Saturday, May 7, 2011

Defending the Hebrew Bible - kinda

At Unreasonable Faith, the blog post "Is the Bible Reliable for Truth about Jesus Christ?" generated a few hundred comments - some of them less decorous than you'd like when having discourse between believers and non-believers.

One comment "don't be butthurt when a few people either a) poke fun at you or b) take you to task for not making logical sense, your crazy book of Bronze Age nonsense, be damned." made me want to defend the Bible - kinda.

What I'm getting out of my OT reading this year is that the Hebrew Bible is a compilation of Bronze Age writing that attempts to 1) explain existence; 2) explain man's current state (as of the writing); 3) narrate the lives or notable actions of notable persons (or characters who may have been derived from notable real people); 4) record rules for living (both from a health and sanitation perspective, and an ethical perspective); 5) record people's (or composite character's) alleged interactions with an alleged supernatural entity that the authors assumed was the creator and supervisor of the universe; 6) lay down further rules that purport to carry out what the authors believe to be this supernatural character's wishes and expectations.

It may or may not have been nonsense to the original authors of the words of the Hebrew Bible. It appears to be nonsense from my perspective in 21st century America, but I choose to appreciate the writings as a window onto the dawn of history. Making the charge to a believer, as an atheist or skeptic, that the Hebrew Bible (or the New Testament) is nonsense, doesn't further the dialogue between the believer and the non-believer.

Clearly, the evidence we have and the logic that we can construct regarding the supernatural indicate that the actions of, interactions with, and subsequent human reactions to gods, angels, demons, magic, prophecy and other unsubstantiated unnatural phenomena are not based on real occurrences. As a corollary, the Bible cannot then be considered reliable.

But it's only nonsense when I'm not interested in having a civil discussion.

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