Isn't the bible poorly written?
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12-08-2015, 02:32 PM
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 02:02 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  The world is awash in prophets; their cacophony is shrill, insistent and as opaque as a bible: does one need the help of someone "with authority from god" to identify who really does possess "authority from god"?
Yes, someone needs help of someone to identify who really does possess authority from God.
(12-08-2015 02:02 PM)Airportkid Wrote:  If you're able to produce a list for us of things that distinguish authentic authority from god from pretend authority from god, I'm sure we're all ears. It will certainly be a first if you do manage it. Nobel prize calibre if you're successful - but don't let the high bar dissuade you from making the attempt. You have much to gain and nothing to lose by trying. If you aren't pretending.
I can produce the list. But why do you need this list? What are you going to do with this list? I assume you do not believe in God. So, why would you be "all ears"?

English is my second language.
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12-08-2015, 02:39 PM
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 02:32 PM)Alla Wrote:  I can produce the list. But why do you need this list? What are you going to do with this list? I assume you do not believe in God. So, why would you be "all ears"?

If nothing else, it would allow us to understand your position better. It may even convince some people, if its reasoning is valid.

Saying "I have it, but I won't show you because you're a meany-meanhead", on the other hand, will convince no one.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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12-08-2015, 03:19 PM
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 02:19 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-08-2015 08:52 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  Despite that, there are some great stories in the Bible (many of them in Genesis).
Really?

I found Genesis to be incredibly childish, boorish, repetitive, misogynistic and sadistic?

You'd think, being sadistic it would be somewhat interesting, but they really managed to make it boring.

Yes, really. It's no more misogynistic or sadistic than other literature of the period. The creation myth is as poetic as any creation myth of any culture. The Tower of Babel story, the entire Jacob story (especially his wrestling match with God), the entire Joseph story -- these are interesting, skillfully constructed, symbolically rich stories that match up with any other literature of that era. If you expect them to be like a modern novel, or if you're taking them at face value as "true" stories -- then yes, you will be disappointed. But on their own terms, they are great literature. If you find Genesis "boring" (aside from the "begats", which are admittedly boring), you probably wouldn't like Homer or the Greek tragedies either.

It might also matter which translation you're reading. The KJV is majestic and magnificent, and resonates with all English literature since that time (because it influenced all of it). Many modern translations lose much of the poetry.
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12-08-2015, 03:21 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2015 03:35 PM by Airportkid.)
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 02:32 PM)Alla Wrote:  ... I can produce the list. But why do you need this list? What are you going to do with this list? I assume you do not believe in God. So, why would you be "all ears"?

Laugh out load Laugh out load Laugh out load

My gracious, a three-loller!

In all aspects of real life other than religion it's also of course vital to be able to distinguish charlatans from the sincere; we all develop across our lifetime our own internal lists of how to tell them apart. On my personal list of "What Pretenders Do" is number 18:

A pretender asked to produce something claimed won't, and in refusing pretends the requester isn't really interested.

Don't bother, Alla, there'd be no point whatsoever in your producing any kind of list.
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12-08-2015, 03:29 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2015 03:36 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
Backward Thinking and Divisiveness

“But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” ((Reg, leader of the People’s Front of Judea, from the film “Life of Brian”)

Six hundred years before Jesus, Jewish priests badgered their own people into a fanatical reverence for Scripture. As a consequence, most Jews looked backward by trying to rigidly conform to the last jot and tittle of the Torah, instead of being open-minded and flexible. The Jews became obsessed with ingratiating themselves with their imaginary God, and thereby excluded themselves from having cordial relations with Gentiles.

Most other people from conquered nations came to realize that while they may have had no great love of Rome, it was in their interests to embrace the Empire, because to do so usually bought them peace, law, order, and trade. The Palestinian Jews were different. Most of them refused to learn from foreigners or get on with them because their make-believe God had told them they were so very different and special, so they did not want outside advice or interference. The Jews failed to adapt to what was then a more modern world, and suffered recurrent military defeats at the hands of Gentiles as a result.

The Jews’ obsessive reliance on Scripture meant they were subject to primitive laws and ethics. They frequently fought with and argued amongst themselves, often because “God’s” rules were so open to interpretation. Jewish religious leaders, not democratically elected, who claimed to know how to interpret Scripture, used God as their sock puppet, so asserted an elevated status, ruled over the rabble, and taxed their incomes.

Mark Twain had good reason to state

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.”

At the beginning of the Christian era, an eclectic mix of Jews and Gentiles wrote more stories about God with the explicit, but not admitted, aim of asserting authority over people in the empire.

These people may have been Roman government employees. They invented a new God/man, Jesus Christ, whose story may have been loosely based on a real life Jewish political insurgent. Some of these writings eventually became the core of the New Testament. The new religion instilled similar convictions to the Jews in their own converts, such as an injunction to obey priests, a reluctance to embrace new ideas, and an intolerance of all non-believers.

Ever since the dawn of Christianity, Christians have been squabbling with each other and outsiders, just as the ancient Jews always did, and the baloney in the Bible is partly to blame.

Six hundred years later the first Islamists, too, learned a lesson from the Levites. They wrote their own version of scripture, the Koran, and it too is also still being used today to control and profit from people.

As a consequence of greedy men taking advantage of their fellows, a large part of the human family is still suffering from belief in holy books. Jews, Christians and Muslims are still fighting each other.

A Confusing Book

The Bible is full of ambiguities. Nearly every verse is a product of people trying to reinterpret a tradition, upstage a rival story, assimilate an old myth, or create a new one, so different authors had different ideas about God and his relationship with humankind.

In the Old Testament, “Yahweh” was judgmental, sexist, punitive, and an anti-Gentile racist. Yahweh told the Jews they were really special and that he had a never-ending covenant with them.

In the New Testament Paul wrote that God’s favorites, the Jews, were now the enemies of the entire human race. Paul claimed a new covenant cancelled the old; that the Torah was redundant. But Jesus and James taught that the Torah must be obeyed. Paul proposed that people would win God’s favor through faith, but James jotted that faith was futile without good works. Is God a pro-Jewish dictator who will reward your good works, or an anti-Jewish oddball who wants your faith? That depends on which part of the Bible you read and your preacher’s prejudices.

Paul’s instructions were inconsistent and confusing, and his Christ figure, supposedly the same Jesus of the Gospels, probably was not. Paul, the most important creator of Christianity, would not share his Christ’s wisdom with the world, because his Christ was a ghost who did not get philosophical, whereas the rabbi Jesus of the Gospels was full of wise anecdotes and parables.

The New Testament authors could not come to a consensus about Jesus. In Matthew, Jesus was the Jewish Messiah who told his disciples to preach only to Jews, yet in John Jesus scorned his fellow Jews. Jesus taught people to forgive seventy times seven times, but condemned his own enemies to hell.

Jesus said,

“...blessed are the peacemakers,”

and then said that he did not come to bring peace to the world but a sword. Jesus put Peter in charge and gave him the keys to the kingdom of heaven, then said no one was to be boss. Jesus’ own brother did not document that Jesus rose from the dead, and Mark, one of Jesus’ first biographers, also neglected to mention whom the famous ghost appeared to.

God, Christ and Jesus had mismatched personalities, yet were said to be one, had odd allegiances, as they loved or loathed the Jews, and irreconcilable rules, as they followed or forsook the Law. Each character frequently contradicted himself. No wonder Christians are often confused!

The Bible is a quagmire of muddled ideas! It had too many contributors to be consistent. Anyone can quote some bit of the Bible to back up almost any belief. The philosopher Daniel Dennet claims that when we try to comprehend Christianity we are confronted with

“...a thicket in a swamp in a fog.”

Strangely enough, if “God’s” rules were more reliable, the Bible probably would not be so popular. The contradictions can be used to excuse lame brained, antiquated ideas.

Some people unfairly blame themselves for not understanding the Bible, or waste countless hours trying to rationalize half-baked interpretations put forward by imaginative preachers. They might better spend their time trusting their own reasoning instead.

Which Bible?

The existence of so many versions of the Bible, which contain many different interpretations and interpolations, undermines the alleged “truths” the original authors tried to tell. Some Biblical translators are deliberately dishonest, for example,

“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be mar- ried and rapes her and they are discovered...” (Deut. 22:28, New International Version.)

Compare this to

“Suppose a woman isn’t engaged to be married, and a man talks her into sleeping with him. If they are caught...” (Deut. 22:28, Contemporary English Version.)

There is a world of difference between rape and consensual sex.

Christians Cherry-Pick the Bible

There are truths to be discovered, and cherry picked, in most books.

The New Testament is a different proposition, because Christians confidently claim it is not a book of men’s opinions but the unerring word of God, so Christians cannot justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.) If people can cherry pick and obey only some of God’s instructions, yet ignore others, then they effectively make all of God’s rules redundant.

Isn’t the Truth Important?

“The truth, however unwelcome, is not injurious; it is error which raises false hopes, which destroys, degrades and pollutes, and which, sooner or later, must be abandoned.” (Mangasar Magurditch Mangasarian)

Good philosophy is best determined by considering the truth, which is the accurate depiction of reality - what has happened, and what is happening now. Truth is not the depiction of something that never was or is not real. Biblical authors knew they were lying when they invented stories about gods and miracles. A book based on deliberate lies should not be believed or revered. No religion is more important than truth.

“God” did not write the Bible, nor did bona-fide historians, nor did sincere people who cared about their readers. The Bible was penned by power hungry priests and other propagandists - men who were spin-doctors bolstering their own authority.

The Bible is awash with false history, unbelievable magic, deplorable or second-rate ethics, narcissism and general weirdness, yet it is written as though it is telling the truth. The Bible may have impressed uneducated people prior to the Renaissance, yet it does not cut the mustard as believable or admirable today.

The Bible is a product of the petty politics of power-hungry people. It is little more than a mountain of untrue, immoral, superstitious nonsense.

Here endeth the lesson.
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12-08-2015, 03:45 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2015 03:54 PM by Stevil.)
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 03:19 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  The KJV is majestic and magnificent
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

Hmm, not feeling it.

"And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech.
And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:"

Just riviting poetry, magestic and magnificent, not one iota of boring.

"But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them."

Sorry, I know we are all entitled to opinions and all, but this is just garbage writing. Trash. My 6 year old writes much more interesting stories, nowhere near as repeatative, nowhere near as much superfluous text. It's just yuck.
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12-08-2015, 04:20 PM
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 03:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(12-08-2015 03:19 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  The KJV is majestic and magnificent
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

Hmm, not feeling it.

"And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech.
And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:"

Just riviting poetry, magestic and magnificent, not one iota of boring.

"But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them."

Sorry, I know we are all entitled to opinions and all, but this is just garbage writing. Trash. My 6 year old writes much more interesting stories, nowhere near as repeatative, nowhere near as much superfluous text. It's just yuck.

Cherry-picking. I could make Shakespeare or Milton or James Joyce or anyone you like look bad by selectively quoting a few lines. It doesn't prove anything. Also, I admitted that the begats are boring, so those don't count, and they are a relatively small part of Genesis anyway. You don't address any of the specific stories I mentioned. I never claimed that every line of Genesis was riveting, but again, there is no piece of literature (except maybe some short poems) that would meet that test. It is a stitched-together collection of stories, and it is uneven. But it contains some great stories. That's all I'm saying. You don't have to read it or like it. There are plenty of other great stories out there. But I like it.
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12-08-2015, 04:41 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2015 04:48 PM by Stevil.)
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
(12-08-2015 04:20 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  You don't have to read it or like it. There are plenty of other great stories out there. But I like it.
Sure, you called it poetic and majestic and magnificent. I would have been interested for you to post a poem from genesis that you thought meets that assessment. But of course it's going to be a thing where you think its great and I probably think its trash.

Kinda like trying to say one music band is better than another.
I'd pay heaps of money to listen to an Iron Maiden album and I think it is creative, majestic and magnificent whereas many others would think it is trash.
But anyway, to put my money where my mouth is.

Infinite Dreams (a poem to music that rhymes)
"Even though it's reached new heights
I'd rather like the restless nights
It makes me wonder it makes me think
There's more to this I'm on the brink
It's not the fear of what's beyond
It's just that I might not respond
I have an interest almost craving
But would I like to get too far in?"

Alexander the Great
(a poem? to music, it doesn't rhyme, its choke full of information and hard to imagine how someone can make a catchy song of it, but Maiden pulled through)
A Phrygian King had bound a chariot yoke
And Alexander cut the 'Gordian knot'
And legend said that who untied the knot
He would become the master of Asia

Hellenism he spread far and wide
The Macedonian learned mind
Their culture was a western way of life
He paved the way for Christianity

Marching on, marching on
The battle weary marching side by side
Alexander's army line by line
They wouldn't follow him to India
Tired of the combat, pain and the glory

Alexander the Great
His name struck fear into hearts of men
Alexander the Great
He died of fever in Babylon


Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner
(adapted from an Epic poem and put to music)
Hear the rime of the Ancient Mariner
See his eye as he stops one of three
Mesmerises one of the wedding guests
Stay here and listen to the nightmares
of the Sea

And the music plays on, as the bride passes by
Caught by his spell and
the Mariner tells his tale.

Driven south to the land of the snow and ice
To a place where nobody's been
Through the snow fog flies on the albatross
Hailed in God's name,
hoping good luck it brings.

And the ship sails on, back to the North
Through the fog and ice and
the albatross follows on

I don't profess that Iron Maiden are the best poets in history but in my opinion their lyrics are infinitely better than anything in the bible.

You could take this as a challenge though. Post something from KJV Genesis that you think is more poetic, more majestic than the three items I posted from Iron Maiden. I doubt I would turn around and say the bible verses are greater (even out of stubborn priciple right!) but I mean if the poems are somewhat comparable then I will graciously give parts of the bible the nod.
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12-08-2015, 04:47 PM
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
For a collection of works by many authors, most of whom weren't trying to write "literature," the Bible has a lot of great writing. Also some terrible writing, and some very, very boring bits, like the begats and rules. The KJV translation has some extraordinarily beautiful phrases. Many of the Psalms are as good as other poetry from this time period.

I think the Bible stacks up well as literature when compared to similar works written around the same time.

It's only when you consider it as a religious document that the Bible sucks.
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12-08-2015, 04:51 PM
RE: Isn't the bible poorly written?
Genesis is more interesting stories than poetry. The poetry comes later.

From Job 1:21:

Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

From Ecclesiastes 9:11:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Not only are these great poetry (in my opinion), but the quotation from Ecclesiastes also expresses one of the most profound truths I have ever encountered.

I can't comment on Iron Maiden, but the Rime of the Ancient Mariner is great poetry. Kubla Khan (by the same author) is even better:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

I think the band Rush may have set this to music (although I may be dreaming that, just as Coleridge reportedly dreamed the poem).
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