Prove that the Bible is full of contradictions-- I double dare you!

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Marsh, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep Well-Known Member

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    Errors and contradictions like Satan?

    It might be useful for some scholars to find out when believers in the Bible came to the attachment to an idea that the Bible should be without errors and without contradictions, otherwise it would be like Satan sitting with Jesus or Moses at the right hand of God.

    Without intending any malice to any party, but from my own views of things, considering that God talks to man in human terms and in human fashions and with the limitations of man, then what is so horrible and abominable about errors and contradictions in the Bible?

    Once you take it for granted that God is the author, then errors and contradictions are only so many typos in the hands of man.

    What can we expect then from the Bible? The minimum needed essentially for the poor peasant and the poor factory worker to know and observe to get to heaven or to get on good terms with Jahweh.

    How do we know the minimum? From the followers of the Bible who exercise an evenhanded approach to the formulations of essentials, like those people who put the the first Apostles' Creed for Christians.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  2. JJM

    JJM Well-Known Member

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    My interpretation on why God seems to have a different face in the two testaments is because God has changed his agenda by the time of the second testament. During the first testament God wishes to change the entire human race his strategy is Scare the crap out of them start over and hope they do what you told them to. During the New Testament God has changed his approach. He has now decided to tell us everything forgive our sins and take the elect back to heaven rather than trying to purify the entire race. The Old Testament he tried to get humans to do what they should by having them fear him. In the new he is trying to get them to do what they should because of their love for him. However I think it is easy to see Gods mercy and love shine through in the Old Testament. But he had to as punish just as he does now so that people relies what they are doing is wrong.



    As for the bible readings being considered perfect. I think that the message that these people received from God and the inspiration that God gave them was perfect but because these people may have written it wrong or have unconsciously let there own biases Influence what they write plus the constant translations and the fact that before the printing press everything had to be copied by hand and this could easily be screwed up what we read today may have some problems.



    Lastly I still have the question of why God would speak out against punishing someone’s children for there actions and then do it himself. Would anyone like to field that fro me because I can’t seem to resolve that in my mind?
     
  3. Marsh

    Marsh Disagreeable By Nature

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    Justice served?

    If we punish someone's children for their actions, we must first judge that person, and who among us is righteous enough to be such a judge as to pass such a sentence on another person? On a related subject...

    Deuteronomy 28:58-59
    'If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law... the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and you descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses.'

    Ezekiel 18:14-17
    'But suppose this son has a son who sees all the sins his father commits, and though he sees them, he does not do such things... He will not die for his father's sin; he will surely live.'

    Is this a contradiction? In the first, God promised to bring a punishment on the children of sinful people, while in the second he promised to save repentant people, even if they have sinful parents. Isn't this a contradiction? Or can both of these things be true at the same time?
     
  4. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Julien wrote:

    I am troubled, however, with what I see as a general contradiction in scripture which I can only pose as a question: is God a God of love and compassion or is "he" a jealous, wrathful God?[/QUOTE]

    Julien, I heartukt recommend to you the book "A Guide to Understanding the Bible" by Harry Emerson Fosdick -- I do hope it is still in print. I found this book extremely helpful, as it traces the course of concepts over TIME -- and shows how people's ideas of God, Man, Sin, etc., were gradually brought forward to more sophisticated levels of thinking via the successive teachings of the major and minor prophets of the Bible.

    I think you will find an answer to this supposed contradiction when you realize that the Bible spans several thousand years of human development. Initially, the people of God held very primitive concepts of divinity -- seeing "gods" as local deities, often residing in objects, and primarily concerned with warfare with competing tribes -- and their "wargods." These gods were wrathful and bloodthirsty -- which was about the limit of what these peoples could conceive in that time. It took some time, "faith-shattering" events like the diaspora , and a number of great teachers, to gradually bring this peoples understanding up to a level where they could grasp a God which was Spirit, omnipotent, all powerful and unconfined by a given geographical location.

    Likewise he traces the idea of sacrifice -- which I find especially revealing -- from the belief that many litlle "gods" had to be propitiated by blood sacrifices -- to the neccessity of sacrificing one's first born -- to the introduction of the idea of substitional sacrifice (Abraham) -- to the ultimate substitutional sacrifice (Christ) -- which, as I understand it, meant symbolically that we can finally leave behind the primitive belief of blood sacrifice.

    When cast in a chronological mode such as this, we see the early representations of YWHW as a wrathful God Who must be propitiated, and a jealous God Who must win His people away from all the gods of the other tribes and the icons and images they keep inventing for themselves -- because this was the starting belief of the people who first accepted Him. But over milennia we see the people become more sophisticated in their understanding, more capable of abstract thought, and with this greater capacity, a "greater" "larger" God is successively revealed -- A God of mercy, forgiveness, and finally, overwhelming love. Paralleling this gradual revelation of the nature of God we see a similar change in the idea of how human beings are to treat other human beings ... starting with severe laws which would brutally punish an individual for the "sins" of a tribe or a father, and a readiness to consider any people other than one's own tribe as an enemy -- to the more just "eye for an eye," and enlarging the idea of "our people" to anyone within one's nation -- ultimately, with the advent of the Christ, the introduction of the idea of all humankind under one God -- and every "neighbor" deserving of our mercy, forgiveness, peace, etc.

    I think you'll find that discovering the Bible as a record of an unfolding historical process of God guiding humankind (starting with very barbaric by today's standards) towards a truer understanding of Him and our spiritual nature, such seeming contradictions as God wrathful vs God merciful will melt away in greater insights.

    1 Corinthians 13

    11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
     
  5. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    "Lastly I still have the question of why God would speak out against punishing someone’s children for there actions and then do it himself. Would anyone like to field that fro me because I can’t seem to resolve that in my mind?"[/QUOTE]

    Personally, I see God punishing extremely rarely -- if ever. Rather, God shows us the truths we need to do the right thing... and we decide "not now," or "but I want this other thing" or "I've got another agenda," and go right ahead and do the selfish, the brutal ... the "contrary to the will of God." So Hitler choses to eliminate a people and unleashes a cataclysm of horrifying proportions and consequences. God didn't punish all those millions of people, human will did it. Likewise we "regular folks" with our smaller sins, set up icky consequences for ourselves and those we share our lives with ... like me having my driving priviledges suspended for 2 months because I didn't keep up my car insurance payments. Lots of icky consequences because I tried to get away with being outside the law.

    An old boss of mine used to say "The right way is the easy way." That's pretty profound.

    Basically the story of Noah is giving us this same message. Take refuge in the Ark (His covenant) and you will be in safety (and our safety, our spiritual wellbeing IS His desire and will ) ... figure you know better than He what's good for you and go party ... well, you're now outside of the protection of the Ark and whatever happens to you, it's not His fault. He didn't want to see you "punished" -- that's why He gave the guidance in the first place.
     
  6. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters Well-Known Member

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    The punishment of children, owning and beating of slaves is not the moral problem I have with Christianity- it is the punishment of God. For those who failed to grasp belief in a world wide flood, a talking snake, and resurrecting corpses we face a life of eternal fire- not just an hour or so, but all eternity?

    Isn't this just a wee bit overkill?

    One could argue that if one loves God and is part of his inner circle, they don't face that kind of punishment. Of course this same argument could be used to make Hitler or Saddam look like a good guy too. I expect a little more justice, compassion and understanding from God than from a brutal dictator.

    It would seem to me (and forgive me for thinking) that the concept of eternal hell is a man made concept to promote obiedence amongst the followers and to create converts to the faith. I am willing to give God more credit than his many followers.

    In our society, God would be the "thought police" condemning people for what they think, not necessarily for what they do.
     
  7. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Nogodnomasters--

    I am in general agreement with you. I don't buy the eternally punishing god scenario. My own Faith would say these (hell, punishment, burning, torment) are all symbols of the condition of the soul suffering separation from God -- a separation created by the will of the soul -- turning away from Light and Good -- (and you don't "go" to "hell" ... you take it with you!) -- and by Grace and/orour own choice, this spiritual condition can be changed to joy and "reunion" by turning toward the Divine.

    I have myself been in both conditions, and they're real enough without requiring any special geography!

    What is called for, IMHO, is a little abstract thinking -- none too popular (perhaps even heretical?) in many circles these days!
     
  8. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters Well-Known Member

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    Barefoot,

    I would say that we all have "our own cross to bear" but to claim it is caused by a separation from God is questionable. I have never been happier in my life then being an atheist. From my own expience happiness comes from within, not from one's relationship with an invisible entity.

    I would agree we create our own personal "hells" and "heavens" within ourself. It would be naive of me to claim it came from elsewhere.

    Now why is light so good? Isn't that just a symbol too?
     
  9. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    "Now why is light so good? Isn't that just a symbol too?"

    Yup. But a workable term for an ineffible. so is "good."

    I have been Christian, agnostic, TM, atheist, Baha'i and confused. (the latter when times have been rough and the whole idea of religion seems unreal.) It's all good -- if -- (again IMHO) one is seeking to shed superstitions, attachments and mean spiritedness, and aiming to acquire understanding, patience, love, "goodness" ... (Which is pretty much equivalent to the Baha'i concept "approaching God" -- ie, seeking to grow in Knowledge/Love).

    For myself, the thought "Nothing out there" leads to darkness and despair. My joy in life has been from Baha'i (29 years, now). "Light" -- happy, good, goal-oriented, productive -- otherwise the navel-staring sucks me down sumthin awful. In the end, I've learned I can't prove "Nothing" with my head -- but following my joy works. BTW in Buddhism, "Nothing" (or perhaps "no-thing" is another term for "God."

    I think perhaps too much western literalism may have given you spiritual indigestion. Have you explored the Hindu and Buddhist traditions? Forget literal... go abstract to the nines.

    Or Baha'i which is kind of middling "walk the spiritual path with practical feet" ... and it presents the Divine Ineffible within as well as transcendent.

    For example (inviting us to get shed of the "evil"/"damned forever" paradigm) what is your thinking on this verse:

    "O Son of Being! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding..." (The Hidden Words/Arabic, Baha'u'llah)

    (Nope. I still don't know for sure what that "light" is.) Meanwhile, tho, the idea is clear -- you start out perfect. Where will you take it from there?
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Are you sure you got that right? IMO, taking responsibility for yourself and others is never easy.
     
  11. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters Well-Known Member

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    The right way is never the easy way if you work for the governement. You are so hampered by regulations. Our slogan has become, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission."
     
  12. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Note that it says "The RIGHT way IS the easy way."

    This is a very different statement from "The EASY way is the right way."

    My middle-schooler is forever in a heap of trouble at school because she keeps choosing the EASY way. Were she to choose, instead, the RIGHT way, she would not be having to stay after school to make up her homework, or having to do lunchtime detention for being late to school.

    Avoiding/refusing the Right way leads to disasterous consequences, not only for the individual, but for the world in general. It doesn't mean following the Right way is easy ... it can be a path of extraordinary self sacrifice.

    This is the reality of spiritual principles/ethics.

    At heart, the purpose of religion (God & Prophets, anyway -- not always as it is understood or practiced) is to lead people to choose the Right -- not the easy.

    For instance, there is nothing Easy about following a religious law establishing a stabilized, covenantal institution that protects the wellbeing of a family (marriage), and abstaining from sexual activity outside it. But the realities of trying to raise children alone, in poverty, and the impact of no father model/masculine guidance for children, are much greater hardships both for the idividuals directly affected and society in general.

    It is naive, and an injustice to God, to say that these hardships were because He gets ticked and punishes everyone. No, they are the consequences of our own choices.

    I don't think the message, for instance, of Noah's flood, is that God destroyed the world cause He was ticked off, tho it is couched in story-telling language. It's deeper meaning is that a flood of disasters is the inevitable consequence of choosing the Easy (or fun) way. The Ark is a symbol of the Covenant -- ie the Law of God (spiritual principles) -- whoever takes shelter in that is in spiritual safety.

    God, I believe, is an unknowable reality -- but can quite correctly be thought of as "The Source of Spiritual Principles." In my own opinion, an "atheist" who is dedicated to living by the "Right Way" is much "nearer to God" than an avid religionist who, assuming for himself a priori forgiveness, does whatever he pleases and hurts many with his fire and brimstone condemnations of his fellow human beings -- including the reputation of God.

    If those were the only two paths available, I'd no doubt still be an "atheist," too!
     
  13. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Bureaucracies, of course, are another matter... being outside the natural order of the universe!
     
  14. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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  15. CSharp

    CSharp Established Member

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    This thread is WAY too tempting, could ya'll cut it out please?!?!:eek:
     
  16. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    Vaj --

    I got through about half that lengthy work -- I'll return to read the rest when I can.

    Scholars, I do believe, have been suspicious of Paul for quite some time; and I've certainly had my problems with him -- that he and much of what he taught were at odds with the Disciples, I was aware of, but this piece certainly does give the whole miasma a good hard looking at. I would love it if another cache of scrolls were to show up that filled in a lot of those blanks... tho, I don't think we can really expect that.

    I have often wondered how much the apparent meanings of the Bible would shift were the books just put in their correct chronological order. (I did set out once to re-read the entire book in that order, but, afraid I didn't really get very far... ) For one thing, it's progressive nature (especially Old Testament) would become more apparent, and a fair number of seeming "contradictions" would be more readily seen as development of concepts.

    For that matter -- if there were a publisher out there to be so bold -- I would be very interested to see a Bible (New Testament, at least!) in which the books of the New Testament were clearlly demarcated, something like: Section 1, the three Markian gospels; Section 2, the writings of the early church fathers; Section 3, the Pauline documents and the gospel of Luke; Section 4, the Revelation of John and other Ecstatic texts: Section 5, Rediscovered gospels and extra-canonical texts. (Perhaps a Section 6, pivotal documents in the development of Christian belief - Nicene Creed, Apostle's Creed, Augustine, etc) All, of course, with copious commentaries and historical info. It might be called "The Scholar's Bible."

    This probably would not go down well in many quarters (ahem, to say the least!) ... but for myself, I would love to have one!
     
  17. Operacast

    Operacast Well-Known Member

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    BINGO! -- IMHO.

    Cheers,

    Operacast
     
  18. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    In other words: works over faith. :)
     
  19. barefootgal9

    barefootgal9 Baha'i

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    ... well. I think I said something a little stronger than that.

    faith, I think, can lead to greater works, greater energy, greater courage, greater commitment , greater service to humanity, than disbelief.

    but faith -- or perhaps, more correctly, "doctrine," can often work more evil than disbelief.

    so I would put it "faith and works over works alone, works over faith, faith or works over doctrine"
     
  20. mcedgy

    mcedgy Active Member

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    Okay, in response to the challenge here is a two cent look at mostly NT Gospels:

    The lineage of Jesus is contradicted between the 1st chapter of Matthew and the 3rd chapter of Luke. Both list Joseph as the father of Jesus. Matthew says the name of Joseph’s father was Jacob while Luke says Joseph’s father was Heli. Mathew says there were about twenty-six generations between Jesus and King David but Luke says there were forty-one. In Matthew, Jesus’ line of decent was through David’s son Solomon but in Luke it was through David’s son Nathan. (Since the Holy Spirit is the father of Jesus, Joseph’s genealogy can be pertinent only as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that indicates the Messiah would descend from King David.)

    The story of the birth of Jesus as told by Matthew (2:13-15) says Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt immediately after the wise men had brought gifts but Luke (2:22-40) says they stayed in Bethlehem for the time of Mary’s purification (forty days) and then carried Jesus to Jerusalem “to present him to the Lord,” and afterwards returned to Nazareth. No mention of a journey to Egypt or of wise men can be found in Luke.

    Matthew 27:5 states that Judas took the money he obtained for betraying Jesus and threw it down in the temple and then “went and hanged himself.” Acts 1:18 indicates that Judas purchased a field with the money and “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst and his bowels gushed out.”

    As Jesus was led to his execution John 19:17 says that Jesus carried his own cross but in Mark 15:21-23 a man called Simon carried Jesus’ cross to the site.

    Matthew 27:44 tells us that both criminals being crucified with Jesus taunt him but Luke 23:39-43 says that only one of the criminals taunted Jesus and that the other criminal rebuked the one doing the taunting and Jesus told the criminal who was defending him, “Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” That statement brings to question the three days. Hadn’t Jesus already said he would be in the earth for three days and nights?

    Even the last words of Jesus are uncertain. Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 say Jesus cried with a loud voice, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Luke 21:46 says that Jesus’ final words were, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” John 19:30 tell us the last words were simply, “It is finished.”

    Many New Testament prophecies demonstrate even greater failures. Jesus indicated the “Son of Man” would return within the lifetime of the audience to whom He was speaking. In Matthew 16:28 he tells his disciples, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” In Matthew 24:34 he says, “ Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled… mcedgy
     

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