Saturday, 5 November 2011

Are These The Silliest Verses In The Bible?

Surely this must rank as one of the silliest things written in the Bible, sillier even than some of the very silly claims made in Genesis and Exodus.

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Matthew 27:51-53

I think few people can have summed up this verse better that Thomas Paine, writing what must rank as one of the most devastatingly satirical commentaries on the Bible in "The Age of Reason" in 1794:

It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told

The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them - for he is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, hesaints and shesaints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of crim. con against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.

Strange, indeed, that an army of saints should return to life, and nobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us! Had it been the prophets who (as we are told) had formerly prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say. They could have told us everything and we should have had posthumous prophesies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better at least than we have now. Had it been Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Samuel and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem.

Had it been John the Baptist, and the saints of the time then present, anybody would have known them, and outfamed all the other apostles. But, instead of this, these saints were made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning. Thus much for this part of the story.

Thomas Paine then draws the all-too-obvious conclusion from this ridiculous passage:

The tale of the resurrection follows that of the crucifixion, and in this as well as in that, the writers, whoever they were, disagree so much as to make it evident that none of them were there.

Perhaps there are some Christians who can answer the questions Thomas Paine raised over 200 years ago and can counter with reason the conclusion he draws...





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11 comments :

  1. Hello Rosa, I am a Christian, and you know what? I completely agree with you that these verses are totally strange, at least. In fact, more than a Christian, I am a translator of the New Testament and I have never been able to make sense of them. However, I continue to trust utterly in Jesus and in the Bible and in the New Testament because nothing else almost comes close to the sense of dignity, hope and purpose that my God has given me. I have many atheist friends and I admire them all but I love being able to put my faith in a God who is bigger than humanity and the human experience. So yes, these verses are hard to understand. However, there are thousands of verses in the Bible which speak truth, light, love and incredible joy and hope to me in a way which is very easy to understand and makes complete sense. I have to trust that while I don't understand these particular verses, God does.
    Take care, Tosin ;)

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  2. Hi Tosin Ojuma.

    Thanks for your polite comment.

    However, the question is not whether you think your god understands those verses but whether they describe a real event.

    It looks to me as though your god is a god of personal necessity. In other words, a god which you think must exist for no other reason than that you want it to. It's as though you believe the universe creates a reality to your personal requirements. Do you think this is even remotely likely?

    http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.com/2011/05/god-of-personal-necessity.html

    What do you think of the evidence from the Bible itself that the entire Genesis story, INCLUDING the story of original sin and the need for redemption it contains, was written sometime after the death of Solomon, almost certainly to order, to justify the crimes against humanity committed by the Hebrews and their occupation of other peoples' lands?

    http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.com/2011/10/how-dan-destroys-bible.html

    If the Bible IS a book of stories made up to mislead and deceive us, in what way can it be trusted on anything, please?

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  3. Tosin, I think that Rosa has handled the heavy lifting with her reply, but I would like to add something. You say
    "there are thousands of verses in the Bible which speak truth, light, love and incredible joy and hope"
    There are tens of thousands of books of FICTION "printed right on the cover" that have these same qualities. Read "Stranger in a Strange Land" and if you can't be inspired by that you are dead from the shoulders up. The point is that all this beauty comes from within for "though art God" No, really, quite literally. The reason that the Bible speaks so personally to you is what Rosa called "personal necessity" there are thousands out there just like you who will buy into the lie and because there are others then the group mentality kicks in and gives you reassurance you need. Atheists and the like get frustrated because this beauty and wisdom exists in all things. Things right in front of your face all day, but you look past them to a book and a group to show you a small fraction of the beauty and wonder that God put right in front of your face!

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  4. Oh...Thank you for this post. I might be in love. LOL!

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  5. By definition an all-knowing deity knows what it's own holy book means. The question is: what are *we* supposed to make of it? I think the answer Tosin has alluded to is that we should just ignore it, and go read the nice bits. This is a bit like the joke about the mathematician who woke up to find a fire in her waste paper bin, considered the problem carefully, and then went back to sleep, after having convinced herself that multiple solutions existed. So yeah, by all means keep basing your life on this book that's full of zombies coming out of the ground and the like, because at least the deity might know what it all means.

    On the other hand, why not go to work on the thousands of ancient documents that apparently remain untranslated and unstudied. Perhaps they contain something worth knowing?

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  6. Oh Tosin...

    There are more than 400 contradictions in your bible. There are more than 1000 fabrications and outright lies (the story above being but one example). There is endless death, destruction and slaughter; there are admonishments to own slaves and sell daughters into slavery; and then there is your 'christ' person, for whom there is absolutely NO evidence of existence and ENDLESS evidence he is a character based on some 25 others.

    Add to that the complete impossibility of a 'virgin' birth and the fact that, if you allow for impregnation of a human woman by a spirit (a ridiculous notion) having no DNA or genes of its own, the resulting child would be female and could NOT be male.

    Of the more than 40 historians who WERE writing at the time your 'christ' is alleged to have existed, not one mentions him. Those historians who do were not contemporaries and, in the case of Josephus, who is often quoted as mentioning 'christ,' he was NOT a contemporary nor an eye-witness AND, as a Jewish historian writing the history of Jewish beliefs and drawing from Jewish texts, it is completely and utterly unlikely he would have said, "Oh, yeah, here' the messiah you've all been waiting around for; let's now be christians."

    Everything you say comes from 'god' most certainly come either from your own hard work or via that of others. Attributing your life and the joys in it to some invisible 'man' is simply taking other people and yourself for granted and choosing to deny your own abilities.

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    Replies
    1. "There are more than 1000 fabrications and outright lies (the story above being but one example)"

      > The term "saint" is often used in Judeo-Christian literature to refer to "all believers" so it is entirely plausible that Matthew did not know any of those whom he claims to have seen. In any case, the fact that he didn't name names, or that it is not mentioned elsewhere does not automatically make it untrue. There is certainly no proof that it is an "outright lie."

      "When there is your 'christ' person, for whom there is absolutely NO evidence of existence"

      > Just a slight exaggeration there, I think. I presume that you feel that the evidence for his existence is not sufficient for you, but to say there is absolutely no evidence is not right. For example, much of the New Testament is clearly written by different authors in different places, and yet several of these authors make reference to the person of Christ. To argue that these authors were somehow collaborating to make one big fabrication is quite a bold statement.


      "the resulting child would be female and could NOT be male."

      > IF we make the assumption of a God who created the universe, and assume that this God was behind the virgin birth, then I am not sure that this statement is valid. If, on the other hand, we make the assumption that there is no such God, then this is a pointless thing to be concerned about anyway.

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    2. I presume that you feel that the evidence for his existence is not sufficient for you, but to say there is absolutely no evidence is not right. For example, much of the New Testament is clearly written by different authors in different places, and yet several of these authors make reference to the person of Christ. To argue that these authors were somehow collaborating to make one big fabrication is quite a bold statement.


      * Argument from personal incredulity? Check - the authors of the bible couldn't have made all that stuff up!

      * Begging the question? Check - the bible is true because it is true!

      * Fallacy of Ambiguity? Check - 'evidence' means what I say it means, and I say the bible is evidence enough!

      * Fallacy of the Bandwagon? Check - several authors mention Christ, so he's real!


      Yahtzee!

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  7. I love this verse and it makes perfect sense to me. This is sacred scripture handed down by called, chosen brethren and revealed only to called, chosen brethren. It is not read, it is revealed. Why are you up in our business? There aren't that many of us, and I am not trying to convert anyone. It's a calling, you can't choose it. It chooses you. If you aren't chosen, it is foolishness to you. I'm not trying to call anybody to read it. It just antagonizes people to whom it is not revealed. I am sorry about all the Christians driving you nuts, I can't vouch for any of them. I am certain I'm not discussing the Bible with anyone who doesn't bring it up first. You guys brought it up. Somebody linked this thread onto my Facebook. I am open to somebody with a calling and willing to explain passages, but I am not 100% sure I ever met anybody else that was called. I would not expect to encounter more brethren on a bus than I would in a church. Most people ask me to explain things from the Bible and then mock me. I have never been approached by anyone with a genuine interest in it. Just disingenuous people who feel antagonized by the scripture and want to mock me. It's a self-revealing book that brings you the teachings you need. Whether the teachers are brethren...I don't know. In fact, if you don't have a copy, the universe itself can reveal the info. No book needed. You just need to be called. If you are not called, then who cares what it says about your fate? It could never make any sense.

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    1. >I love this verse and it makes perfect sense to me.

      Then you'll have no problem dealing with the points Paine raises or with answering the questions he asks. I expect you just forgot....

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    2. Anonymous: I don't care what the verse says about my fate, and if that was the only issue at hand, there would most likely be no need for discussion. The problem is much more general, and more frightening. There are people--a HUGE majority in my neck of the woods--that insist that this "Sacred Scripture" is all literally true. And they want their nonsense taught in public schools. And they want it taught as science.

      Delete

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