Can We Have a Bible Thread? (Catch-All?)

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I think of this thread as a collection of mixed quips and specifics regarding the Old and New Testament.

Hopefully we can keep this from getting out of control so perhaps a format of simple questions with more detailed but not pages prolific responses would do. And keep the tit for tat to a minimum. At some point we should deem, "Asked and answered. Move on."

So I will start with somethings that struck me the other day:

Of all the rules and mandates contained in the bible, the only one that struck me as from an omnipotent being is this response to being asked for a name: "I am."

If it helps to not offend, maybe I should try to frame it as a child asking about the 10 Commandments. A lot of them lack permanence considering that life on earth is just the beginning.

Stealing, honoring your parents, adultery, coveting don't seem to have any sting when you consider that you can't take it with you. No other gods, idols, and the sabbath seem to be geared towards showing respect to your creator.

Killing I could make a case for having permanence since the ending of a life should only be in divine hands or conversely that by taking a life you are assuming divinity. But is any of this critical to the functioning of the universe? If we blink ourselves out of existence due to poor habits, behavior and character the universe and God persists.

The second thing that struck me is that by saying that you should take no other gods before me, is that divine proof or an admittance that other gods exist? (Please take this tongue in cheek. It is very full of whimsy.)

Not quite sure what you're looking for a response to here. Could you boil it down to a couple straight forward questions? I only ask because if you really want a question/answer sort of format, it would help to be specific. Otherwise it'll be right back to the usual discussion path because there's too much room left for interpretation in terms of the questions.

Bible? Whimsy?

*heads to bomb shelter*

Sorry Certis. Maybe the question should be:do the ten commandments sound like they come from an omnipotent being, relating to the eternal heavenly journey? Or do they seem too grounded in earthly do's and don'ts? Do they backhandedly legitimize the existence of other gods?

Or maybe I should just scrap this thread because it is already stillborn.

The problem is that someone is going to take offense if you ask actual critical questions about the Bible. I always found the story of Lot's daughters getting him drunk so they could have sex with him and have children by him. I always wondered about the historical reality of the Exodus from Egypt. I took a class on the Old Testament in college and there's a theory that this actually happened in a fashion and that they crossed the Reed Sea (not the Red Sea) and thus there was a bit of a miracle, although not literally walls of water held at bay by God.

There's interesting stuff in the Bible if it's discussed in a non-religious context. But that's probably impossible. I would love a thread like that. Even as an agnostic-atheist I find the Bible fascinating.

Be careful what you ask for.
this thread didn't go to well

I think a lot of people who question the legitimacy of the bible are already aware of its flaws, and these kinds of questions to the extent that they'll only respond to them if they have to. To me, it's a storybook taken to its level of popularity by a large, majority set of religious sects that claim to adhere to its particular teachings. It gets far more attention than it deserves, especially since there's lots of equally-ancient, if not older, literature that is far more interesting.

Maybe I just should have pmed Phoenix Rev =)

This is a place for things which may be offensive to some. I'd say go for it.

As far as the ten commandments are concerned, I don't think they have anything to do with a heavenly journey at all. To take it back to when it was written: My interpretation of the Jewish faith is that there was a belief that you were going to eventually end up with God regardless, so I think it was more about establishing a foundational social code.

As far as the first commandment in particular (Christian - as it isn't the first for those of Jewish faith), I think it's well understood that polytheism was a common practice at that time. The literal translation would be closer to "You shall not have my face beside another that you consider to be a god". Essentially I see it as a rejection of this practice.

I've always thought the claims of omnipotence and omniscience were based on exaggeration and such in the bible. The God described in the bible is neither All-knowing (Adam and Eve hid from him in the garden, etc) nor have I seen evidence that is God all-powerful (although clearly very powerful). He also occasionally goes back on his word, sometimes immediately (in the case of haggling over Sodom). Maybe I'm getting my definitions of omnipotence or omniscience wrong, which is quite possible, but if I am than it is a misconception most Christians have as well.

LouZiffer wrote:

As far as the first commandment in particular (Christian - as it isn't the first for those of Jewish faith), I think it's well understood that polytheism was a common practice at that time. The literal translation would be closer to "You shall not have my face beside another that you consider to be a god". Essentially I see it as a rejection of this practice.

That's how my rabbi explained it to me.

The omniscience, so far as I have read the all knowing and powerful god is new to the young Christian church in Rome and Greece. Overt claims of that is from many of the epistles also on Acts. You might creatively interpret it from Hebrew scriptures or the Gospels; but not in the same concrete terms you get from early church writing. It does not take a genius to understand the necessity of this.

Worship for most religions, I would dare to say all, is designed to be public. Pilgrimages onto mountain tops, erecting grand temples, preaching to the masses, etc. That will get you killed in the first century as a Christian. So how does God know that we worship him when we do so in locked rooms, in sewers? How can god hear our prayers for deliverance when we are hidden?

As with many things religious, let's flash forward beyond the Roman crisis. Without professing an all knowing, all powerful god you do not have the same punch of the problem of evil. You do not encounter the problems surrounding free will. And then you have the entire Catholic Mystery of Faith that I am pretty sure no one truly understands.

You might also look at it given the target audience. Greek Gods could see all from Olympus. They could control men and women. The God of Moses could not see 2 naked people hiding behind a tree. To convince and convert, your god needs to appeal to the converted. Christianity has been brilliant and sculpting the view of God to suit Greeks, Saxons, Celts, Normans, etc.

KingGorilla wrote:

The God of Moses could not see 2 naked people hiding behind a tree.

In my humble opinion, I believe God knew exactly where they were, but he wanted to give them the opportunity to come to him. He knew their guilt, which is why he appeared (or what we are led to believe ) shortly after they ate the fruit.

I'm still puzzled as to why they are guilty given that, by god's own design, they knew nothing of right and wrong prior to eating the apple and thus didn't know it was wrong to disobey the commandment not to eat the apple.

Genesis 3:3
"3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."

Again my opinion:

God had warned them of the fruit, and the consequences of eating the fruit. God wanted us to have free will, to make our own choices, but choice without something to choose from, really isn't free will. He wanted man to have complete control over his actions, good or bad.

But when I read the old testament in other veins, God switched off his targeting computer. God can single out Pharoh and influence his will, but the punishment is on the whole of Egypt. God can send messengers to Lot, but all of Sodom must pay for the actions of 5 men. God can single out Noah, but the entirety of creation is washed away. He does a lot of carpet bombing. God seems very binary, he can deal with one man individually, or evoke wrath broadly. God cannot only inflict his wrath on 5 offenders in Sodom. He cannot only hurt pharoh and his advisors.

There is great inconsistency in there of his power. The very need of prophets is another issue for me of his all power.

"Don't eat that fruit you're going to eat!"

The problem with the Garden of Eden is that it really is an exercise in... I don't even know what the words are. What's Lucifer doing there? Yeah yeah, free choice and all that, why the devil would God even let the devil in there?

The issue with omniscience here is that, if true, he already knew the results of what was going to happen there... and in theory knows already what everyone everywhere is going to do. THAT, to me, is a very depressing idea, as it means you're not going to suprise God, and calls into question the idea of free will. You can say you have free will, but if someone else already knows exactly what will happen because to him it has already happened... how free are you really?

And even then, if we're going for THE BIBLE, which necessitates that we get to Jesus at some point as the Savior... well then Adam and Eve HAD to fall and they really couldn't have had any choice in the matter otherwise there would still too people sitting out in... wherever picking their noses and checking out the garden naked as bluejays, which they would have LOOOOONG since named.

Buddhist (with some agnosticism of a clockmaker God) and loving it!

(For more devilishly interesting points on some of those questions and such... I would say read I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. Great book that's told from Lucifer's point of view, so you get some interesting points on a lot of big Biblical events that really start to throw your head for a loop.

KingGorilla wrote:

But when I read the old testament in other veins, God switched off his targeting computer. God can single out Pharoh and influence his will, but the punishment is on the whole of Egypt. God can send messengers to Lot, but all of Sodom must pay for the actions of 5 men. God can single out Noah, but the entirety of creation is washed away. He does a lot of carpet bombing. God seems very binary, he can deal with one man individually, or evoke wrath broadly. God cannot only inflict his wrath on 5 offenders in Sodom. He cannot only hurt pharoh and his advisors.

There is great inconsistency in there of his power. The very need of prophets is another issue for me of his all power.

Old Testament God = Not So Nice Guy.
New Testament God = Nice Guy.

To paraphrase Louis Black, must have been having the kid.

KingGorilla wrote:

But when I read the old testament in other veins, God switched off his targeting computer. God can single out Pharoh and influence his will, but the punishment is on the whole of Egypt. God can send messengers to Lot, but all of Sodom must pay for the actions of 5 men. God can single out Noah, but the entirety of creation is washed away. He does a lot of carpet bombing. God seems very binary, he can deal with one man individually, or evoke wrath broadly. God cannot only inflict his wrath on 5 offenders in Sodom. He cannot only hurt pharoh and his advisors.

There is great inconsistency in there of his power. The very need of prophets is another issue for me of his all power.

I would honestly LOVE to be able to sit down and answer these questions right off of the top of my head, but I feel like I would be doing the subject at hand a disservice. My knowledge of the Bible is not as extensive as it should be but, I when I get some time I'd like to search for some answers.

Demosthenes wrote:

"Don't eat that fruit you're going to eat!"

The problem with the Garden of Eden is that it really is an exercise in... I don't even know what the words are. What's Lucifer doing there? Yeah yeah, free choice and all that, why the devil would God even let the devil in there?

The issue with omniscience here is that, if true, he already knew the results of what was going to happen there... and in theory knows already what everyone everywhere is going to do. THAT, to me, is a very depressing idea, as it means you're not going to suprise God, and calls into question the idea of free will. You can say you have free will, but if someone else already knows exactly what will happen because to him it has already happened... how free are you really?

And even then, if we're going for THE BIBLE, which necessitates that we get to Jesus at some point as the Savior... well then Adam and Eve HAD to fall and they really couldn't have had any choice in the matter otherwise there would still too people sitting out in... wherever picking their noses and checking out the garden naked as bluejays, which they would have LOOOOONG since named.

Buddhist (with some agnosticism of a clockmaker God) and loving it!

(For more devilishly interesting points on some of those questions and such... I would say read I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. Great book that's told from Lucifer's point of view, so you get some interesting points on a lot of big Biblical events that really start to throw your head for a loop.

That's pretty much the argument I have for why a totally omniscient God is mutually exclusive with the concept of a Redeemer. Another good book from the Devil's point of view is Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth.

Well, God wanted Adam and Eve to consume the apple.

God actually needed them to. Without the fall, there is no need for redemption via a Messiah.

edit: post-Jewish perspective, natch.

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

Not to mention the fact that Hebrew is a metaphorical language. "God is womb." doesn't mean that God is actually a bit of female anatomy. (Translated to English as "God is compassionate." but to the Hebrews it had additional layers of meaning.)

A complicating factor is that the poetry of the King James translation is so *damn* good, that people are more inclined to take it literally. I think that if people were raised with a more flat translation, it wouldn't tickle the bits of the brain that trigger inspiration.

Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

If the Bible is true, is it surprising that similar stories of origin were passed down through different people groups?

Nomad wrote:
Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

If the Bible is true, is it surprising that similar stories of origin were passed down through different people groups?

That's a specious argument. It's entirely possible that the reverse is true: that creation stories of other cultures were adapted by the early Jews as their own.

Plus the qualifier of "if the bible is true" doesn't serve any real purpose here other than to propose an unproven hypothetical.

Nomad wrote:
Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

If the Bible is true, is it surprising that similar stories of origin were passed down through different people groups?

OR, conversely, the Sumerian creation myths are true, and the Hebrew/Christian one is watered down and distorted version of them. That would actually make more sense.

Demosthenes wrote:

"Don't eat that fruit you're going to eat!"

The problem with the Garden of Eden is that it really is an exercise in... I don't even know what the words are. What's Lucifer doing there? Yeah yeah, free choice and all that, why the devil would God even let the devil in there?

The issue with omniscience here is that, if true, he already knew the results of what was going to happen there... and in theory knows already what everyone everywhere is going to do. THAT, to me, is a very depressing idea, as it means you're not going to suprise God, and calls into question the idea of free will. You can say you have free will, but if someone else already knows exactly what will happen because to him it has already happened... how free are you really?

And even then, if we're going for THE BIBLE, which necessitates that we get to Jesus at some point as the Savior... well then Adam and Eve HAD to fall and they really couldn't have had any choice in the matter otherwise there would still too people sitting out in... wherever picking their noses and checking out the garden naked as bluejays, which they would have LOOOOONG since named.

Buddhist (with some agnosticism of a clockmaker God) and loving it!

(For more devilishly interesting points on some of those questions and such... I would say read I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. Great book that's told from Lucifer's point of view, so you get some interesting points on a lot of big Biblical events that really start to throw your head for a loop.

Have you read Mike Carey's Lucifer? Lucifer's Garden of Eden has an angel play a snake who temps Adam to worship a god when Lucifers only commandment is to worship no one.

NSMike wrote:
Nomad wrote:
Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

If the Bible is true, is it surprising that similar stories of origin were passed down through different people groups?

That's a specious argument. It's entirely possible that the reverse is true: that creation stories of other cultures were adapted by the early Jews as their own.

Plus the qualifier of "if the bible is true" doesn't serve any real purpose here other than to propose an unproven hypothetical.

They are both "specious arguments". That was the point. A similar story from a separate culture does not discount the Bible.

Nomad wrote:
NSMike wrote:
Nomad wrote:
Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

If the Bible is true, is it surprising that similar stories of origin were passed down through different people groups?

That's a specious argument. It's entirely possible that the reverse is true: that creation stories of other cultures were adapted by the early Jews as their own.

Plus the qualifier of "if the bible is true" doesn't serve any real purpose here other than to propose an unproven hypothetical.

They are both "specious arguments". That was the point. A similar story from a separate culture does not discount the Bible.

Doesn't prove a darn thing, either.

Nomad wrote:
NSMike wrote:
Nomad wrote:
Robear wrote:

There's a common Mesopotamian motif dating to the 23rd century BCE which shows a man (a God) and a woman, sitting under a tree, reaching towards it's fruit, with a snake behind them. And the Jews spent a lot of time in Babylon later on... Hmmm...

(There are a lot of influences from earlier religions on Judaism, and it's clear it started out as a polytheistic religion. Heck, it's even got two *different* creation stories. Which is fine - it's a product of it's environment and times - but that just makes it harder to rationalize when it comes to modern Biblical literalism (and indeed explains why Jews are not literalists).

If the Bible is true, is it surprising that similar stories of origin were passed down through different people groups?

That's a specious argument. It's entirely possible that the reverse is true: that creation stories of other cultures were adapted by the early Jews as their own.

Plus the qualifier of "if the bible is true" doesn't serve any real purpose here other than to propose an unproven hypothetical.

They are both "specious arguments". That was the point. A similar story from a separate culture does not discount the Bible.

You mean God got Tannhausered?

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