Ken and I exchanged a few informal emails back and forth before he decided to initiate a “formal” debate.
Ken Rebuttal #001:
Sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to you, but it’s just been crazy for me with finals and everything else going on.
Anyway, gosh there’s so many topics we could choose from. Since this debate is based solely on the existance of a God, why don’t we start out by examining The Bible-what I believe is the Word of God. I’m curious to see what you believe The Bible is and perhaps if you can find anything in The Bible that would lead you to believe that it is simply a book that man created solely on his own. What I would hope to find here is any evidence that you can find in The Bible that was written about that is either contradictory or proven false (not by theory but by fact).
From my experience, when reading The Bible I have always found it to be much more then some book that mere men could write. I have always found it’s claims to be unique and bold yet always true. The Bible claims to be God-breathed, and in order for that to hold up, The Bible would have to be perfect, for God is by The Bible’s definition flawless, perfect. So that’s where I would like to start if that sounds good to you-let’s examine the evidence for and against The Bible. Feel free to expand on the topic in any way you see fit if you think it’ll add to our discussion.
What has always intrigued me is that throughout history archeologists have used The Bible as a sort of map to search for ancient cities or civilizations. The physical characteristics described in The Bible are now about 75 percent proven, and that number is on the rise. Furthermore, I have never found anything in The Bible that, when taken correctly in context, is either false or contradictory. That simply can not be claimed by most, if not all, of the world’s religions. But this fact in and of itself does not make The Bible true. I can write a book that is perfectly flawless in physical nature but make claims about God or the universe that are simple false. For example, I could say “the world is round and I, Ken Rogers, am God.” This would simply be false. So what I find is that although the factual evidence for The Bible is wonderful for believers, it is not the only reason to believe in it. What has compelled me to believe in it is the philosophical reasoning behind The Bible and the changes that I have seen it cause in people’s lives. I have seen people (including myself) that have researched and read The Bible and applied it to their life. What I have found is that it gives people meaning for their life in a way that can be backed by truth. I believe that The Bible is unique in that it tells of the one true God that truly cares deeply about His creation and is not simply an authoritarian figure. In other world religions you see a religion based on works or monetary gifts that will supposedly further your standing with God. But The Bible is unique in that it tells of God’s nature that He does not care about money-that money is simply a thing of the world that will be useless after this life anyway. It tells of a God that does not care so much about the things of this world but rather is interested in the well-being of His people. It tells of a God that is longing to be close to and love His creation and who wants to spend eternal life with them, blessing them with His perfect presence in thier life. That’s what sets The Bible apart to me, I’m excited to hear your take on The Bible and what The Bible is to you. Blessings.
Response to Ken #001:
KEN: “What I would hope to find here is any evidence that you can find in The Bible that was written about that is either contradictory or proven false (not by theory but by fact).”
Will I be able to hold you to the same? Will you present only fact and not “theory?” Of course I’m assuming that when you use the word “theory” in the sense that you have, that you are referring to a sense of deduction. You obviously are not talking about scientific theory, as a scientific theory is held up by facts – it is an idea supported by the facts. Theories in science are not the same as hunches of common man on the street.
However, I will hold you to the same criteria – you can only present facts (you’ve lost this debate already and don’t even know it).
KEN: “I have always found it’s claims to be unique and bold yet always true.” [sic]
I take it you haven’t read too many books, then. Have you tried the sacred texts of other religions? The Bible is not unique – it was just spread by the sword faster and more efficiently than the other sacred texts of the world’s religions.
KEN: “The Bible claims to be God-breathed, and in order for that to hold up, The Bible would have to be perfect, for God is by The Bible’s definition flawless, perfect.”
Just to make sure I understand your stance, you think that the Bible is God-breathed and is 100% perfect; without error, contradiction or inconsistency. If the Bible claims that God is perfect, and God breathed the Bible, then the Bible is perfect. Circular logic aside, I will hold you to that claim. If I can show that the Bible is not perfect, that it is full of errors, inconsistencies and contradictions, then you must admit, at a minimum, that your Bible-God is imperfect, and preferable, that your Bible-God is nothing more than the fanciful writings of imaginative men.
KEN: “What has always intrigued me is that throughout history archeologists have used The Bible as a sort of map to search for ancient cities or civilizations.”
You should clarify that statement. What archaeologists use is the Hebrew text of the Torah, which was adapted and adopted by Christians as the Old Testament. The references in the Hebrew texts to kings, cities, etc, seem to be mostly accurate. The use of known figures and known cities to establish a timeline and a sense of “awareness” for the reader is not uncommon in most sacred texts and modern writing.
The book Escape from New York is riddled with references to actual cities, streets, historical persons, etc. This does not mean that the story is real or that the characters, such as Snake Plisken, are real. What it does mean is that the author used legitimate references in the storyline in order to help the reader grasp the concepts presented – to have a better feel for the story. It’s a common practice of authors – both then and now.
So what archaeologists are finding is that many of the cities referenced were real. Some of them are still present, but are under different names. Some of them are buried under the sand. What archaeologists are also finding is that while the cities references are real, the stories about them are bogus. Sodom and Gomorrah never succumbed to a great nuclear blast generated by the fingertip of Yahweh. There is no evidence of any mass exodus of millions of Jews across the desert for 40 years.
KEN: “The physical characteristics described in The Bible are now about 75 percent proven, and that number is on the rise.”
Please provide a source for that information. Please elaborate on “physical characteristics.” It seems to me that your reference to the physical is exactly what I am talking about – cities, statesmen, etc – historical characters and cities used as reference points in a story of imagination.
KEN: “Furthermore, I have never found anything in The Bible that, when taken correctly in context, is either false or contradictory.”
Very well, let’s start out simple. What I’ve found is that most Christians have not really read the Bible. What they tend to do is read the passages that their preacher talks about on Sunday or passages that are sent to them via email from someone promoting some specific viewpoint – justifying their nonsense with Biblical prose. Those that have read the Bible cover-to-cover are the ones that notice the problems that are inherent in the Bible. So let’s just take a small portion of them and go from there. We’ll see what you can do with these.
We’ll begin in the New Testament. What I would like you to do is read about the death and resurrection of Jesus in the four gospels. It may be easier to have four Bibles open to each gospel with the aforementioned section open in each. As you are reading each account from the separate gospels, answer the following questions. Then re-write the gospel account, using data from all four gospels, without having any contradictions, inconsistencies or errors. That is your challenge. If you can do it you will be the first person in history to do it. Theologians and Biblical proponents have failed at every attempt so far. We’ll start you off easily with just seven questions. Can you beat them? Let’s see…
- What women visited Jesus’ tomb?
- Was the tomb open when the women arrived at Jesus’ tomb?
- Did the women tell anyone what they had seen at Jesus’ tomb?
- When did Mary first see Jesus?
- After appearing before the women at the tomb, who did Jesus next appear to?
- How long did Jesus stay on Earth before the ascension?
- Where did Jesus ascend to Heaven?
KEN: “That simply can not be claimed by most, if not all, of the world’s religions.”
It can’t be claimed by yours, either. However, most of the world’s religions make the same claim. The Qu’ran boldly claims that no one can write a Surah to match the beauty and prose of those that are breathed by Allah.
KEN: “What has compelled me to believe in it is the philosophical reasoning behind The Bible and the changes that I have seen it cause in people’s lives.”
Would you give equal merit behind self-help books that do the same? How many people’s lives have been changed by L Ron Hubbard’s Dyanetics and the founding of the Church of Scientology?
How many lives have been changed by the Qu’ran or the Qabalah? How many lives have been changed by reading The Word by Buddha and finding out about the eight-fold path? How many people still quote Confucius from his Analects (Lun Yu) or The Great Learning(Ta Hsueh)?
Or perhaps we can go further back and look at the great influence that the Egyptian Book of the Dead had on people and still has to this day? What about the Vedas of the Hindu or the Akaranga Sutra of Jainism? How about the Tanakh or the Talmud of the Hebrews?
Even more modern is the many lives influenced and changed by the Book of Mormon or The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, which established modern neo-Paganism and Wicca. We can look at our own continent and ask the Cherokee for their Sacred Formulas or travel to Japan and read the Kojiki of the Shinto.
Or perhaps we can read the Shri Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikh religion – a book that has changed the lives of people so profoundly that they are willing to risk discrimination and harassment in public by wearing large turbans and being confused as Muslims in this post-9/11 environment.
Maybe we can visit our local New Age center and after watching Tai-Chi being performed, ask the participants how much they were influenced by reading the Tao-Te Ching? We can visit among those that worship Zoroaster and ask them how much their lives have been influenced by reading the Yatkar-i-Zariran or Khorda Avesta?
We can even ask a few atheists if they’ve been influenced and had their lives changed by reading the Humanist Manifesto or a science book. Ironically, if you ask me what book influenced me the most, I would agree with you – the Bible. It was reading the Bible that influenced my life the most – made me realize what a hypocrisy Christianity is and that it is nothing more than a sham – just like every other religion on this planet.
KEN: “I have seen people (including myself) that have researched and read The Bible and applied it to their life. What I have found is that it gives people meaning for their life in a way that can be backed by truth.”
The fact that a book gives someone meaning to their life is not factual proof of the book itself – or of its supposed author(s). Many books have given “meaning” to the lives of the people that have read them (as discussed above). People need to believe in something it seems. It doesn’t matter what that belief is, because they are all victims of geography.
The only reason that you have latched onto the Bible is because you were not born and raised in New Delhi or Baghdad. If you had, you would be trying to convince me that the Vedas or Qu’ran were “God-breathed” and perfect. Because you were born and raised in a predominantly Christian environment, you latched on to the book that was available in your geographic region. You aren’t a Christian because it is true – you’re a Christian because you were raised that way – brought up in an environment surrounded by the dogma and icons of that religion – it was familiar to you – comfortable – a security blanket of recognition in a world of religious rainbows – you picked the black and white you were used to.
KEN: “I believe that The Bible is unique in that it tells of the one true God that truly cares deeply about His creation and is not simply an authoritarian figure.”
Really? You don’t see the Bible-God as an authoritarian? You don’t see all the rules and “bow before me” and “go to Hell if you don’t believe in me” as authoritarian at all? You don’t see the Bible-God as demanding absolute obedience to his authority? Are you reading the same Bible that everyone else is reading?
KEN: “In other world religions you see a religion based on works or monetary gifts that will supposedly further your standing with God.”
What religions are those? Please provide specific examples and if you can quote from their sacred text that would be even better.
So you don’t see tithing as buying your way into Heaven?
KEN: “It tells of a God that does not care so much about the things of this world but rather is interested in the well-being of His people. It tells of a God that is longing to be close to and love His creation and who wants to spend eternal life with them, blessing them with His perfect presence in thier [sic] life.”
Tell me again how that makes the Bible factual and “truly God-breathed.”
I am still waiting for Ken’s response.