Tuesday, January 3, 2012

FacePalm of the Day: The Accommodation Theory of the Bible | Debunking Christianity

Well, I tried to not comment, but sometimes a fail is too obvious to be ignored.  My comments are in red.

I was called an “idiot” and a “moron” for arguing that God should’ve told human beings a few things he didn’t do, especially when it comes to the ancient superstitious problem for modern Christians about the evil eye. He said, “If you were this ignorant in the pulpit then I really feel sorry for your former congregation.” Am I an idiot? Let me respond.





Idiot? No. A fool yes. A fool in the Biblical sense is not ignorant or stupid or even an idiot. It's someone who has enough information  and revelation to choose to obey God and live right, but refuses to do so. 

I had asked, “Why must God accommodate to his creatures?” His one line answer was this: “So that we can understand what he’s saying, you idiot.”

I think Loftus' mistake is thinking that if God doesn't stoop to our level we can even begin to understand Him, let alone recognize Him.

I have read up on the “accommodation theory” in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, and a few entries dealing sporadically with it in the Harper’s Bible Dictionary, The New Bible Dictionary, and the Anchor Bible Dictionary. But let’s use what Norman Geisler said, since I think he dealt with the topic the best in his Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. In dealing with Jesus here’s an excerpted part of what he said:
In apologetics, accommodation theory can refer to either of two views, one acceptable and one objectionable to evangelical Christians. It can refer to God’s accommodation of his revelation to our finite circumstances to communicate with us, as in Scripture or the incarnation of Christ.
Negative critics of the Bible believe that Jesus accommodated himself to the erroneous views of the Jews of his day in their view of Scripture as inspired and infallible.
Legitimate accommodation can be more accurately called “adaptation.” God, because of infinitude, adapts himself to our finite understanding in order to reveal himself. However, the God who is truth never accommodates himself to human error. The vital differences are easily seen when these concepts are compared (click on the image for a better view):
The Bible teaches the transcendence of God. His ways and thoughts are far beyond ours (Isa. 55:9; Rom. 11:33). Human beings are infinitesimal in view of God’s infinity. God must “stoop down” in order to speak to us. However, this divine act of adaptation to our finitude never involves accommodation to our error. For God cannot err (Heb. 6:18). God uses anthropomorphisms (a true expression of who God is that is couched in human terms) to speak to us, but he does not use myths. He sometimes gives us only part of the truth but that partial truth is never error (1 Cor. 13:12). He reveals himself progressively, but never erroneously. He does not always tells us all, but all that he tells us is true.
Accommodation is contrary to Jesus’ life. Everything that is known about Jesus’ life and teaching reveals that he never accommodated to the false teaching of the day. On the contrary, Jesus rebuked those who accepted Jewish teaching that contradicted the Bible, declaring: “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? . . . Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matt. 15:3, 6b).
Accommodation is contrary to Jesus’ character. From a purely human standpoint, Jesus was known as a man of high moral character. His closest friends found him impeccable (1 John 3:3; 4:17; 1 Peter 1:19). The crowds were amazed at his teaching “because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matt. 7:29).
Now that I can at least claim not to be a moron, let me explain the problem, again, this time more forcefully, okay? I understand that if God exists he must adapt if he is to communicate with human beings, okay? I have no problem seeing this. I merely claim that what we see in the Bible goes far beyond mere adaptation. He has allowed us to believe in errors, both scientific and moral, and that’s what I object to in the Bible if I’m   supposed to believe it’s God’s word.

Whoah there, buddy. I think you have to shoe that God has allowed us to believe in moral and scientific errors. Some scriptures would help in that regard.  Just because Isaiah most likely did not know what the mass of an electron  is, does not mean that God didn't reveal anything to him, or any of the the Bible writers. I see no moral or scientific errors in the Bible beyond what people like Loftus read into it. God did not see fit to give a map of the solar system in the Bible. So what? He revealed it later through science - which would fall under "Accomodation theory".

What Geisler says about Jesus must apply to God for obvious reasons, and I edited out a large chunk of text that went on and on about how Jesus’ actions and teaching would never allow him to accommodate for error. Point taken…or point to be consistently applied?

Again you have to prove that God accommodated for human error. One of Loftus' and atheists many objections to the Old Testament is the severity to which God punished sin. Don't forget that sin is human error. One cannot have it  both ways.

Apologists claim God accommodated to human beings in describing how he created the universe using timeless “phenomenal language.” See the Hebrew Universe diagram . And yet it is crystal clear God could have described the universe differently in order to teach human beings about the vastness and age of the universe.

Who says God had to do things that way. There is no error recorded in the  Bible that one can prove. Just because God didn't give us the whole story does not mean that he allowed us to believe lies, anymore than we don't explain everything to a two year-old. They will learn more when they are ready. This is how God deals with all of us.

Apologists will claim that such an ancient cosmological description of our universe was not important for God to correct; since all he wanted to do was to let humans to know that it was HE who created it (others will try fruitlessly to defend it literally).

I'd like to see Loftus prove that the Bible actually teaches the demonstrable errors that he hopes it does. The article he linked to admits that the conclusions are not really found in the Bible itself but instead projects the errors on Istael's neighbors. on Israel. There is book called Cracking the Bible Code by Dr Jefferey Satinover. He points out that ancient Israel was astronomically ahead of  their neighbors in respects to how to calculate a lunar month. 29.53059 days - closer to the value we use today through science, better than the number used by all of their ancient neighbors ( pg 82,83)

But when we reflect on the Galileo affair and the irreparable harm it did to the Christian faith once astronomers understood the vastness and age of the universe, one can only shake her head in utter amazement God didn’t foresee that because he didn’t do this it would make many of us doubt the Bible.

The Bible does not say that Galileo was wrong. The Church said that Galileo was wrong because of tradition not exegesis. I wish people would get it straight. 

I am an atheist because this very problem started me down the road of doubt. And I wrote a book and I now blog daily against Christianity. Does God really not care about the fact that he didn’t tell human beings the truth about the universe?

 So if don't tells a 5 year-old, who is learning to count, about negative numbers the child is being lied to? Really? I don't think so. Loftus must think of himself that God owes him to tell him everything he wants to know when he wants to know it. God does not reveal Himself that way and there is no reason to assume God does not exist because God did not do this the way think we think He should have! Such arrogance.

You see the problem now? What best explains this? If God exists what was so wrong to tell these ancient people about the true age and vastness of the universe, or in giving them the knowledge of penicillin right from the start, or by unambiguously condemning slavery?

What best explains this is if you want to know truth you need to seek God. 

By not doing so God has produced many unbelievers who don’t see any true divine revelation in the Bible! I suppose God was also accommodating when he never condemned witch, heretic and honor killings either, eh? Can God justify all of this accommodating? Why must God accommodate to his creatures? Why can’t he simply tell us the truth, especially since we who want to assess the Bible’s accuracy in today’s world doubt that it’s from God because he supposedly did. This God is not too smart for an omniscient being.

John Loftus is like a blind-folded, back see driver, wearing earphones - attempting to critique the travel directions and never seen the map.

In fact, there is nothing in the Bible that could not have been written by a person without divine revelation in that era at all. Everything reflects the age in which it was written. Why is that?”

Bold assertion. Offered without proof. However, let's humor Loftus and answer his question for why God has chosen to move and reveal Himself the ways that He has: HE WANTED TO DO IT THIS WAY.

 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”- Acts 17:22-31


The Accommodation Theory of the Bible | Debunking Christianity
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1 comment:

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