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A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby Yosary » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:55 pm

A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

By God I mean the omni++ Creator of the Universe, and with that we may begin;

The fact that the writer of Genesis represents light as existing three days before the creation of the sun, the source of light, has frequently been noticed. One learned commentator supposed that God had infused a certain "luminosity" through the air, which was not exactly the same as the light of the sun. But light is not a thing; it is a phenomenon caused by definite laws of astronomy and optics. Such explanations are but fanciful refuges of superstition.

The order of Creation given in Genesis differs widely from the revelations of Geology. For instance fish and fowl are said to have been created on the same day. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that day means period. The conclusion still is that fish and fowl were created together. Starting from this conclusion, what should we expect to find in our geological researches? Why, the fossil remains of fish and of fowl in the same epochs. But we find nothing of the kind. Marine animals antedate the carboniferous period

From the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ, the Bible allows about four thousand years. The antiquity of the human race, therefore, according to Scripture, is less than six thousand years. Archaeology, however, proves that this is but a fragment of the vast period during which man has inhabited the earth. There was a civilisation in Egypt thousands of years before the alleged creation of Adam. The Cushite civilisation was even more ancient Archaeology shows us traces of man's presence, in a ruder state, long before that.

The Hebrews represent Jehovah as resting on the seventh day, as though the arduous labors of creation had completely exhausted his energies. Fancy Omnipotence requiring rest to recruit its strength! The Bible, and especially in its earlier parts, is grossly anthropomorphic.

It exhibits God as wrestling with men (Jacob) and sharing their repasts. It represents him as visible to human eyes, and in one instance as giving Moses a back view of his person. Yet these childish fancies are still thrust upon as divine truths, which if we disbelieve we shall be eternally damned.
If Christians believe the God they worship is the Creator of the universe that's cool, but I find it very hard to believe that this same God is the one who revealed or inspired the Bible with apparently not even a simple grasp of cosmology.
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby jimwalton » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:09 pm

Dr. John Walton has published some perspectives on Genesis 1-2 that are making a huge impact around the Christian world (https://www.amazon.com/Lost-World-Genes ... enesis+one). I like his approach. What his analyses of the text have shown are that Gn. 1-2 are accounts of *functional* creation, not that of material creation. It is about how God ordered the cosmos to function, not about its material manufacture. In the Bible there is no question that God is the creator of the material universe (and there are texts that teach that), but that's not what Genesis 1-2 are about. They are about how God brought order and functionality to the material universe that was there. Let me try to explain VERY briefly.

Gn. 1.1 is a heading, not an action. Then, if it's a text about material creation it will start with nothingness, but if it's a text about bringing order, it will start with disorder, which is what Gn. 1.2 says.

The first "day" is clearly (literally) about a *period* of light called day, and a *period* of light called night. It is about the sequence of day and night, evening and morning, literally. Therefore, what Day 1 is about is God ordering the universe and our lives with the function of TIME, not God creating what the physicists call "light," about which the ancients knew nothing.

Day 1: the light and dark function to give us day and night, therefore TIME

Day 2: the firmament functions to give us WEATHER and CLIMATE

Day 3: The earth functions to bring forth vegetation: plant life and AGRICULTURE

Day 4: The heavenly bodies function to mark out the times and seasons

Day 5: The species function to fill the earth, creating the circles of life, the food chain, and FOOD.

Day 6: Humans function to subdue the earth and rule over it: God's representatives on the earth, scientific mandate, responsible care of the planet.

Day 7: God comes to "rest" in His Temple, meaning that He comes to live with the humans He has made and to engage them in daily life, to reveal Himself to them and be their God.

Look through the whole chapter. It is about how the firmament functions to bring us weather (the firmament above and below), how the earth functions to bring forth plants for our sustenance, how the sun, moon, and stars function to order the days and seasons. We find out in day 6 the function of humans: to be fruitful and multiply, to rule the earth and subdue it. Walton contends that we have to look at the text through ancient eyes, not modern ones, and the concern of the ancients was function and order. (It was a given that the deities created the material universe.) The differences between cultures (and creation accounts) was how the universe functioned, how it was ordered, and what people were for. (There were large disagreements among the ancients about function and order; it widely separates the Bible from the surrounding mythologies.)

And on the 7th day God rested. In the ancient world when a god came to "rest" in the temple, he came to live there and engage with the people as their god. So it is not a day of disengagement, but of action and relationship.

In other words, it's a temple text, not an account of material creation. There was no temple that could be built by human hands that would be suitable for him, so God order the entire universe to function as his Temple. The earth was ordered to function as the "Holy Place," and the Garden of Eden as his "Holy of Holies". Adam and Eve were given the function of being his priest and priestess, to care for sacred space (very similar to Leviticus) and to be in relationship with God (that's what Genesis 2 is about).

In other words, your case doesn't prove that the Bible is not from God. Maybe you're looking at Genesis from the way it has been viewed for the last 500 years and not the way it was intended by its author to be understood. Maybe it has nothing to do with light existing 3 days before the sun, anything about geology, or the order of creation of fish and fowl.

> From the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ, the Bible allows about four thousand years.

The young earth theory is based in counting the generations of Genesis. But that's where the mistake lies. Genealogies weren't the same entity in the ancient world that they are today. In our world a genealogy is to record every person in every generation, in the right order and without gaps. We want to see the sequence. Not so in the ancient world. In the ancient world, genealogies were for royal purposes (to show who was the next rightful king), or religious purposes (to make a theological point). As such, the ancients left huge gaps and sometimes even changed the order to make their point (we're not aware that the writers of the Bible ever changed the order, but they did leave huge gaps). You know how Jesus is called "the son of David"? There are 1000 yrs between them. No matter, he was his son. This was common in the ancient world. They included the generations that fit their agenda. Even in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 10 (as well as the ones of Matthew and Luke), they include the people who make up the number that fits their theological point. In our day, we cry FOUL, but in the ancient world, this was business as usual. The genealogies weren't not primarily a way of record keeping, but to establish continuity from one era to another. Even numbers were often (but not necessarily) symbolic rather than literal.

> The Hebrews represent Jehovah as resting on the seventh day, as though the arduous labors of creation had completely exhausted his energies. Fancy Omnipotence requiring rest to recruit its strength! The Bible, and especially in its earlier parts, is grossly anthropomorphic.

Wrong again. In the ancient world, when a deity came to "rest" in his temple, he came to live with his people and engage them as their god. It has nothing to do with exhaustion or relaxation.

> It exhibits God as wrestling with men (Jacob) and sharing their repasts.

The one wrestling with Jacob is identified as an angel in Hosea 12.4. When Jacob says in Genesis 32.28 that he struggled with God, this is true, but the physical wrestling match was with a messenger of God. Jacob had been struggling with God his whole life. When he says in v. 30 that he "saw God face to face," we have to recognize that the Hebrew word is *Elohim*, a word that is used of deity, angels, and even at times humans.

> and in one instance as giving Moses a back view of his person.

You must read more carefully, especially if you are going to accuse and deprecate. The text does not say Moses saw the back of God's person. What God said is that He would cause His goodness to pass in front of Moses (Ex. 33.19) and that He would proclaim His name. But, he added (v. 20), Moses would not be allowed to see Him. Then we see that the Lord's glory passes by (v. 22).

These verses are fulfilled in Ex. 34.5, but there is no notion that Moses saw God. He experienced God's goodness in receiving the covenant. The cloud was full of God's glory. Moses could see the glory of God. God disclosed to Him the hidden nature of his being (Ex. 34.6-7).

So it's just not true that these things give evidence, let alone prove, that the Bible is not from God.
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby Classic Curls » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:51 am

Very thorough analysis. I applaud you.
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby jimwalton » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:51 am

Thanks. I'm glad it was of help to you.
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby Wanderer » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:24 am

> Day 1: the light and dark function to give us day and night, therefore TIME
> Day 2: the firmament functions to give us WEATHER and CLIMATE

so you actually omit the creation of the planet?

> God comes to "rest" in His Temple, meaning that He comes to live with the humans He has made and to engage them in daily life

That's a pretty random interpretation
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby jimwalton » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:24 am

Possibly it seems like that on the surface, especially if you've never heard it before, but when you think about it a little bit, it makes a whole lot of sense.

Genesis is divided into 10 "toledoth" sections ("These are the generations of...") Since the first toledoth statement doesn't come until 2.4, 1.1-2.3 can rightfully be considered a preface to the book. And Genesis 1.1 itself is not what happened before the rest of Genesis 1; it is the heading of the chapter—a literary introduction, a summary of what follows. The chapter then explains what is meant by "God created the heavens and the earth," which the text shows to be the ordering of creation to function in a certain way, not its material manufacture. If it were material manufacture, we would expect the text to show us nothing. If it were about ordering, we would expect the text to show us a world and cosmos that is formless and void, full of disorder and non-order. That's exactly what we have in verse 2.

Let's just look at Day 1, as an illustration of this "functional" understanding, instead of material manufacture.

God says, "Let there be light." There's no word for create or for manufacture. It's a jussive form, expressing wish or desire. When God said "Let there be light," we are instantly shown that we are to understand it as a period of light (the light was called day), rather than the "substance" our physicists call light (which the ancients would have had no understanding of anyway). The light is called day (not light, which is intriguing, since they had a word for light), indicating rather daytime—a period of light in contrast to a period of darkness, and rotating in sequence, giving us what we call time: the progression of evening and morning. Light is the regulator of time.

And God saw that it was good, which in their culture was a value statement (not a moral one) indicating that something was functioning properly.

In the ancient world, something existed when it had a function—a role to play. In Mesopotamia one way to accomplish this was to name something, because a name designated a thing’s function or role. Thus, in the Babylonian Creation account, bringing the cosmos into existence begins “when on high no name was given in heaven, nor below was the netherworld called by name… When no gods at all had been brought forth, none called by names, no destinies ordained, then were the gods formed.” In the earlier Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, the first couple of lines read: “After heaven had been moved away from earth, After earth had been separated from heaven, After the name of man had been fixed…” In Egyptian accounts existence was associated with something having been differentiated. The god Atum is conceptualized as the primordial monad—the singularity embodying all the potential of the cosmos, from whom all things were separated and thereby created. The Genesis account includes both of these concepts as God separates and names.

> so you actually omit the creation of the planet?

The Bible is clear that God is the creator of the universe and the planet (Jn. 1.3; Heb. 11.3), but that doesn't seem to be what Genesis 1 is about. Genesis 1 is more literally interpreted as a temple text: God setting up the cosmos to function as his temple (Isa. 66.1-2), because human hands were inadequate to build a temple suited for His glory (Acts 7.48; 17.24). The Bible doesn't tell us what processes God used, or how long it took.

> "rest" ... That's a pretty random interpretation

In the ancient world, after humans built a temple for their god, they had a 7-day dedication ceremony where they would proclaim the greatness of their god, and on the 7th day the deity came to "rest" in the temple, meaning that he came to live there, to engage with his/her people, and to be their god. The "rest" was the moment of indwelling to engage, not a need to relax. Again, look at Isa. 66.1: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" "Rest" is an indication that God lives there, not that he's exhausted and needs a break.

"Rest," therefore, doesn't imply relaxation, but more like achieving equilibrium and stability: full functionality. The environment God creates is not intended to provide rest for the people he has created (though that becomes a significant piece of theology as time goes on). Rather, he is making a rest for himself, a rest provided for by the completed cosmos. Inhabiting his resting place is the equivalent to being enthroned—it is connected to taking up his role as sovereign ruler of the cosmos. The temple simply provides a symbolic reality for this concept.

"Rest" is a level of order in the kingdom. It's engaging with the system and exercising control over it. It isn't disengagement, but instead the rule of it. His rest is his rule. He has taken the cosmos and made it his home. God has made the earth to function for his guests, but he lives here too (like a "Bed and Breakfast"). The opposite of rest is not activity, but "unrest." God resolves unrest and gives rest in his ordered system. Ps. 132.7, 8, 13-14.

So also the 7 days of creation are not chronological days of material manufacture, but rather the literal 24-hour days of temple dedication, proclaiming the greatness of God, and on the 7th day God comes to live in his temple and engage his people.
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby Wanderer » Mon Feb 11, 2019 5:08 pm

> Since the first toledoth statement doesn't come until 2.4, 1.1-2.3 can rightfully be considered a preface to the book.

That's a stretch. The earliest chapters of Genesis are a reaction to Babylonian creation mythos - their authorship is significantly later.

> The chapter then explains what is meant by "God created the heavens and the earth," which the text shows to be the ordering of creation to function in a certain way, not its material manufacture.

It refers to permanent hierarchy and the complexity of world.
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Re: A few simple reasons why the Bible cannot be from God

Postby jimwalton » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:19 pm

> That's a stretch. The earliest chapters of Genesis are a reaction to Babylonian creation mythos - their authorship is significantly later.

I guess we'll have to have a conversation about who's stretching. The toledoth segments of Genesis have been recognized for centuries and are universally regarded as a legitimate way to breakdown the book by the intent of the author. It's undeniable that Genesis 1.1-2.3 come before the first toledoth marker.

Now it's up to you to defend your claim that "The earliest chapters of Genesis are a reaction to Babylonian creation mythos." Um, that's a tough one to prove, but I'll read what you have to say. The Enuma Elish was written somewhere in the period of 1900-1600 BC. We have no clue what exposure to it the ancient Israelites may have had, but I'll read your support of this assertion. The contrasts between the Enuma Elish and the early chapters of Genesis are extreme.

Genesis: God is the ultimate source of power and transcends creation.
EE: Magic incantations are the source of power; the gods are subject to nature.

Genesis: Organized presentation of various realms of nature.
EE: Doesn't include light, vegetation, or animals. Moon and stars are created, but not the sun.

Genesis: Praise of YHWH as the Lord of creation
EE: Praise of Marduk; creation is incidental.

Genesis & EE both start with primeval deep waters.

Genesis: divisions by days
EE: No mention of days or any chronological structure.

Genesis: creation by speech.
EE: creation from formerly existing matter.

Genesis: separation of firmament, natural phenomena
EE: Corpse of Tiamat is divided to create waters above and waters below

Genesis: Humankind is co-regent of creation, ruling as the image of God
EE: Humankind are slaves so the gods can relax more.

But, hey, give it your best shot. Explain to me how you know Genesis was a reaction to the Babylonian creation myths.

> their authorship is significantly later.

Again, you're hard-pressed to prove this. While you might link to some Internet links, so what? I know the theories out that. What is lacking is evidence.

In contrast, there is good evidence for Moses as the tradent behind Genesis. It is quite reasonable, despite all the criticism of the past 2 centuries, that Moses was the principal source of the material.

* The rest of Scripture speaks of Moses as the author (Dt. 31.24; Josh. 8.31-32; 1 Ki. 2.3; 2 Ki. 14.6, et al.) and wrote his works down. No other author is ever presented, and there is no competing theory.
* The Pentateuch is recognized as a single book telling a single story with a single purpose. It is a unified whole, most likely coming from the same author.
* The historical details in Genesis indicate that it accurately preserves information from the times it describes: The Early Bronze Age (2000-1500 BC), or about 1700 years earlier than the oldest surviving manuscripts of Genesis. It’s reasonable to believe that some of this information had changed or would no longer have been known during the exile, so there is credible reason to believe an early source of this information.
* The absence of Aramaic, Persian, or Greek influence in grammar and vocabulary or the sort visible in the books that are dated by obvious criteria after the Babylonian Exile (6th c. BC) makes it likely that the Genesis text is earlier than 6th c. BC.
* What Moses wrote was obviously compiled and edited by later generations.
* The Jews and Samaritans of the 5th c. BC held Moses as the author.

> It refers to permanent hierarchy and the complexity of world.

I don't see this, so some substantiation would be helpful. I'm also not sure what you mean by "permanent hierarchy". Some explanation would help. The Genesis account of ch. 1 is in 2 sets of 3. The first 3 days are days of separation, the last 3 days are days of filling. What's this "permanent hierarchy" of which you speak?

And what do you mean by "It refers to ... the complexity of the world"? Whether you take the text as material manufacture or as ordering the cosmos to function in a certain way, both would refer to the complexity of the world, so I'm missing your point.


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