A Collection of Short thoughts. A few by me, but others are excerpts from much longer articles.
Originally this was called "Hebrew Sucks" but that was unfair. It's not that Hebrew, Greek, Latin, or any of the other ancient languages the Bible was written in are hard to translate, it's that translation itself is difficult and incredible subjective.
Interestingly, it was not until I was reading a book called "Basic Japanese Through Comics" by Ashizawa Kazuko that I started to understand. It's a great book for the supportive material alone even if you don't care about reading the language. The part that really struck me was that Japanese doesn't have a future tense. As in, you can say "I picked up the Bible" or "I am picking up the Bible" but not "I will pick up the Bible". If you are referring to a future tense you only can understand the meaning by context.
But then again, English is no exception to strange. Translate the word "read". Or did I mean reed, red, or read? English fail.
What originally bothered me was a comment made by a fundamentalist that the King James version of the Bible was the perfect and indisputable world of God and unalterable. With that as my guide, I did a couple searches on "lost in translation" and I ran across this. "But ancient Hebrew contained no written vowels as distinct letter forms: the actual vowel sounds were "added" to the reading by means of oral tradition and long-established usage." - Hebrew for Christians
Yep, there is no possible way anything could get lost in translation with that, just move along and don't look behind the curtain.
But even issues like this are not the true Achilles heel of translatION, because the issue is context, or lack thereof.
Let's say I write a verse that says "And he placed a box upon the alter". Now fast forward 1,000 years and have someone in China translate this. Even as an English speaker of today, this is really vague. Box, is a very non descriptive word. Is it big, small, colorful, heavy, or light? And there is almost no present day connotations to the word "box". But then assume I said "And he placed a trunk upon the alter". A trunk is still a box, but it has a current day association with something that is larger, sturdy, and associated with travel. So a modern reader may think that the writer is implying all of that. But it's just as likely the writer only mean to convey larger, and sturdy, not travel. So you could read this today and totally miss the authors point. Much less read this 1,000 years from now and then translate. There is just no way without more context.
Think I'm being to hard?
"Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto Jehovah. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect."
And the obvious question is, "Why?". Argh!
While writing this and checking my p's and q's I ran across an article that attempted to explain this. The reason given by the author was that God disliked Cain's offering because Cain didn't kill anything and there was no blood. This is not helping your case. Really. You just can't make this stuff up.
Do you want to convince me the Bible was inspired by God, and not by Man? Show me one, just one, place in the bible, where one scientific fact is mentioned that ancient people could not have know. How about the value of pi to 100 places, e=mc^2, the speed of light, the size of the earth, or the moon. Anything? Or as another person put it
"The Bible contains nothing that is not explainable as the product of men." -- Kyle J. Gerkin
Another View here Converting Atheists By Adam Lee
Update 10/23/2015: In retrospect I must have originally written this after reading the book "Contact" by Carl Sagan and then while poking around the internet found this larger article by Adam Lee.
In the book "Contact" and not in the movie a major subplot is the message written in the decimals of PI. It is this message that the aliens found and why they are believers. I always thought it was a rather great concept. What better way to prove to everyone for all time than to John Hancock your signature in one of the constants of the universe.
Where does the bible teach you to live a happier life? Where does it teach you useful information on living your life? Dealing with grief? Work? Play? Conflicts with others? Dealing with problems in your job, marriage, getting old, dealing with children? The range of human experience is broad any helpful information from god would be greatly appreciated. And by the way. The only answer given ,,, "Pray", seems to be lacking.
Update 10/23/2015: No doubt at this time I was also reading some self help books including "Awaken the Giant Within" by Tony Robbins, "The Art of Happiness" by the Dali Lama, and a host of others. The entire purpose of both of these books is to help you live a more fulfilling and worthwhile life. Both are packed to the top with ideas, viewpoints, and real concrete actions you can take to make yourself fell better, or deal with grief or suffering.
This particular example highlights the Bibles view point on all matters. If for example you are depressed. The answer in the Bible is to pray and GOD WILL DO SOMETHING. In all of the self help books, if you are depressed, the answer is for YOU TO DO SOMETHING.
Originally I had this titled "Power and Responsibility" but the harsh wording overpowered the idea so it needed a total rewrite. The idea is that if God designed the Universe, then he is responsible for the flaws in the design.
Cancer is a integral by product of life. If you design life the way it is designed, then cancer will happen. If God designed life, then God knew cancer would be a by product, and therefor God is responsible for Cancer.
In no way is this a unique or novel idea and a quick internet search will find dozens of other Agonists and Atheists asking the same question. What you will not find are any coherent answers. The Apologetics are particularly and noticeably silent on this one.
After reading the few I did find online there are two main rationales.
The first and most popular reason is "gobbledygook gibberish wtf". Which is a short way to say, "utter nonsense". These are the reasons that either ignore basic biology, cause and effect, or start with the question but then go off on a wild tangent that has nothing at all to do with the question. These answers include such gems as "Cancer is simply a reflection of the evil that is in the world", "Before God created man, there was no cancer", and "Cancer was caused by our ancestors destroying their DNA by eating poorly".
The second rational given, if I might paraphrase is that God didn't promise you a rose garden. Or if you like your answers in more flowery terms, "The world was not created to be a paradise for man, but created as a place where man could grow closer to God, and suffering is a part of it". I'm pretty sure what all of these are saying is that suffering is a part of life, it's intentional, and it will make you a better person in the long run.
Talk about needlessly complex. What person would ever think this would be a good way to rid the world of evil? Hell, it only took him 7 days to create everything from scratch. Doesn't this story seem a little ridiculous?
God has all power to forgive sin. If he wanted to, he could simply say "all the sin's of the world are forgiven". No need for Jesus, a virgin birth, or a crucifixion. It seems needlessly complicated, barbaric, and downright unnecessary. If Congress passes a law that makes it illegal to own a red shirt, and then realized it's a bad idea, they simply repeal the law. Instead, if you search on this subject online you get comments like "Jesus had to die on the cross to pay for our wrongdoing, for our sins. The law required that mankind die for his wrongdoing (sins) because mankind violated God's law." Again, that makes no sense. God created the law, and God can repeal or change the law. My favorite of course is "Jesus died on the cross to fulfill prophesy". I'm not even going to bother to explain how ludicrous this is.
"Christians often speak of god as “holy”, saying “he cannot look upon ‘sin’ or imperfection”. But who decided that he couldn’t look upon imperfection? Who decided that he couldn’t accept imperfection unless he first subjected himself to a brutal, violent death on a cross? Christians act as if this god had no choice in the matter. They seem to believe that Yahweh’s need to have someone “pay” for the disobedience of Adam is a rule that he must adhere to and is not a rule or standard of his own making. If it is true that the need to have someone suffer as an “atonement” for sin is a standard he must adhere to whether he likes it or not, then where did this standard come from? Wouldn’t such a scenario imply that god himself is then accountable to an authority or law that exists outside of himself? On the other hand, if God simply decided that he could not accept his own creation unless he first killed himself, then why should we feel badly about it?"
-- Darcy West
"For God so loved the world that he made up his mind to damn the large
majority of the human race."
-- Robert G. Ingersoll
As the follow up to "What was the purpose of Jesus's Sacrifice?" the question must be asked "If Jesus is the son of God, was it really a sacrifice for him to die?". A sacrifice is when you give something up and hope that your sacrifice brings future worth to someone. If you are God, and you die, then you go to heaven. It's pretty much an express ticket. And if you know you are going to rise from the dead, then the dying part is a little less final. And really, if you are going to die, but in doing so you save all of mankind for all time, that's a pretty good way to go. I can think of a couple million people throughout history that had far, far, less.
Another View here The Sermon by Farrell Till
"Finally, shouldn’t the existence of talking snakes, magical life-giving trees, and fearful humanistic gods be a not so subtle tip that what we are reading here is historical-based mythology and haven’t we reached a point in our development as a society where we can admit that the bible has everything to do with ancient man’s hopes, fears, and ideas about what they thought a God should be and nothing at all to do with what God, if there is one, really is?"
-- Darcy West
"We have all heard an adage that tells a reliable way to settle controversy. "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you can be reasonably sure it is a duck." Genesis 6:1-4 looks like mythology, sounds like mythology, and reads like mythology. What else is there to conclude but that it is mythology? Who would believe otherwise if this were in any book but the Bible?"
-- Farrell Till
"The reader has probably seen some attempts to harmonize some of the discrepancies between the gospel accounts. The precarious and contrived nature of the result should make anyone hesitant to base much on it. But let us suppose these texts could all be harmonized. The value of the accounts as evidence for the resurrection would still be greatly lessened. The very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them. What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the texts still might be true. This is a different thing than saying that the texts as they stand probably are true, that the burden of proof is on the person who would overturn this supposedly unambiguous evidence for the resurrection. Conservative apologists often ignore all the discrepancies, or after they have harmonized them, they continue to pretend the texts constitute unambiguously
-- Robert M. Price
Am I the only person that finds it odd that the Bible takes great pains to describe the lineage of Jesus back to David along his FATHER'S side, but then has him born of the VIRGIN Mary?
Yes, I have read the arguments that "since Joseph claimed him as son, this made Jesus the rightful legal heir to the throne of David". Sorry not buying that. How about the more plausible, "Who cares about women, we are a society of men" followed by "Genetics? What's that?".
Update: Of course I'm not the only person to wonder this. A quick internet search will bring up dozens of articles on this subject, and dozens of other people saying something like "this doesn't make any sense".