Making Excuses for the Bible

Via Elliptica, I came across a post titled Imprecations, exegesis, and hermeneutics on the blog Higgaion, written by a liberal Christian theologian. The post blasts Wiley Drake and his call for "imprecatory prayers", and argues that Drake has seriously misunderstood the verses he quotes in support of his beliefs.Leaving that issue aside for now, Higgaion goes on to make a larger point about whether we should always imitate the behavior described in the Bible. He asserts that even if the God of … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VII: Iron Chariots

One of the core beliefs of Judaism and Christianity is that God is omnipotent, able to do anything that is logically possible. But surprisingly, the Bible does not consistently support this idea. I've already written about the Tower of Babel, in which the Old Testament God appears to worry that humans will overmatch him if they complete the tower. And then, there's the following little-known Bible verse:"And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could … [Read more...]

CAP Alert Reviews IV

Recently, while I was looking over my list of especially ridiculous items culled from the CAP Alert site, I noticed an interesting trend. Namely, many elements of movies which the CAP reviewer condemns can also be found in the Bible. Consider the following examples:The 13th Warrior: "'Your fate is fixed'"Romans 9:21: "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (In the middle of a long argument for … [Read more...]

Do You Really Believe That? (III)

The Ten PlaguesThe third installment of "Do You Really Believe That?" will examine another famous story of the Old Testament, the ten plagues of Egypt. As the Book of Exodus tells it, the Israelite prophet Moses was chosen by God to set his people free from their long slavery in Egypt. But when the hard-hearted Pharaoh refused to release them, God sent ten plagues upon the land, each more terrible than the last, until the Egyptians' resistance finally crumbled.These are the famous … [Read more...]

Unravelled Threads

One of the hallmarks of a well-tested scientific theory is that it is supported by numerous, independent lines of evidence. We have the greatest confidence that a theory is true when results from completely different fields of science, which have no obvious reason to agree, all converge in support of the same conclusion, like threads weaving together to form a unified tapestry. This coming together of evidence was called consilience by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson in his book of the same … [Read more...]

Some Remarks on Biblical Prophecy

Recently, Greta Christina of Greta Christina's Blog invited me to comment on a post of hers in which a theist mentioned my article "The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists". This person claimed that the fulfillment of prophecies in the Bible should be sufficient reason for atheists to believe in Christianity. That comment can be viewed here.Below is the text of my reply:* * *Hi all,Greta Christina invited me here, since Mr. Cawley was commenting on an article of mine. I'd like to … [Read more...]

Do You Really Believe That? (II)

The Tower of BabelThe second installment of "Do You Really Believe That?" will examine another classic Old Testament story, the Tower of Babel. According to this story, in the days after Noah's flood, all humanity spoke one language. Filled with pride and ambition, they came together and began to build a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven" (Genesis 11:4). God witnesses this and is upset, not because the building of the tower displays hubris, but because he actually fears that humanity will … [Read more...]

Banning the Bible

A very entertaining story has come out of Hong Kong recently. After the Hong Kong goverment's "Obscene Articles Tribunal" censored a Chinese student magazine as "indecent" for publishing a sex column asking if readers had ever fantasized about incest or bestiality, over 800 residents protested by calling on the government to classify the Bible as indecent also. (Such material is not outright barred from publication, but must be sold in sealed bags with a legal warning and can only be sold to … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses VI: Slavery

Of all the civil rights movements that have swept across America in its history, none is so intimately connected with religion in the popular consciousness as the struggle against racism. Civil rights leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were famous for their use of biblical allusions to demand liberty for all human beings, and from their writings, many believers today have gotten the idea that the Bible teaches the equality of all people. But nothing could be farther from the truth, as … [Read more...]

The Bible Is Not a Book of Love

I have been thinking lately about the Christian symbol of the crucifix. It is almost always seen in settings that attempt to create a mood of peace, calm and serenity: on the walls of churches, in the patients' rooms in Catholic-run hospitals, in funeral parlors and cemeteries, to name a few.The ubiquity and familiarity of this icon, I think, often blinds people to what a brutal thing it is. What the cross merely suggests, the crucifix makes explicit. Look at one, or imagine it, and see … [Read more...]