January 9th, 2012
01:05 PM ET
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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.
And we're back (but only because I have a little extra time this morning)–this time addressing Central's third contradiction–God dwells in light/God dwells in darkness. Why is this one even listed? The Bible makes clear that God is omni-present ((Psalm 139:7-12). Therefore, God dwells in the light and the darkness and there is no contradiction.
VanHagar, we can quibble over semantics and in the end that's all they are semantics. My questions are, do you Believe that the God of Abraham exist (as in real, substance, intrinsic, more than just thoughts, able to exist outside of human thought like rocks, people, birds, the universe).
I have heard many examples of what God is and it all comes down to nothing more than a thought, I think, God is not intrinsic, can not live outside of though therefor can not be considered to exist no matter how much we might want it to. Consider that ten thousand ton diamond in your backyard, no matter how much you want it to be there, or how many people you convince that it is there, you can pray to it, talk to it, consider it's overall value, see it in your mind as clear as anything in the real world but it is not real.
@JohnQuest...I disagree that its a question of semantics. Either the Bible is something we can rely upon or it isn't. If it is true that the Bible is full of contradictions (as Central and others propose), then that book is not worth our time–that is why I take the time to address the "contradictions." Now on to the more important point–yes, I believe the God of the Bible exists. You want proof (who wouldn't). I don't think I can articulate the rock solid proof you may be seeking–I think that would defeat the concept of faith. I can tell you about my observations, the observations of others, the answered prayer (some will call it coincidence–alright, I have a lot of coincidences in my life), but why bother believing my testimony–you don't know me so you have no reason to do so. At the end of the day, you have to make that decision yourself. Will you make that decision based on what people here say? Will you do your own investigation (as I did many years ago)? Or, as Central conceded below, do you lack the desire? If what Christians believe is true, isn't it worth finding out?
VanHagar, Thank you for a clear answer. I am not disputing the Bible, I read a lot of truisms within it, we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves (the world would be a much better place if we all lived by that). However that is not my issue, I do not Believe that a God actually exist (outside of our thoughts) as proof consider all the Gods that have gone before, at one time people "thought" that Zeus, Ba'al and another thousands of God existed, but what happened to them when people stopped believing they stopped existing or they Never existed in the first place?
I submit that if we all woke up tomorrow morning with no Concept of God\s in our minds that God\s would no longer exist.
That is not saying the the Bible is no longer needed, there are a lot of good and positive messages in it.
And thank you for an equally clear reply. I'm curious if you've considered the law of cause and effect. What was the first cause–and how did IT come into existence (if not for another cause). At the end of the day, I believe there must be something that exists outside of that natural law–thus making it supernatural. I believe that cause to be God. How does He exist then? I don't know. He may choose to reveal that to us at a later time. For now, I do operate on faith.
VanHagar, You are correct, we do not know how it all started, but logic tells us, (if) everything that exist needs a cause, the universe exist the universe needs a cause (no argument from me on those points). However, (if) everything that exist needs a cause, God exist God Needs a cause.
To say that God does not need a cause, you are implying one of two things, 1) God does not exist because God does not need a cause or that something can exist without a cause, then your first statement is wrong: Something that exist does not need a cause, the universe exist the universe does not need a cause.
Thus my reference to the "supernatural" and my concession that I don't know how it can be, and my concession that it is a matter of faith. Not knowing how it can be, however, is not evidence that God does not exist. The same problems exist on your end–how does the universe exist without a first cause? You take it on faith as well that it is based on something we can not see. My response is that the unseen is God. Your response is that it is something else. We are at a standstill. As the link to this article is moving further away by CNN, perhaps we can pick up this conversation on "the next" article. I wish you well.
VanHagar Peace to you and yours, Chat with you later.
Central–I like your 5th example (tired/never tired) because it is one of many examples of "lost in translation." You would agree, I am certain, that whether verses are contradictory depends upon the original text and not on an English (or other language) translation. It is God's word I find correct–not necessarily man's interpretation or, importantly, translation. So, let's look at the supposed contradiction: Ex. 31:17: "It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested" and Is. 40:28: "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom" The original Hebrew for the first verse used the word shabath, which translated means to cease (i.e. stop) (not because one grew tired). So again there is no contradiction when the original language (the only language that can be used to establish/refute contradiction) is used.
You are absolutely right relative to the literal translations. But again, I dig a little deeper than the words. I realize you are just looking at, “is it a contradiction or not” and that is fine.
However, if one believes the creation story, than one must believe there was a witness to it. Otherwise how could anyone know and write it down in the first place? And if God “told” Moses, then God can talk. And if God can talk, why doesn’t he talk to us? It is stupid. It is a children’s story.
And why would God feel “refreshed” after working his a.s.s. off for 6 days? This is the contradiction I am referring to. Is 40:28 is just evangelistic nonsense I was having some fun with.
Finally, if God wants ME to read and understand HIS word, he might have thought ahead a little and made the REAL words available to those of us who don’t translate Hebrew. That is in and of itself is a contradiction. He wants his word known, but makes it so difficult that snake oil salesman have to step in to “translate” it for the sheep in the pews. It wasn’t written for me or you, it was written for primitives thousands of years ago. Again this seems obvious to me.
How Did God Tell The Story Of Creation To Moses?
Was Moses, perhaps, in a trance, like Buddha?
Or did it come to him gradually, over many years, like the Q'uran did for Mohammad?
Could it have been revealed to Moses as he gazed into a hat, like Joseph Smith?
Or was it perhaps a prophetic vision, like that of Oral Roberts, who saw a 900 foot Jesus, demanding in detail that Oral raise 1,000,000 dollars for Oral Roberts University, or else Jesus would take Oral's life.?
Or, just maybe, was the story borrowed from the Babylonians, who were a clear influence over the Canaanites (Israel's Promised Land)?
Centuries before Moses could have lived, according to Biblical dating and genealogy, The Enuma Elish presented a divine Trinity (Apsu, Tiamat and Mummu)
From them, came Lahmu and Lahamn (Earth without form and mixing with the waters)
Ansher and Kishar (horizons of sky and sea)
Anu (Heavens) and Ea (Earth)
Marduk (a type of Jesus) came God/Man – Created mankind and natural law.
It goes on and on, with representations that are clearly the sources and inspiration behind the Mosaic stories.
Just how much are we to overlook common-sense?
Central–respectfully, you're not thinking this through (at least completely). If God wrote the Bible in terms we would understand today (i.e., in English!), no one would have understood it then. That just seems so obvious that you must agree with it–therefore, I'm not certain what your asking. Also, don't put yourself down so much. I suspect your actually a pretty smart cookie–understanding scripture is not difficult (unless your choose to be intellectually lazy–and I'm afraid that is what your posts are showing. Again, I don't think your lazy (maybe you are). I just think your not thinking this through.) And, God did give us his word in English–he gave us the ability to translate. The current translations have their inherent limitations, but their not necessarily unreliable–sometimes you have to do a little research. I don't read Hebrew (or Greek or Latin), so I rely on others to translate. I will look up certain words from time to time to satisfy my own curiosity, or to respond to these posts as necessary.
I want to encourage you. Stop being lazy when it comes to the Bible. You reject it outright, but if you study it, maybe you'll have a new appreciation for it. (I didn't like Broccoli at first–now I love it–I grew into it–studying scripture isn't that different.)
But if he's god then why not write it in a way we all can understand any time? Shouldn't god do a new release or just not expect people to follow him.
You are a crack up. There is NOTHING intellectual about the Bible. LMAO
I would recommend that YOU spend your time studying something factual. You might learn something. I didn't like Brussel Sprouts when I first tried them, but now they are my favorite!
Anyway, I stand by my statement, IF there were a God, he would not make it so difficult to access him. That is ridiculous and you know it. You don’t want to respond to my post so instead you criticize my intelligence. You can’t refute my common sense.
This is what I get for encouraging you. My bad.
Central–I'm not calling your intelligence into question. I'm calling your effort into question. I have no doubt that if you tried to understand scripture, you would have at least some appreciation for it. More to point, I have responded to your post–I told you at the outset that I would address your alleged contradictions of the Bible, and as time permits, I'm doing just that. And as I do, you change the subject to something else. That's not a criticism–its just the plain truth. I can either take the time I have to address the contradiction issue, or I can spend my time addressing the bigger questions about God's character–I'll let you decide. I'm comfortable debating either subject–I just don't want to spend time doing one when you're more interested in the other. Let me know and I'll be happy to address the issues you MOST want to talk about. Please don't turn this into something that it isn't.
It isn't anything and you are taking it far too seriously. Get over yourself. And you are VERY wrong, there is no lack of effort. There is a lack of desire. The Bible is a complete waste of time (unless I am making jokes about which I enjoy). You can chime in anytime you want. It's your life.
Central–a lack of desire it is. And your right, I am taking this seriously. God is not a punch line. Faith is not a joke. I can have a good laugh in the midst of the debate, but I won't compromise my beliefs. I'll leave you with this...your understanding of the truth does not matter and my understanding of the truth does not matter. The only thing that matters is, in fact, THE truth (sorry for CAPS–not yelling, just emphasizing). The difference appears to be that I'm searching while your a.ssuming. I hope you will consider, if only for a minute, that you might be wrong. I know I did–I too once rejected God–my faith was and is an independent process of observation, study, debate and ultimately acceptance.
I am very happy for you. Also, I never said I did not believe in God. The Bible IS a joke though. Common sense.
Interesting development! What or who do you believe God to be?
The people saying the Bible is a joke are very foolish. Its historicity is amazing. We've found entire civilizations due to the Bible. Also, the Bible has been correct on such things as the beginning of the universe, and stunningly, the Hayflick limit for human life spans.
And it is hard to find any writing anywhere that is more insightful about the human condition and human nature. The writings of Paul are simply stunning.
Even if you aren't religious it should be easy to see those things.
"The people saying the Bible is a joke are very foolish. Its historicity is amazing."
From the Smithsonian Institution – It must be remembered that the Bible is primarily a book of religion, a guide to faith. It was not a book of history, poetry, economics, or science. It contains all sorts of literary genre, which are used to teach about the relationship between God and mankind.
In the best analysis, the Bible is a religious book, not an historical document.
Summarizing with a prayer:
(only for the newbies)
The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(some references used for the update are shown on p.2)
Hit report abuse on all reality bull sh it
Philosophy is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there and shouting “I found it!”
I love that last line.
you are an imposter fred
Stop stealing my name. You probably steal used toilet paper too.
I for one think VanHagar is refreshing. He talks! He has opinions! That has always been my complaint on these blogs is the Christian drive-by posters. They just throw something out, you reply and then you never hear from them again. Thank you VanHagar. And for the record the only good Van Halen album was the first one. But it was good enough to be a classic forever! I don't know if your handle means you are Van Halen fan, but I will never forget seeing them in Wichita, Ks the year that album was released. Great Rock. (and I am a Jazz man!)
Always been a Hagar fan (got my first speeding ticket driving to a Hagar concert in '84? maybe '85–that's rich). I just see "Van Hagar" as Sammy with a really good back up band.
I have never really listened to any Hagar era Van Halen, but I did see Hagar (and I am dating myself big time) at a festival along with Van Halen, Pat Benetar and the Doobie Brothers. He was very good.
@Mark & Hellbent–fair questions–does God make mistakes? What does it mean to exist outside of time? I'll try and respond to those later. For now, by debate is with Central–I really don't have the time I'd like to sit here all day and respond to every post. (However, if you want to add to his list of contradictions, I'll consider responding sooner–same ground rules apply.)
I suppose it is odd that god can't speak for himself on these matters, at least in such a way that all know it's obviously Him. One can't be faulted for thinking He doesn't exist.
Seldom is the new Republican.
Sentences should not.
It is a Koan. It is.
Chad, FYI: If you apply the exact same reasons and standards for dismissing Zeus to Jesus/God you will be forced (by consistency) to dismiss Jesus/God on the exact same grounds.
All kidding aside, thank you for jumping in. I notice you did not disagree that your compatriots bring nothing to the table, but perhaps you will? And yes, I dropped off last night, it was my kid’s birthday so had to exit the CNN fun blog.
1. As far as ground rules, I will post what I want. You can answer what you want. I don’t care.
2. I am not a Bible scholar. I read the Bible and that was enough to convince me to be an Atheist. Of course I haven’t “studied” it the way you might. I use it for amusement.
3. If God wanted us to understand the Bible, why did he make it so difficult to understand? Because he does not exist and it was written by illiterate primitive men thousands of years ago. This is common sense.
4. If God was all-knowing, why did he not include his great knowledge of the universe in the Bible? See number 3.
5. My posts don’t only include contradictions, but also inconsistencies.
Ok, now we will start slow with some really funny ones:
1. God is satisfied with his works
God is dissatisfied with his works.
2. God dwells in chosen temples
2 Chron 7:12,16
God dwells not in temples
3. God dwells in light
God dwells in darkness
1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
4. God is seen and heard
Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
God is invisible and cannot be heard
John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
5. God is tired and rests
God is never tired and never rests
I admittedly didn't pay too close attention to what my "compatriots' brought to the table–I have no opinion on what they might of said. Too many cranks and crackpots on both sides, so I plan to limit my discourse and opinion to those who might provide me with some intellectual benefit–congratulations.
Ground rules: Fair enough. I'll respond to your list as I have time. (Thus, please do not interpret my silence on any particular "contradiction" or "inconsistency" as concession–it only means that I haven't had the time to respond–fair enough?)
I'll start with the first one. It is important to note that you paraphrase the verses (that's o.k., for the most part, it's just that that tends to take things out of context, so I'll cite the entire verse for proper context. Also, I'll be using the NIV translation to maintain consistency.) Gen 1:31 says: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." Gen 6:6 says: "The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled." There is no contradiction here. God was happy with what he made. Later, he became unhappy. That's not too difficult to comprehend. We have all made decisions that we were initially happy about, but later came to regret (anyone here divorced?). (Its not like God said I have a watch on my wrist and then later said, I have never had a watch on my wrist–that would be a contradiction. Its more like, I had a watch on my wrist. Now I don't.)
"might of said"? Brilliant. Next time I'll try "might have said." (I have a tendency to type phonetically–don't take it as a lack of intelligence.)
So, god is prone to mistakes? Nice to know he can admit to being wrong, considering how frequently it happens.
If you could actually examine your beliefs with an independent eye, I think you would see them as absurd. First, the notion that the creator of the universe, and omnipotent being, has human emotions is laughable. god here is acting much more like the gods of roman mythology. Further, being omniscient and omnipotent and existing outside of time, god would never be one thing now and another thing later. Such time-dependent concepts don't apply.
Really, if you examine the bible, god isn't all that different than Zeus. he's probably more lonely and doesn't impregnate as many mortals, but the spite, malice, vengeance, favoritism, etc., that we see in Zeus is easily seen in the god of Abraham. The obvious conclusion, then, is that man made god, not the other way around as your Genesis passage claims
Last point (I think). I'm not a Bible scholar either (although I have studied it apart from simply reading it), so I won't guarantee that I'll have the "best" answers–but I will endeavor to have rationale answers. I'll try to respond to a couple more from your list later today–got other things on my desk for now.
I look forward to your discourse whenever you have time to play. No problem. As far as your first response, I tend to look to the foundation of the quotes, not just the quotes. If God is all-knowing, all powerful and the perfect being, how does he make mistakes to begin with? That is the contradiction. Not just the words in which he behaves like a mortal. Again, he behaves like a mortal because mortals are making things up and they really don't know any better. It is just silliness in my opinion.
Central–I'll try to keep your final point in mind as I respond, but for now, I'm more interested in the "on its face" issue of whether certain verses patently contradict each other and not necessarily the underlying theme (although i don't doubt its import).
"There is no contradiction here. God was happy with what he made. Later, he became unhappy."
LMAO! So your god isn't all knowing and all powerful....oh that's right man wrote the bible which is why your god couldn't foresee his own unhappiness in the future. LMAO!