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My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions
The Bible presents us with an evolving story, writes John Shelby Spong.
December 29th, 2011
09:10 AM ET

My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions

Editor’s note: John Shelby Spong, a former Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, is author of "Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World."

By John Shelby Spong, Special to CNN

The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon to which lip service is still paid in the Western world. Yet when the Bible is talked about in public by both believers and critics, it becomes clear that misconceptions abound.

To me, three misconceptions stand out and serve to make the Bible hard to comprehend.

First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it.

The facts are that Abraham, the biblically acknowledged founding father of the Jewish people, whose story forms the earliest content of the Bible, died about 900 years before the first story of Abraham was written in the Old Testament.

Actually, that's not in the Bible

Can a defining tribal narrative that is passed on orally for 45 generations ever be regarded as history, at least as history is understood today?

Moses, the religious genius who put his stamp on the religion of the Old Testament more powerfully than any other figure, died about 300 years before the first story of Moses entered the written form we call Holy Scripture.

This means that everything we know about Moses in the Bible had to have passed orally through about 15 generations before achieving written form. Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Jesus of Nazareth, according to our best research, lived between the years 4 B.C. and A.D. 30. Yet all of the gospels were written between the years 70 to 100 A.D., or 40 to 70 years after his crucifixion, and they were written in Greek, a language that neither Jesus nor any of his disciples spoke or were able to write.

Are the gospels then capable of being effective guides to history? If we line up the gospels in the time sequence in which they were written - that is, with Mark first, followed by Matthew, then by Luke and ending with John - we can see exactly how the story expanded between the years 70 and 100.

For example, miracles do not get attached to the memory of Jesus story until the eighth decade. The miraculous birth of Jesus is a ninth-decade addition; the story of Jesus ascending into heaven is a 10th-decade narrative.

In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ’s hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.

Perhaps the most telling witness against the claim of accurate history for the Bible comes when we read the earliest narrative of the crucifixion found in Mark’s gospel and discover that it is not based on eyewitness testimony at all.

My Take: Yes, the Bible really condemns homosexuality

Instead, it’s an interpretive account designed to conform the story of Jesus’ death to the messianic yearnings of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The Bible interprets life from its particular perspective; it does not record in a factual way the human journey through history.

The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense “the word of God.” Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim. The Bible portrays God as hating the Egyptians, stopping the sun in the sky to allow more daylight to enable Joshua to kill more Amorites and ordering King Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites.

Can these acts of immorality ever be called “the word of God”? The book of Psalms promises happiness to the defeated and exiled Jews only when they can dash the heads of Babylonian children against the rocks! Is this “the word of God? What kind of God would that be?

The Bible, when read literally, calls for the execution of children who are willfully disobedient to their parents, for those who worship false gods, for those who commit adultery, for homosexual persons and for any man who has sex with his mother-in-law, just to name a few.

The Bible exhorts slaves to be obedient to their masters and wives to be obedient to their husbands. Over the centuries, texts like these, taken from the Bible and interpreted literally, have been used as powerful and evil weapons to support killing prejudices and to justify the cruelest kind of inhumanity.

The third major misconception is that biblical truth is somehow static and thus unchanging. Instead, the Bible presents us with an evolutionary story, and in those evolving patterns, the permanent value of the Bible is ultimately revealed.

It was a long road for human beings and human values to travel between the tribal deity found in the book of Exodus, who orders the death of the firstborn male in every Egyptian household on the night of the Passover, until we reach an understanding of God who commands us to love our enemies.

The transition moments on this journey can be studied easily. It was the prophet named Hosea, writing in the eighth century B.C., who changed God’s name to love. It was the prophet named Amos who changed God’s name to justice. It was the prophet we call Jonah who taught us that the love of God is not bounded by the limits of our own ability to love.

It was the prophet Micah who understood that beautiful religious rituals and even lavish sacrifices were not the things that worship requires, but rather “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” It was the prophet we call Malachi, writing in the fifth century B.C., who finally saw God as a universal experience, transcending all national and tribal boundaries.

One has only to look at Christian history to see why these misconceptions are dangerous. They have fed religious persecution and religious wars. They have fueled racism, anti-female biases, anti-Semitism and homophobia.They have fought against science and the explosion of knowledge.

The ultimate meaning of the Bible escapes human limits and calls us to a recognition that every life is holy, every life is loved, and every life is called to be all that that life is capable of being. The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human. It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves.

That is why I treasure this book and why I struggle to reclaim its essential message for our increasingly non-religious world.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Shelby Spong.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (6,068 Responses)
  1. RedRussian

    oh sean I'm so sorry to disappoint you, but you could wish me all the hellfire you want, but you don't believe in that so you're wishing is about empty as you so you got something better?

    December 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      No need. I already have my victory, even if you don't realize it.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  2. RedRussian

    Jim and what would you know about being Christ-like? I don't pretend to be someone I'm not, especially these so called enlightened, intellectual atheists who are no better or smarter than you.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jim

      I have never claimed to be superior, either thru my studies or my lack of beliefs, I am only curious to what others believe and why. The religious however...

      December 30, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  3. RedRussian

    oh that's too tame sean, way too tame, you gotta say it with FEELING, the kind of real vitriol you and your atheist brothers and sisters really feel, come on you disappoint me.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      That's OK. Your inability to find the "Reply" link disappoints me. Guess we're even.

      I suppose I could wish eternal torment on both you and Muslims, which would seem to fit your criteria, but that seems a little extreme for just being a victim of your own human frailty.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Jim

      No vitriol here, just curious how this many people can still believe in magic after their tenth birthday.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Jim -
      I saw Shimada perform at the Wilshire Ebell theater when I was eleven and I really wanted to believe -

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGGOaUX_HRA&w=640&h=390]

      Cheers.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  4. The Truth shall set you free

    Only those who are humble, meek, and have a good heart can understand the bible. God (who has a name and encourages us to use it, (Ps 83:18) put it that way. That's why the intellects can't get it., there not supposed to. Look at Abraham, he was unlettered and ordinary, yet his God used him. Sorry people if you think this is a made up story, or even a fable as some of you believe, Wake up it's not, it's history. No one knows when that time is coming for the day of Gods war, (only him), but when it comes, will you be ready? Or will you be begging for mercy? I can really understand why some of you feel abandon by what you learn in your church, you've been lied to. Not told the accurate truth, we all have been. But there are millions of those out there trying to reach you. and when they come knocking will you listen? When you shut your doors in there faces, and laugh in the foreground, do you know you are being marked for destruction? Do you realize when you reject these holy persons, your rejecting the only true God? Listen up! When Gods war comes, no flesh will be saved(that aren't serving him) and that's because you've had your chance to prove to whom you belong too. Either you make it, or you don't. (Those in Opposition of Him.) That's why your allowed to still breathe. He (God) knows he still has some people out there who's situation will change. His patience is only going to last for so long though. (He's name will be vindicated and santicified)

    December 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • One one

      Which god are you referring to?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Kevin

      One One, There is only one true God in the Bible. His name has been removed by many translations outside of the NWT. But the new King James version has restored His name after removing it for 400 years! http://dnkjb.net/ That name is Jehovah. He alone is your Creator believe it or not, nothing can change that reality.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • ashrakay

      "obey or suffer eternal damnation"... Sorry god, but I don't respond well to threats. God must be held accountable for his atrocities against women, children and the rest of mankind. We as moral, reasoning creatures cannot allow his rampant murdering and attempted genocide to go unpunished.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • St John Baptist

      REVELATION CHAPTER 13: THE MARK OF THE BEASTS – THE MARK OF THE DEVIL. HUMANS – NAMES – NUMBERS = 6 6 6 – RELIGION – MAN – SCIENCE = 6 6 6. Rev 13:8.

      Yahweh 6 Jehovah 13 Lord 17 Krishna 24 Brahma 30 Allah 35 Big bang 42 the forty two months the devil was allowed to rule the world, 6 x 6 + 6 = The mark of the beast.

      The seven heads of the beast with the blasphemy name on his seven heads [God].

      Satan is the father of deceit, slavery and death. Adam the dragon is the original serpent. The Lord Yahweh started the whole religion confusion. And Diablo is not the Italian car.

      Yahweh 6 dragon 6 Diablo 6 = 18/3 = 6 6 6. The mark.
      Satan 5 the Lord 7 Yahweh 6 = 18/3 = 6 6 6. The mark.
      Jehovah-7 dragon-6 Satan-5 = 18/3 = 6 6 6. The mark.
      The devil 1 Adam 2 and Eve 3 = 18/3 = 6 6 6. The mark.
      Religion-1 Name-2 Number-3 = 18/3 = 6 6 6 The mark.

      All written religion = 18/3 = 6 6 6 Satan the devil’s mark.

      Remember this: it was Adam {the dragon} who invented and named all the animals.

      Sixty-six books bible = 18 you got Sixty-six1 books2 bible3 = 18/3 = 6 6 6 The mark.

      39 books old test. 27 books new test. = 6 6 books. [15] Deuteronomy’s books = 6 6 6.

      Jewish = Hebrew slaves. R Catholic Church = R Universal Empire. Chris-tian = anti-Christ.

      This is the confusion side of the Jewish, Catholic and Christian religion, Help yourselves.
      Now the other side of human Science.

      Big bang 7 matter 13 antimatter 23 action 29 reaction 37 evolution 46 scientist 55 and research 6 6 + future = 6 6 6 the mark.

      Gender-1 Humans-2 Nature-3 = 18/3 = 6 6 6 The mark.
      Humans1 Hames2 Numbers3 = 18/3 = 6 6 6 The mark. Science-1 Name-2 Numbers-3 = 18/3 = 6 6 6 The mark.

      There is two beast one on Rev: 13:1 and one on Rev 13:11 no human being wants to nor exist without name and numbers.

      REV: 13:16 everybody is marked by the devil, even before is brought into this world, no matter if you want to pick your own words or names, he will6 get you6 number6 = 6 6 6 … Satan-5 the devils-9 mark-4 = 6 6 6.

      REV: Churches-8 Angels-6 spirits-7 Seals-5 Generations-11 Bowls-5 The Word = 49 / 7 = 7777777 The seal of the living God.

      7 Churches: 1-Jewish, 2-Catholic, 3-Christian, 4-Hindu, 5-Buddhist, 6-Muslim, 7 Atheist.

      7 Angels: 1-Moses, 3-Elijah, 3-Paul, 4-Abraham, 5-Buddha, 6-Mohammed, 7-Jesus Christ.

      7 Spirits: 1-Love, 2-wisdom, 3-power, 4-faith, 5-freedom, 6-sacrifice, 7-resurrection.

      7 Seals: 1-creation, 2-the law, 3-prophets, 4-written’s, 5-gospel, 6-letters, 7-Revelation.

      7 Truth generations of Father’s creation and the seven day rest.

      7 Bowls with the seven wraths of God waiting for humanity.

      7 The last seven words of Jesus Christ on the cross and [the word]. 7777777 = The seal of the living God = 21 / 3 = 7 7 7.

      Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth, I did not come to bring peace on earth but a sword.

      Genesis 3:24, Matthew 26:51-52, Luke 2:35, 21:24, 22:36 38,
      Hebrews 4:11-13, Rev. 1:16,- 2:12,16,- 6:4,8,- 13:10,14,- 19:15,16,- 19:21.

      January 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  5. RedRussian

    yeah mark you are real man, Christians don't live in fear they live by faith, Christians are murdered, imprisoned, and tortured every day and they still live by their faith, i dare you to risk your life for a cause, in fact why don't you say to Muslim what you so to me here? Throw your pathetic insults to a Muslim, are you brave enough? you and your kind are chicken sh@$t whiners, you can insult and mock Christians, but you won't mock or insult Muslims, you see life in such small pathetic terms, so if you die and find out there is a God you willing to face the consequences? you're all mouth and hollow balls, you pride yourself on your intellect? you'll probably go senile in your old age and then you'll just be a moron.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Jim

      Wow, Christ-like indeed...

      December 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Muslims are just as idiotic as you are.

      Happy?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  6. Chris

    There is a millstone waiting for this guy. He is a liar. The article is filled with lies. He wants you to listen to him and not God. Making himself God. Same trick the devil uses. Don't listen. When you stand before God one day, this guy won't be there with you. It will be a one on One. Read the book he doesn't believe in and pray to the God who this man mocks, and God will give you the proof you seek. Just like the blind man... I don't know about all these things, but I was blind and now I see.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Wyatt

      Way to make yourself paranoid about listening to what others have to say. Anything opposing your radical beliefs comes from the devil? Well, aren't you just a God warrior. It's people that say things like what you did that encourages a lot of others to become atheists because your judgment is so clouded, but you won't accept that that's the case because you're paranoid the devil has something to do with it. Please don't have kids, it's abuse to mentally damage them with such fear.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Fab S.

      Right on Chris. Couldn't have said it any better. God bless you and yours in 2012.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  7. Kathy

    John Spong has been a heretics for years and years.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  8. lori

    A non-religious world? Mars? This is more liberal apologist clap trap and only slightly more tolerable than the promises and threats given by a biblical literalist.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  9. David

    You forget to mention the most important fallacy: that believing in the bible literally or at all is necessary for salvation. It is one's behavior that is important, and the Bible CAN act as a guide in a positive way or a negative way as you point out.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Fab S.

      David, if it's based on works and not faith, how did the murderer who was crucified next to Jesus get into heaven?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Jim

      @Fab S.
      Matthew and John never really mentions the others crucified, in Mark both of them mocked Jesus, only Luke claims that one of them will go to heaven.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Kathy

      If it was MERELY one's behavior that counted for salvation, Jesus would not have given the stinging warning in Matthew 7: 21-27. He warned that he will say to some, "I never knew you – away from me you evildoers!" Notice that these are ones who come to him talking about all the fine things they have done in His name.

      It is JESUS who decides, not us, who gets into heaven. And the "ticket" is knowledge of Jesus, obedience to Jesus, repentance for one's sin(s).

      December 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  10. Medhat The Coptic

    I feel sorry for such personal opinions get openly and publicly published.
    My take is as follow:
    1- If the believer author believes in Jesus Christ, why Jesus mentioned these stories about profits when he came on earth and why he invited Moses and Elijah when he took Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain. I believe that Jesus should have been the first to correct any misleading information in the Old Testament when he came. Especially if it has been orally transmitted over 45 generations. If you don’t believe in J. C. , please ignore my comment.
    2- Before building ideas about contradictions because of the time elapsed between the 4 gospels when they were written, please dig into comparisons from earlier fathers. You will easily notice that the most of the "contradictions" are simply the result of the way the writer chose to tell the same story. Having Mark non including physical appearances of the risen JC does not deny the appearances written later on in other gospels.
    3- Before reading about wars and killings and start judging God and the word of God, please understand the context of the time during which stories has happened. Don’t tell me that invading Iraq that resulted in many killing is act of Evil. Every generation has its own context.
    4- Please accept my opinion on what you wrote: The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves" in
    I DON'T CARE ABOUT BEING MY MOST COMPLETE SELVE. I RATHER CARE ABOUT LIVING THIS TEMPORARY LIFE IN GOD'S PAHT TOWARD A BETTER ETERNAL LIFE. If God showed me the path, I persever in following his path. Researching more in human history and putting doubts on the bible will not help much a non-beleiver. PLEASE SHOW PEOPLE THE PATH OF GOD AND TEACH THEM TO LOOK FORE THEIR ETERNAL LIFE INSTEAD OF PUTTING DOUBTS ON THE BOOK THAT THEY DO NOT BELEIVE IN YET. I invite you to discuss with Orthodox churches to get clarifications before publishing this type of text. I encourage you NOT to agree with anything you do not like and ask different groups or fathers. I do the same and I'm happy with this.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Bob

      MTC, rE "context", so you actually think the horrid and wasteful animal sacrifice that your bible demands was OK, at any time in history?

      Sick god you've made for yourself there, and the old context excuse doesn't pass mustard seeds.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Debra

      Hey Bob – don't forget, God also commanded there to be human sacrifices – Abraham/Isaac (aborted) and Jesus.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Gawwwwwwd

    When famine and disease kill infants and when earthquakes, car wrecks, tsunamis and airplane crashes crush, maim and dismember their tiny newborn bodies, you can trust me when I say, they had it coming.
    -Gaaawwwwd

    December 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  12. Kevin

    The 4 biggest biblical misconceptions

    (2 Timothy 3:16) 16 “All Scripture is inspired of God” . . . This shoots the writers “generation” gap into nonexistence. God see’s everything and has had what He wants us to know written as He wants it to be written and preserved for our benefit even through Bible and people burnings! (Romans 15:4) 4 For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, . . .

    God’s name REMOVED: the Tetragrammaton occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew text printed in Biblia Hebraica and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. The very frequency of the appearance of the name attests to its importance to the Bible’s Author, whose name it is. Why if so many times God put His personal name in His instructions to us, ALL religions have taken it out of His book? What man-made reason is there that supercedes Gods? In one word, apostasy. Satan is very real and does not want you to know anything about the true God. The NWT never removed Gods name. And now the new King James version “The Divine Name King James Bible” has restored Gods name! Finally after 400 years! http://dnkjb.net/

    The word trinity does not exist in the Bible. It is a man-made doctrine. The New Encyclopædia Britannica says: “Neither the word Trinity, nor the explicit doctrine as such, appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Old Testament: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord’ (Deut. 6:4). . . . The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies. . . . By the end of the 4th century . . . the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since.”—(1976), Micropædia, Vol. X, p. 126. . . . Hint: By the end of the 4th century the Bible had already been written. It was being rewritten to support the new trinity doctrine that leads away from the true God.

    Hell fire is not a Bible teaching. Removing the words Sheol hades and Gehenna then replacing them with the word hell opened the apostasy door teaching that God is a mean, cruel and unjust God which can’t be any farther from the truth about Him. Man is not immortal as Satan tried to convince Eve and apostasy continued teaching. The Bible simply states as God did with Adam and Eve that the wages of sin is death, end of story for rebellion, but everlasting life for the obedient. The dead know nothing so what purpose would a hell have? (Ecclesiastes 9:5) 5 For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, . . .

    Satan has led the human race away from the true God but He can still be found.(Acts 17:27) 27 “for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us”. . . . He sends His servants to your house regularly, why not open the door next time and find out what the “Bible” really teaches rather than listening to man. (Jeremiah 10:23) 23 I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • The Truth shall set you free

      You know about Jehovah's Witnessess?

      December 30, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Kevin

      The Truth shall set you free, a little. I am one.

      December 31, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  13. Audrey Pedersen

    I have always believed that the Bible was able to show us the maturation of humanity in relation to a living, loving God.
    It is as if each generation wrestles with the same basic problems dressed differently in each age but leading ultimately to drawing one nearer to faith in God or maintaining only faith in self. Just because we know more today doesn't negate the truths in some of the earliest stories. It is important to understand that the word of God works with your mind to help you.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Bob

      Audrey, and don't forget that bloody goat sacrifice that your horrid bible god demands that you do. Yes, Jeebus said the OT laws still apply, so get on it.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Don Camp

      @Bob. The bloody "horrid" sacrifices were exactly the point. They reminded the Israelites regularly that sin was just this awful. And they prepared the way for the ultimate sacrifice that alone would provide forgiveness of sin – Jesus and the cross. Don't think that was pretty.

      BTW though the Law was not abolished, it was satisfied. The sacrifice of Christ satisfied the Law and made further sacrifices unnecessary.

      Probably the most misunderstood part of the Bible is the Law. It merits serious study. One thing even Christians miss is that the Ten Commandments were intended to be a blessing, not a burden. There were penalties, of course, but they pertain to Israel and the land. The Law was never meant to be a means of salvation for individuals. That has always been based on fiath/trust in God's mercy. In any event, the penalties have been satisfied in Christ. Only the blessing remains.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Do U Know-Religion imposed on others, elsewhere

    I don't know about this Country in a large scale (bcos I think most of America is christian), but definitely Religion (Christianity) is imposed/forced/brainwashed/convinced on some/many people who are week/poor/with-health-problems in most of the Poor and developing countries. I know one one case (in my own family) where this person(XY) was suffering from curable disease, but was suffering from for a long time as there was no access to modern ("English" or Western) medicine in our village. XY is uneducated and a simple person. Then came the first Doctor & the Nurse who started treating XY. This Person (XY) was first treated with ineffective/Low Dose/expired western medicine which really didn't help that much to cure her(XY) disease. Then the NURSE introduced XY to the Bible (and Christinaty) and the insisted XY to practise Christinity and see if her disease was cured after following the Bible/God. XY decided to give it a try as her Nurse insisted. And, from then onwards XY got good dose (& the Right) medicine for her disease. Miracle! Her (XY) disease is cured and XY started to believe that she was touched by GOD and so she was cured now. Later, XY enjoyed many financial/material/other benefits (from Church) and XY thinks that it all happening because of her conversion and following new religion. (it was the Money and Material Goods did the trick here, as we know it. But, If we see the Big-Picture it all a dirty game played by a few individuals.)

    This is a true story happened in my village. This incident is the proof for me and its proved for me. You don't have to believe me if you don't want to.

    I am not against Christianity. But I am against such Religious-Conversions.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  15. Mark P. Kessinger

    What those commenters here who think what Bp. Spong is saying is "controversial" fail to realize is that most of it has been taught in mainline seminaries for decades. But alas, too many clergy are afraid of challenging their parishioners' medievel outlook.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Al

      Like a lot of fields, the experts have to explain things in simple terms for their less-expert clients.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  16. Chad

    Pulling apart another section:
    "This means that everything we know about Moses in the Bible had to have passed orally through about 15 generations before achieving written form. Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?"

    so, obviously you are speculating as you have NO IDEA if the Moses narrative in the bible was or was not embellished. That you fall on the wrong side of that speculation demonstrates your bias AGAINST the historicity of the bible, that's just a fact right? You wouldn't be able to deny that.

    Couple points:
    1. There has never been a case where a historical detail of the bible has been proven incorrect. There are of course many unconfirmed (as yet) historical details which is obviously to be expected. But the key is no historical detail has ever been proved inaccurate. Given that, why would your bias be against the historicity?

    2. Ancient Jews were unequaled preservers of information, that is just a historical fact. Provide one ancient writing that has been preserved as the bible has? You cant, that's just a fact. Given that, why would your bias be against the historicity?

    3. The God of Abraham is real and takes an active hand in preserving the details of the biblical narratives, again, that's just a fact. Given that, why would your bias be against the historicity?

    I can only conclude based on the evidence you are providing and the bias you have clearly demonstrated, that you do not believe in the God of Abraham or His Son Jesus Christ, or His Holy Spirit.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Jim

      Proven incorrect? That's tough. For example, all but the most Orthodox of Jews concede that the exodus of the Jews from Egypt never happened the way it is described. There is no evidence in the Sinai of that many people wandering for that many years. Does it prove it didn't happen? No. But when you look at evidence it appears extremely unlikely.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Very well said (I mean written) Chad...

      I particularly support your 3rd point, as I was about to comment here regarding God's power, the same awesome power He had in creating the universe, our world and us, that same power He continues to have to conserve His word and message of Truth to us intact.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • nopelol

      Chad, you're stating your opinion and faith as fact.

      ie; "the god of abraham is real."

      You cannot prove that. If you could, I'm sure everyone on this planet would love to see that tangible, concrete proof.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      nopelol...
      So, how many times does Jesus Christ have to be born again here no earth for you to believe God is real? Man only lives once and dies once. Even when He walked on this earth, performed miracles, healed the sick, fed thousands with a few piees of edibles, people still didn't believe. And of course now you'll write, "But there's no proof that Jesus actually did all those things." There's also no proof that anyone has seen anything actually evolve for millions and millions of years out of nothing. But many many unevolved people still believe in that. Guess it takes pure faith to believe in anything, right?

      December 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Al

      Jim is right. New evidence that comes to light paints a different series of events then that of the Bible narrative. Up until recently there wasn't any real evidence that the Kingdom of David ever even existed. Now it appears that it may have, albeit on a much smaller scale than what's described in the Bible. Everything before David still isn't supported by the evidence. Defenders of the Bible's literal history seem to point to the lack of evidence that states boldly that frauds were constructed intentionally, as if any such evidence would even exist. Something like a text stating that people are making up stuff and getting it accepted as scripture. Honestly, who would have written anything like that?

      December 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Al

      BoldGeorge
      Do some research on miracles and healings in the ancient world. Lots of characters and religious leaders are reported to have done things like these similar to Jesus.

      BTW The fossil record and other evidences do indicate an evolutionary path for life on this planet. Deny it if you wish, but you cannot successfully debunk it.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Chad

      All: the fact that no historical detail in the bible has ever been proven incorrect is strong evidence for the authenticity of the entire content. That's just reality. That is precisely the analysis that a historian uses when evaluating any ancient doc ument. Fact.

      @Al "BTW The fossil record and other evidences do indicate an evolutionary path for life on this planet. Deny it if you wish, but you cannot successfully debunk it."

      =>Darwins gradual mutation has been rejected by the scientific community because the fossil record didnt support it.
      “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.” Stephen Jay Gould
      neo-Darwinism "...as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy," Stephen Jay Gould

      The fossil record shows millions of years of stable species, then an explosion of necessary mutations, all occurring at the precise necessary time required for complex organisms to develop, and ALL escaping fossilization [punctuated equilibrium - wikipedia]
      “the sudden appearance of most species in the geologic record and the lack of evidence of substantial gradual change in most species—from their initial appearance until their extinction—has long been noted, including by Charles Darwin who appealed to the imperfection of the record as the favored explanation” – Wikipedia

      An atheist needs to believe that ALL species, every single one, millions of them “evolved” along this pattern: nothing happens for millions of years, then in a time period short enough to ALWAYS escape fossilization ALL of the mutations occur, precisely orchestrated such that complex organs can develop. All speciations always obey that fantastically improbable sequence.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      Al...
      I hate to put it to you so boldly (hence, BoldGeorge) but nothing in the bible has ever been debunked. Many have tried but it just hasn't happen (and to my belief, it never will). Time and again there have been more modern archeological finds that give plain proof of bible history and statements. You say so yourself here, by your own admission that :
      "Up until recently there wasn't any real evidence that the Kingdom of David ever even existed. Now it appears that it may have, albeit on a much smaller scale than what's described in the Bible. Everything before David still isn't supported by the evidence."

      You contradict yourself by writing "Now it appears it may have, albeit on a much smaller scale than what's described in the Bible." Smaller scale??? As opposed to what? What grander scale were you waiting for from an ancient archeological discovery? I'm sure you're talking about the Philistine find, right? And I'm sure their looking for David's slingshot to "really-really" see if it was all real.

      Scientists find a buried pinky bone and they immediately describe how the whole body was and how it died. And then they conclude that it was our ancestors...only to be debunked by other scientists that it was a chimpanzee bone decades old.

      Again, the bible has never been debunked. Every biblical prophecy will be fulfilled and some already have. Let me know if you want to find out which ones.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • One one

      @Chad. So which of these historic detailed is correct?

      – II Chronicles 22:2 “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.” [KJV]
      – II Kings 8:26 “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.”

      December 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      One one...
      They are one and the same amount of time. Read other versions of the bible like Standard American, NKJV, etc., and the verses will show the same amount of time of Ahaziah's reign. Funny you chose KJV to try to discredit the bible. KJ has many ways to say the same thing. Anything else?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • One one

      @boldgeorge. Anything else? Well, a few more.

      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)

      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)

      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)

      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)

      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)

      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)

      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)

      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)

      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)

      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)

      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)

      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)

      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)

      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)

      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)

      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)

      How many singers accompanied the assembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      December 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @One one: In all cases, I'll side with Nehemiah because it's...wait for it...

      "Better Than Ezra"

      December 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @One one -

      Nicely done; however, you (and all non-believers, myself included) are fighting a losing battle with minds like those of "BoldGeorge" and "Chad". Consider these nonsensical statements by "Chad":

      - "I dismiss all other gods other than the God of Abraham because the God of Abraham has told me that they aren't real."

      - "The Genesis account stands alone amongst all creation stories of the time, a fact universally acknowledged...We are only know [sic] beginning to scientifically discover how accurate it is indeed."

      - "Every book that purports to accurately record history needs to be examined critically for internal consistency and for its accuracy in detail. The bible succeeds on all accounts."

      And, what is Chad’s response when he is "called out" for making the patently ridiculous statements? ...

      - "do you actually have any data whatsoever refuting any of those statements of fact?"

      ...as though the burden of proof does not reside with the side making the unsupported (and ridiculous) claim. This is the kind of irrational, illogical, "magical" thinking we're up against. Best to just call-them-out and wait for the flood of nonsense.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad – hijacking Gould's theory of punctuated equilibrium in support of your christian apologetics nonsense deserves ridicule. Get this straight Chad – punctual equilibrium is a theory of evolution explaining speciation by NATURAL causes. Your quote mining (usually from Wikipedia – what a rube) and plagiarism are transparent, disingenuous, and dishonest...either that or you truly are incapable of understanding scientific theory. Anyone who has read ANY of Gould's (a non-believer) works on the subject knows that only a fool or liar would attempt to use them as support for supernatural superst.ition.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Chad

      As usual, you miss the mark on every point..

      @Really-O? "Get this straight Chad – punctual equilibrium is a theory of evolution explaining speciation by NATURAL causes."

      =>I make the same exact point every time you bring this up, and it never seems to penetrate...
      PE acknowledges that the fossil record reflects stasis, and does NOT reflect the gradualism that Darwin proposed. Fact.
      An atheist needs to believe that ALL species, every single one, millions of them “evolved” along this pattern: nothing happens for millions of years, then in a time period short enough to ALWAYS escape fossilization ALL of the mutations occur, precisely orchestrated such that complex organs can develop. All speciations always obey that fantastically improbable sequence. FACT

      @Really-O? Your quote mining (usually from Wikipedia – what a rube) and plagiarism are transparent, disingenuous, and dishonest...either that or you truly are incapable of understanding scientific theory. "
      =>interesting... you criticize a person for providing data based evidence for claims made.. interesting..

      @Really-O? "Anyone who has read ANY of Gould's (a non-believer) works on the subject knows that only a fool or liar would attempt to use them as support for supernatural superst.ition"
      =>again with the name calling... You criticize those that provide fact based, citation based evidence.. and feel you have made a good refutation by engaging in name calling..

      interesting point of view

      December 30, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Chad

      @One one So which of these historic detailed is correct? – II Chronicles 22:2 “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.” [KJV]– II Kings 8:26 “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem.”"

      =>good question, data based, no name calling.
      1. The Bible is the perfect word of God in it's original form (Hebrew in this case – OT)
      2. I did some research and it does not appear that the difference Chronicles vs Kings was a scribal error, so the text was written that way
      3. There is a complete run down here [http://www.febc.edu.sg/VPP4.htm], but basically it boils down to Ahaziah was anointed king at age 22—he finally sat on the throne of Judah 20 years at age 42.
      It's two different ways of measuring something.. and extremely common in the bible.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Keith

      One one, you need to go to page 15 and look at the exchange between myself, LinCA,(and others) regarding these so called "discrepancies".

      December 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Keith

      Al, It would appear that you are an atheist and as such you may be privy to some "miracles" in you2Th 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

      2Th 2:9 [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

      2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

      2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

      2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
      r lifetime:
      unless you repent of your sins and call upon the name of Jesus for salvation, you may actually see this event. And sadly you and others who have rejected the Truth will believe the anti-christ's lie.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Keith

      Chad, they miss the mark, but I'm afraid they will all willingly receive the "mark".

      December 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad –
      Your assertions regarding the theory of punctual equilibrium demonstrate either that you truly don’t understand the theory (for example, you claim the theory denies the existence of transitional fossils and is in opposition to neo-Darwinian natural selection, both of which are patently false) or that you truly are (here comes the name calling) a liar and/or a fool.
      Here’s a bit of edification regarding punctual equilibrium, just for you Chad…and this comes straight from the horses-mouth, Mr. Stephen Jay Gould…No ridiculous copy/past from Wikipedia (how many times must you be told Wikipedia is not an authoritative source before you stop embarrassing yourself?).
      From Stephen Jay Gould:
      ‘We wrote under the heading "Invalid claims of gradualism made at the wrong scale": "The model of punctuated equilibria does not maintain that nothing occurs gradually at any level of evolution. It is a theory about speciation and its deployment in the fossil record. It claims that an important pattern, continuous at higher levels—the 'classic' macroevolutionary trend—is a consequence of punctuation in the evolution of species. It does not deny that allopatric speciation occurs gradually in ecological time, but only asserts that this scale is a geological microsecond."’ (Gould and Eldredge, 1977)

      "Punctuated equilibrium is not a theory of macromutation…it is not a theory of any genetic process…It is a theory about larger-scale patterns-the geometry of speciation in geological time. As with ecologically rapid modes of speciation, punctuated equilibrium welcomes macromutation as a source for the initiation of species: the faster the better. But punctuated equilibrium clearly does not require or imply macromutation, since it was formulated as the expected geological consequence of Mayrian allopatry." (Gould, 1982)

      December 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Really-O?

      An amendment –
      I meant no disrespect by referring to Stephen Jay Gould as "Mr."...of course, I should have used Professor Gould. That said, Chad's corruption – for his own warped, archaic agenda – of the work and words of some of the 20th century's greatest scientific minds is not only disrespectful, but abhorrent. You shouldn't get a pass for your nonsense Chad, and, given the opportunity, Dawkins, Hawking, Krauss, – and if they were still with us – Galileo, Darwin, and Gould would tear you to shreds.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Hey...let's see how long it takes Chad to cobble together another frantic, nonsensical, copy/paste response full of the all of the incoherent "data" he believes make an argument. Ticktock...ticktock...ticktock Chad.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      One one, if you do go to page 15 you will see that Keith answered nothing. But he did do a lot of ducking and diving.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @HotAirAce –

      I checked out page 15 and your assessment is spot on. Why is it that fundies believe folderol suffices as argument?

      December 30, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Keith

      one one, HAA, Really-O, Allow me to debunk another one: Gen 6:19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every [sort] shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep [them] alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

      Gen 6:20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every [sort] shall come unto thee, to keep [them] alive.

      Gen 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that [are] not clean by two, the male and his female.

      Gen 7:3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
      Gen 7:8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that [are] not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,

      Gen 7:9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
      So what's the problem? Did you read the text?

      December 31, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Chad

      @Really-O? "you claim the theory denies the existence of transitional fossils"
      =>"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." – Stephen Jay Gould

      @Really-O? "[you claim Punctuated Equilibrium] is in opposition to neo-Darwinian natural selection"
      =>"neo-Darwinism as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy," – Stephen Jay Gould
      =>"Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the process we profess to study." – Stephen Jay Gould

      as you can see, I personally don't have to refute your nonsense, Gould already did...
      As you know, Gould was no creationist, he merely stated what the "scientific" community had willfully ignored for a hundred years vainly pursuing their "we don't need the God of Abraham" non-data based atheistic belief.

      The further science progresses, the more the necessity of God's hand in our universe becomes understood.

      December 31, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  17. BoldGeorge

    The only thing this article and its author supports and promotes is non-accountability. 9 out 10 times I hear people say that God is love, God is good, God is benevolent and God wouldn't send people to hell...oh how I wish it were that simple and convenient!. Of course, these are people who forget (most times willfully) that because He is a God of love, He cannot allow sin, unholiness, hatred and rebellion into His kingdom. And He cannot allow anyone to eternally dwell with Him in heaven who does not recognize their sinfulness and rebellion towards Him and who hasn't repented from their sinful lifestyle, and has not been transformed from the inside and who has not fully received and trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Redeemer. He cannot allow anyone in unless it's through Jesus Christ. He is not a God of love unless He is also a Holy God, a God of Justice and then the obvious.....LOVE requires a relationship, doesn't it?

    December 30, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Debra

      Actually, George, God COULD allow any of those things. He just chooses not to. He created the world and the people in it, right? If he's capable of that, he's capable of making those some people without the desire to "sin." But no.....God decided to let us have "free will" and then we all have to suffer the consequences. What a loving god! Let me just say that if the god of the bible is true, I wouldn't worship him for one second. He created a world that is full of suffering and then stands back and says, "Well, look what YOU did, you silly humans."

      December 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Brandon

      @Debra-If GOD had not given us free-will would we not be zombies doing exactly as he wanted at all times? He wanted us to be able to choose to follow him not force us to. If you recall he created the earth perfectly and walked around on it with people until the devil, also a created being with the freedom to choose what to do, tricked the women into sinning which lays the burden of sin and corruption and evil in this world on humans solely. Your comment reminds me of just how selfish humans are with their inability to accept responsibility for thei own actions. I bet you would say someone forced you to swear, steal, lie or cheat if caught. He shows us he is good by allowing things to happen so we know what happens when we go against him. Without evil, wouldn't good look boring and average? If evil was not allowed to exist temporarily would you truely know what goodness was?

      January 1, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  18. Atir the Crone

    If there is no higher power, who do I thank? Will I have to believe that good things that happen are random? But then who can I blame for the (injustice) truly horrendous things that befall humanity? Stuff just happens?

    December 30, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Hey, there's hope for you yet.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Al

      Sometimes good things are random, and sometimes they are the product of good planning just as bad things are sometimes random and the product of someone else's planning. You can be generally thankful of coming out more or less ahead without having to justify the illogic of being thankful to a deity for both your good and bad fortune.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • The Truth shall set you free

      Blame Satan for the wicked evil deeds, Because Jehovah God is Love! Satan is angry because he only has a short time here on this earth before he is destroyed, and he's gonna take as many followers with him, you can believe that. All Opposers of Jehovah, won't make it.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  19. Zak

    I think any religious "scholar" that shows up here to have a conversation needs to understand a few things. Most of us here are just looking to laugh at your reactions because we've long ago written off this type of faith. There are a few who are legitimately looking to spread the word of their beliefs – and that, in my opinion, is fine, but also a bit desperate if you ask me. If you need to come online and disagree with a journalist who is clearly well-versed on the subject and is actually defending the bible, you probably have some deep-rooted doubts that you're not willing to face. That's why people who are highly religious discuss this sort of thing constantly. It's just an effort to see that others have similar beliefs and it buoys your faith for the moment. Faith is something that constantly needs to be fed or else it inevitably dies. I understand that you're coming here to feed your faith and hopefully spur a nice debate where you can feel superior in the end. But, think about that for a second. Doesn't it seem a little sad? And NO, I do NOT want to get into a debate with you here. PLEASE, I beg of you, just take this post as a means to focus on some self-reflection. I don't want to hear any biblical quotes, no stupid verses, let me make it 100% clear – I AM NOT INTERESTED. I'm not condemning your beliefs – they are just, simply put, not mine. And that is not going to change.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Don Camp

      I appreciate your candidness, Zak. I recognize that most of those who post here have "written off this type of faith," though I am not sure what you mean by "this type of faith." However, if I were to guess based on the comments of many I'd say you've written off mindless fidelism and fundamentalism (whatever that means).Is that right?

      The reason I post here is to present a more thoughtful version of faith, a faith I've come to through years of testing, study and thought. I don't sense in myself a need to feel superior. I don't need to win. I don't usually quote the Bible. I confess I sometimes respond a little sarcastically when ideas are presented that are copied and pasted from some skeptic website and thus don't represent any critically thinking on the part of the poster. I respect honesty, even when ideas are presented in contrast to my own.

      I do wonder, however, why you and others bother with sites such as this. Is it an effort to see that others have similar beliefs and it buoys your faith? That sounds like boys getting together at the local bar praising the exploits of their favorite team.

      I hope better for you. I hope the "debate" spurs you to critical thinking.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  20. S

    Not historically accurate? Are you kidding me?
    Take a look at the prophecies in the Bible. Study them in depth and then tell me that Bible doesn't accurately display history.
    By the way, this article is EXTREMELY confusing.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Bob

      I've checked. The bible doesn't accurately display history, and it isn't even internally consistent about events.
      Spend some time here: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/science/long.html

      December 30, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Don Camp

      @Bob. Referencing skeptic websites (or creation websites for Christian posters) only tells me you haven't put in any personal thought or applied critical thinking.

      A critical thinker researches the ideas on both sides of an issue. In this case, he reads the Bible, ideally in the original languages but at least with an awareness of the nuances the original languages provide, as well as apologetic books and sites, both skeptic and Christian.

      Read Richard Dawkins. "The God Delusion" is a good start. I found it interesting. Read Hitchens. But read thoughtful Christians as well. Read "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" by Norman Geisler or "Reasonable Faith" by William Lane Craig.

      Critical thinking requires work. But truth is worth it, don't you think?

      December 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Honestly?

      @Don Camp -
      William Lane Craig? Really, William Lane Craig? Have a look a Christopher Hitchens dismantling Mr Craig.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuB7KMfVems&w=640&h=390]

      December 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Chad

      @Honestly? "Really, William Lane Craig? Have a look a Christopher Hitchens dismantling Mr Craig."

      =>It appears you stand alone in believing that Craig lost that debate.

      From the Common Sense Atheism web site:
      @Honestly? "Really, William Lane Craig? Have a look a Christopher Hitchens dismantling Mr Craig."

      =>It appears you stand alone in believing that Craig lost that debate.

      From the Common Sense Atheism web site:
      "The debate went exactly as I expected. Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig sp anked Hitchens like a foolish child. Perhaps Hitchens realized how bad things were for him after Craig’s opening speech, as even Hitchens’ rhetorical flourishes were not as confident as usual. Hitchens wasted his cross-examination time with questions like, “If a baby was born in Palestine, would you rather it be a Muslim baby or an atheist baby?” He did not even bother to give his concluding remarks, ceding the time instead to Q&A."

      Craig is 50-0 in debates with atheists..

      December 31, 2011 at 11:55 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.