Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Episode 52 The Disunity of the Bible (part 1)


Apologist Josh McDowell claims that although the bible was “composed by men, its unity betrays the hand of the almighty…there is complete harmony which cannot be explained by coincidence or collusion.” For a two part Skeptics Sunday School we expose the bible for what it really is: a loosely edited collection of discrepant accounts and contradictory claims—a disunity repudiating all claims of divine inspiration. Part one examines the sources, themes and disharmonies in the Hebrew Bible. But why do so many people perceive unity in the bible? We will tackle that question for this weeks “God Thinks Like You.” Also on this episode: a special back-to-school edition of the shitlist.

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16 comments:

James said...

Just listening now, and it strikes me that, even before you get to whether the Bible is unified or not, McDowell's argument falls flat.

Sure, if you get 10 people to write about something, you'll probably get 10 different opinions. But a better analogy would be to get 100 people to each write something, with some of the later contributors having access to what some of the earlier ones wrote, then pass the lot through some editors who get to pick and choose 10 final writings to suit their agendas. Chances are good that you'll get a unified text out of that process...

Jeremy said...

I couldn't agree more. Hell, their selection to be in the canon is going to result in some level of unity. But if we stopped there (as we could have in an argument with McDowell) we wouldn't get to show what a mess the bible is. Now what fun would that be.

James said...

But if we stopped there we wouldn't get to show what a mess the bible is.

Oh, I wouldn't suggest stopping there...

Zach said...

i've actually heard another defense of genesis 1 and 2. 1 of them is just a list with no order imposed on it.

Also it seems like apologists tend to really not put much into what humans can do. Like recently i had someone tell me there i a bible verse that explains the water cycle 500 yrs before it was discovered.

Zach said...

i found the verse he cited jeremiah 10:13

Daniel said...

I usually from believers that one creation account is more specific while the other one is more general.

James said...

i've actually heard another defense of genesis 1 and 2. 1 of them is just a list with no order imposed on it.

That'd be more plausible if it weren't for the fact that the "list with no order" explicitly says that God made Man before the animals, while the list with order has Man last.

Shane said...

Guys, greetings from Belfast! Your podcast simply rocks, and as an ex-evangelical Christian (but never a creationist - I was never *that* dim) I really appreciate the way you tackle the bogus arguments of the apologists.

Yes, the bible is a mess - an interesting mess, but a mess nonetheless. I deconverted myself after a brief bible study of John The Baptist made me realise how credulous people were in C1CE, and how resurrections were two-a-penny. Then, trying to shore up the evidence for THE resurrection, I realised the gospels are hopelessly at odds - just as you might expect from 4 texts that had arisen from a small number of sources, then been modified and adapted by the communities that used (and abused) them before being chucked untidily together into a "canon" (probably with loud lobbying from their respective communities for their intact inclusion, thereby precluding any harmonisation).

Keep it up!
-Shane

PS. Atheist cycles from Muslim Jordan to Jewish Israel to raise money for Christian Hospital! http://answersingenes.blogspot.com
Thanks for allowing me a shameless plug :-)

James said...

It is fun to pull the text apart to see how it was assembled, though. But then, I'm one of those people who read The Histories of Middle Earth to see all the different drafts of Tolkien's books & stories.

Lausten North said...

I'm surprised you didn't start out with the history of how the Bible came to be the Bible. Apologetics tend to speak as if it was always one book, carried around for centuries and added to as God revealed himself. For me, just knowing that it was a political and arbitrary process that assembled it in the first place is enough to convince me that it is not the word of God. I'm glad you included the story of how Deutoronomy was "found". I would like to hear more on that and maybe dig more into the apologetics within the text itself. That also is a strong indicator that the Bible is intended to be a history of changing thoughts on god and gods, not one long story about a guy in the clouds.

Jeremy said...

Thank you Lausten,

I agree, but I think the history of the canon is interesting enough to deserve an episode all to itself sometime in the future.

James said...

I agree, but I think the history of the canon is interesting enough to deserve an episode all to itself sometime in the future.

I'm looking forward to that episode. But then, I look forward to all of them.

TV's Mr. Neil said...

Okay, I waited until I had both episodes before listening this, and I'm already having to pause it ten minutes into what I expect to be a fantastic episode.

On the serface, I have to say that Josh McDowell is a hack, and I agree with you already that this is embarrassing that his book is even published.

His entire argument is rests on the appeal to ignorance, as are most,if not all, apologetic arguments.

McDowell basically sets up this argument by finding an alleged phenomenon so remarkable, that he thinks it can only be explained by divine authorship. So he challenges the secular scholar to find a reasonable alternative to his "explantion". Of course, the problem is that divinity is NEVER an explanation. It is the absence of one. All he's saying is that we don't know how this could have happened, therefore God did it.

Come ON, McDowell! COME ON!

Of course, the premise that the Bible is a unity is also laughable, and i will resume the episode now to enjoy listening to you boys (and later Dr. Price) tear that nonsense to shreds.

Of course, I always love listening to Dr. Price.

mabell said...

I'd like to turn McDowell's challenge around. He asked 10 people to write about the meaning of life, and expressed skepticism about the consistency of the responses. Let's ask 10 Christian's what they think the Bible says about the meaning of life. Be sure to ask people from different continents and different cultures. You should ask a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Catholic, a Russian Orthodox, a Jehovah's Witness and a Mormon.

Will they all give the same letter-perfect response? The answer is right there from the hand of God. All they have to do is copy it down.

jeff said...

skins and no skins. Hilarious!

Piller said...

This episode is almost a rehash of a conversation I had with religious friend a few months ago. The various 10 commandments, Gen 1 vs 2, Moses writing his own death, Deut being a forgery and other topics were all covered. Wishing I had this podcast before that. Then I could have had another conversation with them and just had them listen to it on their own :)