8. SOME OTHER ISSUES WITH CERTAIN RELIGIOUS VIEWS OF CREATION
As i was considering the points raised in earlier sections, i was also confronted with the reality that in addition to not accepting a six literal day creation, there were a number of other arguments raised in support of creation which seem to me to be major and which i do not agree with.
8.1. THE BIBLE CONTAINS ERRORS AND IS NOT THE "WORD OF GOD" / "WORD OF THE ALMIGHTY"
For many years i discounted the Bible completely. In my teens i found that what the church was teaching in a number of areas did not in any way correspond with what was in the Bible. For example, many denominations in the Christian the church teach that monogamy is ordained "by God" / "the Almighty" and that more than one wife is sin and yet the Bible contains reports of men with close relationships with the creator who had more than one wife.
As far as i am aware there is no dispute that the basic book called the bible contains manuscripts that are at least about 1,700 years old. There seems to be a reasonably large body of opinion that much of the "old testament" is at least 2,500 years old. There are some opinions that some of the "old testament", particularly the first five books are about 3,500 years old.
Even if the entire book is only 1,700 years old, it still seems to me that this is a reasonably ancient source of information and therefore should be taken into account as a source of historical information.
When i found the monogamy versus polygamy (many wives) conundrum with regard to the Bible as well as other examples, i put the Bible back on the shelf and did not look at it again for about twenty years.
Then, following a series of intense personal experiences i came to discover experientially that the creator was real.
At that time i was greatly impacted by a certain Christian church and chose to align myself with what they were teaching. Since my experience had been so intense, i assumed that everything these people taught was true.
In particular, although i could not intellectually accept it, i chose to believe that the Bible was the "inerrant Word of God [the Almighty]". "The Bible says it, that settles it" was a fairly common statement which i accepted.
In the years that followed, i read the texts commonly referred to as "The Old Testament" about ten times in many different translations. I read the texts commonly referred to as "The New Testament" about thirty five times. Also in many translations.
I became aware that there were different versions of the Bible that contained different texts. I also became aware that different versions of the Bible associated with the "Protestant" wing of the church were based on different manuscripts and that there were disputes as to which manuscripts were authoritative. I found that there were people in these disputes who were positioned behind certain sources. I experienced the debate as highly judgemental, was offended by it and chose to ignore it.
Through reading diverse translations it was also apparent that the English translations differed widely. Thus, i could not find any basis to claim that any particular English version was without error.
In time, i increasingly found that those who claimed that the Bible was the "word of God" [the Almighty] and without error did not agree amongst themselves and i also found that there were many passages that were ignored or explained away. Amongst other things, i found that i was not able to have a discussion with regard to passages relating to a man having more than one wife without having judgemental labels applied to me.
It increasingly seems to me that such inconsistencies must cause any person who does not believe in a creator and who finds the Bible attached to proving the existence of a creator a serious problem.
Some years ago, i found that i could no longer ignore the reality that there were different passages in the Bible that actually contradicted each other. The texts commonly referred to as "Matthew" and "Luke" present different genealogies for the man widely known as "Jesus Christ", "Matthew" and "Acts" present different accounts of how the man widely known as "Judas Iscariot" died. "Exodus" and "Deuteronomy" do not agree exactly on what the creator allegedly said when he spoke to the Israelites from the mountain in the wilderness.
I also found that there were people who were using something that amounted to an "argument from incredulity" to answer these concerns. I experienced this as being something like "because you cannot reconcile the genealogies does not mean they cannot be reconciled". I have encountered writings in support of evolution which seem to hold that such an argument is absurd - which seems rather ironic to me considering that these same writers make use of "argument from incredulity" to counter creationists who argue that some aspects of evolution theory are absurd.
I also concluded that i could not find a single body of text in the Bible where the writer made any claim whatsoever that all that they had written was the "Word of God" / "Word of the Almighty", i could find no declaration that any passage was without error and i could find no declaration by the people who had copied the manuscripts that they had made the copies without error. I could not even find a Bible where the compilers or any other person made a declaration that the entire compilation was "the Word of God [the Almighty]" or that it was without error.
Eventually, i conceded that as far as i can determine the Bible is actually a body of text written by men, it contains visible errors and it may therefore contain other errors. In some respects i reach this conclusion by applying "reductio ad absurdum" - since i can find one error i can find no basis to claim that it is without error.
To argue otherwise i experience as "argument from incredulity" which i have difficulty with, no matter which side uses it.
Accordingly, i choose NOT to believe the Bible is the "inerrant Word of God / the Almighty".
Eventually, i concluded that believing the Bible is the "inerrant Word of God / the Almighty" does not even accord with what the book contains in terms of the commandment not to worship anything except the creator. Believing that a book written, collated, translated and printed by men is "inerrant" does not seem to me to fit this commandment.
Since my belief in a creator was originally based on a personal experience and not on the Bible, accepting that it contains error and is not the "Word of God" [the Almighty] does not present me with any problem regarding believing in a creator.
Since i hold that the Bible does not prove the existence of a creator, it does not seem to me that this conclusion presents any obstacle to me in proving creation, other than further reducing the options open to me.
Notwithstanding the above, i hold that the writings contained in the book widely labelled "The Bible" do contain:
1) Statements that are attributed to the Almighty that include direct commandments and instructions.
2) Passages of text inspired by the Almighty.
3) Historical accounts of events involving the interaction of the Almighty with human beings.
4) Accounts of visions and other communications between the Almighty and human beings.
5) Diverse other information including information about things said and done by people that were not inspired by the Almighty in any way.
In other words, based on personal experience i hold that many and possibly most of the writings in this book are relevant and basically accurate in terms of guiding humankind towards better understanding of the Almighty.
Whether this is so or not does not seem to me to be relevant to the essential thesis of this article although it does support certain of the points that are made in this document. It is my intention that if you choose to disregard those points in this document that you consider to be based in any way on the Bible the rest of this document will stand on its own.
I also hold that there are many other writings, both recent and ancient, that compliment what is recorded in the writings in the Bible.
In reaching the above conclusions, i have also confronted something else that it seems to me does not work if one believes that the Bible is the "inerrant Word of God / the Almighty". It seems to me that such belief requires that every word and every action of every person reported in the entire book was actively directed by the Almighty. In other words, it seems to me that this belief requires that when a person lied, they were caused to lie by the Almighty, that when a person committed adultery or murder, they were caused to do this by the Almighty, etc.
In the light of the introspection referred to previously, i have concluded that this is not what i believe and that it does not accord with my own experience. I have also concluded that such interpretation, based on belief in the "inerrant Word of God" [the Almighty] is very likely to cause many people to reject belief in the creator outright. It seems to me that believing in the "inerrant Word of God" [the Almighty] requires one to believe in a creator who is manipulative and controlling and who sets people up to "sin" and then punishes them for this. I do not believe this.
Accordingly, i conclude that, for me, debating anything about the Bible is not helpful in resolving a debate about creation versus evolution.
8.2. OTHER ASPECTS OF RELIGION
I have also come to understand that there are many aspects of those religions that specifically claim to believe in a creator and a creation -- Christianity, Islam and Judaism -- that are not congruent within a particular religion.
There are major differences between groups / sects / denominations, etc and they argue and fight among themselves. This is particularly so in the case of "Christianity". There are even greater differences between these three religions.
To me it seems that this is likely to cause those who notice this to call into question more abstract aspects of what these religions and groups believe.
For example, if Christians cannot agree amongst themselves about physical issues like whether "baptism" is immersion of a consenting adult or sprinkling drops of "holy water" on a newly born infant, it seems to me that many people are going to have difficulty accepting their views on something as abstract as a universal creator and other such matters?
Accordingly, i have to admit that it seems to me that there is much that people who subscribe to creation believe that is not consistent, congruent or provable, even within the parameters that they themselves define for interpreting evidence.
I acknowledge that this must present major obstacles to any person who objectively wants to consider the case for creation.
This further limits the basis on which i can support my belief in creation.
In the sections that follow i will continue to endeavour to provide such evidence.