arguments against the Bible
While reading a book on religion, the thought popped into my head that there are some very simple critiques of the Bible that most believers in the Bible don’t seem to realize. I’m sure there are probably gazillions of websites fighting over these issues, but the four that popped into my head as I was reading the book are as follows:
- The Bible is internally contradictory. I have two favorite examples for this. The first is the contradictory lineages of Jesus from Abraham in Matthew 1 and Luke 3:
|Matthew 1||Luke 3|
- My second favorite example of Biblical inconsistency is the assertion that Moses wrote the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and some how managed to write about his own death in Deuteronomy 34. Both of these arguments could basically be considered to fall into the realm of “internal validity” – does the book itself provide support for its claims? Internal contradictions would indicate that it does not. This is also the primary basis of criticism of Thomas Paine’s early works on the Bible.
- The second argument that pops into my head when arguing against the Bible is another scientific concern: external validity. Is there evidence external to the Bible that supports the claims of the Bible? I have not seen any. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but in my relatively cursory examinations of such evidence there isn’t any. Additionally, I’m reminded of David Hume’s argument, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In order for me to consider the miracles in the Bible to be actual events I would need extraordinary evidence. This, too, is an argument for external validity as it would require non-partisan outsiders to verify the claims of the Bible. No such non-partisan witnesses exist.
- The third argument I would present against the Bible is that it is morally repugnant. The Bible suggests death for homosexuality among various other immoral acts (raping of women, slaughtering of innocents, etc.). Even if those were the moral codes of people who lived 3,000 years ago that doesn’t mean I should hold them as a god’s word. If I were to use them for anything, it would be to illustrate how far humans have come morally in the intervening 3,000 years (well, not all humans).
- The fourth and final argument I would give against the authenticity of the Bible is its origins. The books included in the Bible were included based on a vote. I’m a fan of democracy, but it doesn’t make much sense when you’re considering what should or should not be the infallible word of a god.
By no means am I Biblical scholar, but these are the thoughts that pop into my head whenever I think about the Bible. Do you have any others? Is my thinking wrong on these?
I agree that these problems are insurmountable for literalist claim of the Bible’s inerrancy. One can make a stronger case for the Bible as the story or history of God’s people.
Biblical literalism is, of course, weak because it is a particularly stupid mindset, which is not about theology at all but about power. People and communities are embracing inerrancy because they want to exercise power without having to invest into deliberation, which would only get into the way.
Paradoxically, that amounts to a form of idolatry, which puts the book in the place of God.
I was a little puzzed by the thing about the geneology. It’s long been recognized that one is a maternal lineage, and the other paternal (supposing Joseph was the father). Otherwise these issues would be a problem for literalists, but not for faithful believers who accept the methods of texual and higher criticism.
That’s oral tradition. Nothing in the text itself indicates that this is the case. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that this is true.
1) The lineage in Luke isn’t a royal line because it comes through Nathan instead of Solomon.
2) The lineage in Matthew is also invalid because it comes through Jechoniah who was cursed in Jeremiah 22 to be cursed by God to lose the throne.
3) The lineage in Matthew is inconsistent with 1 Chronicles 3.
So, there are still internal inconsistencies and Jesus wasn’t descended through a royal line.
I like your last three reasons. But the first two are pretty weak cheese.
I’ve never been much of a fan of inerrancy though.
Speaking of contradictions, one pretty flagrant one is the two different deaths of Judas. In one, he uses the silver to buy a field and there he falls down and his guts spill out, and in the other he throws the silver into the temple and hangs himself.
The apologists love to say “Hey both could have happened!” But if he hanged himself and then fell and his guts spilled out, why would each witness report exactly half of the story (diffrerent halves) without hinting about the rest of the story? And besides, buying a field himself vs. other people buying a field after his death with money he threw away are two different things…
As for moral repugnance, I agree completely. To start with there’s my biggest problem with Biblical morality, and that’s far from the last of it. I’m astonished that peope can claim this book is a good moral guide.
Chanson, how would you have liked God and the Israelites to handle the Book of Joshua events differently?
The events themselves are the problem. The Lord tells the Israelites to massacre whole cities (men, women, and children), specifically for the purpose of stealing their lands and goods for themselves and the Lord. And the Israelites do it.
This is a tale of unspeakable evil. I’m horrified that any human could point at this and call it good, and worse: hold it up as an example of moral precepts to follow.
and, How About that ‘Tower of Babel’ thing???
suppose (moment) that you’re God; all Knowing, all Powerful.
(those silly) People start building a Tower so they can reach you! STUPID, but: Do you Care?
OF COURSE NOT!
a) (if me) I’d rather let them find out how stupid an idea this is (was?);
b) Can’t succeed anyway; Why become involved?
Weak cheese? How so? A book claims to be god’s word but is riddled with inconsistencies, that’s destroys internal validity. (Easy solution, claim it is “man’s attempt at writing down god’s word,” which is moving the goal posts and disingenuous.) The book claims all sorts of miracles, none of which occur today. What’s more, contemporary writers don’t support those claims. Ergo, without extraordinary evidence to support the extraordinary claims, there is no external validity. I fail to see how either of those are “weak cheese.”
Because a book can be wrong on the details and yet still morally authoritative and useful in the essentials and overall narrative.
Plenty of the best classics of literature have inaccuracies. The point is, these inaccuracies are not germane to what makes the books classics.
Chanson’s criticisms (and your later items) are more germane to the book.
Chanson, I’m aware that the events are horrible. That doesn’t answer my question. How would you have liked God and the Israelites to have handled the situation differently?
What situation? God had been providing for them in the wilderness (so they weren’t even life-or-death dire straits themselves), and they chose to wage an aggressive war for their own profit. The thing to do differently would be don’t kill a bunch of random people so you can take their stuff.
The fact that I would even be asked to clarify a simple ethical point like “don’t commit genocide for your own profit” speaks volumes about the Bible as a source of moral guidance…
So you would prefer that the Israelites had either remained in Egypt, or remained in the wilderness eating mana and quail, correct?
Seth, there’s no credible evidence that the Israelites were captive in Egypt. So your question is not even a hypothetical because none of its premises are provable.
What’s that got to do with anything?
Chanson was talking about the Bible’s message and morality as a STORY. Whether it’s fact or fiction is utterly irrelevant to the discussion we are having here. I honestly don’t care if you think a lot of the Bible is a fairy tale or not. It doesn’t change what I’m talking about one way or the other.
Those would be possible solutions. Of course if we’re going with the hypothesis that God is omniscient and omnipotent, then there would be a whole host of additional solutions…
I recognize that throughout human history (to this day) wars typically have a component of competition over resources (such as land). When resources are tight, a common human response is to look at some other people and notice how different (hence bad) they are and start fighting. I would suspect that nearly every stretch of human-inhabited territory in the world has at one point been taken by force from one nation/tribe by another, at least once if not many times. And probably most people alive today owe their current position at least in part to being descended from victorious aggressors.
Still, even if we’re being realistic about human behavior, that doesn’t mean we should applaud aggressors and hold up those who kill for plunder as good moral examples to emulate. Our species is intelligent enough to analyze such situations and at least talk about other strategies for conflict resolution.
Exactly. Actually, I think the most positive thing one can say about the book of Joshua is that the many of the massacres are probably fictional or at least greatly exaggerated.
The third argument I would present against the Bible is that it is morally repugnant.
Blanche d’Alpuget, an Australian writer, once remarked that the Bible is the most violent book ever written. I think she was referring to the Old Testament. Put those X-rated movies away, now, and go read your Bible.
Chanson, you seem aware of the historical reality that bloodshed was the norm for ancient tribes and societies when encountering each other. Why would you expect the Israelites to have avoided it in claiming a spot of ground for themselves?
Are you suggesting that God “wave his hand” and make them all instant friends just because this one is going “on the record?”
Is creating a moral/ethical guide part of God’s purpose here? If yes, then yes.
What is God’s guidance good for if it’s no better than the basest, cruelest element of human nature?
People start building a Tower so they can reach you! STUPID, but: Do you Care?
OF COURSE NOT!
a) (if me) Iâ€™d rather let them find out how stupid an idea this is (was?);
b) Canâ€™t succeed anyway; Why become involved?
Good question. In a seemingly boundless universe, at least some 14 billion years old, stretching billions of light years across, God spots some people on a tiny planet in the rim of Milky Way galaxy building a tower to try to reach him. Insulted and offended by this effort, His Majesty decides to confound the language of these ambitious hoons. Nevertheless, from this delightful episode, we get the word “babel”. I’m not ridiculing the idea of God here, just the fictitious ways in which people have imagined God. Some of you may have seen reports of the recent Einstein letter up for auction, in which he wrote, “For me, the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions…there is some kind of intelligence working its way through nature. But it is certainly not a conventional Christian or Judaic religious view…I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws.”
Another media article noted:
His position on God has been widely misrepresented by people on both sides of the atheism/religion divide but he always resisted easy stereotyping on the subject.
“Like other great scientists he does not fit the boxes in which popular polemicists like to pigeonhole him,” said Brooke. “It is clear for example that he had respect for the religious values enshrined within Judaic and Christian traditions … but what he understood by religion was something far more subtle than what is usually meant by the word in popular discussion.”
Perhaps some people need literal understandings to make sense of morality and purpose-of-life questions, a simple action/reaction, cause/effect category which doesn’t really explain things like the “problem of evil”. So religion tries to simply this complex problem with mythical stories like Job, which Einstein called “superstition”. In other words, the real world operates very differently than these simplistic belief notions. In some ways, religion seems to encourage the most atavitistic instincts. Along with all of the good that it can do, and does, it still retains a tribal exclusiveness, which seems endemic to human nature. One can validly ask: Has it really made a great difference?(and I’m referring to “true literal belief” here.)
Ray, that hugely trivializes how important to God humanity is.
In Mormon belief, you individually are more important to God than possibly millions of stars. It could well be that the pride and defiance of the people on the tower was the most important event happening in the entire galaxy at the time.
If you want to criticize faith on its own internal deficiencies, you have to do so on faith’s own terms.
Ray, that hugely trivializes how important to God humanity is.
I don’t agree, Seth. Trivialising God is more like thinking of him as a tribal King. When Giordano Bruno put forward the idea that we were not the center of everything, that there were possibly many other worlds, and espoused Copernican ideas, such as heliocentrism, he had to flee from the Inquisition. They eventually caught up with him, however, and for his “heretical” ideas he was burned at the stake. Here at the points they got him on:
1. Holding opinions contrary to the Catholic Faith and speaking against it and its ministers.
2. Holding erroneous opinions about the Trinity, about Christ’s divinity and Incarnation.
3. Holding erroneous opinions about Christ.
4. Holding erroneous opinions about Transubstantiation and Mass.
5. Claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity.
6. Believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes.
7. Dealing in magics and divination.
8. Denying the Virginity of Mary.
Do you think God really cared about what Bruno believed? Was he being prideful? Was he “important” to God? Who killed Bruno, God, or his followers? We may be important to God, but he seems more concerned about “pride” than people getting burned at stakes, and more concerned about “human vanity” than millions who perish for no apparent reason. You’d think God would have intervened in the deaths of six million Jews (aided, I might add, by the teachings of Martin Luther, another of “God’s followers”) long before he confounded people for being proud. This is why I said that the problem of evil cannot be solved with simplistic answers, nor can God be reduced to someone so easily angered at human vanity, a kind of anthropormorphic “super-human”. But you will still find, in many of our religious systems, similar attitudes which sent Bruno to his death. Thankfully, the worst penalty we suffer today is excommunication, and/or social ostracism. The Tower legend also has an earlier genesis which comes from Summerian myths. The origins of language go back some 50,000 years and more. I can assure you that Australian Aborigines had languages and complex inter-tribal dialects long before Babel, and their origins have been reliably placed at least 40,000 years ago, on Australian soil, through archaeology. The Kangaroo is unlikely to have been aboard Noah’s Ark, since it is a species native to Australia, and no where else, as is the koala. Yet the pure mythology of Babel is still not apparent to some.
What we see in the treatment of Bruno, is what we see through the whole of the Old Testament – men who imagine that God inspires their every act of savagery, polygamy, and genocide.
I honestly don’t care whether Babel is a myth or not.
And trying to make Dawkins/Hitchens style accusations that all the crap in the world is essentially religious in nature doesn’t impress either.
I know that’s not specifically what you were arguing, but it’s where you seemed to be going.
And trying to make Dawkins/Hitchens style accusations that all the crap in the world is essentially religious in nature doesnâ€™t impress either.
I know thatâ€™s not specifically what you were arguing, but itâ€™s where you seemed to be going.
Not at all, Hitchens argues that even religious moderates are as bad as fundamentalists. I agree with many things they say, when it tames the overzealous attitudes, but I wouldn’t agree with them overall. In fact, many of their colleagues don’t agree with them. The Mormons I know are as harmless as doves, and make worthwhile contributions to our society, even if they believe that the earth can reverse on its axis and the sun can appear to stand still. 🙂 The bottom line for me is how charitable they are.
No, I’m no where near endorsing some kind of Steve Benson-like atheism, nor saying “goodbye to God”. I would, however, gladly bid goodbye to any “God” whose thinking appears all too human, and has an amazing capacity to entertain the same prejudices that humans do.
Good enough for me.
What is more important? That the Bible is historically correct or that it informs a believers life?
There are some great writings in the New Testament (whats that one the Byrds covered…?) Does it matter if Jesus actually said it or not.
This might be off topic but….
“Long ago, there was a young monk who is very hard working. Day and night e read through the buddism scrolls and learn as much as he could from it.
However, he came across a scroll which he did not quite understand the meaning and therefore he went up the mountain to consult a famous master.
He ask the master :” What is the meaning of this scrol?”
The old master then replied :” Sorry, I’m illiterate, can you read the scroll out to me?”
The young monk was shock and dissapointed :” You cant even read, how can i expect you to understand this difficult scroll!”
The old master then raised his hand and pointed his finger at the moon :” We always seek the beauty of the moon. But when we point at it, the finger is not the moon. To see the moon, we need to look beyond the finger. I may not point to the moon but i can see it clearly in my heart.”
Realizing this, the young monk threw away the scroll and decided to stay on the mountain and be a student of the master.”
It’s from Ecclesiastes (Old Testament).
That it informs a believer’s life is as problematic as the historicity. Where do you think the religious right finds justification for their selfish and short-sighted positions?
“Where do you think the religious right finds justification for their selfish and short-sighted positions?”
Is that a problem caused by the Bible or is it coming from the individuals themselves?
The Bible certainly makes it easier for them to be hateful.
Any ideology makes it easier for people to be hateful.
You think being a Democrat makes it easier to hate evangelical fundamentalists?
I’d say it does.
As I explained in Is religion the problem?, I think the root cause of war is generally competition over resources, and people will find the passages in their holy books that they want to find, for good or for evil.
However, it becomes much easier to promote evil if you can justify it by pointing to passages from a book that many in your society regard as the word of God.
It is difficult to avoid disliking those whom you see as actively working to cause harm. That’s true for all people. But that’s not quite the same thing as having a holy book that condones slavery, encourages stoning people for crimes such as homosexuality, or teaches that it is righteousness to kill infidels if your God wills it…
Having not read much of the New Testament since studying it in High school Seminary, I can’t speak with much authority; but it seems that for all the hatred etc. there corresponding elements of Love and Peace.
I mean on one hand you’ve got “Christians” bombing abortion clinics. On the other you have
Christians like Father Roy Bourgeois http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Bourgeois.
(Sorry, I have not figured out how to post a link yet.)
What the problem is, is that The Bible tends to be viewed as static, word of God period. It is not enough to believe something, to fully realize any of the Bible it must be debated, and doubted to realize it.
I basically view the Old Testament as a narrative of God doing damage control with a bunch of people who are pretty-much hopelessly messed up.
And like I already said, I don’t buy inerrancy anyway. However, I still find it a useful book as long as you don’t turn your brain off when applying it.
Seth, I’m not trying to be critical of your position here as I think everyone should AT LEAST view the Bible as errant and should “turn their brains on when applying it.”
That said, why bother with a book as problematic as the Bible? Honestly, people would be better off reading something like, The Humanist Manifesto or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It makes absolutely no sense to me to fiddle around with all of the worthless crap in the Bible (e.g., Elijah calling a bear out of the woods to kill kids for making fun of his baldness) when you can look toward declarations that are relevant for today without all the baggage.
So, yes, take what you will from the Bible and throw out the crap – good for you. But I have to ask, “Why bother reading that sh*tty book at all?”
(P.S. The same goes for the Book of Mormon, but that’s another thread.)
And, for the record, no one has mentioned which version of the bible you might be looking at. There are hundreds of different translations. The NIV (new international version ) and the KJV (King James’ version) have some very different wording in parts. Some words don’t matter. But some might – especially when Christ talked about eunuchs. Who was he referring to?
But there are definitely parts of the KJV bible (OT) that are violent and not a good direction for humanity (mo). I would post the stories here – I think one had to do with a woman being cut up and pieces of her being sent to each of the 12 tribes.
This is part of the reason why many modern religions have distanced themselves from a literal translation of the bible – studying it instead as an allegory or myth. Focusing on messages like “love one another” than a lot of the venegence.
Many religions face the issue of disagreeing interpretations. Think of some sects of Islam and polygamy, for example. Many people within that faith disagree about the interpretation of those scriptures in the Koran.
profxm – you asked, why bother reading those books?
Simply because it’s important to understand where we have been and what has influenced some modern societies. Just the same as I might read Shakespeare. How can/could you understand much of modern literature without understanding some of the background of religious texts like the Torah, Koran and the Bible? How could you understand many of the wars fought in Europe throughout the 16th and 17th centuries without understanding the different religions? It would be like trying to understand China but not learning about Confusius.
I’m not saying it’s the only set of books that should be read, but they are important from a historical perspective.
aerin, you’re obviously right that there is merit in reading the books in order to understand religious groups or historical events that used these books for justification (not for history or archeology generally though) and even for understanding literature. I almost mentioned this in my post, but I was getting a little long-winded.
My real point is: There is no point reading scripture for “morals” or “values” or “ethics” when there are far better resources that don’t carry all that baggage.
The only other reason I can think of for reading scripture is you have violent tendencies or prurient interests and use them to “get off.” 🙂
I think I’ll just let aerin’s post stand. In the scheme of picking one’s battles, defending the entire OT is not something I really wanted to seriously wade into in the first place. I’m not really the person to do so anyway.
I just found a really interesting article that addresses this question: Liberal Christianity vs. The Bible: Why a “Bible” at All?. The author comes up with a lot of good insights. Here’s a teaser:
First of all, there is plenty of external evidence for the Bible. you also stated that the books were added based on a vote. This, however, is not true. The books that were chosen for the New Testament were those which were written within 20-50 years after the life of Jesus. These were chosen because they were written while Jesus was wither still alive or shortly after his death. Those books excluded were written over one hundred years after Jesus’s death.
Now comes the other arguments. I have heard rebuttals or them before, but not that I can remember at the moment, so I will have to do some research before refuting them. Hopefully why I have said had cleared some things up for you though.
You got your dates wrong and you got the process of canonization wrong.
As for external evidence – sure, there is certainly evidence that certain towns existed. But Dan Brown’s novels have that much evidence. When we argue that there is very little external evidence for the Bible, what we are saying is, “There are no third parties that were writing independently that also wrote about Jesus’s miracles, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, etc.” In other words, there is virtually no one outside the Bible who confirms the events inside the Bible.
Because of the genealogies listed in scripture, which give the life spans and ages at which the patriarchs produced their firstborn, it is ridiculously simple to calculate just how long ago Adam supposedly emerged in the Garden of Eden. For this reason, chronological bibles put that appearance at approximately 3975 B.C. and Noahs flood at about 2319 B.C. I know of a certain televangelist who is fond of referring to the fact that Damascus is the longest continuously occupied city on earth. But what he deliberately does not mention is that its been continuously occupied since 8000 to 10,000 B.C. a figure completely inconsistent with scripture. In fact, there are cave paintings in Europe and Asia that are actually tens of thousands of years old. Because such artistic renderings represent cultural expressions, its easy to argue that they are synonymous with civilization. All such evidence can’t be reconciled with scripture. It should also be noted that Noahs flood had no effect on such habitation. Egypt has been continuously occupied since around 4000 B.C. The record of that occupation is preserved in extremely sophisticated hieroglyphics. Had the area been depopulated and later resettled, we could very predictably expect a profound interruption in that record. There is no such interruption. Egypts northern border is the Mediterranean Sea. Whether world-ending or not, a flood that was sufficient enough to overflow the mountains of Ararat would most certainly have inundated all of Egypt as well.
I just started reading the bible for the first time ever and I completely agree with your third argument. I can’t believe how something that is supposed to be so holy is so full of violence and racism. Peolple say that the bible is interpreted in different ways, but when it talks about innocent people being killed for the sake of “the chosen ones” I can’t understand why anyone would believe that God had anything to do with that. I believe that the bible was written with the intent of making people fearful of something that would prevent them from doing wrong…well according to what was wrong at the time that it was written.
Here’s my newspaper column on the retreat of religion. Please post or distribute it, if you wish….. Jim Haught
A huge news story, barely noticed
(The Charleston Gazette – Nov. 9, 2010)
By James A. Haught
Philosopher-historian Will Durant called it “the basic event of modern times.” He didn’t mean the world wars, or the end of colonialism, or the rise of electronics. He was talking about the decline of religion in Western democracies.
The great mentor saw subsiding faith as the most profound occurrence of the past century — a shift of Western civilization, rather like former transitions away from the age of kings, the era of slavery and such epochs.
Since World War II, worship has dwindled starkly in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and other advanced democracies. In those busy places, only 5 or 10 percent of adults now attend church. Secular society scurries along heedlessly.
Pope Benedict XVI protested: “Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown before now to humanity, excludes God from the public conscience.” Columnist George Will called the Vatican “109 acres of faith in a European sea of unbelief.”
America seems an exception. This country has 350,000 churches whose members donate $100 billion per year. The United States teems with booming megachurches, gigantic sales of “Rapture” books, fundamentalist attacks on evolution, hundred-million-dollar TV ministries, talking-in-tongues Pentecostals, the white evangelical “religious right” attached to the Republican Party, and the like.
But quietly, under the radar, much of America slowly is following the path previously taken by Europe. Little noticed, secularism keeps climbing in the United States. Here’s the evidence:
| Rising “nones.” Various polls find a strong increase in the number of Americans — especially the young — who answer “none” when asked their religion. In 1990, this group had climbed to 8 percent, and by 2008, it had doubled to 15 percent — plus another 5 percent who answer “don’t know.” This implies that around 45 million U.S. adults today lack church affiliation. In Hawaii, more than half say they have no church connection.
| Mainline losses. America’s traditional Protestant churches — “tall steeple” denominations with seminary-trained clergy — once dominated U.S. culture. They were the essence of America. But their membership is collapsing. Over the past half-century, while the U.S. population doubled, United Methodists fell from 11 million to 7.9 million, Episcopalians dropped from 3.4 million to 2 million, the Presbyterian Church USA sank from 4.1 million to 2.2 million, etc. The religious journal First Things — noting that mainline faiths dwindled from 50 percent of the adult U.S. population to a mere 8 percent — lamented that “the Great Church of America has come to an end.” A researcher at the Ashbrook think-tank dubbed it “Flatline Protestantism.”
| Catholic losses. Although Hispanic immigration resupplies U.S. Catholicism with replacements, many former adherents have drifted from the giant church. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that 20 million Americans have quit Catholicism — thus one-tenth of U.S. adults now are ex-Catholics.
| Fading taboos. A half-century ago, church-backed laws had power in America. In the 1950s, it was a crime to look at the equivalent of a Playboy magazine or R-rated movie — or for stores to open on the Sabbath — or to buy a cocktail or lottery ticket — or to sell birth-control devices in some states — or to be homosexual — or to terminate a pregnancy — or to read a sexy novel — or for an unwed couple to share a bedroom. Now all those morality laws have fallen, one after another. Currently, state after state is legalizing gay marriage, despite church outrage.
Sociologists are fascinated by America’s secular shift. Dr. Robert Putnam of Harvard, author of “Bowling Alone,” found as many as 40 percent of young Americans answering “none” to faith surveys. “It’s a huge change, a stunning development,” he said. “That is the future of America.” He joined Dr. David Campbell of Notre Dame in writing a new book, “American Grace,” that outlines the trend. Putnam’s Social Capital site sums up: “Young Americans are dropping out of religion at an alarming rate of five to six times the historic rate.”
Oddly, males outnumber females among the churchless. “The ratio of 60 males to 40 females is a remarkable result,” the 2008 ARIS poll reported. “These gender patterns correspond with many earlier findings that show women to be more religious than men.”
Growing secularism has political implications. The Republican Party may suffer as the white evangelical “religious right” shrinks. In contrast, burgeoning “nones” tend to vote Democratic. Sociologist Ruy Teixeira says the steady rise of the unaffiliated, plus swelling minorities, means that “by the 2016 election (or 2020 at the outside) the United States will have ceased to be a white Christian nation. Looking even farther down the road, white Christians will be only around 35 percent of the population by 2040, and conservative white Christians, who have been such a critical part of the Republican base, will be only about a third of that — a minority within a minority.”
Gradually, decade by decade, religion is moving from the advanced First World to the less-developed Third World. Faith retains enormous power in Muslim lands. Pentecostalism is booming in Africa and South America. Yet the West steadily turns more secular.
Arguably, it’s one of the biggest news stories during our lives — although most of us are too busy to notice. Durant may have been correct when he wrote that it is the basic event of modern times.
(Haught, editor of The Charleston Gazette, West Virginias largest newspaper, can be reached by phone at 304-348-5199 or e-mail at email@example.com. This essay is adapted from his ninth book, Fading Faith: The Rise of the Secular Age.)
Matthew 1 actually includes the recognization of Mary which is very rare in these times that the bible was written in. The genealogy is of Josephs side of the family and Marys; men are only stated because of, again their thoughts that women arent thought of by much, thus mostly only men were stated. Secondly if you choose not to believe that the extraordinary miracles preformed by Jesus are all frod, thats your chose. But why would the gospel (referring to the first four books of the New Testament)all say almost the exact same thing; yes different versions because they are different people with different views of the whole thing; because they all witnessed the same miracles. thirdly, God told mankind to be fruitful and to increase in number, and as we all know the only way that can happen is with a man and a woman, not two of the same. Fourthly the bible was put together by a team but they did not base what was put in by a vote but by a set of rules or standards and if they didnt they werent put in.
This is a non-sequitur. It is irrelevant to my point.
I’ve heard this claim before, but there is no evidence that that is what is happening. The verses themselves do not indicate as much. And thanks for pointing out the misogyny of The Bible, which is another good reason to dislike the book.
Some miracles overlap, others don’t. Which is more likely, though, that the authors of the gospels copied from each other (which is the current consensus among Biblical scholars: see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel#The_first_gospels) or that they all observed the same miracles? I vote for option 1 – someone made up the miracles and everyone else just copied him.
So, you’re using the Bible to bash gays. Props to you for being a bigot.
Um, not really. It was decided based upon political struggles, battles, in-fighting, personality contests, and voting. Read up on the history of the Bible (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon). It will do you wonders.
In the Luke genealogy where it says “Joseph,” it really means “Mary.” As a professor in the Ancient Languages Department at BYU happened to discover, in the original Aramaic, J-o-s-e-p-h is an alternate spelling for “Mary.”
I want to agree with Anne and to expound on her argument. Barbarism begins in the bible almost at its inception. Consider the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was a tiller of the ground, but Abel was a keeper of sheep. Why was he a keeper of sheep? It better not be because he liked lamb chops. Animals weren’t on humankind’s menu until after Flood, unless this slipped Moses’ mind when he was making up this story. If Abel was not eating them and was raising them simply for their wool, his sacrifice should have consisted of all the fleece from first shearing, shouldn’t it? That is not what the bible says. Genesis 4:4 makes it clear that he slaughtered his lambs. So God rejected the sacrifice of Cain, which was ground from the ground according to His commands, and instead accepted a sacrifice involving animals both murdered and butchered by Abel, who should not have had the slightest idea what he was doing with a butcher knife? I think not.
i want to expand on rach3l’s argument, if such miracles were copied than why aren’t they all the exact same thing?
Um, not really. It was decided based upon political struggles, battles, in-fighting, personality contests, and voting. Read up on the history of the Bible (http://en.wikipedia.o/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon). It will do you wonders.
oh wait the wonders it has done to you? Wikipedia is not a steady source, any one can put any thing they want to on this cite and there own opinions. and if no one has evidence, where is yours?
a bigot is just a rude word for someone who truly believes and stands up for what they are. i applaud rach3l for that.
hey kuri, when you said:
In the Luke genealogy where it says Joseph, it really means Mary. As a professor in the Ancient Languages Department at BYU happened to discover, in the original Aramaic, J-o-s-e-p-h is an alternate spelling for Mary.
where did you get this from? is there a cite? i want to see it for my self, if such is true.
It’s just a joke, mocking specifically the absurdity of saying that a genealogy that ends with “Joseph” is Mary’s genealogy and generally the contortions that apologists will go through rather than admit an obvious contradiction.