My opinion on Christian apologetics
Posted by: ScienceGuy
Religion & Spirituality Board
Posted by: ScienceGuy
I have a tough time reading Christian apologists. I feel that while there are parts of the bible in which the meaning is not clear, for the most part the meaning is quite clear. Unfortunately a great number of these clear passages express sentiments that are clearly wrong or are clearly evil or are clearly nonsense. Apologists twist the meanings around to come up with plausible interpretations that eliminate this conundrum. The problem is that if you use these techniques you can make sense out of anything even if no sense was there in the first place.
In order to demonstrate this, here are some "apologies" I have come up for the fictitious verse 1:1 of the holy book of Ridiculous: "Blessed is the believer, for he has not nose on his face".
Apologist #1 (Metaphorical response): "Of course this passage doesn't literally mean that a believer doesn't have a nose. This is an important passage and is SO empowering. What it means is that a believer is free to be himself. He no longer has to hide his blemishes. The lord will take care of that for him."
Apologist #2 (Liberal interpretation with a historical bias): "This passage demonstrates the importance of going back to the original language. The book of Ridiculous is the only book of the bible written in Mythaic. The Mythaic word for 'nose' is 'honker'. There is another Mythaic word 'bonker' which means 'butt'. Notice that there is but a single letter difference. This is most likely due to a transcription error. The original passage should have been 'Blessed is the believer, for he has not nose on his butt'. The phrase 'nose on his butt' was an idiomatic expression meaning 'to be in a problematic [stinky] situation'. So what the verse is really saying is that the Lord will relieve the believer of his problems which are the cause of his stinky situation."
Apologist #3 (Prophetic literal interpretation with a historical bias): "This problem people have with this passage is that they do not realize it applies to a PARTICULAR believer. This passage actually forecasts the coming of Tycho Brahe, the medieval astronomer. Tycho was a rambunctious youth and during a drunken fit of anger he got into a fight. The result was that his nose was cut off. He wore a brass metal prosthetic nose for the rest of his life. He also repented and gave his life to the Lord. It was after this that he made extremely accurate observations of the movement of the planets that allowed Johannes Kepler to derive his laws of planetary motion."
Apologist #4 (Literal Fundamentalist): "The nose is a device used for breathing. Once one becomes a believer and enters into the spirit of the Lord, he becomes more than he was. Even the nose is no longer just a device for breathing. It becomes a device for enjoying the wonder of God's creation. Imagine the wonder of the smell of a rose. It is screaming the majesty of God's handiwork. To a believer, the nose becomes an object of beauty in itself. Someday you should look at a picture of Celine Dion. Notice the wonder of her nose. To a believer, the nose becomes an object of utility. It holds up a person's glasses. Thus, once a person becomes a believer, his eyes are open to a whole range of possibilities he could not see before. What we once saw as a simple device for breathing, we now can see has an abundance of other uses. Therefore, it not really the same nose that we knew before we became a believer."
Apologist #5 (Prophetic Fundamentalist): I would like to thank Dr. Apologist #4, for his perceptive remarks. I wholly concur. However, I would like to add an important comment to Dr. Apologist #4's analysis of the scripture. One of the extra uses for the nose that Dr. Apologist #5 correctly points out is that it can be used to hold up glasses. What the bible is doing here is prophesizing that glasses would be invented. There were no glasses during the days in which this verse was written. It was Johannes Hugyens, a creationist, who invented glasses in the 1450's. But plainly, here it is for anyone willing to see. About 2000 years earlier, the bible has already predicted their coming."
There ... you have 5 apologetic ways of denying the nose on your face. Every one of them has some type of plausibility to it, but they are all ways of making what is clearly nonsense into something meaningful. But the meaning arises only from the attempt to come up with meaning. It does not come from the words, rather it comes from the person. This is essentially the same process a psychiatric patient goes through when he looks at Rorschach ink blots. The meaning doesn't come from the blots, but rather come from the individual's attempt to find meaning in nonsense. The only way to come up with this meaning is to conclude beforehand to rule out the nonsense option. If you do not rule out this option and you find thousands of (real) examples like the one above, then it becomes clear that the bible is plainly NOT the inspired work of an omnipotent being capable of creating the universe and the life in it. It is ridiculous to believe that such a being would be such a lousy communicator.
Here is an experiment for you to try. Think up a moral teaching from the bible. Make it one that pertains to how one should live their life during everyday circumstances and not one that is religious specific ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" as opposed to "keep the sabbath holy", for example). Write down the passages from the bible that you think support this moral teaching. Then look for passages that COULD LOGICALLY BE USED to support the exact opposite. This is different than saying as you think the scripture SHOULD be used. I'll bet you cannot find a single moral teaching in which another person could not find scriptural support to do exactly the opposite of it. I'll also bet that the moral teaching you have chosen is one that is probably followed by the majority of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists. My conclusion when I did a similar thing was that morals come from within a person and not from the teachings of the bible. They are shaped by universal principles that govern the outcome of interactions within human societies. That is why such a large variety of people with various religious beliefs (and non-beliefs) have essentially the same morals.
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Revealing the Spiritual duality of the Bible, for it serves neither God nor truth to try and rationalize irrational things the Bible has said of God.