Reasons For Belief:  A class taught by John Oakes, PhD at Harvard University 10/16/2009.  The subject is reasons to believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. See EFC store for the recording  ppt Reasons For Belief Harvard 2.76 Mb

The Bible: From God or Man?

Delos B. McKown:

            "Christianity is scientifically unsupported and probably insupportable, philosophically suspect at best and disreputable at worst, and historically fraudulent."

1. The Bible is scientifically insupportable.  (8th day circumcision, bodies unclean)

2.  Christianity is philosophically suspect.

Of course, this is debatable, as which is the "correct" philosophy is debatable.

However, biblical philosophy, otherwise known as Christian theology holds up rather well.

Naturalism/materialism           postmodernism.

Consider the things in the world today which would not have been the case if not for Christian philosophy.

Women’s rights, the equality of all people.   Galatians 3:26-28  Jesus’s and Paul’s relationships with women, women leaders in the early church.  Woman at the well.

Abolition of Slavery.

Realism, but not naturalism   (The world is real, our senses give us real information about a real world.  It is knowable and understandable, but is not the ultimate reality-the physical world is not all there is)    Romans 1:21-22

The world/creation are good.  (as opposed to Gnosticism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, neoplatonism)   Genesis 1:31

Genesis 1:1  Defeats pantheism, atheism, dualism, materialism/scientism, humanism, animism, all in one verse.  (Hebrews 11:3)

If there is any better philosophy written than Genesis 1-4, I would like to see it.  Deep but true.

The problem of suffering and evil.  The Bible offers the only answer to this problem.

Suffering is caused by sin, and is therefore not God’s fault, but the Christian response is compassion.  

Nearly all the compassionate service to the poor and needy is given by and through Christian groups.

3.  The Bible is historically fraudulent.  (Daniel)

Classical examples:  

Nineveh in Daniel.  Never existed.  

The Hittites  (47 times in the OT) discovered by Hugo Winkler in 1906,

Soddom and Gomorrah and the five cities.

David a myth (Tel Dan inscription) 

Focus on one example:    The book of Daniel.

Daniel has Belshazzar.   Until recently, all records had Nabonidus as the last king of Babylon.     Ziggurat in Ur.    Now we know that Nabonidus spent most of his time in Tema, pursuing the moon-God.

Notice Daniel 5:7  third highest ruler.  Oh….

Daniel 9:1  Darius the Mede, ruler over the Babylonian kingdom…

Daniel is loaded with historical detail that no one in 160 BC could have known.

4.  The Bible is full of myths.   True myths!

Gilgamesh Epic (Akkadians/Sumerians)

Popul Vuh (Mayans)

Near Eastern Mystery religions.   Isis and Osiris(Egyptian), Eleusian, Adonis (Greek)Bacchanalia, cult of Mithra (Persia), Cybele, the mother of Attis (Asia Minor), the good shepherd, all told about the relationship between God and man.  All about man reaching out to God or God reaching out to man.  About the God/man.

(1) All held that the initiate shared in symbolic (sacramental) fashion the experiences of the god. (2) All had secret rites for the initiated. (3) All offered mystical cleansing from sin. (4) All promised a happy future life for the faithful

Genesis 1-2 is a true myth!  It meets all the felt needs of the classical myths, but it is true.   Same with Genesis 7.   Same with the Jesus myth. 

5.  The Bible is full of contradictions.

Genesis 7:17 says the flood lasted 40 days   Genesis 8:3 says it lasted 150 days.

Genesis 37:36  Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt by the Midianites

Genesis 39:1  Sold by the Ishmaelites.

Like saying sold by an English person or a British person.  Californian  American

Matthew 27:5  Judas took the money, threw it into the temple and went and hanged himself.

Acts 1:18  Judas "fell headlong, his body bursting openand all his intestines spilled out."

John 19:17  Jesus carried his own cross.    Mark 15:21-23  Simon of Cyrene carried his cross.

Separate, non-contradictory, complimentary gospel accounts, which is exactly what one would want.

Exodus 20:4-5  "… punishing the children for the father’s sin to the third and fourth generation."   A biblical principle.


Ezekiel 18:19-20    Both are true…

Jn 12:47-50  His words will judge us.

Do not be afraid to take a strong stand on Jesus and on correct teaching.

James 1:22-25  Do what it says.

John 7:17

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