The Instigator
Diagoras
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
ReformedArsenal
Con (against)
Losing
18 Points

The Bible contains historical inaccuracies

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/18/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,136 times Debate No: 18855
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (9)

 

Diagoras

Pro

Since I was unable to post in the last round of our debate, we will be doing this again. We will copy and paste our round 2 arguments so that we can get back to the same round 3 where the last debate ended.

That other debate is listed here. http://www.debate.org...
ReformedArsenal

Con

I thank my opponent for issuing this debate.

I will use the English Standard Version of the Bible, but may refer to the original Hebrew or Greek as needed. When using Hebrew or Greek I will use blueletterbible.org with the ESV selected as the translation.

I look forward to my opponent's opening argument.
Debate Round No. 1
Diagoras

Pro

In Genesis chapter 11, http://www.biblegateway.com..., the bible goes into the tower of Babel. At this time, the bible says, "Now the whole earth had one language and the same words." In this chapter, it makes clear reference that this is not metaphorical same language, but that there was only one language on earth. Going through the time line of births in the same chapter, and the rest of the book, the bible says that this took place in approximately 2,400 BC. However, we have found mass amounts of evidence that there were multiple languages before this time, when there should have only been one according to the bible. http://www.historyworld.net...

This is one clear historic inaccuracy.

Creation of the earth in a single day, and everything else in just a few days. Many christians claim that this is not "days" like we view "days" but just periods of time. But in exodus chapter 20, the bible is clear in saying that they are literal days. http://www.debate.org... Does my opponent need me to provide logically evidence that the Earth was not created in a single literal day?

This is another historic inaccuracy.

In 2 chronicles, the bible refers to mass death of 500,000 people, http://www.biblegateway.com... and 1,000,000 people, http://www.biblegateway.com... these are just in the initial battles, the death that occurs on "god's" side is not mentioned, and the deaths that occur when they pillage all the cities in the area is not mentioned. So over a few short years, millions of people die, 1.5 million confirmed by the bible, and many more not mentioned. However, the population in that area was only 10 million tops, http://worldhistorysite.com... if 50% of that is men, and only half of those men are of adult age, then god just killed 60% of all men capable of reproducing in that area. Such massive death would cause long last drops in the population for centuries to come.

I'll stop with these obvious three.
ReformedArsenal

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his contribution to this debate. I hope this shapes up to be an enjoyable and informative debate.

Contention 1: A single language

My opponent's contention is that the chronology of Genesis 11 places the Tower of Babel, and therefore a single language, to approximately 2,400 BC. This would be a clear historical inaccuracy if the argument held water. However, it does not. Allow me to demonstrate.

Problem A: Begging the question
My opponent claims that it is impossible this is not a metaphorical language. He does not, however, provide any support whatsoever for this assertion. In fact, many Christian scholars consider everything from Genesis 1-11 to be a mythological account of origin for the Hebrew people, and not a historical account at all. I do not ascribe to this school of thought, but it is a legitimate interpretation of the text. Regardless, it is possible that this is a metaphorical single language, and until my opponent proves otherwise we can dismiss this aspect of his argument.

Problem B: Using Genealogies to Determine Chronology
There are several ways that the ancient Hebrews used genealogies. One is the standard "family tree" type of genealogies which speaks of direct descendants. If this were the type of genealogy that Genesis was employing, my opponent would be correct in dating the Tower of Babel to approximately 2,400 BC. However, there are other ways that genealogies were used. One was a genealogy of dynasties. So rather than say that X begat Y and refer to specific persons, the Scriptures are referring to X as the head of a dynasty and Y being the next generation of dynasty. This could mean that there are hundreds of years represented in each entry in the genealogy. I do not find this to be the most likely answer, but it is indeed possible. More likely however, is the fact that ancient Hebrew genealogies often skipped generations and only included significant figures. We see this compounded by the fact that the Hebrew words for Father and Son (Av and Ben) can mean descent or ascent of more than a single generation. We see this in Genesis 29 where the text indicates that Laban was the son of Nahor, when in fact he was his grandson. We also see this in the genealogical account of Jesus in Matthew, where the Author skips insignificant generations to group the generations in clumps of 14. In Genesis we have no way of knowing how many generations are actually present, as we have no way of knowing what generations were skipped. [A]

Because of these two facts, we cannot exclude the Biblical account because of the Chronological dating of the divergence of language. It is entirely possible, in fact likely, that there was indeed an original language that was then disbursed and confused. The Biblical timeline is not established prior to the call of Abraham in approximately 2000 BC (Genesis 12) and we therefore cannot positively say that it contradicts our knowledge of history.

Contention 2: Single Day Creation
My opponent claims that it is impossible for Genesis 1 to be correct since it states that the world was created in a single day. This has several problems, I shall elucidate two.

Problem 1: Begging the Question
My opponent assumes naturalism and a God-less system. However, if in fact there is a divine God as described in the Bible then creating the world in a single day is no challenge. My opponent bears the burden of proof to show that the system he is proposing is correct and has not done so. He is simply assuming naturalistic explanations.

Problem 2: Literal Day
My opponent refers to Exodus Chapter 20 (The 10 Commandments) which compares the Sabbath to the 7th day of creation. He assumes that this demonstrates a literal understanding of the 6 days of creation. This is a fundamentally flawed comparison. Primarily, my opponent should note that the 7th day in Genesis never ends. It does not follow the same cycle of "Evening and Morning, the X day." This is picked up upon by both Rabbinical and Christian sources (including the author of Hebrews). While it is possible that the assertion my opponent is making is true, it is hardly univocal and therefore must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Furthermore, many Christians see a distinction between the creation of "the heavens and the earth" and the first day, seeing the creation of heavens and earth as a act that happened prior to day 1 with day one starting with "Let there be light." My opponent needs to demonstrate that the earth being created in a single day is the ONLY viable interpretation in order for this to be considered a historical inaccuracy (Beyond proving that Genesis 1-11 is a historical account in the first place).

Contention 3: Mass Deaths
My opponent asserts that it would be impossible for the numbers represented in 2 Chronicles (A total of 1,500,000 Men) could not occur. There are again several problems with this contention.

Problem 1: Begging the Question
My opponent assumes that there are many more deaths that occur beyond the numbers listed. Both on Israel/Judah's side, as well as further deaths during the pillaging. However, the Bible does not record that these deaths take place, so we cannot consider these deaths in the total. He also assumes that 50% of the area are men (5,000,000) and 50% of those are adults (2,500,000). However, he has done nothing to show that those statistics are viable. We don't know if there were 70% men, or if 80% of the men were adults. My opponent is building castles in the sky. He then asserts that killing 60% of the men would leave lasting population declines for centuries, but does not prove that A) This is true or B) There was not a population decline.

Problem 2: Numbers and their use in the Ancient World
Most ancient cultures didn't use precise numbers. They used estimates and often times rounded up. It is extremely unlikely that there were exactly 500,000 and 1,000,000 men killed. Even in today's culture we do not consider estimates to be inaccurate. This leaves us with a large variance of possible ACTUAL numbers that lead to this estimate. Reasonably, we could say that the first number could be anywhere from 400,000 to 600,000 and the second number could be from 750,000 to 1,250,000.

Problem 3: The Reliability of Historical Inquiry
My opponent is presenting a historical theory regarding the population of the world. I am presenting a competing theory. The Bible recounts that there were 600,000 adult men that were part of Israel during the exodus (Exodus 12:37). The reigns of David and Solomon were prosperous and fruitful (and relatively peaceful). If population increased even 5% (Conservative guess) between the exodus and the rule of Ahijah we would now have 900,000 adult men in just Israel. Does my opponent expect you to believe that Israel made up nearly 1/10th of the total population of the Mid-East during this era, when empires like Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, and Phoenicia were all a part of this area? The Bible clearly presents an alternate theory of world population to my opponent's source (which looks like it was made by a Highschooler in Computer Class), however he has given no reason to believe that a source which was written DURING the era in question would be less accurate than a projection created 4000-5000 years later.

In Conclusion
My opponent has presented what he believes to be three historical inaccuracies. However, his arguments are all examples of begging the question, with little evidence to support his assertions. He has not demonstrated that any of the passages in question MUST be interpreted in the fashion he has demonstrated, and therefore has not demonstrated that they constitute a necessary historical inaccuracy.

Thank you for reading this debate. I look forward my opponent's closing argument.
Debate Round No. 2
Diagoras

Pro

The world speaking in one language.

My opponent seems to think that you can simply believe any interpretation of the text that you want and that makes it infallible. Scholars can read and twist it however they to try to side step the blatant inaccuracies, but the text is written. It says, "Now the whole earth had one language and the same words." That is not a metaphorical statement, nor more than saying, "My car gets 20 miles to the gallon," is a metaphorical statement. If anything, it is a hyperbole, an exaggeration. What they meant was that a whole damn lot of people all spoke the same language and got together to build a tower and so on. However, being a hyperbole does not excuse the fact that it is still historically inaccurate. As shown and unrefuted, the European world at the time had many different languages. And that is just Europe.

The other contention my opponent tries to make is to suggest that the genealogy is only referring to significant ancestors, rather than every single one. This is easily refuted because it does not refer to any of the significant things that they've done, it is merely a list. If they were only counting the significant members, they would also mention why they were significant, at least once. Afterwards, they wouldn't need to repeat it. Since nothing significant is mentioned, logically, they listed everyone, including the insignificant.

Single day creation.

I wasn't aware that my opponent needed basic science links for the formation of planets. http://www.cfa.harvard.edu... That should do.

As for the problem of the literal day, there is no problem at as. The bible starts in listing events chronologically with date stamps, but later switches to simply listing events as they happen. Dates are omitted because they are not important later on. Much like in studying ww2 history, one my say, "On June 6th of 1944, American, British, and Canadian forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. They fought up the beaches and into the small towns. From there they began pushing south and turned East to attack Germany…" That doesn't mean that all of that happened on June 6th. It merely means that June 6th was a significant date and the rest were significant events, but their dates were not. There is no reason to believe that the 7th day has not ended, since afterwards, god did do work, like in Egypt and what nots. There is just simply no reason to say "on the first day" unless that is what was meant. The bible could have easily said "First, god created the Heavens and the Earth, then…" that would have been normal by their language at the time the bible was slapped together.

So far, my opponent's only defense has been "well maybe they didn't mean it," that doesn't make it less false. The logic and sources, of which my opponent has not used hardly any, show clearly that what the bible describes is not what happened.
ReformedArsenal

Con

I would like to thank my opponent for his contribution

Single Language

My opponent's argument basically ammounts to "no it isn't." The simple fact is this: My opponent has interpreted this passage in a very specific way, and a way that a large portion of Christian scholars disagree with. He then goes on to shift the meaning to "a whol damn lot of people all spoke the same language" which is very different than what he originally asserted. Ultimately, my argument has not been refuted in this regard. This narrative is only historically inaccurate, if it was intending to be history. No one with a shred of reason will say that accounts of Paul Bunyan creating the Grand Canyon by dragging his axe through the Arizona desert is ahistorical... because it is not intended to be historical. In order to prove that this contradicts history, my opponent MUST prove that this is attempting to make a historical statement, which he has not done.

The next contention is rather simple. I have shown irrefutable evidence that the author of Genesis is known to skip generations if they are insignificant (The example of Laban and Nahor). My opponent claims that in order to assert this that the list MUST include why the person is significant in order to assert that this is the case... however, in the case of Laban and Nahor, there is no such indication of the person's significance. Furthermore, I have shown that other Hebrew writers skip generations, and my opponent has not refuted this other than to say "no it isn't." Unless my opponent can fulfill his burden of proof and reliably prove that this is a direct genealogy vs one with skipped generations, he cannot prove that this establishes a timeline or dating for the Tower of Babel. Without establishing WHEN in history this story occured, it is impossible to know if it contradicts history.

Single Day Creation
My opponent again believes that "no it doesn't" serves to fulfill his burden of proof. A large portion of evangelical scholars, both Old and New Testament scholars, would argue that Genesis does not indicate a single day creation of the earth. Even a literal reading does not indicate that the whole world was created in a single day."

Mass Deaths
My opponent gave no response to my rebuttal. I must assume therefore that he is conceeding that point.

Final Thoughts
My opponent accuses me of using very few sources, however this debate is about what the Bible says, and therefore no source outside the Bible is required. Furthermore, my opponent says that my logic is faulty, but has done nothing to show how. I on the other hand have shown that each of the historical contradictions my opponent attempts to level are not necessitated by the text itself, rather by my opponent's specific understanding and interpretation of the text. My opponent has provided no credentials to indicate why his interpretation holds weight, nor has he shown anyone of significance that says that these are the only possible interpretations. I on the other hand hold a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies (BA Biblical and Theological Studies: Bethel University, Minneapolis St Paul - www.bethel.edu), and a simple google search will reveal that my proposed interpretations are held by various scholars and Christians.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by whiteflame 1 month ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: byaka2013// Mod action: Removed<

7 points to Pro. Reasons for voting decision: He showed it through

[*Reason for removal*] Not an RFD and unclear what the voter means.
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Posted by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
I love how logicrules and rasheed votebombed.
Posted by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
REASON FOR VOTING
Although I agree with the affirmative, the negative clearly won.

Conduct has to go to RerformedArsenal because of the dropped argument. "I wasn't aware that my opponent needed basic science links for the formation of planets. http://www.cfa.harvard.edu...... That should do." This loses conduct.

Arguments because of the drop as well as the fact ReformedArsenal adequatly explained the mistakes.

Sources have to go to PRO (sorry ReformedArsenal), because he was the only one that used sources.
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by gordonjames 3 years ago
gordonjames
DiagorasReformedArsenalTied
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro has the BOP, and does not do enough to meet that challenge. Conduct close. S&G close Arguments - pro missed many points that could have been a good challenged to CON, and both could have used more references.
Vote Placed by ModusTollens 3 years ago
ModusTollens
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro used more varied sources, and Con insisted on logical flaws in Pro's argument that simply don't exist.
Vote Placed by Mr.Infidel 5 years ago
Mr.Infidel
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Reasons for voting decision: Counter votebomb to Logicrules and Rasheed--it is quite clear they have not read teh debate
Vote Placed by logicrules 5 years ago
logicrules
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's representations re genealogy lacked support. I did not see the Petitiio(Circular or bagging) fallacy was not used, yet con claimed it was. Overall, any with a basic understanding of biblical historical criticism know that history to the ancient was not the same as history to us. Language is a function of society, not magic so I found the fixation on babel odd. All this considered I found both sides lacking, but pro was less so.
Vote Placed by Rasheed 5 years ago
Rasheed
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Reasons for voting decision: Con did not adequately refute the historical evidence with credible sources, he merely tried to reason them away. Great debate to both.
Vote Placed by NewCreature 5 years ago
NewCreature
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Reasons for voting decision: Con refuted all of Pro's arguments, Con did not really have any good rebuttals for them.
Vote Placed by 1Historygenius 5 years ago
1Historygenius
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: It was close, but I think Con won.
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
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Reasons for voting decision: Not much to say here. Please see comments for analysis.
Vote Placed by Crypto247 5 years ago
Crypto247
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Reasons for voting decision: It was very close on this one, but the con gave a better over all debate on this one. He gave a little move info to back up his claim and he did well.