The Bible: Reliability and InterpretationThis thread is on the topic of The Bible, whether or not it is accurate and reliable and if it is, then what does it really say?
To start this off, myself and others have narrowed this debate down to three main arguments:
1) Life is too improbable to have occurred naturally and so there must be another explanation.
2) The Prophesies contained in the Bible provide evidence that the writers of the Bible had help from an "outside source".
3) The Bible contains information that is way ahead of its time.
Lets start with the first argument, Life is too improbable to have occurred naturally and so there must be another explanation.
Now, what would we have to look at to conclude this? Well, scientists have a theory that states what they think is the way that humans got here on Earth. But it has many, many holes.
Firstly lets take a look at the beginning of the universe. While most scientist agree that the world is just over 13 Billion years old, they still have no idea how it came into existence. So they do not know how nonliving matter came into existence.[source]
Second we have the rise of life from nonliving matter. Science has never proven that this is possible. In fact in a study where there were perfect conditions for life to spontaneously arise, they only got part of what they needed for a cell to be created. [source] and there is quite obvious scientific fact that miraculously went out the window when he theory of evolution came into existence "Order cannot stem from Chaos". [source]
And finally the evolution from randomly-created-single-celled-organism to what we see around us today. Scientists have basically two theories when it comes to how this happened: Random mutation and Natural selection. Are either of these possibilities viable? First, lets take a look at random mutation. The human body has over 7500 working parts in it, so lets say we need at least 1 random mutation for each working part. For the sake of this argument, lets say that each time there is a mutation, there is a 50/50 chance of being beneficial to the organism. (Several things to note: 1) in reality, the odds of a mutation being beneficial to an organism are way lower than 50/50 2) The odds of mutations happening period is extremely low. Very few positive mutations have been observed by scientist and almost all have been under forced conditions such as radiation and drugs 3) Mutations have never been recorded to effect the genetic code of an organism, (think a broken arm, it doesn't effect the DNA)) The odds of 7500 positive mutations happening with a 50/50 chance are 1 in 10^2000.(10 with 2000 zeroes after it) And that is just in modern day humans, we have the entire plant and animal kingdoms that would have to have gone through the exact same thing.[source]
Now,what about natural selection? Natural selection is the idea that the weak organisms will die off and the strong will live....and eventually become stronger. Well, what have we observed? Science has observed that, yes species better equipped for certain scenarios will survive and those that are not not will die. But they have not observed them actually getting better at their given situation. The only one that comes close is the study of Darwin's Finches, which showed that beak changes changed in different areas after many generations, but there what most people care to ignore about this study is that the finches were not better, they were better for different parts of the year(seasons) and yet weaker in others.
Now, lets take a look at the second argument. The Prophesies contained in the Bible provide evidence that the writers of the Bible had help from an "outside source".
Well, lets take a look at a few prophesies:
Prophecy: Isa. 44:24, 27, 28; 45:1-4: “Jehovah . . . the One saying to the watery deep, ‘Be evaporated; and all your rivers I shall dry up’; the One saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘You will have your foundation laid.’ This is what Jehovah has said to his anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue before him nations, so that I may ungird even the hips of kings; to open before him the two-leaved doors, so that even the gates will not be shut: ‘Before you I myself shall go, and the swells of land I shall straighten out. The copper doors I shall break in pieces, and the iron bars I shall cut down. . . . For the sake of my servant Jacob and of Israel my chosen one, I even proceeded to call you by your name.’” (Writing by Isaiah was completed by about 732 B.C.E.)
Fulfillment: Cyrus had not been born when the prophecy was written. The Jews were not taken into exile to Babylon until 617-607 B.C.E., and Jerusalem and its temple were not destroyed until 607 B.C.E. In detail the prophecy was fulfilled starting in 539 B.C.E. Cyrus diverted the waters of the Euphrates River into an artificial lake, the river gates of Babylon were carelessly left open during feasting in the city, and Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians under Cyrus. Thereafter, Cyrus liberated the Jewish exiles and sent them back to Jerusalem with instructions to rebuild Jehovah’s temple there.—The Encyclopedia Americana
Prophecy: Jer. 49:17, 18: “‘Edom must become an object of astonishment. Everyone passing along by her will stare in astonishment and whistle on account of all her plagues. Just as in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and her neighbor towns,’ Jehovah has said, ‘no man will dwell there.’” (Jeremiah’s recording of prophecies was completed by 580 B.C.E.)
Fulfillment: “They [the Edomites] were driven from Palestine in the 2nd century B.C. by Judas Maccabæus, and in 109 B.C. John Hyrcanus, Maccabæan leader, extended the kingdom of Judah to include the w. part of Edomitic lands. In the 1st century B.C. Roman expansion swept away the last vestige of Edomitic independence . . . After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. . . . the name Idumæa [Edom] disappeared from history.” (The New Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia) Notice that the fulfillment extends down to our day. In no way can it be argued that this prophecy was written after the events had taken place.
Prophecy: Luke 19:41-44; 21:20, 21: “He [Jesus Christ] viewed the city [Jerusalem] and wept over it, saying: . . . ‘The days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side, and they will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.’” Two days later, he counseled his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw.” (Prophecy spoken by Jesus Christ in 33 C.E.)
Fulfillment: Jerusalem revolted against Rome, and in 66 C.E. the Roman army under Cestius Gallus attacked the city. But, as Jewish historian Josephus reports, the Roman commander “suddenly called off his men, abandoned hope though he had suffered no reverse, and flying in the face of all reason retired from the City.” (Josephus, the Jewish War, Penguin Classics, 1969, p. 167) This provided opportunity for Christians to flee from the city, which they did, moving to Pella, beyond the Jordan, according to Eusebius Pamphilus in his Ecclesiastical History. (Translated by C. F. Crusé, London, 1894, p. 75) Then around Passover time of the year 70 C.E. General Titus besieged the city, an encircling fence 4.5 miles (7.2 km) long was erected in just three days, and after five months Jerusalem fell. “Jerusalem itself was systematically destroyed and the Temple left in ruins. Archaeological work shows us today just how effective was the destruction of Jewish buildings all over the land.”—The Bible and Archaeology
Now, that's well and good, but what about prophesies about our time?
1914—A Significant Year in
DECADES in advance, Bible students proclaimed that there
would be significant developments in 1914. What were these,
and what evidence points to 1914 as such an important year?
As recorded at Luke 21:24, Jesus said: “Jerusalem will be
trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of then
generations [“the times of the Gentiles,” King James Version] are
fulfilled.” Jerusalem had been the capital city of the Jewish
nation—the seat of rulership of the line of kings from the
house of King David. (Psalm 48:1, 2) However, these kings
were unique among national leaders. They sat on “Jehovah’s
throne” as representatives of God himself. (1 Chronicles 29:
23) Jerusalem was thus a symbol of Jehovah’s rulership.
How and when, though, did God’s rulership begin to be
“trampled on by the nations”? This happened in 607 B.C.E.
when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. “Jehovah’s
throne” became vacant, and the line of kings who
descended from David was interrupted. (2 Kings 25:1-26)
Would this ‘trampling’ go on forever? No, for the prophecy
of Ezekiel said regarding Jerusalem’s last king, Zedekiah: “Remove
the turban, and lift off the crown. . . . It will certainly
become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I
must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:26, 27) The one who has “the
legal right” to the Davidic crown is Christ Jesus. (Luke 1:32,
33) So the ‘trampling’ would end when Jesus became King.
When would that grand event occur? Jesus showed that the
Gentiles would rule for a fixed period of time. The account in
Daniel chapter 4 holds the key to knowing how long that period
would last. It relates a prophetic dream experienced by
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He saw an immense tree
that was chopped down. Its stump could not grow because it
was banded with iron and copper. An angel declared: “Let seven
times pass over it.”—Daniel 4:10-16.
In the Bible, trees are sometimes used to represent rulership.
(Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:2-5) So the chopping down of the
symbolic tree represents how God’s rulership, as expressed
through the kings at Jerusalem, would be interrupted.
However, the vision served notice that this ‘trampling of Jerusalem’
would be temporary—a period of “seven times.”
How long a period is that?
Revelation 12:6, 14 indicates that three and a half times
equal “a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” “Seven
times” would therefore last twice as long, or 2,520 days. But
the Gentile nations did not stop ‘trampling’ on God’s rulership
a mere 2,520 days after Jerusalem’s fall. Evidently, then,
this prophecy covers a much longer period of time. On the
basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, which speak of “a day
for a year,” the “seven times” would cover 2,520 years.
The 2,520 years began in October 607 B.C.E., when Jerusalem
fell to the Babylonians and the Davidic king was taken
off his throne. The period ended in October 1914. At that
time, “the appointed times of the nations” ended, and Jesus
Christ was installed as God’s heavenly King.*—Psalm 2:1-6;
Daniel 7:13, 14.
* From October 607 B.C.E. to October 1 B.C.E. is 606 years. Since there
is no zero year, from October 1 B.C.E. to October 1914 C.E. is 1,914 years.
By adding 606 years and 1,914 years, we get 2,520 years. For information
on Jerusalem’s fall in 607 B.C.E., see the article “Chronology” in Insight
on the Scriptures, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Just as Jesus predicted, his “presence” as heavenly King has
been marked by dramatic world developments—war, famine,
earthquakes, pestilences. (Matthew 24:3-8; Luke 21:11) Such
developments bear powerful testimony to the fact that 1914
indeed marked the birth of God’s heavenly Kingdom and the
beginning of “the last days” of this present wicked system of
things.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.[/SPOIL]
It also predicted that the League of Nations would not remain destroyed:[source]
Now lets take a look at the last argument: The Bible contains information that is way ahead of its time.
Many of these can be found here. (agreed, a lot of these are straw grasps, but a good chunk are still valid)
Now, an obvious question arises: If there is all this evidence to suggest we can trust the Bible, why do so many not want to?
The answer to this question is quite simple actually. People want to decide for themselves what is right and wrong and they don't want to be told by anyone what they can and can't do. This is the question that arose in the Genesis account. "Whose way of life is better, God's, or Man's?" Well god let humanity see what it was like under their own rule and it isn't good. The world is filled with crime, war, violence, famine, disease and death.
So the next question is: Why would I want to follow the Bibe?
The answer to that question again, is simple.
God put Adam and Eve on Earth for a reason, he wanted them to live forever.
So, eventually this is what he will do again, he will put the earth back to the conditions of eden.
“The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live
forever on it.”
“The earth remains forever.”
“He will swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign
Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces.”
“At that time the eyes of the blind will be opened, and
the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. At that time
the lame will leap like the deer, and the tongue of the
speechless will shout for joy. For waters will burst forth
in the wilderness, and streams in the desert plain.”
Isaiah 35:5, 6
“He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death
will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor
pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
“They will build houses and live
in them, and they will plant
vineyards and eat their fruitage.
They will not build for someone
else to inhabit, nor will they
plant for others to eat. For the
days of my people will be like the
days of a tree, and the work of
their hands my chosen ones will
enjoy to the full.”
Isaiah 65:21, 22
Now what is required of us to attain this? Really, not much.
SHUN WHAT JEHOVAH HATES
13; 21:22, 23.
—Leviticus 20:10, 13, 15, 16;
Romans 1:24, 26, 27, 32;
1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
9-13; 1 Corinthians 10:21, 22;
Galatians 5:20, 21.
—1 Corinthians 10:14.
—1 Corinthians 5:11.
Stealing.—Leviticus 6:2, 4;
Lying.—Proverbs 6:16, 19;
Colossians 3:9; Revelation 22:15.
Greed.—1 Corinthians 5:11.
Proverbs 22:24, 25; Malachi 2:16;
Galatians 5:20, 21.
—Leviticus 19:16; Ephesians 5:4;
Refusal to provide for
one’s family.—1 Timothy 5:8.
Use of tobacco or
2 Corinthians 7:1.
Misuse of blood.
—Genesis 9:4; Acts 15:20, 28, 29.
So, to put it simply, we do not do the second list and we get the first list, plain and simple.
Now, what about all the Religions of the world?
Well, to put it quite bluntly, not all of those religions who profess to be Christian actually are. Since the death of Christ, Christianity has melded with Paganism, resulting in a lot of teaching that are found nowhere in the Bible, like the Trinity, Hellfire, Immortality of the Soul, Cross worship, The fact that Jesus was born of December 25th and more.
Now, there is much more to this topic, and that is what we will be discussing.
@ The Mods: If you wish to shut this, I totally understand. But there is the fact that this is an important topic, and it really does need to be examined. But if things get insulting and the like, yeah, please close this.
@ The Federation: I am hoping to continue our debate in this thread. I tried to address all your points from your lat post, but I'm sure I missed some. I'll be sure to address those eventually.