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Religion Fri, 15 Oct 2010

Faith Versus Reason: Is The Bible An Original Inerrant Document ?

Recent reviews of biblical scripts have shown the Bible is increasingly unable to

stand up to scrutiny and scientific evidence. I it is becoming increasingly worrying

that the Bible may not be able to claim authority on any issue relevant to our

physical reality we call the universe, particularly the final direction and divine

plan for humans. Some examples include some of the most famous and strong beliefs

of the Judeo-Christian faiths such as the narrative of the six day creation story,

the Tower of Babel, the great flood, and Jonah and the whale, among others. In each

case the details of the entire stories, that are hardly ever mentioned by the

religious faithful, did not stack up to the scrutiny of the narrative, or contained

certain statements and claims that fly in the face of known scientific facts.

In comments related to recent articles published on this website, this author has

been challenged to review the original Hebrew Scriptures for a proper perspective of

the Bible. As always this author took up the challenge and actually mobilized

resources to acquire the original bible written in Hebrew as well as companion

materials to facilitate the translation of the Hebrew scripts. Snippets of this

review which is on-going are presented in this article. These snippets are then put

into perspective of some of the other religious traditions that existed before or

concurrent with the time period in which the Bible?s original texts were written.

It is clear that the religious particularly Christians do not actually read the

bible for themselves except for the few cherry picked passages given to them by

their pastors. As one famous atheist said, the more you read the bible for yourself,

the more false and untenable you see it to be. Generally speaking, Christians

believe in a single God who exists, as a trinity, the Father, the Son, and Holy

Spirit. This triune God is typically thought to be all-knowing, all loving, all

seeing, all hearing, and all powerful. But is this what the Bible actually presents

in a factual manner? Let us start at the beginning of the Bible and review some of

the claims and core beliefs of the Judeo-Christian faiths.

Genesis 1:1 states that ?In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?.

The original Hebrew scriptures do not say ?God?. The word used is Elohim, which is

plural for El which means God or a god. This is the same word from which we also

get the following words or names:

Allah, the name of God as used by Islam.

Gabriel meaning Strength of God

Michael meaning who is like God?

Raphael meaning God's medicine

Ariel meaning God's lion

Daniel meaning God's Judgement

Israel meaning one who has struggled with God

Immanuel meaning God is with us

Ishmael meaning God Hears or God Listens

And many other examples.

So the bible actually says in the beginning gods (Elohim) created the heavens and

earth. Who were these gods? Were they the angels or some other unidentified

heaven-based beings? We would assume that this all-powerful being would make it

crystal clear who actually created the universe, in his own book of final authority.

Now, does the original Hebrew text say -heavens or heaven? The Hebrew word that is

used is Shamayim which means sky. So the correct translation of Genesis 1:1 is In

the beginning gods created the sky and the earth. There is no heaven mentioned in

this scripture, just sky. The concept of heaven was invented and added later.

The creation account goes on to say the earth was without shape or form and darkness

was on the face of the deep. The deep here ostensibly referring to water. So after

the heavens and the earth were created the earth consisted of only water. The

narrative continues that the spirit of God was moving over the surface of this

water. So what is the meaning of the spirit of God? The Hebrew word being used here

is Ruah which means wind, breath or air. So the spirit of God is synonymous with the

breath of God blowing over the water, or a wind from God blowing over the water. Now

the Hebrew word for the movement of God in this instance is Merahefet which means

flapping, like for example a bird. So the fact is the Hebrew text says a wind was

blowing over the face of the water. This wind was like that coming from the flapping

of some kind of bird or flying creature. It is interesting that this creation

account is similar in some ways to the Greek creation account that posits a great

bird called Nix was flying over a void when it laid a golden egg into the wind that

resulted in humans. This is also very similar to the ancient Egyptian creation

story which pre-dates the bible, in which, in the beginning there is a dark ocean

abyss referred to as the goddess Nun who produces an egg from which the sun god Ra

hatches out of. It is worth noting that Ra is the pre-eminent god of ancient Egypt,

who is always symbolized by the sun and also gold.

The above can be correlated back to Genesis because the golden sun produces light

which is the first thing created in Genesis. . Remember in Genesis the light is

created first and later in the story the sun is created three days later, even

though we know from astrophysics that this scenario is scientifically non-factual

and not defendable. And also because the very phenomenon of a day is due to the fact

that the earth rotates perpetually, alternating which side faces the sun (day) and

which one faces the darkness of space (night). That aside where is the sun anyway?

Currently we know it is exactly 8 light-minutes away from us in space, approximately

95 million miles away. In other words if we were to travel at the speed of light it

would take us 8 minutes to get there. However the bible does not confirm this fact.

The bible actually posits the sun is within our atmosphere. Of course the bible

does not call it our atmosphere it uses the same word Shamayim which means sky.

According to Genesis, an expanse separates the waters below it from the waters or

oceans above it, and they are all part of the sky.. This expanse in the Hebrew text

is called Rakia. So according God when you are looking up at the sky where the sun

is you are actually looking at on overhead ocean being held up by some divine object

(Rakia) or by some divine power. Some biblical scholars have posited this expanse

is some sort of solid transparent crystalline dome. That is why in later Latin

translations the word Rakia was changed to the Latin word Firmamentum (Firmament in

English). The firmament is therefore a solid object holding the upper ocean above in

place, in the sky. Today we know for a fact that this description is false, and not

such object or overhead ocean exists.

It is interesting that the Book of Gensis is not the only text claiming that a solid

object or expanse is holding up an ocean in the sky. In the ancient Egyptian

religion, the sun god Ra is seen as walking on the water or riding his boat across

the ocean sky.

Now let us go to the second creation account in Genesis chapter 2 which is

substantially different from the account given in Chapter 1. In this narrative Adam

is created, then animals are created to keep him company but after it is realized

that none of the animals can be a suitable mate for Adam, then Eve is created.

Apparently the omniscient creator did not foresee this happening. Adam and Eve are

then provided with a tree that they are ordered not to eat from. But Eve is tricked

into eating from this tree and becoming knowledgeable and hence infecting the whole

world and all humans yet to be born with this knowledge. This is interesting because

in the Greek creation story the first couple is Epimetheus and Pandora. After

Pandora was create she was given to Epimetheus as a wife, and she was a given a box

that should never be opened. But out of curiosity Pandora was tempted and opened the

box anyway. By so doing she released evil spirits that were confined to the box to

now unleash pain and suffering on the world.

Later Adam and Eve have two sons Cain and Abel. The time came for them to make

offerings to God. It turned out that God liked Abel?s offering of slaughtered

animals better than Cain?s offering. This made Cain so angry that he killed his

brother. This is interesting because in ancient Egyptian text Set kills his brother

Osiris because Osiris was favored by the goddess Isis. In another episode Ra decides

to punish humanity for pursuing evil deeds, by wiping out all humans except for a

righteous few. To do this he creates the goddess Sekhmet, the lion goddess to

perform the killing by chasing and eating all the humans. In the Hebrew text we have

a flood occur for this same purpose, to wipe out humanity except for a righteous

few.

Another worrying example is the original Hebrew text does not contain the phrases ?

the Lord your God. This phrase is ubiquitous throughout any modern bible, however it

does appear even once in the original Hebrew text. What appears is - YHWH your God.

This is the so called tetragrammaton. Hebrew scribes of Judaism changed this phrase

to ? Adonai , meaning Lord, to replace the tragrammaton because they deemed it

disrespectful to mention the real name of God continuously over and over just like

that. Later some claimed the correct pronunciation of the tetragrammaton is

something to the effect of ? Yehowa, or Jehova. This was later adopted by the

Jehovah?s Witnesses?. The Jehovah?s Witnesses?, bible called the New World d

translation completely replaces the phrase ? the Lord your God with - Jehovah your

God throughout the bible.

These are a but a few of the examples that cast serious doubt on the veracity and

even the originality of the Hebrew scriptures. It is easy to see that the concepts

of the bible are not even original but were copied and modified from pre-existing

religions of that era. What makes it worse is that by studying the original Hebrew

texts we can see that the translated versions we have today contain changes,

mistranslations, editing and even outright plagiarism, by scribes church fathers

over the generations. And apparently the religious are completely oblivious of these

facts. The few who are aware claim it is irrelevant and the details don?t matter,

just accept Jesus. But that is false. This is a document that claims it has

omnipotent authorship. Therefore it must be 100% true and accurate, not even 99%.

Otherwise the authorship is not divine, but rather human based on the perspective of

that particular human author. So if the omniscient being was unable to prevent these

falsehoods from being written in his book then one may argue that this being is not

omnipotent. If this is true then he is not God and by extension one may argue

therefore that there is no god, but we shall leave that for another debate for

another day. So back to the defining question of this essay. Is the bible an

original, inerrant document? No. Not at all. The bible as we know it today copies

and modifies pre-existing ideas at the time it was written. It contains many

non-factual statements, several questionable translations, and many mistranslations.

It also contains editing and modifications by scribes and copiers over the

generations who inserted their own ideas and understanding as they saw fit and

necessary.

kwaku ba, October 2010

Source: kwaku ba