Am I Just Giving in to Ignorance?

Yes, I apologise if I seemed to be questioning the Christian character (or by extension the morality) of most YECs.

On the contrary, it is because I can see that they are sincere and good Christians who I love, that it is prompting me to doubt my faith. Clearly God is at work in their lives, and yet, He seems to lead them to a position that is so clearly factually wrong and which does so much harm to the evangelical mission Scripture tells us God commands us to be on. “The Lord works in mysterious ways” does speak to me but I’m having a real tough time with this particular mystery.

Anyway, I ought to bow out for a bit and quit hijacking the thread.

Maybe it’s comforting and maybe it’s disturbing to realize that Christians in every cultural and historical context have major blind spots, but God manages to work through the church despite its failings. In historical and global perspective American Christians are super materialistic and idolize their comfort. Many Christians around the world participate in racist and sexist systems. There are a lot of things that are worse than clinging to a misguided insistence on an overly literal interpretation of Genesis.

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Those are legitimate questions, so I didn’t think you were really hijacking the thread. But our thinking and mistaken pursuits can grieve the Holy Spirit, so I think your ‘leading’ characterization is misplaced

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Hi Kaylynn, I had to read your initial post several times before thinking I had got to the essence of what you are saying. Maybe I have not got to that essence; if not, I am sure you will tell me.

Your depression appears to be existentially-based. Your perception of whether or not you perceive God is at work in the world, or even exists, determines whether or not you are depressed.

My answer, for myself as much as for you, may seem counter-intuitive; but let me explain. To begin with, narrow your perception to the Gospels. Old Testament stories have been “theologised” for centuries. By this I mean that stories from the ancient past were constantly reviewed to be the carrier of theology. How much of fact remains after such a long process? The Samaritans, who were the remnant of the northern kingdom of Israel, even maintained that the people of Judah, (that is, the Jews), made up much of the Old Testament when they were in the Exile in Babylon. Go first to the Gospels, which were written within decades of the events they describe, and used source material that was even closer to the events than the completed Gospels themselves.

The next step - the counter-intuitive one - is to free yourself from the need to decide “what actually happened”. Failure to free oneself from this need led 19th Century Liberalism, (a theological movement at the end of the 19th century), to decide that the miracles of Jesus and his resurrection could not have happened. After all, at the end of the 19th century, everybody knew that was true, right? The problem was that “what everybody knows to be true” changes with each passing century. In Nicholas Copernicus’ time, everybody knew that the Earth could not be in motion, 'cos we’d all fall off, right? Wrong!

Most of our assumptions about what actually happened, or happens, tell us as much about ourselves and our generation, as it does about real, objective truth. We have a tendency to believe that when it comes to knowing things, we have actually “arrived”. At the end of the 19th century this view was held with a high degree of arrogance. This arrogance was soon blown away at the beginning of the 20th century with Einstein’s theories of relativity and developments in quantum physics. Nevertheless, there are still some fine 19th century minds in the life of the Christian churches.

But I digress. The counter-intuitive thing: Let’s approach this question as historians. The lesson we have learned from the arrogance of 19th century liberalism is that historians cannot tell you “what actually happened”. They can only tell you what people at the time believed had happened, and this takes a great weight off our shoulders. People at the time believed that Jesus performed miracles and that he was literally raised from the dead. Now we won’t have to be constantly trying to hammer our square peg into their round hole - trying to twist the Biblical Greek into some kind of forced interpretation that would suit our mind-set, or declaring everything a metaphor when only some things are, or seeing the lost ending of Mark’s Gospel as an indication that the resurrection never literally happened.

You may be cynical, but try it for 5 minutes to see if it relieves existential angst. As for mystery, it seems to occur as much in science as in the Christian Faith. Think about time. At the center of our galaxy there is a super-massive black hole in which time comes to an end. That means that the end of time occurs spatially alongside the process of time. Is such an end of time somehow related to the eschatology of the New Testament? Mind blowing stuff really.

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What you’re saying most definitely makes sense to me. I actually just saw a video earlier today that pointed out that in the OT there’s a much larger emphasis placed on the supernatural and miracles as well as God directly interacting with humans.

While those things are certainly in the New Testament they’re not nearly as common. In regards to miracles, the video I watched mentioned how many of the miracles in the NT are more down to Earth and plausible. It also said that Jesus’ resurrection, which (correct me if I’m wrong) is easily the miracle with the most evidence of course takes place in the NT.

20 posts were split to a new topic: Which explanation is better? Intelligent Design or Natural Processes

They’re correlated.

I think there are also YECs who genuinely find evolution very threatening to their faith - and indeed it does throw up a lot of difficult questions that many of us who accept the evidence for evolution struggle with continually. Questions like - if man evolved from animals, how can he be responsible for the ‘fall’ in a world in which suffering and death already existed?. If Genesis 1 and 2 are not divinely inspired, when does divine inspiration begin - with the Tower of Babel?, with the flood?, with Sodom and Gammorah? People who find it difficult to cope with uncertainty find in the YEC position a secure anchor for their faith.

Hi Kaylynn, I’d like to suggest that your depression, since it is life-long, may be biological rather than existential, in which case, faith may not cure it though it may help in other ways. My experience of depression is that I always try to find a reason for it, but those reasons disappear the minute my brain chemistry changes and the depression lifts.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be seeking truth - that is surely one of the most important things we can do in this life and, if the Bible is truly God’s self-revelation, then a great deal hangs on whether or not we believe and obey. But there are Christians who still struggle with depression so if you come to faith, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t completely cure your depression.

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There’s a difference between saying they aren’t divinely inspired and they aren’t literal history. I think Genesis 1-3 is true and divinely inspired, but I take it as a theological narrative that teaches about God and humanity not the material origins of the universe. You don’t have to give up inspiration or even inerrancy to accept evolution. You just have to accept the idea that the texts need to be interpreted in light of their purpose and cultural context. But yes, taking everything at its face value “plain meaning” is easier and less messy and gives you a more of a sense of security and certainty. It doesn’t always get you to truth though.

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Obviously I am no biblical expert, but I think it’s pretty clear and most would agree that the bible as it exists today is not the same as the bible at the time of its creation. There’s loads of translation errors, lost books (the book of Jasher), removed books (such as the Apocrypha), books that some sects consider canon but not others (The Book of Enoch) and exaggerations. I don’t know a ton about Islam, but it seems they did a much better job of record keeping in regards to the Quaran (if you didn’t know, a direct copy of the original Quran is still in existence.)

Trying to follow a strictly literal interpretation of a book that has been changed so much and is incomplete seems…Unwise, in my opinion.

That being said, I don’t think that degrades the core value of the Bible or the commentary it makes on the human condition. It just means that you should take it with a grain of salt. Again, this is all just my opinion.

As a footnote, I personally believe the flood was a real regional flood that became exaggerated over time (or maybe deliberately changed in an attempt to illustrate the sheer power of God). Is that a common belief or am I just weird?

Well, you may still be weird, but that or a variation is a pretty commonly held position by many. I am not sure it was exaggerated so much as it was more a tribal story that became generalized but initially was relevant to only that tribal group, in much the same way the the famine in Joseph’s story did not cover the the “whole globe” but rather the “whole world” of the people group involved.

This isn’t really accurate.

The “canon” or collection of writings that is included in the Christian Bible was compiled around 200 AD and finalized and adopted in the fifth century. It’s not like the Bible has a “time of creation” or was written at some point as a single document and then messed with. It’s a collection of copies of scrolls that each had different origins and purposes, were written by different people in three different languages over two millennia, and were copied and edited over time by scribes. The Quran is a relatively short document written by the companions of Mohammed in the the 7th century AD. The Christian Bible has more than 10 times more words than the Quran, is comprised of 66 separate books, and Job, thought by scholars to be the oldest book in the Hebrew Scriptures was written in the 6th century BC. Muslims believe that the Quran is untranslatable and must be read in the original Arabic. Christians believe that the Bible is infinitely translatable (in fact much of the Bible itself is a translation, since Jesus spoke Aramaic and probably didn’t preach in Greek, the language the New Testament is recorded in and Abraham spoke Akkadian, not Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures) So comparing the Quran and the Bible is comparing apples to oranges.

The documents that make up the Christian Bible have been copied pretty meticulously over the years. There is a whole field called textual criticism that seeks to understand how they were compiled and redacted to give us the forms we have today. They study the different versions and translations of the earliest versions to try to reconstruct something they believe is pretty close to an “original.” With the New Testament at least, there is very little variation between extant documents and scholars think the Nestle-Aland text is pretty certainly the text that was originally copied except for a limited number of small variances.

Are you sure about that? Have you even read the Qur’an? It came much later than the Bible and has copied many stories from the Bible. It also used stories from the Christian Apocryphal deemed too late and unreliable to be included in the Christian canon. It also shows the influence of Gnosticism.

Most Christians and everybody else are free to really seriously study every aspect the Bible, debate it, and ask probing questions about its origins. The most trouble Christians will get into is being fired or having Ken Ham go after you.

It’s a different story in the lands of Islam. Ask too many questions about the Qur’an and its origins and your life will be in danger. Just look at Salman Rushdie and the “Satanic Verses.”

There isn’t much variation in the Qur’an because they didn’t keep different versions around.

btw, What is this “direct copy of the original Qur’an” you speak of?

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Faith in Jesus causes a person to be born of God, to become a New Creation, to be freed from the power of sin and the devil. The religions of this world only give rules to live by which does not cause a person to be born from above and have no power to make a slave of sin free from it. Rules cant change the very nature of evil that is in mankind, only the Spirit of God can through the New Birth that comes through faith in Jesus.

And how are we to understand the origin of that? I really struggle with the idea it literally came from an immortal woman eating an apple in a land full of animals that never die or reproduce, vegetarian lions and so on. I’m more inclined (but wouldn’t know, as a newbie) we are meant to see this as an expression that God saw fit to chastise our failure to follow the ideals laid out by Him and our attempts to make gods of ourselves. It seems to me you don’t need to write the entire story as myth. You just need to read it ever so slightly less literally than some do.

I’m currently reading through the Qur’an alongside the bible (which I’m currently working my way through Leviticus). I thought that if the bible provided me a strange sense of hope and comfort then maybe I could get something out of the Qur’an as well. I person I know told me that the Qur’an is essentially like an extra book of the bible but I’m the more I read the more I realize he probably didn’t know what he was talking about.

As for the direct copy of the original Quaran, this all comes from a book called ‘Meaning in the Qur’an’ which contains a chapter called ‘Reliability and Validity of the Qu’ran’. In a nutshell, after Mohammed died a man named Abu Bakr became the first caliph and decided to compile the Qu’ran into a single book. He only added verses to said book if at least two scribes could recite exactly the same passage from memory. Once completed this copy served as the gold standard to which all other Quranic texts were compared. This copy was entrusted to one of the wives of Mohammed for safe keeping.

Once Islam had spread far and wide people began to translate the Qu’ran into different dialects and inevitably translation errors and other things seeped into these translations. To fix this, the third Caliph had scribes make seven official translations of the Qu’ran into these other dialects using the original copy of the Qu’ran which had been entrusted to one of Mohammed’s wives. Two of these seven copies still exist. One is at Tashkent in Central Asia and the other is in Istanbul, Turkey.

Unfortunately it doesn’t say what became of the original copy after this,.

I appreciate the thoughtful reply.

These are all good points, but I must admit that I made a poor choice of words. I should have said ‘at the time of completion’ as in the time the bible was compiled into what it is now.

I also wasn’t trying to compare the Qu’ran to the Bible or anything like that. It just seemed to me that Muslims have reached some kind of general consensus about their holy book that some Christians haven’t.

I think my point about different sects having different canons still stands, though. Why is it that the Book of Enoch is considered canonical to some Christian Orthodox religions in Ethiopia but not others? Why do Mormons include a book in their bible that is younger than the United States? The question I’m left with is how exactly am I supposed to know which version is definitive?

I struggle with this, too.

I ought to view this movie as immensely blasphemous now, but, I still think this is immensely insightful.

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I realize it’s really messy. I’ve taken whole classes in this stuff and still can’t always keep it straight.

Back when they were ratifying the canon at church councils at various points in time not all the church leaders were present or voted the same or agreed with the majority decision. The Roman church had a canon the decided on in 382. But the Orthodox didn’t agree until 692. (The Coptic church split off really early in 451) The eastern (Orthodox) bishops split with the western (Roman Catholic) bishops in 1053 after centuries of kind of going their separate ways. The Roman Catholic church affirmed their canon in 1545 and the Eastern Orthodox church affirmed their canon in 1442. Then the Reformation came along in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and the Protestants split with the Roman Catholics and didn’t want the Apocrypha in the canon.

Joseph Smith claimed to dictate new revelation from God (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price) and so those new books are part of what Latter Day Saints consider their Scripture in addition to the Bible. The fact that they have “new revelation” in addition to the Bible is why they are considered a separate religion by many Christians instead of a branch of Christianity.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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