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REPLY #26 TO
"RELIGION"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).


(R) Several times, you have referred to the bible as being a history of the Jews. Though I agree with much that you have said, this is somewhat inexact. The New Testament is not a history of the Jews, but of early Christians and their beliefs about the life of Christ.
(MB) You are correct. On a couple of occasions, I have used the generic term "The Bible" when it would have been more exact to say "The Old Testament" when referring to the history of the Jews. I'm not totally out to lunch here, though. In Reply #2b, I said: "'The Bible' is two separate collections. The Old Testament is Jewish history. The New Testament is Christian philosophy."


(R) The New Testament also includes glaring historical untruths, such as the tax-census supposedly held by the Romans at the alleged time of Christ's birth. It just did not happen.
(MB) At least, it could not have possibly happened during the time at which Jesus was supposed to have been born and under the circumstances associated with it. Of course, since the Gospels weren't written until some 70 or more years after the birth of Jesus, it should not be too surprising that the facts are a bit muddled. But, why worry about a few facts when you've got a more important cause to pursue, eh?


(R) The Old Testament is extremely poor as history. It is so convoluted and inaccurate that there can be few or no conclusions drawn therefrom by archaeologists (I leave out historians because history is not a science, and they can thus reference whatever they like). All that can be done is occasionally, when something is found that resembles something in the Bible, is to say "Hmmm. I wonder if this is related to the similar events depicted in the Bible." Only the very largest events, such as the reign of Solomon, can even be loosely confirmed.
(MB) Archaeology continually sets the "history" recounted in the Bible on its ear. The more that the Biblical story includes some sort of divine intervention, miracle, or prophecy, the worse the historical accuracy tends to be. Once again, we must look at the fact that even the oldest Biblical texts weren't written down until many hundreds of years after the events that they are chronicling. We're not exactly reading the headlines of the local morning paper on the day after the events went down.


(R) I have always left open a door that goes something like this: An alien race that lived long before man becomes incredibly powerful, gifting themselves with the powers and attributed of major dieties. One or all of them decide to make a planet or universe and raise the inhabitants to worship them. This and many, many other unlikely variations would result in God or gods as we understand the concept.
(MB) Consider, what's easier to understand for a nomadic, non-technological culture: fantastic tales of supreme beings or the details of advanced technologies? Even their minor attempts at technological detail -- such as the story of the building and populating of Noah's Ark -- are fraught with nonsense. Better to appeal to a set of religious beliefs centered around an omnipotent being and make it a tenet of the religion that the being is to be accepted on blind faith alone.


(R) Then again, there is always the idea that pre-technological societies just tend to make up a lot of stories that persist well into the more rational stages of civilization.
(MB) We still do it today. Look at how many silly superstitions persist even in our "enlightened" society.



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