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. jim

    I really wonder how John Shelby Spong is going to 'recover the bible' for non-believers. If he does follow through on his promise it would be a miracle, considering the logic he demonstrates in this article.

    For example, Spong states: "Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?"

    But we see here an example in Spong's own words that belies that statement. People who don't believe weird stories tend to soften them up and make them more believable, like what John Shelby Spong is doing in this article.

    Spong also states: "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."

    Taking so long to write it all down doesn't invite embellishment in every case, as Spong himself demonstrates here in his article. A very good explanation could be that by the time the 8th decade rolled around, most people, since they would not have been born by the time it was written, were not aware of the miracles that were done by Jesus.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  2. ocekit

    This might be the best article on the Bible I've ever seen. It reminds us of our need to think, to interpret, to question! It reminds us that religion and beliefs in general CHANGE because PEOPLE change! It also keeps the Bible in perspective as a text written and chosen by people for other people.

    January 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  3. jawdawg

    If there is a God infinitely powerful enough to create the universe and everything in it, how can we as created creatures be so arrogant as to believe we could understand that God fully? And when the first commandment, given by the infinite, eternal God, is broken, is that not infinitely offensive? And if that same God deemed that the only way to save this fallen world , and specifically mankind, from the consequences of that broken commandment was to become finite, take on a human body, eat/drink/walk/breath, suffer and die willingly, shouldn't that leave us w/ no question as to His love and mercy for us? While this doesn't answer every seeming contradiction or explain the myriad questions raised by this article and other commentators, it should prompt us to view that God in awe, recognize His infinite love and mercy, and seek to understand Him and His Word. Even more importantly, it should force to recognize our helplessness to save ourselves, and result in lives of humility that seeks to love others as ourselves, to serve our brothers and sisters in this world even at our own expense, and acknowledging that their sin is the same as our sin, their helplessness the same as ours, and we have no right to judge them (that is left to God alone), but only to love them.

    (Now of course if you don't believe in any God, that's a whole different argument!)

    January 10, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  4. Patrick

    If nothing else, do your best to obey the Ten Commandments!

    January 10, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • momoya

      Indeed! Never cook a young goat in its mother's milk!!! Patrick, do you happen to know which "ten commandments" the bible lists specifically as such (ten commandments). It's not the list you're thinking of. 🙂

      January 10, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  5. Ray E. Georgia

    Aw Yes,
    The Jury is STILL out on Organized Religion. All you can do is read "Between" the lines and judge for yourself. The Huge Majority of people are perfectly good people.

    January 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  6. Rebecca

    I believe, getting back to the original article, that the laws that were set down in the Bible were appropriate for the times, when the need for basic law and order were basic; once we had "mastered" those rules, we were ready to move on to more sophisticated Truths, brought by such teachers as Jesus – one of which is tolerance and love of those who don't believe the same way we do – I'd like to see more of that!

    January 10, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • IsaacG

      Dear Rebecca,

      The Old Testament contains all that is necessary to know to enable a person to serve and love God in the ways that are beneficial to us and those around us and to love our fellow men. Although the last prophecies were experienced by Ezra the Scribe, Jesus claimed that it wasn't over and that not only was he a prophet, but he was also the son of God. To say that he was a prophet would go against of a prophet that preceded him. However, to say that he was the son of the Almighty goes against the logic of theology without bending it as the Apostels have. The New testament added nothing new that did not bear similarity to what was previously mentioned in the Old Testament. God makes no mistakes. What he deemed the correct conduct for one era will apply as long as mankind exists. To claim otherwise is heresy. Peace be with you.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Small 'c' christian

      I'd really like to see more of it from some of the believers in this group. While I call myself a 'skeptical christian' (small 'c'), I am always wiling to listen to rational arguments on either side. However, there are so many intolerants among the believers that folks like me become turned off by their closed-mindedness and I fear for religion as a whole as a result. Likewise, there is a lot of intolerance among non-believers, many of whom tend to turn into bullies and resort to cheap, ugly putdowns over rational discussion.. Neither is healthy.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Nick

      Dear Rebecca,

      I thought your response was thoughtful and well articulated. Contrary to the previous poster, I am inclined to believe that God does not support slavery, misogyny, infanticide, etc. These aspects of the Bible must, to me, represent the convictions of a specific culture in a specific area that are attributed to God by that culture. Furthermore, because God endowed you and others with the wonderful capability of reason that allows you to analyze these texts for yourself, I do not believe arriving at a separate and distinct opinion to be "heretical." Please continue your analytical approach and limit your transactions with those whose currency is limited to control and judgment, paying only lip service to the true message of unconditional love and improvement of the human condition. Peace.

      January 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • GASocaler

      "I fear for religion as a whole as a result."
      I don't, I'd love to see "RELIGION" go. Man creates the list of tasks to try and figure out how to reach God. God has already reached out to us through Jesus, there is no need for religion is you accept the Living Christ as your Lord and serve him and do his will in your life. A religion is no longer necessary, a relationship with the Living Christ is what is needed.

      January 10, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  7. Michael McCarthy

    This is a great article. I wish more religious people took the time and energy to question the Bible like this. I was raised an agnostic but was sent to parrochial schools for much of my education. At least one of them was filled with real religious zealots who would adamantly insist that everything in the Bible is true. This, unfortunately, is a stance that a lot of very ignorant Christians take and one that ultimately does great damage to their cause. Anyone who has read any significant portions of the Bible can see that it's full of contradictions. Even Genesis and Exodus contain two completely separate histories of creation, one wet and one dry. Scholars believe this is so because the cultures that wrote them were geographcially separated with one being a coastal culture and the other being a desert culture. What's interesting to me is that a supposed educated person can read the Bible, note that the Old Testament calls for the genocide of various peoples and infanticide of Egyptian babies while the New Testament calls for everyone to be loved by everyone and that same "educated" person can somehow fail to see a contradiction. Ultimately, what the Bible is probably best at is showing that people's moral views need to be viewed in the context of the times and cultures in which they live. Keeping slaves, slaughtering disobedient children, crucifying heretics and beating wives are clearly no longer acceptable in any Christian context, yet some Christians can still look at the myriad other instances where the Bible is out of step with modern Western culture and insist that we turn the clock back. It is this that continues us on a march toward secularism more than anything else.

    January 10, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Glen Reel

      Dear Mr McCarthy, The Bible is primarily a spiritual book – or rather 66 spiritual books compiled by 40 authors. The Ten Commandments are our basic rules of conduct and a manual of morality. In our natural, or flesh, nature, most of us can live up to the demands of not killing, stealing, lusting for our neighbors wives and possions, etc. However, when we put these demands in the spiritual realm, not one of us can live up to the demands of the commandments. The Garden of Eden story may be simple allegory. I do not know if it is to be taken factually or spiritually. However, God gave the Man one commandment as well as free will and the man broke the commandment. If you check world history, you will find that every civilization has a deluge story. As for the timeline on Abraham, biblical genealogies do not disclose every single individual in the bloodline. I don't think that even the author of the article you cite disputes that Abraham was the father of Isaac (Jewish) as well as the father of Ishmael (Arab). A Christian is not a religious person; he or she is a follower of Jesus Who is the Christ (Old Testament Messiah). True morality does not change; but each generation is more sinful than the one that precedes it. What is the advantage of being a Christian? Well, He died on the cross for the sins of all, but the catch is that one must believe in Him to benefit from this sacrifice – which was validated by the resurrection. It is absolutely impossible to understand the Bible without Supernatural help AKA The Holy Spirit. If you do not believe that Jesus is Who He says He is and has done what He says He has done; you cannot understand the Bible. The first step in "discovering" Jesus is to take a very hard look inside of ourselves. If we are honest, we will not be very pleased with what we see.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Glen Reel

      Mr McCarthy: There are places that have slaves as we write here today. America fought a war over secession of the southern states that came to be known as a war to free slaves. There are societies and countries where women are abused and/or killed for converting to Christianity or refusing to marry a man picked for them by their fathers. In the most populous country in the world, many female babies are killed because the government does not want too many of them. As Paul says in Romans, Chapter 7 – the Law (ten commandments) were given to us as a tutor. For we would not have known sin without the Law, but the Law has revealed sinfulness in us. As previously stated, morality does not change.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  8. stateaffairs

    His progressive views – repudiating millennia of common Christian understanding – reflect in part why the Episcopalian church is a dying church whose anti-Biblical teachings are rejected generally by the worldwide Anglican communion. Anglicans and churches in general preaching the Bible are doing well, both in the US and internationally. Losing 2%/year of its members, Episcopalians won't be with us for too much longer. A pity – it once was a great church.

    January 10, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  9. Small 'c' christian

    The trouble isn't really with what you or I beleive... the trouble is with the organizations who use the stories in the Bible to promot their own agenda. All Christian organizations are the offspring of the original Church, itself a Roman-led compilation of stories and scrolls put together to bring unity and peace to a troubled Roman Empire (recently converted). From that came the Church, itself essentially a continuation of the Roman Empire with a similar heirarchy and a similar desire to conquer the known world (tho' faith replaced the sword- partially) and enrich itself through tribute collected from the masses.

    And from this have come pretty much every Christian sect out there.. Somewhere, the ghost (Holy or not) of a certain carpenter is staring in disbelief at what his message has become!

    January 10, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Rick

      Sort of like bizzare performance art

      January 10, 2012 at 2:45 am |
    • Small 'c' christian

      When you come to think on it, you cannot escape noticing that the similarities between the early Church and the Roman Empire are unmistakable. In fact, there was a period where they were indistinguishable and the name often given to this organization is/was the "Holy Roman Empire", the ultimate morphing of the Caesars and the teachings of early Christians.
      It still exists.
      A leader headquartered in Rome (the Pope), surrounded by Cardinals and Bishops (the Senate), who is deemed to be infallible (as were the Caesars), and who sends out his armies to the world to rule other peoples in his image, by force if need be (under the guise of "conversion", this continues to this day), all for the purpose of exacting "tribute" (taxes) which are used to enrich Rome (Does anyone doubt the wealth of the Catholic Church?) and keep the Empire running smoothly

      January 10, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • Dave

      If you are suggesting churches of today are the 'offspring' of some original Roman church, nothing could be further from the truth. And if you are particularly infering the original church at Rome had anything to do with the Roman Catholic church (other than through corruption of the truth), ALSO a HUGE falsehood. (that is merely something the Roman Catholic church falsely teaches). Read scripture. One, the (BIG C) Church is the embodiment of all believers, not churches. Again, read scripture- two, and most important, part of the original spread of the Christian faith began in what is known today as home churches, BEFORE there was anything even known as the Church at Rome.

      January 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Small 'c' christian

      Hmm, well maybe my choice of when to capitalize the "C" was out of whack when I wrote that bit, and yes, you are correct as to how Christianity spread in the very beginning. It was literally house-to-house, largely out of fear of persecution (from here on, I will simplify by writing 'christian', 'church' etc only in lower case. No offence intended).

      However, once the various christian sects began to grow and become disparate from one another, the problems started to appear. The Edict of Milan in 313 by Constantine I, who had adopted christianity as his belief system in 311, opened the doors to those clandestine houses and helped bring christianity out into the rest of the world. Then, in 325, Constantine commanded (some say "invited", but in those days, one did not refuse the Emperor) the appearance of nearly 300 leaders of almost as many sects to a Council at Nicaea. This led directly to a consolidation of the orothodoxy and established the basis of the chirstianity which continues to this day. It also began the period known to some as Caesaropapism, which was taken to extremes in some cases and used as religious justification for the expansion of the Empire and the consolidation of it's power.

      All subsequent forms of christian religion are descended from the same origin. If Rome essentially 'took over' control of christianity in the 4th Century, used it to promulgate the empire and control the populace, and if that same church continued in this manner after the fall of the Empire and indeed, continues to this day to impress the beleivers with the power of Rome (yes, I've visited the Sistine Chapel. Yes, it's a very powerful place to visit), then I stand by my earlier comments, though I will admit that I may have had an issue with the 'caps' key.

      January 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  10. Rae

    How about you get off your butt and go see how GOD is changing and healing the world. If you don't believe don't mask yourself as a christian yet say otherwise. GOD is alive and in the world. Go to the Philippines, Iraq, Iran and all the 3rd world countries in the world and live rather than sit in the front of a computer all day.

    January 10, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Rick

      iraq or iran? you go first

      January 10, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  11. pete7630

    What makes you think that your opinion isn't a 'misconception' ?

    January 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  12. C. Ickes

    I find it telling, after being on chat-boards before there WAS an Internet, all the way through to this day, that these arguements have not changed one little whit in tone or content. The athiests says the same things. The believer says the same things. It says nothing about the believer. It says nothing about the athiest. Just the fact that we humans throw our wonderful opinions around so freely, somehow thinking we will either win our point, "show up" those who disagree with us, or... what a JOKE... convince another that we are correct in our viewpoint. What we end up doing is giving those who disagree with us "what for"... and/or congratulating those who share our views for their simply awesome argument. Silly, isn't it? Now, without googling any past posts I might have made, which am I? Believer? Or athiest? Heh. Just another human spewing a viewpoint.

    January 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Confused in Cleveland

    “Researchers suggest that virtually all modern men – 99% of them, says one scientist – are closely related genetically and share genes with one male ancestor, subbed ‘Y-chromosome Adam’. We are finding that humans have very, very shallow genetic roots which go back very recently to one ancestor…That indicates that there was an origin in a specific location on the globe, and then it spread out from there.” (US News and World Report, December 4, 1995).

    “I was a young man with unformed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions, wondering all the time over everything; and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire. People made a religion out of them!” (Charles Darwin on this Theory of Evolution).

    January 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Greyhound37

      And researchers find that 99.7% of the base pairs of the modern human and Neanderthal genomes are identical, compared to humans sharing around 98.8% of base pairs with the chimpanzee. So what's your point?

      January 10, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Rod

      It's telling that your Darwin quote is incorrect and the gene quote is used badly.
      The article you quote is discussing the 'out of Africa' concept of human evolution, where the ancestors of current humans came from a region in Africa. It has nothing to do with any kind of biblical story.
      As for the Darwin comment, this comment is part of the "Lady Hope Hoax" that went around, insinuating that Darwin 'recanted' on his deathbed. The story is false, "Lady Hope" did not meet Darwin and he never said the various things the story said he did.

      Not to mention, Darwin was 50 years old when he published "On the Origin of Species". He was not a young man at all.

      January 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Glen Reel

      Dear Confused in Cleveland: First and foremost, I am a believer. Having said that, I cringe when many denominations teach a literal six 24 hour day creation. As for Darwin; it takes more faith to believe his theories than it does to believe the Bible. To believe Darwin's theory you must belive seven preconditions – and that some of the preconditions repeat themselves whereas others happened only once.
      Also, where did the blogger get the idea that the disciples could not write in Greek? It was the language of the empire at the time. The blogger completely ignores the Book of Acts, written by Luke, which is the only historical book in the New Testament; and which states that at Pentecost; the disciples proclaimed the Gospel in unlearned languages. Finally, the blogger did not point out that the Gospel of Mark is in fact the Gospel taught by Peter.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • HellBent

      " it takes more faith to believe his theories than it does to believe the Bible."

      Not if you actually understand science. But there's the real crux of the matter. Most non believers have studied the book and most evolution-deniers just spout the same tired, easily debunked talking points. They wouldn't know real science if it hit them in the face. They selectively 'accept' whatever science doesn't conflict with their ancient mythology.

      January 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Carl

      Funny how people will readily admit they know virtually nothing about Astrophysics, Neurosurgery, Chemical Engineering, etc. Yet when it comes to Evolution, an equally advanced area of science with MASSIVE amounts of data, people think they are experts. I have a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology and even I feel like I only know a small fraction of what their is to learn in this field. The amount of data in support of evolution is absolutely ASTOUNDING. The amount of data refuting evolution (bible verses don't count) is ZERO. Evolution is not only a fact, it can easily coexist with all but the most literalist readings of the bible. It is sad that so many religious people think God is so simple and limited that he could only directly create all the species instead of creating an incredibly complex system of rules for life to follow that would lead to increasing diversity and adaptation that gives us what we see today as well as what interesting things existed in the past.

      January 10, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  14. Confused in Cleveland

    “When adults first become conscious of something new, they usually either attack or try to escape from it… Attack includes such mild forms as ridicule, and escape includes merely putting out of mind.”
    – W. I. B Beveridge, The Art of Sci. Investigation, 1950

    January 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  15. Confused in Cleveland

    “Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.”
    – Arthur Schopenhauer

    January 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  16. DJensen

    To All: It doesn't matter who you are; one day EVERY knee will bow and give an account – misconceptions, misinterpretations or otherwise. EVERY knee will bow. Be ready.

    January 9, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Mirosal

      And just WHAT will we be bowing and kneeling to?

      January 9, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • rick

      DJensen: You know, quoting a book to people who don't accept the validity of the book is only so presuasive, don't you?

      January 9, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • griz5106

      I bow down to nobody. I believe in myself, my family and things that I can see, touch, hear and smell.

      January 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • rick

      DJensen: I suppose if bowing and kneeling work for you, that is fine. It appears that some people are just comfortable with slavery

      January 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • InvaderZim

      That's going to be one busy Dude. I'd get bored after the first couple of thousand holier-than-thou Induhviduals explain themselves.

      January 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  17. Sauza3gs

    Before you condemn the author or the message, reread the article and the message, without going into it all ruffled up in indignation. If you get educated in the history associated with the writing of scripture, you would understand that these writings aren't the eyewitness accounts you would get in modern times. It was in fact centuries after Moses was purported to have lived (not saying he didn't, so back off) before the Israelites were taught to read and write, and that was by one of their conquerors who took them back to their homeland (happened to them more than once), so, yes, the message was carried by oral tradition for centuries before it was ever written down.
    I remember being in class when I was young and doing an exercise where a message was passed from person to person around a circle. It was always interesting to hear how distorted the original message had become by the time it got back to the originator. There is virtually no way the facts could have possibly remained the same through so many retellings.
    Plus, you have to factor in the admiration, even adoration, for Moses and others. These were their "heroes", the most holy of their ancestors. There was probably a certain amount of embellishment added where the details were "fuzzy", and there should be no surprise of this for such revered persons. After all, do we have a recorded eyewitness to George Washington's cherry tree story? Yet we accept it to be true on "faith" because he is one of our country's greatest heroes.

    God is Love. He made us (that's ALL of us) and He Loves us (also ALL of us), even though there are those that have earned, and I believe, will receive his vengeance for the willful harm they have done to others, not just physical.

    January 9, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • Mirosal

      Since you admitted to the embellishment of the stories, the stories now lack any credibility. It doesn't work in court, and it doesn't work under rules of eveidence either. As far as Washington's cherry tree story, it has already been proven to be just that, a story.
      We'll have a first contact with others not of this world before your 'god' ever shows its face. Why haven't Zeus or Osiris or Odin come back to claim their lost worshippers yet? Because they have NEVER existed, and your 'god' is no different.

      January 9, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  18. florence willow

    Thank you for this. But why stop there? Do we really need to rely on a supernatural origin of the world? Isn't it possible that even the concept of divinity is nothing more than a way to tell the story of science of people who knew no better? Flo.

    January 9, 2012 at 5:18 am |
  19. King James Bible Society

    Please see the King James Audio Visual Bible at KJAVB Dot Com

    January 9, 2012 at 4:40 am |
  20. Adrian D

    There has been a need for an article like this to shut up extremist religious freaks and atheist snobs....all in all these are only logical arguments which can be thought of if you an unbiased tainted idiotic perspective on spirituality...the Bible is neither a book to be taken literally nor is a book to be discarded, you gotta be smart enough to merge what you learn with what you think! Come on...isn't it obvious that certain stories in the Bible are only mythological representations of a legend which essentially to be use for a positive influence not a blind negative one...simple ain't it!

    January 9, 2012 at 4:38 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.