Some thoughts for Pahu - re the perfection of ancient tribal texts

Here’s stuff I wrote a few years ago - it was inspired by folks like Pahu with their contrived self-certainty about their personal faith.
Again, I have nothing against personal faith in god, but don’t tell me you understand Thee God of Time and Creation. Even your Bible warns you that GOD IS BEYOND HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. But, do they ever listen to that saga advice?

God flowing into the Word I've been told I don't understand the reality of the Bible. It's been explained God acted infallibly through his human agents. At every stage along the Bible's evolution God was there flowing into the pages to make it perfect. The last time I listened to this opinion an image came to mind: There was a patient in an operating room, undergoing brain surgery. The world's foremost surgeon was there, a doctor of vast knowledge and skill. But, instead of performing the operation, the expert stands over a child giving step by step concise and complete directions, while the child performed the actual task. What are the chances of the child getting it right? Can it be any different when God communicates with myopic self-centered children? Claiming the Bible is direct and undiminished from God's bosom is to imply people can be infallible. Isn't such a thing called hubris? Like adolescents who know it all, blind to every complexity, question or doubt. Or put another way, claiming the Bible is perfect, complete and infallible is like claiming a photo album can convey the truth of someone's life to a stranger. Interestingly, when defending Biblical inerrancy scholars and preachers will quote the Bible, then follow with long winded personal interpretations. But, you know, if God where actually shepherding the Bible, those words would leap directly into the hearts of the reader/listener; without those endless and mostly dubious re-interpretations. God is big, huge, beyond anything anyone of us can imagine. Won't we recognize that when reading, absorbing, witnessing the Bible (or any Holy Book) we interpret it through our individual eyes while weaving our own spirit into our understanding and further telling? This isn't denying the truths within sacred texts: it is admitting that God's mysteries and plan are beyond our human ability to grasp. Most importantly, continuing to demand that there is: My Way Only! is nothing less than suicide for humanity future. Does your inner heart actually believe that destruction is God's plan for God's own miraculous Creation? Even if it does, does that give you the right to act without regard for the future? Who are you to give up on God's Creation, when you could be mistaken? Doesn't God abhor suicide? How can we hope to leave our children a healthy future without absorbing some additional basic truths and lessons, then moving on to face the coming challenges. ************** PS. For two thousand years every generation has its Christians convinced that God's cosmic rapture would happen in their life time. Everyone was mistaken, why can't they take the hint? God's not going to make it easy on us by intervening, no, no. God's keeping us in this for keeps - we must find our own passage through the coming challenges. ************** SUNDAY, AUGUST 3, 2008
There They Go Again...….. ...I thought as their mantra swept over me: "Don't you know, no one has ever found an Evolutionary missing link, nothing is proven! Evolution is a joke! I'm telling you my God put the whole Universe here in six days, six thousand years ago, period!" Then came the all too predictable clincher: "How can you think differently, were you there?" I started my response, but fell silent, too depressed to go on. Why try to discuss the beauty, poetry and reality of god's "intelligent design" - that is, the past many billions of years of ongoing creation - with friends who slam their ears and minds shut at any mention of evolution being Godly, beautiful and it's about time we begin trying to appreciate it? I'll admit - I'm bewildered by the refusal of so many to wake up to God's fantastic infinity. Where to start in trying to crack that shell of reinforced fear? Would it help to point out that though some scientist pontificate on absolute randomness, such talk should be taken with a grain of salt? Individual scientists, just like religious folk are filled with conceits and foibles. Why not admit we all strive for understanding, but are shackled by our own human tunnel-vision? Side opinions shouldn't detract from the essence of the scientific data that continues to be collected and digested, any more than religious fundamentalist, with all their deceptions, anger, and pick-pocketing, shouldn't be allowed to cloud religion's universal truths. Or, would it help to confront the actual comment: "There are no Evolutionary missing links." Dear friend, what are you talking about? There are countless examples of transitional and "missing links" that aren't missing at all. Take the "Tunicates" for example; they are classified as "non-vertebrate chordate," because they are a telling link between non-backboned animals and those with back bones. There are volumes of catalogued examples clearly showing the steadfast development of life on God's good earth. But, one must look at it. Too many condemn Evolution without ever knowing what it's about. This wouldn't be a big deal, if these same uninformed doubters weren't also demanding that our education system subscribe to their tunnel vision. Before condemning evolution, learn about its beauty and depth. In this quest there's an excellent teacher in David Attenborough. His documentaries such as "Life on Earth" and "The Living Planet" series do a superb job of describing organisms and how they have evolved and built upon preceding generations. The story is awesome and the creatures are spectacular. Using real world examples he conveys Evolution's magnificant pageant of cumulative poetry in motion, revealing some of the countless fould within folds of harmonic complexity that resonate throughout creation. Accept the challenge by viewing some of his many documentaries. Or, if the Internet is where you're at, look up "The Great Story." In contrast to Attenborough who's a naturalist through and through, these folks glory in religion, while conveying a sense of God's eon of Creation and its compatibility with Faith. Finally, there's that: "Where you there?" slap. What is it asking? Was anyone of us there when a few people tussled over how to word Genesis, or the later New Testament? Was anyone of us there during the backroom discussions regarding how best to exploit Jesus' fantastic new message of love and redemption for empire and profit? Were you there... indeed. I don't know about then and there, but I do about here and now, and when walking about with my sense and heart receptive, the examples of an ongoing evolution are everywhere to be seen! God's creation, that is evolution, really is a beautiful, mysterious, overwhelming thing that must be recognized before one can ever hope to know Faith of love God. SUNDAY, AUGUST 3, 2008

From Pahu’s evolution thread with my responses in red:

I only understand what God has revealed in His Bible.
There you go. Complete faith in an ancient tribal text. Can't argue with that sort of Faith I allow myself to get too distracted by odd balls and frankly I don't have the time for this one, so excuse me for not going into depth. Oh speaking of proofs - where's your proof that these texts actually spring from the hand of god? The Bible is filled with hundreds of accurately fulfilled prophecies, which rules out human authorship: Obviously this is too much to address in one thread, but I can give a summary of a few issues. First off this is circular reasoning. "My Book is from God because my Book says so- look!" Another issue is that the traditional dating of several of the biblical books are simply wrong and are general much later than tradition says. Also many prophecies are quite vague and can be and are interpreted in different ways. For example just look at the differences between Jews and Christians or even within Christianity itself. Furthermore, remember that the New Testament authors had access to these books and what prevents them from telling the story in a way that "fulfills" the prophecies?
Considering your deep skepticism regarding the scientific learning process, what about historical evidence for the evolution within the Bible by the mind and hand of man
I am not skeptical regarding the scientific learning process. I am not aware of any historical evidence for evolution within the Bible by the mind and hand of man. What is referred to here is the evolution of theological thought.
You do know that the "holy book" has suffered through some grotesques additions over the centuries and which historians have explicated in detail?
The notion the Bible has been radically changed by additions is not true. The Bible consists of 66 books: 39 in the OT and 27 in the new. The Bible took about 1600 years to write. It was written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) by about 40 authors and is internally consistent throughout. The dating you are implying is out of date and is from tradition. Modern biblical scholarship places the dates of many of the books much later than you may have been taught. Additionally there were probably more than the 40 traditional authors that you mention including many we will never know about. The bible is not internally consistent throughout. I used to think this, but it was because I read it under a specific interpretation from the church I was a part of. Also for the consistency that is there, just remember that the authors probably had access to previous texts. As far as additions go, there are some obvious ones like at the end of Mark 16 and John 21. Also remember that the earliest manuscript that you later point to is from 130 C.E. which is at least two generations after when Christ is said to have died. A generation back then was around 40 years, and a lot can happen in two generations. Back then, the scribes were not so well trained compared to when Christianity became the state religion under Constantine. For more information you can read Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman to start. The Bible is 98½ percent textually pure. Through all the copying of the Biblical manuscripts of the entire Bible, only 1½% has any question about it. Nothing in all of the ancient writings of the entire world approaches the accuracy of the biblical documents. That number comes from the documents that we have today, which the majority are after 300 C.E when Christianity became the state religion. Christians were known for their intellectual dishonesty from the early days. This included forging documents and burning documents that they did not agree with. There were several brands of Christianity, but the one that survived and was adopted was the Pauline brand. So while this number is impressive, its like saying "look, we got rid of the stuff we didn't like and started to massively copy this particular brand! and we made it! very accurate!" The 1½ percent that is in question does not affect doctrine. The areas of interest are called variants and they consist mainly in variations of wording and spelling. It is true that the majority are variants of word and spelling. Unfortunately some key doctrinal texts have variants as well. The most obvious example are the variants in key passages about the deity of Christ. Just compare the KJV with a modern translation and you will see. The NT has over 5000 supporting Greek manuscripts existing today with another 20,000 manuscripts in other languages. Some of the manuscript evidence dates to within 100 years of the original writing. There is less than a 1% textual variation in the NT manuscripts. This is pretty much addressed above. To preserve a text, the method back then was to make massive amounts of copies. Once Constantine welcomed Christianity, the new state religion was blessed with many well trained scribes. The fact that some date to 100 years of the original writing only represents a minority of texts and is still over 2 generations from the death of Christ. Some of the supporting manuscripts of the NT are: John Rylands MS written around A.D. 130, the oldest existing fragment of the gospel of John. So the oldest thing we have is a fragment from one book. Thats cute. Bodmer Papyrus II (A.D. 150-200) . Chester Beatty Papyri (A.D. 200), contains major portions of the NT . Codex Vaticanus (A.D. 325-350), contains nearly all the Bible. Codex Sinaiticus (A.D. 350), contains almost all the NT and over half of the OT .

Pahu, to appreciate what I’m talking about regarding the evolution of a collection of ancient tribal books into the “Holy” Bible you’d have to become familiar with the writings of the scholar Elaine Pagels among others. I only mention her because I’m most familiar with her work, but I know there’s more out there. Elaine Pagels, née Hiesey (born Palo Alto, California, February 13, 1943), is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she is best known for her studies and writing on the Gnostic Gospels. Her popular books include The Gnostic Gospels (1979), Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (1988), The Origin of Satan (1995), Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003), Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity (2007), and Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (2012).[1]
The Gospel of Thomas (Example of editing and censoring.) Then there's stuff like:
Inventing the Devil: The Origin and Transformation of the Nature of Evil in the Early Judeo-Christian Tradition
The concept of evil is as old if not older than the concept of God. As man evolved so did his conception of the deity. The same could be said for man's perceptions of evil. According to the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean basin, evil began as an ill-defined force, chaos, attempting to impede the forces of creation, order. From the void it slowly evolved; first as an idea, then as an act of will, until it became an extension of the deity. Evil developed gradually becoming more and more complex until finally within the Judeo-Christian tradition there was a twinning of the deity and evil separated from the godhead and was personified in the Devil, who became the enemy of both God and man. The ancient Jews as well as the early Christians both believed that "without the Devil there can be no God." God and the Devil became intertwined. The Jews believed malevolence was an integral part of the deity. ...
Or a real kicker,
How a Few Men Reintroduced the Church to the Rapture BY CHRIS HUTTON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2014
… According to historian Ernest Sandeen, it wasn’t until the 19th century that a British theologian reintroduce the Church to the Rapture. John Nelson Darby was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher who invented “Dispensationalism," the belief that the Judeo-Christian God dealt with His people according to certain “dispensations," or time periods; there were seven different dispensations in history, and Christians live in the sixth one, which started when Christ was crucified and ends, as Darby describes, with the “secret rapture." Sandeen explains that Darby’s conception of the Rapture is unique, for it emphasizes that the Church would be taken away before the End-Days in order to keep them safe from the End-Days. ...
Even the whole thing with Hell and damnation, that's all the creation of our fertile imaginations and need for story. Which is okay. It's the mistaking god's shadow plays for reality - bad, bad, bad, poison that sort of stuff is.
3. The Bible is filled with hundreds of accurately fulfilled prophecies:
Fulfilled Bible prophecies and end time prophecies: • End time prophecies from the Bible ...
Hmmm, not a very good start: End Time prophecies fulfilled. But we are all still here. Doesn't sound like anything has been 'fulfilled.' But, you believe. Yeah some people believe we aren't warming our Earth either, but we know they are blind idiots who refuse to look at physical reality. But, back to your "God". It's stuff you want to believe because it fills you with some sense of security and superiority. But, it's all In Your Head. God's Head is way, way, way, way, way,way, way, way, way, beyond your lil human brain's ability to understand.
But, back to your "God". It's stuff you want to believe because it fills you with some sense of security and superiority. But, it's all In Your Head. God's Head is way, way, way, way, way,way, way, way, way, beyond your lil human brain's ability to understand.
That is a way I like to put it as well. Lets just say there is a god. However he/she/it is or exists is going to be way beyond anything written in one of man's books and anything you or I can even begin to contemplate.
But, back to your "God". It's stuff you want to believe because it fills you with some sense of security and superiority. But, it's all In Your Head. God's Head is way, way, way, way, way,way, way, way, way, beyond your lil human brain's ability to understand.
That is a way I like to put it as well. Lets just say there is a god. However he/she/it is or exists is going to be way beyond anything written in one of man's books and anything you or I can even begin to contemplate.
Exactly. The way I think of it is, their god is too small. They basically think of an ultra super duper human who somehow exists in a really really big room that encloses our current universe room. In a way it's like the ancients thought about atoms - really tiny homogenous balls of rock. Compare that with the modern conception of some kind of weird mini-quasi-solar system that exists in various simultaneous states.