Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sometimes what you don't see is important.


There is an old card trick. The magician shows his mark four face cards and asks them to concentrate on one of them, to memorize the card and to repeat it to them self mentally over and over. He then removes the cards from the table and tells the individual that based on his thoughts alone he will discern what card the individual picked and delete it from the deck.

After a few seconds with the cards he puts three face cards back down on the table and asks the mark if his face card is still there. Of course it isn’t.

What else isn’t there? What is also missing is the three other face cards that he didn’t pick. The magician has no idea which card the individual picked so he removes all four cards entirely and replaces them with three other face cards. The mark has memorized only face card so he doesn’t notice the other missing cards. And of course the one he picked, which the magician said he’d remove, has been removed. A very successful trick indeed.

My point is that you often don’t notice what is absent. It’s hard to concentrate on that which you don’t see.

This is also true regarding the Bible. There are lots of criticisms about what the Bible does contain. It is filled with barbarity, atrocities and genocide. Believes tend to ignore those things and concentrate on those sections that seem noble and moral; ideas like “love thy neighbor.” But what about those things which are not in the Bible?

Understand the claims made about this book by its fans. They argue this is a holy book, inspired or written by God, filled with the sort of wisdom and knowledge accessible to us only through a deity. We are often told that morality is not possible without a god. Without these commandments we wouldn’t know what is right or what is wrong.

What is interesting however, is that there is nothing in that book which is unique to that book. It makes no claims which, while unbelieved in that era, are today seen as true. It does make many claims which we know today are not true. But it doesn’t give us one piece of knowledge unknown to the people that era.

It speaks only of the world known by the authors and their mythical beliefs. You don’t find any mention of South America or Australia or North America. They didn’t know about them. Presumably God would have known but decided to reveal nothing new in the Bible that wasn’t already known to the general public. For instant it doesn’t mention that the earth revolves around the sun. It quite clearly says that the God stopped the sun at one point from moving. But it is the earth that moves around the sun and not the other way around.

Imagine if there were one passage of the Bible that spoke of something that was unknown to man for centuries -- for instance what if it mentioned something that we would clearly see today a virus or a germ? What if the Bible said such things caused sickness. Certainly when humans discovered viruses and germs this would be a great affirmation of the divine inspiration of the Bible.

But God didn’t see fit to include one single fact like that.

The Bible supposedly includes many prophecies all of which seem to become clear to people only after the fact. Could you imagine if Joshua or Paul, Moses or Jesus, had made one comment about man walking on the face of the moon. The idea back then would be absurd but it happened. God choice to make no such clear-cut, verifiable prophecy.

Jesus supposedly made comments about the end of the world and how their would be signs. The signs he gave were pretty typical events in the world. Nothing really out of the unusual, mainly things like earthquakes. But imagine if he said something like: “When you see man walk upon the face of the moon know that the end is near.” Wow! That would get the point across.

There aren’t even any great moral advancement that one can find in the Bible. The authors of the book had a view not dissimilar to those of the heathens around them. They killed rather regularly and quickly. Jehovah showed no advance on the other heathen gods when it came to virtues or morality. He was just as cruel and just as vindictive except he was worse in the sense that he demanded absolutely worship demanding that other religions be put to the sword.

At the time the Bible was written slavery was prevalent around the world. The Bible makes no moral advancement on that. It assumes slavery. No one in the Old Testament or the New Testament saw fit to actually condemn it. The commandments it did give for morality with actually rather typical for that day.

Even on the issue where the deity was supposed to be most needed, morality, he does nothing to improve morality. God apparently didn’t see fit to suggest to his followers that they free the slaves. Nor did he instruct the cultures to treat women as the equals of men. While he spends a fair amount of time speaking about what people should do with their genitals he never saw fit to point out that one shouldn’t rape children. And in some verses he seems to imply that raping virginal girls after military conquest was a good idea.

His great moral codes were quite limited in scope. Don’t kill unless he tells you to kill and then you must kill. Killing witches, approved of. Killing homosexuals, approved of. Killing adulterers, approved of. Killing disobedient children, approved of. Killing members of different ethnic groups, approved of. Killing members of different faiths, approved of.

There is no great moral advancement found in the Bible that was revolutionary for its time. There isn’t one statement about reality that is inconsistent with the knowledge of the day. There is not one prediction that was clearly astounding.

It reads entirely as a book that could have been written by the type of people alive in that day. It reads that way because it was written that way. It lacks entirely the touch of the divine.

6 Comments:

Blogger Common Man said...

The Bible doesn't speak of viruses, man walking on the moon, far-away continents, society without slavery, or anything else that concerns the details of life on earth because the Bible is not a commentary on the entirety of human existence. The Bible is about Messiah! It is not a science book, a history book, a geography book, nor is it a treatise of law. Jesus taught, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." - John 5:39

So what does a far-away land, or men walking on the moon, or knowledge of viruses, or the abolition of slavery in the modern world have to do with revealing the salvation of all creation? You wouldn't use a plunger to go fishing, so why do you think that the Bible should be used as anything beyond what it says it should be used for? I know "Christians" and non-Christians alike use the Bible to prove historical or scientific facts, but that only goes to prove that you and they are equal with you in the misuse of Holy Scriptures.

May 29, 2007

 
Blogger Roberto said...

@Common Man

"So what does...the abolition of slavery...have to do with revealing the salvation of all creation?"

So basically slavery is OK with god? It is not a sin to deprive someone of their freedom?

May 29, 2007

 
Blogger Kaleb said...

"there is nothing in that book which is unique to that book. It makes no claims which, while unbelieved in that era, are today seen as true. It does make many claims which we know today are not true. But it doesn’t give us one piece of knowledge unknown to the people that era."
Nothing that is unique? The fact that a transcendent deity became a man without not being God at the same time died for the sins of men? That sounds rather radical and unique to me. Do you mean that the authors themselves didn't believe the claims they made? That's foolish. While the writers of the Old Testament prophecies might have had fears or doubts, all of the authors knew that they wrote the truth. What do we "know" is not true today? Regarding your main theme, the Bible's purpose is not to serve as a Grey's Anatomy or an astrophysics textbook. It gives us a reason to believe that every man is shaped similarly inside and it gives us a reason to believe that the matter that makes up a star won't cease existing. Do you have any reason for believing these things?

June 05, 2007

 
Blogger CLS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 07, 2007

 
Blogger GodlessZone said...

Kaleb: I stand by what I said. Your lack of knowledge is, however, awesome. The idea that a deity could become a man and die for the sins of man did not start with Jesus. It is not radical nor is it unique. It, like many christian doctrines, was stolen from other religions. Similar "gods" in this category would be Attis, Dionysus, Horus, Krishna, Mithra and Zoroaster

June 07, 2007

 
Blogger Publius II said...

Well NGZ... that all depends upon your presuppositions. If you come to the table with the presupposition that God created the universe the way the Bible says he did, and that the Bible is true, then the promise that God would send Christ as a Savior is as old as the day man was banished from the garden of Eden. Therefore, it would have been the other religions that stole the idea from God, not the other way around.

You see, a great deal depends upon your presuppositions that you have before ever coming to the table with any ideas about what came from what.

June 09, 2007

 

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