“God is imaginary”? Really? Part 6: the Bible

Looking again to the website “God is imaginary”, we come to Proof Number Five: Read the Bible.

This particular “proof” contains an imaginary discussion between 2 people, “Chris” and “Norm”. “Chris” is depicted as what, in the pop-Christianity culture at least, would be called a “seeker” who has begun to read the Bible, and is fascinated with it. “Norm” is presented as the all-wise skeptic who seems to know the truth about the Bible. And presents several passages that are either miscited or given out of their context, all of which represent the supposed evil machinations that are contained within the Bible.

So, what is the obvious fallacy that is contained in this particular “proof”? Simply put, it’s a category error: a failure to distinguish between the parts that are descriptive (in regards to the national history of ancient Israel) and prescriptive (as an applicable rule of behavior), and when parts are particularly prescriptive, any acknowledgement of exegesis that help to give application to a particular passage. Two particular passages referenced I’ve answered here and here.

And I love this particular quote:

If Norm is a scientist it is even worse, and it starts with the very first line:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…
That’s not true. In the beginning a natural event created the universe as we know it, and the earth did not form until billions of years later. The creation story in Genesis is completely wrong. […]

This is a poor attempt to belittle the Cosmological Argument is presented in the opening verse of Genesis, as well as beg the question: what was the “natural event” that caused the universe? And, how does the writer know that this is not the case? Does he have some relevant information to the contrary? No, sadly he doesn’t, in fact he reiterates the same tired arguments about human evolution (which also begs the question about the first life that began to exist that would not only have the ability to evolve but also posses the necessary information for increasingly complex body plans). And there’s a slight against the flood account, but that’s an inside debate among believers about what “world” means in Genesis 6, whether it means the entirety of the world (aka global) or “world” in regards to immediate area (even I can’t say for sure because I have seen compelling arguments for both possibilities). Then there’s some crack about the tower of Babel, which wasn’t a tower as we think of one, but was more likely a ziggurat, and Babel is a Hebrew form of the name Babylon, which is mentioned more as a regional identification rather that a specific location. There is no reason to historically doubt the construction of such a tower, as southern Mesopotamia is littered with such structures, but the story itself serves a greater instructive purpose, as evidenced here.

Essentially, the argumentation is “because the Bible mentions a lot of difficult issues and subjects that have to dealt with in their context, which requires some intellectual effort and sometimes research on the part of the reader, therefore it’s false.” In other words, it’s a non-sequitur.

But the priceless piece is this quote at the end of the article:

[…]The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by primitive men. A book that advocates senseless murder, slavery and the oppression of women has no place in our society today.

Let’s examine these statements just a little.

The word “bible” refers to a collection of books. There are lots of books, and some of them are very old, but they still have relevant information in them, if just from a historical standpoint.

“Primitive” is meant as an insult, an obvious ad hominem that is also anachronistic. Let’s be honest, in their generation the writers of the Bible were thoroughly modern and in a thousand years, if humanity is permitted that much time, the people of this age will be looked upon as “primitive”, and the writer of this piece, just like the writer of this critique, long forgotten, might be thought of as being in the same class as those men who once thought of the earth as being flat.

The last statement though is thoroughly baseless, and as I have put out in numerous discussions with atheists who level this charge: produce one passage that commands the ancient Hebrews to commit “murder”, own slaves, or oppress a woman, and demonstrate it exegetically—meaning that it could be understood that way by the original readers. I have yet to have anyone do it. But let’s apply this same standard to American history, just for kicks. One would logically have to conclude, based on that same standard, that American history is false because it is rife with murder, slavery and oppression of women.


    • I think that there is reason to believe that is not the case, based on this verse from Genesis 6:
      “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them…”

      That little phrase “and also afterward” gives me pause in considering anything that wasn’t targeted at a specific region.
      But its one of those texts, where I look at the message as opposed to what actually written.

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