Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Bible: World's Apart...

Since I like whipping myself with wet noodles, I occasionally stop by the links under "Rightwing Nutjobs" usually just to give myself a giggle and a bit of perspective: After all, it's hard to think your life difficult when you see others making their lives purposefully so, whether under the guise of victimization or zealotry.

In a recent conversation on this post, an individual named Steve asserted that he had "statistical data" that had not been refuted. I asked him to state his statistical data concerning a "proof" of the bible, to which he replied:
My argument is easy:
The Bible has yet to be disproved in any way. Disprove it.
Statistics says it’s impossible that life spontaneously came into existence. Prove that it did.
Evolution has not been proven by the fossil record. Refute me and show me the proven intermediate forms.
Good Luck.
Being as here we have three distinct and separate arguments (not to mention a lack of any type of statistical data), I let Steve know that I would take his first argument ("The Bible has yet to be disproved in any way. Disprove it."), and then we could move on the origins of life, and then evolution--the order in which he gave them.

So we begin with "A Proof of the Bible."
Sixty-six separate books and letters compose the Protestant Bible (Thirty-nine OT; 27 NT; does not include the Apocrypha books, which number eighteen, and only used by Catholics and a few other smaller sects of Christianity), written over a period of about 1600 years by at least forty-two different authors...

What does this mean? Well, in simple terms, of course you can't "disprove" the Bible as a whole! It isn't a whole at all! It is an amalgamation, a "collected works" if you will; and on the flip side, there is no way to "prove" the complete 100% accuracy and "inerrancy" either. It's much like a jackalope, seen here: There is some evidence that points toward mammals of four legs having bone-like structures growing from their skull. There is some evidence of four-legged "hoppy" creatures that sit low to the ground and eat your vegetables before they even get a start in life. This does not, however, prove a jackalope's existence, as the complete skeletal remains of one have never been found, let alone observed in the wild or written about in folklore or tale. It is man, taking the antlers of one creature, and placing them on the skull of another creature, and declaring it completely disprovable as it's mounted right there on my great-grandfather's wall. "Check and mate!" a biblical fundie would declare (if the jackalope were a bible).

By virtue of simply throwing together works written in different cultures, by different authors, in different times and under different circumstances (not to mention different agendas) does not a "completely inerrant" scripture make...

Of course, one of Steve's main "tenants" of the "proven" bible, if you will so indulge, is that
I’ve made the point over and over to you that the Bible meets and exceeds all criteria for a historical document. Archaeological finds, from the Bible period, have surged since the last time we had this discussion. Every single one of these continues to prove the accounts in the Bible.
Of course, although I've pointed out to Steve and others numerous times that a clay tablet does not an inerrant bible make (as here), neither does finding a silver coin in an ancient Roman gutter (or an ostuary for that matter) a completely inerrant bible make.

If I were to take several fables--such as The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood--and merge them with an authoritative study from National Geographic, a piece from the World Wildlife Fund, and a small sample study of the condition of wolves in Yellow Stone National Park, would I end up with an authoritative and complete look at what wolves are like, both in the wild and in captivity? No, actually. I'd have two fables (Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood), a magazine which specializes getting people to "care about the planet" (no ulterior motives there...), a foundation which wants your money to "save" the wolves (again, ulterior motive? Perish the thought!!), and the view of wolves from one tiny corner of the world in which conditions wolves find themselves in vastly differ. Even if I threw in ten more studies about wolves, five more about wolf conditions, five more about needing money to help wolves, and four more fables in which wolves play a central role, I still wouldn't have a "completely historical" or "scientifically accurate" view of wolves. Why? You could claim "the fables!" but still only be partially correct: The stories about the wolves speak to our past needs to understand a creature we feared, and how that fear played a role in our psyche and culture; the foundations asking for money obviously present skewed data to make us feel sympathy and open wallets to save the wolves; the articles try to present "objective" data and findings with actual real-world example, but again, the author as such already has preconceived notions that color the written words in sometimes subtle yet obvious ways.

I'd have to take all those stories, articles, and findings, look at them in the time they were written, see what the authors world was like at the time, what the wolves's world was like at the time (after all, all these studies could have been written over a 100 year period--the conditions of wolves in the wild changed drastically in some parts of the globe in that short time), and a host of other factors and scenarios. I'd like to add that, this amalgamation of collected works in no way proves 100% accurate simply because I find some wolf bones in a barn, or on a roof, or wrapped in a red cloak. I daresay, such findings would make me even more critical of the collected works I had heretofore taken as "gospel"! I'd also have to recognize and come to terms with any preconceived notions I held, and how what I was reading and observing both challenged and affirmed (or dis-affirmed) my own beliefs

I think you get the point: to "disprove" a work that spans several authors, generations, world events, cultures, and ulterior motives will have some truths locked within its covers, just as it will have tons of other writings that are merely anecdotal, mythological, historical, or otherwise cutesy. It is just a matter of recognizing which parts are which through careful study and reason, not blind faith and a group hug...

Steve? Your rebuttal? Anyone else, thoughts or suggestions?


Steve said...

Good try. My comment is here.

Jason Hughes said...

Steve's comment is:

You still didn’t disprove anything from the Bible.
Oh, you made some interesting assumptions about Bible authorship, and used a cute urban legend (which is so incredibly easy to refute as to be laughable) to try to make your point, but you didn’t select anything from the Bible and directly prove it wrong.
As for the statistical data, I thought that I had posted it enough that you had picked up on it by now. I use this example so that everyone can understand it, since most people have not studied or nor have a basic understanding of statistics:
The odds of the necessary amino acids accidentally coming together in the correct sequence to form a “simple cell” are akin to blowing up a print shop and as the type rains down from the sky, it lands in the exact order to create the complete unabridged dictionary. In others words, it is virtually impossible. Now take the fact that we are not made up of simple cells, but of complex ones, and the fact that we are not single celled organisms, but made up of complex series of millions of cells. The odds of this happening by accident are so astronomical that it is completely impossible.

Jason Hughes said...

To which I responded on his site:

Steve, try to stay on topic: This first topic in this series of debates is not about a specific story in the bible, but about the bible as a whole.

Until you can rebuttal the bible as a whole (as I did, staying on topic), this isn't a rebuttal to that, but a rebuttal to a discussion that we haven't started yet, specifically, the creation story as opposed to evolution...

Are you saying you cannot refute anything I have said about the bible as a whole, and it's "provability" versus its "unprovability"?

FCSuper said...

Aside from Steve's psuedo-science, many points within the bible itself contradict each other, providing for its own disproof. Gen 1 and 2 are the poster-child of these contradictions. Two separate and distinctly different versions of the creative events. One has been shown to be from Egyptian origin and one from Babylonia origin. Neither can be proven by evidence. If is an legit attempt was made to try to proof it, which version of creation would one try to prove, since the two contradict either other?