Sunday, March 10, 2002

Theological Foray #5: Apologetics part 1

These questions were posed to me on the Virginia Tech Freethinkers discussion group. If anyone has any refutations of my defenses, or additions, please tell me.

No matter how you read it, it's incontrovertible that God promised Tyre would be 'erased from the map' and that never happened.

Alexander the Great razed the city, executed the men, and sold the women and children into slavery. This seems like being wiped from the map, even if they did later rebuild the city.

Judas still explodes in a field AND hangs himself.

Only twice does the term "hanged" appear in the Bible. In the first, 2 Sam 17:23, it explicitly states that the person "hanged himself; and died...." Matthew's account does not go on to state that he died. Hanging is not always
a reliable method of suicide, especially when attaching the rope to a tree branch. "Falling on your sword" as the ancient Romans did is similar to the method described in Acts, and has a far greater chance of success. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that he failed in his first attempt.

Jesus' lineage is still different between Matthew and Luke.

Only one of the lineages claims be physically his. He would've been considered an adopted son of Joseph, and thus under Jewish law able to lay claim to Joseph's lineage as well as Mary's.

Different people show up at his tomb to find different scenarios, depending on the book you're reading.

The Bible doesn't say that all these occur at the same time, either.

Jesus appears in four different places after his 'resurrection,' depending on the book you're reading.

He actually appears in ten different places. These occur over time. If I were to say that I'm taking Physics, US Gov't, English, and Calculus, do I prove myself wrong?

sometimes in the same passage!! Here's a few examples:

Man was created before the animals Genesis 2:18-19; Man was created after the animals Genesis 1:25-27
Man was created spiritually before the animals and physically after them. Look at the language more closely.

God is satisfied with his works; it is good in Genesis 1:31; God is dissatisfied with his works, decides to destroy it all in Genesis

Man hadn't sinned yet in Genesis 1:31. In Gen 6:6, all men have become sinful except Noah and his family.

God punishes his chosen people (Israel) repeatedly for their wickedness in Numbers 11:1, 11:33, 16:35, 16:44-49, and 21:5;
God has not seen wickedness in Israel Numbers 23:21.

At the time of Num 23:21, the wickedness of the previous chapters is in the past. In Num 23:21, Balaam is reciting God's message to him, and is saying that God is delivering a blessing because Israel is not currently wicked.

Robbery is forbidden by God Exodus 20:15 and Leviticus 19:13, but robbery is commanded by God Exodus 3:21-22 and 12:35-36.

The easiest response is to once again point out that God forbids stealing after earlier "commanding" it. However, a better response is to point out that in Exodus 3:21-22,35-36, God is commanding the Hebrews to recover that which was stolen from them by the Egyptians.

Making of graven images is forbidden Exodus 20:4, but making of graven images is commanded Exodus 25:18-20.

The Bible actually refers to idols in these passages, with special reference to graven images as idols. The Ten Commandments in Ex. 20:4 ban making idols for oneself. This was in response to the practice at the time of having personal gods other than YHWH. The Ark of the Covenant described in Ex. 25:18-20 is not for the Israelites to worship, but for the glorification of God. Thus, it is not an idol, and is not forbidden by the Ten Commandments.

God forbids Moses from counting the Levites in the Israeli census in Numbers 1:48, but God commands Moses to count the Levites in the Israeli census in Numbers 3:15
God forbids counting the Levites when Moses is taking a census for the purposes of raising an army. Later, God commands Moses to count the Levites, since they are to belong to God alone, and not to the Hebrew administration. Once again, God commanding one thing at one time and commanding something else later is not an inaccuracy. If I say at 10AM that I'm not hungry, and at noon that I am hungry, I haven't refuted myself.

Good works are to be seen of men in Matthew 5:16, good works are NOT to be seen in Matthew 6:1.

In the first passage, Christ is commanding that good works be done, and that it is to be hoped that people see and follow their example so that they might also do good. In the second passage, Christ is saying to not do good deeds in order to make other think more highly of you, as the Pharisees do. The difference is between doing good works to inspire others and doing good works
to make others admire you.

No one can ever see God, lest they die in Exodus 33:20, 34:20, but Moses speaks face-to-face with God regularly in Exodus 33:11.

Before anything else, I'd like to point out that Ex. 34:20 has nothing to do with this, but is concerned with rules of sacrifice. In Ex. 33:11, it is said that God spoke with Moses "face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend." In Ex. 33:20, Moses asks God to reveal his face to him. If Moses had already seen God's face, why would he ask him to show it to him? The answer is that the first passage is idiomatic, like saying that I spoke to a female friend in a "man to man" manner. Furthermore, the first passage doesn't say that Moses actually saw God's face, just that he communicated with it. This means that he spoke and heard, rather than saw a pillar of fire or a plague of locusts.

Jesus states that if he ever witnesses himself, then his witness will be a false one in John 5:31, but Jesus bears witness of himself in John 8:18.

Jesus says that if he alone witnesses himself, his testimony will be false. However, he later states that both he and God the Father through the Old Testament witness Christ. He points out that under Jewish law, the testimony of two men is to be considered true. As he has two witnesses, he is true.

It was unlawful for the Jews to put Jesus to death in John 18:31, but it was lawful for the Jews to put Jesus to death John 19:7.

Not quite. The Jews said that a man who claimed to be God should be put to death, but that they did not actually have a law to do so. Many people believe that adulterers should be considered criminals. However, American law (not counting the military) does not consider it a criminal offense, (though you can be sued for it). Thus, the Jews needed the Romans, who actually had capital punishment, to execute Jesus for them.

The risen Jesus says 'Touch Me' in John 20:27, but the risen Jesus says 'Do Not Touch Me' in John 20:17.

In John 20:17, Jesus tells Mary to stop clinging to him and go tell the disciples that Christ is risen. In John 20:27, Jesus tells the doubting disciples to touch him. The difference is that in verse 17, he wants the news of his resurrection to be spread, and Mary cannot start this while she's still clinging to him. In verse 27, Jesus is proving to the disciples that he is not just a hallucination, but a physical fact.

Jesus promises that he will build his church upon Peter and give him the keys to Heaven, whatever Peter decrees will be true in Heaven and on Earth in Matthew 16:18-19, but Jesus calls Peter "Satan", describes him as offensive, accuses him of selfish, evil materialism, and demands that Peter get lost in Matthew 16:23.

The first passage is in the future tense. In the second, Jesus is rebuking Peter for his doubts. These do not contradict each other. At boot camps, the drill sergeants tell the recruits that they will be made into soldiers, but that they are not soldiers yet. Do they contradict themselves?

Anyone who calls another a fool is liable to Hell in Matthew 5:22, yet Jesus says that anyone who hears his words and does not do them is a fool in Matthew 7:26.

Not quite. In the second passage, Jesus says that those who do not believe are like fools. If you are like something, you are not actually such. I am not like a student at Virginia Tech, I am a student at Virginia Tech. In any case, the purpose of the second passage isn't to define who is and who is not a fool, but to state the consequences of unbelief (which is like building a house on sand).

Insects in fact have six legs and not four (Leviticus 11:20).

”Walking on all fours” is idiomatic, and differentiates between the winged insects mentioned and others such as ants or termites.

Bats are not birds (Lev 11:19).

The Hebrew word actually means “flying animals,” since the Hebrews’ zoology was measured differently from our own. Thus, bats and eagles are both “flying animals.”

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