The HyperTexts

God and the Bible

by Michael R. Burch

Is there a God? If there any way to prove the existence of God? Can human beings communicate with God? These are questions that have confronted man since the dawn of time.

Does the Bible reveal the nature of God to human beings? Is the Bible the infallible word of God? These are questions that have been raised continually since the first books of the Bible were written, many thousands of years ago.

Was Jesus God, or the unique Son of God? This is a question that has been raised continually since the first books of the New Testament were written, approximately 2,000 years ago.

I intend to address these questions as honesty and forthrightly as I possibly can. I grew up in evangelical Christian churches that taught me from my earliest childhood that there is a God, and that the Bible is the infallible word of God. But many of the things I was told to believe about God made him seem like an unjust monster ... in effect, the Devil. So I decided to study the Bible and the history of the Christian religion independently, thinking for myself, rather than just believing whatever I was commanded to believe. Here's what I discovered ...

Is there a God?
Is the Biblical description of the nature of God accurate?

These are highly interesting questions that seemingly cannot be answered. While Christians and other people of faith often profess to "know" that there is a God, what they really mean is that they are "sure" (to some degree) that their beliefs about God are correct. But in my own experience very little of what they believe about God makes any sense whatsoever. For instance, most Christians believe that God is loving, compassionate, wise and just. But they also believe that God sentenced all human beings and other living creatures to suffer and die, for reasons that make absolutely no sense. According to Christian theology, Adam and Eve had no "knowledge of good and evil" until they ate the "forbidden fruit." Since they had no knowledge of good and evil, it was impossible for them to know that eating the forbidden fruit was "wrong." Therefore, it was patently unjust for God to punish them so severely for doing something they didn't know was wrong. We don't punish babies for pooping their Pampers because they don't understand the need for potty training. In the same way, it was unjust for God to condemn Adam and Eve for not knowing it was "wrong" to eat the forbidden fruit. Furthermore, even if Adam and Eve were guilty of some terrible crime, the animals didn't disobey God or receive the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, it was terribly unjust for God to sentence animals to suffer and die for something they didn't do, over a knowledge they didn't receive. The Garden of Eden account only makes God seem like the Devil. But why should human beings bow down to and worship the Devil?

My argument doesn't "prove" that there is not a God, but it certainly raises a question about the "infallibility" of the Bible. According to the Genesis account, the earth existed before the sun, moon and stars were created, and plants grew before the sun was formed. But today thanks to modern science we know that the moon orbits the earth, and that the earth orbits the sun. So we know that the sun must have been created before the earth, and the earth before the moon. And we certainly know that plants didn't grow before the sun was created! So the proper order of creation is not the order of the Genesis accounts (there are actually two very different accounts of the order of creation in Genesis). The proper order of creation is clearly: (1) the oldest stars first; (2) then our sun; (3) then the earth; (4) then our moon; (5) then, after a long "cooling off" period, sea life, (6) then land life, (7) then finally, after millions of years of evolution, man.

Because the Bible gets the entire order of creation wrong, and makes it seem that God is an unjust monster, it seems utterly impossible that the Bible is the "infallible" word of a loving, compassionate, wise, just God.

Is there any way to prove the existence of God by using the Bible?

I believe the answer to this question is quite simply "no." Many Christians attempt to "prove" the existence of God via a process of circular logic, claiming that the Bible is "true" and thus "proves" that there is a God. But if God had wanted to prove his existence to human beings, he could have told us things that were unknowable at the time the Bible was written. He could have revealed that e=mc2, or that the moon orbits the earth (and that one day in the future men would walk on the moon), or that the earth orbits the sun. But the Bible does just the opposite. In multiple verses it says that the earth is "immovable" because it was set on "fixed foundations" by the "hand of God." From a primitive human perspective, the earth does seem to be the center of the universe, with the sun, moon, planets and stars revolving around it. This is what the Bible clearly describes several times, but it simply isn't true. Why did the Roman Catholic Church threaten to kill Galileo unless he recanted his idea that the earth moves, and orbits the sun? Because the Bible clearly adheres to the primitive belief that the earth is immobile, and that the sun circles the earth. But that idea is simply and clearly wrong. An all-wise God could not have made such a bald, ridiculous mistake time and time again.

Can human beings communicate with God?

I don't think this can be proven, since the existence of God cannot be proven. But I think it is relatively easy to prove that some of the men who wrote the Bible were not communicating clearly with a loving, compassionate, wise, just being.

For instance, take the matter of slavery. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, slavery is commanded and condoned, but never condemned. How is this possible, if God was communicating with the men who gave us the Bible?

The Bible claims that Moses was the friend of God and spoke to him face-to-face, receiving his commandments. But according to the Bible, Moses told fathers that they could sell their own daughters as sex slaves, with the option to buy them back if they didn't please their new masters [Exodus 21]. According to the Bible, Moses told his warriors that they should kill captured mothers and their male children, even babies, keeping only their virgin daughters alive, obviously as sex slaves [Numbers 31]. Moses even commanded that girls who had been raped should be stoned to death or sold to their rapists, meaning that they could be raped "legally" the rest of their lives [Deuteronomy 22]. How can anyone possibly believe that such Bible verses came from a loving, wise, compassionate, just God?

And take the matter of compassion. Over and over, the God of the Bible and his Hebrew prophets condemned human beings for their lack of compassion. Jesus spoke strongly against hypocrisy. Therefore, we should be able to assume that God is compassionate and not a hypocrite. But what happened to millions of Christians who worshipped Jesus during the Middle Ages? They and their children suffered with and died from the Bubonic Plague. But that terrible disease could have been prevented by proper sanitation and rat control. If God and Jesus had such knowledge, why didn't they communicate it to their disciples, out of simple compassion? Why did they allow millions of innocent men, women and children to suffer and die horrible deaths? The simple answer is that either (1) God and Jesus don't exist, or (2) they didn't have the most basic knowledge about the Bubonic Plague, or (3) they are hypocrites and not compassionate. In any case, the pictures of God and Jesus in the Bible make no sense.

Does any of this prove that human beings cannot communicate with God? No. But I think it clearly demonstrates that parts of the Bible did not originate with a loving, compassionate, wise, just God.

Was Jesus God, or the Son of God?

These assertions cannot be proven. Of course anyone can believe anything. But it would be patently unfair for Jesus to send me to hell for not "believing" in him, when he was either unable or unwilling to speak to me personally. So the main tenet of orthodox Christianity seems highly suspect. If God is loving, compassionate, wise and just, he would not condemn me for not believing things that are improvable and make him seem like a monster, or the Devil.

C. S. Lewis and other Christian theologians and apologists have resorted to the following bizarre line of "thinking": ... If Jesus claimed to be God, or the Son of God, then what he claimed must be true, or else he would be a lunatic. This is like claiming that the Son of Sam must have been the son of God, because otherwise he would have been a lunatic.

But there is an old Southern proverb: "The proof is in the pudding." We know that the Son of Sam was deranged because he killed innocent people. But what is worse: to kill someone, or to torture them (or allow them to be tortured) unremittingly for all eternity, with no remedial or corrective purpose?

I do not claim to "know" if there is a God, or if Jesus is God, or the Son of God. What I do claim to know is that is would be terribly unjust for Jesus to torture anyone for not "believing" he is God, or the Son of God, without proof. When I was a boy, I prayed to Jesus, and he never answered me. This tells me all I need to know about Jesus. Either he does not exist, or he is unable or unwilling to communicate with me. Therefore, there is no reason for me to "believe" in him. Anyone who says otherwise has not sense of justice, and no knowledge of good and evil. According to the Genesis account, anyone who has no knowledge of good and evil should be immortal, and never suffer or die.

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