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Will camel discovery break the Bible's back?
Camels, shown here in the Liwa desert outside Abu Dhabi, are the subject of a surprising new discovery.
February 11th, 2014
01:56 PM ET

Will camel discovery break the Bible's back?

Opinion by Joel Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) - It’s been a rough 2014 for the book of Genesis.

First a Noah’s Ark discovery raised a flood of questions, then there was the much-hyped debate over life’s origins between Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham.

And now this: a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, weren’t domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE

Taken on its own, this may seem a rather minor problem.

After all, this is Genesis, in which some people live to be 900 years old (hello, Methuselah), all of humanity emerges from Babylon, and the Dead Sea is created from the backward glance of Lot’s wife. (Not to mention the six-day creation story and the stuffing of all land animals on a single boat.)

How important could camels really be?

For those who believe the Bible to be fundamentally true, this is hardly going to change any minds. For those who believe it to be entirely false, this is surely not the most damning piece of evidence.

What the camels in Genesis reveal, in fact, has nothing to do with the “truth” of the biblical story at all.

Instead, the presence of these camels in the story highlights, in a very clear way, the essential humanity of the biblical writers: like the best authors, they simply wrote about what they knew.

The patriarchs are depicted as nomadic, never settling for long in one place, but moving constantly from location to location throughout Israel (and beyond).

An ancient Israelite, wanting to tell the story of the wandering of his ethnic and national ancestors, would have naturally looked to the nomadic peoples around him as models. And indeed, throughout the Bible camels are commonly associated with those tribes who lived in the desert: Midianites, Ishmaelites, Amalekites, Kedemites.

The biblical authors simply transplanted the nomadic standards of their time into the distant past.

There is nothing deceptive about this. They weren’t trying to trick anyone. They imagined, quite reasonably, that the past was, fundamentally, like their present.

They had no real alternative. In ancient Israel, in the period when the Bible was written (which ranges, conservatively, from the 10th to the third century BCE), no one had any way of knowing that camels had not always been domesticated pack animals. After all, we didn’t know that for sure until this past week.

Without any evidence to the contrary, it is perfectly natural to assume that things have always been the way that they are now. Today we have more information about the past than any other moment in history. In ancient Israel, they had virtually none.

And yet we still fall victim to this basic, very human, historical fallacy.

It has been suggested that this anachronism in the biblical text is akin to importing semitrailers into the medieval period. But this is a level of ridiculousness too far.

I would suggest that it is more similar to describing a medieval Italian as enjoying pasta with tomato sauce. How many people, even today, know that tomatoes only came to Italy from South America in the 16th century?

The camels in Genesis may be “wrong,” but they are not a “mistake.” We all imagine the past to the best of our knowledge, the biblical authors included.

The lasting lesson of the camel controversy, such as it is, is a simple one: no writing, not even the Bible, is timeless or without context. Views of the past are contingent on both what we know and how we know it.

The Bible is a historical record, but it tells us just as much, if not more, about the people who wrote it as it does about the people they wrote about.

Since the stories of the Bible remain so central to who we are as a culture, even today (and even for those who dismiss it), it seems entirely fitting that we should be equally interested in the ancient people who composed them.

Despite their lack of historical knowledge — and, equally, because of it — they, more than the characters in the Bible, are our true cultural ancestors.

Joel S. Baden is the author of "The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero" and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The views expressed in this column belong to Baden.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Evolution • Judaism • Middle East • Opinion

soundoff (3,276 Responses)
  1. colin31714

    I have to laugh every time I hear that Yale has a divinity school. Can you imagine the disdain and contempt (rightfully earned) with which the other faculty must treat the divinity school.

    "So let me get this straight, you are a Yale professor based 100% on your acceptance of Greco-Roman Jewish mythology and Dark Ages superst.itions as fact?"

    As dyslexic Dog has very acutely noted, Biblical studies is nothing more than a very long book report.

    February 11, 2014 at 9:06 pm |
    • believerfred

      Yale was founded in 1701 as an institution to train ministers. In the day they were going to show a greater zeal for the Puritans than Harvard. We owe our higher education to a God filled spirit of creating a better world. Did the godless start anything that you are aware of which carries on through this very day?

      February 11, 2014 at 9:18 pm |
  2. thesaj

    You do realize this entire article is bad science. It is up there with the worst you can think of regarding religious folk.

    The Claim is: evidence of bones do not denote heavy labor in camels in Israel, therefore camels were not in use...

    But were camels domesticated at this time else where? far far away like India or America? Nope...

    And this is without even addressing that the word for camel might have simply meant "beast of burden" and later camel.

    But here is the interesting bit. Camels, were domesticated elsewhere...and the Bible seems to denote that Abraham got his camels, not in Israel, but rather while sojourning in Egypt.

    http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Gen&c=12&t=KJV#s=t_conc_12016

    Furthermore, if that's not enough the actual word used, is basically "beast of burden/not for food".

    There is so much bad science here, that any advocate of science should decry this article as the poorest of poor. There is more merit to the Biblical Flood being based on a real event, than this article's merit.

    February 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
    • colin31714

      I like that. A person who believes the biblical flood has any merit criticizing another as "unscientific." That is just so ironic that "oh come on" just doesn't even capture it.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
      • thesaj

        Really. When basically most cultures in that expansive region have a flood record. Not floods. But one particular flood that was unlike others.

        Now I'm not arguing that you have to believe the entire world was covered. But any honest scientific mind would realize that a flood of unusual proportions occurred.

        To deny that is merely your own religion blinding you. An honest scientist would consider why so many cultures have this record. Postulate hypothesis for possible explanation – "Could the melting of a glacier damn have released a tremendous amount of water, or a massive ice shelf break off and create an extremely large tsunami? "

        But to deny the fact of the records is as dumb as the criticisms you are making.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Most early settlements were near water so it is probable that floods occurred. The biblical story says that Noah planned for it, that the flood covered all land, that a number of each animal (2 or 7 depending upon which chapter you believe) were saved, as were a few members of Noah's family. That did not happen: there is no geological record of a world-wide flood, there is not enough diversity to regenerate the population we currently, there is not enough water to cover the earth to the height of Everest, the logistics of retrieving and returning animals to the then-unknown Americas, Australia, etc. were staggeringly difficult, managing the animals on the Ark was impossible – a few humans keeping predators from their prey, cleaning the waste, etc., pretty much all life on earth would have been killed, etc. etc.
          It didn't happen.

          February 11, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
  3. bostontola

    On a scale of validated fact of 1 to 10, 1 being least validated and 10 being most validated, where would you put;
    A. Big Bang
    B. Evolution
    C. Tinker Bell
    D. Unicorns
    E. Abrahamic God

    For me
    A. 10
    B. 10
    C. 1
    D. 1
    E. 1

    February 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • danab1234

      Agree

      February 11, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
    • believerfred

      Error, the Big Bang is not validated it is simply the consensus at the moment in the scientific community. Not long ago consensus favored a Creator God of Abraham in the United States.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
  4. yeahitsme72

    The bible may be wrong about natural history, human history, morality (and now camels), but it's 100% right about everything else.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
    • saggyroy

      ...and the bats

      February 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
    • auntiekale

      I donated blood today, helped my neighbor install a greenhouse, and worked for 10+ hours plus, all the while smiling 🙂

      but oh crap, I wore mixed fibers and I'm in the middle of eating shellfish 😦

      February 11, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
  5. derado8

    I couldn't get through the bible. It wasn't exactly a page turner. I struggled through chapter one a few times and after three reads I didn't know what it meant so I gave up.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
    • saggyroy

      I started with the NT, and that was pretty interesting. And then reading the OT I only got through as far as about half of Leviticus. It was a study bible and I read all the footnotes as well. At the time I was Catholic trying get a better understanding.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  6. mickmastergeneral

    Is this yet another nail in the coffin of Judeo-Christianity? Yes.
    Will it matter to the believers? Don't be silly! Give the apologetics websites about a day to explain why this is not a problem.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
    • Alias

      If they can overlook things like this – there is no way more science will change their thinking
      Genesis 3:8-9

      8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

      9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

      That's right, if God is looking for you, just hide behind a tree, and don't answer when he calls for you. Hey, if Adam had taken my advice, we wouldn't even be here. He and Eve could still be hiding behind trees while God attempts to trick them into playing Marco Polo.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
      • joshuadavidlenon

        Or... maybe the "Where are you?" question is just the point in that story? Maybe it's not that God lost Adam but God is pointing out something to Adam...

        February 11, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
      • genesnow

        Just why did God wait until it cooled off? He does not like the heat? Afraid of sunburn? Sounds very human.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
  7. cafemoi

    We have complete fossil evidence of camels? Even Bill Nye admits our fossil evidence has countless missing links. The lack of such evidence proves nothing. Tomorrow we might find a fossil that extends the date. This is a pointless discussion.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
    • auntiekale

      it's good if it gets more people to stop following these ridiculous belief systems that have zero grounding in the realities of life that we now know to be axiomatic to existence.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
  8. colin31714

    Still putting forward evidence to dispel biblical stories is like still putting forward evidence to refute a flat Earth. We have known for over 200 years that the bulk of the Bible's claims are nothing more than Jewish tradition and folklore and that the Jesus as represented in the NT is nothing like the real Jesus who lived.

    Only those who subordinate their common sense to a deep desire or perceived duty to believe can possibly believe the Bible today.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
    • JakeSeaVik

      The thing I've never understood is why Christians and Jews seem to think they're so different. They both believe in a lot of the same things that we know are untrue. They're both equally irrational beliefs.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
    • Alias

      But the bible is perfect and proves itself!
      Except for a few minor translation errors like these

      Who is Punished for Sins?

      Ezekiel 18:20: The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.
      Exodus 20:5: I the lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

      Was Sisera Sleeping or Standing?
      Judges 4:21: But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
      He lay asleep.
      Judges 5:25-27: Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple. At her feet he sank, he fell; there he lay. At her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell-dead.
      Same book. Next chapter. Sisera was standing and fell at her feet.

      Jesus' last words

      MAT 27:46,50: "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" ...Jesus, when he cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."
      LUK 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit:" and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
      JOH 19:30: "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished:" and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

      Judas died how?

      "And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself." (MAT 27:5)
      "And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out." (ACT 1:18)

      February 11, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
  9. nemo0037

    Bloody silly article. Camel domestication dating is the LEAST of the problems with the fundamentalist view of the Torah.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm |
  10. Jeebusss

    What a joke. The Bible is already choke full of contradictions, errors, and outright ridiculous continuity errors practically every other page, and yet gullible people continue to buy into it. Suggesting that yet one more incorrect piece of information will cause the brainwashed to give it up is laughable.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  11. diannec1945

    I was giving your article an honest read with an open mind until I got to the "stuffing of all land animals on a single boat".... Clearly, you have never read the story.... try: 2 of each type....

    February 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
    • JakeSeaVik

      Yeah...cause two of each type would be feasible. Sort of like people walking on water.

      It's funny how Christians try to use logic, but then are completely willing to ignore it when it doesn't support their story.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
    • theskepticbeliever

      Over and over scientists actually prove the Bible to be true. Yes there are terrible interpretations of it so it is easy to laugh at people stuffing an entire globe of animals – even 2 by 2 iinto a ship. However examinations of putting the land animals in the known area is certainly feasible and backed up by other creation accounts – this was the known world at the time and the meaning of the text. There was never a flat earth described in the Bible only people's early ideas and their new interpretations of the Bible. The Bible even gives a very detailed account of multiple catastrophes and re-creations, leaving room for Billions of years to have passed. A casual Hebrew reader knows that in the beginning is actually "in beginnings" (a plural word) but then again it is usually a different cultural interpretation that screws up the meaning. Regarding the camel – may not have had domestication to a large point but the texts have been very successful at being right in many other area. People denied there was a King David until they found archaeological evidence, wise men of Daniels day until they found their names carved into a pillar, etc.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
      • alonsoquixote

        The reality is that as our knowledge has grown it has become ever more evident that the bible is a collection of ancient myths and legends. E.g., the legend of the Exodus from Egypt has no supporting archaeological nor historical evidence

        February 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
    • alonsoquixote

      Two or fourteen, depending on whether you prefer the Yahwist's version or that of the Priestly Source. There are two flood stories in Genesis just as there are two creation myths, the one written by the Priestly Source in Genesis 1 and the older creation myth written by the Yahwist in Genesis 2. Though in the case of the flood myth the material from the two sources isn't as clearly separated, but is, instead, intermixed.

      Noah collected seven pairs of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals in the Yahwist version of the flood myth in Genesis Chapter 7 verse 2, but one pair of each kind of animal in the Priestly Source version in Genesis chapter 6 verse 19. Those creatures would have had to survive on the ark for not much more than forty days and forty nights in the Yahwist's version (Genesis 8:6) or for about a year in the Priestly Source version (Genesis 8:5) followed by Genesis 6:13-14.

      There are several other discrepancies between the two versions which are addressed in "Who Wrote the Bible", which was written by Richard Elliott Friedman, a biblical scholar and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia.

      Like other myths in Genesis the flood myth borrows from the Sumerians, but with the myth modified to make it consistent with Jewish mythology. It is a retelling of the flood story from the Epic of Gilgamesh with Noah and his family replacing Utnapishtim and his family. In the older version the god Enki warns Utnapishtim about a flood to be sent by the god Enlil, who is angry with mankind. Enki instructs Utnapishtim to build an ark to save himself and his family. Utnapishtim takes animals on-board his ark. When the story was incorporated into Jewish mythology Enki and Enlil became the Jewish tribal god Yahweh.

      But even a claim that there were only one pair of every land animal on Earth, doesn't make the Biblical flood myth any more plausible and the author of the article doesn't claim that every single land animal on Earth was placed on the ark when he states "the stuffing of all land animals on a single boat". I'd interpret that to mean that at least one of every land animal was taken on-board. Even a slight amount of rational analysis applied to the story shows it to be completely implausible. How did koalas, sloths, American bison, etc. make it to Noah's location? What did the creatures eat while on the ark and what would they eat afterwards? If all plants were drowned in the flood what did the herbivores eat? And what would the carnivores eat besides the few herbivores that were left after the flood?

      Unfortunately, though, there are still some even today who refuse to apply any rational analysis to such biblical stories, insisting that they are actual historical events.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:04 pm |
  12. urnotathinkerareu

    QUOTE:An ancient Israelite, wanting to tell the story of the wandering of his ethnic and national ancestors, would have naturally looked to the nomadic peoples around him as models. And indeed, throughout the Bible camels are commonly associated with those tribes who lived in the desert: Midianites, Ishmaelites, Amalekites, Kedemites.

    The biblical authors simply transplanted the nomadic standards of their time into the distant past.

    There is nothing deceptive about this. They weren’t trying to trick anyone. They imagined, quite reasonably, that the past was, fundamentally, like their present.
    How can you say there is nothing deceptive in this. It's totally deceptive when you are writing and claiming the texts as the WORDS OF GOD! I wonder what other little juicy tidbits will yet be discovered. We already know MOST of it has been made up as they wrote.....liars!

    February 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
  13. ocinfo

    Wibbly wobbly timey wimey.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
  14. dandintac

    This discovery about camels would be no big deal on its own, but it is just one more among thousands of nails in the coffin of religion. These things all pile up, piece by piece, bit by bit, and eventually when the total is looked at, it becomes quite clear that the Bible is almost entirely mythical, and certainly no guide to understanding the world objectively, and that any claims made therein should be regarded as apocryphal or just outright fiction.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
    • derado8

      Just curious but for everybody complaining about the bible, why did you read it to begin with?

      February 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
      • Alias

        Because there was a nun with a yardstick, and she knew how to use it!

        February 11, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
        • derado8

          That's messed up. Sorry to hear of it.

          February 11, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
      • mickmastergeneral

        Because it's been crammed down my throat ever since I was a child. It was force-fed to me for eight years in parochial school, shoved in my face by ultra-right wing flakes who think our country was founded by and for Christians, and reiterated to me by family members and netizens who think I'm simply a naive soul who's never heard of Christianity and would instantly convert if only someone could explain its concepts to me. And now that, thanks in large part to the internet, it's imbecilities have been held up to the light for easy analyses, it's quite interesting to see how all the rubbish originated.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
        • derado8

          I guess I should be glad to have missed the parochial school experience.

          February 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
      • dandintac

        First of all, I wouldn't say I "complain about the Bible". The Bible should be regarded as a collection of stories that are mythical. In other words, the Bible should be viewed the same way you may view other holy books outside your particular religion. If this were the case, I wouldn't bother "complaining" about the Bible.

        As far as why would I read it? Well, I read it when I was still a believer. For me, I would have been comfortable with being described as a "Biblical Christian" before I read it, but not after.

        The Bible should be read critically but fairly, and objectively. It should not be read with other people telling you what to think, and what parts to skip over, and so on. Bible Studies, Priests reading passages or directing you to specific cherry-picked passages, Sunday School, Bible School, and so on–these are not the best ways to read the Bible–these are forms of indoctrination, not enlightenment. For me, reading the Bible and thinking for myself started me on a long road resulting in atheism.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  15. archtopopotamus

    as usual the scientific reality is far more interesting than the bible nonsense.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
  16. Woody

    The camels in Abraham's time were special camels, you know, god's chosen camels, specially created for "god's chosen people". I'll bet that they could even talk, like the snake in the Garden of Eden. I can visualize the scenario where Abe's camel would converse with him, like the horse in the old TV show, Mr. Ed. The camel may have even had a pet name for Abraham, maybe "Wilbur". One day Abe told the camel that god wanted him (Abe) to whack his son, Isaac, for a sacrifice. The talking camel said "Whoa, Wilbur, he pulling your chain, just call his bluff." Abe took the camel's advice and the rest, as they say, is history. Who needs science when we have the bible to provide us with all the answers.

    February 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm |
    • Alias

      If your bible has all the answers, why do we use google?

      February 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
  17. rickapolis

    I still say that Ahab the Arab jumped on his camel named Clyde.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm |
  18. ddeevviinn

    Since there seems to be so much interest in magic in this post, let's talk magic.

    Here's the most spectacular magic trick of all : Equating the Tooth Fai ry, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Unicorns, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Sky Fai ry and others with that of belief in the existence of God. I'm quite certain that 99.99 percent of the human population over the age of 10 recognizes the fact that the previous mentioned characters are simply mythological creatures. Contrast that with the 95% of the world's population ( that's approx. 6.7 billion people) who believe in the existence of a supernatural being. and the remaining 5% that don't. And yet, despite those numbers, the magical assumption is made that belief in a creator is one in the same with belief in fairy tales.

    Now that's some magic.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Analytical comment: 95% of people are not that bright... this is not new data...

      February 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Can you prove their is no Easter Bunny? I thought not. Likewise, I can't prove there are no gods. If I really expected you to believe in the Easter Bunny, you would require proof.

      February 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
    • JakeSeaVik

      I'm quite sure that less than 50% of humanity honestly believes in a god. Certainly less than 5% believe in whatever your version of god might be considering Christians seem to think they can define it as whatever they want.

      Bottom line is there's no more reason to believe in a specific god than there is to believe in the Tooth Fairy. If you can dispute this, I'm all ears.

      February 11, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
      • donaldwilliamfry

        You might try the books The Evidence for Jesus and the Evidence for faith. But I doubt you really are open to anything other than the false security of an atheistic mind set that erroneously believes the universe just happened, in all its intricacies, randomly and without intent. Just clarifying your faith structure... matter, which can neither be created nor destroyed but only change forms (according to science), somehow just appeared in some form and worked its way to complex life. Wow! And you say we believe in fairy tales!

        February 11, 2014 at 8:43 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          What is the "security of an atheistic mind set" and why is it false?

          February 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm |
      • donaldwilliamfry

        Another book you might try is "Darwin's Black Box" written by the then chair of the micro-biology department a Lehigh University, Behe. Although the book has never been credibly refuted, the "open-minded" scientific community severely chastised a man who up to that point was considered world renowned for simply saying the evidence of biochemistry could point to a designer. If you have a credible refutation of his premise, I am all ears.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        ' I'm quite sure that less than 50% of humanity believes is God" No you're not. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, you simply typed something that sounded more plausible to your mind. . This figure of 95% is common place information that even a quick search will verify.

        " Certainly less than 5% would believe in your version of what God..." Nope, wrong again. 33% of the world's population are Christians, that's 2.5 billion people.

        " Bottom line is" that you would do yourself well to come to this site with the ability to separate fact from fiction.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
        • JakeSeaVik

          You're an idiot if you really think 95% of humanity believes in god. There's no way 95% of people in any given church on a Sunday believe in god, much less the rest of humanity!

          Every Christian seems to have a different definition of god. So if they're not all wrong, at least most of them are. But then, you'd have to think logically to understand that.

          February 12, 2014 at 8:34 am |
        • gmscan

          My friend, it sounds like you're the one being emotional about this. The number of believers should not be hard to measure, The Pew Center keeps pretty good track of these things..

          February 12, 2014 at 9:30 am |
    • dandintac

      Devin,

      I think you know the analogy effected with most of the examples you provide is that like God, these beings and creatures are all magical, and lack any hard evidence to support their existence. This is the common thread that ties them all together, and ties them to the God claim as well. Comparing God to Santa Claus is no more invalid than comparing the god Thor to the Easter Bunny. All of them–mythical, magical, lack any hard evidence for their existence. Therefore they are analogous for this reason. No magic is required to make this analogy, only reason.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        If you still are unable to grasp, after my previous post, the absolute lunacy of attempting to make these examples analogous with belief in God, there is nothing more I can say to help you.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          Why is it absurd? The analogy has been explained. You feel that the other examples cannot be compared to your god because you don't believe in them (I know few people seriously make claims about unicorns, etc.). Look at the logic and reason – you don't believe in them because you see no evidence of them; equally you cannot disprove them. So they are exactly like your god but without being established in society with an organization to promote it.
          Can you say why, for example, you do not believe in Amaterasu or Vishnu or Godhead?

          February 11, 2014 at 10:04 pm |
        • dandintac

          Devin,

          That's because your previous post made no sense.

          First of all, it's a logical fallacy–the argument from popularity. Islam is on track to overtake Christianity as the world's largest religion, if current trends hold up. Will that make their religion valid and Christianity invalid? I'm sure given that information, we can both agree that argumentation from popularity is no evidence for the truth of one's claims.

          Second, I don't buy your numbers. I'd like to see a source. Even if what you say is true, you say "supernatural being", not YOUR particular God. There are huge swaths of areas where people do not believe in supernatural beings in China and much of Asia, Russia, much of Europe. I suspect this 95% figure is just another assertion without foundation.

          Finally, you aren't even discussing your particular God character per se, you use a far more sweeping term, "Supernatural being", which would sweep in the very creatures and beings which you claim are as mythological–therefore, ironically, you confirm the analogy in the very same paragraph where you attempt to discredit it.

          Santa Claus: A magical being believed by some to exist, who knows when you've been bad or good, and will reward you or punish you accordingly, but there's no hard evidence whatsoever that he exists.

          God: A magical being believed by some to exist, who knows when you've been bad or good, and will reward you or punish you accordingly, but there's no hard evidence whatsoever that he exists.

          Now of course no one claims they are identical, but they certainly have a lot in common, whether you find it offensive or not.

          February 11, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
    • trivenic

      Never believe anybody or any statistic that ends in a 5 or 0. These 'statistics' are most often the bombastic bellowing of fools.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
      • JakeSeaVik

        I don't know about that. 0.0% of believers have been able to offer any evidence to support their belief.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
        • donaldwilliamfry

          I am not sure what proof would be enough for a person who is determined not to believe. If the reality of Jesus impacting the planet more than any other person in history ins spite of every sociological disadvantage does not supply evidence, then stay ignorant. If creation itself does not speak of God to you, then there probably is not enough evidence. However if you open your mind to all of the evidence – not just that evidence that makes you feel smart in your own mind, I think you will see the evidence for God is everywhere. Anyway, you won't be dead 15 seconds before you change your mind about his existence.

          February 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
        • dandintac

          Donald,

          Think about what evidence you would want to see for anyone else's god other than your own. If the Muslims claimed their God was the right one, or the Mormons claimed their God was the right one, or the Hindus claimed their gods were the true gods, would it be convincing to you if they said–"Look around! Vishnu's creation should be enough proof for you!"

          What you call "Creation" is a biased expression for the universe. The universe is. We understand a great deal about the natural processes that caused it to develop from the period of inflation on-wards. What we have observed and learned leads many, such as Stephen Hawking, to realize that no Creator is required.

          February 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
        • auntiekale

          Thanks Dan! My jaw dropped when I read what that poor fellow thought was a good reason to "pick" a deity! LOL 🙂

          February 11, 2014 at 9:26 pm |
    • mvrunner

      The Jatravartid People of Viltvodle Six firmly believe that the entire universe was sneezed out of the nose of a being called The Great Green Arkleseizure. They live in perpetual fear of the time they call The Coming Of The Great White Handkerchief.

      This makes exactly as much sense as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.
      It also makes exactly as much sense as Genesis, Exodus, and the rest of the OT.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
      • JakeSeaVik

        I strongly disagree. The first two theories make a lot more sense than the bible.

        I joke, but in all seriousness, the Tooth Fairy is much more plausible than the Christian god.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        I see now we are just drifting off into the land of nonsense.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
    • kinjirurm

      All you've done is to make an argument from authority. Not only does that not prove anything, you also fail to mention that the majority who believe in a Creator do not believe in the *same* creator. That is a significant fact. There is no evidence that any such being exists, only assertions. The only real difference between the Easter Bunny and God is that fewer people assert that the Easter Bunny is real.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
      • kinjirurm

        Pardon, I meant to say argument from popularity.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        That is because the argument I'm making at his point in time is not for Christianity, but rather for the existence of the supernatural and the existence of God.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
    • eoyguy

      To use a quote from Men in Black

      A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat..[snip]

      Simply because a large number of people believe in something doesn't make is so. Unless, of course, you still believe the sun orbits the Earth, and the Earth is flat...

      February 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
    • mickmastergeneral

      So 95% of the world's population believe in a supernatural being? A few problems:

      1.) Number pulled out of as$
      2.) Why would we care what a group of people that includes young children and the uneducated think?
      3.) Do you really think that that huge amount of people (which I don't doubt is a big number, despite not believing your made-up figure) believe in the same supernatural being as you do? No doubt many of them have their own particular fantasy.
      4.) Does belief by a large number of people make something true? By that logic, the world was flat a few thousand years ago.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
      • JakeSeaVik

        Regarding young children, keep in mind that we are all born atheists. At what age do people really have the capacity to ponder the concept of god and conclude they believe in one? Maybe 15 years old? 20? (Unfortunately, many have been brain-washed before they can even objectively consider the matter.) Certainly, more than 5% of the world's population is too young to legitimately believe in a god concept.

        February 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        mick

        When you have a better grasp on the validity of the numbers I mentioned, come back and we will talk. For now, I'm afraid I will just need to dismiss your input on the basis of ignorance.

        February 11, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
    • txsaint

      A better comparison would be how many children believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy vs how many believe in God. Children believe these things because they are told these things by the very people they trust the most: their parents and family. Eventually they learn the truth because the fables are too wild to ever actually be believed by a grown up, and later these grown ups confirm their questioning. But just as Roman children grew up believing i
      n the far out exploits of the Roman gods and Greek children grew up believing in Greek gods, children today grow up believing that a virgin was impregnated by a god, that this god died and was reborn, that this god later flew up into the sky and vanished, and on and on and on. When and if they question their parents, they are told not to question, that they just have to have faith. But a cult is a cult no matter the size, and most of the world's religions today are big, overgrown, powerful cults where the members are so indoctrinated that they can't even see the obvious. Getting bogged down in whether or not camels lived at this time or that time is silly when compared to the Bible. Of course many parts of the Bible are not real, especially the supernatural parts. It's like the Matrix: the blue pill allows you to keep living in your comfortable, known, make-believe world. The red pill allows you to see reality, as painful and as scary as it may be. There is a reason man invented god; we needed it to get though our childhood. But our childhood has been over for centuries and our adolescence is ending, and it's time we grew up and accepted the painful truth: that we are here and we pretty much have no idea where we originated. It isn't comfortable, I know. But inventing stories to make us feel better about our past is not conducive to growing as a species.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        " But inventing stories to make us feel better about our past is not conducive to us growing as a species."

        If you think these stories were invented to make us "feel better" you know very little of biblical literature. In sharp contrast to feeling better, we are forced to confront the reality that sin has infected everyone and everything on this planet and that if anything is true of the human condition, it's that it is not something that should make us "feel better."

        February 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
  19. thenetworkestate

    Whether camels were or were not domesticated in 2100 BC has no bearing on whether they were ridden and utilized. Horse were utilized before they were domesticated. Instead of breeding horses wild horses were captured and tamed. Camels could have been captured and tamed from the beginning of time and at what point they became domesticated is not particularly material to anything. Furthermore, scientists finding evidence of domestication in 1100 BC does not somehow rule out earlier domestication, it only means that we can say for sure that camels were domesticated by this date. Not a religious perosn just hate when people intentionally misconstrue data.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
    • mikado4501

      You make a very good point.

      February 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Domesticated means tamed and utilized.

      The story indicates that the earliest evidence we have is that camels were not tamed and utilized until much later than the bible would indicate. If wild camels were caught and trained, they would still be domesticated and their remains would still show indicators of that use.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
    • kinjirurm

      You did not thoroughly read the article. It states that the oldest evidence of load-bearing camels is after the accounts of the Bible. Don't get hung up on a term like domesticated, look at the actual evidence that was analyzed.

      February 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
  20. justme1n1

    Exactly how long are we going to be talking about this book? I am so over it. It is high time we call this rubbish exactly what it is; rubbish. Time to move on. Damn! Though, I do find the domestication of the camel information quite interesting!

    February 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
    • Alias

      What topic do you propose we discuss instead?

      February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
      • auntiekale

        We are Human.
        We have Earth.
        The future beckons.

        ps. we've also REALLY pooched the whole climates that we're used to, so you're grandchildren will look back at the 20th with a sense of awe and pain and wonder, just sayin'

        February 11, 2014 at 9:19 pm |
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About this blog

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.