The Words in the Bible are Divine
Debate Rounds (4)
The definition of the term Divine that I am using to set the parameters of this discussion is: proceeding from God or a god.
I want to address three main points with my argument.
1.Many claim the divinity of the book based on the prophecy provided. At this point I will merely comment that fulfilling prophecy from the OT (Old Testament) by writing stories in the NT (New Testament) is in no way showing divinity. The events in the NT are not accepted as purely historical (I understand certain instances have proven to be based on actual events, but that in no way proves the entire book to be historically accurate) and anyone can write a story fulfilling a prophecy they read about in another book. I will allow my opponent to address this issue before I comment further on this.
2.The bible has been translated multiple times from many languages. We can view the differences in the English translations alone (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Given that the word of God is considered to be absolute, are we to assume that each of the men/women who made these translations are infallible and made absolutely no mistakes in translating the words? Do we even know who the translators of each translation are? If they make even a few errors, it alters the word of God and strips the divinity from it. So even if I were to concede that the original text was divine, I could still argue that anyone studying outside of that text is not dealing with divine material.
3.There is an ongoing debate about contradiction in the bible, and I will focus on one specific instance to support my claim. As per the King James Bible, Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill." 1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and [donkey]."
These two passages clearly contradict one another, and there are many other instances where God orders people to kill. People have to make the decision whether to follow the commandment or follow God"s other orders. As soon a person is forced to decide between one verse or another, it strips any divinity away from the words. If God says both kill and don"t kill, and we ultimately have to decide, then God"s words are inconsequential.
I will leave my argument here and allow my opponent make his opening statements.
Contention 1: To clarify and rebut your arguments.
1) Prophecy: It is true that there are many prophecies who's fulfillment is found in the Bible. However, there are many prophecies in the Bible that's fulfillment is definite historical fact. For example, all over the Bible, there are prophecies about the Jewish captivity. We know that the Jews were captured by a group named the Assyrians (who were not a people group at the time of the prophecy), that the original captors would be captured by another people group, and they by another people group. It is irrefutable fact that the Jews were captured by the Assyrians, the Babylonians captured the Assyrians, and the Persians captured the Babylonians. Also, in the book of Isaiah, there is a prophecy that says that a king from the east named Cyrus, who would not be born for around a thousand years, would capture the Babylonians and free the Jews to return to Israel. Now, we know that the King of Persia who freed the Jews was, most definitely, named Cyrus. Also, there are many other prophecies that are historical fact, including: Jesus would be from Nazareth, but born in the city of David, Bethlehem; that Jesus would be a carpenter; that Jesus would be in King David's blood line; that he would have to leave Israel; that he would come in the time of Herod; and many others that we know are historical facts.
2) Translation: Many translations of the Bible are translated directly from the oldest texts we have. When we compare more modern copies of Hebrew and Greek Bibles to our oldest copies, which are quite old, they are nearly identical. We know there has been little change in the Bible over the thousands of years it has existed. Now, about differences in translations, because English is quite a different language from both Greek and Hebrew, there are many words that we do not have in English that exist in these languages. For example, there are four main Greek words used for the word "love" in the Bible, "Agape, Eros, Phillia, and Storge." We English-speakers only have one word for love, "love." Obviously, you can see the controversies that can arise from these differences in words. There are also concepts that the Greeks and Hebrews could not describe that we can describe quite easily in English. Because of this there are three main types of Bible translations. There are those translations that are quite literal (NASB), those that are translated for ease of reading (The Message), and those that are in the middle (ESV). So, a reader has to put some trust in the translators, but many people who speak Greek and Hebrew revise these translations, to minimize fallen input. Also, many people get into arguments about wording in non-Greek or Hebrew translations. These are not very worthwhile, but what really matters is the ideas that are present in the Bible.
3) Contradictions: To start off, you are using a specific translation to justify your argument. The Hebrew word in this context is ratsach, of which, the meaning is to premeditate a murder, to assassinate. The word that is smite is nakah, which is a punishment. The Amalekites that were killed were "nakah-ed", not "ratscah-ed". That is akin to saying someone who is killed by the death penalty has been murdered. This is not true because he was tried and convicted by a Judge. The same is true of the Amalekites, they were tried and convicted by the ultimate Judge, God. What were these people convicted of? Well they, sacrificed their children to false gods, they were abounding with sexual sins like infidelity and homosexuality and bestiality, and had committed a vast number of other sins as well. They were by no means "innocent" and their punishment was death. Also, the Mosaic Code allows for people to be executed by the testimony of two witnesses (and if these witnesses had lied, their punishment was death as well). God is perfect and does not need a witness, for he is omniscient. So, to answer your question, the real translation of Exodus 20:13 is "do not murder" and the Hebrew people were completely justified in killing the Amalekites, as well as the Canaanites and other people groups.
Contention 2: My arguments.
My arguments are mostly based on the previous rebuttals, but I will add some new information.
1) Followers of Christ prove its divinity: The prophet Isaiah scribed a book of prophecy, and claimed that they were true, a crime punishable by death. Except, if someone revokes their teachings, then they are not executed. Isaiah stood by his teachings, and, as a result, was put in a box and sawn in two. Now, you could say that Isaiah was insane, and many people would be fine with that. Then I'd tell you about Jeremiah, who was shoved down a hole, for the same reason. You could claim he was insane as well. Then I could tell you about a few more prophets, and a few more, and you could, technically say they were insane. Then why did their writing survive? If they were insane, then the people may have believed one, maybe two, or even a few. But when you look at all of the Prophets who died for their teachings, and their teachings still survived, that at least a bit far-fetched if you believe they were all insane. Then I will tell you about all of the disciples, who were all martyred simply because they believed that Jesus was divine, except for Judas, the defiler, who committed suicide in a field, and John, who was exiled to the island of Patmos for Jesus. They all could have been insane. So could every single martyr that ever died for Jesus, like the men and women who die daily in North Korea, Uganda, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia... simply for being Christians. All they need to de is deny their faith, and they live, and they refuse. Why? Because the words of God have an effect on people, because they are divine. I have a missionary friend who frequently has Muslims come to him with the same dream. They see they're town in darkness, and a light falls upon them as they are doing what they do every day. Then they stop what they're doing, go around town, and spread the light. Few at any point in their lives had ever heard the Gospel. Now, I know my friend is not insane, and neither are the people who come to see him almost daily with the exact same dream.
2) Effect of the Bible and Jesus prove its divinity. Quite simply put, the Bible has had more effect on the world than any other book in the World. The worlds best selling book every single day is the Bible. The Bible has been translated into more languages than any other book in the entire world (Almost 7,000). The Bible is the only book that people will literally tear apart so that multiple people can read different parts at the same time, because they have too few Bibles. The Bible MADE the World into what it is today, unlike any other book in history.
3) The vast number of people who scribed the Bible proves it's divinity. At first glance, many parts of the Bible seem to contradict (C1 subpoint-3), however, after being further scrutinized, there are no contradictions in the Bible, this is quite impressive for a book that was "written" by over 39 scribes over a vast time period of 1,500 years. In the ~8000 years the world has existed, that is almost a fifth of the world's age. Also, the Bible had scribes from all sectors of societies, ranging from shepherds, to kings, to merchants, and everyone in between. All of these people's writings contribute to make one book that has one purpose, and one message, without contradicting itself. That can only happen if there is only one author: God.
4) The Bible is constantly right about history. For many years, people discounted the truth of the Bible, because it talked about a group called the Hittites, and such group had never been discovered. In fact, it was the laughing stock of the Bible, until people actually looked, and found the Hittites. Everybody stopped laughing after that. Every time people try to find a historical fault in the Bible, and they actually search for the truth, they find that the history mentioned in the Bible actually is historical fact. Nearly every fact in the Bible is uniformly confirmed and accepted by historians around the world, and the Bible is regarded as a very good source for historical information.
In conclusion, prophecy is an important part of the divinity of the Bible, and most of these prophecies are proved by history. The translation of the Bible is not a problem, because we have very old copies of the Bible, and because they are edited by such a large number of people. Also, many "contradictions" in the Bible are not really contradictions at all, they just seem to be when taken out of context. Also, the Bible's divinity is proved by followers of Christ, the effects it has had on the world, the number and diversity of people who scribed it, and its historical accuracy.
C1.1) To begin with, the prophecy of King Cyrus in the OT is under great scrutiny based on the fact that the majority of biblical scholars believe the latter part of Isaiah (from chapter 40 on) is a different author than the original, written much later, during the time of King Cyrus . The timing of the writing makes all the difference in the world to many of the prophecies and there is little evidence to prove that the prophecies were made prior to the events taking place. Considering that your side is making the extraordinary claim of supernatural powers, the onus is on you to prove that it actually happened. And the "historical facts that you claim are in no way historical facts for many of them. Where Jesus was born, what he did for a job, who his parents are, etc. are not historical fact. That is purely based on biblical references and scholars only agree simply that Jesus likely existed, had some ties to John the Baptist and was a preacher in Galilee and Judea. Beyond that, the rest of his stories are not accepted as historical fact, as you claim .
C1.2) The fact that you use the terminology "nearly identical" shows that they are not identical. Considering that these words are intended to be, as you said, "the infallible words of a living God," anything differing from the exact words would make them no longer infallible. If flawed, sinful human beings have manipulated the words in any way, their infallibility and divinity are stripped away. That the words don"t translate nicely across should be enough to show that anyone working from an English translation is not receiving God"s word in it"s perfect, infallible form. And if humans are expected to interpret the ideas, the fact that we are fallible puts into question whether or not our interpretations are capable of preserving the divinity of the words.
C1.3) If you want to get into a debate about whether or not killing children of sinful people is murder, that could be a lengthy debate in its own right, but I would put forth that it is in fact still murder and the fact that God told them to do it does not make it any less murderous. But even if my previous example is merely just another example of how mistranslations strip away the divinity, rather than an example of a contradiction, that does not ignore the other many, many contradictions in the bible. Another example is the issue of unforgivable sin.
Mark 3:28-29 "Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin."
1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Colossians 2:13 "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins"
These examples show another complete contradiction in that there are some sins unforgivable but that God will forgive all sins. A full list of these and many other contradictions can be found at my source below .
C2.1) Your arguments here seem to lose some of the strength of your earlier points. You are claiming that because people are willing to die for something, that it must mean they are true. I cannot comment on the sanity of any of the prophets, nor of your friend, but I can comment that many people are willing to die for many causes, but that does not, in any way, make their argument any stronger. To try and argue that Christian martyrs prove the divinity of the bible is to argue that anyone willing to die for a cause legitimises their cause. That claim would open up an entire can of worms that would contradict itself over and over. Anyone who fights and dies in a war legitimises what they are fighting for? The willingness to die for a cause merely shows that the individual believes strongly in it, but individual belief does not constitute proof of divinity.
C2.2) The fact that the bible has had an impact is no more an argument than your previous attempt. The bible has had an impact because it is a very useful tool for establishing power over a very large group of people and the way it has been used throughout history (ie. Indulgences, Crusades, etc) has shown it to be a very effective tool. I am not arguing that the bible had an impact, because it clearly has, but your argument in no way supports the claim that the bible is divine.
C2.3) This point is purely based on false information. As I responded in C1.3, there are hundreds of contradictions in the bible and to ignore them completely and make the claim that there are no contradictions in the bible proves that you are picking and choosing what you want to see in the bible. Interpreting the book how you want it is fine, but you then must acknowledge that there is no divinity in what you are doing because your own fallible mind is what is controlling the information that you take in.
C2.4) Again, this is purely false information. The bible is not constantly right about history, unless of course you use the bible as your only history book. The fact that there is some historical accuracy in the book in no way confirms that every word in the book is based on actual events. That a group mentioned in the bible exists does not prove that every miracle mentioned is an historical event. I have read many books that overlay historical events with fantasy or science fiction, but knowing that the historical events actually happened does not make the fantastical elements also true.
Your job in this debate is to prove that the bible is divine and I have yet to see any convincing proof that it is. The prophecies can be easily explained based on when the books were written. The fact that the majority of the books have a massive debate regarding the authorship and timelines suggests that there is no proof that the prophecies were written prior to the events. In the case of the messianic prophecies, the fulfilment of them is only backed by an assumption that the bible offers a perfect historical record of the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ, something which is in no way proven. Those prophecies could very well just be fulfilled by a man with the ability to work a story around an open-ended prophecy. I would argue that you still have much proving to do if you wish to prove that the bible is in fact divine.
C1.2) Now, this is part is a much more interesting debate. The Bible says that its words are "God-breathed." To understand this, we must look at what this means from a cultural perspective. Back in the day, there was a very noble profession called a scribe. These scribes, what they would do, is they would take notes for important people, much like we can take voice notes on our phones. Now, writing exactly what someone says, at the rate they are saying it, is quite hard. So, what they would do is they would shorten the text in many ways. These include, but are not limited to: using shorthand, leaving out useless words and phrases, and paraphrasing. These texts were not the exact, precise, to-the-letter words of the people the scribes were scribing for, but they were "breathed" by the people being scribed for. All ideas present are the ideas of the important person, but the specific words belong to the scribes. The Bible is much like this. The important parts of the Bible are the ideas, not the specific words, (especially of the translation). I am not saying that there are no words that came directly from God. Just as when you take notes, you write down important phrases because you have to get them right, the Biblical "scribes" had specific phrases put into their writings.  For example, there are specific words in the Bible necessary to give the exact meaning that they need to have. Generally, to unlock these meanings, someone has to be using a literal translation, a concordance, Strong's numbers, and a variety of study materials, simply because not everyone learning the Bible speaks both Ancient Greek and Ancient Hebrew. You argue that the translations make them no longer the words of the living God. Different translations of the Bible may use slightly different wordings for the same passage, but the exact wording is not as important as the meaning of the words.
C1.3) God could have punished the Amalekites like he did Sodom and Gomorrah, or to wipe them all out by a plague, or have foreign raiders destroy them and leave, but he decided to have the Jews punish them. Also, the worst argument anyone could possibly make against the Bible is an "I think" argument, which my opponent said "I would put forth that it is in fact still murder and the fat that God told them to do it does not make it any less murderous." The problem with these arguments is that, humans are flawed, and we use flawed logic and emotion. A person thinking that it is wrong for God to punish humanity with cancer is saying, "I, who am flawed, would make a better God than God, who is perfect," which by no means makes cancer wrong. Now, I'd love to answer every single contradiction on the website you posted, but, alas, I do not have the space to do so. I will, however answer the "contradiction" you put forth. First off, you need to look at the context of the passages, and have background knowledge about the people present and spoken of. The most basic answer I can give is that: The Holy Spirit is responsible for letting us repent. Earlier in those passages you mention, there are phrases about repentance. So, most basically, to be forgiven you must genuinely repent. If you tick off the Holy Spirit enough, he might just permanently harden your heart. If you have a permanently hardened heart, you will never repent of your sin, and therefore, you will not be forgiven of your sin. So, all sins are forgivable, but they are only forgiven when you genuinely repent. What makes blaspheming the Holy Spirit so unforgivable is that he can prevent you from repenting. For more information, see . So, there are no contradictions in the Bible. All things that seem like contradictions are just the result of lack of research and taking passages out of context.
C2.1) Let me put this in a corollary: I assume you know these two facts, that there are twelve disciples (including Barnabas, excluding Judas), and that twelve men were involved in the Watergate scandal. I am going to talk about the Watergate people first. Without a doubt, these people were professional liars (they were politicians). You would expect them to be able to hold a secret for at least some time. Except, within a couple weeks, they were already breaking down mentally, even though the investigation was not pointing towards them. They all ratted each other out so quickly that you couldn't tell who did it first. Now, lets look at the twelve disciples, who knew Jesus on a personal level. They knew everything he believed, everything he did, and everything he was. They knew this on such a great scale, that when put on the scale of, just tell us one time Jesus did SOMETHING wrong and if you don't you will die, every single one of them died. That goes against human nature in its entirety. If you look at human nature, you get the Watergate scandal. The people involved in the Watergate scandal simply wanted everyone else to go to prison. The disciples believed in Jesus so fiercely, that they were executed for it. Nobody is willing to die for a lie. Because nobody is willing to die for a lie, either: the disciples were insane, or Jesus really was the Christ. There were no advantages to die, and every advantage for living. They gained nothing by death and gained everything by life. Yet they chose death, because, in reality, nothing was to be gained by life, and everything was to be gained by death.
C2.2) My argument is not that the Bible has had an impact, but that no book in the world has ever had or is having or will have an impact that is of the sheer magnitude the Bible has. A book can change the world, yes, but no earthly book can change the world in the ways the Bible did.
C2.3) Actually, the argument is not based upon false information. Like I said, there are no real contradictions in the Bible, just those that seem to be contradictions as a result of lack of study or misinterpretation by the reader. There is literally a book on every single "contradiction" you could possibly find in the Bible. My opponent should do his homework before making this argument again.
C2.4) Just like my previous argument, my opponent needs to do his homework. Find something you don't believe is historical fact in the Bible, and research it. Creation.com is a great resource that will almost definitely have an answer for almost every question anyone could ask, and if they don't, email them. They will get back to everyone with a viable answer. My opponent fails to realize that when something is mentioned in the Bible, it is there. There is no city, town, place, or anything that is not there when mentioned by the Bible (except for Sodom and Gomorrah, which were completely and utterly destroyed, and even those we know where they are (the Dead Sea)).
In conclusion, my opponent has failed to present any evidence that unequivocally states that the Bible is not divine. He has made three arguments about this resolution: Prophecy, Translation, and Interpretation.
He entered this debate claiming that "I believe that all of the words of the Bible are the infallible words of a living God" and his arguments show that the belief in the infallibility of the bible is required in order to prove the words to be divine. The bible is divine because the bible says it is divine and since it is divine, everything it says is divine. That logic is so circular that I get dizzy just reading it. Making claims like "there are no contradictions in the Bible" and "[t]he Bible is constantly right about history" shows a complete ignorance to the issues that anyone who reads the bible can plainly see. Claiming that all contradictions are merely a lack of understanding by the reader supports my claim that human intervention and interpretation strips all divinity out of the words. There has been no guidance by God as to how to interpret the words, so there are constant battles (both verbal and violently physical) over different interpretations of the words written in this book. The words are at the mercy of the individual reading them, so unless the reader of the book is also divine, I see no way that a fallible human being is capable of sifting through the countless possible interpretations of the words in order to find the intended, divine meaning.
My opponent has challenged a statement that I made about how I interpreted an act in the bible by stating "the worst argument anyone could possibly make against the Bible is an "I think" argument," yet his entire argument for the bible hinges on what he thinks about the words in the book. Why am I so wrong to interpret God"s command as a command of murder, but yet he is so correct in "thinking" the opposite? The answer to this question is that neither of us is necessarily right or wrong, it is a difference of opinion. The fact that the bible is so open to differing opinions shows once again how it is not divine; it is merely the product of fallible human manipulation.
The claim made regarding the words of the bible now being "God-breathed". As I stated earlier, my opponent made the claim that "I believe that all of the words of the Bible are the infallible words of a living God." He now claims that "Different translations of the Bible may use slightly different wordings for the same passage, but the exact wording is not as important as the meaning of the words." His argument has changed from his original position, which shows that I am making some progress in proving my point. No longer are all of the words of the bible the infallible words of a living God, but some of them are. Again, as I stated before, if we are basing this on meaning of the words alone, the divinity is surely stripped away because 1000 different people can find 1000 different meanings to one sentence and there is no divine, ultimate authority that directs us on how we must interpret those words.
Another claim made by my opponent is that people died for the word because no sane man would die for a lie. He gave me the two options of either assuming that the disciples were either insane or that Jesus was the Christ. But he leaves out the third and fourth options. The third would be that they believed Jesus to be the Christ but were incorrect, which has happened with many others who have died for false gods throughout history. Further to this, my opponent claims that "There were no advantages to die." This is entirely false. If they did believe what Jesus said, they had every reason to die. Why would they want to stay on earth when they have the chance ascend into heaven to be with their leader once again? This has been done many times over with cults, where people believe so strongly that they are willing to die in order to reach the next life, which is always assumed to be way better than this one. The fourth option would be that the events concerning the disciples did not happen at all; or at least not the way they were explained in the bible. The fact that my opponent is completely unwilling to allow for the possibility that his book has any error is causing his argument to crumble around him. Anyone who shares his view of the bible going into this debate might still hold to the claim that the bible is divine, but anyone who is capable of stepping back and doing a proper critical analysis of the book, without the presupposition that the book is already infallible, will be able to clearly see why we cannot assume that the words are divine.
I would like to thank my opponent for a very interesting debate. I hope the audience enjoyed reading this debate as much as I enjoyed participating in it.
davidmgreen forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Brendan21 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pretty obvious after no response from Pro for last round, but regardless, Pro never used any meaningful evidence to support his claims along with including fallacious references. Example, people dying for their faith doesn't occur only in Christianity.
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