Monday, 2 January 2012

The Bible in Perspective

     At least since the time of Celsus, a 2nd-century opponent of the Christian movement, antagonists have been levelling vehement assaults against the Bible. From the works of Baruch Spinoza, Voltaire, and Thomas Paine in the 17th and 18th centuries, to more recent attacks by the likes of agnostic professor Bart Ehrman and Muslim scholar Ahmed Deedat, the same contemptible arguments have been reworked, recycled, and repeated. And when highly educated, articulate, and sometimes provocative disputants present their case, it can sound quite convincing to those who are unaware of the other side of the discussion.
     I can’t read people’s minds and am not very adept at discerning motives, so my purpose is not an attempt to explain why skeptics dismiss, reject, or outright deny the self-claims of the Bible with respect to its divine origin. Irrespective of the position one takes, comprehension of the true state of affairs will always be obstructed by faulty assumptions and misinformation. Let’s be honest. No one approaches the biblical text with a completely blank tablet, and one’s deep-seated presuppositions inevitably affect how the scriptures are evaluated. Whether espoused in ignorance, with intentional deception, or as a genuine attempt to grapple with the relevant issues, how do popular challenges to the Bible’s integrity measure up against the facts?
     A major concern is what standard we are using to get the clearest sense of what the Bible is and what it teaches. Definitions can be slippery, as different words and concepts often mean different things to different people. If, for example, a Bible-believer talks about "the ark" that was sizeable enough to accommodate eight people and a host of animals (Genesis 7:7-8), and a critic then asks how "the ark" could have been small enough to be transported by just two men (2 Samuel 15:29), an uninformed observer will be confused and misled. Consequently sound reasoning and intelligible communication are undermined, as clarity gives way to misunderstanding.
     If an English-speaker really wants to learn French, to which source would be in his/her best interest to turn – a linguist who has a keen interest in language-acquisition and a thorough knowledge of French, or someone who knows comparatively little French and is adverse to learning a new tongue? When a truth-seeker genuinely desires to know anything about the scriptures, why turn to a skeptic who has no respect for the sacred text and has never read it to learn but only to find fault? Should not the Bible be judged on its own merits rather than the misconceptions of those who maintain a predisposition against it?
--Kevin L. Moore

AddendumFrom Paul Copan's book Is God a Moral Monster? regarding New Atheists typically ignorant of what they criticize, “Rodney Stark put it this way, ‘To expect to learn anything about important theological problems from Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett is like expecting to learn about medieval history from someone who had only read Robin Hood.’”

Related Posts: Biblical Inspiration in Perspective

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