Lesson 01.07

Dialogue on the Bible


 

     The following dialogue occurred on a public chat forum between myself and several individuals.  I went into an atheist room specifically to acquire this dialogue for this online school.  I began by asking if anyone wanted to talk to me about the Bible and its validity.   They all started attacking pretty quickly. 
     You'll notice in this dialogue that the topics jumped around a lot, that they really couldn't stay on topic, and that they tried to gang up on me.  So, if you can, follow the different people's train of thought. 
     I had my speech recognition program running so I was able to keep up with a lot of it.  But, to be honest, I didn't get it all because there were so many atheists firing so many questions and attacks very quickly.  I did what I could to answer objections and keep on topic.  It wasn't easy.  Nevertheless, here it is.  Also, I cleaned up the typo's and grammar mistakes.  But, their attacks are just as they occurred.

John:  I find the Bible repulsive.
Matt:  John, why is that?
John:  The Bible is an insult to intelligent people.  The being described in it is a sadistic egotistical maniac with a inferiority complex and delusions of grandeur.  The morals contained in it are at best out dated and derived from a very primitive way of thinking.

  • John is obviously very closed minded and has a faulty understanding of the Bible.  Basically, I have concluded that talking with him will be pointless since he has a very hostile presupposition.  If I were in a room with him, one one one, I could address every issue he has.  But, in a volatile text chat room, this won't be so easy.  Nevertheless, there are often many people who are lurking and reading.  Dialogues like this can help them, even though we don't know who they are.

Matt:  Why is the Bible an insult to intelligent people?
John:  Have you ever read it?  Nothing in the Bible is written from an intelligent point of view.  It is a reflection of the primitive mindset of a primitive people, and anyone who still believes in the crap is a disgrace to humans being stuck in that primitive mind set.

  • To say that "nothing in the bible is written from an intelligent point of view" is a ridiculously illogical statement.  It is a broad sweep that is inaccurate.  Often, when condemning generalities are made, the best thing to do is either point out that it is a over generalization or ignore the person and go on to someone who is more open.
         But, since this is an atheist chat room that I was in, the others started jumping on the anti-Bible bandwagon.

Frank:  "So it is with a woman who leaves her husband and presents him with an heir by another man. She herself will be brought before the assembly, and her punishment will extend to her children. [The punishment for Adultery is EXECUTION] (Sirach 23:22-25 NRSV) - God ORDERS THE MURDER OF ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN
Matt:  Sirach is not in the Bible.

  • Frank quoted the apocrypha which is not scripture and not in the Bible.  I pointed that out.

Frank:  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT) - God tells slaves that their slave master is the CHRIST SON OF GOD.

  • Notice how he changed the subject quickly?  I could have pointed that out and tried to keep him going on the one topic about how he doesn't know what the Bible really is, but I decided not to go down that road for now.

Matt:  So what is your point? If slavery was a reality in that world at that time. God is simply telling people to work in the positions where you are in to do what you are doing properly. Furthermore, slavery was not as heinous as you imply that it is. People often voluntarily went into slavery as a vocation. Sometimes the slaves chose to stay with their masters because they love their masters. But, you would not know this since you do not study the culture in which those verses regarding slavery were written. You like to take them out of context.

  • My goal is to put the pressure on him to make some point.  It is often easier to tear down something than build it up.  This is what critics do.  They take a series of verses out of context and demand that you respond very quickly.  But, you can't.  They know this.  They want to "win" by flooding.  So, start asking questions.  See if they respond to the questions.  If they don't, try it again.

John: Don't you think a loving and just God would have simply outlawed the practice of slavery?

  • This atheist inadvertently raised an issue of morality.  I could easily have attacked his basis for morality and asked by what standard he asserts what God should or shouldn't have done.  But, I wanted to focus on the Bible for the purpose of this dialogue.

Matt:  Whether or not God is loving and just does not mean that the human practice of slavery is right or wrong. God often works within the sinful limitations of humanity to accomplish His divine will. When Jesus came to earth, He did not seek the overthrow of the oppressive Roman government. Instead, He taught that we are to behave properly and morally in the social and political context in which we find ourselves. The truth is, that God's word and the love of God in us changes society and removes from society those oppressive systems. This is what happened in early America when the Christians worked to get rid of slavery in America.
John:  For your information, there were Christians on both sides of the slavery issue, some used the Bible to say it was wrong and others used it to say it was condoned by God.
Matt:  It is true that Christians on both sides of the slavery issue used the Bible to try and justify their position. But this does not negate the validity of the Bible. You make a logic error when you start saying that the erring application of biblical truth by those who misapply it, invalidates the Bible. That is a logical fallacy.

  • Slavery is a tough subject to deal with quickly and easily.  Most critics are not interested in the historical and cultural contexts nor do they care to know that God works through the existing society to bring change to that society through evangelism.  Slavery in and of itself was not always a bad thing.  Many people were slaves as a vocation.  Of course, some were oppressed.  But, each verse must be looked at in context.  This is something the critics rarely ever do.

Frank:  Did Jesus rebuild the temple in three days?
Matt:  You are speaking of John 2:19-21, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' 20 The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body." As you can see from the context, it is not the temple in Jerusalem that Jesus was speaking of. He was speaking of the temple of his very body which was resurrected three days later.
Frank:  You said, Jesus' body is the temple. So instead of rebuilding the temple, Jesus rebuilds his body instead. Yes?

  • Apparently, Frank just wants to argue.  I showed him the context of the verse and instead of accepting what it says, he tried to head off in another direction with it.  But, he failed to follow through, probably because he saw the verse in context and gave up on his attack.

Susan:  If the contradictions in the Bible are such that both proponents and opponents can use it as authority for their point of view, it's invalid...to me anyway.
Matt:  You have assumed that there are contradictions and based in argument on that position. That is called begging the question and is a logical fallacy.

  • Notice how Susan jumps in assuming the thing she is trying to prove.  She assumes that the Bible has contradictions and then bases an argument on that assumption.  She has not established that the Bible has contradictions.  This is not a good way to argue.

  • I'll be going over logical fallacies later in these lessons.

Mike:  The Word of God?...written by men with political slants.
Matt:  What is wrong if they have political slants?

  • See how I asked a question?  The idea is get the person to defend his position.  Since he has made a statement with no point, I have asked him a question dealing with morality, i.e., "what is wrong..."  He is now on the defensive since in order for him to respond to the question, he must raise a moral issue.  But, since he is an atheist, he has no objective moral standard by which he can make a complaint.  If he responds with a moral statement, I would point that out.

Peter:  The Bible had to be translated to languages that people spoke.....no one speaks Latin today.
Matt:  The Bible was not written in Latin. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew in the New Testament was written in Greek. We have excellent copies of the original documents and translators translate from the copies of the originals into the target language.
John:  For your information, when they were written in those languages they were still individual text.  The first Bible was written in Latin.  Prior to that they were individual texts.
Matt:  No that is not accurate. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and was collected and known by the ancient Israelites as the Word of God. Jesus and the apostles recognized that Old Testament cannon (body of biblical books). The New Testament documents were written by those who knew Christ and were under the direction of the apostles. The Christian Church recognized those documents as being inspired. These documents were written in the Greek. Therefore, when you say that the Bible was first written in Latin, you are in error.

  • Facts are always useful in an argument.

John: The 'bible' wasn't compiled until 325 ce.
Matt:  It was collected and officially accepted around that time. But, before that date the Christian Church knew what were the scriptures of the New Testament. In fact, Jesus and the apostles quote from the Old Testament frequently. They knew what the Old Testament scriptures were. There were some doubts about New Testament documents, but that was settled by around 325. The Church knew that the apostles had written what they had and knew that their documents were authoritative.
Bob:  The first books of the New Testament have been dated to 70 ce, and that is only Paul's letters.  The rest has been dated to a much later time.  The books were not written by the authors they are ascribed to, nor were they written in the time of the apostles you twit.

  • Notice the ad hominem attack; that is, notice the attack of calling me a name.  I could have pointed that out, but I didn't.  Instead, I focused on some more facts; namely the death of Peter and Paul and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.  This historical information is vitally important when defending the early authorship of the New Testament books.

  • It might have been a good idea here for me to ask Bob to prove, or at least, provide some documentation to demonstrate late authorship of the New Testament documents.  It is perfectly okay to try and put them on the spot.

Matt:  Paul died anywhere from his 62 to 68. A.D. Therefore, his eistles were written before that date. The book of Acts is a history of the Christian Church. The book of Acts does not record the death of Peter nor Paul and it does not mention the destruction of Jerusalem and 70 A.D. Therefore, the book of Acts is logically written before those dates.  Luke, who wrote Acts, also wrote the gospel of Luke before the book of Acts. Therefore, at least that gospel was written quite early. As far as the Pauline epistles and the work of Peter and James (whose death also was not recorded in Acts), supports the fact that the New Testament documents were written well before the close of the first Century and most probably before 60 or 70 A.D.

  • More facts are always useful in an argument.

John:  For your information, the OT as you call it is a Hebrew text called the Torah, and the torah does not contain all of the OT books the Christian Bible has.  It was the Romans who compiled the 'Bible' as you know it today well after King James edited it in 1611 that is.
Matt:  No, that is not accurate. The LXX is the Greek translation of the Old Testament books and it contains the same Old Testament books that are in the Bible's today.

  • The Romans didn't compile anything.  The Romans weren't interested in Judaism nor Christianity and had nothing to do with the compilation of the Biblical documents.  John is reaching for straws now.

Rob:  And it took almost a hundred years for them to decide which books to actually put in the Bible.
Matt:  Perhaps that is true, but God in His sovereignty worked through the Christian Church for the recognition of His Word. The canon of Scripture has been established.
John:  Wrong the KJV is missing several books that were included in the Latin vulgate bible, about 13 books I think.
Matt:  The King James version included the apocrypha. If I remember correctly, this was because of certain political pressures. But the Christian Church never recognized the apocrypha as Scripture. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic Church, in response to the Christian reformation, added the apocryphal (and those 13 books) to the cannon of Scripture in 1546. Protestantism does not recognize the inspiration of those books. Apparently, neither did Jesus nor the apostles.
John:  You are wrong. It did not include the apocrypha.
Matt:  I have on my desk a reprint of the original 1611 King James version. In the table of contents it lists the apocryphal books. Therefore, what I said earlier was correct.   These books were added by the Roman Catholic Church and were never recognized as Scripture by the Protestant Church and, as I said before, they were never referenced as Scripture by Jesus nor the apostles. Therefore, Protestants do not recognize that which was neither recognized by Jesus nor the apostles.

  • Having resources is very helpful.  During this conversation, I reached over to my bookshelf and pulled out my copy of the original 1611 KJV and opened it to the table of contents.  Sure enough, the apocrypha was included in it.

Dan: Gosh, Matt, what books were referenced by Jesus?
Matt:  That is a good question. I haven't done the research myself, but I'm aware that He quoted all the books of Moses, many of the Psalms, the Major and Minor Prophets, and referenced the historical books.

  • Actually, that really is a good question.  I haven't done the research well enough to answer it accurately and it might be a good project for later.

Zach:  Well, CARM wants it both ways. Jude did indeed consider 1 Enoch scripture.  When Jude 14 quotes 1 Enoch 1:9 as prophecy then obviously the author considered it to be scripture.
Matt:  Just because other books are quoted in the Scripture does not mean that those books are inspired. When Jesus and the apostles quote the Old Testament, the Jewish nation as a whole had already accepted them as being inspired. Within those six to inspired books were references to other books that contained various tidbits of factual information. This does not necessitate that those books quoted were also inspired. Furthermore, in the New Testament Paul quoted a pagan philosopher. I believe it was Epimenedes. This does not mean that the pagan philosopher is inspired.

  • I remembered correctly.  Paul quoted Epimenides in Titus 1:12.  Here is a quote from a commentary:  "Epimenides of Phaestus, or Gnossus, in Crete, about 600. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollution occasioned by Cylon. He was regarded as a diviner and prophet. The words here are taken probably from his treatise “concerning oracles.” Paul also quotes from two other heathen writers, Aratus (Ac 17:28) and Menander (1Co 15:33), but he does not honor them so far as even to mention their names."   (Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; and Brown, David, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1998.)

Susan:  Funny that Jesus would reference a prayer to another god from an entirely different culture.
Matt:  Susan, what are you talking about? Can you document that?

  • Susan does not respond with the documentation for her assertion. 

John:  Here is a list of the books in the KJV, show me where the apocrypha books are.  Where is the book of Mary, etc. (http://www....).
Matt:  I said before, I have an exact copy of the original King James 1611 version Bible. The apocryphal books are in their. I'm looking at them. 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judeth, the rest of Esther, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the song of the three children, the story of Susanna, the idol of Bel and the Dragon, the prayer of Manasseh, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees. -- I copied these straight out of the table of contents from the reproduction of the original King James 1611 Bible. In fact, it actually says apocrypha on the pages containing those books.

  • Again, I provide some factual information for John to deal with.

John:  Show me the proof, your writing it means absolutely nothing
Matt:  Do you want me to fly to your house with the book ? I see that it is okay for you to type whatever you want and make claims, but when I copy from the King James 1611 version Bible that is in front of me, that is not acceptable to you. You want me to accept whatever you type in right. But you do not want to accept the fact that it King James does have the apocryphal books and it. I suggest that you simply do similar research and or go to a Christian store or the library you and figure it out for yourself.

  • At this point, he wants me to "prove" I have the book and that what I am saying is accurate.  But how can I prove that to him since we are chatting over the internet.  He knows I cannot do that, so he demands the proof.  It is a weak attempt at victory on his part.

  • I point out that he has a double standard.  He can make assertions that he doesn't want challenged.  But, if I make an assertion, that is a different story.  So, I told him of his double standard and asked him to do the research.  He'll find that I am correct.

Matt:  I need to go to work.
Gary:  Running Matt?
Matt:  No I'm not running. I need to go to work. You know, the thing you do in order to feed your family. I must sign off and get going. Thank you for the dialogue.

  • I find it amusing that Gary suddenly shows up.  Who's Gary in all this?  Anyway, I really did need to go to work so I had to cut it short.

     I hope this dialogue was helpful.  As you can see, there are numerous directions to take in a conversation of this sort, particularly when you have several critics firing at you all at once.  But, you can see that this is the sort of thing that really happens. 
     Did you notice how many subjects were touched on in this dialogue that you have read about in this section on the Bible?


 


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