Miracles made to order

Mark makes his Jesus perform all the deeds the scriptures say will be performed by the Messiah. He doesn’t spell out that this is what he’s doing. He wants those who hear his gospel being read aloud (as it would have been to the cult’s members) to work it out for themselves: ‘he who has ears let him hear’ and all that.

This isn’t good enough for Matthew, however. He wants to make it obvious what’s going on, so he invents a story to draw attention to it. To do so, he has to have John the Baptist, who has previously acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and heard God say as much from Heaven, doubt all of it. Matthew considers it worth it to make the more important point that Jesus is truly God’s Chosen One:

John (the Baptist) heard in prison about the works of Christ, and he sent his disciples to ask Him, “Are You the One who was to come, or should we look for someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of Me.” (Matthew 11:2-6)

Matthew makes Jesus refer to several scattered verses from the scriptures that appear to say that once God’s Kingdom arrives on Earth the deaf shall hear, the blind see and the lame walk. Now you can believe, if you like, that Jesus really did make the blind see and the lame walk because the Kingdom had arrived (though -oops – it hadn’t!) or you can recognise that Matthew (and Mark before him) was aware of these references and made up a hero to embody them. Which is more likely, when every one of the miracles Jesus alludes to in Matthew 11 illustrates specific verses from scripture?

The blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk (Isaiah 35:4-6) is brought to life in Matthew 9:27-31; 15:31-37 and 9.1-8.

Lepers cleansed: Leviticus 14 materialises as Matthew 8:1-4. The ability to heal a ‘defiling skin disease’ had long been thought to be a sign of the Messiah, so naturally Jesus has to be able to do it.

The dead rise: Daniel 12:2 is resurrected as Matthew 9.18-26.

The good news preached: Isaiah 52:7 becomes Jesus’ message.

A man called Jesus didn’t do these looked-for amazing things. These looked-for amazing things gave rise to a character constructed by myth makers: gospel Jesus. 

 

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80 thoughts on “Miracles made to order

    • I can, but can you? More to the point can you see in which direction they work? As a scholar of literature, I’m sure you can discern that the later works are imaginatively created from the earlier, much as D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow is a reimagining of the Old Testament. You wouldn’t say that everything that happens in that particular book is prophesied in the OT, would you?

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  1. Matthew makes Jesus refer to several scattered verses from the scriptures that appear to say that once God’s Kingdom arrives on Earth the deaf shall hear, the blind see and the lame walk. Now you can believe, if you like, that Jesus really did make the blind see and the lame walk because the Kingdom had arrived

    Neil, assumes that the kingdom would rival Rome perhaps and be obvious to all. He overlooks the principle that is evident on almost every page of the scriptures: beginning and process to completion.

    Jesus was the beginning. He embodied the kingdom as the King. As such the kingdom had arrived. He was recognizable as the king by his fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah. But he was also recognizable by the signs he did – the blind did see and the lame walked – and the wisdom he spoke regarding God and men.

    But the kingdom, as he said, was still coming. It would grow as he predicted until it reached every corner of the earth and would grow so large that he likened it to a tree coming from a tiny seed. And so it has.

    Yet, the kingdom is still not fully present. That , Jesus said. would happen at his return. In fact, in several cases as he referred to his return he used the word parousia meaning his presence as king.

    We are at this moment of history in the middle of the process and looking forward to its completion. Those who belong to the kingdom have one job: to invite as many as will come to join them in the kingdom, with this warning that Jesus made clear at the beginning: there will be opposition.

    Old kingdoms die hard. And that is what this blog is all about.

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    • And where in the Bible does it say all this? The early Christians, including Paul and the synoptic gospel writers, clearly and demonstrably believed both that the Son of Man was imminent and that the kingdom was going to arrive fully in their own (life)times. 2,000 years ago, Don.

      That neither materialised means people like you have to make unscriptural and, to be frank, pathetic excuses for the utter failure of all they believed and predicted.

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      • Jesus is the Messiah King: John 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah comes, he who is called Christ. When he has come, he will declare to us all things.”

        26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who speaks to you.”

        The kingdom has arrived: Matthew 10:7
        As you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’

        The kingdom is growing: Matthew 13:31 He set another parable before them, saying, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took, and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is smaller than all seeds. But when it is grown, it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.”

        The return of the king is imminent. Matthew 24:36 “But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only…. 44 Therefore also be ready, for in an hour that you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come.

        ‘Imminent’ it is. But when exactly, no one knows. Not even Jesus. And if Jesus did not know, how would Paul or the Gospel writers. They may have felt that it was soon, maybe in their own lifetimes but they had no revelation to that effect. And Paul did not say that he did. What he said is what Jesus said: “But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night.” I Thess 5:1,2

        It stands to reason that if a bus is coming that you need to catch but have no idea when it will arrive, you will stand ready until it comes.

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  2. It is actually the answer Peter gives in 2 Peter 3.

    8 But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but he is patient with us, not wishing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

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      • 1) Whether the letter is written by Peter or by someone else like Silas (1 Peter) or a disciple of Peter writing in his name is not particularly important. The church determined after lengthy consideration that it was inspired.

        2) “ You do realise that the 2,000 year delay means even more people ‘perish’ than would have done in the first century

        Yes. Do you realize that 2000 years means even more millions will enjoy LIFE. By your logic it would be better that you had not been born or that all the generations since the very beginning had not been born. But God’s purpose is that there be men and women who gain eternal LIFE by faith in God’s grace and mercy and that there be many.

        Jesus implied that there was a point at which God would consider the full number of men and women who would be saved actually saved. See the parable of the banquet in Luke 14.
        “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.

        When would that be? According to Jesus at his speaking, not yet. According to Peter at his writing, not yet.

        In Matthew, Jesus ends the parable of the banquet saying, “many are called but few are chosen.” There is a tension in that verse between called and chosen. If ‘calling’ is meaningful, then it has to be possible to respond to the calling and ‘chosen’ is not predetermined but is determined on the basis of response to the calling. So, until all who will respond to God’s calling by faith have done so, the return of Christ will not happen. (That is basically what happens in the last few chapters of Revelation, all who will be saved are.)

        So, though more people will perish by God’s delaying the return of Christ, more people are saved and will be until the banquet is full. (This complaint is really about God’s wisdom. No Christian makes this complaint.)

        Bottom line: God is not in a hurry. He desires that many others be saved. He will wait until they are.

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      • 1) So a widely acknowledged forgery can be considered to be inspired. The bar is evidently set very low.
        2) Your interpretation of the writer’s point is bizarre; completely illogical, which is what you get when you try to impose sense on something that doesn’t possess any.
        3) I have to admire your reinterpretation of the banquet parable which is usually seen as a justification for the offering of the gospel to gentiles after most Jews had rejected it. As such, it is an anachronism and is most certainly not something Jesus actually said.
        4) You do realise that the coherence you and other devotees claim you discern in the Bible is not a quality of the texts themselves. All the work is yours; we can see the cogs laboriously grinding away trying to accomplish the impossible.
        5) I have ‘LIFE’, as do other atheists, including those who comment here. We have it without subscribing to any of god-twaddle.

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      • I thought the provenance of 2 Peter might spark discussion.

        The discussion of the authenticity of 2nd Peter is of interest. I see that the link I provided in the earlier post is inactive. So, here is another link
        https://bible.org/article/authorship-second-peter#:~:text=III.%20Internal%20Evidence

        However, I don’t think the “forgery” is widely accepted except among critical scholars and those who uncritically follow them.

        I do differ with the author of this essay on his point that 2nd Peter was written by Peter himself. After having looked carefully at Peter’s words in the Gospel of Mark, I do not think Peter was capable of writing the quality of Greek we see in 2nd Peter or in 1st Peter, for that matter. (See my analysis of Peter’s voice in Mark here http://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/11/eyewitness.html )

        In 1st Peter he explains that his instructions are being translated by Silas, his secretary. Peter does not mention an amanuensis in 2nd Peter. But the language of 2nd Peter would virtually demand it. Peter was not capable of translating his thoughts into complex Greek sentences.

        An amanuensis different from Silas would explain the differences in vocabulary between 1st and 2nd Peter.

        2) ???

        3) The banquet parable is of course directed toward the religious leaders then present and in context is not a reference to later Jews rejecting the gospel, obvious when the pericopes just preceding and following are considered. It is a reference to the leaders at the time rejecting it. That places it firmly within the debate between the Pharisees and Jesus in his lifetime.

        4) ???

        5) I capitalize LIFE to distinguish it from life limited to the present, which is what atheists claim life to be, right?

        Try not to let your preconceptions about the text blind you to the evidence in the text.

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      • So if I begin commenting on blogsites and writing essays under your name, it wouldn’t qualify as forgery? Got it.

        I think you’ll find I’m the one capable of critical reading, Don. You, on the other hand, believe every word the Bible says and write long screeds attempting to justify it. I’m not surprised you don’t understand my points 2 & 4; all I can say is ‘try not to let your preconceptions about the text blind you to the evidence in the text.’

        Life is limited to the present. Believing there is something else/better beyond this life does not make it so. Your superstition gives you no more of LIFE – with or without capitals – than anyone else.

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      • I would not be in too much of a hurry to declare 2nd Peter a forgery. I’ve been looking at the book with the background of my consideration of Peter’s voice in Mark. I am convinced that Peter was limited in Greek and would have had to have had a secretary write either 1st or 2nd Peter. He indicated who that was in 1st Peter. But did not in 2nd Peter.

        The language of the two books is significantly different, so the conclusion is reasonable that Silas did not write both. But that Silas was the secretary of 1st Peter suggests that 2nd Peter was written by a secretary as well. That probability eliminates the primary objection to Peter as the author. So bottom line, there is no reason to think that 2nd Peter is a forgery.

        Yes, I do come to the Bible with the conviction that it is God’s word. (I also come to science with the conviction that it tells the truth about nature. I come to history with the conviction that it tells about the past with some reliability.) But that does not mean I am an uncritical reader; I am just not a skeptical reader.

        I believe that science correctly understood, history correctly understood, and the Bible correctly understood converge at the truth. That means each must be considered critically.

        As I have employed that strategy over the years my understanding of what the Bible says has been modified. My reading of history and science likewise. For example, I have come to think that the exodus was not one event but several waves of migration that have been merged into on in the biblical narrative.

        I have also come to think that evolution is the means by which species adapted and changed over the millennia to arrive at the present, though I am also convinced that the present cannot be explained by natural evolution; the requirement of uncountable random events is not logically possible.

        Both adjustments and others are the result to critically examining science, history, and the Bible.

        As far as LIFE goes, my experience has been that it is different from what I knew before coming to a better understanding of reality and an embracing of the truth that has been the conviction of probably more than 95% of all human beings through history and certainly the message of the Bible. In particular, my experience is incredible peace and joy as I experience life in which the great existential questions are answered.

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      • I’m in no hurry. You, however, are in the minority. The vast majority of scholars consider 2 Peter to be early 2nd century; in other words, it was written fifty years after Peter died. They base this not just on its sophisticated Greek but also on its references to later events. Still, if it keeps you happy, you keep believing, contrary to this concensus, that it was written before 64CE. You are, after all, adept at believing the impossible.

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      • I try to do my own research and then compare with the facts uncovered by others and their opinions. In the case of 2nd Peter I did take some time to reconsider the book in the past several days.

        I looked at the list of facts related to dating and authorship. And I did some research on the early church’s opinion.

        1) I agree that the Greek is sophisticated. But I don’t think Peter was capable of writing in much more than very simple Greek. It was at best his second language. So, if he is the author, he used a secretary-translator to write who translated from Peter’s Aramaic into Greek. As he did in 1st Peter. In that case it was Silas. In the case of 2nd Peter he did not provide a name but it was probably not Silas since the style of Greek is different.

        2) I did not encounter the references to later events you’ve noted. Perhaps you can explain. Sometimes scholars have assumed Peter’s reference to Paul’s letters implies the whole body of his writing, which would place 2nd Peter later in the first century if not the 2nd. Perhaps that is what you mean. If so, I don’t think Peter is referring to the whole body of Paul’s letters, just to those written to the churches in the provinces of Galatian and Asia.

        3) I did spend some time on the personal references in the book. I’ve written about them here https://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/12/2nd-peter.html

        Those references and the connection with Paul and his writing, especially the book of Galatians, convinces me that they are genuine. (Galatians along with several other provinces in Asia Minor were the destinations identified in 1st Peter to which the first letter was sent. Because Peter says the second letter is a ‘reminder’ of things in the first letter. I assume the destinations were the same.)

        Peter’s reference to several events during Jesus’ life in which he was involved and the language he uses in his relating of those events is also interesting. I think he is speaking from personal experience.

        In any event, when I differ with the critical scholars, I do so on the basis of personal research not the opinions of conservative scholars, who have their own reasons for differing with your “consensus.”

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      • The later events 2 Peter addresses are the so-called gnostic problem, the (extreme) lateness of Jesus’ second coming and Paul’s letters as a valued collection. There’s also 2 Peter’s use of Jude, known to have been written in the early 2nd century. (Parenthetically, why would a supposed eye-witness draw on the observations of someone who wasn’t?)

        Further, early Christian commentators, whom you usually like to quote, were themselves sceptical 2 Peter was written by the disciple Peter. All of this on top of the problems with its sophisticated Greek, its use of a Greek translation of the OT and the differences between the letter and 1 Peter.

        I feel sure your own research is, however, much more reliable than that of the scholars who conclude that 2 Peter is a forgery. You of course are completely impartial while they have a sinful agenda.

        If you want to argue about this further, please take it up with these scholars. Their evidence is easily accessible and doesn’t require me to act as an intermediary. It was, after all, you who raised the issue of 2 Peter’s authorship, not me.

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      • Don, you say that you compare with the facts uncovered by others and their opinions, What “others” are you referring to? Are any of them non-believers/atheists? Or are they merely other “believing” individuals who simply validate (and expand) on your own perspectives?

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  3. -“though I am also convinced that the present cannot be explained by natural evolution; the requirement of uncountable random events is not logically possible.”
    So, instead of saying “we don’t know what caused everything yet”, you immediately jump to a supernatural explanation?
    Wouldn’t the very existence of the present mean that it’s logically possible?
    Please prove that the supernatural exists before using it as an answer.

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    • I don’t immediately jump on the basis of probability or lack of it to the supernatural explanation. There are multiple other pieces of evidence for the Supernatural.

      Put them all together and they point to a God who created the basic principles which nature follows and which allow the existence of the present universe including man. A God who placed his favor on the people of Israel and protected them through many millennia and who has brought them back to the land of Israel as he promised. A God who brought forth the Messiah he had promised. A God who can work miracles that are not possible by natural means. A God who gave us the story of mankind before it happened. A God who answers prayer. A God who changes the lives of those who commit themselves to him. A God who relates to me and speaks to my spirit and mind.

      If there were just one reason or evidence for God, that may not be sufficient. Multiple pieces of evidence with no actual contrary evidence is sufficient.

      Science will likely never be able to say definitively what caused everything. That is actually beyond the purview of science since any scientific hypothesis for origins is untestable. But science does not conflict with the God hypothesis. It makes no sense to be agnostic, however, when there is plenty of evidence for God beyond simply God’s part in the origin of the universe.

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      • “But science does not conflict with the God hypothesis.”

        Yes, it does…the creation account in Genesis does not comport with what we know about the formation of Earth, and our solar system, and we know that there were no literal Adam and Eve that were the parents of all humans.

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      • Genesis one, if you read it as a summary of the creation events(s) and as a piece written as poetic prose rather than in scientific language does not conflict. It is in fact remarkably accurate as far as the order of creation – from the chaotic earth to the well-ordered world at the end in Genesis 2:4.

        As for the Adam and Eve being the parents of all humans, well, that too needs to be read in the genre written. It is an allegory, or a story told symbolically. So what does the allegory say about Adam and Eve?

        First, man did not become man until God breathed into them (“Adam” means mankind and is therefore plural) the breath of life and they became a living soul or n’shamah as the Hebrew has it.

        Were there prior Homo sapiens? The story does not address that question. It focuses on a particular line of humans, Adam the individual’s family. That family spreads out across the Middle East in later chapters. There is no mention of man in other places. But there need not be, for it is the line of the individual Adam that becomes the focus of the Bible.

        Second, Adam the individual in the story does represent the rest of mankind and in that way Adam the individual is the father of all human beings. He is not the father literally, of course.

        Anyone familiar with allegories understands. In Pilgrim’s Progress for example, Christian the character represents the experience of all Christians.

        Allegories often become part of the literary background of a culture. When they do the story takes on a life of its own as if it were real. We in America talk of Paul Bunyan as if he were a literal person – Paul Bunyan did this and he did that.

        Paul Bunyan was actually a fantastical creation representing loggers in the later 19th century. But we who are not loggers can derive some appreciation of the herculean efforts of these men through the story. So, in the case of Adam the individual, we see truth about mankind being displayed in his interaction with God and his rejection of God in favor of his own ideas.

        None of this violates what we know of Homo sapiens from science. But it does tell us truth about ourselves that science cannot. A truth that is wisdom understood by people of every culture and time.

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      • Neil, you are making the mistake many Christians make: reading ancient literature as if it were modern and reading poetry as if it were modern technical writing. You would not do that with the English Romantics, why do it with ancient?

        The Genesis creation account was not intended to tell HOW God created then world. It was intended to tell WHO created the world. It was probably a polemic against the gods of Egypt and the Egyptian myths of creation. Here is what Dr. Michael Heisler wrote:

        “As readers here know, this “not about science” approach has long been my position on Genesis and the Bible in general. What’s happening in Genesis 1-2 is very obvious to anyone who works in the original text (beyond simplistic word studies) and (important) is familiar with ancient Near Eastern creation stories. ” https://drmsh.com/genesis-1-2-as-polemic/

        That does not mean that Genesis one cannot also generally agree with the order of development in cosmology or biology. It does. And that is the surprising part. Compared to every other cosmology of the ANE Genesis alone gets it right.

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      • Oh Don, you interpret me literally when I’m actually being sarcastic, spoofing your claims.

        You chastise me when I address literal interpretations of the Bible (which thousands of your Christian brothers and sisters do) and also lecture me when I recognise the gospels as the allegory they are. As Nan and Goyo both ask in their latest comments, how do we know which bits of the Bible are literal and which allegorical/poetic? Most Christians don’t seem to know.

        To say we should read the Bible as ancient people might have done is an evasion. We can’t and don’t do this, not even you with your much vaunted insight and learning (that’s more sarcasm, by the way.) We are left only with the evidence of the Bible as it has come down to us: how do you know what the authors ‘intended’?

        I wonder, do you actually read my posts before you launch into your overlong sermons? My recent posts have all been about how the gospels are allegorical and symbolic yet you’ve objected to every one of them (as you will with the couple that remain.) It seems to me you like to argue for the sake of it; God forbid you should concede, or agree with, any point atheists make.

        Your latest waffle in response to Nan is mere proselytising. I’ve approved it, but my patience is wearing exceedingly thin with both your preaching and your pedantry.

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      • Neil: I recognise the gospels as the allegory they are.

        Don Here we are again with the metaphor and allegory issue. As I said before, a metaphor is a picture the reader can identify with of something that they can’t or can’t as vividly as the metaphor allows. So what is that thing the metaphor points to

        An allegory is a story told in symbols. Symbols point to the real thing. So, if the Gospels are metaphors or allegories, what is the real thing they picture or point to? Asa general rule in literature, if there is no reality the allegory or metaphor points to, we can at least tentatively read it as real description…

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      • You could at least extend me the courtesy of reading my posts before commenting on them. You would then know what the gospels are an allegory of. Conscious I might be boring everyone else, I’ve stated and repeated it in every one of my recent posts about the gospels. You might start here:
        https://rejectingjesus.com/2022/11/30/cruci-fiction/
        But let me spell it out for you: the gospels are allegories of a mythical Messiah. They are fictions, created from scraps of Jewish scripture, that give metaphorical life to this character.

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      • I do read your posts. I just am having a hard time wrapping my head around your use of ‘metaphor’ in this instance. I would think it makes more sense to simply say that the Gospels are stories of a mythical messiah. Or the Gospels are myths.

        And “metaphorical life”? What is that? Isn’t mythical life a better way of saying that.

        Metaphors and allegories are symbols of something different than themselves. A story about a man, mythical or real, is not a symbol of something different from itself. It is a story of the very person represented in the story.

        If you were to say the Gilgamesh Epic is a myth, I understand what you mean. If you say the Gilgamesh Epic is a metaphor, I have no idea what you mean. If you say the Gilgamesh Epic is an allegory, I ask of what? If you say it is a symbol, I have the same question. Do you see what I mean? But okay, let’s move on.

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      • It is an allegory, or a story told symbolically.

        This is the core issue related to the bible in toto. There is no standard; thus, all can be read and interpreted according to each person’s personal teachings and/or perspective. As it has been stated ad nauseum, if “God” had wanted “his” creations to truly know “him,” there simply would be no discussion. ALL would be aware and conscious of “his” existence.

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      • All have equal opportunity to be aware of God’s existence. That is stated directly i Psalm 19 and Romans 1.

        1 The heavens declare the glory of God.
        The expanse shows his handiwork.
        2 Day after day they pour out speech,
        and night after night they display knowledge.
        3 There is no speech nor language,
        where their voice is not heard.
        4 Their voice has gone out through all the earth,
        their words to the end of the world.
        (Psalm 19)

        Because God and his glory is visible to all who have eyes, Paul says they are without excuse.

        What you and others demand is something like God’s name written on every rock and leaf in some special kind of universal language. That his name is not, is used as an excuse to dismiss God altogether. Or to blame God for not being plain. That is crazy.

        BTW I think God’s name is written on every rock and leaf because if we read the language of rocks and leaves rightly with the aid of science his hand is as much visible there as in the stars.

        God has sent us all a letter of introduction. It is a letter readable by all in every place and time. The question is have we opened the letter?

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    • The key word is ‘natural evolution’. Though the evolution of man is possible, it is highly improbable. It is so highly improbable that statistically we would consider it beyond zero probability. Yet, it obviously happened. We should as WHY?

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      • Don:
        “But the issue is forced upon us by you and others who find a literalistic understanding of the some of the stories impossible to accept, legitimately I would say. If the Bible does not agree with the real world, it is reasonably considered nothing more than an old fable. If it presents a description of creation that is seriously out of step with how we scientifically understand the formation of the earth and natural history, educated people are unlikely to regard the Bible seriously.”

        Thank you for conceding the point that the bible is indeed Myth, and that we should regard it as such…
        QED

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      • I disagree that the creation account is out of step with modern science. The Bible account goes from the creation of the world (Gen. 1:1) where the world is described as chaotic and void. Just as science describes the earliest earth.

        Next is the causing of light to illuminate the surface of the earth (1:3) This is not the creation of light. It is the causing of it to shine on the earth. Still pretty close to how science imagines it because of the previous smoke and dust and water vapor of the cooling earth. Still pretty close to the sequence of events science describes.

        Next is the separation of the water and clouds from the surface of the earth allowing the sky to be distinct (1:6) Still close to science.

        Then there was the collection of water into seas and the appearance of vegetation (1:9) That vegetation came first is consistent with science. There were living organisms that were neither vegetation nor animal, but the ancients would have had no knowledge of these, and they didn’t need to.

        On the fourth day God caused the clearing of the skies sufficient to allow the sun, moon, and stars to be seen in the sky. (1:14) It does not saw that he created them on the fourth day. They already existed before the first day when he created the heavens and the earth. Quite close to the sequence of things science describes.

        On the fifth day God created living creatures in the waters. (1:20) Exactly the sequence science describes. The question is the creatures flying in the sky. If they were birds, that would be out of sequence, But the word is not birds as many translations have it. It is flying things, which describes insects. The Hebrew word is used later in Exodus to describe flying insects like locusts, so it can legitimately be used here for insects. And as such that is consistent with science.

        On the sixth day God created land animals. (1:24) That is consistent with the sequence described by science.

        Then he created man as the final act of creation. (1:26) BTW man is an animal physically and is correctly identified as such in the biblical description. Both man and the animals are made of the dust (elements) of the earth. Which is totally consistent with science.

        Science is a great deal more detailed. It takes multiple books in multiple disciplines to get all that science has to say. But in the broad panorama of creation from the earliest earth to the finished creation there is nearly perfect agreement.

        The Bible’s purpose here is not to provide a scientific description. It is to declare that God created everything from the broader universe to the plants and animals on the earth. Anything ‘scientific’ is of secondary interest at best. But he did provide that information, perhaps just for you.

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      • You would search in vain for a science explanation that says ‘God created…’ In this crucial respect, science and Genesis are not in accord. Guess which is right? (Hint: it’s not the one that has a pre-existent deity magicking everything into existence.)

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      • Genesis is a religious document. It had a religious purpose. You would expect to find some reference to God.

        Science has to do with the natural world. You would not expect to find reference to God.

        Put together the two books of revelation (see https://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/12/time-to-face-reality.html ) and you have a wonderful convergence. Science and the Bible do not conflict; they complement one another. Science fills in the HOW and the Bible fills in the WHO and the WHY.

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      • So we should see Genesis as the myth it is yet also recognise its compatibility with science. As usual you want it both ways.

        Science has demonstrated conclusively that life on earth evolved over vast periods of time. Genesis says it was zapped into existence over a few days by a god dreamt up by ancient peoples. There’s no ‘wonderful convergence’ here.

        You persist though in arguing that the sequence of creation in Genesis 1 is roughly compatible with the actual order of events. Yet that sequence isn’t even consistent with the order in Genesis 2, where ‘man’ is created before the other animals.
        Behold, selective reading and confirmation bias at work!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Neil: So we should see Genesis as the myth it is yet also recognise its compatibility with science. As usual you want it both ways.

        Don Well. partly right. We CAN see it as compatible with science, even though it is creation with a theological focus.

        Neil Science has demonstrated conclusively that life on earth evolved over vast periods of time.

        Don And I don’t think Genesis contradicts that. I have simply pointed out that the sequence of creation fits very, very well the sequence that science gives us. That both has no precedence in ANE mythology but is but is truly remarkable given the many millennium between the Genesis story and modern science.

        Neil zapped into existence over a few days

        Don Yes, that six day organizational pattern has puzzled people for centuries and I mean both Hebrews and Christians. If you search the internet, which I suppose you have, you will find that there has been a wide variety of interpretations from Augustine’s instant creation to Origen’s allegorical interpretation to the modern fundamentalist model of six literal days to the more recent revival of the Christian interpretation that the days are not to be taken literally at all.

        I personally think that the “and it was evening, and it was morning” phrase repeated after each creation episode is like a period. It is a literal day, but it does not mean the creative acts described before it are all done in one day rather that there was a day on which they were completed.

        If the idea of ‘in’ was intended there is a grammatical way of saying that. It is to use the preposition בִּ (bet) attached to the word day as it is in 2nd Kings 18:10 for sixth year בִּשְׁנַת־שֵׁ֖שׁ What we find in Genesis 1 is a construction that avoids the preposition.
        .
        There is no reason to think that these literal days followed one closely as days in a week just that they followed one another in a list.

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      • Poppycock. The order of creation in the Genesis myth is not compatible with science. The sun, moon and stars (day 4 according to Genesis, three days after the Earth!) They were not created after trees and other vegetation (day 3). Science tells us the sun and Earth came into existence at about the same time, 4.5 billion years ago. Vegetation appeared a mere 500 million years ago. Genesis has this completely wrong, just as it has when it claims women were created from men.

        You’re desperate to make the old text say what you want it to say and are working hard to make it do so. Enough of your pseudo-intellectual nit-picking about prepositions and your redefining of words such as ‘day’. What happened to ‘taking the text at face value’ and ‘the obvious meaning is the one we should take’ as you’ve advised me on multiple occasions?

        Desist with this drivel, Don. You’re doing your cause no good at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry … but this is such a FRUITLESS debate. Noone was there to witness any of it so it’s ALL speculation … on both sides. Sure, science has more “refined” (and more logical) answers, but nothing is set in concrete.

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      • Like it or not, Nan, we all have to deal with the reality of God. And we live in a physical world where we ignore the reality of the physical to peril. Yes, there is some speculation on both sides, but there is a lot that is past speculation. Jump off a cliff and the reality of gravity is unescapable. So, neither our attention to physical reality nor to the reality of God is ‘fruitless’.

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      • Like it or not, Nan, we all have to deal with the reality of God.

        NO! NO! NO! A THOUSAND times … NO!

        You can deal with whatever reality you want to give to some fabled entity that YOU believe exists, but NO … I do NOT have to do the same!!

        N.O.

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      • It always comes down to threats with these guys. God will deal with you in the end, ‘whether you like it or not’, is implicit in Don’s assertion.

        It’s there too in the ‘hope in Jesus’ offered by my local church. Apparently, that hope is of his returning real soon to judge the world. I can’t help but think I’ve heard that somewhere before.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “There are multiple other pieces of evidence for the Supernatural”…”If there were just one reason or evidence for God, that may not be sufficient. Multiple pieces of evidence with no actual contrary evidence is sufficient.”

    Sorry, but anecdotes are not data.
    What evidence for the supernatural can you provide that will convince me that it exists?
    What mechanism do I use to experience the supernatural?

    Liked by 1 person

    • What mechanisms do I use to experience the supernatural?

      Say yes. When God speaks of his glory in the stars, say yes. When God speaks of his glory as you look through a microscope at the beautiful complexity of a leaf, say yes. When God speaks in his written revelation of your need of a savior, say yes. He will take it from there. He only asks that you be willing to listen.

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      • Sorry, but this is pure bullshit!

        I asked specifically how to access the supernatural…you know, the supernatural realm that includes gods, angels, devils, demons, succubi, incubi…all the spirits that are flying around me at all times.
        What is the “mechanism”?

        Saying the word “yes” does not work. I tried that for the 30 yrs or so I was a Christian.

        When I look at the stars I hear nothing…when I look at leaves, nothing. His written revelation is garbage…”exodus 22:18: “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”.
        That’s a beautiful sentiment!

        What if I hear a voice that says that Allah is the true god?

        You cannot show me a mechanism that will give me the same experience as you…if it’s different from person to person, then it’s useless!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t think it is different. I don’t think it is different for anyone in any place or any time in human history.

        Your story is your story. I accept that. I would only say that those who at least tentatively set aside their disbelief and the distraction of Christians acting in an unchristian manner find an eternal reality that satisfies the deep need of the heart. Like Pascal said, there is a God shaped vacuum in every human heart that only God can fill. David the shepherd boy found that to be true. Greek philosophers and poets found that to be true. That is why so many Medieval theologians respected Plato. He had the idea. Primitive people with no acquaintance with Christianity found that to be true. I find that to be true.

        So, wait for a dark cloudless night and go out in the countryside where there are no lights and sit and contemplate the awesome display of the stars. God may begin to make sense to you.

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      • Personally, I’ve done the nighttime thing and what I felt/feel is a Universal Presence … i.e., the manifestation of a power that cannot be defined.

        Or named.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A beginning to what? To recognize/accept YOUR god as that presence? Not hardly!! As I’ve said many, MANY times before … been there, done that and won’t be going back. Period. The End.

        I really don’t care how the universe came to be. I just respect its awesomeness and feel very grateful to be part of it for as long as my body allows it.

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      • O.M.G.! You churchy folks just can’t get away from making THREATS, can you? YOU may believe the oh-so-frightening warnings in your holy book … but I have NO such concerns. And “warnings” from you or any other believer is not going to change my outlook.

        Now go sit in your pew and say your prayers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • -“wait for a dark cloudless night and go out in the countryside where there are no lights and sit and contemplate the awesome display of the stars. God may begin to make sense to you.”

        Let’s see…when David and the Greek philosophers looked at the night sky, they saw meteors enter our atmosphere, and called them “shooting stars “, thinking they were stars falling to the ground. This is reflected in the writings in the book of Revelation.
        We now know that stars don’t fall from the sky.
        They also thought the sun went around the earth.
        They believed that lightning came from the gods…they even named him “Thor”, god of lightning.
        They created patterns from the stars and named them the zodiac, and tried to manage their lives accordingly.
        Is it any wonder that the ancients looked to the heavens and saw “gods”?
        After studying Astronomy, I certainly don’t see a god having anything to do with the night sky.
        And guess what, god isn’t mentioned in any of the astronomy books that I have.
        Feelings are not evidence…I ask again, what is the mechanism to experience the supernatural?

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Tell that to the Southern Baptist Convention who believes in a literal understanding of Genesis, and totally disagrees with your interpretation.
    “Allegories”…you would be run out of our East Texas churches on a rail for even suggesting that!

    You have just shown the problem with the Bible:
    If it’s up to everyone’s interpretation how to understand scripture, then, you end up with everyone’s different interpretations.
    How do you tell which interpretation is the correct one?
    Yours, or the Southern Baptists?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have an idea that Dr. Michael Heiser, whom I quoted in a reply to Neil, is a Southern Baptist. At least he is a Baptist and taught for ten years as an adjunct professor at Liberty, a very conservative Baptistic university. Your East Texas churches are a bit behind the curve. But in the end, they are not wrong. The interpretation of Genesis one for everyone is that God did it. I doubt if any believer disputes that, East Texas Baptist or not.

      When it comes to Genesis three and the allegory, the Bible itself recognizes the allegory of the serpent and implies the allegory of the tree of life (both in Revelation). Many early church theologians recognized that allegory is at least present in the story – see Origen and Augustine. https://slife.org/allegorical-interpretations-of-genesis/

      Your insistence on a literal reading misses the point of the passages. But the insistence of fundamentalist Christians misses the point as well. The point of the Adam and Eve story is that man is alienated from God by his choice to go his own way, BUT God acts to recover his alienated creation by forgiveness. As such, Genesis three is a beautiful and insightful picture of the gospel that became fully realized in Jesus. It is the proto gospel. (It is also an incredible and beautifully done story that explains the plight of man in every place and generation, one of the most incredible pieces of literature coming from the ancient world.)

      However, as with Genesis one, a more literal interpretation captures the point just as well; it still is that man is alienated from God by sin and that God provides a remedy. So, I do not complain about a literal interpretation – except when it misses the point.

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  6. So a literal interpretation and an allegorical interpretation are correct?

    That can’t be…you’re grasping at straws to try and reconcile opposing views of the same passages.
    A Southern Baptist or IFB church would never let you teach Sunday school, much less preach a message on your “allegorical” interpretation of their scriptures, and you know it!
    And the reason they cling to their literal interpretation is so they can be justified in their treatment of LGBTQ people, which they see as the new threat to society.
    I’m specifically referring to the recent withdrawal from the UMC of many Methodist churches here in East Texas over the issue of same-sex marriage, and women pastors.
    They don’t like liberal anything here, especially preachers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goyo A Southern Baptist or IFB church would never let you teach Sunday school, much less preach a message on your “allegorical” interpretation of their scriptures,

      Don Probably not. But that is not the measure.

      The issue is whether the interpretation of any particular passage is accurate AND helpful in growing disciples who are equipped for every good work (2nd Timothy 3:16). The debate among Christians about allegory versus literalistic interpretation is a distraction. I would be happy preaching the stories as realistic stories AS LONG AS THE POINT OF THE STORY IS THE POINT OF THE PREACHING. I am happy for my Baptist brethren to preach them that way. The point is the point.

      But the issue is forced upon us by you and others who find a literalistic understanding of the some of the stories impossible to accept, legitimately I would say. If the Bible does not agree with the real world, it is reasonably considered nothing more than an old fable. If it presents a description of creation that is seriously out of step with how we scientifically understand the formation of the earth and natural history, educated people are unlikely to regard the Bible seriously. (That was Augustine’s position more than 1500 years ago, so it is not a modern issue at all.)

      My point and the point many conservative biblical scholars are making these days is that the biblical stories in question were not originally nor should they be today understood in a literal or scientific way. The creation story for example is a polemic against polytheistic beliefs making the point that the one living God did it and that everything is his creation. It is not about HOW but WHO. The point of the Adam and Eve story is that we are all alienated from God by our determination to choose our way above God’s way and have made a mess of things because of that choice.

      If the issue becomes all about whether these are accurately and literally described events, that point gets lost in the fray. As it is today. And that is the danger for Christians who are diverted from the truth presented in the stories to the debate about a literal of allegorical reading. Southern Baptists, and I am one, need to think about that.

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  7. “one of the most incredible pieces of literature coming from the ancient world.”

    Lev. 20:13: “If a man has intercourse with a man as with a woman, both commit an abomination. They must be put to death.”

    You’re right, that’s really incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not liking the message does not make it invalid. There are a lot of things I find in the scriptures that are uncomfortable for me.

      There are even more in our ‘modern’ society I am uncomfortable with. The acceptance of abortion is one. The idea that a white man with money and power can get away with almost anything including rape and emblement or a white policeman can kneel on the neck of a black man until he dies or a lynch mob in the South can execute a black man without trial or jury are several more. It seems that what is right or wrong is more a matter of what I approve than what is good.

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      • Don:
        “Not liking the message does not make it invalid.”

        You’re damn straight I don’t like the message, and neither should you!
        You’re a POS!
        You would be one of the crowd that brings a picnic lunch for a lynching right after church service.

        Explain why homosexuals should be killed!

        Liked by 2 people

      • And why should a rebellious son be killed? Or a person who violates the Sabbath? Or a person who rapes a woman or a couple who commit adultery? Or premeditated murder?

        The reason is found in the context of the laws. They were given to Israel as national laws. They were intended to maintain order and create a ‘seemly’ looking people who reflected the holiness of God. (The scripture would say a hoy people.)

        That context is different from the context of nations today. No nation represents God. People do, but nations do not. Consequently, those who by choice and calling are God’s people should follow the rules of holiness. But because the people of God are not a nation in the sense that Israel was, they should respect the laws of holiness but have no mandate to kill anyone, even other beliers who violate the laws of holiness.

        We also have no expectation that the nation we might be a part of must follow those laws. How could it?

        That is not to say the laws would not bring order to the nations. They surely would. And as a matter of fact, many of the laws have become part of our national laws. Do not commit murder and do not steal, for example. But we who are God’s people have no mandate to impose them on those who are not called to holiness. National laws are made by the people of a nation. We as the people of God have a mandate to call people from darkness and disorder and self-destruction to light.

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      • Of course the individuals that perform these acts are all big Sinners who have rejected that guy in the sky, right? If we all bowed before his entity, surely we would all live in a perfect world, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don: [Concerning stoning gay people to death:] Not liking the message does not make it invalid. There are a lot of things I find in the scriptures that are uncomfortable for me.

        Of course it’s invalid. I’ve said it before, Bible God is a moral monster.

        There is NOTHING wrong with being gay, loving someone of the same sex, or having sex with them. The immorality lies in the one who discriminates or advocates violence against them. In the case of Leviticus 20:13, the immorality is in God (or more properly the asshat pretending to write for God).

        Don: It seems that what is right or wrong is more a matter of what I approve than what is good.

        So you’re saying that stoning gay people to death is “good”!?! You too are a moral monster. Your big book of fairy tales has removed your moral compass.

        Like

      • There is nothing wrong with being gay. But acting on it in an intimate sexual relationship is not the order of creation God intended. It is for that reason the union of two men or two women in a sexual relationship is wrong.

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      • There’s nothing wrong with being a Christian so long as you don’t practise it. Thank you for setting the example for us in this respect.

        You have failed spectacularly to demonstrate the existence of God so are in no position to tell us what ‘order of creation’ ‘he’ ‘intended’. (All of these are such weak assertions they necessitate the inverted commas.) There is nothing ‘wrong’ with same-sex relationships, nor consensual sex between two men or women.

        I can vouch for this personally, though I came to the realisation late in life, having been indoctrinated with the view you express here, in my teens. Consequently, up until my 50s I led a lonely and depressed existence. It wasn’t until I threw off the shackles of a repressive, inhumane religion that I was able to be myself.

        You have no idea how much damage the kind of view you espouse (in support of executing gay people let us not forget) actually does.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I find it interesting that the most vehement reaction to the Bible often comes from gay people. I’ve run across that so often that I have to think it is personal. Why not from straight men? They have just as much to complain about. The Bible constrains our behavior as much or more than that of gay people.

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      • Where’s your evidence for this ludicrous claim? You think those scholars you say are only trying to make a name for themselves – Ehrman, Carrier, Loftus etc, not to mention the likes of Dawkins, Hitchins and Harris, are all gay? You think the commenters here who challenge your bizarre and erratic interpretation of the Bible are likewise homosexual?

        This is an assertion as ridiculous as claiming all Christian apologists are intellectually challenged.

        You’ve nothing more useful to say here, Don.

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      • BTW acting on an inappropriate sexual relationship such as rape, a relationship between a man and a married woman of vice versa, or a sexual union between a man and a woman outside the bond of marriage, etc. are wrong as well. They all violate the design God had for us as sexual people.

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      • “I find it interesting that the most vehement reaction to the Bible often comes from gay people. I’ve run across that so often that I have to think it is personal. Why not from straight men? “

        How dare you!
        I am a straight person…your observation is mistaken, because I’m one of the most vehement objectors to xtianity around!
        YOU are a horrible, judgmental asshole, who personifies all that I find disgusting about religion!
        I’m bored trying to talk to you.
        You have nothing legitimate to contribute after that personal attack!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Don: Neil, you are making the mistake many Christians make: reading ancient literature as if it were modern…

    LOL

    It’s funny, Don, because you do it all the damned time. It’s funny because you belong to a religion that is based on forcing a 1st Century CE worldview onto a 6th Century BCE religious text.

    If you believed and lived by this principle, you wouldn’t constantly be imposing a Christian interpretation on the Old Testament. But you do. That’s all you ever do with the Hebrew text.

    Neither Paul, Revelation, Origen, Augustine nor any Christian can be a reliable interpreter of Hebrew text or religion. They are too far separated by time, culture and language. They are indoctrinated with Greek and Zoroastrian ideas.

    In Genesis, Heaven is the domain of the gods and angels. No human will ever ascend there. Dead humans – righteous or wicked – descend into Sheol forever. There is no resurrection, no final judgment. Salvation and redemption are very temporal things that can happen only to living humans. There is neither after you’re dead. The Christian Satan hasn’t been invented yet. A satan could be an angel or human sent (or used) by God to test the faithful but wasn’t a fallen angel seeking to thwart God’s plan.

    Importing any of these things into the older Hebrew texts corrupts and obscures their meaning. But that’s the whole purpose of Christian scholarship. Jesus failed to be the Jewish messiah. So they had to create a Christian messiah out of whole cloth by taking bits and pieces of Hebrew scripture completely out of context.

    You whine constantly about (literary) context without ever once placing the Hebrew texts in their historical and cultural context. This is dishonest to the core.

    You sit there smugly condescending to educate us, the unwashed masses, while you haven’t got the first clue what you are talking about. You are indoctrinated to your core and incapable of looking past it to the reality of the evolution and development of near eastern religion – including Judaism and Christianity.

    [Yes, I’ve been away. Family stuff came up.]

    Liked by 1 person

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