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Why I reject the Bible: Some questionable verses and their implications…

Everyone reading this blog probably already knows that I’m an Atheist and a very outspoken one at that. As such it often happens, that I challenge Christians on certain verses, that I find irreconcilable with science and reality in general. One Christian challenged me to write a blog post about the verses I find to be problematic and while this list is far from extensive I do think these verses can certainly cause one to seriously doubt the accuracy of the document known as the Bible.

Let me warn you right away, since I am in the process of writing this: This post will be significantly longer than the others. I hope you don’t mind.

Before I however get into specifics, I want to lay down the law for this discourse or rather, let the Bible establish it. I am a strong believer (pun intended) that Christians should hold to Proverbs 30: 6 which says the following:

“Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. ”

In other words when engaging in dialogue about certain verses we, both the nonbeliever and the Christian should extrapolate the meaning from the text not add to it. Now it is true, that the Bible needs to be interpreted but we should do so without adding things to the scriptures which aren’t indicated. For example it would be a valid inference to say that “the Kingdom of God” can be understood to mean “Heaven” based on Psalm 103: 19 where it says this:

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.”

An instance where one might be adding to the text is when one proclaims that it was merely Jesus spirit that resurrected not his actual physical self. This would be blatantly contradicted by verses such Luke 24: 42-43 among others.

It is certainly true, that we have to interpret the Bible but adding words in order to fit it with modern science when no such thing is implied by the text is at least in my view dishonest to the nonbeliever, to yourself and to the historical text.

With that said, I’m certainly not perfect or beyond error but I try my best to stay honest to the text and I try to avoid Eisegesis (I like that word) i.e. adding to the text in order to fit my agenda as much as possible. I expect believers to do the same.

The first verse I want to address is Matthew 4: 8 . In order to address it though some background is in order:

In Matthew 4: 1-11 Jesus was to be tempted by Satan. Satan wanted to test whether Jesus was indeed the son of God by first asking him to turn stones into bread and then by throwing himself off of an exceedingly high temple, supposedly the highest temple of the holy city. Then “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” (Matthew 4: 8) The devil then offered him all the Kingdoms if Jesus worshipped him. Jesus didn’t give in to the temptation.

So now that we know the context of this verse what problems do I see with it? Basically my problem is that showing someone all Kingdoms of the world from a high mountain is not possible on a sphere.There are many shapes on which it would be possible for example on a Pyramid if you are at the top and the bottom of it had no kingdoms, on a cone again on the top of it provided that there are no Kingdoms on the bottom or on 2D objects.

I have run this verse by believers recently and I got two objections basically:

The first one was basically that Jesus just had a vision of all those Kingdoms that the devil gave him.

For this purpose let us go back to the original language of the gospels namely Greek and look up the word in question here namely to “show” or in greek δείκνυμι ( deiknumi) . According to BibleHub this word translates as “to show” or to “demonstrate” or to “point out” or even to “expose to the eyes” .

Now Jesus merely having a vision rather than having the Kingdoms demonstrated to him doesn’t jive with the the original words of the author.

The second objection that came up is that despite the Earth being round Jesus could still see all the Kingdoms as could the devil, because they don’t have the limited sight that we have. I was instantly reminded of the Eagle vision from Assassin’s creed but if you’re going with that reasoning, then I’d have to point out, that taking Jesus up on the mountain was utterly redundant. There was no need to go on top so why would the devil bother? Furthermore adding “eagle vision” to Jesus’ skillset is not something that is in any way indicated by the original text. It’s basically adding to it (for whatever reason) rather than extrapolating from it and taking the Bible at its word. The last point and really a devastating one at that is that Satan wanted to test whether Jesus was indeed God’s son. In his first two temptations he always starts his sentences with “If you are the Son of God” . The Devil wanted to see a demonstration of Jesus’ abilities so presumably the devil didn’t know how far Jesus’ abilities reached. Therefore how could he have known of Jesus ability to see the entire world?

The next verse which I would like to address is Matthew 16: 27-28.

Again let me put it in context for you:

Jesus starts off by telling his disciples that he will have to go to Jerusalem in order to suffer and in order to die and be raised from the dead. Peter starts to doubt, that this will actually happen to Jesus but Jesus quickly turns down his concerns. Jesus then warns his disciples that they have to deny themselves in order to follow him. They have to give up their earthly lives and devout it to him, in order to earn eternal life. Then Jesus preached the following message

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. ( Matthew 16: 27-28 )

The problem I see here should be rather obvious. Jesus tells his disciples that some will not “taste death” (i.e. die) before Jesus Kingdom is to arrive. Yet God’s Kingdom has yet to arrive. The end times have not yet happened. So what is going on?

I would say in these verses the words we ought to take a second look at are “taste” “here” “son of man” and “his kingdom” .

The first word to  “taste” γεύομαι ( geuomai ) and it roughly translates as To “taste” or to “experience” . Secondly let’s look at “here” ὧδεhóde ). Here we can find that it this word seems to apply in the present tense at the certain location of at which the event was supposed to take place. “son of man” is the next expression in question, which translates as “Υἱὸν τοῦ  ἀνθρώπου” ( Huion tou anthrōpou ). The first word “son” is self explantory as is “of” so the critical one is “man” which translates as one man or the human race. If we assume the latter then this description would work to indicate him as the Messiah since Adam was the first man of whom all are descended (at least supposedly) and Jesus is often refered to as the last Adam i.e. the last in the chain of the human race our representative. Last but not least we need to address “his Kingdom” which would seem to imply to be the Kingdom of God.

With the hard legwork out of the way we can confidently say, that the “Kingdom of God” i.e. Heaven was to arrive before some of the disciples experienced death and it was addressed at the people at that time and place.

One common objection that I did get a few times is that this arrival of the Kingdom wasn’t literally the end times but rather referred to the transfiguration six days later, as outlined in Matthew 17. The obvious problem of course it that it would’ve been noteworthy, had someone tasted death within these 6 days yet it isn’t mentioned.

Moving on to the next passage which would be Joshua 10: 13 . Once again some context is in order.

Basically the situation at that time and place was that Gibeon was under attack as the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces. Joshua who had previously conquered Ai was informed of this and he went out with his troops. God spoke to him and told him that he would win the battle. True to his word Joshua with God’s help did manage to win. God handed the souls of the Amorites to the Israelites and Joshua praised him for it. As a not too unimportant side effect of this seemingly succesful battle it just so happened thatthe sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.” (Joshua 10: 13) .

This verse is problematic for one really simple reason: If the sun did indeed stop in the sky then it would inevitably result in a mass extinction. It is estimated that the Earth rotates at a speed of 1675 km/h . If it stopped to rotate then we would experience a similar effect as if we drove a car and then suddenly stopped, only that we wouldn’t have buckled up and the speed would be about 10 times faster. As I write this I’m sitting in my room in front of a window and if the Earth stopped rotating right now I would fly right through the window and out into the parking lot which is 5 meters beneath me. I’m fairly certain that this would kill me, especially since all my other stuff in my room would take a simlar route as me.

Let’s take a look at the original text though this time it is in hebrew. I think the words under discussion are “stand” and “sun” . The first one to “stand” (or rather stood in the past tense) translates as  וַיַּעֲמֹ֤דor ( way-ya-‘ă-mōḏ ) and it means to stop or to stand still secondly the “sun” הַשֶּׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ ( haš-še-meš ) is indeed the sun rather than a metaphor of some sorts.

So indeed the Bible does proclaim that the sun stopped in the sky i.e. that the Earth stopped rotating. Most often when confronted with this problem Christians tell me that God invoked a miracle to stop the disaster. However in the Bible the incoming destruction isn’t even hinted at and neither is a miracle that would have prevented it. To invoke one would once again be Eisegesis in an attempt to save the Bible from falsifiction. Once again in that case I point you towards Proverbs 30: 6 . The second solution many offer is to question whether a crash would actually happen if the Earth stopped. This answer shows a significant lack of imagination ( as the Earth would be analogous to a car stopping ) and is indicative of that person’s understanding of science. Or they block me which is also an option.

Last but not least let’s have a look at the most controversial book in the entire Bible. I am of course talking about Genesis and specifically Genesis 1.

My aim when taking a look at Genesis 1 is to investigate whether the Bible really does teach a recent 6 day Creation just 6000 years ago or whether the days could be longer periods of time stretching over billions of years. Furthermore I want to compare Genesis to what I take to be the history of our Universe and see if they’re compatible. In order to save space however I will this time merely link to the verses in question.

So let’s address first the history of the Universe as I see it (it pretty much lines up with what mainstream science claims):

About 13.7 billion years ago the Big Bang initiated the Universe as we know it, then light is born just a few seconds after the Big Bang, a few minutes later we get the first atoms aproximately 150 million years later we get our first generation of stars, then stellar nucleosynthesis happens which leads to heavier elements forming, then the milky way galaxy is born and within it our sun about 9 billion years after the Big Bang, dust from the formation of the sun leads to planets forming about 4.5 billion years ago Earth has formed it gets hit by another planet resulting in the birth of the moon, comets hit the Earth to give us water plus the chemicals from which the first life arises about 3.8 billion years ago, then we get fish land animals and birds (in that order) and about 200.000 years ago the first humans arise.

Genesis as you are surely aware has a different order:

First the Universe and Earth were created along with water, then light is born, then the atmosphere was created, then we get dry land along with vegetation, then the sun and the moon are born along with the stars, then God created fish and other sea animals as well as birds and every other creature which can fly, and finally he created land animals along with man.

So I would say right away that if you take Genesis to be a literal account of the history of the Universe then it is incompatible with evolution and the other theories Creationists deny.

There is however a bigger issue which is the question of how old the Earth is according to the Bible. If you add up the lineages from Adam to Jesus to today then you’ll arrive at roughly 6000 years. So the big question is whether the days in Genesis are six ordinary days or longer periods of time. For this purpose I’ll have a look at the words “evening” “morning” and “day” in Genesis.

Evening in Genesis can be translated to עֶ֥רֶב ( ‘e·reḇ ) and it is an ordinary evening . Secondly morning  בֹ֖קֶר ( ḇō·qer ) is an ordinary morning . Last but not least day י֥וֹם ( yō·wm ) is flexible in its definition so it can mean day or ages etc. in this context however it seems to be indicated that the Creation days were indeed ordinary days according to the Bible which is of course irreconcilable with what science tells us.

Furthermore in Exodus 20 the forth commandment says this:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 20 8-11)

All in all I think the case for a Young Earth being indicated by the Bible seems to be made beyond reasonable doubt.

Those are just some of the reasons why I reject the Bible. Thanks for your time and feel free to offer me your take on what I presented.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Entering the lion’s den (my conversation on YouTube)

For those of you who are unaware I joined a Google Hangout on YouTube last night which if you’re interested can be accessed here .

Within this post I want to basically elaborate on my impressions and how it was like to join in on the conversation.

Right of the bat I must say I was a little uneasy going into the conversation, because it was clear that my side of the topic of God’s existence (the Atheists) would be outnumbered. I also knew, having had contact with 2 of the participants and knowing myself pretty well, that there was potential for a shouting match and the friendly conversation could’ve easily turned into a debate, where I had to be at my best with my counter-apologetics.

I am glad to say that this was not the case. While I still held to a minority view within the hangout, it was a really civil calm and respectful discourse.

I think it was a good idea to start with some brief introductions, since I didn’t actually know where everyone was coming from beforehand, concerning their theological position but also concerning other relevant positions like the age of the Earth and the Universe and whether or not evolution is true or not.

After that we talked about some of the Bible characters (and historical figures within the Bible). I actually enjoyed the question, because I was familiar with it and my answer was of course the character of Adam since he’d pretty much be the only person in history who ever had real personal contact with God (or at the very least is among the few who did). The other responses were interesting as well, seeing that some Christians see themselves in the historical figures and have made them their heroes and heroines.

While it wasn’t a debate in any sense of the word there were some heated moments which I want to address.

It felt like you could cut the tension with a knife when Peter my partner in crime so to speak brought out some verses, that concern slavery and human rights in general. While I do hold to the view that the Bible does promote slavery (even IF all the verses under dispute could be explained away by the way) but it never escalated in any way.

The other moment was basically when Peter addressed the Young Earther Jason within the Hang-out and challenged him on checking the sources that Answers in Genesis uses for their articles. At that point I jumped in as well and explained why I don’t AiG at all and why I find them dishonest, namely because they lie for Jesus and I used their tendency to quote mine authorities as an example.

After that then I challenged Sy on “the evolutionary problem of evil” which means that God if he was good would’ve used five major extinction events to achieve his Creation. I find that incompatible with a good God but I do applause his general attempt to reconcile the known science with the scriptures, however a futile attempt I think it to be, at least it has the potential to bring about a situation in which more Christians will accept the theory of evolution which is in my view evidently and obviously true.

Those were some of my general impressions that I took away. Stephanie, if you’re reading this, as I think you will do some day, I would once again like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in yesterday’s coffee talk.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Everything is permitted (?)

I’m sure all of you aware of the recent Texas church masacre. I initially didn’t want to write anything about it as it connects Atheism or Theism because quite frankly I think his Atheism or his Theism aren’t relevant at all. Quite frankly we do not know whether he would or not have done what he did had he held a different position on the existence of God. As it seems however some Christians *cough The Activist Mommy *cough seem to disagree.

I have written quite a bit about morality on my blog but I think despite it’s repetetiveness and despite the fact that I’ll have to raise some of the points of the past, I’ll either write this today or not at all. So today it is.

It seems like one of the fundamental misunderstanding that some Christians have (not all but some) is that if God doesn’t exist, then there’s gonna be hell to pay. Society will break out in chaos because if God doesn’t exist then we have no basis for right and wrong.

I am sorry but that view is blatantly absurd. If we get away for a moment from the words “right” and “wrong” (since not everyone shares the same definition) then there are most definitely reasons why we ought to be in favor of a society where these things don’t happen.

The reason for that is because life and especially human life is valuable. Now I know some Theists often then ask “How can there be value to life, if we’re just evolved chemical reactions?”

The thing is value is not intrinsic. If I didn’t like eating bananas then bananas would have little value to me. I don’t like eating peas, so they do have little value to me. For something to have value it needs a valuer or valuers and these valuers are us humans. Life or the “evolved chemical reactions” as some like to degrade it is valuable because we value it.

Now there are some people who don’t value (human) life. But I think it’s Universal for people that they at least value their life and their well being. If they at least fulfill that requirement then it follows that they should behave in a way that is condusive for society because in the long run if society flourishes you’ll benefit. Furthermore if you commit crimes against us, we will stop you and throw you into prison where your well being is guaranteed to decrease.

Even if you don’t have empathy, even if you don’t value the well being of other sentient beings as long as you value yourself and your well being, you ought to behave in a way as if you did value life and well being of others.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint alone it necessarily follows, that we in fact DO have a basis for abstaining from commiting the acts that the shooter did commit.

There are many more reasons of course but in the interest of keeping it short let’s leave it there.

Another aspect which this attitude of the Theists suggests is that if God exists then somehow magically the problem is solved.

Theists in general believe in God based morality and in objective absolute moral values and duties.

I don’t believe this is the case but let’s grant for a moment that it is.

This automatically begs a few question: What are they?

There are Theists who believe that God commands them to kill others. There are Theists who believe it’s moral to kill a specific group of people be it based on ethnicity sexuality etc. . There are Theists who think it’s moral to let your children die or even kill them.

How do we detect them and how come they differ so greatly?

If we have no objective way to measure them, then they might as well not exist. If we detect them subjectively by what feels to be right, then despite some general overlap, which I explained earlier,  we can’t get on the same page. Not even close. There are Kantians, Utilitarians and Divine Command Theorists etc. who largely disagree among themselves. Divine Command Theorists themselves aren’t on the same page either. Christians also disagree at various points despite having the same God.

So if we can’t detect them within us since we don’t agree, how can we at all? If we can’t at all, then what action can’t be justified by invoking God and on what arguments can a Divine Command Theorist make despite “My God says this is objectively wrong” . Well okay but not everyone believes in your God and not everyone buys your interpretation of him.

The Divine Command Theorist clearly can’t appeal to human well being, at least not without borrowing from my morality.

In summary I do not claim that Atheists are incapable of commiting atrocities. They clearly aren’t. What I claim is that Atheists can have sound and well functioning ethic views and while Theists are as I contest wrong they are in general well functioning members of society as well.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Challenging “Creation Science” : The fundamental issue.

In this article in my series where I call out “Creation Science” as the joke that it is, we’re finally going to address the real problem that plagues this futile and frustrating endeavor. The real problem can pretty much summarized in this very telling proclamation of Answers in Genesis on their website:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

I’m confident many of you will be familiar with the statement but I don’t think all people and especially not Creationists are aware what it implies.

It’s a direct admission, that the people working at this  Pseudo-scientific institution have in advance already rejected any and all evidence that could ever be presented to them, which could conflict with their beliefs. Even if we find the most conclusive and obvious and ridiculously well preserved transitional fossil we could imagine (and it is my view that we already found more than enough to vindicate evolution) it doesn’t matter to them. If we were to have a time machine, with which we could travel into the past and witness evolution for ourselves then chances are, they’ll just believe it was an illusion.

This approach to evidence and data is dishonest. They already have their conclusion and all they have to do is find a way to make the evidence support it or at least not refute it. With that they’re forced to employ dishonest tactics such as quote mining authorities, such as misrepresenting findings of other scientists and they have no problem whatsoever to make stuff up as they go along.

Creationism by any reasonable standard isn’t science it’s Pseudo-Science. The scientific method consists of making observations and doing experiments then you develop a Hypothesis and you try to disprove the Hypothesis with more experiments and you make risky predictions whose failure to be met, would lead you to either revise your Hypothesis or discard it altogether. A failure to disprove your Hypothesis with either experiments or unsuccesful predictions by yourself and your peers will eventually result in your Hypothesis becoming a theory and it will be included in the textbooks.

Both evolution as well as the Big Bang underwent that process. What’s the process within “Creation Science” ? Read your Bible and then see what your Hypothesis is: Be it that God created kinds of animals 6000 years ago or that there was a Global Flood about 4400 years ago. It is within these boundaries that your evidence must fall under. The evidence mustn’t contradict your Hypothesis. Try to find evidence that seems to support your Hypothesis and try to make other evidence compatible with it.

If your Hypothesis seems to fail at some point then you’re not above making shit up . No matter what implications your Hypothesis has for instance that you need to rely on 200-300 species being produced by 2 original animals in 4400 years albeit with no beneficial mutations whatsoever or sea creatures surviving during a Flood in which all the geological features we see today origniated. This would not only include the Grand Canyon but also Volcanoes. One can only imagine what life must’ve been like for these poor fish. Furthermore there would be a severe problem for the fresh/saltwater fish since they’d have trouble surviving. But I digress.

Here’s the bottom line: Creationism isn’t science because it works from the conclusion backwards. It is not afraid to twist data and use every excuse imaginable to somehow prevent the model from being falsified. It’s a total and utter reliance on the Bible (or other holy books) and the belief in it or practice of it, has nothing to do with the evidence. It’s all about accepting “God’s word” no matter what and they openly admit it.

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That is in essence why I am against Creationism. It isn’t scientific and even if it somehow is true and the devil just buried all the fossils and faked the evidence, this mindset is a disgrace to our species!

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Why use deistic apologetics?

It’s been about one and a half year since I switched from my formerly passive deism to my current Atheism about which I am vocal on the internet. Especially in the beginning of my atheistic days I watched a few debates and while I still do that today, if time allows it, one observation among the professional Apologists consistently stood out:

They never argue for the Christian God. Ever.

The arguments you’ll often hear are the Kalam Cosmological argument or the fine tuning argument the moral argument or on rare occasions Paley’s original watchmaker argument has its prominent proponents as well.

I don’t accept these arguments for various reasons, which I stated both in my blog as well as in Twitter discussions but even if I did get persuaded by them, I’d at best return back to deism or some kind of Supernatural entity, because that’s exactly where these arguments lead me.

These arguments are not arguments for the Christian God or the Muslim God they are arguments for a god, which may or may not be the Christian or Muslim God. I’d even go so far and take it one step further and say, that these arguments serve the deistic case far better than the God who proponents of the Abrahamic religions are arguing for.

When you think about the Kalam argument (without going into other flaws) it’s mighty curious that the Abrahamic God would cause the Universe to exist 13.8 billion years ago and then wait around billions of years before we finally appear 200.000 years ago.

What would be the purpose of waiting so long. The same is true for fine tuning:

Why would an omnipotent God have to fine tune the Universe. God isn’t limited by parameters.

He could’ve created the Universe with any conditions of his choosing and still made us exist. Yet the fine tuning argument explicitly assumes, that the Universe had to be the exact way it is for us to exist.

These are polar opposites.

In other words: Not only is it the case, that Apologists use arguments, which can’t support the Christian God over the Muslim one or another deity who is unknown to man, it may also be the case, that Apologists are arguing against themselves by making a case for a deity whose case they don’t want to make.

I also don’t accept deism at the moment but I still wonder why Apologists rarely if ever make arguments for the God they believe in.

They do on occasions of course, or rather they do think they’re arguing for the Christian God, when they use Presuppositional Apologetics or make a case for the resurrection.

Both of these suffer from the same problem:

Presuppositional Apologetics, however biblical it may be, can be used by any other Theist to argue for a different deity.

Jesus resurrection while proclaimed in the Bible, doesn’t make the case for the Christian God neither, because the following argument is simply a non-sequitur:

P1:Jesus resurrected

C: He was God and/or the son of God

One may only wonder why they use the arguments they use and why they argue for deism and not their specific brand of theism.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation