Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What about the trinity?

Here is another email I received:

I wonder if you have considered the trinity in light of the anthropomorphic nature of religion and politics previous to and concurrent with biblical times. In short wouldn't this place Jesus, if he did exist, on a par with the Roman Emperors, self declared gods incarnate? The experience of the Jews, in all the societies in which they lived, was of gods that could incarnate at will and walk the earth with the common man. Here, in Jesus, was a God incarnate who, unlike the emperor, was a man of the people,a man for the people.

Yes, when you consider the times, it was not that unusual for a man to be considered God incarnate. As you mentioned, Roman emporers made that claim. What is unusual is for Christians to accept this view, while carrying the Old Testament that says there is one God. Of course many accept the idea of 3 beings that are all God, but think that the concept of the trinity explains it. I discuss that issue at 3 Gods?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another Challenge to my Site

Here are portions of another email I received, defending the Bible and opposing my site. The writer begins with an interesting take on science:

You can tell us about light reaching the earth at the rate of speed that in some way you believe makes your theories disprove those of the bible. Since the so called big bang theory which i believe was Gods original creation of our universe, since then the universe has been constantly expanding. The light was already there and the distance to travel was closer to the original point of entry and some of those are actually moving away from us, and others with us.,some reflecting from other bodies such as the moons reflection of the sun.. The expansion of the universe along with the enormous black hole that was created also would bend and transverse all areas. And light that reached the earth would not necessarily have to travel far since expansion of the universe is still moving all things out at a terrific rate of speed, and also the expansion of the black holes which accellerate all matter and anti matter to speeds that cannot be measured. And what about light from stars that exploded before we arrived or could record the event. , the light is still coming. How fast does a small atomic blast spread, and how fast would it spread if in a vacuam and with black hole accelleration and warpage and an uncomprehensible size.with no original gravity from other universes and constellations to slow that growth and expansion.. So much for Science

So much for science? Some might suggest that this paragraph doesn't even begin to cover real science.

How do I begin to unravel the errors here? First, how can you say that the light was already there when the stars were created? The light contains information about the stars from which it came. Was that information ingrained in the starlight to make it look like it came from those stars, even though it hadn't? Wouldn't that be deceptive?

And yes, stars are moving outward, but that does not solve the problem that the light we see came from stars that were millions of light-years away when the light left the stars. And the light shows that the stars were very far away from us at that time.

Hell can scientists bring a man back from death after 4 days.

Nope. But science can develop the technology to give you a computer which allows you to get on the Internet and attack science. You know. if science hadn't done that, you wouldn't be here attacking science, would you?

Did it ever occur to you that you might be cutting off the branch you are sitting on?

Anything one Scientist says can be explained away entirely with a little thought.

Uh, and which scientist are you referring to , whose every word can be explained away entirely with a little thought?

Or are you condemning all scientists? If so, please explain away Isaac Newton's Principia with a little thought. I would be interested in hearing you explain that one away.

about these fossils and such. Science still has not proven that humans came from other species as in evolution, in fact they are completely at a loss in DNA mapping and fossil studies. Now they are telling us that aliens from outer space may have created mankind .

Scientists are at a complete loss in DNA mapping? Really? Why is it that we can find the spot in the human genome where two of an ape's genes were joined together to make the human gene? Can you explain that? That is one of the many ways that DNA mapping verifies evolution.

And please show me one respectable scientists that says aliens made humans. Where in the heck are you getting this stuff?

Our Scientists are only human and many of our best cant perform some simple tasks, but can offer baffling explanations to get noteriety or sell a book.

Many of our best scientists cannot perform simple tasks? My you go to extremes to attack science. Can you prove this statement? How do you know it is true?

There are some obviously fabricated lies even on the Discovery channel. I have even responded to their program about one of their shows, and caused them to remove the program. They removed it because they knew they would lose credibility in their programming. Funny thing is they even called me with an apology. I told them to apologize to the people who watch, but that never happened.

Oh, so your search for science has taken you all the way to the Discovery channel?

I think I may have found part of the problem with what you write.

If you want to learn about science, you will need to move beyond the Discovery channel. I would recommend you turn to the writings of scientists themselves.

I can buy books to tell me how to do anything, but most are total garbage and I end up doing it another way.

You end up doing it your way, and ignore what the books say? Somehow, I am not surprised.

Is it possible that your willingness to write off the ideas of others is preventing you from expanding your horizons?

Yes we may look like descendants of apes but it doesnt mean Mom and Dad were apes.

Ah, but what about all of the fossils that have been found intermediate between humans and apes? Don't they indicate something?

Now they say birds may have descended from Dinosaurs, yes the got real tiny and sprouted wings?.

Uh, some dinosaurs were small. And no, they didn't spout wings. Have you ever studied the structure of the wing of a bird? Amazingly, it resembles the forelimb of a dinosaur. Can you explain that? Could it be that the reason for this is that the dinosaurs' forelimb evolved into a wing?

Yeah this is from Sceintists who tell us they can prove chocolate is bad, then no, now its good for us. Take these pills proven to keep you from heart disease but give you an aneurism which stops your heart.

Okay, now you turn to attacking nutritionists, medicine, and pharmacology? You sure have unleashed a broad based attack on science.

Surely you must be aware that science and medicine have made tremendous advances in the last 200 years. Could it be that, although medicine has had some setbacks, that the advances in modern medicine far exceed the setbacks?

Then we find that if we ate fish twice a week and got off my butt it would accomplish better cure for the problem. at least for me it has. Hey thats a diet used in the bible, better than the doctors cure for me. Isnt it strange that the bibles words about food are still the most healthy.

Uh, but the Bible also encourages the eating of beef, which is not very healthy.

And when you talk about the old testament you need to realize that many of those laws were created for the Isrealites who were in need of strict law. And these same laws were nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Hmm. So the Israelites needed a strict law? Why? Were they not human just like you and me? And don't humans work better when not restricted by strict laws? So why did they need a law forbidding people to wear mixed fabrics or to work on Saturday?

If these laws were later nailed to the cross, why were such strict laws given out in the first place?

And as The New Testament states in so many places we are not bound by most of those laws. [Jesus] dispelled many of their laws and rulings in the old testament.

What about the New Testament verses that say we need to keep the law?

And if most of those laws have been obsoleted, which of them have been dispelled and which have not?

You claim to have read every line in the bible numerous times but I guess you cant see the forest for the trees. So what if every line in the bible were not perfect, or even the printer may spell some wrong, or even leave some pages out accidentally. How many places are most things explained frequently, and where is there a better guide anywhere to living.

Ah, so you admit the Bible may not be perfect? I agree. So let's discuss which verses might be in error.

Where is a better guide for living? How about the Humanist Manifesto? Many agree with me that it is a better moral guide.

Read history before Christ. The strongest dominated the weak . Seventy five percent of the world were treated as slaves.Unwanted children were killed or fed to animals regularly. Babies were sacrificed to pagan gods. Children born with defects were commonly killed or disposed of. Do you have any defects?. There were no morals and people lived like animals, could do whatever they pleased, take your property, kill you , steal your wife and children.

Uh, actually Greek and Roman civilizations had some high standards of human decency before Christ. And the advances that have been made by civilization can be attributed to many causes, not just the life of one man.

Even the Isrealites killed their people for breaking the commandments. Work on the sabbath, they killed you, steal a mans property or wife, they could kill you or beat you until you were a vegatable.

Uh, yes, and the Bible told the Israelites to kill a person who worked on the sabbath. That is the problem with your book. It commands things that you apparently consider to be wrong.

Pestilance and disease killed whole cultures because of lack of cleanliness, and sex with animals, and many partners, and lack of morality which leads to more disease. There was no charity , no respect for life, no hospitols. Much of the non Christian world still live like savages , with no respect for life, women, children, disease and more. Hospitols and nursing were founded by Christians.

Well, yes, disease killed many until modern science developed many cures. It would seem to me that science should take the credit for overcoming diseases.

And hospitals are primarily funded by secular governments, not by Christians only.

It is irrefutable that Chritianity is responsible for modern science.

How so? Much of the foundation of modern science was laid out by Greeks, Chinese, and Arabs, who were not Christians. It seems to me that people of many religions have contributed to science.

All and every branch of Science was developed by a practicing Christian.

That depends how you define branches of science. Much of science began outside of Christian lands. Yes, there was a period when science grew most rapidly among Christian Europeans, but there were other factors--such as plenty of food and leisure time-- that probably contributed more to Europeans' success than their religion.

The greatest litirature, the greatest art, the most beautiful architecture , the rules of law, government, The Constitution, our money ,
Can you honestly believe that Christ has not influenced every aspect of our life. I shudder to think what the world would be like if he had not been born.

There have been many influences on culture besides just Christ.

And I believe now that many are denying God we will see a faster decline in our way of life.

But in many ways life today is so much better than life in the past. Slavery and oppression of women have been largely eliminated in many countries.

Are you sure society is in decline?

You are one of our generation that has been affected by Jesus even if angry or in denial of him.

Angry? Gosh, what makes you think I am angry?

In denial? How can I be in denial when I was driven to my new view by the weight of the evidence?

I know the power of prayer as it works for me because i have been to that door numerous times.

And has the power of prayer delivered results that are better than chance? If you think so, how do you know this to be so?

Monday, January 15, 2007

The death of Judas

By popular demand, let's talk about the death of Judas. The conflict between Matthew and Acts is well known:

Matthew says:

Mt.27:5 And he [Judas] threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.

But Acts says:

Acts 1:18 Now this man [Judas] acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.

The verses indicate that Judas died in two incompatible ways.

In another thread, "Honey" argues that Acts 1:18 is not referring to Judas's death, but that the verse takes place after his death. I think that is a very unnatural interpretation of Acts 1:18. If the author was intending to convey that thought, could he not have expressed himself more clearly? After all, we have seen on this blog where Pastor Al thought this verse is referring to Judas's death. If the writer of Acts wanted Pastor Al to understand that Judas was dead before this verse, why didn't he make it clear so Pastor Al and I would understand it correctly?

Let's look at the verse. First we find that Judas acquired a field. Honey has argued that this event could have occurred after his death, and it could have been the high Priests who did the purchasing, acting as executors for Judas's estate. Well, yes, that could have been, but what an odd choice of words for the author to use. Why didn't the writer of Acts say Judas's executor's obtained the field for Judas? Whenever such transactions are done, it is usually said that the executor buys it for the estate, not that the dead man buys it. I challenge Honey to find one document anywhere where it tells us that a person executed a financial transaction without clearly telling us that the person was dead when the transaction occurred. So I find it extremely doubtful that the author intended us to understand this verse as meaning that Judas was dead when the transaction occurred in his name.

Moving on, Acts immediately tells us that this Judas (who had just acquired a field) fell headlong and his guts burst out. Surely if Judas had died between the financial transaction and this headlong fall, the author would have told us so. And Honey seems to agree that Judas did not die in the middle of verse 18. So we can write that explanation off as unlikely.

So it seems that, according to Acts, Judas was alive at the beginning of the verse, and was alive up until the fall. But even if Honey insists that Judas could have been dead several days before "falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out," this is a most unusual way of saying that. If people come across a body that had been dead for several days, it is invariably referred to as a dead person. Again, I challenge Honey to find any passage in literature where a dead person is referred to as a "he" doing something, without making it clear that the person of interest is dead.

So yes, of course, it is remotely possible that the writer of Acts meant to say that Judas was dead before Acts 1:18, and used extremely unclear words to express that thought. But a much more likely interpretation is that the writer of Acts thought Judas died as described in verse 18. As such, the verse contradicts Matthew.

You decide: Is it really feasible that the author intends Acts 1:18 to say, "Now this [dead] man['s estate] acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong [after he had been dead for a while] , he [or, more accurately, his body] burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out"? I doubt very much if this is the intended meaning of this verse.

Honey may be quite happy to find a possible solution to the problem, even if it is very unlikely. But remember, in order to prove the Bible flawless, she would need to find many similarly unlikely solutions for other conflicts in the Bible. If one must choose between hundreds of unlikely interpretations for each contradiction, or believe that the Bible is errant, is it not more likely that the Bible is errant?