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Bill "Papa" Lee

The Bible and

227 posts in this topic

1) I came to the conclusion that many biblical texts were mythical and/or pseudepigraphal, including not only Genesis, Exodus, and Joshua, but also Deuteronomy, Daniel, and the Pastoral Epistles.

I have come to the same conclusion.

2) I became increasingly disturbed by biblical teachings that I believe are immoral, including animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, genocide, sexism, arbitrary smiting, etc.

I have come to the same conclusion (except like the God of ancient Israel, I like animal sacrifice, and BBQ)

3) I became increasingly distressed by the narrow-mindedness of my religious community, which was committed not only to creationism, sexism, and heternormativity, but also to a militaristic Republican political agenda.

I have come to the same conclusion.

4) I came to reject the idea that God saves or damns people based on their religious beliefs, which I consider cruel and unfair.

I have come to the same conclusion. I'm a staunch universalist.

I might have been able to reconcile myself to all that if not for number 5, the real dealbreaker:

5) I began to question the life and teachings of Jesus. How do we know Jesus wasn't just as bad as any modern cult leader? The Jesus of John's Gospel comes across as extremely narcissistic. Jesus did not return in "this generation" as he said he would. Atonement theology is nonsensical. And so on.

I have come to a different conclusion.

I don't expect anyone else to find all of this persuasive. For me, it was a process that took years, and I fought and clawed against it the whole way. Finally, though, there was just such a critical mass of problems that I couldn't live with it anymore. It was a relief to finally let go, even though I look back fondly on some things I miss about it.

Peace,

-Chris

Over the years, I've been deeply impressed by your honesty, intelligence, and over-all goodness. Best of luck to you in your spiritual journey. If you haven't yet seen it, you may want to consider reading the following book. I hold Greg in high esteem:

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Without-God-Billion-Nonreligious/dp/0061670111

Thanks again for sending me a copy of your Sunstone paper. I thought it was very, very good. Much more enjoyable than that crazy piece on mathematics and papyrus rolls. Talk about a yawner! :P

Love ya,

--DB

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I second and agree with everything David Bokovoy said.

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Let me throw my name into the hat - and emphatically agree with every point Chris made:

1) I came to the conclusion that many biblical texts were mythical and/or pseudepigraphal, including not only Genesis, Exodus, and Joshua, but also Deuteronomy, Daniel, and the Pastoral Epistles.

2) I became increasingly disturbed by biblical teachings that I believe are immoral, including animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, genocide, sexism, arbitrary smiting, etc.

3) I became increasingly distressed by the narrow-mindedness of my religious community, which was committed not only to creationism, sexism, and heternormativity, but also to a militaristic Republican political agenda.

4) I came to reject the idea that God saves or damns people based on their religious beliefs, which I consider cruel and unfair.

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Thanks again for sending me a copy of your Sunstone paper. I thought it was very, very good. Much more enjoyable than that crazy piece on mathematics and papyrus rolls. Talk about a yawner! ;)

That was all Andrew's fault. As for my own role, I plead the fifth. :P

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Let me throw my name into the hat - and emphatically agree with every point Chris made:

And yet you still go to church and seem to have some degree of faith in God and in the LDS faith. What drives your faith?

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I have come to the same conclusion (except like the God of ancient Israel, I like animal sacrifice, and BBQ)

What happened to the arbitrary smiting?

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Chris,

Is this supposed to be an answer to my question?

As far as I can tell, Joseph Smith may very well have had some metal, gold-looking plates. So?

What do you do with the evidence that Joseph Smith had golden plates?

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SilverKnight,

Regarding evidence for the resurrection, you wrote:

If such evidence exists, I should surely like to see it.

Evangelical scholars have written numerous books that make the historical case for the Resurrection, with the skeptics constantly finding themselves on the defensive and offering obviously ad hoc theories that don't do justice to the evidence. The latest and most sophisticated treatment to date is Michael Licona's book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (InterVarsity, 2010), a 700-page tome that was originally Licona's PhD dissertation. For starters, here is a

in which he offers a very simple, popularized summary of his argument. I also present a historical case for Jesus' resurrection in my book 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists, especially chapters 16-17.
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I never understand all the focus on whether the story is completely accurate.

Logically, we know any story can't capture the true essence and include all points of view

That makes the stories good for teaching, like the inaccurate memories in my head of times past.

None of the above changes whether the teachings in Scripture are true, and that is what I pray on when I've sought direction.

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And yet you still go to church and seem to have some degree of faith in God and in the LDS faith. What drives your faith?

Can't answer for SilverKnight.

But for me, these verses speak to some of my motivation:

27Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

28For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

The LDS faith can be a very suitable place to exercise such desires.

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Chris,

Is this supposed to be an answer to my question?

As far as I can tell, Joseph Smith may very well have had some metal, gold-looking plates. So?

So that would be a big deal would it not?

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Chris,

Is this supposed to be an answer to my question?

As far as I can tell, Joseph Smith may very well have had some metal, gold-looking plates. So?

So that would be a big deal would it not?

If the player in the story did not exist then that would be hard to overcome.

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Pa Pa,

Do you have a point?

So that would be a big deal would it not?

If the player in the story did not exist then that would be hard to overcome.

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Is this supposed to be an answer to my question?

As far as I can tell, Joseph Smith may very well have had some metal, gold-looking plates. So?

If he had apparently-golden plates, why keep them under a sheet all the time? No, I think the witnesses' viewing of the plates has to be understood as a visionary experience. I see the experiences of those who encountered Jesus after his crucifixion the same way: visionary experiences to be explained by neuroscience and/or social psychology.

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If he had apparently-golden plates, why keep them under a sheet all the time? No, I think the witnesses' viewing of the plates has to be understood as a visionary experience. I see the experiences of those who encountered Jesus after his crucifixion the same way: visionary experiences to be explained by neuroscience and/or social psychology.

According to neuro-science it is impossible for more than one person to have the same delusion. This simply will not work as an explanation for the witnesses of the plates.

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I have come to the same conclusion.

I have come to the same conclusion (except like the God of ancient Israel, I like animal sacrifice, and BBQ)

I have come to the same conclusion.

I have come to the same conclusion. I'm a staunch universalist.

I have come to a different conclusion.

Over the years, I've been deeply impressed by your honesty, intelligence, and over-all goodness. Best of luck to you in your spiritual journey. If you haven't yet seen it, you may want to consider reading the following book. I hold Greg in high esteem:

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Without-God-Billion-Nonreligious/dp/0061670111

Thanks again for sending me a copy of your Sunstone paper. I thought it was very, very good. Much more enjoyable than that crazy piece on mathematics and papyrus rolls. Talk about a yawner! :P

Love ya,

--DB

This is a bit unclear. Does this mean you don't accept the historicity of Abraham, Moses, the Exodus, the Sinai covenant, etc.? Or that you accept their historicity, but see the biblical accounts as semi-legendary and edited?

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SilverKnight,

Regarding evidence for the resurrection, you wrote:

Evangelical scholars have written numerous books that make the historical case for the Resurrection, with the skeptics constantly finding themselves on the defensive and offering obviously ad hoc theories that don't do justice to the evidence. The latest and most sophisticated treatment to date is Michael Licona's book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (InterVarsity, 2010), a 700-page tome that was originally Licona's PhD dissertation. For starters, here is a

in which he offers a very simple, popularized summary of his argument. I also present a historical case for Jesus' resurrection in my book 20 Compelling Evidences that God Exists, especially chapters 16-17.

I'm aware of Licona's work, though not very familiar with it. I am, however, familiar with the work by William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and N.T. Wright. Larry Hurtado has also made some excellent points regarding the religious "innovation" that Christianity was. I couple their work with the work on NT reliability by Richard Bauckham and Craig Blomberg. And, of course, the testimonies of the Restoration.

I, however, find the witnesses of the Gold Plates more convincing than the Resurrection witnesses. But I believe both for largely the same reasons.

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This is a bit unclear. Does this mean you don't accept the historicity of Abraham, Moses, the Exodus, the Sinai covenant, etc.? Or that you accept their historicity, but see the biblical accounts as semi-legendary and edited?

Chris stated that he believes that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, features mythical and/or pseudepigraphal accounts of past deeds. I agree. However, the fact that the Bible lacks historicity (in its proper connotation) does not mean that Abraham and Moses did not exist, nor does it mean that an Exodus of some sort did not occur, etc. I believe they did.

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Chris stated that he believes that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, features mythical and/or pseudepigraphal accounts of past deeds. I agree. However, the fact that the Bible lacks historicity (in its proper connotation) does not mean that Abraham and Moses did not exist, nor does it mean that an Exodus of some sort did not occur, etc. I believe they did.

But Chris' conclusion, if I understand him correctly, is that because the textual-editorial etc. problems with the Hebrew Bible, his conclusion is that such things did not occur. It seems to be to be a huge leap from concluding that ancient peoples created and transmitted memorials of the past in ways different from how we moderns think history should be done, to concluding that therefore there was no historical reality behind their memorials. That seems to me to be the conclusion that Chris has made, and I think it represents a fundamental misunderstand of how ancient texts were composed and transmitted. The root of Chris' problem (again, if I understand him correctly) is the assumption of biblical inerrancy.

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One of my favorite EV posters is no longer an EV

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Bill,

The root of my problem is healthy skepticism. I don't think my doubts about the historicity of Abraham and the Exodus are a "huge leap," given the evidentiary vacuum. (If I were claiming some definite or certain conclusion, that would be a different matter.) A great deal of time passed between when the events in the stories are supposed to have occurred and when they were written down. The myths also could have been created for political purposes, to create a shared history and bloodline for the hapiru peoples. I'm aware of the literature on oral transmission and codification of narrative histories. However, I'm also aware of the literature on the construction of myth and folklore. Both, I think, have implications for the problem at hand.

Peace,

-Chris

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By that I mean, one could look at Jacob, Moses and Abraham with an arms length view. The Christian hope rest distinctly upon the shoulders of only one person. Him being Christ Jesus.

I agree. My faith didn't really fall apart until I decided the atonement and the deity of Christ no longer made any sense to me. At that point, I no longer really had any basis to participate in evangelical worship.

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Chris,

Mike Licona's book, which I cited earlier, examines the "visionary experience" explanation quite thoroughly and shows that it simply does not hold up. Such an explanation does not account for the fact that the witnesses included both men and women; individuals and groups; skeptical family members, devoted friends, and at least one antagonistic opponent of the movement (Paul). The diversity of witnesses to the Resurrection stands in stark contrast to the list of witnesses to the Book of Mormon, a group of a dozen men drawn almost entirely from two families (one of them Joseph's).

I would also argue that the evidence is rather clear that the tomb was empty (a point Licona does not use as part of his case). There are several independent lines of evidence from the Gospel accounts that show that the earliest explanation of the Resurrection story from those opposed to that belief was that the body had been removed (or stolen) from the tomb. Such an explanation would have been unnecessary and counterproductive if the tomb had not in fact been empty; therefore, quite evidently it was empty. Put together the facts of the empty tomb and the appearances, and the only good explanation for all of the facts is that Jesus did rise from the dead.

With regard to Joseph Smith's plates, Joseph might have kept the plates under wraps because he didn't want people examining them too closely. On the other hand, there are those who would agree with you that Joseph didn't have gold-looking plates. If they are right, this doesn't mean that the "witnesses" who claimed to see the plates had visionary experiences. Hypothetically, their testimonies might be taken to mean that they "saw" the plates in the sense that they believed in their hearts that the plates existed. That having been said, and admitting that I have more research I want to do on this question, my working hypothesis is that Joseph had some metallic plates of some kind, but that these plates did not have a Reformed Egyptian text of the Book of Mormon written on them. This hypothesis explains the testimonies of those who claimed to handle the plates and also explains why Joseph kept them covered up and did not refer to them when producing the English text of the Book of Mormon.

If he had apparently-golden plates, why keep them under a sheet all the time? No, I think the witnesses' viewing of the plates has to be understood as a visionary experience. I see the experiences of those who encountered Jesus after his crucifixion the same way: visionary experiences to be explained by neuroscience and/or social psychology.

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WalkerW,

I'm glad to hear that you are familiar with some of these authors. Bill Craig, Gary Habermas, and Mike Licona are all friends of mine. Since you are interested in Hurtado's work, you might be interested in my book Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, co-authored with J. Ed Komoszewski (Kregel, 2007). Hurtado and Bauckham are among the scholars whose work we cite in the book, and both of them wrote endorsements recommending it (pardon the shameless plug).

The witnesses to the plates can at most corroborate Joseph's claim to possess metallic plates of some kind. They cannot corroborate anything about the Book of Mormon, because they could tell us nothing about what if anything might have been written on the plates. As I have said, my own working assumption, subject to correction, is that Joseph did have some metallic plates. But the evidence for the Resurrection appearances is far stronger than even the evidence that Joseph possessed such plates (see my recent reply to Chris).

I'm aware of Licona's work, though not very familiar with it. I am, however, familiar with the work by William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and N.T. Wright. Larry Hurtado has also made some excellent points regarding the religious "innovation" that Christianity was. I couple their work with the work on NT reliability by Richard Bauckham and Craig Blomberg. And, of course, the testimonies of the Restoration.

I, however, find the witnesses of the Gold Plates more convincing than the Resurrection witnesses. But I believe both for largely the same reasons.

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Rob,

Suffice to say that IMO diversity is no barrier to religious experience. You are also assuming that all the reports of contemporary events have been accurately remembered and reported in the Gospels.

Peace,

-Chris

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