01 January 2010

Jan 1

First real post! Other posts will probably not be as detailed with respect to the background reading.

Reference links:
Skeptic's Annotated Bible annotations:
  • Old Testament: 10 absurdities, 15 contradictions, 16 science and history, 1 women, 12 interpretation, 1 prophecy
  • New Testament: 3 absurdities, 10 contradictions, 2 science and history, 3 interpretation, 3 sex, 1 prophecy
  • Psalms: 1 interpretation, 1 contradiction
  • Proverbs: 0
Old Testament

These two chapters are part of the Primeval History section of Genesis. From the Wikipedia entry, "The highly artificial and literary character of this unit makes it unlikely that any oral traditions lie behind it, and indeed its literary origins have long been identified in the corpus of Babylonian myths, especially the Enuma Elish."

As story and poetry, the 7 day creation account is lovely and compelling, but the account of creation suffers from huge problems if you try to take it at all literally.  In the first creation account light is created before the sun and stars, large categories of creation like fungus and bacteria are never created, and vegetation is created before the sun.  These all contradict scientific knowledge.

The creation account cannot even achieve internal consistency.  There are two contradictory accounts of creation. The 7 day creation account and the Garden of Eden account. Amongst other irregularities, the Garden of Eden account indicates that humans were created before vegetation and animals, but the 7 day creation account indicates that vegetation and animals were created before humans.

New Testament

According to Wikipedia, Matthew was written by an anonymous Jewish Christian in the latter part of the first century. The anonymous author is assumed to be Jewish because of the emphasis put on Jesus' supposed fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Many believe that the author of Matthew depended on other sources including the Gospel of Mark and the hypothetical "Q" document.

These chapters cover the genealogy of Jesus and his visit from the wise men from the east. Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 to show that Jesus' birth fulfilled a prophecy. There are a couple interesting things about Isaiah 7:14. First, as the translation note in the New Living Translation notes that the word that was translated to "virgin" can also be translated as "young woman"; this casts some doubt on the whole "virgin birth" idea. Furthermore, this prophecy was part of a larger prophecy having to due with invasion from Assyria and southern Egypt, quite unrelated to the Jesus mythos and obviously not fulfilled by the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life.

One also has to wonder about the star the wise men followed to Jesus. Apparently it guided them to exactly where Jesus was born. The Biblical authors must not have meant by "star" what we mean by the word today (you know, those giant distant suns we see at night).

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's psalm is one of those ones that say that the godly will prosper in all they do and the ungodly will not. Now, the psalm makes clear that some of this prospering or lack thereof will happen after death, but there is also a strong implication that the godly will prosper in this life. I can see where the Protestants got their idea that while you could not know for certain who was predestined to be saved, they certainly had to be someone who was prosperous in this world.