Russell Blackford www

If we knew that the Bible was the word of God, we would, of course, know that there is a God. However, we don’t know that the Bible is the word of God. There is no proof of any such thing; indeed, the evidence is to the contrary. The Bible appears to be exactly what atheists take it to be, a man-made compilation of books from earlier eras, containing many ideas that now seem barbaric.

Posted: June 15th 2007

See all questions answered by Russell Blackford

jonecc www

Far from being evidence of the divine, the Bible is a visibly human document. I could go on about hellfire in the New Testament or savagery in the Old, but instead here’s the simplest demonstration I know.

Get your Bible. The King James one, obviously. We don’t want any of your New English trash in here. Turn to Matthew Chapter 1 verses 1 to 17. It’s easy to find, it’s right at the beginning of the New Testament.

You’ll find a list of Jesus’ ancestors, stretching back to Abraham. They actually count the other way, each venerable patriarch begetting the next in the traditional manner. There are forty generations from Abraham to Jesus.

Now turn to Luke, Chapter 3 verses 23 to 38. You’ll see another genealogy from Jesus. This time it’s backwards, and stretches back beyond Abraham, another 20 generations back to Adam. Let’s just concentrate on the bit back to Abraham though.

It’s a very different list. Strange that. Still, maybe it’s the same people, but they’re giving their first name rather than their last name. Or something.

There’s more of them, though. 55 to be precise. Two thoroughly different lists, with a different number of male links in the chain.

So, far from being evidence of God’s divine perfection, the very first chapter of the New Testament actually gives clear evidence of the authors’ human fallibility.

And for this we’ve had to endure Crusades, Inquisitions and Cliff Richard. Bastards.

Posted: June 13th 2007

See all questions answered by jonecc

RTambree

The question implies circular reasoning. Having a document says “A” is true, is no proof that “A” is true. You need a second, independent line of evidence.

Firstly, there is no way of proving which God or Gods is “true”, as there are many ancient texts with equally assertive declarations.

Secondly, they are mutually incompatible. So at least, most of them must be wrong, and if most are wrong, then it’s a small step to suggest all are wrong.

These ancient texts were written when our knowledge and moral sophistication was a lot more primitive than it is now. The New Testament is more progressive than the Old Testament; enlightenment values are more progressive again.

Today, most Abrahamic theists – Jews, Christians and Muslims – ignore large tracts of their texts because these texts are clearly wrong where they try to explain, and clearly cruel where they try to prescribe moral codes. We know the world was not created in six days. We know the Earth revolves around the sun. We know the size and age of the Universe, and how different species came to populate the planet. Women are not “unclean” when they menstruate, nor are they inferior, and slavery should not be condoned.

We choose to ignore or accept selected parts of ancient texts because we have developed scientific understanding and moral sophistication that is independent of religion. It is accurate to say we don’t learn from religion, but we learn despite religion.

Posted: June 1st 2007

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