said...

I'll look forward to the trip.

E in MD said...

My favorite excuse for this discrepancy is from an episode of Penn & Teller - Bullshit! in which they analyze the bible. You can catch on youtube and I'm pretty sure also on the P&T site for the show.

Anyway, the dude that gets on there is this 'biblical scholar' who claims that the one of the re-tellings of the creation myth was a summary of the other. The cliff notes version if you will. He likens it to serial TV wherein during this weeks show you have recap of what happened last week.

Also before I go, if you're interested in critical biblical analysis ( something i've been doing for the inevitable confrontation between my father in law and myself ) I recommend the following two sites:

Skeptics Annotated Bible/Koran/Book of Mormon
Biblos - Parallel Bible Comparison

Both are very good sites with thoughtful analysis though with different purposes. The SAB has an index of a lot of the contradictions in the bible in addition to handy links like 'What does the bible say about X', which though incomplete is very useful.

The second is good if you want to see what the bible had to say about X, but want to know how the different translations of the bible differ on the same verse.

Both are very useful for arguing with Biblidiots, those Christians who bible thump but haven't actually read their own text.

CC said...

E in MD writes:

"Anyway, the dude that gets on there is this 'biblical scholar' who claims that the one of the re-tellings of the creation myth was a summary of the other. The cliff notes version if you will. He likens it to serial TV wherein during this weeks show you have recap of what happened last week."

It is, of course, no such thing, but I've heard that lame excuse more times than I care to count.

If the two accounts simply left out different details, that might be acceptable. But they don't just differ in small details -- they flat-out disagree in their fundamental chronology.

For anyone who thinks they can explain away the obvious discrepancies, I have a simple challenge: Come up with a coherent and internally consistent telling of the creation myth that incorporates all of the details from both accounts.

That's it -- simple, no? And in all the years I've made that challenge, I've never had someone come back with a meaningful solution. Because, quite simply, there isn't one.

However, if you're feeling ambitious and think you can be the first, well, go wild. We could all use the entertainment value.

Ti-Guy said...

For anyone who thinks they can explain away the obvious discrepancies, I have a simple challenge: Come up with a coherent and internally consistent telling of the creation myth that incorporates all of the details from both accounts.

The only people who will bother doing that are Christo-Crazies and you know what they're going to say....no sophistry is too hair-brained for them.

I'm lucky I have the choice of just saying "it's all metaphorical, except when it's not" and moving on.

Chet Scoville said...

Also, the fact that the Bible contains differing accounts is not exactly news; medieval commentators discussed the fact all the time. Only modern people, it seems, are surprised by the fact.

toujoursdan said...

medieval commentators discussed the fact all the time. Only modern people, it seems, are surprised by the fact.

...which says a lot about modern sensibilities and that fact that most "conservative" Christians are actually the most modernist-minded people. Post enlightenment minded people tend to evaluate a text by its fact and question or dismiss it if the facts don't line up or are implausible - so fundamentalist Christians have to suspend common sense or develop crude conspiracy theories to keep the facts intact. Pre-modern people didn't evaluate the text that way. For them, the point of the story is all that matters.

It's like "The Boy who cried Wolf" story. There are the factual/historical details - whether a real boy or real wolf existed. And there is the moral of the story - if you spread false alarms, people may ignore a real one. Post-enlightenment people care about whether the boy or wolf existed; ancient people focused on false alarms - the story's point. They really don't care whether the characters or facts really happened.

There are two creation stories with varying details in Genesis - neither are factual; both are meant to transmit two slightly different theological truths about humanity's relationship with this world and with God.

Nearly all Jews and 90% of the world's Christian population understand that it's myth - a non-literal story meant to transmit a truth. It's American fundamentalists and their Canadian minions that don't get it.

CC said...

Chet writes:

"Also, the fact that the Bible contains differing accounts is not exactly news; medieval commentators discussed the fact all the time. Only modern people, it seems, are surprised by the fact."

I believe I can state, without fear of contradiction, that there is no one so stunningly ignorant of even the most basic and trivial of Christian scholarship than those who claim to believe in the absolute innerancy and infallibility of the Good Book.

These people are howlingly stupid when it comes to even the most simple points of Biblical research. They will tell you, with a straight face, that they read the Bible every day, and can even quote Scripture back at you. At length.

But if you mention that there are two contradictory accounts of the creation in the first two chapters of Genesis, they are absolutely stunned. Literally, they've never heard of such a thing and, even after having it pointed out to them, they're incapable of wrapping their brains around it.

This is why I rarely get involved in arguing Christian apologetics. It's because, for the most part, devout Christians are fucking imbeciles.

P.S. Here's a pop quiz for people who think they know the Old Testament: Who allegedly wrote the first five books of the O.T.?

It's not a trick question, I just want the author.

Red Tory said...

...there is no one so stunningly ignorant of even the most basic and trivial of Christian scholarship than those who claim to believe in the absolute innerancy and infallibility of the Good Book.

You mean like our Minister of Public Safety?

Red Tory said...

A: Moses

fergusrush said...

"Who allegedly wrote the first five books of the O.T.?"

Moses. Allegedly.

Is there are prize?

Raphael Alexander said...

Um, I have almost no idea why you linked to me today. A cursory glance at the referring article I linked to would have pointed you at Wikipedia, and it is to them you should form your further complaints on how Genesis is presented in the online media.

fergusrush said...

Gee, it's looks like I shouldn't have taken the time to put the quote in. Minute late and a penny short.

Ti-Guy said...

Nearly all Jews and 90% of the world's Christian population understand that it's myth - a non-literal story meant to transmit a truth. It's American fundamentalists and their Canadian minions that don't get it.

You see that when you listen to non-Christians talk about their creation myths; in Canada, for example, when listening to First Nations people talk about creation. You get the sense you're listening to a rational person telling a story and relating a myth that has spiritual or moral value, not a scientific one.

And then you listen to fundamentalist Christians, and you get the horrified sensation that you're in the presence of the truly insane.

CC said...

Patience, Raphael ... we're getting to you.

CC said...

Why, yes, fergus, my little space cadet, it allegedly was Moses ... except for one rather glaring inconsistency.

Join me, if you will, as we peruse the closing passages of the Book of Deuteronomy, allegedly written by Moses, yet where we read the following:

"The Death of Moses ...
5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. 6 He buried him [b] in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
"

Well, now, isn't that special ... Moses writing about himself after he's already passed on. That's pretty fucking impressive, wouldn't you say ,ferg?

And it's not like you need to be a high-powered Biblical scholar to have noticed that; it's kind of right there in front of you, in fairly simple English.

And yet, you'd be astonished how many devout Bible-whompers are absolutely convinced that Moses is the sole author of the Pentateuch, even with the contradictory evidence staring them right in the face.

As I've said before, there is no point arguing Christian apologetics with devout Christians. Most of them are simply too stupid for words.

Red Tory said...

You did say who "allegedly" wrote the Pentateuch... I didn't think we were supposed to offer some cockamamie explanation of how that's supposed to work. I leave that sort of thing to the faithful.

fergusrush said...

Arguing apologetics is always pointless, no matter whom you argue with, in my opinion.

Chet Scoville said...

I believe I can state, without fear of contradiction, that there is no one so stunningly ignorant of even the most basic and trivial of Christian scholarship than those who claim to believe in the absolute innerancy and infallibility of the Good Book.

Pretty much.

dbc said...

Yes, the whole 'naming' thing is a problem. It brings to mind the following. I have no idea of its origination.

Quoted from a Ken Cox post:

> God: And here's the next species, one I'm particularly proud of...
> Adam: Beetle.
> God: Excellent. Now here's another...
> Adam: Beetle.
> God: No, you just named the last one "beetle". This one is quite
> different -- look at the pattern on the wing cases, and the
> shape of the antennae...
> Adam: Beetle.
> God: Well, OK, though they certainly look different to Me. Now,
> the next species is --
> Adam: Beetle.

> -- Excerpt from "The *Real* Reason for the Fall"

End quote

Red Tory said...

Oh man, that's hilarious.

Sheena said...

Dinosaurs wrote the Old Testament. They were here first.

Dumb asses.

Raphael Alexander said...

http://www.myspacers-anonymous.org/pg/images/christianity.jpg

liberal supporter said...

As my parents explained it to me, the two creations are for the two parts that make us what we are.

The first creation is our souls. God, being a spirit and all, created us in his own image and likeness then. Our souls. Even though I don't think of spirits as having a gender, perhaps God knew there would soon be bodies for these two, and might as well give them genders.

My dad worked with a fundamentalist "they take the Bible literally!" and he figured they would read that and assume God looks like us. You know, something like a more dignified version of Santa Claus.

The second creation is our physical bodies. Note that we've already had our souls created, but "there was no one to till the soil". So God makes a man's body, then later makes a woman's body. No mention is made here about "in his image and likeness".

The delay seems a little fishy in retrospect, why would the woman's spirit have to hang around so long after the man has already occupied his body? But that was how it was explained.

The whole writing of the Bible was explained to me as being similar to the way we have nursery rhymes. In some times you could not criticize the king, so you have things like "three blind mice" with a hidden story. Plus, a story is easier to remember and pass on. The stories would be intended as guides for future generations.

Think about what a profound change it was for humanity to have some form of written language. You only had to teach the language to the young, and they would be able to read the accumulated knowledge of their society. The first things passed on would be those of most concern to whoever was in charge. You would want to pass on information to future rulers, and at the same time pass on information to their future subjects, hopefully stories that would establish the legitimacy of the rulers and encourage the subjects to maintain the status quo.

E in MD said...

If the two accounts simply left out different details, that might be acceptable. But they don't just differ in small details -- they flat-out disagree in their fundamental chronology.

By Blogger CC, at 10:45 AM



It amuses me how many Xians ( and no I don't mean the actual dozen or so decent Christians out there I mean the faux bible thumping Xians who are currently in control of the government down here ) staunchly claim that the bible is the perfect, immutable, unchanging word of god. My father-in-law a few weeks back went so far as to proclaim to my mother-in-law's( who are divorced by the way ) father that the reason he joined his church is because the preacher doesn't go around trying to translate things or 'interpret' the bible.

During another point he said that it was wrong to drink alcohol because it says so in the bible. It also says in several places that alcohol is good. Jesus even creates wine at a wedding. Why would he create wine if it was bad?

His response was: "Well the wine back then was actually more like grape juice."

Uh huh. Well then, that'd be an INTERPRETATION then wouldn't it? It says WINE, not grape juice.

There are over 200 references to wine in the bible. Some references are positive, others negative and still others neutral. The correct answer seems to be that that the bible condemns excessive drinking, not any drinking at all. Unfortunately since this preacher goes by the 'no interpretation' shtick in a book that was written to be interpreted ( ask a Jew how they read the bible ), most of what the book intends is missed for a few passages that readily support the preacher's agenda.

If it's so perfect, immutable and unchanging why does it contradict itself a chapter after stating something. Why is it so blatantly wrong in some places ( ie: Rabbits do not chew their cud ). Why do Xians pick and choose which parts of the bible to adhere to based on what is most convenient (ex: They condemn slavery, and hate gays for example).

Why? Because it was a book put together by a committee ( her father also doesn't believe in the Council of Nicea ), under the watchful eye of an emperor who had his own agenda to fill. Texts written by fallible men, who are capable of falling under the influence of drugs, alcohol, coercion, insanity, delusion, violence and if you believe in it demon possession. Add to that fact that it's been translated so many times over the years that the original message has been corrupted and lost. Hell most of he original documents are gone so we can't even verify what they said in the first place. We are just expected to take someone's word for it ( you know, kinda like how George W. Bush says we're all safer and we're just expected to trust him ). Ultimately the bible is written in such a way as to allow anyone to justify anything by using it, from polygamy to genocide to the destruction of the earth.

A list of references to wine in the bible

liberal supporter said...

the bible is the perfect, immutable, unchanging word of god
Well it was, until the authors tried to write it down.

the reason he joined his church is because the preacher doesn't go around trying to translate things or 'interpret' the bible.
Wow! I could never get the hang of Ancient Greek, Latin, Ancient Hebrew or Aramaic. Good for him!

His response was: "Well the wine back then was actually more like grape juice."
That would explain how he knows all the original tongues.
We're talking kosher wine, right? Try some Manischewitz, it'll grow hair on your chest!

The Bible shouldn't be taken literally, but taken with a whole pillar of salt.

E in MD said...

Even with no need for physical demands like sleep, eating or defecating, one suspects he would have gone mad long before ever completing the task.

By Blogger Red Tory, at 5:38 AM


You're forgetting one thing Red.

It's magic. God made him do it. Kinda like how Noah squeezed all those animals onto an ark, didn't die of asphyxiation, managed to feed, water and clean up after them all and didn't in fact SINK or break apart, He also still managed to end up with two pairs of each at the end of 40 days, which means he had to have someone on constant 24 hour watch to keep the predators from eating the herbivores. Cuz remember, by that time the meat eaters actually had fangs and claws and ate meat. Not like in the dinosaur days when all the big fanged and clawed critters ate veggies.

*laughs*


That would explain how he knows all the original tongues.
We're talking kosher wine, right? Try some Manischewitz, it'll grow hair on your chest!

The Bible shouldn't be taken literally, but taken with a whole pillar of salt.

By Blogger liberal supporter, at 8:50 PM


To be honest I like John. He's a nice guy over all. His brain just goes right the fuck out the window when it comes to religion. Anyone who reads the Bible ( or the Koran or the Book of Mormon or any other holy book really ) with half a brain that is not deluded by faith would realize that it's not a book written by god or people inspired by god. If it were, it wouldn't be so full of holes and contradictions.

For example, he's all on about how you're not supposed to interpret the Bible. Remember the alcohol shit? He's also completely clean shaven because he was going bald. He doesn't even have eyebrows (Deut 14:1, Lev 21:5). He also has tattoos. He also eats shrimp (Lev 11:10). He's also divorced ( with as far as I know ) no adultery involved (Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18), Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9)(.

But that's all ok because he's 'saved'. Even though the bible isn't consistent on how to get into heaven anyway. Could be works. Could be faith. Could be predestination. Could be that none of us are saved and god hates us all.

Basically He joined a church who will blow smoke up his ass and tell him what he wants to hear because he's old and in poor health. He made a comment the other day that when you're young you vote Democrat but when you're older and wiser you vote Republican. I've seen that correlation a lot yes, but this would seem to be his way of saying that Democrats are always young, impulsive and naive and Republicans are always older, more thoughtful and more wise. When basically it boils down to the fact that the Republicans feed to people's baser instincts like war and salvation, and Democrats require you to think and work to get stuff done. You're not gonna her a Republican talk about how hard you're going to have to work to pay off the Iraq war or how much you children's children's children are going to have to work.

As far as John. for all he knows he's going to hell not because of all the bad things in his life, but for that tattoo cuz God really hates them. Or maybe because of the shrimp he ate.

Not to mention he's got a damn pacemaker. Bible says that those with infirmities are unclean and shall not enter the house of the lord (Lev 21:17-23).

But that's the problem with trying to serve some invisible sky spirit who can't even hire decent ghostwriters. You never know what it is he wants ( or even if it's a he ) and the Bible will tell you twelve different contradicting things on any one subject.

The way I see it, ultimately you're back where you started, alone in an uncaring universe with no real compass but that which you decide for yourself. So why make shit up just to make yourself feel like you matter when you don't. If the mere fact that you exist isn't enough of a reason for you to keep existing, then kill yourself and get it over with.

But whatever, to each their own. Just don't expect me to swallow it or live by it. If conservative right wingers only wanted to be conservative right wingers in their own houses, and not force me to live by their bullshit delusional principals then I wouldn't have a single problem with them.