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Rethinking The Bible

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

From handwritten scrolls to postings online, the bible is always evolving, says religious scholar Timothy Beal. We’ll hear him out.

The Gutenberg bible (jmwk/Flickr)

The Gutenberg bible (jmwk/Flickr)

Timothy Beal was raised in an evangelical Christian home and went on to become a religious scholar and professor at Case Western University.

So, you wouldn’t expect these words to come out of his mouth: “The bible is an accidental book.” But that’s exactly what he said. And that’s just for starters.

There’s no original bible, he says. The idea of the bible as the word of God is only about a century old.

To make the case, Beal looks at sacred texts and at today’s nearly billion dollar bible publishing industry.

This hour On Point: Reimagining the bible with Timothy Beal.

- Jane Clayson

Guest:

Timothy Beal professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University. His new book is  “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book.”

Michael Farris, chancellor and founding president of Patrick Henry College.

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  • Tina

    Oh, so much of the Bible and its bad influence makes me mad. But, the parts that I do like, I like BEST in the King James version!

  • wauch

    Could the bible evolve to be a little more explicit so that right-wing nuts don’t use it for everything from gay bashing to oppression in Palestine to anti-immigration to denying that we are supposed to steward this planet as it’s most enlightened species?
    That would be refreshing and necessary in this age of increasing geopolitical volatility.

    • Dave in CT

      Religion-free Liberty 2.0 is the future.

      Progressive Ideals (and local/individual action/attitudes)
      Libertarian Principles.

    • Steve

      Of course Wauch,

      everyone who does not have your viewpoint by definition must be a wingnut.

      You shall be my God.

    • ThresherK

      I’m on board with your sense of fairness and humanity, but I don’t expect this to happen. Bad people will twist it to their own ends, or as the Bible (or somebody) says “Any excuse will serve a tyrant.”

    • Anonymous

      The separation of church and state does NOT prohibit the teaching of the impact of the Bible as literature, which could explain how sections of the Bible, under different versions, have been used to hijack people’s beliefs in any number of ways over its history. Having such explanations might help people to resist “infallible” or literal interpretations when the Bible, and all other “holy” books of which I have any real acquaintance, have contradictory statements. Learning how these came to exist would be useful, but will virtually never be deeply explored in the narrower-minded churches, which seem to be evangelical in some way.

  • Cory

    Gonna be a hot topic today! From bible thumpers to bible haters, we’re gonna hear it all!

    The Bible and the US Constitution have something in common. Both are important human documents that necessarily have evolved and been re-interpreted many times during history.

    The worst perversions of each seem to happen when we insist that the words are written in iron. Eternal, unchanging, and closed to any sort of updating or interpretation.

    • Dave in CT

      I gonna have to go with dump the Bible, keep the Constitution.

      A historically-savvy, world-weary document representing a core rule of law to protect individuals from the tyranny of power, be it state, capital, or church (even though we are doing a bad job with the capital part these days).

      That’s worth the iron language.

      The fairy tales with fire and brimstone used to enslave and mollify billions with its ever interpretable paternalistic allegiance to the almighty, setting us up for subservience to other forms of tyranny without asking questions…..

      That can be and interesting historical artifact.

      • Jon

        Fascinating that Dave views the Bible and the Constitution so differently, even though the Founders freely admitted that the principles contained within the Bible gave birth to the Constitution, and that without a Christian culture, the Constitution would not be enough to hold the country together.

        • Dave in CT

          “without a Christian culture, the Constitution would not be enough to hold the country together.”

          IMO that is one of the biggest piles of B.S. holding us back and preventing unity in this country, keeping us in the false dichotomy of big government answers/ limited government with God.

          Of course real liberty wants freedom to reject religious dogma as much as being able to believe it if so chosen.

          • Dave in CT

            the fundamentalist shrieks in todays Republican/rightist ranks, are a far cry from the common sense, allegorical deists of the founding fathers.

    • TheGreenKnight

      In truth, the words of the Constitution are not written in iron in that they can be amended, but if one does not interpret the words of a law in their intended meaning, the law itself becomes void and meaningless. So also with the Bible: if the words of the Bible are not seen as “iron” and to be understood in the context in which it was written, we lose any meaning that it has.

  • Ed

    The Catholic Church assembled the Bible and made it’s form definitive in the late 300s at two Councils. They declared these books as inspired (and a council’s teaching is infallible). The Catholic Church as a community wrote the New Testament, which was in it’s finished form except for a few letters by the year 100. It was written starting after Pentecost to be read at Mass (do this in memory of me), to be used in Liturgy.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible is exactly what God wanted to write, and nothing more (see a Letter of Peter – No part of Scripture is a personal opinion, but is inspired by God). God used free human writers as instruments, so although they are true writers, the principal author of the Bible is God himself. And the meaning of the Bible is not restricted to what the human writers had in mind. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church.) And it’s purpose is to teach us what we need to know to reach salvation.

    And it has been protected over the centuries intact by the Church and the Holy Spirit. The claim that editors have altered it is incorrect.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible does not stand alone, but is one of three equal parts. The second part is the Tradition of the Church, which is oral and liturgical. So not all revealed truth is contained in the Bible. (See Timothy – the bulwark of truth is the Church.) There can be traditions and liturgical statements that are also definitively true. The third part is the Ordinary Teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church: the Church has the authority to definitively state the meaning of the Bible. These three parts depend on one another and interact with each other.

    Finally, the Bible was not written ‘because the Apostles realized Jesus hadn’t returned and they better write something down’. As Jaroslav Pelikan wrote, there is no evidence of this attitude in any of the early writings. Rather, they knew that Jesus had returned to them in the Eucharist. They wrote so that at Mass they could ‘do this in memory of me’, and they were moved by the Holy Spirit to write what was known as ‘the memoirs of the Apostles’ in the second century.

    Today there is all kinds of doubts about the Bible from all quarters, I recommend reading Pope Benedict’s recent books ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, volumes 1 and 2, which comment a great deal on Biblical interpretation, especially the limits of the historico-critical method.

    See Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavin’s series on the complex structure of the Bible in the video ‘Our Father’s Plan’.

    The Bible is best described as ‘Love letters from God’.

    • Cory

      God inspired humans who posessed free will to write the documents that became the bible. This is signifigantly different than God himself sitting down with pen and paper and writing the bible. Not only do humans have free will, they are eminantly fallible.

      When you get too caught up with saying it is the “infallible, unalterable, timeless word of the almighty himself”, people will start quoting some uncomfortable lines from the old testament.

      Don’t you believe that God’s revelation continues to this very day, Ed?

      • Ellen Dibble

        I believe I was 17-1/2 years old when I asked Mary Ellen Chase, noted biblical scholar and teacher of the last century, whether she thought the Bible, as Cory says “continues to this very day.” I might have said is it still being written, with “written” in air-quotes, meaning is God’s revelation continuing. But in those days, the 1960s, we didn’t have air-quotes. And the answer was no. It was a revelation to me, after years seeing the Bible as one book, to come to understand it as many pieces, written at many times and places, and having been brought together midst the maximum of dispute and discussion on the one hand, in one form for the Jewish people, and on the other hand, for the Christians in time for Catholicism to agree on what it consisted of. If you think our budget battles are great, just imagine the task of agreeing on what would become Holy Writ. There was nothing accidental about it, except parts were hidden, parts were lost, that might otherwise have been otherwise dealt with. I currently envision a large part of the Old Testament being set down while the Jews were in exile in Iraq, the Babylonian exile, perhaps because they didn’t have the political outlets and occupations they would have had back home. I want to go back and apply historical perspectives to the way the different Biblical sources depicted things.
        The Bible may be most important in providing a shared reference point. When we talk about the Garden of Eden, we may have to link it to parallel stories in other religious traditions, but it is shorthand/shortcut to a whole cascade of concepts and experiences. Multiply that by many thousands.

    • Anonymous

      The “Canonical Bible” with the four Gospels and various epistles, letters, etc was first established by the Epistle of Athanasius in 367 C.E., where the Catholic Church, which had been adopted by the Roman Empire as its state religion, threw out a number of other gospels, etc., branding them heretical.

    • Chris Cooper

      For a history of Christianity, read three books from the author John Dominic Crossan, “The Historical Jesus: Life of a Mediteranean Peasant,” “The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately Following the Execution of Jesus,” and “Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts” (With Jonathan L. Reed)

  • Anonymous

    Patrick Henry College? No one from Liberty University was free this morning?

    • Seth

      Michael Farris is one of the most strong Christians you can find, he is my constitutional law proffesor and he has a deep and strong faith in the Lord. As for Liberty, well Patrick Henry is much more scholarly, Liberty is a big college that forces Christianity and accepts a wide variety of students not all of which are scholars. Michael Farris is the best person to defend the Bible

      • Anonymous

        I hope he doesn’t take off points for spelling and grammar.

  • CW Smith

    I grew up in the Methodist church, and through most of my elementary and high school years I considered myself a Christian. Midway through my junior year in high school I began rethinking my theology. By the time I was in college I considered myself an atheist, although I was hesitant to “come out” as an atheist for a couple of years.

    In junior high school I studied the Bible voraciously, and I still pick it up once in a while. There are some parts of the Bible that still speak to me: I view Jesus, David and Moses as fine teachers. The Bible contains some wonderful stories, although I see them now as literature rather than history.

    Having a basic understanding of the Bible and its interpretations is key to understanding the people around me who identify themselves as Christians. I read the Koran, the Upanishads, and the writings of the Buddha for the same reasons: If I can understand the backgrounds of the people around me, I can better understand and relate to them.

    I’ve attended the Unitarian Universalist Church for over 20 years, and became a member 18 years ago. I find their philosophies of inclusion, respect, and responsible search to be very much in line with my own view of the world.

  • Dave in CT

    The Bible can evolve but the earth and it’s creatures can’t?

  • Dave in CT

    Most of what one needs to know about the Bible(s) and role in history…

    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

  • KDavenport

    There is much truth in the Bible, but much of it has been interpreted incorrectly. It has been used as a tool to control mankind, a way to keep knowledge of divinity out of the hands of man. The church has said to man, let me show you the way, let me tell you the truth, when the truth is in each of us. So man has given up his responsibility for his own salvation and allowed the church to tell him what to think and how to think. (not all, but most). Shut down your mind and listen to your subconscious, all the mysteries of the Universe are inside you. Who would you be if there were no “Good Book?” Just for a minute, imagine yourself as a small babe with no knowledge of good or evil, no knowledge of the Bible. How doe it feel? Lonely? Lost? It shouldn’t, because there is always God. The Bible is a guide, not the end all, it is what others gave to us so that we would know the truth about how we should be, how we should treat each other. Jesus said, “Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye.” For in Service to Others is where we will find the Kingdom of Heaven. It is truly that simple.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

      You say much of it has been interpreted incorrectly, but who gets to determine the “correct” interpretation? Each of us? Then the sociopath who uses the Bible to justify murder is no less correct than those who use the Bible to argue forgiveness. Religious institutions then? Same problem, some advocate awful things and some not.

      The only truth in the Bible is the same truth one can find in any literary work. There is nothing divine about it, just the complex, sometimes painful, expression of something all too human. Just as there is no one right way to interpret Shakespeare, there is no one right way to interpret the Bible. It is metaphor and story, which is good, but not as a foundation to live one’s life.

      Whatever morals the Bible has change with the times, with secular gains on the understanding of ethics and morality, stemming from advances in philosophy, evolution, and our own experience with atrocities committed across the planet. Let evidence and observation guide us; compassion and reason not faith and ideology.

      • KDavenport

        Exactly! None of us are born to kill, to be racist, to hate. We are taught that. We all have a purpose, those that are denied their purpose, put down, called stupid, labeled as losers end up doing those atrocities. However, some souls are not sparked. Life is too easy, no challenges, those souls become Service to Self. And the world is full of them right now, that is what we are experiencing on the planet right now, not enough STOs and too many STSs. Can you handle the truth? If so, I would suggest you check out ZetaTalk.com.

        • Steve

          I admire your understanding.

          Can each of us hold to our own truth?

    • Seth

      The Church does not pretend to be the truth, the light, and the way… unless it is an oddball church, in which case it cannot be taken to include all churches. Many churches allow you to descover what the Bible can mean in your life. As to service, no one can ever do enough service to reach the Kingdom, and we would all be doomed to failure, it is only through faith and love in Christ that we can attain the Kingdom. The result of that love is service, a willingness to serve where others would not.
      Both of you are actually incorrect, the Bible has been interpreted from Greek and Hebrew and these are very trickey languages to match in perfect english. But the Bible can never be used as justification of sin. The Bible’s main premise is that we will all sin, but that we should strive to avoid it where we may. As to who gets to interperet it, the only person is someone who translate from original Greek and Hebrew into the best english he can, without the meaning and intention being changed.
      Many of these new fangled people who believe that the Bible is an accident or untrue or just a history book need to think of this, why does the Bible present us with an accurate picture of history from different acounts of people who by all rights may not have existed, or why is it that the Bible brings hope and love to some. I recently met someone, a true believer, and the joy in his life is clearly noticable, why does an accidental book bring about such profound joy and peace? It wouldn’t. But perhaps the true word of God might.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

        I assumed a broader sense of “interpret” than just a literal translation from ancient languages. I’m talking about whether the Bible justifies murder, slavery, homophobia, etc.

        And what is sin? Is it sin for two men to live in a loving, monogamous, sexual relationship? Is it sin to cut social welfare programs from government? Is it sin to make graven images? Does that commandment really deserve a place next to “Thou shalt not murder”?

        The Bible serves as a Rorschach test, wherein those who want can read anything into it or get anything out of it.

  • Michael

    Anyone want to point in the bible where it’s okay to cover up priest touching little boys? Or how god is actually a Realtor? or maybe how a women whoses married could be a virgin and somehow get pregnant and the husband would believe it was divine and somehow three random guys knew about this.

    Or How about Indianans were Actually white 2k+ years ago and were killed off leaving our dark skin Indianans we have today(though this is the book of mormon).

    If there is a god than he clearly doesn’t care since his first reaction on about anything is to kill. And if he has a son that magically powerful the people who support/Believe in him never seem to follow his teachings.

    • Seth

      Mary was married to Joseph, but had not laid with him, the Holy Spirit gave her a Son, don’t ask me how. In regard to the priest, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The Bible does not condone any sin. None. But as his people it is not possible to be perfect. Jesus was not a magically powerful, he was perfect. He was powerful because he is God. If God’s first inclination is to kill, why is it that he let his Son be killed so that he could save everyone else?

      • Anonymous

        It might not have been Joseph, but it certainly wasn’t a nonhuman who was the father.

  • Anonymous

    If Yahweh were a person, he’d be a sociopath. We’ll all be better off when the world stops regarding the Bible as anything besides ancient literature, with no more significance than “Beowulf” or the the Aeneid.

    • Anonymous

      Beowulf and the Aeneid aren’t significant? And you call yourself Valkyrie.

      • Michael

        Beowulf is bad a$$ and a far cooler story.

    • TheGreenKnight

      Perhaps it seems that it would be better if the Bible were only taken as a work of ancient literature. On the other hand, the Bible has been the greatest foundational work for preserving western society (and the principles of individual liberty) from oppressive regimes – not because it was respected as a great piece of ancient literature, but because it promoted a sense of morality and human dignity that was missing in non-Western nations since the Middle ages.

      • Anonymous

        Our modern notions of individual liberty come from Germanic tribes and the city-states of ancient Greece. Understanding the Bible is important because it’s woven into Western culture, but it isn’t an origin document for America.

        • Tina

          I would agree with PARTS of what you say, but, for African-Americans, brought together from various parts of Africa, speaking many different languages, as that Old Testament part of Escaping Slavery came into their ken, the Bible did, indeed, become “an origin document for that people, the people who did BUILD America, even if they could not actually read the Bible itself. Most slaves did NOT share in an idea that often accompanied Abolitionists’ ideas, that they should be shipped back to Africa; most had fully come to believe in themselves as of this land; and as worthy of liberty, citizenship, and equality. Many scholars say (supported by evidence) that African-Americans saw themselves as a new people with a new origin here in this land (most scholars agree that after awhile that any intellectual connection back to Africa was not experienced by the slaves who were here.) I am fully aware that the Whites who owed slaves justified their EVIL ways thru quotes from the Bible that they ferverently (sp?) believed in, so, in many ways, the Bible might be said to be “an origin document” for the Confederacy.

          • Anonymous

            True, and don’t forget the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s. That being said, the direction of our society was set by Enlightenment thinkers who were fighting against the notion of the Divine right of kings–an idea consistent with the standard view of Christianity for much of its history.

          • Tina

            Gregcamp, I think that you are saying that the Bible is consistent with the idea of the Divine right of kings; rather than the Bible being consistent with the Enlightenment. I’ve re-read your piece several times, and realize that I’d never thought about this: Divine Right of Kings leads to King of Kings, etc.: very interesting historic context!! It makes SENSE! I was raised so progressively Protestant that I often say our church was almost Unitarian (but not so intellectual), like the one I attended later in life. So, we didn’t grow up with a certain religious chauvinism; God could take many cultural forms; Jesus was one of many interesting spiritual thinkers, as I understood things in Sunday School; and we only checked into a few Bible passages, and they were always PG-6!! So, your point, if I have understood it correctly, comes thru to me now as an interpretation that wouldn’t have been parsed out in our wide-open Sunday School; it was not so much interested in Big Ideas like yours, but in being “open” to Anything Spiritual. When I said earlier that I liked the King James version of the Bible best for those parts of the Bible that didn’t make me MAD — even THAT preference was based on the flow, lilt and lift of the language. I didn’t get to hear all of today’s show, but I’m gathering from some of the posts that there were, perhaps, certain sayings in the KJ version that I might find offensive (hope to check them out soon, as knowledge is good; it is even preferable to staying attached to things you THOUGHT were “good” but which really weren’t!). We probably never heard these offensive parts growing up, because, as I said, our church was so “progressively” to the left (that was a good fit for me.) It was from my one grandmother’s letters that I got more of a sense of the Jesus from the Black Church (NOT judgmental, but MORE quotes from the Bible itself); and her quotes she’d send me from the KJ version were always so beautiful. Especially when I was in college, her letters were so outside the realms that I knew my peers were dwelling in; yet I knew what she meant by sending these quotes to me. The language was so beautiful, and the quotes she chose were NOT those from the angry, punitive, judgmental parts of the Bible; those quotes are probably the full extent of my knowledge of any Bible quotes outside of certain “Christmas” passages….UNTIL later in life when I started to hear certain very HATEFUL passages which I can honestly say I never heard in Sunday School, nor in church (progressive), nor in grandmom’s letters. When I did hear them, I was stunned. Three times I heard a hateful anti-Semitic quote (I was in my fifties!! — Later, I read that this quote is forbidden by Vatican II; yet it was still being bandied about THIRTY years later in a Catholic church AND in two Episcopalian churches!); once, at a service supposedly honoring my deceased brother who had never been able to tell me that he was gay, I heard the minister Exclaim (AS IF he had received a Gift from God!) about “abomination”; and in reading more & more about slavery in America, I’ve been coming across Biblical quotes that “justified” slavery. I can see how lucky I was to NOT be infected by the hateful parts of the Bible while I was growing up; some of the people who expressed those horrid quotes did indeed seem poisoned at a deep cellular level. In fact, I un-buried my parents to get them away from the church that my brother had loved so, but which betrayed him in such an awful way (I gave the ministers a chance to tell me that they did not really believe that “abomination” business, but they stayed true to their Bible, written in the Iron Age.) Yet, the passages that my grandmother sent me gave my grandparents so much Hope. My grandfather came to live with us after my grandmother died, and everyday, he sat for hours with his Psalm book in his hands. Anyway, I’m almost positive that that you mean to express the FIRST of these two possibilities. If you’re still reading this page, can you just write back & let me know for sure, because it feels like the kind of concept that I might just find myself talking about sometime or other! Thanks!

          • Tina

            Gregcamp, I think that you are saying that the Bible is consistent with the idea of the Divine right of kings; rather than the Bible being consistent with the Enlightenment. I’ve re-read your piece several times, and realize that I’d never thought about this: Divine Right of Kings leads to King of Kings, etc.: very interesting historic context!! It makes SENSE! I was raised so progressively Protestant that I often say our church was almost Unitarian (but not so intellectual), like the one I attended later in life. So, we didn’t grow up with a certain religious chauvinism; God could take many cultural forms; Jesus was one of many interesting spiritual thinkers, as I understood things in Sunday School; and we only checked into a few Bible passages, and they were always PG-6!! So, your point, if I have understood it correctly, comes thru to me now as an interpretation that wouldn’t have been parsed out in our wide-open Sunday School; it was not so much interested in Big Ideas like yours, but in being “open” to Anything Spiritual. When I said earlier that I liked the King James version of the Bible best for those parts of the Bible that didn’t make me MAD — even THAT preference was based on the flow, lilt and lift of the language. I didn’t get to hear all of today’s show, but I’m gathering from some of the posts that there were, perhaps, certain sayings in the KJ version that I might find offensive (hope to check them out soon, as knowledge is good; it is even preferable to staying attached to things you THOUGHT were “good” but which really weren’t!). We probably never heard these offensive parts growing up, because, as I said, our church was so “progressively” to the left (that was a good fit for me.) It was from my one grandmother’s letters that I got more of a sense of the Jesus from the Black Church (NOT judgmental, but MORE quotes from the Bible itself); and her quotes she’d send me from the KJ version were always so beautiful. Especially when I was in college, her letters were so outside the realms that I knew my peers were dwelling in; yet I knew what she meant by sending these quotes to me. The language was so beautiful, and the quotes she chose were NOT those from the angry, punitive, judgmental parts of the Bible; those quotes are probably the full extent of my knowledge of any Bible quotes outside of certain “Christmas” passages….UNTIL later in life when I started to hear certain very HATEFUL passages which I can honestly say I never heard in Sunday School, nor in church (progressive), nor in grandmom’s letters. When I did hear them, I was stunned. Three times I heard a hateful anti-Semitic quote (I was in my fifties!! — Later, I read that this quote is forbidden by Vatican II; yet it was still being bandied about THIRTY years later in a Catholic church AND in two Episcopalian churches!); once, at a service supposedly honoring my deceased brother who had never been able to tell me that he was gay, I heard the minister Exclaim (AS IF he had received a Gift from God!) about “abomination”; and in reading more & more about slavery in America, I’ve been coming across Biblical quotes that “justified” slavery. I can see how lucky I was to NOT be infected by the hateful parts of the Bible while I was growing up; some of the people who expressed those horrid quotes did indeed seem poisoned at a deep cellular level. In fact, I un-buried my parents to get them away from the church that my brother had loved so, but which betrayed him in such an awful way (I gave the ministers a chance to tell me that they did not really believe that “abomination” business, but they stayed true to their Bible, written in the Iron Age.) Yet, the passages that my grandmother sent me gave my grandparents so much Hope. My grandfather came to live with us after my grandmother died, and everyday, he sat for hours with his Psalm book in his hands. Anyway, I’m almost positive that that you mean to express the FIRST of these two possibilities. If you’re still reading this page, can you just write back & let me know for sure, because it feels like the kind of concept that I might just find myself talking about sometime or other! Thanks!

          • Tina

            Tonight, AFTER this show about the Bible, PBS aired a new show from Henry “Skip” Gates, Jr., about Blacks and mulattos on Hispaniola (I forget: is that term still used today? He was referring to the big island that includes the Dominican Republic AND Haiti). Anyway, when I said, earlier and above, that many of our contemporary scholars, studying the evidence, have concluded that African-American slaves dropped their sense of connection back to Africa, I thought that I really OUGHT to qualify my statement by saying, “slaves in the United States”! Well, in his show tonight, Dr. Gates made major comparisons between the Dominican Republic whose residents decided to KEEP their connection back to Europe and Spain; and Haiti whose residents decided to keep their cultural connections back to Africa. So, yes, I SHOULD have qualified my statement above!

            I was exhausted, so I will need to view the tv show again! I wonder if anyone else saw it who posts here?

      • Tina

        The Green Knight, You said, “(The Bible) promoted a sense of morality and human dignity that was missing in non-Western nations since the Middle ages.” THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE!! NOT TRUE!

      • Michael

        Yea just look at the Slave trade and Jim Crow south? What’s better than watching a black male get lynched in the name of god.

  • Gerkem10

    This is what is observed: God is never seen directly but evidence can only point indirectly to Him. Why?

    Some ideas have to do with free will and faith. Why God puts a high premium on faith has left me without a good explanation until now. I reasoned faith can not be separated from this idea of free will. Let me explain. All it would take to destroy faith is for God to show Himself in person daily. Faith would no longer be required and people could look out their windows and see Him there hovering (or what ever a supreme being would be doing) and be ‘forced’ to mentally acknowledge Him. This would not be faith but knowledge. There would not be a person who would doubt His existence (well save a few folks still questioning existence itself). The question becomes if this were the case and God willingly showed Himself, would this interfere with free will? I can’t help to think that it would. Having a little (or in some cases a lot) of doubt about God’s existence allows us to make unhindered choices based on what we want. But since He’s invisible and we doubt, we then have to make a more conscious choice to include the will of God. It actually allows us to focus more on Him then if He were there or to focus less on Him if we choose to go our own way. This is an ingenious way to show to Him, yourself and the whole world what kind of person you really are and what’s most important to you. I don’t think God is the type to force anybody to do what they don’t want to do, least you make a covenant with Him. So, He’s set up the world in such a way where you could truly live a life separate from Him if you so choose.

    I think also, this is the reason why He ‘COULDN’T’ write the Bible or any other sacred text.

    • Anonymous

      Douglas Adams made the same argument in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

      Alternately, God is never seen directly because there is no such being. And whatever indirect evidence there is could just as easily point to any number of proposed deities. Why choose the Christian God? Why choose any particular denomination?

  • Anonymous

    To the website creators:

    Bible is capitalized. It’s the title of a book.

    • nj

      To gregcamp:

      “Web” site should be capitalized. It’s a proper noun, short for the World Wide Web (which really should be Worldwide Web)

      Ah, the shifting sands of usage convention.

      • Anonymous

        Worldwide Web is a proper noun, but website isn’t. The latter is a generic term.

  • Anonymous

    If god isn’t dead, shouldn’t he be getting royalties?

    • Anonymous

      He didn’t assert copyright, so it’s passed into public domain.

    • Steve

      The earth is His and everything therein.

      • Anonymous

        What about squatter’s rights? The kind of God that fundamentalists present hasn’t been around to look in on his property for two thousand years (or some 1,400, if you’re Muslim). Nor has he defended his copyright. It seems that we have a case here.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately, the people who revere the bible without reading it bring that same depth of understanding to the Constitution.

    • Gerald Fnord

      In both cases, reading it but without context and the aid of (though not slavery to) the work of others who have tried to understand the document creates idiosyncratic interpretations that say more about the one doing the interpretation than about the letter or spirit of the text.

      Science is not immune, either: any assessment of the “natural” rôles of the sexes based on observation of Nature should be tempered by the knowledge that observers in the past were sure that the big bee in the center of the hive was their King.

      Shorter:
      Wanda: [...] But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?
      Otto West: Apes don’t read philosophy.
      Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

        Yes, but the fact that old scientific notions are discarded and better approximations of the universe adopted shows that science can and does advance. The provisional nature of scientific truth is acknowledged and indeed celebrated by scientists. There is nothing more exciting than to find new evidence, develop new theories that overturn existing ideas. It isn’t that science never gets it wrong, it’s that built into the very edifice of the scientific method is the idea that anything can be falsified. (However imperfectly this ideal is sometimes applied.) Whereas in religion nothing can be falsified and faith is celebrated above knowledge.

        • Dagney Mouch

          I agree. Thank-you; I should have mentioned that science’s feedback mechanism, based as it is on both the love of truth and of the human desire for status (or for taking the competition down a peg), is much more effective than anything religion has been able to muster.

          I was trying to say that if even intentionally objective scientific work can go astray in the way I mention, how much more the problem with religious exegesis of texts.

    • ThresherK

      It’s not that I don’t like the idea of God; I simply don’t want to be seen keeping company with some of his fan club.

  • John Barnett

    Would this new open form of the books of the Bible possibly incorporate more readily the books left out … such as the Bible of Barnabas or the Gospel of Thomas and other discoveries of forgotten and perhaps more accurate early recording of the ministry of Jesus???

  • CAV

    Call me a cynic, but with so many different forms of the bible being released this seems like an easy way trick people into thinking a message is actually contained in the bible, when it isn’t.

    • Chris Cooper

      You’re in good company, Jesus was a Cynic.

      • Steve

        Jesus did not discount OT Scipture.

        Check out his extensive use of the Law and the Prophets

        • Chris Cooper

          Jesus was a Cynic, in the original Greek context, who believed that the purpose of life was to live a life of Virtue in agreement with Nature, rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, health or fame, instead to live a simple life free from all possessions. He acquired the basics from his relationship with John the Baptist. & you are correct, Cynicism advocates a return to Athistenes, who had been a follower of Socrates, and was followed in turn by Diogenes of Sinope, the original guy running around the middle east wearing rags and embarrassing Plato.

        • Dagney Mouch

          Actually, in the parable of the rich man and the beggar (often called ‘Dives’ and ‘Lazarus’) Jesus in fact strongly implies that the Law and the Prophets are all that is necessary for salvation—nary a mention of a personal relationship with a god-man’s being necessary.

  • Anonymous

    I teach literature and treat every book that has lasted for centuries with respect. The Bible as a work of literature is a much more interesting book than acting as though it’s a kind of behavioral cookbook.

  • David Ritter

    The inerrancy of specific books is the single idea that has the highest probability of bringing about the end of the human species. As Sam Harris so eloquently says — belief in inerrancy ends conversation, and when conversation ends war eventually follows. Discuss.

    • Steve

      Sam Harris is more evangelist than any preacher you are likely to meet.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

        Really? How so? Seems to me to be the very opposite of evangelistic to demand evidence before belief.

        “Where we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another.” -Sam Harris

        • Dagney Mouch

          Evangelism is merely the determined and sustained effort to make people who disagree with you come to agree with you, and those who agree with you to take further steps. As such, Harris is an evangelistic exponent precisely of looking for evidence before believing.

          I applaud his evangelism because 1.) I approve of what he’s promoting, and 2.) in my experience, he plays fair.

      • Dave

        Evidence?

  • Anonymous

    Caller Monty:

    Our Founders held many different beliefs about the Bible. Thomas Jefferson even created a version of the Gospels that he could accept–it had all of the miracles removed. Some Founders were atheists; many were deists, and a few were orthodox Christians.

  • Dana Franchitto

    As a former fundamentalist christian turned agnostic, I feel that much American evangelism sounds much like salesmanship.Not all certainly but many of the selections in my Sunday School hymn book sounded alot like commercial jingles .Tome “spiritual capitalism” is an oxymoron given that captialism’s sole purpose is profit. It’s no accident that the Bible in American society has been so commodified to reach mere consumers of goods and services rather than informed citizens of a sound democracy.

  • MJ

    I was brought up to believe the Bible is God’s word and you have to believe the WHOLE Bible or none of it. This kept me away from organized religion for years. However, my faith in God was always strong and I resolved to just communicating with God through prayer. Since then, God has brought me back to the church. My acceptance that the Bible is a book of questions instead of “God’s word” has kept me at the church and helped me develop relationships with other Christians.

  • John Barnett

    Would this new open form of the books of the Bible possibly incorporate more readily the books left out … such as the Bible of Barnabas or the Gospel of Thomas and other discoveries of forgotten and perhaps more accurate early recording of the ministry of Jesus???

    • Steve

      Study the process by which books were incorporated into the Bible-
      you may find quite a bit more scholarship than that put forthin the Da Vinci Code. Pagels et. al.

      • John Barnett

        Bible of Barnabas or the Gospel of Thomas are indeed part and parcel with that scholarship you mention … ala Elaine Pagel and Karen Armstrong for example. These are original contributions and were banned and/or forgotten for ages. The development and inclusion of the books as we know them now in the New Testament have several times been influenced by the social and political influences affecting those early Christian ministries of the first few centuries AD.

  • Dagney Mouch

    Religion has traditionally been the carrier-wave for a great deal of information on subjects as various as hygiene, morals, ethics, the origin of the Universe, medicine, and why those other guys deserved to be slaughtered so we could take their land.

    Much of this is useful (the “slaughter/land” bit was particularly useful to Americans, who did a better job on the Indians than my Israelite ancestors actually on the Canaanites), a lot is neutral or of cultural interest, some of it is pure kruft or positively malign (including that useful bit I mentioned just now).

    I would say that a good and non-trolling atheist should acknowledge that religion has helped preserve and transmit many useful things, but that the signal/noise/{evil signal} ratios are too skewed to use that method any more. One of the useful things religiously transmitted is the notion that when one was a child, one saw as a child, but that when one matured it was time to put away childish things (as damaging as that would be to modern consumer and entertainment culture). It is past time that we did exactly that as a species.

  • Anonymous

    If the Bible contains the answers to life, then so do the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Lao Tzu, and on and on. The answers to life are found in good reasoning, no matter what texts we’re using.

    • Steve

      Does your good reasoning exclude mine?

      • Anonymous

        Not if it’s good reasoning.

  • Tracie Mommythrice

    Why do I need a book of questions? If the Bible doesn’t have answers, then what is the point in reading it?

    • Anonymous

      Because life isn’t simple, and you have to work out the answers for yourself. Otherwise, you’re just letting someone else program you.

      • Tracie Mommythrice

        But then there are no answers. You just do what’s right for you. That doesn’t work in math, does it? Are you seeking a RIGHT answer, or just the answer that is convenient for you?

        • Anonymous

          If you’re talking about morality, you should notice that many cultures have developed systems of good behavior without the Bible. My point about working things out for yourself is that if you just take what someone else says without being able to make it your own, you’re just handing your will over to another.

          • Tracie Mommythrice

            Yes, to God.

          • Anonymous

            It’s only the monotheistic religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–that state that kind of demand. The other religions and philosophies of the world recognize human beings as worthy in themselves. That makes more sense to me.

          • Rob sprogell

            Thanks for this and all your articulate comments– I couldn’t agree more with every word you wrote, and you speak for legions like me. I want Tom to have you on a future show!

          • Anonymous

            Thank you for the kind comment. Standing in front of a classroom of college students does have a wonderful effect of forcing me to think. If you’re interested, you can read more of what I write here:

            http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/

          • Gerkem10

            If there is a God, then He/It produced man. Why? Could it be that God places the highest intrinsic value on the crown jewel of His creation (AKA mankind)? Don’t let your ball get lost in the dogma weeds. God, if He exists, created mankind. Though there’s intrinsic value associated with humans (and all of creation for that matter) doesn’t bind God’s hands to act upon people or allow things to happen to them.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not sure that I follow your argument. In one sense, my parents created me. Do they have the right then to determine the course of my life? That is one view, certainly, but here in the West, we’ve been working on another, namely that an individual has the right of self-determination.

            I also don’t follow your assertion that if God exists, then he produced man. The existence of God doesn’t necessarily imply that he is the creator of all of us as well. There are other types of gods.

          • Gerkem10

            I’m happy someone asked this question. I was wondering if anybody wanted to know the connection.

            Ah, but in another real sense your parents didn’t create you. Not in the same sense evolution created you or a god created you. Your mother didn’t start with a list of ingredients and fabricate your body in a bowl. Nor can we say your parents are authors of Life, after all they didn’t have a say in whether you would be white, blue eyed and witty. But here’s the kicker, if there is a God then It/He most definitely decided your make up. Or for the atheist, it was evolution that determined who you were going to be. Suddenly your parents are playing a supportive role at best. And that’s my point.

            Something made us. This is where theology can and often does step in and gives you the logical connection between God and the universe. But this can come from a natural, logically flowing conclusion as well. As of date, we’re still trying to understand the initial ’cause’ of the universe. It once had no dimensions, no size, but was an infinitesimal dot. Physicists and cosmologists want to know why or how it’s necessary for a universe to come in to existence.

            The deduction for the Theist is simple. The first cause was God. Hence, if God caused it to be, then He has something to say about it’s workings (AKA there’s a reason why he started it). Since, man is a consequence of this initial cause (and since God could be all knowing), then there’s a good ‘chance’ God planned man. It’s almost like He wanted man to exist. Why? Thus brings the Theist to the conclusion that we may have intrinsic value to the initial cause/God.

    • Steve

      People are ultimately defined by the questions they ask.

  • rob sprogell, key west

    I would like listeners to take a look at what might be my favorite bible, “The Good Book: A Humanist Bible,” by A. C. Grayling. I am an atheist,
    and Mr. Grayling has written what the NYTimes called a “good book, absent God.”
    Mr. Grayling finds Judaism and Christianity almost self-evidently absurd: “I could never believe the sin committed by Eve in the Garden of Eden was all that serious,” he said. “It would seem to me that knowledge was a good thing to have.” The point is to seek knowledge that enables us to make a good life ourselves, and not get distracted by organized religions’ obsessions about “relationships between man and deity.”

    • Steve

      knowledge of good and evil

      • Gerkem10

        A: ALL. It’s the only way to know perfectly, without error. Humanity’s attempting this. Science in all it’s disciplines are attempting this. It’s our nature to know. The base of curiosity, survival, interaction, everything starts with: “What if?”, “Why?”, “May I?”, “Why can’t I”. Everything starts with knowledge (or a lack there of) based questions.

    • Steve

      How much knowledge (read “experience with” in Hebrew)
      would you like?

    • Gerkem10

      It’s interesting to point out man’s pursuit to know ‘EVERYTHING’. If God exists, then one deduction could be He’s all knowing. Now if Eve existed and actually was given a choice, then another deduction could be made. First, the choice: depend on an all knowing being as the source of your knowledge or depend on your on faculties for the same reason. Second, the choice: curious enough to decide what it would feel like to be God in just one area of knowledge. In other words, Eva’s acquisition of knowledge to discern between good and evil, right and wrong.
      Implication and application: ‘EVERYONE’ struggles to know as God would know. We ‘ALL’ want to be God in the ability to know perfectly in any given situation or discipline.

      I would like to read Grayling’s book, I think there’s probably a lot of insightful psychology, philosphy, sociology, and world views. All of which was probably obtained through the millennia of human experience. Can’t wait to read it. I still find it a little ironic though, a human attempt, apart from God, to know what God already knows. Exactly the same situation Eve found herself in.

      • Anonymous

        To know what God already knows? How do you know where to find what God knows? Doesn’t your assertion require a particular belief about the Bible before you start reading it?

        • Gerkem10

          Nope. It’s a theological one. You start with the premise: There’s a God or there’s not a God. OK, what could be said if there is a God? OK, what could be said if there isn’t a God?
          As it pertains to knowledge, it’s a philosophical one. Pure reason would lead me to believe that there’s a limit to knowledge. In a finite world/universe (thanks to the disciplines of geology, physics, chemistry, cosmology, and the like I can say this) I reasoned knowledge (being part of this finite system) is finite. How else come you argue that something infinite can come from something finite? The reverse could be argued to be true but that’s not what we’re talking about here or is it? That’s where this could take a theological turn real quick and that’s essentially what I done. Besides, no one has answered me yet. If there is a God and it’s the God of the Bible (after all that’s what is the subject of On Point), then why was it so important for God (or Jesus if you believe Him to be God’s Son) ‘not’ to pen a single word of scripture?

          • Anonymous

            I’m not arguing that Jesus was God or that the Bible is the word of God, but a finite system can analyze the infinite–Cantor sets, for example.

            But I’ll repeat what I wrote above. Did Hamlet write anything about himself? Sherlock Holmes did write a couple of his stories, instead of Watson, and those are straightforward exercises in logic. Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are the purported authors of The Lord of the Rings. We can have a lot of fun taking a character as a real person, so long as we understand what we’re doing.

          • Gerkem10

            Yes I agree with both statements. Though, through mathematics, we can say something about infinity but I think people are under the false assumption that get’s us closer to understanding what it is. It may, it may not. That’s open to interpretation (of course anyone familiar with science knows paradigms are always subject to interpretation) knowing math isn’t. Interestingly, we still haven’t come any closer to understanding how something comes from nothing. Still can’t work out the math on that one either. ;)

            The comment about characters may not be as relevant as it pertains to the Bible. Hence the reason why I posed my initial argument. The authors are making theological statements and directly asserting there IS a GOD. There’s the difference. For example, I don’t think the authors are using God as a character to represent the human mind. Though they could have been. But you’re trying to tell me 40+ authors over the span of a couple thousand years were all using the same character to personify humanity’s abilities. When you read the Bible you can’t help to think they are giving you an ‘historical’ account as they see it. I feel like the author actually believes there was an actual person named Moses or a King David (There’s evidence of Aristotle doing just the same thing with Socrates). There’s a good chance the authors weren’t using literary devices to personify someone or something else. For instance the one who walked on water with Jesus is the same guy saying he did in fact walked on water. This is an admission of the divine not fiction, at least in the mind of the author. This is why we can discuss these claims using theological arguments.

            At the very least if Frodo is based on a real person how much more significance could we place on the story? How much more should we believe it? Surely there’s got to be a point where you figure out what the story is actually talking about. Then do you believe that as fiction too? Or do you view it for what it may be…some self evident truths that the ancients stumbled upon or incorrectly derived conclusions?

  • A Fellow Catholic

    Catholic caller who called at 11:45a EST, thank you for presenting the Catholic perspective honestly and openly!

  • Mary G

    How exciting to be able to read on line while checking the original Hebrew or Greek. How exciting to be able to read in conversation with other seekers. How exciting to be able to see alternate readings of the texts.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in the same kind of fundamentalist Christian home. The Bible had simple answers, and if I had doubts, that showed that I was evil. Moving out of that world has let me understand the Bible much better.

    Train up a child in the way that he should go, and in the end thereof, he’ll run away from it as far as he can.

    • Steve

      …”I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”….

  • Ellen Dibble

    I missed the start of the show, but thanks to college courses in Biblical history. I took several in college myself, and that was in the 1960s. I have to re-do my education to catch myself up. Today Discover magazine has an article “Meet the New Human Family,” showing various branches back before 6 million years ago. A child’s eye view of the Bible suggests that mankind began when divinity came to summon him to moral awareness, something like that, so such deep history trees always shake me a bit.
    But isn’t religion of any sort about “blind faith”? What is nailed-down truth is no longer a matter of belief. So if someone is going after the whole context and evolution of any particular text, that is fine. But as an older individual I am more interested in applying that framework to what I see and live through today.

  • Anonymous

    Why isn’t Shakespeare a guide to life? The Bard showed us human nature in all its complexity.

    • Tracie Mommythrice

      Human nature is the problem. Does Shakespeare show us how we SHOULD live, or how we DO live? That’s why his works are not a guide to life.

      • Anonymous

        But in understanding how we do live, we can work out better ways.

      • Anonymous

        Here’s something to think about, though. The Bible advocates stoning gays, wiping out whole cultures that don’t worship one particular god, and tolerating slavery. Yes, there are good lessons to learn from the Bible, but it isn’t a simplistic list of rules, any more than any other great work of literature is.

    • Chris Cooper

      Shakespeare is a guide to life, taking the form of a list of all the things you’ll wish you hadn’t done after you do them.

  • PC

    John 10:16 says “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” The Bible is great and I’ve personally drawn much from it. But there are more inspired text/words of God out there; there are more to the Bible as Christ have said here. I know it is by these other text (of other prophets) that will reinforce the Bible in helping me on my journey of salvation.

  • Chris Cooper

    I am very much enjoying this conversation. For many years I found the Bible almost offensive, and considered it a work of fiction, until I read John Dominic Crossan’s books, beginning with “The Historical Jesus,” which placed Jesus in His own context & interpreted His Word within its own history, and I’m happy to be able to call myself a Christian in this century, without resort to the neccessity to believe in magic to follow the Word.

  • Joan

    I am incensed at Professor Beal’s audacity and ridiculous claimsthat the bible is only a century old. What about the old Testament? He’s only talking about the new testament, as if that’s the ONLY bible! The only testament is DEEPLY revered by Jews, but it is now seen as a parable which teaches morality, and in fact, has been used for over three thousand years as such; i.e. the Ten Commandments.

    Moreover, it sounds like he wants to take away books. There are those of us who LOVE books, and will ALWAYS read the real thing.

    • Anonymous

      Beal never said that the Bible is only a century old. He was discussing the modern interpretation of the book.

  • Michael

    Much like the other religions, the bible equals power,control and influences. Always has been always will be.

    History proves this out and our politicans and leaders use it as such anytime they can.

  • Autumn

    The following texts show that the Scriptures were as much understood to be the writings (aka, the Bible) during the first century as we understand the writings today. To presume they became known as a “book” only with the printing press misunderstands the history and validity of the writings, no matter what form they are conveyed in.

    Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    Act 17:2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

    Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

    • Pile

      Here are 10 of thousands of contradictions in the bible:

      1. Man was created equal, male and female. Gen.1:27.
      Woman was created as a companion to the man only after he rejected the animals. Gen.2:18-24.

      2. Man was created after the plants. Gen.1:12, 26.
      Man was created before the plants. Gen.2:5-9.

      3. The birds were created out of the water. Gen.1:20.
      The birds were created out of the land. Gen.2:19.

      4. The animals were created before man. Gen.1:24-26.
      The animals were created after man. Gen.2:19.

      5. On the first day, God created and separated light and darkness. Gen.1:3-5.
      On the fourth day, God again created and separated light and darkness. Gen.1:14-18.

      6. God encouraged reproduction. Gen.1:28.
      He said it was an unclean process. Lev.12:1-8 (Note that bearing a daughter is more unclean than bearing a son).

      7. God was pleased with his creation. Gen.1:31.
      God was not pleased with his creation. Gen.6:6.

      8. Adam was to die the day he ate the forbidden fruit. Gen.2:17.
      Adam lived 930 years. Gen.5:5.

      9. The name of “The Lord” was known in the beginning. Gen.4:26; Gen.12:8; Gen.22:14; Gen.26:25.
      The name of “The Lord” was not known in the beginning. Ex.6:3.

      10. God preferred Abel’s offering to Cain’s. Gen.4:4, 5.
      God shows no partiality. 2 Chr.19:7; 2 Sam.14:14.

      How easy is it to understand a book which almost continuously contradicts itself?

      • Steve

        Very little understanding of language or Scripture in your statements

        • Anonymous

          His examples show that a simplistic reading of the Bible doesn’t work. We need to read the Bible the same way that we read The Iliad.

          • Dezeray1

            Or change it’s meaning until it fits our own desires.

        • Anonymous

          His examples show that a simplistic reading of the Bible doesn’t work. We need to read the Bible the same way that we read The Iliad.

    • Gerkem10

      When Luke was writing, did he know that he was writing future scripture? When Paul wrote letters to the various churches of the 1st century, did he call on them to canonize them? Then what in the world are these passages talking about?

      Ah, of course Luke, Acts and Romans are referring to the old testament as ‘scripture’ because some of the Apostles weren’t done writing the new Testament yet. Then you wonder why people have problems with the Bible.

      • Autumn

        Yes, of course they were referencing the Old Testament. It is the beauty of the full redemptive purposes of God expressed throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that lays the foundation for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament. That is why Jesus says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” There is no problem here as the writings that we now refer to as the New Testament complete and bring fullness to the teachings in the Old Testament. My Bible starts with Genesis. Without the Hebrew Scriptures, it would be an incomprehensible and incomplete book.

  • Terryapple

    I agree with Dr. Farris’s comment that the Bible is either God’s truth, as a revelation to man with the purpose of bringing mankind into relationship with Him, or it is a piece of literature that can be given no more credence as a guide to life than any other human author’s writings. I have found it to be absolute truth – providing guidance on virtually every matter and leading me into a deep and fulfilling relationship with God.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a false dichotomy: Either it’s the truth, or it’s worthless? Human authors have been writing profound works for a long time, and reading them well makes for a better life.

      • Bensnodgrass

        Terry actually said that it is either divinely inspired and gives man a way to have a relationship with God, OR it is no different than any other book.

        She never said worthless.

        • Anonymous

          Perhaps I was reading into the statement what I was taught as a child. The idea was that humans, by themselves, are worthless. Still, there was an implication that a mere human author couldn’t write anything worthy.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with his comment but came to the other conclusion.

  • Doc Downs

    The Bible has so many different interpretations and versions (literally thousands), how can anyone think that one version is the end all be all word of a singular higer being?

    • Incarau

      You have the liberty and ability to Pray to God and ask him of what you read if is true or false, or if make sense to you. to your consciousness. As the Prophet Moroni said: “And when ye shall receive this things, I will exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” ( B. of M. Mor. Chap. 10:4-5)

      • Anonymous

        I prefer to use good reasoning, rather than praying to be convinced.

  • Beth Surdut

    I am, among many defining facets, a woman and a maker of tallit. A few days ago, I was gathering materials to write about the choices we make–to pray, to wear a beautiful prayer shawl, to leyn from the Torah, to actively weave ritual into our busy lives.
    As a Jew in the modern world, I tend to pick my way through the potential mine field of ancient directives, selecting the ones that I can accept, or at least strive for, stepping away from that which I deem either historic or hyperbolic. For me, whether one believes in or names a Higher Power is up for discussion, but the Golden Rule is the one basic tenet by which to live.

  • Beth Surdut

    I am, among many defining facets, a woman and a maker of prayer shawls and head scarves with healing prayers for women undergoing chemo. A few days ago, I was gathering materials to write about the choices we make–to pray, to wear a beautiful prayer shawl, to leyn from the Torah, to actively weave ritual into our busy lives.
    As a Jew in the modern world, I tend to pick my way through the potential mine field of ancient directives, selecting the ones that I can accept, or at least strive for, stepping away from that which I deem either historic or hyperbolic. For me, whether one believes in or gives names to a Higher Power is grist for discussion, but the Golden Rule is the one basic tenet by which to live.

  • Anonymous

    Michael Farris has a JD and is calling himself “Doctor” in an allegedly academic setting. Blessed are the meek?

    • Chris Cooper

      I also have a JD, & we aren’t addressed or referred to our person as “Doctor.” After we have earned a Juris Doctorate, passed the State Bar exam, maintain our status through continuing education, fees, etc., we are ordinarily addressed as “Counselor” or “Your Honor” depending upon which side of the bench we happen to be located.

  • Incarau

    I’m a former bishop, a former teacher, now a Bachelor Degree in Business. I read many times the Bible and keep on reading every week. In my case and also friends. “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; …” Why so much confusion? The Bible (meaning many books) was translated for many people and sometimes change the meaning of words, because they started from Hebrew to Greek, Greek to Latin, Latin to English and so, and so. Many sacred passages were taken out, by emperors like Constantin, “Pepino El Breve”, King James, etc, etc. Many of these leaders took some verses out because a detriment for their agenda in their Kingdoms and government. Specially in the Food area that was approved by ancient prophets. (For example: in The Old Testament, Daniel Chapter 1)

  • Gerkem10

    Would someone man up (sorry lady’s just a figure of speech and I’m also including you) and tell me the logic behind why Jesus didn’t pen a single word of scripture? God didn’t, Jesus didn’t, why? Everyone is flying off point. If you can answer this single question, then you will be able to understand why the Bible was written the way it was. You’ll also see it the way it’s meant to be.

    Example: I don’t believe in God. Therefore, Jesus wasn’t God. That’s why God didn’t write a single word. Jesus may have honestly thought he was God and so noticing God didn’t pen a single word, he in turn decided not to pen a single word. Badda ping. This is a type of logical argument I’m looking for. Something we could debate.

    For those of you out there who are believers, please present a strong argument to the contrary presented above. I find it a little discouraging to find so much emotional ranting without sound local arguments. Am I the only one noticing this?

    • Anonymous

      The ancient Greeks believed that the Muses inspire writers to create. As a writer, I have had moments when ideas just flowed. Modern psychology would give a different interpretation. I suppose that it’s a question of context and use.

    • Chris Cooper

      Jesus was illiterate, in that he couldn’t read or write. It doesn’t neccessarily follow that Jesus wasn’t smart, couldn’t learn, wasn’t wise, etc., so that people who could write would pass His Words forward. There’s a large and erudite group of people who deny that the man known as William Shakespeare actually wrote the Works of William Shakespeare. (the current favorite candidate is Christopher Marlowe) What’s a “local” argument? Or am I making a “local” argument by asserting that Jesus must be interpreted initially in his own context?

      • Gerkem10

        Actually Jesus tended school and not ordinary school, but the best of the best for his time. No actually he was literate and there’s evidence he was able to quote large segments of the Torah without error (as would be expected at the level of Rabbi he was labeled). Any well informed and educated Jew, especially a Rabbi, would know what I’m talking about.

        So, no, Jesus willing did not write a single word though fully capable to do so. Try again. Why?

        • Anonymous

          One answer is that the Jesus of the Bible is like the Socrates of Plato’s writings. In other words, a powerful character in a work of fiction. Do understand that I have great respect for the best works of fiction.

          • Gerkem10

            I like the answer. However, there’s good evidence to suggest Socrates was a historical person much as Jesus was (though it could be argued to a lesser extend). Socrates, however, never claimed to be a deity. Jesus did. Socrates was not satisfied with answering logical answers with gods. Jesus didn’t either. Socrates laid out well defined arguments with the same intellectual prowess displayed in rebuttals. Jesus did too. To dismiss both Socrates and Jesus as myth or as characters in fiction (thus implying what they had to say as fiction and perhaps baseless compared to modern scholarship) is an intellectual error. I don’t want to stray too far into what I mean but I’ll leave it with an example. The way we date materials in geological sciences say, functions on a good logical premise. And this is: what natural processes are occurring now were occurring then because there is no evidence to suggest physics changes over time. So, it rained during the time of the dinosaurs just as it rains now. Well, along the same lines of reasoning, what smart men had to say then may have real world implications now. We can debate the level of their significance but I’m past debating whether they are significant (they clear are significant).

        • Anonymous

          There is no historical evidence for whether he was literate or not.

          • Anonymous

            Jewish males were expected to be able to read the Torah, so it makes sense that Jesus would be literate.

          • Anonymous

            Jewish males were expected to be able to read the Torah, so it makes sense that Jesus would be literate.

          • Gerkem10

            There is actually. I would suggest learning about the ancient hebrew educational system that was in place during the time of Jesus. That’s history. If you don’t believe the scholarship of historians dealing with that topic specifically, then your problem is with history. And that’s something each of us have to work out. Still, it would require me to reject good secular scholarship to agree with your position of Jesus being illiterate.

          • Anonymous

            I agree that it is more likely that he was literate (by making inferences from culture), but that doesn’t make it evidence. There is almost nothing written about him during his life.

          • Gerkem10

            He was a Rabbi. That’s all you need to figure this out. Oh well, I tried.

          • Anonymous

            No historical evidence he was a rabbi.

          • Gerkem10

            I just did a key word search and there is tons of articles on this. Are you kidding me. ‘No’ evidence. Wow! Start with the thing you dispute, in this case the Bible. It mentions Jesus as Rabbi all over the place. Now, find historians to confirm that Jesus was a Jewish teacher (which rabbi means). Holy monkeys, there are non-biblical writings of Josephus which confirm what I’m saying. Dude, what?

          • Gerkem10

            There is actually. I would suggest learning about the ancient hebrew educational system that was in place during the time of Jesus. That’s history. If you don’t believe the scholarship of historians dealing with that topic specifically, then your problem is with history. And that’s something each of us have to work out. Still, it would require me to reject good secular scholarship to agree with your position of Jesus being illiterate.

    • otisvan

      I know I am a little late in replying to this, but here it is anyway.
      The plain fact of the matter is this, did Socrates or Bhudda write a autobiography? did Lincoln or Whashington? no.
      only in today’s modern culture do we feel like we have to write about our accomplishemts to get them noticed.
      Jesus had a three year ministry. Before that he was a carpenter.
      Jesus’s three year ministry was so power-packed that he started a new religion, and died for it.
      In case you haven’t already noticed. Jesus was so darn impactful that he didn’t even need to write about himself to get noticed. His deeds have lasted over 200 years.
      If you are really struggling with the idea of Jesus being historically accurate etc…. I can answer your questions. Time constraints prevent me from doing that now.
      Please reveale what you are really trying to kill here. God? or just the fact that Jesus was unhistorical?

      btw (sorry I am nitpicking) but your whole example is based off the fact that you don’t believe in God….you gotta start with the facts.

  • http://freethoughtpedia.com Pile

    For more than 2000 years, religion and superstitious belief has been used to oppress and control people, all the while convincing them it offers comfort and solace, as well as grandiose-yet-unproven promises of things like “eternal life.” The human race will truly “evolve” when we recognize these bronze-age myths as cultural remnants of a time when we acted more like frightened children than rational, thoughtful human beings. I look forward to that time, provided we don’t destroy ourselves first.

    • Gerkem10

      We already know we’re on the course of destruction. Both in a temporal and long term sense. Our inhalation is inevitable. Science teaches us this. We know we’re in the middle of our Sun’s cycle. We know before it explodes it will consume and destroy all of Earth and it’s inhabitants. We also know that all stars will eventually burn out and the very fabric of space time will wear out.

      We now share the Earth with billions of people which now most of us (save the right wing nut jobs and religious fanatics) are calling into serious question Earth’s sustainability. Again, thank science and rational minds for illuminating this. So, I can’t even be certain of my own survival in the coming decades.

      The more I know, we know as a species, the more serious and frightening the situation becomes. Matter of fact, I think the smarter you are the bigger the burden you have. I don’t know about you, but the rational mind is only further confirming our mortality as individuals and as a species. This is where I couldn’t think of a better analogy then a frightened child to explain the condition of an enlighten mind.

    • JK86

      Why are you blaming misuse of religion on the Bible? Doesn’t it make more sense that power-hungry people have co-opted religion for their own designs? If the Bible’s message is true, then we KNOW people will try to do bad things in the name of religion. Don’t let that obscure the facts. Have you ever actually read the Bible, or do you know it’s message? Minute details about Christ’s coming were predicted thousands of years beforehand. The message is God would come as a man to save people who rebelled against God, take the punishment for their rebellion, he would transform their lives while they’re still living, and give them eternal life. What about this message is manipulative? Isn’t the manipulation the fault of people, and not religion?

      • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

        Because religion is uniquely suited to be co-opted. Religion at its core asks us to suspend our critical faculties, it rewards the credulous. Religion claims an absolute truth handed down from on high, that knowledge is the province of a few elite prophets, only to be gained through divine revelation, making it inimical to reason and insensible to evidence. It’s a recipe for abuse.

        • JK86

          How can you reasonably make such claims? I do not bypass my reason by believing in Christ. Christianity is about the facts; some of which are are often overlooked in favor of enforcing bias or opinion against Christianity. The Bible itself says that if Christ did not raise from the dead, believers are the most to be pitied (because their hope is false). Its own message depends completely upon the veracity of all facts surrounding it’s account. The point is, specific facts about Christ’s coming were predicted millennia beforehand, and multiple people witnessed a man who claimed to be God do miracles, die, and live again. You also have the radical life transformation from persecutor to believer of the apostle Paul, a highly well-educated and reasonable man with initial backing of Roman officials, which makes no sense unless he was convinced with facts. How does any of this make it unreasonable to believe in Christ? I actually find it rather unreasonable that many are unwilling to consider the facts about Christ, as attested to both in Scripture and secular disciplines such as archaeology, just because certain events do not normally occur. This kind of bias is antithetical to reason.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

            Of course you bypass reason by believing the tenants of Christianity. To believe that Jesus was literally resurrected means rejecting physics, at least in that one area. And you can’t argue the veracity of the Bible by reference to the Bible. That’s a circular argument if ever there was one. It’s quite clear that the Bible was written long after the facts, whatever they were.

            As for the “facts” of Jesus’ life, I do not think that word means what you think it means. Stories of ancient prophecies that, surprise, match up to other stories written long after the events, prophecies that were in all likelihood known to the writers, are hardly facts. Eye witness testimony does not attest to the facts of a situation, even in modern times with recent events (how unreliable our court system shows eye witness testimony to be!) let alone claimed eye witness testimony dredged up from 2000 years ago.

            Archaeology may show that some events depicted in the Bible happened more or less, it also shows that many events did not. For example, there is no evidence the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt as depicted in the Bible. (Exodus and the Archaeological Reality; James Weinstein)

        • JK86

          Also, how do you assume that religion is uniquely suited to be co-opted without also assuming that people are uniquely suited to exploit it? Peole are the problem, which is one of the points of the gospel. Yours is not an argument against the truth of Christianity, but a complaint about the way some people use religion.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

            People are the problem inasmuch as religion is a human construct, yes.

      • Dezeray1

        Christianity claims to be a monotheistic religion yet God send Jesus to “to save people who rebelled against God.” Now either God and Jesus are one and the same, in which case God sent himself to appease himself for the sins of the creatures he created. Or there is a God and Jesus and therefore at least two Gods. Which is it?

        • savvysuz

          Jesus is God’s son. God’s name is Jehovah – Look it up in Psalms 83:18 – providing you have a Bible that hasn’t been fudged by people who want to keep God’s name from being known. God did not send himself, die and resurrect himself: how silly is that. Jehovah’s SON Jesus died for all mankind for the sin committed by Adam. There is only ONE God and Jesus is his son.

  • notafeminista

    It tickles me to no end to hear those calling themselves enlightened and rational (and yes, open-minded) discount very nearly the entire world’s population as delusional in the name of their so-called science.
    Isn’t there something about making those you fear or don’t understand “the other”….? Tsk…

    • Dezeray1

      Most people that I have met over the years that claim to be “believers” don’t even know the basic tenets of what they claim as their religion. Most have not even picked up the Bible and actually read it. It is not that they are delusional, they refuse to learn about their own religion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

      It doesn’t matter if one person or a billion believes in something, it doesn’t make it true. That would be an argumentum ad populum, or argument from popularity and is a logical fallacy.

      However, science cannot prove or disprove God. Insofar as people make claims about physical reality, science can address those (ie, miracles), and there is no evidence for the sort of deity that intervenes in the world. (Assuming you define intervention or miracles as a suspension of natural laws.) If you want to believe in a non-interventionist god that set the world in motion and then stepped into the background, then nothing can be said. But, we non-deists like to point out, no one can know anything about that sort of god. We’re all equally in the dark, and there is therefore no reason to choose any particular religion over another and it seems perfectly reasonable to discount any god.

      We are all of us prone to many cognitive biases and believe many things that ain’t so, from homeopathy to Scientology. Indeed, given the wealth of information we must all take in, it’s impossible to critical examine every single idea. Carl Sagan proposed a Baloney Detection Kit as a basic tool to help sift the wheat from the chaff, but there is no perfect process. Which is also why science recognizes that while there is an objective truth out there, we can only approximate it and our theories are always provisional.

  • notafeminista

    Interesting. Most people that I have met over the years who claim to be atheist and adamantly refuse to allow their children to receive any sort of spiritual instruction, have never set foot in a church or attempted to have any kind of dialogue with a theologian. Hm.

    • Dezeray1

      I disagree completely. I for one became an atheist only after having read the Bible– with the intent of strengthening my faith. I attended church regularly as a child and have always had questions that were never answered — only washed over. If and when I have children, I will certainly shield them from that world in their early years because religious belief a is a complicated thing and should be analyzed by an understanding mind, not a 5 year old repeating “Jesus loves me, he died for my sins.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

      I for one consider forcing religious “education” on kids as tantamount to child abuse. However, if I had kids, I would be more than happy to educate my children about religion in as neutral a way as possible. I would have no problem with them reading the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth. And I would be happy to have them discuss religion with a theologian. (I love talking with theologians.) My only goal would be to equip them with the critical thinking tools to examine religion on its merits, and if they were to decide to become religious, well, that’s their choice.

  • Emerson

    Professor Beal seems to be citical of the different types of Bibles, but making the Bible relevant in our modern era is a good thing! Moreover, I think the Internet is providing more opportunities to display the Bible’s relevance to our modern lives.

  • notafeminista

    Well so there ya go. Man’s disagreement or unwillingness to accept Biblical tenets is clearly evidence of the non-existence of God. Clearly well-thought out and reasoned.
    Interesting that forcing spiritual education on a child is considered abuse and yet compulsory public education is not. How is the distinction made exactly?

    • Dezeray1

      “Man’s disagreement or unwillingness to accept Biblical tenets is clearly evidence of the non-existence of God. ” Not sure that anyone made that claim.

      The only reason I believed in the God was because of the religion I was taught as a kid (based on the Bible). When I read the Bible, I was not convinced, therefore my original reason for believing in God was no longer there. That brings you back to a state of “non-belief.” That is not the same as saying there is no God — that is not atheism. Atheism is the state of “non-belief.”

    • Dezeray1

      “Interesting that forcing spiritual education on a child is considered abuse and yet compulsory public education is not. How is the distinction made exactly? ”

      Whose religion should be used to educate children spiritually? Should we teach children that women are unclean or that slavery is ok? What about that popular argument against Sharia law, should we teach THAT as fact?

      If people held off on teaching religion until people were old enough to actually understand what they are being told (say 15-18), there would be many fewer “believers.” Religions depend on having children as a captive audience to even have a chance at surviving.

  • notafeminista

    Yes but you were convinced of your non belief because….?

    • Dezeray1

      How are you convinced that the tooth fairy is not real? You do not require proof for the non-existence of things because it is not possible. You can never prove that the tooth fairy is not real, but I can guess that you don’t believe in her.

      The Bible is making a claim, it is up to the Bible to prove that claim.

  • notafeminista

    That is the ultimate goal isn’t it…to have fewer “believers” no more of those pesky people we don’t understand.

    What educational system should we use to teach our children? Why isn’t Montessori the norm instead of the exception? We teach children that they must be taken from their home at the age of 5 and made to stay with complete strangers (who we know will potentially bully, harass, and molest them) for 8 hours a day, we demand the stand in orderly lines of our choosing (whether organized alphabetically, or by sex and so on) and insist they color in the lines. And you call religious education abusive?

    • Dezeray1

      “That is the ultimate goal isn’t it…to have fewer “believers” no more of those pesky people we don’t understand.”

      You are changing my words to fit your view of atheists again. No one is trying to get rid of you, but you can’t expect people to just allow their children to be braiwashed.

      My point is, the belief in most of the world’s religions begins at childhood and is often passively accepted as truth into adulthood. If you were to explain the story of Jesus to an 18 year old who had no religious teaching as a child they would likely think you were crazy. Religion feeds on children. Now, if that 18 year old accepted it as a logical story, that is fine — but I sincerely doubt that would happen.

  • notafeminista

    Incidentally you will notice in none of my arguments did I state Biblical anything as FACT….what I am arguing is hypocrisy which has been clearly demonstrated.
    Openminded people refusing to expose themselves or their children to that which they do no like or understand. Gosh, imagine if you inserted the word “homosexual” in that equation instead of “religion”.

    • Dezeray1

      I see no issue with explaining the world’s religions to children as it is a huge factor in history, literature, and art. However it should be taught objectively (Christians believe in X, Muslims believe in Y, Scientologists believe in Z). Religious teaching in any other way is like teaching children to Democrats or Republicans.

  • Gerkem10

    Let me rephrase my initial question because I’m not getting a certain type of response. For the sake of argument, lets say God and Jesus are literate. Why didn’t either of them directly write something, or leave other forms of physical evidence, that would have survived so we contemporaries could have a good look at it and decide for ourselves whether it was of God or not?

    • Dezeray1

      Great question. Also, if the message was so important, why was it available only to a certain group of people who happen to be close to each other geographically?

  • notafeminista

    You haven’t answered the questions. Believe or not I don’t care that is your choice – but your approach is not honest. You think its abusive to tell a 5 year old about God, but not remove him from his home away from all that is familiar to him. At 5. Let me rephrase. Rather than making a distinction, just how are we defining abuse?

    • Dezeray1

      I never said anything about abuse.

    • Dezeray1

      Also, I’m not sure what you mean that my approach isn’t honest. I am being as honest as possible. I’m not trying to trick you into anything.

  • notafeminista

    Fair point, the word abuse is not in the argument. “Preying on” is. The questions stand.

    • Dezeray1

      I don’t have an argument against you concerns about general education in the US, but that was never the topic. Instead it ignores the original topic and points at another issue. It’s like ignoring Corporate tax evasion by pointing at illegal immigration.

  • otisvan

    I know I am a little late in replying to this, but here it is anyway. this is in reply to Gerkem 10′s comment about Jesus not writing for himself.

    The plain fact of the matter is this, did Socrates or Bhudda write a autobiography? did Lincoln or Whashington? no.
    only in today’s modern culture do we feel like we have to write about our accomplishemts to get them noticed.
    Jesus had a three year ministry. Before that he was a carpenter.
    Jesus’s three year ministry was so power-packed that he started a new religion, and died for it.
    In case you haven’t already noticed. Jesus was so darn impactful that he didn’t even need to write about himself to get noticed. His deeds have lasted over 200 years.
    If you are really struggling with the idea of Jesus being historically accurate etc…. I can answer your questions. Time constraints prevent me from doing that now.
    Please reveale what you are really trying to kill here. God? or just the fact that Jesus was unhistorical?

    btw (sorry I am nitpicking) but your whole example is based off the fact that you don’t believe in God….you gotta start with the facts.

    • Gerkem10

      How well did his servants do? Could He have done a better job? Then why didn’t he? You say he didn’t have to, I say in order for it to be with out error, He had too? Why didn’t He? I truly think Christians so desperately ‘need’ the Bible to be inerrant. And I’m arguing it ‘must’ be errant if there is a God.

      Now I will say this, it is a strong testimony to see the impact Jesus had. He changed the way the world perceived itself. We can not have a discussion of Western culture without including Christianity’s impact on it. Not even Greece with all it’s philosophers could lay out such an extensive and comprehensive morality. After all, Christianity changed Rome.

      • otisvan

        His “servents” as you call them, did a fantastic job. If you want to argue the hostoricall validity of the bible, I can do that too.
        I know this seems like it is a snobby-narrow-minded view, but I will say it anyways.
        The bible is really without error. Can you point out to me an error that
        1. is not a simple confusion of a greek or hebrew word
        2. Is actually a error, and not a wordage that can be posted as a straw man-contradidtion
        3. actually contradict history.

        I am sorry if I missed your earlier point….but how in the world does the bible have to be errent if God exists?

        • Gerkem10

          No matter how good a job you perceive them of doing, God could have done a better job. Why didn’t he? I guess a better way of asking the question is why he chose people to do it? Sorry, but I’m tired. So, I’m keeping this short. You haven’t answered that yet by the way.

          I’ll leave you with a couple of thoughts, then I have to go. If you read through the posts on today’s topic you’ll see I’ve been writing for hours and I’m tired but if you would like to continue the conversation we could do so on a later date. Either here or you could find me on Facebook (Matthew Gerke, Huntertown, IN.)

          Genesis flies in the face of contemporary evolutionary theory and the idea of the Earth as being billions of years old. There’s a mountain of interdisciplinary evidence to suggest the world is in fact billions of years old and of common descent. Can you dove tail the biblical accounts of creation with science’s idea of creation?

          Here’s one of many critiques I’ve done on individual verses of Genesis. I’ll simply cut and paste here.

          Genesis 1:7
          “So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.”
          I’m unaware of evidence that a body of water exists or had existed above the sky. I can’t help but to think this is an error in ancient man’s logic and perception. When I look up into a clear blue sky I can’t help to think how much it resembles the ocean in colors. The Ancients might have wrongly thought the sky, like oceans and seas, was a large body of water.

          Genesis 1:14-17
          “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth‘. And it was so. God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,”
          Now wait a minute, the sky sits between two layers of water: the ocean below it and the never named, now nonexistent water above it. We now know the Sun, Moon and stars do not sit in the sky. They are in fact many miles away from it, light years away when talking about stars. Not to mention the inherent problem of the earth being scorched and consumed to oblivion even if the smallest star was to be placed in the ’expanse’, AKA the sky. Again, I think we are experiencing the same problem as was encountered in 1:7. When the Ancients looked up into the sky they figured incorrectly the position of celestial bodies. To them it would have appeared that the lights in the sky were contained with in the sky. They never imagined the Sun could have been so far away.
          Side note: This could explain why later–when talking about the tower of Babel–they thought it possible to build a tower which could reach to the heavens. Perhaps this is early evidence of a scientific endeavor to reach the stars.

          Finally, you ask a good question about how I got to my reasoning about the relationship between the Bible and God. There’s a lot of points I would have to flesh out and I haven’t formally wrote down my thoughts. So, we’ll have to wait another time to tackle that conclusion. Thanks though for your input so far. Night.

          • Gerkem10

            What I meant to say was the sky had an ocean or large body of water above it not that the sky actually was water.

  • notafeminista

    Well except religion of any type can’t be taught objectively (or otherwise) in public schools can it? (Despite the fact the amendment makes no provision for a separation [pesky point that one]).

    On the other hand environmental junk science and intellectually dishonest diversity training can. So again I ask, if the argument is forcing something upon the beleaguered children, why do we advocate (and strongly) taking children away from their families and homes at a young age and begin to indoctrinate them in the ways of the state?

    • Dezeray1

      I suppose because the schools are state funded. I really believe that keeping religion out of schools is best for everyone — including religious people. If you open that flood gate, you should be prepared to have your kids being persuaded by Islam and any other religion that would now be taught in school.

      If you don’t believe in the scientific method, then you should probably home school your children. That is generally what is taught in science class. Religion can and should be taught in history.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

      There are many issues with public schools, but that isn’t the topic here. Ideally, public schools should teach the best available science and more importantly, the method behind the science, so people are equipped to evaluate new information, not just regurgitate old.

      As for junk science, that’s an interesting topic on its own as well. How do we non-experts evaluate science? Bertrand Russell’s famous saying is applicable here, I think:

      “1. When the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain.

      2. When they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert.

      3. When they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.”

      So, for example, with climate change, the experts are agreed – there is a broad scientific consensus, and while it could be wrong, we non-experts cannot in all intellectual honestly hold that the science is wrong. We can decide as a matter of ideology not to act on it, be we cannot pretend it’s not happening.

      On top of that, one needs a grounding in basic science to even begin evaluating some claims. When only 53% of american adults know how long it takes the earth to revolve around the sun (California Academy of Sciences survey) we are in deep doo doo.

  • otisvan

    Sorry if I jumped into a conversation. I am not yet done reading all the comments….

  • notafeminista

    No I think the argument is right on point (so to speak…ha!). Any number of people including some posters right here in this forum that that religion is an awful, abusive, preying upon entity that no human in their right mind should ever be exposed to but if they must be, not until they are at least 15 years of age. Presumption being is that somehow opening one’s mind to all possibilities apparently will warp someone somehow.

    The analogy to public education is not only apt, but appropriate.

    • Dezeray1

      The religion is taught to children is not “opening one’s mind to all possibilities.” It is taught as the one truth and is generally dependent on their parents’ beliefs. That is NOT opening someone’s mind.

      • Dezeray1

        *The way religion is taught…

  • notafeminista

    The scientific method (hypothesis,observation etc) can’t be practiced at home? Managed to get two groups in “the other” that time.

    • Dezeray1

      My original statement: “If and when I have children, I will certainly shield them from that world in their early years because religious belief a is a complicated thing and should be analyzed by an understanding mind, not a 5 year old repeating “Jesus loves me, he died for my sins.” ”

      I can’t follow you down whatever tangent you insist on going down. It has nothing to do with my belief that indoctrinating children by forcing one groups’ belief on them is not healthy. There is nothing wrong with explaining that people believe this, and I believe that; but telling a child that Jesus died for them and anyone who does not believe that is burning in hell is far from healthy (or proven to be true).

  • Sequoia Mcdowell

    “That book is what I refer to as… *teehee* as a… (wait for it… wait for it…)

    ….

    LOOSE CANON.” get it, ‘loose canon?’

    *groan* so many puns; I can’t believe he went there…

  • notafeminista

    The comment regarding honesty was not one of suspicion of trickery. It refers to the lack of intellectual honesty in the approach to whether or not to expose one’s self (or children) to religion.

    • otisvan

      “expose one’s self (or children) to religion?”
      is religion a plague? exuse me?
      last I checked it wasnt…..
      people who are athiests can be just as dogmatic as religios people can….
      even though religios people are labeled narrow-minded

  • notafeminista

    Yup otisvan that was kind of the point.

  • notafeminista

    But taking kids out of the home, away from the family, mixing them in with whomever and teaching them only what the state approves is okay. Noted.

    • Dezeray1

      No one once said that “taking kids out of the home, away from the family…” was ok or that they agreed with it. You are committing a logical fallacy by: 1. Making an assumption about my beliefs about general education 2. Somehow tying that false assumption to forcing religion onto children. This is called a straw man.

  • otisvan

    Gerkem 10, here is my reply to your reply :)

    His “servents” as you call them, did a fantastic job. If you want to argue the hostoricall validity of the bible, I can do that too.
    I know this seems like it is a snobby-narrow-minded view, but I will say it anyways.
    The bible is really without error. Can you point out to me an error that
    1. is not a simple confusion of a greek or hebrew word
    2. Is actually a error, and not a wordage that can be posted as a straw man-contradidtion
    3. actually contradict history.

    I am sorry if I missed your earlier point….but how in the world does the bible have to be errent if God exists?

    • JimTH

      Yes, I can point out an error, and one only needs to read the first two chapters of Genesis to discover it.

      Genesis 1:20-23 tells us that on the fifth day God created the creatures of the sea and the birds of the air. Genesis 1:24-27 tells us that on the sixth day God first created the beast of the earth, and after that He created man.

      Genesis 2:7 tells us that God created man. Genesis 2:18-19 then tells us that when He saw that man was alone, God created the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air.

      This is a contradiction, of course. Man was either created before the animals or after the animals. One of these descriptions of creation is clearly in error.

    • Ian

      But that’s not an argument, that is the very definition of faith. If I believe that Allah exist, then the Koran is infallible. I doubt you will find any “real” errors there either.

  • Stanclauss

    What’s this number 800-423-talk all about? When I call there to make an online comment they want my subsubscription number. Anyway, in your promotional comments on the KJV “straight and narrow” was mentioned as a phrase of our English fabric fronm the KJV. I can’t find that one. What’s the reference? There was another one in there I didn’t recognize as a KJV phrase I can’t recall just now.

  • Ed

    What seems to have happened is that Prof. Beal was raised in a Bible-only faith, which is common, and (like Bart Ehrman) came to the conclusion that belief in the Bible by itself is problematic. In the Sixteenth Century as a response to the Reformation in the Council of Trent the Catholic Church declared that the belief ‘The only source of truth is the Bible’, was erroneous, heretical. And Prof. Beal has come to the same conclusion, it’s problematical.

    There would be two conclusions to draw from this observation. One could be to decide that Christianity is uncertain since interpretations of the Bible are variant, etc. But another conclusion would be that the Bible can’t be the only source of Revealed Truth. And this would be the Catholic belief: there is Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium, and they depend on each other. The Bible doesn’t exist on its own, but inside the Church. When it’s seen in this context, all the problems that Prof. Beal points out (and Bart Ehrman) fall away.

    • Ian

      I think you’re also guilty of taking a portion of Prof. Beal’s book out of context and creating a straw man argument. He raises many problems that don’t simply “fall away” when considered within the context of the Catholic Church. His argument is much more complex than the one you’re implying. For example, he raises the issue of bible literacy, “brand” dilution, new media (and all the research that has shown that, yes, the medium affects the message), etc. It may appear that you have rebutted his basic claim by arguing only against his conclusion, but without taking on the actual arguments, the scaffolding, that holds it up you’ve done no such thing.

  • Ed

    So I invite Prof. Beal to consider the Catholic Church. It’s rather curious that there was no Catholic speaker on the panel, it is the largest Christian community. Hmm.

  • Claire

    If you believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, that it contains truth and answers, it will change you. Reading it will cause you to be more like Christ, to suffer. If you don’t want to change, you should believe that it is a great library full of many questions.

  • Michael

    Michael Shermer: Why people believe strange things
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T_jwq9ph8k&feature=relmfu

    Dan Dennett: A secular, scientific rebuttal to Rick Warren
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTepA-WV_oE&feature=relmfu

  • Michael

    Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_6-iVz1R0o&feature=relmfu

    Pattern seek primates

    Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.

  • J__o__h__n

    The bible is not a historical document as it was written years after the alleged life of Jesus. Josephus was not a first hand witness.

    • Chris Cooper

      I hope you’re limiting that statement to the New Testament! :-) Most of this discussion (as well as much of the contents of the Bible, as revised over time) falls within the purview of “Historiography,” roughly defined as “the history of history.” Indeed, the New Testament, including its Apocrypha, are a case study in Historiography. My favorite book on the subject of Jesus is still “The Historical Jesus – Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant” by John Dominic Crossan (warning: bring your heftiest dictionary and thesaurus) Marcus Borg called it “the most important scholarly book about Jesus in decades.” “What he’s doing adds color to the interpretation of faith rather than being a displacement of it.” (Martin Marty – University of Chicago) Personally, I think living within the spirit of His words and deeds in this life is much more important than what happens after we have “shuffled off this mortal coil.” “Getting into Heaven” seems a rather self-contradictory reason to live a just and inclusive life.

  • Brett

    “There would be two conclusions to draw from this observation [the only source of truth is the Bible]. One could be to decide that Christianity is uncertain since interpretations of the Bible are variant, etc. But another conclusion would be that the Bible can’t be the only source of Revealed Truth.” -Ed

    Gee, we only get two choices, and those choices are framed the way you think they should be framed? In looking at the Bible through the “textual criticism” lens, one is misguided because neither traditions nor the “official” and authoritative teachings sanctioned by the Pope/Roman Catholic Church have been properly considered/honored along with the manuscript? To view the Bible from a historical perspective—considering manuscript “tampering” has occurred by religious leaders throughout history to promote (or suppress) certain viewpoints—is flawed because it’s not part of honoring tradition/such analysis is not sanctioned by the Pope/Roman Catholic Church? To apply principles of analysis as one would in literary criticism, one is engaging in some form of loss of faith, so to speak? As you imply in the statement “Christianity is uncertain since interpretations of the Bible are variant,” is an incorrect conclusion, and such criticism must be at least a hint of losing faith, or it is an incorrect conclusion because one is simply not honoring tradition/honoring the Pope, etc. Whatever inconsistencies found in the Gospels are made smooth because…well…the Church tells us they are? And, of the Gospels that made some of those inconsistencies more pronounced…well, they were simply removed altogether. I mean, the Church sanctioned such actions, after all, right?

    “there is Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium, and they depend on each other [within the context of the Catholic Church]. The Bible doesn’t exist on its own, but inside the Church. When it’s seen in this context, all the problems that Prof. Beal points out (and Bart Ehrman) fall away.” -Ed

    So, sacred scripture, sacred tradition and the magisterium translates into “because it says so in the Bible,” “because that’s the way it’s always been done,” and “because the Pope/Roman Catholic Church says so.” Well…I guess the problem is solved! …It’s all so clear now (barrump bump!) …But seriously, though, without, say, the “Resurrection” (I’m not talkin” symbolism/metaphor, etc., here, I’m talkin” full blown rising up from the dead!), Catholicism’s got nothin’. Otherwise, Jesus was just a man, then he died, albeit a prophet. But a prophet isn’t exactly a messiah, now is he? Any of even the most immaterial, ostensible discrepencies/inconsistenices/disagreement regarding his resurrection, for example, need only be explained away by either removal of text or alteration of text? If not, then, by saying that seeing the Bible as the only source of truth, without considering its interdependence with tradition/the Church itself as an institution, is a fundamental flaw in perspective? …It seems you’ve got all the bases covered, I’ll give you that!

  • Michael

    Why We Believe in Gods – Andy Thomson
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg&feature=relmfu

  • roymerritt19@gmail.com

    Religion and all religious texts such as the bible are naught but constructs to control humanity. I have never read any novel that is as awash in blood and gore as the Christian bible. The God in the old testament is a horrific being who requires endless worship because he no doubt has a substantial problem with self esteem and is forever demanding the blood of adherents and non believers alike. It justifies carnage on a grand scale, rape and every form of thievery one can imagine. Modern evangelicals. especially in this country, are obsessed with hatred for all who don’t embrace this wretched tome, everyone who is different. As I see it they and the fanatical Islamics are one in the same. Who doesn’t doubt that evangelicals like the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or that fat toad in Texas John Hagey wouldn’t like to slaughter thousands, nay millions to bring them around to their horrendous way of thinking. Most also seem obsessed with the accumulation of wealth. Any Sunday morning you’ll see endless numbers of these charlatans on television demanding money from the weak willed idiots who tune in the get the Word. “Plant a seed”, it’s always about planting a seed to gain the grace of God. They insinuate you can become prosperous by adopting this crackpot philosophy, which is rapidly turning this into a nation of Neanderthals. Though never a communist I think Karl Marx had religion pegged for what it was
    “The opiate of the masses”. He well knew the powerful saw it as the easiest way to control the peons. One cannot ignore the damage that religion has wrought on the world. Evangelicals are endlessly working to destroy our nation. The Catholic Church is a haven for deviants who prey on children. Other religions save but for Buddhism, which is essentially an atheistic philosophy, are just as reprehensible. Should I have the choice to listen to someone ruminating on religion my choice would be Christopher Hitchens who has declared that “Religion ruins everything!” No truer words were ever spoken.

    • Noreply

      “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool….” Proverbs 28:26

      “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’” 1 Corinthians 3:19-20

      “…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

      “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ Psalm 53:1

      “Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.” Proverbs 14:9

      “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” Proverbs 18:2

      “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…” Romans 1:20-22

      “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
      But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
      It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools.
      For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool.
      This also is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 7:4-6

      “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15

      “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20

      “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16

      “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’

      “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

      “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

      “…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” 1 Corinthians 1:27

      “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:12

      • http://www.facebook.com/ericnewberg Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg

        Hmm, Bible quotes, eh? I can go there.

        “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 23:1

        “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Psalms 137:9

        “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ…” Ephesians 6:5

        “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

        —–

        “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” -Mark Twain

        • otisvan

          You have to knowledge of context, Hebrew or scripture itself. If you did, then you would aptly realize your mistake

          • otisvan

            typo…:) i meant….no…not to.

          • http://www.facebook.com/gaelen.schumann Gaelen Schumann

            right, I looked it up. It seems to me to be a section about who can’t get into the assembly of the Lord. It then lists people born of a ‘forbidden’ marriage, and the decedents of the Ammonite or Moabite’s (adding ‘not even in the tenth generation’, is the 11th cool, or is it just banning them for all time?) and finally edomites and Egyptians can get in, but only after three generations for the latter. This shit is the reason that I am an atheist.

          • otisvan

            i was talking to
            Eric Reed Lorentzen-Newberg…… m

            if you are too, then were good.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Smith/100000176564989 Mark Smith

            Why do you have to know Hebrew or the scripture itself it is all made up some of it to some degree on experience you may as well read Alice in Wonderland. At least then you will be less likely to go out and kill your neighbor and make women subject to you. The fact is you can create any fantasy you like and utilize it as a basis for a societal template internal logic and self-serving ethics do not make fact.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Smith/100000176564989 Mark Smith

        Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? No Man has Man wrote it. God was simply created so Man could control women. All the rest is window dressing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Smith/100000176564989 Mark Smith

      Other religions save but for Buddhism, which is essentially an atheistic philosophy, are just as reprehensible.

      You may have to rethink this regards women in particular apparently Buddha stipulated the highest women priest had to bow to the lowest male priest.

      So my view God was in fact to provide the only utilitarian value that of the subjugation of women to mans will still stands.

      Also the existence of so many hells is a bit of a worry.

      I do agree with you and so does Plato.

  • Pingback: ‘The Bible Is Dead; Long Live the Bible’ | Liturgical

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joshua-Hendrickson/1652586055 Joshua Hendrickson

    I can’t believe I slept through this show!

    God is my favorite fictional character, as Homer Simpson said, and the Bible contains some pretty potent fiction. It’s a pity that so few people see it that way. I honestly wonder, what’s it like to have so colossal an ego, so clear a disregard for the views of others, and so fragile a hold on life to need a God?

  • notafeminista

    Gosh Joshua, same question back to you.

  • Luvkiss38

    There are many gods and they have their own names i.e., Allah, Zues, Budda, and hundreds more and their names are said without reservation; But what is the name of the god/GOD/LORD/MASTER that so-called “Christians” worship. I worship the same heavenly father that Jesus did and told Satan to worship, at Matthew 4:8-10. People who claim Christianity are obligated to prove their loyalty by openly proclaiming God’s name, Jehovah. It seems it eludes most Christians that their “God” has no name.

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