Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another bible discussion follow-up.

In response to another response to one of my posts in the bible contradictions thread I've been posting in on another forum, I wrote the following (I quoted his post at the top of my reply, including his quote of my earlier post, for context):
KonaCoffeeCo. said: Sorry about taking so long to get back to this...
I said:

In short, God gave Moses a set of tablets with his 10 rules on them. Moses went down and saw his people worshipping a golden calf, he got mad and smashed the tablets. Then he went back up on the mountain and God said "well, since you smashed the first set, I'll make you another set. THESE are my my covenant with the people of Israel."

Unfortunately, the final set, the one which was carried around in the ark of the covenant etc, had the following as the 10th commandment, along with several others different from the first set: "Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk."

The first set that was destroyed shortly after they were made.

The second and lasting set

Just another example of Christianity ignoring even the "facts" of their own bible to pick and choose what sounds more palatable.
I think that this quoted argument is a very valid one...perhaps the most important contradiction that you've highlighted. I'm aware of the differences, but I don't think that I've ever taken the time to get the possible reasoning as to why the differences exist, and how the different faiths reconcile the differences for their own religion/denomination. In your experience with the church, have you ever heard how they handle this?

That should give you a good background on it.

It should also be noted that the first set of 10 rules is split up differently between several major Jewish and Christian denominations. So the "10 Commandments" even as we often see them, differ amongst different Judeo-Christian sects etc.

Even though Exodus 34 pretty clearly states the case as I previously mentioned, even there there is still some contradiction, as in Exodus 34:1 it states "1 The LORD said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.", but then in Exodus 34:27-28, it states "27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments."

So first God says that He will be the one doing the writing, but then after he clearly states the 10 Commandments, he tells Moses to write them down. And he clearly states that these are the 10 Commandments, something he never says about the first set of rules.

The more we look into this, the more we see a work of fiction, authored by a variety of people, changed over the years, and left in the end as a self-contradictory and flawed story as a result of the disparate personal and political goals of the various authors. Not only that, but it was also changed around simply to make the story sound better.

Does any of this sound like the infallible word of God? Or even a remotely accurate description of events or an accurate timetable thereof?

Why should we put any credence into such a fractured and self-contradictory story that scholars know to simply be a conglomeration of disparate stories over time, edited specifically to serve the personal and political goals of a variety of authors and to try to make a good story that flowed better by editing it at will etc?

People that want to believe badly enough will try to find a way to do the same thing themselves, essentially writing for themselves their own version of the story to fit what they want to believe... carrying on the biblical tradition.

This obviously doesn't make it true, just because they might want to believe it, no matter how badly. And trying to fall back on a fractured and contradictory story written millennia ago, by a variety of different people, in the hopes of gaining some kind of authority simply through the age and tradition of the written texts unfortunately doesn't give it that authority, nor does it in any way lend to the veracity of the story. It could be said to actually act to the contrary when you actually start taking a closer look at the reality of the texts.

Another example of this is the argument that somehow Exodus 34:27-28 refers not to the words spoken by God immediately prior to that verse, but instead to the collection of rules spoken by God from Exodus 21:2-23:33, collectively known as the "Covenant Code". Their excuse is as follows; they believe that the verses "27 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."" and the latter half of 28 "And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments." refer to that Covenant Code, rather than what is clearly stated not only in chapter 10; "10 Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you." but also in the statement at the end of chapter 28 where he clearly states "the Ten Commandments", not a reference to the Covenant Code etc.

It is pretty clear that while God made many commandments, and Moses wrote the Book of the Covenant as a collection of everything God had commanded throughout the long narrative, it is also clear that the 10 Commandments themselves referred specifically to the 10 commandments listed just prior to God's statement that these 10 were the 10 Commandments, the covenant with the people of Israel to be inscribed on the (second set of) stone tablets and known as the 10 Commandments.

And just as another side note worth mentioning, we should touch on Exodus 32:27-39. "27 Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.' " 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29 Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.""

Yes, you read that right. When Moses came down and saw the people worshipping the Golden Calf instead of God, he told them that God had commanded them to kill their brothers, friends and neighbors... and they did. Around 3,000 of their brothers, friends and neighbors. And they were rewarded for this as God's obedient followers.

Think about that, because it's not the only place in the bible where God (or Jesus) puts the worship of themselves before the very lives of your own flesh and blood, your own family and your own friends and neighbors. Where the worship of themselves is worth the cost of you murdering your loved ones if God commands it. Where those murders are absolutely necessary.

As I mentioned, the God of the Old Testament is not alone in this sentiment. As Jesus himself states in Matthew 10:34-39:
34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
How does that strike you? Does that remind you of the mentality of modern day Islamists? Or of dangerous fundamentalism? This is the New Testament gospels we're talking about, echoing the sentiment of the genocidal God of the Old Testament in absolute obedience, even if it be at the cost of your friends, family and loved ones.

At the very least this is a commandment direct from Jesus to rend families apart over religious beliefs. Something I have seen all too often.

Think about it.

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