Thank you, †BrotherJimWDJD, for trying so hard, and I really don't think that was faith-bashing; I'm just annoyed that you chose this medium to do it. I have contact information on my front information page if you wanna get into it with me; notes are supposed to be brief, not dissertations, and I somehow doubt that you could fit everything you think is wrong with my religion into thirteen (or even forty) notes, any more than I could pack notes full of every contradiction in the Bible. For that you might try going to The Skeptic's Annotated Bible to see what I mean. They're there, friend.
Now I might voice some of my own thoughts on issues that †BrotherJimWDJD was kind enough to raise in my diary last time.
The reliability of the Bible?
As far as I can tell, the Bible was brought together from collections of stories several hundred years after Christ's death. As much as anyone might like to believe it, there was no giant professional council handling the translation, collection, and scribing of Bible verses right from the beginning. For a long time, just like all mythological records, they were passed around by word of mouth. People could rarely read back then, so this is how information was passed. Zeus's lightning bolts made it into Greek scriptures by word of mouth. In ancient Egypt there were pictures of people's hearts being weighed by underworld gods. And word of Jesus's miracles and ultimate sacrifice traveled far and wide.
How much can you trust a mob with a story, anyway?
There seems to me no reason why God would say something once and then leave people to scramble for the pieces for a couple thousand years, hoping they got assembled right-side-up in order to be guaranteed entrance to Heaven. There may have been great care taken with getting the scripture right after a certain point, but there was no one videotaping the Jesus Saga right from the beginning, and because of that, the insistence that it "has to be right because they were so careful" is totally inappropriate.
But that doesn't really matter anyway. Because the core of the whole thing is whether you believe the Bible is the Word of God, and there is nothing on Earth that can make me believe the Bible is the Word of God unless the actual Mouth of God speaks those same words directly to me.
The Bible as prophecy?
There have been thousands of people who predicted things over the years. Some did it in religious collections or spiritual books. Others did it on the psychic friends network. Sometimes the predictions appeared to come true. Look at Nostradamus. People have been thrown into a tizzy over the accuracy of some of his predictions, but if you look at how many he made and how vague they are, doesn't that stand to reason?
If you wait long enough, isn't Israel likely to become a nation just by virtue of how much time has passed?
You have to do some serious "interpretation" (read: make lots of excuses) to make some of the Bible predictions come true, most notably that Christ hasn't returned. I thought it said pretty clearly that Christ was returning within the lifetime of the people who heard him speak. Now in order for that to be true anymore, you have to give all kinds of vague interpretations to the meaning of a generation.
It is also a logical fallacy to assume that EVERYTHING in a book is true if you just find one part of it that is true. Suzy likes crackers. Bobby likes crackers. Suzy and Bobby are kids. Therefore...ALL KIDS MUST LIKE CRACKERS! Um, wait, NO.
The importance of Israel?
Of course Israel has the attention of the world. Bloody wars have been fought over that scrap of land for hundreds of years, because everyone thinks God wants THEM to have it, no no MY book says it's MINE...MOMMY!!!! People are dying, and have been for a long time, because they feel it's their religious right to occupy that land. There are plenty of other world events that have held the planet in thrall, and I can assure you that they're not all itemized in the Bible. Yet as soon as one matches a prophecy, the Bible-thumpers pat their chests and say, "See, toldja."
Scientists, historians, et cetera scrutinizing the Bible?
Okay, so one of †BrotherJimWDJD's notes went off on how so many people are scrutinizing the Bible and, surprise surprise, finding out that it's actually more true than they expected. What else do you think you're going to find if the books you read are from a Christian perspective? If it's shelved in the Bible section, you can pretty much assume that it's going to support and prove what you already believe. If you think that the scientific community and everyone else is just bowled over by the truths of the Bible, then you're not reading the words of the majority voice of that population. That is not the consensus.
I've read Jesus Among Other Gods, a book by a Christian dedicated to showing how come the Gospels are undeniably the only truth, and everything else is a lie. I was able to completely debunk the author's claims because he basically threw out other religions' theories because of their lack of internal consistency, such as the mistakes in the Koran, but claims that the Bible is the only flawless piece of holy literature there is.
Apparently I’m approaching the end limit to space for an entry here, so I’ll continue in my next entry...
The book of James, the oldest book of the bible in the NT was written 11 years after his death, in 33AD, The gospel of Matthew was 17 years after, Mark 35 years, Luke 27 years, John 57 years. Revelation was the most recently written which was 60 years after Christ death. Clearly not hundreds on years. Mass availablility of these writing were not really accessable til 1610, but they still existed. [†BrotherJimWDJD]