Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Naïve Bible Skepticism

Earlier today someone came here after a Google search on "fiery furnace Daniel scientific explanation". Meanwhile James Cameron is producing a 90 minute documentary on natural causes that might explain the weird goings-on in Exodus. And a recent paper in the Journal of Paleolimnology attempts to explain Jesus's water-walking with a patch of floating ice.

These people are skeptical of supernatural claims, I'll give them that. Very good. But they're doing it all wrong. There is in fact no need to search for natural explanations for any of the supernatural events in the Bible, because they're fiction. From a historian's point of view, the Bible books are mostly just bad source material: not contemporary with the events they describe, not written by knowledgeable observers, badly biased in favour of the supernatural, strongly influenced by literary conventions. Looking for the science behind Exodus is just naïve. James Cameron might as well try to find out how Sauron's ring worked or where Hogwarts School of Magic is located.

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Blogger Martha said...

I'm always amazed by the way people take the Bible literally. I think it is a sacred text, among many of the world's other sacred texts, but it is not a literal historical document. It is myth and metaphor, the way people have always described the world to themselves. I do think there is something beyond the physical world, or perhaps it is simply a part of the physical world that we have just not come to understand yet (because I think there is plenty we don't yet understand, or can't imagine--quantum physics anyone?). But I thinks sacred texts at their best can give a person some tools or context in the quest for an experience of the divine, whatever word you use to describe that to yourself. God, gods, nirvana, or perhaps just love and a sense of the better side of humanity.

11 August, 2006 19:01  
Blogger Martin said...

Amen to that, sister!

11 August, 2006 20:00  
Anonymous Ken Buddha said...

You calling my man Brook Benton a liar? Is this the face of a liar?

Thought not. Now apologise.

Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!

Oh, they were three children from the land of Israel
Oh, they took a little trip to the land of Babylon
And ol’ Nebudchanezzer was the king of Babylon
So they took a lot of gold, and made ‘em an idol

And they told everybody "when you hear the music of the clarinet,"
They told everybody "when you hear the music of the flute,"
"Now listen, children, when you hear the music of the horn,"
"Oh, you gotta bow down and worship the idol!"

Ah, but the children of Israel would not bow down!
"We aint’ going to bow to no golden idol!"
No, you couldn’t fool the children with the golden idol!

So the king cast the children in the fiery furnace
The heat on cold and red-hot brimstone, the Good Book say
Even made it seven times hotter than it oughtta be!
Now they burned up the soldiers that the king had put there
Oh, Shadrack! Meshach, Abednego!

Um hmm, then the Good Lord called an angel,
Gave him a couple of wings.
He said "go down there through the middle of the furnace
and begin to cool in the flames."
And those children got so happy,
they went struttin’ right through the fire.
Just a’ laughin’ and a’ talkin’ ‘bout the GOODNESS OF THE LORD.
Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!

Oh, Shadrack! Meshach, Abednego!!!

11 August, 2006 20:19  
Blogger Martin said...

In the face of such overwhelming evidence, all I can do is get down on my knees and say the prayer taught to us by that other great musical theologician:


11 August, 2006 20:32  
Anonymous Ken Buddha said...

Nobody with a good car needs to be justified.

Damn right!

11 August, 2006 20:36  
Blogger Martin said...

The Lord hath turned his face away from me because I wrote theologiCIan. I shall be the laughingstock of the bloggyspear.

11 August, 2006 20:41  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Hmm...I am curious to see that James Cameron documentary. The Abyss meets moses?

I think it is misplaced to read the Bible literally too. I think even most theologians wouldn't read it literaly either.

BUT...I do think it is a science based series of stories. Khrishna and Christ have similar sounding names because they originated in the same story "strong boy story" and many myths are preliterate memory codes for celelstial activity.

Or tha'ts what I think. Ever read hamlet's Mill? (you can find an online version at my blog if curious and never read it...)

12 August, 2006 14:24  
Blogger Martin said...

I don't think most people during prehistory paid much attention at all to astronomy. Mesopotamian priests did in the Bronze Age, but they were a really weird minority.

12 August, 2006 21:05  
Blogger Bible Discernment said...

For more info on Bible Versions go to

19 August, 2006 19:05  
Blogger Martin said...

Haha, yeah! The King James version is "the real word of God"! Very discerning of you.

I'm sure Abraham was really frustrated about having to wait 3500 years until AD 1611 before the real version of the voice he kept hearing in his head would be published.

19 August, 2006 21:18  
Anonymous June Cherie Hinkle said...

Yes I know there is meta physical. AFter all, I don't dream and yet I had 2 dreams over 2 consecutive days and then the next day on each I watched in amazement as they replayed the stories on TV I had dreampt. ON the channel I was watching and at that time. So now I do believe in reincarnation because of those 2 dreams one in another life and 1 in another death that took place.

24 October, 2006 04:19  
Blogger Martin said...

Well, you've certainly convinced me!

24 October, 2006 09:07  
Blogger zarkov said...

personifications and embellishments... an old Encyclopedia Brittanica said that by 1500 B.C. the sacred texts the world over had been reduced to the state of wives-tales.

CONTEXT: Furnace = smelter. These names must have relevance in "non-personified" terms... perhaps rock, brick, or ores. Abednego is likely tied to albedo-negro = black, non-reflective.

Civilizations centered upon metals and weapons. Cities located near mines. Prime importance was furnace walls that would not melt. Keen interest also in new ores: higher melting point = better metals.
Could we lose the emotion and try some intellect? Could we get some REAL scholars on this topic... anybody?

21 June, 2007 19:58  
Blogger Martin said...

I wouldn't know, being fictitious myself.

22 June, 2007 16:43  

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