After Eden, Key Change

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes 15 seconds.

I have spent the day doing the sickness thing and browsing the web within the clothes I wore yesterday. Man this gets old quick. However, I did download some quite excellent little extensions for Mozilla Firefox, which I would like to share with you.

For those of you who still use Internet Explorer, shame on you. Switch to the free and cool Firefox and get improved security, a nicer interface and add-ons that give you constant local weather forecasts, a way to track all your favourite news sites as they update and helps you boil a better egg. Courtesy of the lovely Irish blogger Ms. J Dalton, I found a deadly new way to sms people and to choose web colours.

All those things are free. You are probably Irish. You have to accept free things, even if you don’t need them. It’s a national pride thing.

A sudden drop in air pressure has caused Zoomtard to become a tabloid. Here are some photos of famous people to make you feel better about yourself.


Adrian recently used the comments on one of my entries to launch an unexpected attack on the validity of the Bible. What a strange thing to do on the site of a mofo who hates everything except the HOLY WORD OF THE LORD!!! My spider senses may be tingling because of the nausea inducing medication but I think he may have posted this link because he wanted me to take up the challenge and THROW DOWN!
Buy a car seat, install it in your living room and fasten the seatbelt, as we get medieval on the ass of some dodgy biblical critiques.

The list composed by the helpful folks at infidels.org is about as convincing an attack on orthodox Christianity as those pictures of Britney are of the Sexiest Woman In The Worldâ„¢.

Some Opening Comments
Lets begin with a question. What do you think the Bible is?

The Bible is the most under-read book in the world. Considering the crazy claims it makes for itself and the massive impact it has had, it is a travesty that it is so rarely opened.

One thing the Bible is not is a moral guidebook. I suspect a large number of you had that or some version of it in your head. In fact, the only part of the Bible that consists of moral guidelines is the book of Proverbs, some “Levitical” law portions in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus (that has been fulfilled with the birth of Christ) and the Sermon on the Mount, leaving the rest of the sixty six books free from the kind of preachy do-gooding you thought would be there.

To understand anything about the Bible (and therefore to evaluate any claims made against it by infidels.org or in favour of it by The First Holy Church of Zoomtards) you must grasp that it was written in a series of different genres. These are not arbitrarily defined to suit the faith of orthodox scholars but they are categories agreed upon by everyone in the biblical scholarship world, regardless of their personal beliefs. So in the first portion of the book of Genesis we have the genre of “foundational myth”. (The “myth” here is used formally, not as a synonym for legend). The first three Gospels are historical narratives. Revelation and the Book of Daniel are the classic examples of books in the apocalyptic genre. There is poetry (Song of Solomon, Psalms, Philippians), there is prayer (Lamentations), there is prophesy (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Obadiah etc), there are annals (which are semi-historical like in Kings 1 & 2) and so on.

Much like music, knowing what genre a piece is in gives you a good idea as to why it was written and for whom. So we know that the motivations behind Britney’s newest album differs from Jars of Clay, which in turn differs from Mozart’s Linz Symphony. This kind of vital information is entirely missing from this list that Adrian has posted and so we should be highly sceptical of it to begin with.

Setting a biblical passage into its context is vitally important. The books were written in two different languages by dozens of different people, working under many different established ruling classes, all across the Mediterranean and over the course of 1,200 years. You cannot bring the same set of criteria to your assessment of Revelation 5, which was written in Greek by the apostle John on the island of Patmos in 95AD to explain what happens in the heavenly realm when Jesus resurrects on Easter Sunday that you bring to Judges 5 which is a poem that was written in Hebrew in modern day Israel 3,200 years ago.

Taking the Bible out of context is what fundamentalists do. They read every verse off the paper as they see it and so they end up with warped beliefs that are utterly untrue and also unliveable. The most clearly understood effect of this is how people take the first two chapters of Genesis without context and end up as Creation Scientists.

Taking the Bible out of context is what these anti-Christian fundamentalists are doing too. But they aren’t forming an argument; instead they are building a straw man. When you take the text out of context all you are left with is a con.

Responsible biblical study looks at three extra things when it examines a verse. It begins just like the fundamentalist by examining what the verse means in and of itself on the paper. But here is where the radical departure begins because a responsible student of the Bible will then look at where the verse fits within the chapter, where the chapter fits within the book and finally where the book fits within the plan of the whole Bible. This takes a lot more work, which is probably the primary reason why it happens so rarely.

On top of that, every time you come to study the Bible you should be asking yourself three further questions.

1) What must this have meant to the contemporary readers of this in the place this book was written?
2) What does this mean to us, as a society, today?
3) What does this mean to me, as an individual, today?

To look at the Bible without asking these questions is to abuse it. It is not a 10 step self help book. It is not a manual for righteous living. To fail to read it carefully is to totally miss the point.

The Actual List
So lets actually deal with some of the contradictions that they claim to have found.
Under the title, “Earth supported?”, the author quotes Job 26:7 and Job 38:4. If God claims to have created the Earth, as He does in 38:4, there is no contradiction with Him claiming to have created it to hang on nothing, as he does in 26:7. There is no contradiction.

He goes on to say “Heaven supported too?” and quotes Job 26:11. He doesn’t propose a second clause to this so there is nothing to contradict against. I think he is suggesting that if God was real, heaven couldn’t possibly have pillars. I am going to be charitable here and say that isn’t quite the major problem most people have in believing the claims of Christianity. But it is a good example of ignoring genres. The passage quoted is from Job, which is a wisdom book in the form of a play and the language used is far from a dry, journalistic account of an unfortunate series of events. As such, the pillars here referenced may be more poetical than literal.

“The shape of the Earth” is another case of comparing like with unlike. Matthew is a Gospel, written as history, with real journalistic credibility. But the passage being considered is a miraculous one. What Jim Merritt is doing is taking a passage from the 2800-year-old prophecy of Isaiah written in Hebrew that glorifies God and comparing it to the desert temptation of Christ and saying, “Here is a mistake! Argh! We all see it!” The mistake he is trying to point out is that Matthew must think the Earth to be flat. Quite. It’s a unique interpretation of Matthew I’ll give it that. I don’t understand why we would disregard Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God because Matthew may have believed the world to be flat, but then I am psychologically weak and need the crutch of faith to save me. By the way, the passage has been interpreted for over 1900 years as Satan tempting Jesus with visions of Earthly power.

This failure to let the Bible be anything but literal accounts for a heap-load of the contradictions listed. “The hydrological cycle”, “God be seen?”, and “God change?”, for example, are all just places where Merritt doesn’t permit a non-literal reading of the text.

So many of the arguments on the list come down to a simple failure to understand what orthodox Christians think the Bible is in terms of its divine input. The Bible is not claimed to be the pure and unfiltered Word of God (which is the claim for the Koran, which can only truly exist in Arabic and which allegedly existed before the creation of the universe and will exist after we all fall away too). Instead, Christianity claims that the Bible was the Word of God as originally given. I believe that when God inspired the authors, the terms He used were perfect descriptions. However, there were varying degrees of unavoidable data loss between that point and when the words got down on to paper.

A way of describing it might be the compression of the “perfect” sound of a CD file into the functional sound of an MP3 file. Most of the time, the human ear can’t notice the difference but the difference is there.

So the words of the Bible have to be interpreted. That does not puncture the credibility claims of the texts. I think that many of the claims come under this category. Re-examine “Insects do NOT have four feet”, “Rabbits do not chew their cud”, “Snails do not melt” and “The bat is not a bird” considering the questions I have laid out and the nature of divine inspiration and you’ll see that these don’t even amount to challenges. Its not that I am avoiding the question, rather I am trying to show that there isn’t even a question here to deal with.

The perfect example of the cynical way this list was put together is the fact that it quotes only from the 1607 King James Bible instead of the up-to-date and massively more reliable NRSV or NIV translations.

I am sure you are getting tired of this and so I will do just one more. Randomly I choose to take on, let me see, “The GENEALOGY OF JESUS?”. This is a great example of how important it is to ask what the initial readers of the book would have understood. Genealogies counted for a huge amount in the strictly demarcated Jewish culture. There are dozens of examples of ancient Jewish literature that include a genealogy. They are not complete genealogies that are listed but rather, the highlights of the character’s ancestors. The genealogies of Matthew and Luke don’t contradict each other they just list different highlights. The genealogy is no longer of much importance to the modern Western reader but in the society that the Gospels were written it was vital that the biblical authenticity of Jesus’ heritage be established.

Wrapping It All Up, At Least For Now
Adrian writes in a later comment, “Why assume that a person who lived in the middle east many hundreds of years ago is any more reliable than me, or David Koresh or L. Ron Hubbard?”

Well thanks Adrian! I just assumed that the Bible was true when I found it in the bedside locker of my hotel. I never thought to consider the claims in the book. God becomes man and dies to get us all into heaven (how-way the lads, we’re off to Candy land!) just seemed such a natural meta-narrative to me.

Expecting the Bible to be perfectly understandable as a literal document is like going to a play based on the tough life in a deprived inner-city slum and being disgusted when the actors don’t attack the audience. “Well that’s just plain unrealistic!”, they would say as they left the theatre. They are simply missing the point. Its their loss.

Seriously though, the Bible is the most researched and studied book in history. There is no need for crappy lists to bring its validity into doubt. It tells the story of how God loves everyone and has sent His son to save each of us. You would be a crazy fool if you didn’t begin from a position of doubt.

I firmly believe that if you open your mind to the arguments for its validity then you would never be able to slip into the certainty of Merritt and his cronies at infidels.org. I hope that I’ve answered the challenge Adrian. If not, come back like a man and make another challenge in my comment section!

Your Correspondent, Has Donated So Much Money To Tsunami Relief, India Is Naming A Province After Him

9 Responses to “After Eden, Key Change”

  1. I’m not really a fan of people calling themselves infidels, for the same reason I not a fan of people calling themselves rebels.

    “I’m a rebel” // “Yes, good work”

    It really makes it difficult to take their argument seriously. It’s difficult to have a discussion with someone whose position is not only the opposite of yours, but that goes under a banner that only makes sense relative to your own.

    Give me a secular humanist any day. No infidels, thank you very much.

    It’s like the Farenders all over again.

  2. Disapproving Housemate says:

    Er, before assuming something from a website name, I recommend reading at least the front page of the ‘site in question, young Mr. Barrett. They *are* secular humanists.

  3. I did read it. I think you’re reading too much into what I said.

  4. Mrs. Strawman says:

    Qualiteee blogging young Hargaden. But leave my husband out of it next time. Otherwise a top notch read.

  5. adrian says:

    ‘Taking the Bible out of context is what fundamentalists do’. Adrian takes the Bible out of context, therefore Adrian is a fundamentalist. Exo fatso.

  6. Seriously, though, I actually agree that the website I cited is fairly poor and one-sided. What actually bothers me is the fact that God’s nature seems to change completely between the Old and New testaments. The God that Jesus and his disciples speak about is a loving, forgiving God. In stark contrast to the wrathful God willing to kill all but Noah and his family, or the God who instructs Moses to commit genocide.

    Is it reasonable for people to claim to understand the nature of God, anyhow?

    To reiterate, what I actually object to is people QUOTING the Bible. Precisely BECAUSE they continually take it out of context, rather than trying to understand any kind of wider message they simply find a passage, which when taken in isolation seems to confirm their own opinions.

  7. Zoomtard says:

    Adrian,
    http://zoomtard.antidisinformation.com/archives/000004.html
    That entry deals with the apparent difference between God of the OT and God of the NT.

    The God of the Old Testament is just as loving and forgiving but those portions are much less well publicised as the Canaanite genocide (which I agree is crazy hard to understand). Any appearance to the contrary probably rests on the active forgiveness we see through Christ in the NT, where the forgiveness is of a more “passive” kind in the OT.

    Its only reasonable to claim to understand God if you agree with the idea that God reveals Himself. That is a whole new set of questions for me to answer- not stuff for a comment.

    The Bible should be quoted, because used responsibly, complex ideas can be wrapped up very succinctly with an appropriate verse. The perfect example is Salvation represented by John 3:16.

    I hope this clears a few things up.
    Zoomy

  8. adrian says:

    Okay, fair enough. We can agree to disagree. Except about the stuff we actually agree about. I probably shouldn’t have opened up this can of worms anyhow.

  9. Zoomtard says:

    We can agree to disagree, of course. But that ontological possibiliy doesn’t for a moment force me to agree.

    I refuse to even agree to disagree with you.

    I enjoyed the ass whipping I gave to infidels.org. In fact, I love every kind of ass whipping. But seriously, I appreciate the can opening you have done here and the selfless way you have shared your worms.