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Atheist Experience
Using the "bad Bible verses" as an counter agrument and deal with the response "your not reading the verse in context"

From my experiece with debates with Christians online and face to face. I will get a elevated response back to me when I try to quote bible verses to a make a point. I get the response like "You are not reading the verses in context!"

I have watched alot of the Atheist Experiences on Google Video, I noticed that bible verses are used regularly to push a point. I want to know a few things.

1. Is using bible verses a good idea if it applies to your arguement. 2. Context, is there an arguement for that? I have noticed this apologitic response to reading verses on the show is not mentioned by callers.

In my experience, when quoting anyone or anything, the context in which the quote was set is of supreme importance. For example, you can quote something you overheard me say yesterday: "I killed George, but I didn't mean to!". Well you might think I had accidentally murdered some fella named George. But when you learn that a moment before that my wife had asked, "Who killed George the Goldfish?" Then you would realize I was not a murderer, i had simply fed my goldfish too much food and he croaked.

The Bible is the same. Context is extremely important in understanding the text, and it can be quoted without the prequalification of the meaning.

Not to attack Matt, but I heard him making some gross misquotes, misaplications, and terrible instances of taking verses out of context. I have even heard him say the OT condones human sacrifice, which is absurd.

But yes, context is of absolute importance, not only the context immediately surrounding the verse, but other things that might qualify its meaning in other places of the Bible.

If you can provide an example - I'll be happy to correct it. I suspect, however, that you simply don't know your Bible. I base this suspicion on the following quote:

"I have even heard him say the OT condones human sacrifice, which is absurd."

Judges 11:29-40...

"29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.

30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : "If you give the Ammonites into my hands,

31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."

Now, let me pause right here. Many apologists try to claim that we're supposed to recoil from the story of Jephthah, as if it's presented as an example of what not to do. This excuse is a blatant lie.

These verses point out Jephthah was doing God's work. He made a deal with God in order to secure victory. Let's continue the reading.

"32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon."

Verse 32 confirms that the LORD honored Jephthah's deal. The Bible doesn't just say that he won, it specifically says that the LORD gave him the vitory - honoring Jephtha's deal.

"34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."

36 "My father," she replied, "you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request," she said. "Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry."

38 "You may go," he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite custom 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite."

So, we have a man who is fighting battles for God. He begs God to let him win another battle and promises to sacrifice the first thing that greets him when he comes home. God holds up his part of the bargain and Jephthah holds up his.

Who/what did Jepthah think would likely come out to meet him when he returned? His daughter was an only child...wasn't it likely that she'd be a candidate for sacrifice? Was he really so dense that he didn't realize this?

Wouldn't God know that his daughter would come out to meet him? Why would he honor a deal that clearly included the very strong likelihood (if not utter certainty, if he's omniscient) of a human sacrifice - if he didn't approve of human sacrifice? Why wouldn't he stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter as he supposedly did for Abraham?

The only viable conclusion is that this story condones a human sacrifice. If you believe that this God was so anal as to provide instructions about what clothes to wear, but failed to end this story with "Oh yeah, don't ever do this! I don't sanction human sacrifice."...I don't know what to tell you.

I've been accused of taking verses out of context before and in every single case, they accuser has been completely wrong.

If you find me misrepresenting the text, just jot down the episode number, the time stamp and an explanation of why you think I'm wrong. If you're right, I'll offer the correction, without reservation - live, on the air.

If you're wrong, however...I'd prefer that you say so, rather than just vanishing into the wind.

I'm more than willing to read verses in context. In fact, it's one of the big reasons I'm no longer a Christian. I decided to actually study what the book says without special interpretation and selectively reading to make it more palatable.

There are also some contradictions concerning the "Ten Commandments." After God gives Moses the stone tablets he descends from Mount Sinai to take "The Ten Commandments" to his people. He finds his people worshiping the statue of a calf made of gold; he is enraged and throws the tablets, breaking them to pieces. (There Goes The Evidence) He stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the Lord, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: "Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor." The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, "you have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day." (Exodus 32:26-29) Was it ethical for Moses to destroy the first set of commandments in a blind rage, and then command the killings before anyone else had seen them? The people who were worshiping the calf had not seen the Commandment "Thou Shall Not Have Any Graven Images," and those who killed them had not seen the Commandments "Thou Shall Not Kill." Moses was the only one who had seen them It stands to reason that a better approach for teaching principles is needed. In order to instruct people in making ethical decisions, then the philosophy of ethics should be taught in schools. The study of ethics has forthright enough concept that most anyone could grasp the simple rules for making ethical decisions. The ability to question these concepts on the part of the student would result in a better understanding of how we make complicated ethical decisions, and what constitutes ethical behavior. There are those who would prefer posting "The Ten Commandments" in schools, and courthouses with no regard for the unethical use of a "Christian" monument to prejudice the justice system against those who are not Christians, or the forcing of a concept upon those who are not interested. When teaching how to make ethical decisions, it should be based on logic and fact not God Said So! Nobody is taught to be an atheist; they become nonbelievers own their own. Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." ~ Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) The acceptance of religion is not natural it is taught. Religion is an institution intensely embedded in our society. Religious indoctrination usually alienates the individual from anyone who might questions or has doubts it's validity. It is dangerous to teach that good people don't question authority, and of course the ultimate authority is God. These tactics and strategies can and have been used to influence the decision-making process, voting, and attitudes of society. Emotional manipulation is used on all of us everyday. Compliance, conformity, and enticements of all kinds to give, vote, join, change, believe, and hate our "enemies." The rhetoric is a combination of religion, politics, and commercial endeavors designed to influence the consciousness of the public. It is not mystical or magical that people can be controlled in this manner. It is a process by which an individual's freedom of choice and action is broken down in order to modify the

I want to add that the Bible in the New Testament specifically references Jephthah as one of the great examples of faithfulness in scripture. So, there's not even any hiding behind "well, that's the OT," because what Jephthah did is condoned in Hebrews (11:32) where he is listed among the "faithful," of whom it states "the world was not worthy." That's high Biblical praise for a man whose main claim to scriptural fame is that he slaughtered his only daughter as a sacrifice to god.

In response to the original post, I generally do not suggest using Bible verses because you end up in a quagmire of interpretations. Every Xian seems to have his own interpretation, and every Xian seems to believe he's the only Xian who's not "interpreting" but reading the verses as they were "intended"--"literally." Oddly however, all of these literal readings seem to conflict. If Xians can't agree on what their Bible says and means, I don't recommend using it as any sort of reference in dialoguing with them. I find it's best to simply point out the book appears to be highly intrepretive and ambiguous; I also note that I don't find it to be a compelling piece of literature and in no way see any hint that it's anything but a recorded, embellished history of the nation of Israel and some fantasy gospels combined with letters that aren't addressed to me or anyone else I know. The Bible doesn't make any indication that it is a book from god, and, in fact, there is no instruction from god to build or disseminate any book--it was a man-driven endeavor, and it is men who claim the book is divine.

On a humorous note, Xians sometimes point to verses such as 2 Timothy 3:16 as the Bible's claim it is divinely inspired and meant for dissemination (I even saw this claim published in a version of a Gideon Bible in a hotel room once); however, most Xians fail to realize that at the time Paul was writing this letter to Timothy (note it was addressed to Timothy and not "all Xians everywhere for all time..."), there was no Bible. So, whatever "scripture" Paul was describing, it would not have been interpreted by Timothy to be the Bible, since Timothy would have had no knowledge of the Bible.

Some apologists reach for it anyway, to say that Paul meant "all" scripture--even scripture to come. But that seems naive to me. I think anyone familiar with the situation during the time of Paul would recognize that Timothy most likely would have considered Paul to be describing several OT books that were widely read in the synagogues.

But when a Xian says context, they usually mean the context of the book from the modern American interpretation. Few Xians will consider context to mean the historic context, such as I just described above with regard to Timothy and Paul.

Hey, when I argue against Christians I also find that quoting the Bible is not the wisest thing to do. I wrote a paper on Jephthah in one of my classes and his play on biblical ethics and what not. And with respect to Matt and Tracieh, it is a much deeper factor than God condoning human sacrifice (especially since this would be the only instance in the entire Old Testament where God would ever remotely condone human sacrifice, the law has obvious regulations against it). Context is very important in this case because Oaths were a serious thing to Israelites and you WERE NOT recommended to make an oath to God, it was known as complete foolishness. Japtheh made a foolish oath and it was well recognized, that God would hold him to that oath. There is a lot more that goes into this argument... but I just wanted to make the point that unless you are a biblical scholar, the Bible is a very complex book and each story and verse is connected to other prophets and the law and so on... It is not wise to take a story and imply that God condones human sacrifice. Even looking at the Amalekite situation, which is understandbly mind-boggling to a modern reader, there is much more to the story than God killed a bunch of people for no good reason and so on... Of course, I think the Bible can sometimes carefully be used to argue against religion, but be very careful because despite what many atheists think, it is a complex book that is not so easy to pin down with one or two arguments. And even so, most Christians admit that the Bible is not historically or scientifically accurate but only inerrant or infallible in communicating spiritual truths (this is actually orthodoxy, and it was not until those baptists came along, who claimed the Bible as the primary means to know anything about God).

QUOTE: "Japtheh made a foolish oath and it was well recognized, that God would hold him to that oath."

ANSWER: What you have said is a perfect example of apologetics. It's not a better reason to burn someone alive. You also bring up something very telling, the Bible can be used to prove anything, it all depends on what verse and interpretation you use. Some 'apologists' say that the girl was not sacrificed she had to remain a virgin and never marry. The proof of that is Jephthah never had any grandchildren. I guess they overlooked the fact that Jephthah wouldn't have any grandchildren if his (only child) a daughter were burned alive.

It appears that birth control was also an offense punishable by death. "He spilled his semen on the ground. What he did was wicked in the Lord's sight; so he put him to death also." (Gen. 38:9-10) This is the equivalent of the use of a condom.

The bible: "The aroma of burning meat is "pleasing to the Lord". Some apologist try to say this passage means the wood burning is pleasing to the Lord. But the many Bible stories about animal and human sacrifice belie this. Also, the animal sacrifice indicates no knowledge of genetics. They were told to use only the excellent animal for sacrifice. When those are the one's you need for breeding. Today anybody who knows anything about raising animals could tell you why this was stupid. This would produce inferior animals over time. And human sacrifice is contradictory to Deuteronomy 12:31, and 18:10. God had commanded that human sacrifice should never happen in Israel. Anyone who did this in Israel would be put to death.

I don't know how the apologists justify this one: "Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight." 2 Sam. 12:ll.

Apologists prefer to believe that the bible is true, and that there is really no-good reason to reject any of it. The merit or accurateness of the bible, which has been established by a set of findings and interpretations from experts in many fields of science, is of importance. If you can't validate your source of information (prove it's true) it's not an argument.

The Dead Sea Scrolls leather, parchment and metal scrolls written in Hebrew which have been unearthed in the hundreds, often complete and in excellent condition. The records of religious events, important commentaries and chronicles by a sect of Essene scribes and scholars writing in Judea for a hundred years up to 70 A.D. And nowhere is mention made of a new religion, a Messiah, a worker of miracles, a preaching to multitudes, a trial and crucifixion. Nothing!

The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed were supposed to clear up what was being argued about at the time. The Nicene Creed in the fourth century was to affirm the Deity of Christ, since it is directed against the Arians, who denied that Christ was fully God. The Apostles' Creed, drawn up in the first or second century, emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, because the (so-called) heretics at the time dined this point.

Nobody can say with any certainty what god said. We have better communications today than god did. Why wouldn't god's technology for communication have been as good as what modern man has today? Why wasn't god able to communicate directly with people all over the world about (something so important that their salvation depended on it so that there would be no doubt what was the exact understanding of it? Why would god instead depend on primitive, imperfect humans of one culture to tell everyone in the world what god was trying to say? The apologists would say, "god works in strange ways" when the obvious truth is that the primitive human had little understanding of almost anything. That's why they believed that god needs prophets to spread his word even though he was (omnipotent and omnipresent) he couldn't speak to the entire planet. Sorry, but I think we should be seriously questioning this.

... And Tracieh, like you said, the Bible is open to many interpretations and what orthodoxy holds (of course not baptists, and other denominations who put the Bible up there with their God) is that church Tradition is one of the main keys to interpreting Scripture and the ecumenical councils and early apostles and church fathers are the main resource in interpreting Scripture. Most of the Christians I argue with hold this position. I assume that most of your experience with Christians is from the "bible belt"or from those who hold the Bible next to God (mainly southern baptists, and God forbid the independent fundamentalist baptists who most Christians deem as heretical). Do not use the Bible as the ultimate source in making fun of Christianity, because the majority of Christians do not believe it is the one and only source in determining epistemological knowledge about God. If it was me, I would look at the early councils and the interpretation of Scripture by the early apostles and the church fathers in arguing against the ethics in Scripture. For instance, check out the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the different ecumenical councils and so forth. Unlike you Matt and Tracieh, I do find the Bible to be an intriguing book in how it interprets the "unknown" and how it deals with ethics in morals. I do think it is a VERY important piece of literature and I think Jesus' ethics are very interesting and worthy of consideration. Do not dismiss anything that is Christian because it is stupid and ignorant. In my mind, it is the same thing as Christians calling Atheists immoral. I think many Christians are brilliant, and many Atheists are extremely moral people (at least I hope so for my sake :))

Whether you should discuss a subject depends on how much you actually know. There is no subject that would be considered authentic by scholars, scientists or the general public, without doing extensive research, and the Bible is no exception. There's a big difference in reading a book and researching the material, and scholars do not consider rumor, gossip, or hearsay to be facts. We would never record something as historical data without this kind of scrutiny.

In 1929 to the present day literally thousands of texts have been found at Ugarit. In 1929 a peasant farmer accidentally plowed up a flagstone covering an entrance to a burial chamber, this lead to the discovery of the Ras Shamra texts, predating the Old Testament. The history of their excavation has been well documented. The Ugaritic text is the oldest written text ever discovered. Since the discovery of the Ugaritic materials at Ras Shamra, there has been a great deal of comparative work done in order to explicate the relationship between the Canaanite pantheon and cult, and Israelite faith and practice. These comparisons are necessary for interpretation of texts and the customs written of in the Old Testament that were previously not clearly understood. It's obvious you haven't gone back that far.

El was the ancestral deity of the Semites. El appears also in Arabia under the expanded form Ilah, who's plural of majesty is the Hebrew Elohim. The names ending in el and in ilah are more numerous in the various Arabic dialects than those in honor of any other deity. Taken as a whole, they are to be considered as survivals, for it has been proved that they were preponderant in ancient Akkadian and in Aramaic. Since the word el corresponds to the word god, it has been rightly concluded that the Semites invoked only El.

El was lifted out of obscurity to be used as the name of the eternal, exclusive, unique, all-powerful God of monotheistic religions. This required that El be shorn of his consorts, children, peers, sexuality etc. The first occasion, was when the Israelites identified him with their God YHWH, appropriating a number of Canaanite El's titles or epithets, as part of the process of developing the monotheism of the Torah. Then, much later, under Jewish and Christian influence, Muhammad declared El, under his Arabic designation, Allah, to be the one true God thus founding Islam.

Many of the sacrifices mentioned in the Ugaritic texts have names, which are identical to those, described in the book of Leviticus. Ugaritic texts speak of the Burnt Offering, the Whole Burnt Offering, the Trespass Offering, the Offering for Expiation of the Soul; the Wave Offering, the Tribute Offering, the First Fruits Offering, the Peace Offering, and the New Moon Offering. The term "offering without blemish" also appears in the Ugaritic literature. In Carthage, a Phoenician-Canaanite colony near present-day Tunis, he and his consort were the main or only gods to which child sacrifices, which took place on a massive scale, were dedicated. It is clear that Ugaritic and early biblical Hebrew poetry share a common literary tradition.

You can discuss the origins, history, and authenticity of any subject with people who are adequately informed. However, few Xians are informed about the archeological finds concerning the OT or the NT since most of them have only read the Bible.

I've found that using the bible against x-ians is a bad idea. I came to the conclusion that I was justifying (in the faith-head's eyes) that which I was objecting to, by referencing the source of their unjustified beliefs.

During philosophical confrontations, I reject any reference or argument from the x-ian bible, as I deny its authenticity & its divine inspiration.

I've found greater success in debate when I let a faith-head assume I'm a fellow cult member, and then argue them towards religious moderation and tolerance.

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