Religion, skepticism, and carving out a spiritual life post-Mormonism
Friday Funny: NonStampCollector: Quiz Show
This is great. It's too bad that Mormons will largely ignore this considering their view of the Bible straddles between the critic's view (fallible) and the believer's view (divine). However, I think it could provide some food for doubting for critical thinkers within the LDS church.
Leah, I have a few questions for you. First, when you posted this link on Facebook you prefaced it by saying, “Yes, check your facts.” What exactly did you mean by that? Second, does watching a NSC video constitute fact checking in your book? Just because he says that he has looked at all the arguments and found them to be, using his own word, shit, does that mean that he is speaking from an intellectually superior stance from all those that have dealt with this subject in the past and thereby knows the true fact of the matter? Third, do you think that Christians throughout the world and time are and have been running around with their fingers in their ears shouting “lalalalalalalalala” every time someone brings up the subject of Biblical discrepancies and that if they’d only pull their fingers out of their ears long enough to watch this video then they’d know the truth of the matter?In ‘The God Delusion’ Dawkins asks two questions, 1: Do these people never open the book that they believe is the literal truth? 2: Why don’t they notice the glaring contradictions? Do you share his view in thinking that religious people are all ignorant of their own holy book and what is contained therein? The objections he raised were easily dismissed because the Biblical passages he used in his attempt to show discrepancies in the Bible only revealed the complete lack of any scholastic effort whatsoever in researching the matter before he put his words on paper. (specifically I’m referring to his objections on where Mary and Joseph lived when Jesus was born and the genealogy of Jesus) Christians throughout the ages have not and do not run around with their fingers in their ears when presented with challenges to the Bible. In the 19th century a man named John Haley published a book called ‘An Examination of the Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible’ and I will reference a few of the things he says to help my point. In the introduction to his book his says, “Some persons may, perchance, question the wisdom of publishing a work in which the difficulties of scripture are brought together and set forth so plainly. They may think it better to suppress, as far as may be, the knowledge of these things. The author does not sympathize with any such timid policy. He counts it the duty of the Christian scholar to look difficulties and objections squarely in the face. Nothing is to be gained by overlooking, evading, or shrinking from them. Truth has no cause to fear scrutiny, however rigid and searching. Besides, the enemies of the Bible will not be silent, even if its friends should hold their peace….The poison demands an antidote. The remedy should be carried wherever the disease has made its blighting way.” Criticism of the Bible is not new and Despite Dawkins’ presumptions Christians are not blind to their own Bible nor do they plug their ears and run when someone attempts to criticize the Bible. Haley even agrees somewhat with the introduction NSC gives to his video when he says “I'm talking about the actual words on the actual page of the bible.” To this Haley says, “That no candid and intelligent student of the Bible will deny that it contains numberous “discrepancies” that its statements, taken prima facie, not infrequently conflict with or contradict one another, may safely be presumed. This fact has been more or less recognized by Christian scholars in all ages.” Then he goes on to list early church fathers such as Origen, Chrysostom, and Augustine who all addressed the issue.
He also addresses the implication that NSC gives that because he couldn’t reconcile the apparent discrepancy then it must be in fact a contradiction. To this Haley says, “Yet we must guard against the conclusion that, since we cannot solve certain difficulties, they are therefore insoluble. This inference – to which minds of a certain temper are peculiarly liable – savors so strongly of egotism and dogmatism as to be utterly repugnant to the spirit of true scholarship. As in all other departments of sacred criticism, so in the treatment of the discrepancies, there is a demand for reverent, yet unflinching thoroughness and fidelity." NSC argues that he is criticizing the English Bible and not the original Hebrew and Greek. Which I don’t really understand because that suggests he is only interested in the prima facie text and not what the text actually might mean and thus he is criticizing only for the sake of criticizing. Is that a very scholastic attitude to have when you are trying to prove/disprove the validity of something? Wouldn’t you agree that taking things prima facie at all times and in all cases would be a bit intellectually lazy? Imagine if Edwin Hubble would have been satisfied with the original thought that Nebulae were just gas clouds and that the Milky Way was the whole of the universe. If it were not for the close scrutinty and time he devoted to looking deeper into the matter he would never have discovered that the Nebulae were in fact galaxies far beyond our own Milky Way. NSC argues that God tempted Abraham and that it was in direct contradiction with other verses elsewhere. Well, prima facie, it would appear so but when one looks a little deeper at the hebrew word that is translated in the KJV to “tempted” you would find that it means “to try, to prove, to put to the test.” Pretty much every other translation of the Bible out there translates the hebrew word into the word “tested”. And Haley goes on in further detail to discuss the difference between God “tempting” someone as Satan would “tempt” someone verses God proving someones faith. So just as science does not accept anything prima facie (imagine if they did!) one should not do so with the Bible. I don’t know what to think of labeling a NSC video as fact checking since he is explicitly saying he is taking the Bible prima facie and not willing to delve into it’s deeper meaning. Now, I am not going to attempt to refute everything that NSC says in his videos but I’m guessing that none of his objections are new and that there are probably answers out there. Ultimately, what one decides after one has examined both sides of the argument is left up to them. I am, however, going to argue that watching his video does NOT constitute fact checking and in reality one needs to delve a bit deeper into the subject before one can declare their facts checked. If Hubble had not made the effort to look a little deeper in the subject of cosmology then we’d all probably still believe that the Milky Way was it. What exactly was the point of posting this video with the statment of "Yes, check your facts"?
Patrik, I am in the middle of finals, so I do not have time to read your novel, much less respond to all your myriad petty grievances. In short, a book with as many contradictions as the Bible does not deserve, on any grounds, to be taken seriously as factual material. So I am not going to waste my time fact checking it.
No matter what language the Bible is read in, it still doesn't make a lick of sense beyond tribal goat herders (Old Testament) and slave societies (New Testament) trying to make sense of their world. The whole idea is nuts. We're only here to prove our obedience to some guy, and he made sure that there's a whole bunch of obstacles (sins) in the way to make sure that some of won't pass. Those that don't pass will be doomed to eternal torment (or at least banishment).God was even so gracious as to send his only son (or himself. I get confused on that) to atone for all those pesky sins (then what was the point of sin?), but even then we still need to believe in his son/himself or else we're still tormented/banished. Thanks God!
Whether it's "tempted" or "tested," have you ever stopped to consider how seriously fucked up the story of Abraham and Isaac is? What kind of sick sadistic test of loyalty is that, to ask you to murder your own child? As Julia Sweeney says, "Isn't the correct answer, 'NO! I will not kill my child, or any other child, even if it means an eternity of damnation'?" And you think that God loves you and is worthy of your worship and adulation?The God of the bible is hands-down the most evil character I've ever read about in any literature, fiction or non-fiction; he makes Hitler look like Mr. Rogers. How anyone thinks this book (or the God contained within it) is admirable or worthwhile is beyond me.