THE BIBLE:
  HOLY or HORRIBLE?

Anonymous

(Investigator 118, 2008 January)


ESCALATING CONFLICT

Conflict between the Bible and its opponents has continued for 3000 years. The latest phase includes vicious polemics, up-to-date science, and involves leading intellectuals.

The Bible says: "Your [God's] word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Ps. 119:105) Is this defensible or are the critics right.

ATHEIST CONFERENCE

Leading atheists, many known for their anti-religion militancy, convened in La Jolla, California, in November 2006 to discuss:

  • Should Science do away with religion?
  • What should science put in religion's place?
  • Can people be good without God?
  • Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion declared, "I am utterly fed up with the respect we have been brainwashed into bestowing upon religion."

    Carolyn Porco of the Space Institute in Colorado believes science can replace God by giving people a "feeling of connectedness to the cosmos." She said, "Being a scientist and staring immensity and eternity in the face every day is about as meaningful and awe-inspiring as it gets."

    Neil de Grasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York noted that 85% of US National Academy of Sciences members do not believe in God and he asked, "How come the number isn't zero?" Also: "I don't want the religious person in the lab telling me that God is responsible for what it is they cannot discover. It's like saying no one else will ever discover how something works."

    Harry Kroto, chemist of Florida State University, argued for a global outreach via media and Internet to promote science.

    Joan Roughgarden, professor of geophysics and biology in California, summed up the attitude at the conference:

    "But scientists are portraying themselves as the enlightened white knights while people of faith are portrayed as idiots who can't tell the difference between a [communion] wafer and a piece of meat." (New Scientist, November 18, 2006)
     
    ASSAULT ON THE BIBLE

    Attack on the biblical Scriptures has continued 3,000 years including by:

    The Bible itself, from start to finish, describes and predicts continuous conflict between Scripture and its opponents. The last book, Revelation, pictures a world where everyone is deceived, misguided and opposed to the Gospel, which nevertheless reaches "every nation and tribe and tongue and people". (14:6-7; 12:9)


    AVALANCHE OF BOOKS

    Atheists have launched an all-out assault via books and media.

    Dawkins, Richard:
    In The God Delusion (2006) Dawkins declares:
    •    Religion is toxic/delusional;
    •    Its authoritarian guide to conduct and rejection of science leads to catastrophic mistreatment of others;
    •    Theologians promote "split-ting hairs", "tedious cliches" and "shameless inventions".

    Dawkins dismantles major arguments for God (chapter 4), says natural selection explains life, examines the origins of religion and morality, attacks the Bible, and calls religious upbringing "physical and mental abuse".

    Harris, Sam:
    The End of Faith (2005), Letter to a Christian Nation (2006). Harris says that religious fundamentalism "sets the world ablaze with bad ideas", and unexamined religious belief is often used to justify horrible crimes. Harris warns: "The only angels we need involve are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, hatred, greed, and faith, which are surely the Devil's masterpiece."

    Spong, John S:
    Author of over twenty books including Living in Sin (1988); Resurrection Myth or Reality? (1994); Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism (1992); Liberating the Gospels (1996); Why Christianity Must Change or Die (1998); The Sins of Scripture (2005); Jesus For The Non Religious (2007).

    Spong, a retired American bishop, treats the Bible as non-literal stories intended to communicate an experience of God. He rejects creation, the virgin birth, feeding of the 5000, Christ's resurrection, and biblical morals.

    Stenger, Victor J:
    God: The Failed Hypothesis (2007); The Comprehensible Cosmos (2006). Stenger, a professor of physics, says the Bible as a moral guide is confused and supports slavery and various atrocities; Deity is "the failed hypothesis"; and the Universe is a random event that exploded into energy, matter and space-time — a colossal accident.

    Dennett, Dan:
    Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2006)

    Grayling, Anthony:
    British philosopher, author of Against All Gods (2007).

    Hitchens, Christopher:
    God is Not Great (2007).

    Onfray, Michael:
    Atheist Manifesto (2007).

    Grayling defines faith as "a commitment to belief contrary to evidence and reason." Dawkins similarly says, "Faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument." (p. 347) And Harris adds:

    "religion is the one area of our lives where faith in dogma — that is, belief without sufficient evidence — is considered a virtue... There are scientific dogmas, of course, but wherever they are found, they are set upon with hammer blows. In science, it is a cardinal sin to pretend to know something that you do not know. Such pretence is the very essence of religious faith."

    The atheist writers lump all religion together — Taliban, Islamic terrorists, creationists, anti-education cults, etc — and present extreme behavior such as suicide bombing and child abuse as typical. Grayling blames all war on religion including Iraq, which he says is Bush "conducting jihad for American Baptist values."

    Bryan Appleyard (2007), however, observes: "Any view that religion is the source of all evil and atheism the origin of none is plainly absurd."


    GREAT WORKS and ETHICS

    "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do, in fact, will do greater works than these." (John 14:12)

    In the 9th century two Greek evangelists translated the Bible into the Slavic script and introduced literacy to Eastern Europe. The first book in Russian was the Bible!

    In the 20th century atheistic Communism ruled Russia for 73 years. It displaced, murdered or tortured millions of people (Tolstoy 1982) and created economic and environmental catastrophe. Souring crime rates and drug-use followed.

    Atheism having failed, Dr Olga Lutsenko, a government official, was asked to find ways to fight the souring crime rate and teach Russian youth right from wrong. She did her research, then advocated the Bible and herself converted from Communism to Christianity.

    Dr Lutsenko participated in founding Kindness International, which has official approval of the Ukrainian and Russian governments to promote biblical principles and Christian values through the public school system.

    The Bible has similarly helped all nations toward fairer laws, better health, human rights, science, and literacy.

    In the Roman Empire, infanticide probably killed over 200,000 babies per year. Christians, guided by the Bible, eventually got infanticide banned. (Investigator 76 & 41)

    About 700,000 people died in 300 years of spectacle in Rome's Colosseum. In all amphitheatres Empire-wide many millions perished — again in the 4th century Christians ended the violence.

    In Great Things for God (#116) I showed how biblical ethics counteracted widow-burning (Sati) and human sacrifice in India, saving millions of lives, and opposed the Caste System which oppressed hundreds of millions but is now declining.

    Ida Scudder (1870-1960) began with a one-bed mission hospital and brought scientific medicine to India's women and children. Her work led to the Vellore Christian Medical College & Hospital — one of the great hospitals and teaching centres of Asia.

    The slavery debate (#76 to #84) showed that Christian abolitionists, using the Bible, helped end 19th century slavery.

    The Bible and Christians were also central in the rise of modern science (Hooykaas 1972) which increased health and prosperity worldwide. The formulators of scientific method included Albert the Great (1193-1280), Roger Bacon (1214-1292), Isaac Newton (1642-1727) "the greatest scientific mind the human race has produced", and many others. Even today Christianity and science often go together — the leader of the Human Genome Project, for example, was Christian.

    After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans religions raised hundreds of millions of dollars for victims, doing more than the government, whereas scientific groups and atheists stood back.

    Thousands of ministries promote healing and prosperity around the world. In Australia prominent ones include:
    •    The Christian Blind Mission International which heals the blind;
    •    The Leprosy Mission gives vocational training to lepers;
    •    Palms Australia sends workers to primitive lands to build and staff hospitals and schools.

    In addition to organizations and churches, Bible-motivated individuals everywhere do good locally and individually.


    MISLEADING STICKERS

    Investigator 117 reported a proposal to put stickers on Bibles. The stickers call the Bible "a work of fiction" and claim the contents include, "suicide, incest, bestiality … violence, use of drugs or alcohol, homosexuality, voyeur-ism, revenge, undermining of authority figures, lawlessness … atrocities", and may lead to "delusions … hatred, bigotry … fanaticism, murder, and genocide."

    The behaviors listed on the proposed skeptical sticker are, with one exception, condemned in the Bible:

    Suicide?
    Unless we apply commands against murder (Deuteronomy 5:17), the Bible is ambiguous on suicide.

    Incest & bestiality?
    "If a man takes his sister…it is a disgrace…" (Leviticus 20:17)
    "You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it: it is perversion." (Leviticus 18:23)

    Violence?
    "Let them seek peace and pursue it." (I Peter 3:11)
    "If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peacefully with all." (Romans 12:18)

    Use of drugs or alcohol?
    "Do not get drunk with wine…" (Ephesians 5:18; See also #116)

    Homosexuality?
    "Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers — none of these will inherit the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10)

    Voyeurism?
    "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8)

    Revenge?
    "Beloved never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God…" (Romans 12:19)

    Undermining of authority figures?
    "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities." (Romans 13)

    Lawlessness…atrocities?
    "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)

    Hatred/Bigotry/Delusions?
    "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)
     "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." (Galatians 5:22)

    Fanaticism?
    "Show yourself in all aspects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; so that any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us." (Titus 2:8)

    Murder? Genocide?
    "But let none of you suffer as a murderer…" (I Peter 4:15)
    "God shows no partiality but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." (Acts 10:34-35)


    NOT A "WORK OF FICTION"

    Nor is the Bible a work of fiction. During my 18 years with Investigator I've proved hundreds of points in the Bible correct. Often the Bible seemed wrong because science itself was wrong, but newer science then vindicated the Bible. Investigator No. 100 has an index where readers can check this out.

    In Sex and the Bible (#48) I outlined biblical sexual morality and its medical basis. Harris, however, in Letter to a Christian Nation says: "Your principle concern appears to be that the Creator of the universe will take offense at something people do while naked. This prudery of yours contributes daily to the surplus of human misery." And several of Spong's books attack biblical morals.

    Bible ethics, however, are objective — intended to promote health, life, prosperity and peace. (Proverbs 4:20-23) Therefore they can be tested, measured and confirmed. In the 20th century sexually transmitted diseases afflicted billions of people and killed 200 million! Sexually transmitted viruses are also implicated in some cancers and in Alzheimers!

    One would expect that 100,000,000 people murdered under atheistic Communism is sufficient, but no, atheists want even more death because preventative morality is "misery"!

    ACADEMIC COUNTERATTACK

    Many reviewers of the current atheistic authors are scathing. Barney Zwartz of The Age calls Onfray's book a: "…deliberately distorted, bile-filled jeremiad… He can't find a good word for religion or religious people [who] all "prefer the comforting fairy tales of children…""

    Academic critics of Dawkins include Terry Eagleton, H. Allen Orr (biologist), Alister McGrath (Oxford professor & theologian), and Marilynne Robinson. (All available via Google.)

    Keith Ward in Is Religion Dangerous? (2006) shows that religions are not just doctrines but multi-faceted institutions of society. They, "share in the general moral state of the societies in which they exist". Some beliefs are harmful. But others are positive and enrich society — Ward provides many examples. Dismissing all religion outright as Dawkins and Hitchins do is "a mark of irrationality".

    Ward is a philosopher-theologian and former atheist. One reviewer aptly called him "a one-man Richard Dawkins Rebuttal agency".

    Appleyard writes:

    To say there is no evidence of God is merely…an interpretation… Everywhere we look there is evidence of something, but it is by no means clear that that something is nothing. Rather, it seems something of a startling intelligibility.


    REFERENCES:

    Appleyard, B. The Delusion Is All Yours, New Scientist, 3 March, 2007, p. 47.

    Brooks, M. In Place of God, New Scientist, November 18, 2006, pp 8-11.

    Harrison, R. K. (Editor) 1987 Encyclopedia of Biblical and Christian Ethics, Thomas Nelson.

    Hitchens, C. Father, son and wholly bogus, The Weekend Australian, May 19-20, 2007.

    Hooykaas, R. 1972 Religion And The Rise Of Modern Science, Eerdmans.

    Myers, P. Z. Bad Religion, Seed Magazine, November 2006, pp 88-89.

    Tolstoy, N. 1982 Stalin's Secret War, Pan Books.


    The Bible and Science; The Bible versus atheism — On this website:

    http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

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