First, you, as well as I did, have a preconceived notion of religion. We've been taught about heaven, hell, some of us purgatory, angels, animals going in two by twos, Madonna, what happens when you die, God, Satan, horns and pitchforks, eternal fires of pain and suffering.... the list goes on.
Most of this stuff is down right in error, or at least the truthful parts have been twisted. It leads to questions like: "If the animals got on the ark by twos, then what did they have to eat?"
We will explore today's traditional beliefs, find out if they are accurate or not, explore where they came from and why they are they way they are, and then starting with a clean slate derive what really happened. This is going to be far different than the sterotypical pastor's "take it on faith or leave it" attitude.
The reason we will be delving into these issues is to show you exactly how wrong religions commonly are, and we will really be hitting the practice what you preach philosophy. The text should be fun and interesting, and it is primarily show that people who have read from the Bible before have really made some serious errors. Ones that were correctable and proveable.
Incidently if you were wondering about the account with Noah, the "by twos" is told in children's stories. And is referenced by the verse:
GEN 7:3 and seven of every kinds of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive.
"I'll just pick 'em out as I come to 'em. How about that?"
"Noah, these worms are sooooo small, you can't see 'em."
"Something so small, I can't see it. ....right. Go build your own ark."
Suppose we were converting an Escimo text on how to build an igloo. Our translation would read something like "pack snow into blocks." However, his original text may have a word for 'snow' which means "white stuff which falls from sky and is sticky without being too wet."
How do we spot such errors? When a passage just doesn't seem right or just doesn't fit in to what we understand, we look back in the original language (Greek, Hebrew) and find other verses which use the same word, then we look up their English translations. The word "father" could mean "father figure" or it could mean "step father" or it could mean "paternal father." Likewise, "heaven" or "heavens" can mean the place where God dwells, or the blue sky above, or the night sky and distant stars depending on context.
The other kind of errors involve punctuation. The original texts did not have varying cases or punctuation. In fact it didn't even have the nice chapters and numbers. All this extra stuff was added later. And the incorrect placement of a punctuation mark can be drastic.
I had an English professor in college who was harping at me about the use of a comma. I, of course, made the mistake of asking what it mattered. To me, it was just "the introduction of a little pause", no one would notice.
He told me that there were subtilities and separation added with that comma (much like a computer programer uses parenthesis to group things) and quoted a court case where a man had died and left to his three children his estate to be divided equally between: Mark, Jenny and Carol. The estate was divided into thirds between the three of them, yet Mark went to court and protested that he should have fifty percent. He won his case by stating that it should be divided among: Mark & ( Jenny and Carol ). Had the man left it to: Mark, Jenny, and Carol then it would have gone to Mark & Jenny & Carol equally.
That was enough to convince me that something as simple as a comma could alter the meaning. But as we'll see in a while, an entire meaning of a sentence can be changed based on if the comma appears before or after a word.
So... what we have here is the Bible, for our testing of the theory, is true. Yet we recognize that there may be cases where the wording or meaning is not perfect. We will attempt to correct for this with reasearch and common sense to see if the passage can be made to read in context with the rest of the Bible. If not, the Bible accuracy fails, and we can set the God theory aside to look for something else.
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