Sunday, January 17, 2010

Answers for Rex

 These the questions I wrote about a couple of days ago. They were put up by Dr.Pepper on CARM and I criticized hem as being loaded and rhetorical, I also showed that since then he's given answers that prove my point. But Rex (an atheist reader of this blog) became angry and wanted me to answer them. So I will so do now just for him.

I would love to be able to ask these questions in a forum where the majority of Christians might be able to read them and give answers but that is not possible. Maybe a Christian frequenting this sub forum can pass them on to others and report back.

1. Where did the words used in the bible come from? God, man or both? If both how much is God and how much is man?

This is a loaded biased question because no Christian theologian ague that God wrote the Bible in same sense that he wrote the tablets of stone wit the 10 commandments on them. We all know the Bible was written by humans (mostly men with a couple of possible female authors in Genesis, Proverbs and maybe Hebrews). Does that mean the words are from humans? It means that the expression is human but the inspiration divine. Now I think there may be instances where the words are actually prompted by God and arguably those might be where it says "thus says the Lord." Even in those cases it could be that the general idea was of God but the exact expressions used were human.

Even if God dictated letters like a business man speaking to a secretary he would still have to filter it through the secretary's understanding. That will obviously color the meaning and the way it's expressed.

The atheist is clearly missing the meaning or the point of inspiration if he/she thinks this is a big deal. The point of it is not words on paper, the point is experiencing God first hand through your own psyche. Any understanding we have is going to have to be filtered through our cultural constructs.

There are many theories of Biblical inspiration it's a great mistake to think they are all involved with inerrency. I've written about this at length. Read my essay on "The Nature of Biblical Inspiration" on Doxa.

2. If the words are primarily from god why are there contradictions and different interpretations of those words?
Because they have to be filtered through our own understanding for us to understand them. We don't always understand each other. The most "objective" "factual" human information (science? math?) has its controversies. It's always possible to have more than one interpretation of any sort of data. If you think not they are either totally ignorant of scinece or just plain dishonest. You would think Mathematics is totally objective and cut and dried right? you can't just argue about math can you? Wrong! One time I live in Albuquerque New Mexico and I was visiting my parents in Dallas for Christmas. I met up with an old friend from Austin who was traveling two other friends on their way to Albuquerque for a math conference at UNM. I offered them a ride for free so they took it. That whole ride--600 miles--was the most argumentative ride I was ever on. They did nothing but argue! They argued a lot about math. One can argue a great deal even about the most "objective" and hard wired ideas. Obviously they don't sit around gong "two plus two is not four" yet they definitely argue about math and about things hat the average person would think were rock solid. One of those guys exposed an answer on the SAT as wrong! Pretty disillusioning hu? You can't trust the answers on the SAT to be written in stone what can you trust be written in stone? Even the original 10 commandments got smashed.

There aren't that many places where the Bible says "This is what God says." There are several but it's not on every page. There are many more that don't' say it. The point of the Bilbe is not words on paper. The mode of inspiration that sees it as a memo from the boss is totally inadequacy. Read the link about about the nature of inspiration because that shows many different models other than inerrency or that "memo from the boss" mentality.

3. Are there any ORIGINAL ideas in the bible that can only be found in the Jewish culture? For example creation in a short period of time, resurrection, the golden rule, the idea of sin and sacrifice, everlasting life, honor your father and mother, etc.

Well actually mono-theism. There are people who point out that the Egyptians had a Monotheistic pharaoh but that shouldn't really count because it's not clear that he said there actually is only one god and all the others are just dead stone. He may have been saying there's only one that's worthy paying attention to. One might argue perhaps the rule of law applied to religion rather than civil jurisprudence. But be that as it may why is that necessary? You are assuming the exclusivity of the fundie view point as universal to the faith and it is not. There are many passages where the Bible says God works in all cultures. Paul says God put the moral law on the heart and gentiles can follow it and they do sometimes and when they do they show that God is working among them (see Romans 2:6-14). Paul even says their hearts may excuse them in the final judgment. He says that God put people where they live so they will seek him and find him (Acts 17:21-29). I can only assume that means God is working in all cultures.

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