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2012年7月30日 星期一

The Limits of Ignorance 8

Cont'd

In the earlier parts of this blog on the subject of ID, I said that creation of the universe by God is probably a myth and that it's doubtful if the Bible is the literal word of God as so many Christian fundamentalists believe. What is the basis of this claim?

1.  There are two different accounts of the genesis story (Gen. 1-2:24)

Genesis 1:

1  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, ‘Let there be a dome/vault in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7So God made the dome/vault and separated the waters that were under the dome/vault from the waters that were above the dome/vault. And it was so. 8God called the dome/vault Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, ‘
20 And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind* in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,* and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
27 So God created humankind* in his image,
   in the image of God he created them;*
   male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ 29God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. 31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 2

1. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,* and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
18 Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
   and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,*
   for out of Man* this one was taken.’
24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

    Here we see that in Gen. 1: 1-23, God created the world in six days by merely saying "Let there be..." blessed them after they appeared and then on the 7th day, he rested. If God were almighty and all powerful, as we have been taught, why did he need to take a "rest", just like a man after some hard work.? 

    Order of Creation: in the first account (Gen 1:1–1:2–3), man is created "after" the animals on the sixth day and in the second account (2:4–3:23) which follows the account of the 7th day, mankind was created first. In the first account, it appears he made both man and woman together. In the second account, he created man first, then woman. Also in the second account, God appears to have made heaven and earth on the same "day", not so in the first account. If they were truly the words of God, as the Christian fundamentalists believe, would God contradict himself. If the words were 'inspired by God", are they suggesting that God, who is supposed to be all knowing, all powerful and all good, would deliberately mislead his faithful servants whom he "inspired "to write the "history" of his relations with mankind? If not, are they suggesting that God is above reason, above logic, as they are understood by his prize creation, mankind using terrestrial reason or logic? If so, then Christians can no longer claim that their religion is based on "reason" understood in the conventional sense. They cannot have their cake and eat it!

Biblical scholars tell us that the Pentateuch, of which the Genesis forms part, was probably written in 6th or 7th century BC from two sources, the Jahwist source (Gen. 2:4-24) and the Priestly source (Gen1: 1-23).  From the way the Genesis is written, which seem to suggest two different accounts of the creation  from two different Judaic traditions, what the scholars suggest seems credible. If so, then they are the work of man, not of God.

2. There is evidence that the Jewish race, which first emerged as a distinct people in history around 1,200 BC is much younger than the Persians or Babylonians and the Egyptians and their Bible and creation myths followed more or less the kind of order in the prior creation myths common at the time of its creation. According to Mark S Smith, "We may identify three major models of creation [creating by divine power, with divine wisdom or with some form of the divine presence] all related to kingship...Power, wisdom and presence (especially in the place) are all attributes associated with kings. In addition, the king is responsible for building temples. In accordance with these ideas, various creations accounts present God as a warrrior-king, as a wise ruler, or as the great monarch presence in his palace or builder of his sanctuary space. All of these were old ideas in the ancient world well before the historical emergence of Israel around 1200 BCE" (Priestly Vision of Genesis I Fortress Press 2009 11-12) And according to Edward T Babinski,"as kingdom succeeded kingdom, sacred myths were recycled, re-edited, or combined with others."and the names of the winners in these myths were changed to match the name of the gods worshiped by the new regimes"  (Babinski in his "Cosmology of the Bible" ("CB") in "The Christian Delusion" ed. John W Loftus Prometheus Books 2010 110)

3. Note the similarity of the some of the accounts of the creation of the world by Marduk and the attributes and doings of the respective God of the Babylonians, Marduk and that of the Jews as reflected in the Genesis and their Bible:

1. "Marduk shall be Lord of All the Gods...No one among the gods shall [make him equal] to him" Enuma Elish Tablet VI: 141 VII: 14
    "Our God is above all gods...God of gods...Lord of Lords"  Psalm 135:5 and 136:2, 3
2. "Marduk established the holy heavens...Creator of the earth above the waters, establisher of things on high...who made the world's regions...He created "places" and fashioned the netherworld"  Enuma Elish Tablet VII: 16, 83, 89, 135
   "[God] established the heavens...insribed a cricle on the face of the deep...made firm the skies above...marked out the foundations of the earth" Proverbs 8:
  27-28
3. "Marduk patterned the days of the year..established the positions of Enlil and Ea [referring to the rotation of stars in the sky]...made the moon appear, entrusted [to him] the night...assigned to the crown jewel of nighttime to makr the day [of the month]...Marduk defined the celestial signs [for religious festivals]...the doorbolt of sunrise...the watches of night and day " Enuma Elish Tablet V: 3, 5, 8, 12, 13, 23, 44, 46
"God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons [the literal Hebrew means religious festivals] and for days and years...And God mad two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth." Gen. 1: 14, 16-17
4. "Marduk made mankind...creatures with the breath of life...creator of all people" Enuma Elish Tablet VI: 33, 129 & VII:89
    " God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" Gen 2: 7
5. "Marduk shall be shepherd of ...his creatures" Enuma Elish Tablet VI:  107
    "The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1
6. "Creation, destruction, absolution, punishment. Each shall be at Marduk's command" Enuma Elish Tablet VI: 1: 31-32
    "The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity" Isaiah 45: 7
7. "Marduk's word is truth, what he says is not changed, Not one god has annulled his utterance." Enuma Elish Tablet VII: 151-52
"Has God said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?" Numbers 23: 19
8. "Word of Marduk shall endure, not to be forgotten" Enuma Elish Tablet VII: 31-32
    "the Word of our God shall stand forever"  "Isaiah 40:8
9. "Marduk's beneficent roar shall thunder over the earth." "Enuma Elish Tablet VII: 120
    "God's mighty thunder...rumble from his mouth...under the whole heaven, and his lightning to the ends of the earth" Job 26:14 and 37:2-3
10. "Marduk crossed vast Tiamat [sea goddess] back and forth in his wrath, Spanning her like a bridge at the place of single combat" "Enuma Elish Tablet VII:
74
"God tramples down the waves of the sea"  JOb 9: 10 and "God's way was in the sea, and his paths in the mighty waters" Psalm 77:19
11. "Marduk, profound of wisdom, ingenious in perception, Whose heart is so deep that none of the gods can comprehend it" "Enuma Elish Tablet VII: 117-118
"God does great things, unfathomable, and wondrous works" Job (:10 & "Among the gods there is none like unto thee O Lord " Psalm 86: 8

This is how Smith explains the evolving nature of the creation story in the Bible:
" Genesis I built on and supplanted other Israelite versions of creation that understood the primordial universe as  a field of battle between two divine wills. It envisions instead a royal-priestly power beyond all powers, enthroned over the world understood as a holy place similar to a sanctuary...The royal politics of creations expressed in texts such as Enuma Elish and Psalm 74 were replaced partially in Genesis I with a priestly order imbued with the proper religious life of the Sabbath ['rest on the seventh day'] and festivals of the priestly calendar [the appointed times] of Gen 1.14" (Smith 11-12)

Genesis 1:2, states, like Enuma Elish, that in the beginning nothing had yet been formed:  "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.". Creation stories told by Israel's neighbors start in a similar manner--with a big splash rather than a big bang, out of which heaven and earth are eventually made (cf. 2 Peter 3:5 in NT). The deep is mentioned not only in Gen. 1:2 but also in Gen 49:25 which lists blessings of various divine figures, including the blessing of Heaven above, blessings of Deep crouching below (see also Deut. 33:13) and "Deep" in the passive was feminine as was the Babylonian sea goddess Tiamat. Moreover, heaven and Deep are both divinities related to cosmic origins in earlier West Semitic tradition" (Smith 59) . To Smith, it is not necessary to see a particular Mesopotamia background at work behind Genesis 1 to compare the Hebrew word tehom (Deep) with Tiamat. The word for Deep or the ocean occurs in the Ugaritic texts not only in the god lists, but also in mythological contexts ...and tehom in a battle context is an old West Semitic idea and not just a Mesopotamian one." (ibid 69, 239)

4.    That the Bible is not meant to be read as a scientific text is quite obvious. In Genesis 1: 3-5. "Let there be lights in the dome/vault of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. 16God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17God set them in the dome/vault of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day." We know now that the day and night depends on the revolution of the earth around the sun. Yet at that point, the sun and the moon had not yet been created nor set in the firmament. Where did the light come from if not from the sun, the moon, the stars? The Jews appear to be repeating the same kind of mistake made by their neighbor: in texts from the ancient Ugarit, Israel's west Semitic neighbor, they also mentioned gods of light as well as gods of darkness, gods of Dawn and Dusk that are separate from gods of Dawn and gods of Dusk.(CB 120) All teachers know that when a "mistake" is repeated in two different papers by students, one of them must be a work of plagiarism! Since the Jewish version of their Bible appeared much later, it is obvious who copied from whom! Is the Jewish Bible and now Christian Bible the original word of God or "inspired" by God? Or the creation of ignorant ancient men who copied with scant regard to consistency?

If faith should not be based on the "Word" (what the Greeks called "Logos" and adopted by St. John), what is the proper basis of Christian faith? What does "belief" in the Christian God mean? Does it consist in merely "believing" in the sense of assenting to certain propositions about the nature of God, the purpose of human life, the human soul, sin, heaven and hell, the role of our "mother church", following a mass and doing Sunday worship, helping with church work and doing "charitable" works in our spare time? Is it that easy? If you think so, perhaps you should read Sören Kierkegaard's Sickness Unto Death and his Fear and Trembling.