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Tips that Atheists can use for Understanding the Bible

When I was a high school religion teacher I ran into a bit of trouble because, for the final exam, I expected the students to be able to recall facts from the Bible that we had covered that semester.  Yes, I know.  If it had been chemistry class, recalling chemistry facts covered in the semester would have been an obvious thing to have on the exam.  I think the reason there was resistance to requiring that students know biblical facts is because a lot of people- even parents of kids in Christian schools- don’t actually think the Bible is true.  To them, ‘religion class’ is absurd;  the only thing one needs to know is that God loves you and accepts you for who you are.

That is essentially ‘Sunday School’ religion, and basically why so many people today are falling away from the faith.  After all, it isn’t like its true or anything, right?

So, my title is meant to poke atheists (and get some web traffic 😉  ) but what follows can be useful to anyone, Christians included, who wish to actually understand the Bible.   Unfortunately, many people don’t.  This is largely because they don’t grasp the over-aching framework of the Scriptures.  This is then coupled with the fact that what they do know consists largely of Sunday School versions of popular Bible stories at best or Disney re-tellings of those stories at worst.  However, even people who buckle down to read the Bible straight through will likely fail to understand it if they don’t keep some important principles in mind.  So, note:  if you are an atheist whose knowledge of the Bible stems from nothing more than Sunday School from 1st grade to 8th grade… pay attention.

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The Bible, or ‘Book,’ is actually a collection of 66 books ….  This fact cannot be emphasized enough.  A host of so-called ‘Bible contradictions’ can be resolved simply by noting that something found in- for example- a poetry book (ie, the Psalms) should be interpreted differently than what is found in one of the historical books.  If a rock song says, “I want to melt with you” you know that it would be stupid to inquire as to the temperature that this melting occurs and what chemical reactions take place during the process.   Because it’s a song, see?  If the chemistry book talks about melting you expect that sort of thinking.  The genre of the book is very important in making sure you are interpreting it correctly. 

It is written by dozens of authors… these authors were writing over a period of some 1,500 years with different audiences in mind, different experiences front and center, etc.  For example, the Exodus and God’s display of overwhelming power are the backdrop to Genesis through Judges (and even maybe the books about the Kings) but the Exile and Return are the lurking issues against which Lamentations, Ezra, and many of books by the prophets are framed against.  Moreover, when you move into the New Testament, the Resurrection is the nearest event in the rear view mirror, yet even then the event takes place among a people who experienced all of that which I just mentioned (The Exodus, Exile, and Return).

In at least two languages… The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek, with a strong likelihood that at least one or more books were also written in Aramaic.  In sum:  Jesus didn’t speak English.  Neither did Moses.  How many times have I heard or read people complaining about the ‘different versions of the Bible’?  Wow.  It is staggering that this simple fact is not known, let alone given its proper weight.  What it means is that a great many people have had to invest loads of time in learning several languages in order to make their best judgment as to how to render it in a language that we can understand.  Here again, many so-called ‘Bible contradictions’ go bye-bye when you go right to the original languages.  Of course, many new problems emerge, but at least one is in touch with reality.

I once had a King James Only proponent argue his position completely unaware that the original texts weren’t actually in KJV English, but rather were in Greek and Hebrew.   I actually felt bad for him as I showed him my Greek NT and Hebrew OT.  Sometimes I’m left shaking my head.

By Jews… Speaking of shaking my head, there was this other time when a Jewish atheist scientist mocked me for talking about the Jewish nature of the Christian faith, only to discover that this Jewish atheist scientist- literally, a rocket scientist- did not even know that Jesus and his disciples had been Jews.  Wow.   Now, I have to admit that my own education covered this fact but did not explain just how important it really is to recognize Christianity’s Jewish roots and underpinnings.    From Messianic prophesies to ‘typology’ (ie, the Jewish passover seen by Christians as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus, and then embodied further in the Lord’s Supper) to the context we must read the New Testament, it is a simple reality that you cannot properly understand Christianity if you don’t understand the Jewish culture and nation it emerged from.  Sorry, but you can’t.

Prescription versus Description. There is widespread confusion amongst the atheistic ranks on this point.  How many times have I had an atheist suggest that any kind of conduct can be justified because some instance in the Scriptures can be found describing that conduct?  Hold your horses, kemosabe.  If I write an account describing the holocaust, not even the dumbest amongst us would think that the mere describing means that I am prescribing that we all do the same.   The Scriptures, both old and new, are filled with instances that are less than flattering to our ‘heroes.’  Rarely are these events accompanied by comments like, “And God said we should all do the same.”

A variety of covenants, or agreements/contracts/testaments are in play. One of the things that really irks me is when atheists insist that Christianity is as dangerous as Islam because it calls on believers to violently enforce their beliefs.  This is a level of ignorance and arrogance that blows my mind.  In their defense, Sunday School Religion poorly covers the important distinctions, here.  The Scriptures contain a number of ‘covenants’, or agreements between God and man or God and nations.  The ‘war mongering’ assertion is usually presented by pointing to one particular covenant, where God promised to one particular group of people that they would be given one particular piece of territory, provided they kept a certain set of rules.  It doesn’t take brain surgery here to realize that this contract would not necessarily then apply to ALL groups of people regarding ALL pieces of territory regardless of whether or not the rules are actually followed.  For, in point of fact, the Israelites failed to keep their end of the ‘contract’ and God punished them severely, effectively dissolving the most important parts of that contract.  To then argue that Christians can appeal to that same contract is to descend into the ludicrous.  The first clue that there might be different ‘contracts’ in play can be discerned from simply noting that the Bible historically has been understood to consist of two basic parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament.  This is an important clue, and should not be disregarded.   Indeed, there were many covenants described in the Scriptures and it turns out that there is much to be gained by understanding how ‘contracts’ were understood and executed in the ancient near east.

The Bible is not in chronological order. One may be forgiven for thinking otherwise.  After all, Genesis concerns the beginning of the universe and comes at the beginning of the Bible and Revelation concerns the end, and comes at the end of the Bible.  However, in point of fact, the books are actually organized in more sophisticated ways that do not necessarily rely on what happened first.  As a case in point, many Biblical scholars have concluded that the oldest book of the Bible is actually the book of Job, which comes much later in the Old Testament.  Job is older even than Genesis!  And the four Gospels, though written at slightly different times, covers more or less the same time frame.  Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah refer to the exilic or post-exilic time frame, but come before the prophets that predicted those time frames were coming!  So, you see, it can be dangerous to assume that a ‘straight through’ reading of the Bible will ensure that you actually understand what you are reading!

As a quick aside, something that is rarely recognized but is important especially for understanding the books about the Kings in Palestine, is that after King Solomon, there was a fracturing in the royal family.  There came a ‘northern kingdom’ and a ‘southern kingdom.’  When the Bible talks about a ‘King of Israel’ during this time, it is a reference to the rulers in the northern kingdom, whereas the rulers of the ‘southern kingdom’ are called the kings of Judah.  When the Prophets come chastising various kings, it can get confusing, because in one place they could be condemning a king of Israel and another place they are condemning a king of Judah- and these two kings might actually be contemporaries!  To add confusion to the confusion, the northern kingdom was thrown into exile first, to the Assyrians, in 722BC and the southern kingdom didn’t get overthrown (by the Babylonians) until 586/587 BC.  So, there was a period where there were no Kings of Israel but there were Kings of Judah.   The northern kingdom was scattered to the four winds, but the southern Kingdom, consisting of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, were sent into exile more or less intact, and returned more or less the same way.   How lucky that that tribe in which the messiah was promised (Judah) would remain largely intact through all that punishment for Jesus to emerge from it!  Lucky, I say!

The people in the Bible believed that the events described in the Bible really happened. Even many Christians don’t think that what is described in the Bible really happened.  From Adam to Abraham, the Flood to the Exile, to Jonah and the Resurrection itself, many people believe (or behave as though they believe) that the essence of the Christian faith is that God loves you and accepts you for who you are.   You can get that from just about any religion… which is why, I suppose, many Christians figure Buddhism is as good as Hinduism is as good as Islam is as good as Christianity:  none are actually true, you see, but agree on the one thing that is true, and that is that God loves you.  That is not factually accurate, but my point is that this is not the mindset that is exhibited by the people described in the Bible or by those who wrote the books that are contained in it.  You simply cannot understand the Bible unless you step into the mindset of those who wrote it- and these people believed that all the stuff they reference actually happened.  Many examples could be put forward.   Take a gander for example at Deuteronomy, at chapters 6-8 to illustrate, to see what I mean.  The whole of that book and much of the later books just can’t be comprehended accurately unless you take as your starting point the view that the writers and the people being written about believed that God had literally, personally, powerfully, delivered the Israelite people from slavery to the Egyptians with indisputable miracles.  Moreover, according to these books, God continued to visibly reside and travel with the Israelites.   And Christianity emerged from people who believed the same things really happened.  Christianity may be carrying the message that God loves you, but it is much, much more than that.  Much more.

The chapters and verses and chapter titles were added later. Just a quick note, but its worth reminding the reader that the chapter numbers and the verse numbers and the titles are not actually part of the original text.  These were added later to make it easier to work with them.

Which brings me back to one of the points of this post.  There are a great many people who think they understand Christianity and the Bible who really haven’t got the faintest clue about what they believe.  I here speak of the Christians!  It actually takes hard work to understand the Scriptures.  It requires research.  It requires thoughtful deliberation.  If the contents and message of the Scriptures are true, then there is no task more important.  If, however, you are an atheist who wants to be taken seriously in your criticism, then it is your duty to make sure you actually know what you’re talking about.  If you are a Christian, then you should remember that you have a basic duty to know what you’re talking about as well, before you go around representing Christianity.

I led this post off with an anecdote on a final exam I gave as a religion teacher where I actually expected the students to show that they actually could remember what they had actually learned in their readings.  Facts, figures, events, dates, and persons… these sorts of things have fallen out of favor of late, and not just regarding the Christian religion.  It boils down to a basic question:  what is truth?  This, perhaps, is the most important area of dispute these days, for it is common enough to believe that everyone’s truth is as good as anyone else’s truth.   Actual particulars are inconsequential when put up against warm and fuzzy notions about human brotherhood and the divine spark.  But if Christianity is true, the actual particulars really matter- not just for this life time, but for life everlasting.  Jesus was a particular who lived at a particular place at a particular time and made particular claims, which, if true, are game changers.  Christians, at least, would do well to keep that in mind.

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30 Responses to Tips that Atheists can use for Understanding the Bible

  1. This post is dedicated to Stathei, who is proud of the fact that he does not own a Bible and has never read one and doesn’t think he has to understand a lick of it in order to speak to its contents and reject and repudiate them.

  2. Thank you for the dedication, I am touched. Indeed I do not need to read the texts of Scientology, the Book of Mormon, the Bible or the ravings of David Koresh to deem them extremely unlikely to be true. Don’t make me break out the “SJ’s Flying Car” analogy…

  3. No, you don’t need to read them to ‘deem’ them anything. But if you’re going to open your mouth in public to knock them then you should actually know what you’re talking about, first. Why you bother trying to convince people, ie, people like me, that my position is ‘unlikely to be true’ when you don’t know jack about the particulars of the position, is beyond me. There is no way you’d be considered credible. Indeed, you aren’t.

    On my shelf: The Book of Mormon, the texts of Scientology, the texts of Christian Science, the JW translation of the Bible, the Satanic Bible, the Koran… to name some that come immediately to mind. Are there things I haven’t researched as much that I have nonetheless formed a general opinion on? Of course. I am a finite creature. But you don’t hear me discoursing on those.

    You might want to consider a similar philosophy.

  4. I prefer to have a life.

  5. “I prefer to have a life.” Masterful debater here.

  6. “Masterful debater here.” Masterful debater here.

  7. I’m not claiming to be a masterful debater, I’m just pointing out that you can’t win an argument (or avoid losing one) by way of a dismissive insult.

  8. Apologies for the flippant comment by the way.

  9. No apologies needed. My comment was actually not meant as a dismissive insult – I was alluding to Anthony’s claim that he has read so many books that you have to wonder where he gets the time (for example, he once laughably claimed he had translated part of the Hebrew version of the bible and disagreed with the generally accepted translation). I don’t have the time because I have more important things to do than chase rainbows and pretend I have found the end. When I’m lying on my deathbed I don’t expect to be wishing I had spent more time reading the Book of Mormon instead of playing with my kids – although I may well wonder why I wasted so much time on this website!

    Anthony claims I have never read the bible which he knows is an untrue statement. I have read and been read the Bible extensively as a child and I am familiar with many of its tales. I am less familiar with the Book of Mormon or the works of Scientology, but I know enough about them to dismiss them as the utter drivel they are. The Bible is no different, and was written by people who knew less about reality than a modern third grader.

    Unfortunately, Anthony feels that this book contains all we need to know about the world and finds my dismissal of it arrogant – ironic, considering he feels that his own dismissal of the greatest scientific minds of our time is well within his ability.

  10. lol, Stathei is bending over backwards to prove many of the claims that I’ve made on this blog and illustrated ignorance of precisely the issues raised in this post. He has a habit of doing that.

    1. Read so many books….

    Of course, it isn’t simply a matter of the number of books, but rather whether or not you’ve read any books, in particular books on the topic you wish to speak about. The fact that Stathei thinks it absurd to believe that people would read a lot only goes to show how little he himself reads.

    2. Laughably translating

    I don’t know which instance he is referring to… I think actually it was the BOOK of HEBREWS, which is in Greek, and not a ‘Hebrew version’, but his statement illustrates clear ignorance of the point I made in the post about the Scriptures being in two languages. Why he should think it laughable that I would have time to translate the Bible or that I would have a disagreement with the ‘generally accepted translation’ shows he doesn’t know jack about anything. If he knew a little more than jack, he’d at least be minimally aware of the numerous claims his skeptical peers make that the DIFFERENT translations show the Bible to be flawed. That he thinks there is a ‘generally accepted translation’ at all shows he is completely ignorant about the translation process.

    He is like the KJV guy I referenced above who didn’t even know that the Bible was in different languages, only in this case the sad thing is that he hasn’t even picked up two different English versions to notice that they are different.

    As for my own credentials, I have a minor in Biblical Languages and after taking my three years of Greek in college went on to actually teach Greek at a Bible college for two years. You can currently download a course from me that can have you up and running on enough Greek to discover for yourself that there is rarely a one to one correspondence between words in different languages; it actually takes some thoughtful deliberation, careful research, and decision making, to translate ANYTHING. Including Greek.

    3. I don’t have the time.

    Again, that’s fine, but then shush. Stop insulting people for making determinations about things they’ve studied when you’ve decided you ain’t going to study them at all.

    4. Wasting time at this websiste

    We know why you come to this website. No one else will talk to you. 😉 The rest ban you after a time.

    5. Read the Bible extensively as a child and familiar with its tales.

    This really speaks for itself, but let’s draw it out a bit. I find a great number of atheists can say the same thing. This is probably the kind of ‘Bible’ that Stathei ‘extensively read’: http://www.amazon.com/Childs-First-Bible-Kenneth-Taylor/dp/0842331743/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1294753354&sr=8-2

    He might be surprised, on the day he opens a real Bible, just how different they are from what he read as a child. The man watches Disney’s “The Prince of Egypt” and thinks he knows the issues. lol

    6. Arrogant dismissal

    Stathei also has an enduring problem with being able to read. Unfortunately, this is also the case with many atheists I’ve interacted with. I already said in the comment above that I don’t find his dismissal of the Bible as arrogant. It is the fact that he wades into debates and conversations he doesn’t know jack about and insists on being taken seriously that is what is arrogant. But I already said that. Somehow, he missed it… probably because he knew what I REALLY meant.

    For the record, I have offered on many occasions to actually send him a Bible. In one case, he flatly refused, saying he was afraid to give me his address because of what I might do. He doesn’t view this as insulting.

    Further reading: http://sntjohnny.com/front/sunday-school-christianity-is-dangerous-to-the-faith/331.html

    I will say that I am glad that Stathei isn’t representative of all atheists. While many of them do have an uncanny ability to know what you really meant despite what you really said, at least many of them have done the courtesy of making sure they have many of the facts right before engaging in serious debate.

  11. 1. You don’t just read a lot, SJ, you have claimed to have read a literally incredible amount.

    2. As for your translation credentials, I suspect the original translators are even more incredibly learned than yourself. Speaking of credentials, what are your credentials for dismissing the work of Stephen Hawking?

    3. Telling me to “shush” because I haven’t devoted my life to this nonsense like you have is both arrogant and stupid. If I were to spend my life studying Scientology, swallowing every line and setting up a website dedicated to it would it make my views more authoritative and convincing? Or would it just make me seem like a time wasting fool? Your decision.

    4. I have never been banned from any website of any description, and this is the only religion related website I visit on a regular basis.

    5. That was not the Bible I was taught from. I grew up in a country and in a time where Christianity was taught in school and went to Church and Sunday school for many years. I learned enough.

    6. The problem is not so much my ability to read as your inability to use one word where a thousand would do. Try being succinct, just once.

    I do not insist on being taken seriously at all. You do, but nobody takes you quite as seriously as yourself.

    You very well know I was joking when I said that I was afraid what you might do with my address, SJ, I just don’t want you to send me a bible knowing that I would never read it.

    “I will say that I am glad that Stathei isn’t representative of all atheists” – not as glad as I am that you’re not representative of all Christians.

  12. 1. You have positively no idea what you’re talking about. As usual.
    2a. Who are the ‘original translators’? Translations of the Bible continue to be made up to the present day. See #1.
    2b. You’ll forgive me for caring little about your characterizations that I dismiss “the greatest scientific minds” for lack of credentials when you yourself have no problem doing the same to me, in this case regarding Bible translations. You are just trying to justify your willful ignorance.
    3. Again, you’re missing the point. I don’t dismiss your conclusions at all. How can you fail to see that after I have stated as much several times already?
    4. Well, you would be banned eventually, I reckon. 😉
    5. Of course it wasn’t. That one was published in the year 2000. Did you see where I said… “the kind of ‘Bible’ ” ? Those little clauses are important. You should pay attention to them. You may have learned ‘enough’ to make conclusions, but that doesn’t mean you learned enough to heap insults on those who have devoted themselves to studying such issues.
    6. It is not my problem you can’t manage your way through a sustained argument. Or, you won’t. Either way, it doesn’t speak well of you to continually admit that you are willfully uninformed in general and then tacitly admit you don’t read the posts you respond to. You are fooling no one by insisting that you don’t want to be taken seriously. If that were the case, you would not continually press your points. See the donation post, where you obviously think you have a valid point and you continue to defend it. It is a perfect case in point of you insisting on being taken seriously on your ‘rebuttal’ when you haven’t even read the thing you are ‘rebutting.’

    No, I did not know you were joking about the address thing. I suppose you were only joking too when in the donation post you lumped me in with a group of people only serving to advance their own narrow interests, too. My offer about the Bible is still on the table.

    “not as glad as I am that you’re not representative of all Christians.”

    lol, I think based on how you’ve portrayed yourself and defended your willful ignorance, few are going to believe you actually know much about any Christians, period, let alone me. lol

  13. 2b. Did you just equate yourself with “the greatest scientific minds”? I’m sure Stephen Hawking would be flattered.

    5. It’s not the KIND of Bible I was taught from either.

    The rest of your post is just more blah, blah, blah.

  14. I’ll ask again – what are your credentials for dismissing the work of Stephen Hawking?

  15. Gee, its almost like you want to be taken seriously or something.

  16. Wow, that was great! I nearly didn’t notice that you have now sidestepped my question twice. I’ll ask you again, even though I know you won’t/can’t answer it:

    What are your credentials for dismissing the work of Stephen Hawking?

  17. Oh, so you DO want to be taken seriously?

    I’m so glad that you asked again about my dismissing the work of Stephen Hawking, because it goes to show just how ridiculous you are. When earlier I put forward the fact that I actually had a DEGREE in Greek and Hebrew, you still couldn’t bring yourself to concede I might know what I’m talking about, and instead felt compelled to point out that others “are more incredibly learned” then myself. This is really funny, if you think about it, because it would seem like you are demanding that I actually have to have terminal degrees in whatever topic I am discussing before my comments can be taken seriously. And here YOU are admitting all YOU know comes from what you learned as a child and growing up in a country where occasionally you run over a Christian. How uproariously funny! I am sitting here giggling so hard my stomach hurts watching you try to turn your own flaw upon me! What a great joke! You’re right, you don’t want to be taken seriously! ROFL

    Now, I’ve been scratching my head a little on your insistence that I explain why I am competent to dismiss the work of Stephen Hawking. I notice that you provide absolutely no evidence that I did any such thing. I mean, I have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s like you went and sat on the toilet and thought real hard until you came up with some name that sounded important enough to throw at me.

    The only reason why I can imagine that you plucked Stephen Hawking out of the air is because you find it hypocritical that I would write a 2,000 word reaction to the claims in his book, The Grand Design, even though I admit that I haven’t read it.

    Is that what has got your undies in a bundle?

  18. Three times.

  19. Did you even READ the reaction I wrote?

  20. Every time you harp on about “young earth”, for example, you are dismissing the work of the great scientists. I picked Stephen Hawking because he is well known. Now, what are your credentials for this dismissal? Four times. If you continue to refuse to answer, I am going to start thinking that you are completely unqualified to answer any questions about the realities of the universe.

    P.S. Thanks for admitting that you haven’t read a book but you have written a 2,000 word piece on it. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to describe it, given your continued rant that I must become a biblical scholar to even speak about the bible.

  21. Oh, you read that 2,000 word piece, then. Can you provide a link to it here so everyone can see my hypocrisy in full?

    Thank you for admitting you pulled a name out of your ass and couldn’t actually point to a particular place where I had specifically rejected something Stephen Hawking had said. When you provide a specific example where I specifically repudiate something that Stephen Hawking said I might, might, answer your question.

    This is all so funny. I wish you could see the tears just streaming out of my eyes. You really should just stop while you’re behind. People are going to think I’m making you up just to make atheists look bad.

  22. “…given your continued rant that I must become a biblical scholar to even speak about the bible.”

    People who actually are paying attention would point out that all SJ said was that you need to READ it at bare minimmum Stathei. Which just goes to prove the basic assessment of your reading and comprehension skills being nill at best.

  23. Here, let me help you find that 2,000 word reaction to Hawking’s book, Stathei. You’ll also be able to find every time when I single Hawking out for refutation. The amazing search feature: http://sntjohnny.com/front/?s=hawking

  24. Those crickets you hear are Stathei coming to the conclusion that there IS NO REACTION to Hawkings book, because I DID NOT WRITE IT! LOL It ain’t there! And why isn’t there? BECAUSE I DIDN’T READ IT! So why would I write it? LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

    How beautifully illustrative of the fact that Stathei doesn’t bother to investigate anything. If it fits his preconceptions, he believes it. If not, he doesn’t. It isn’t like I didn’t try to goad him into discovering no such review was written before he launched his accusation of ‘hypocrisy.’

    Classic Stathei. This one is for the books.

  25. What a brilliant trick, SJ, you are such a clever boy – why on earth would I want to read yet another of your 2,000 words on a book you haven’t read? Of course I didn’t try to find it – I wasn’t interested.

    Has the smokescreen cleared? Five times – what are your credentials for dismissing the work of Stephen Hawking? Or are you now saying you do not dismiss his work?

    EB – all you have done in the last couple of posts is say “go SJ” and “boo Stathei”. I know SJ needs help but add something constructive, please.

  26. EB was right in what he said. It is not so much to ask of people who want to be taken seriously that they first do some basic groundwork. You fell for my trick for the simple reason that you don’t think you need to do any groundwork. You were prepared to believe I was a hypocrite without further inquiry because that’s already what you know to be- evidence is irrelevant. You dismiss the Bible because you already know it is absurd- evidence is irrelevant. So on and so forth.

    I have no intention of answering your question about Stephen Hawking. Why should I? I only have serious conversations with people who interact with me in good faith. You show over and over again that you are not such a person. You think the fact that I’ve bantered with you means I’ve taken you in the serious in the slightest? Heck no. You’re my chew toy. It’s been delectable. 🙂

    You want to take a step in the right direction? Remember when I said this:

    When earlier I put forward the fact that I actually had a DEGREE in Greek and Hebrew, you still couldn’t bring yourself to concede I might know what I’m talking about, and instead felt compelled to point out that others ‘are more incredibly learned’ then myself.

    Concede that I might actually know what I’m talking about on that particular issue. Otherwise, it will show exactly what I suspect: credentials or not, it doesn’t really matter. As such, its pointless to go on, isn’t it?

    Then, you need to actually explain precisely how I ‘dismiss the work of Stephen Hawking.’ Please provide a quote of me doing any thing of the sort. Otherwise, as I said before, I really have no idea what you’re talking about. I really don’t. You’re just making up stuff as far as I’m concerned. If you’re going to accuse me of something like that, and then demand that I show why I am able to do that despite not being credentialed, it is minimally necessary to show that I actually did that.

    You want to be taken seriously? Now is your chance.

  27. “I do not insist on being taken seriously at all.” Nice to know you don’t read my posts, either.

    I am talking, for example, about the fact that Stephen Hawking, for example, considers the Earth to be about 4.5 billion years old. You consider it to be a few thousand years old. What are your credentials for challenging him? Don’t worry, I won’t ask again – this is clearly a very difficult subject for you. I understand – you’re like me trying to make my very own English translation of the Greek book of Hebrews. Or whatever.

  28. Right. Very difficult. That’s why I’m not answering.

    You pull a name out of your butt and manufacture an accusation and I’m supposed to respond to it. Right.

    What are your credentials for dismissing the work of Francis Collins? He is an evolutionist and former head of the human genome project who rejects young earth creationism and intelligent design, but he has concluded that nonetheless, atheism is not tenable, and Christianity is true. Do you reject his work, too? What are your credentials for doing so? Are you smarter than Francis Collins? Not likely. So why aren’t you a Christian?

  29. The big difference is that you are rejecting facts and replacing with with your own version. I am rejecting a belief and replacing it with nothing.

    I’ve had enough. You have once again sapped my will by refusing to answer a direct question and by your usual combo of tiresome tactics and tricks. You may now claim victory and have the last word. Or couple of hundred.

  30. The big difference is that before I open my mouth to speak, I actually make sure I’ve done some thinking and researching first. No one is going to believe that you have any grasp of any facts after this display. You’ve completely embarrassed yourself. I never said anything about someone requiring ‘credentials’ before speaking. I only said that someone should take some time to interact with the issues before speaking- or shut up. I mentioned my ‘credentials’ regarding the biblical languages only to highlight the great irony manifest in your ignorance. To this point, you still haven’t been able to admit that, if I require credentials in speaking to Hawking’s putative positions, I possess them enough to speak to issues of translations. You could only retort that there were others who were more learned, which you’ll note that I didn’t deny. This says more about your integrity and character as a person then any of topics that came up.

    Your attempt to invent some issue regarding the ‘Work of Hawking’ was especially revealing and really to the point. In the first place, as we see in your cowardly refusal to apply your own standard to yourself vis a vis Francis Collins, we have discovered that by ‘Great scientists’ you mean, solely, scientists who share your position. The rest you are more than happy to dispense with. You, completely uncredentialed and proudly ignorant you, have no trouble dismissing their work. What a joke. What a laugh. It’s funny and sad but even its sadness is funny.

    What you fail to acknowledge is that in regards to the ‘young earth’ issue, that the point is not at all that ‘the great work of credentialed people’ is being opposed, but rather that if it is going to be opposed, and one is going to talk about it, then by golly, one should actually have done some research on it. Again, if someone wants their private views one way or the other, I have no problem with that. But then if you intend to discuss it with someone and mock them for their views, the reasonable expectation is that you should actually have done some study on it. You laughably have done no study. Your argument begins and ends with, “Are you smarter than so and so?” A standard, we see, you refuse to apply to yourself.

    I am glad you’re done, for your sake. You’ve made a complete fool of yourself, and worse.

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