Pursuit of Percipience

the blog that nobody reads which I write to silence the voices in my head

Tag: atheism

Unicorns in the Bible

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The Bible (King James Version) mentions the unicorn several times: Numbers 23:22, 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7.

Other versions of the Bible, such as the New American Standard Version, will instead use the term wild ox, as the Hebrew word, rê’em [pronounced: reh-ām’], probably refers to a wild bull.

Atheists like to bring up the Bible’s use of unicorns to attack its validity. Surely, if the Bible mentions unicorns, a mythical beast lacking any evidence for ever existing, then the Bible itself is a mythical document not to be taken seriously.

But what an intellectually lazy argument it is to automatically assume that the KJV Bible, a document translated over 400 years ago from Hebrew, Greek,* and Latin sources,** would use the word unicorn in the same way it is used today. Indeed, all you have to do is go back 200 years to find unicorn defined differently than today. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines it as this…

unicorn

A rhinoceros. And the same dictionary defines rhinoceros as this…

Rhino

This does not mean that the KJV Bible is talking about rhinoceroses when using the term unicorn. But, it does make it rather obvious that the definition of unicorn is not the same today as it was 400 years ago, and the argument to write-off the Bible as myth due to its use of the word unicorn is unfounded.

Here is a good video which inspired this article…

* The Greek of unicorn is μονόκερως transliterated as monokeros [one horn].

** The Latin version of the Bible (the Latin Vulgate) uses the term rinocerotis in Deuteronomy 33:17 and rinoceros in Job 39:9.

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The Gift of Translation

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With it being the Easter season, the photo on the right is what you’ll see on a typical atheist Facebook fan-page including the caption, “Read a history book Christians.” The argument being, I guess, that Christians are so stupid that they don’t realize they’re actually worshipping a pagan fertility god on Easter instead of Jesus. Well, if that argument is valid, then I could also say the same for atheists celebrating Christmas — “Those atheists are so stupid. They think they are celebrating a holiday time of giving and family, but they are unknowingly worshipping Jesus.” It’s a stupid argument.

My response to the Facebook post was this:
Christians co-opted pagan holidays and made them their own; made them Christian holidays. It’s similar to how secular culture has co-opted some Christian holidays. That’s what happens when one culture dominates another. Christians know the true origin of Easter, and they don’t care. They’ve changed it into a holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

And it got me thinking about speaking in tongues. In Acts 2, the disciples were given the ability to speak new languages so that all who were present at the temple heard the “wonderful works of God” in their own language. Tongues is best understood when studied in relation to Babel. At Babel (Genesis 11), God scattered the nations through the confusion of language. Directly after that, He called Abram and set him apart from the nations. From Abram came Israel, which was a nation of priests to the Gentile nations to act as a mediator between God and man. The mission of Israel was perfected and completed in Jesus through His death and resurrection — the old world died in Christ and a new world was born with His rising. Once the work of Jesus was complete, there was no more need for the nations to be separate, so God reversed Babel and brought them back together. He did that at Pentecost (Acts 2) through the gift of tongues… or a better way to say it: the gift of translation.

The gift of tongues/translation is manifest today in that wherever Christians go, they translate Christianity into the receiving culture. That starts with language, i.e. the Bible, but it doesn’t end there. Language has two aspects: the objective and the subjective. The objective is simply using words to pass along information. The subjective however, is poetry, novels, song lyrics, plays, movies, TV shows, etc… All that which creates a culture comes from the subjective.

We can call the before-Christ time the Old Covenant World, and the after-Christ time the New Covenant World. In the New Covenant world, Christ has all authority and that authority passes down to the Church. One thing Christians can do, which Old Covenant Israelites could not do, is choose their own holidays. In the Old Covenant, God strictly decided when Israel’s festivals and holidays would be. In the New Covenant world, Christians decide for themselves — the Christian calendar is much more arbitrary. Another aspect of the authority handed to Christians is the fact that Christians are commissioned to take over the world.

So, we can put this all together: 1) Translation; 2) Holidays; 3) Dominion. When Christianity is moving in on a new culture, it will translate itself into that culture, remaking the holidays, and taking dominion. That’s how it works with any dominating force moving in on another culture. We see it with non-Christian influences as well, such as the secular force in the west today.

In Cambodia, the biggest holiday of the year is the Khmer New Year, which is the Buddhist new year celebration. The holiday is celebrated by water fights — people in the streets throwing water at each other. It’s a good way to celebrate, since April, when the holiday falls, is the hottest month of the year. What would happen to Khmer New Year if Cambodia became a Christian nation? Would the celebration of Buddhism still stand? No. Would there still be water fights in April. Most probably. It would just be co-opted by the Christians. In fact, what a great way to celebrate Easter — with the living water of Jesus.

Further reading: Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday – Christianity Today

The Mother of Atheism

moonWhen the Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk died in 2012, thousands of Cambodians swore they saw him in the moon. They believed his face literally appeared in the moon.

I remember once teaching Buddhist monks in Cambodia some English. I had finished explaining what the word millennium means. I said that we are now living in the third millennium according to the western calendar. I said that in the future we will have a 4th millennium, a 5th millennium, a sixth, etc… One of my students then said, “Oh, we will have come back many times by then.” He was referring to reincarnation of course.

Approximately 95% of Cambodians are Buddhist. Before Buddhism, Hinduism dominated in Cambodia. Cambodians don’t practice Buddhism at the same level. Some practice it very little. Some dedicate their whole lives to it, the monks for example.

However, you won’t find western-style atheism in Cambodia, or any country like it. The conditions necessary for atheism to flourish simply don’t exist in a culture which does not believe in a logical, reasonable, predictable Creator.

Science, as we know it today, was born in the Christian world. Christianity is the mother of science. The purpose of science is to study the physical universe, discover predictable patterns, and then use that knowledge to make life better for humanity. The first scientists were able to adopt this method due to the fact that they believed nature was predictable because it was created by a logical God. Modernism was based on the belief that we could know and understand how the universe works and manipulate the physical world to our advantage. As belief in God dwindled in the western world Post-Modernism rose. Post-Modernists are suspicious of absolutes: absolute truth and absolute patterns.

Atheism was born in the west when people began to believe that God could be understood with the same scientific methods used to understand the physical universe. Of course that does not work. How can you measure the One who created the universe as though He were a product of the universe? Atheists demand that God be scientifically provable.

Christian apologists, therefore, knowing that they can’t prove God scientifically, will turn to non-physical things to prove God: morality, consciousness, love, truth, goodness, and beauty. Morality, for example, is difficult to account for in a survival-of-the-fittest evolutionist world.

Christianity then, being the mother of science, is also the mother of Atheism. The belief in a logical and reasonable God gives us the ability to think likewise. But, when one steps off the foundation of God, and makes logic and reason the new foundation, disbelief in God arises. Unfortunately though, as the disbelief in God increases, the ability to think logically and reasonably decreases.

I’ve noticed that the militant atheism so popular ten years ago is being replaced with a much softer version today. Those outspoken atheists of the past are realizing the insanity which is taking over much of the field they liked to play in before. Gay marriage, for example, was widely accepted by atheists, but the new gender issues of today are not. If you look at popular Atheist Youtube creators you’ll notice their recent videos are much more anti-SJW compared to their older videos which are more anti-Christian/religion. Scroll down on Pat Condell’s videos for example.

This video is another good example…

It should come as no surprise to atheists that, as their own ability to think logically and reasonably is a direct result of Christianity, a rejection of Christianity is also a rejection of logic and reason. The evidence of that is all around in the insane social issues which plague western culture today.

Christian morality/logic/reason has been the immune system to the world’s evils in the past centuries, but as Christianity itself is rejected, that same morality/logic/reason is becoming an autoimmune disease. Hopefully people come to their senses sooner rather than later.

Some Atheist Brief Book Reviews

19280426All God Worshippers Are Mad 

A short and stupid book. I give it one star out of five because it was only $1.99 on Kindle. I can’t decide if the book was written for 12 year olds, or if it was written by a 12 year old. For example… His first argument against God is basically summed up as: “In order for God to create the space/time universe, God’s existence can’t depend on space/time. My human brain can’t comprehend that. Therefore there is no God. Booyah!”

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Why I Believed 

He’s got a couple of decent Dostoevsky-type arguments against faith/God, but most of what he says follows a “I just don’t want to believe anymore” kind of thinking. Christianity is a faith which requires engagement. If you choose not to engage it you will grow cold towards it.

 

4420281Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes 

I’ll come back to this book for the language sections. Everett is a talented linguist. He had no business being a missionary though. I don’t think he ever fully understood what Christianity is. His descriptions of the faith show he never moved beyond a Sunday-school understanding of it.

 

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God Needs to Go 

It’s hard to get into one of these books when it starts out with a straw-man argument; which this book does. In fact, this book is one straw-man after another — falsely representing Christianity and then attacking that false representation.

He makes a couple good points against prayer (or, what I would call the misuse of prayer).

Atheists often argue that morality is based on the evolved sense of the common good. While that might be true for economy, it is not true for morality. Morality is not the same across the world. A westerner being accepting of a transgender person is doing so because he believes it is loving to do so. That belief of loving acceptance stems directly from Christian morality. A Buddhist in Thailand who is accepting of a transgender person is not doing so out of love; his acceptance and noninterference is based on karmic justice. A Buddhist would be less inclined to help the poor for that very same reason, whereas a westerner would be more inclined to help the poor based on Christian morality.

The author states: “Except for certain religiously based societies, many of the secular nations display a sense of right and wrong that has allowed them advance in a positive way.” (page 23) “Certain religiously based societies” — every society is a religiously based society, including the ‘post-Christian’ west. A society’s morality is tied to its predominant religion. This is not hard to see. Western morality is based on Christianity, absolutely. If you don’t see that, you just need to do some travelling. A Buddhist nation’s morality is based on Buddhism. The same is true for Hindu and Muslim nations. If a person born and raised in a Buddhist nation becomes an atheist, his morality will still be based on Buddhism. (Although, Buddhism as a religion lacks the conditions to create atheists — which is a whole other interesting topic. Western atheism would not exist if it weren’t for Christianity.)

Then there are the usual arguments about slavery and God’s wrath and so forth. If you want to understand those issues in the Bible you have to understand two very important things: covenant and holiness. If you don’t get those two things, you won’t get the Bible.

And there are the attacks on biblical prophesy. Jesus said certain things about His return that supposedly didn’t happen. Well, there are plenty of books on eschatology to explain that. But if you’re not willing to study it out, then there’s nothing more to say. Reading Psalm 110 and Daniel 7:13-14 will get you well on your way to understanding what Jesus said when prophesying about Himself.

Sufficient Evidence: Empirically Impossible

Recently I posted this quote on my Facebook page:

“…socialism is not merely the labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the question of the form taken by atheism today, the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to Heaven from earth but to set up Heaven on earth.”*

A socialist atheist got upset by the quote and felt the need to reply, which went something like this:

Socialism is not atheistic! There is no god and we just want to create a society where all are taken care of. If there is a god then provide sufficient evidence. Until then stop wasting my time!

Forgetting the fact that his response confirmed the truth of the quote, and forgetting the fact that he was the one wasting my time by responding and demanding an explanation, I thought, “What would be sufficient evidence?”

Because, of course, empirically speaking, there is no sufficient evidence to prove God. Even if Jesus were to appear in the sky above this guy’s house and cry out with a loud voice, “I am Jesus! I am God! I created the universe!” my Facebook friend would still be left with the choice of wether to believe what he saw was real or not. And if he’s predisposed not to believe then he will probably explain away the experience as something natural. 

“It is not miracles that dispose realists (or empiricists) to belief. The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognized by him. Faith does not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith. If the realist once believes, then he is bound by his very realism to admit the miraculous also. The Apostle Thomas said that he would not believe till he saw, but when he did see he said, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Was it the miracle forced him to believe? Most likely not, but he believed solely because he desired to believe and possibly he fully believed in his secret heart even when he said, ‘I do not believe till I see.'”**

Now, as for socialism, I’ll leave that for another day. Until then, read anything on economics by Thomas Sowell. 

* Dostoevsky, Fydor, The Brothers Karamazov (Barnes & Noble: New York, 2004 [1879-1880]), pg. 32.

** Ibid., pg. 31.

What did Dostoevsky mean by comparing socialism with Babel, and why did he then contrast socialism with Babel in saying that socialism strives to bring Heaven to earth (whereas at Babel they were trying to get to Heaven)?