Contradictions in the Bible

Genesis 1-11 

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Contradictions in the Bible | Religion and rationality

Gabriel Baicu September 20, 2017

God, in the Christian vision, is also “Logos” and this Greek word means not only “word”, but it also means “rationality”. If we can make any sense of the outside world, by studying the nature and the cosmos, our endeavour is necessarily based on the fact that God is Logos, rationality. Only rationality is predictable and knowable, irrationality is not. If God reveals Himself in nature, and can be known through it and nature is rationally organised by the laws of nature, that means that God is knowable, at least to a certain degree, in a rational way. (Romans 1; 19-20) If God had deliberately done irrational things, in the process of His creation, God would have burned all rational bridges between Him and us and in this case He couldn’t be known by us through the study of His creation but the Bible says that He can. God speaks to us through rationality, through Logos, and for this reason one may expect to find consistency and rationality in the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis if they are to be seen as an expression of real facts.

The outside world unravels an extraordinary rationality, laws of nature, and perfectly rational connections between phenomena. The study of nature and of the cosmos is a way of knowing God, and, from my point of view, this is a very important path towards this knowledge. Why would that be right?

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   The Bible is an old and not evolving book and its writings cannot be updated with new information. Even if knowledge has increased greatly comparing with three thousand years ago we cannot bring the information contained by the book of Genesis in line with what we know today.

The Bible is canonised but the ever-evolving human knowledge is not. In the Bible, what is written about the origins of the universe and humankind is written forever and can never be changed or improved. The terminology used by the Bible, also, cannot be brought into accord with the modern one. Its outdated form and its ancient patina are ingredients which seem to plead for the sanctity of the book of Genesis but they are only proof of its antiquity.

Where is the place of the biblical account of Genesis in our scientific knowledge? Is it at the foundation of modern astrophysics or is separated from the actual cosmological discourse altogether? If someone believes that the record of creation from Genesis is not science, then it shouldn’t try to replace science, and it shouldn’t compete with science in any way.

Do we really need science to tell us how the world had come into place or is it that we don’t need science, but we only need faith to enlighten us about questions pertaining to science also? Can spirituality, faith or revelation, replace the human need for scientific research? In my view, the book of Genesis doesn’t have in any case the standard of a book of science, and cannot and should not try to replace human research in scientific domains.

Many believe in the biblical record of the book of Genesis without a thorough analysis, considering it only a matter of faith. But is it really? The origins of the universe are not only a matter for faith but are also an object for sciences. Why and how the universe came into place is a common topic for science and religion and cannot really be divided amongst the two of them. Religion can endeavour to ask why and sciences to explain how the universe came to be.

Allegories and parables were very instrumental in conveying different spiritual messages in the past but at the present, in order to gather real knowledge, more precise and verifiable information is required. Even if the Bible contains true knowledge, and I don’t say it does, the way to express it remains outdated. 

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   Knowledge of nature, and the study of the universe are progressing continuously and they are using the language of today’s generations. Under the formula “given from the above” the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, inherently prevents a true investigation of the cosmos, and limits the knowledge of nature to very general and unmovable considerations.

The language used by the book of Genesis is not in conformity with a scientific language and its assertions prove to be in conflict with basic rules of rationality. The biblical narratives of creation are mainly presented as “a given”, and take the form of metaphors and of allegories. No attempt to demonstrate anything, by careful observations or logical deductions, can be recognised, all must be accepted at face value. The message regarding the origins, from the book of Genesis, cannot be asked anything, in a hermeneutical way, because it is not prepared to answer to any question raised by new scientific observations.

What is the relation between the religious language and the scientific language? The scientific language, in which one clothes his or her belief or his or her unbelief, is much more adequate, more nuanced, and qualified for a dialogue with our contemporary world, by using the terminology of the newest discoveries of the modern sciences. On the other side, the Bible, striving to pass as infallible is showing us, more and more, its weaknesses, precisely because the scientific biblical studies have been evolving very much in the last two or three hundred years and not towards a confirmation of its inner consistency but quite the opposite.

The first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis are the core of the relationship between science and religion.

The fear and surprise generated by the newness of scientific discoveries and the incapacity of the clerical functionaries to give answers to the questions, raised by sciences, are the causes for countless confusions and misunderstandings. When comparing the explanations given by the Bible regarding the origins of the universe, with the information given by the modern sciences, they differentiate themselves by a very important element and that is the direct observations on nature. At the same time, the book of Genesis doesn’t present the conclusions of any study of nature but only very superficial and empirical descriptions contradicted by studies based on analyses of real causes of phenomena.

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   The Genesis allegedly is based on revelation, but doesn’t say in its body of texts or somewhere else in the Bible, to whom that revelation was given and when was given. The first five books of the Bible, as more recent studies show, are not authored by Moses, as previously believed.

On the other side, the language and the knowledge of sciences, together, are giving us a real opening towards a better understanding of the possibility of God’s existence, grasping it further and further, with any new discovery. For a Christian believer, the study of the sciences is a true strength but for an unbeliever the sciences can be a reason not to believe in the existence of God. Let’s take an example. From a scientific point of view, eternal life for man is not an impossible dream but a possible one, followed already by certain scientists. The problem isn’t the attaining of the eternal life but living eternally on Earth where billions and in the future tens of billions or even hundreds of billions of human beings will live. They will not all be able to live eternally on Earth. At the same time, the expansion of humankind in the universe may encounter the problems of huge distances and of other civilizations living in the universe. Where there are conditions for life there is life also. In order to colonize the cosmos human beings have to leave the earth and reach other planets and adapt to new environments if they aren’t already occupied by other civilizations.

Eternal life and the expansion in the cosmos are linked closely because one without the other isn’t possible. In order to travel very long distances humankind has to live for a very long time, preferable eternally, and in order to have enough space for all human beings to live forever new cosmic frontiers have to be surpassed. Now is too early for humankind to discover the secrets of eternal life because the technology is not enough developed to bring so many human beings into the space, and on Earth there wouldn’t be enough space for everyone living eternally. The two aspects will come together, and when humankind is prepared to exit into space then the secrets of eternal life will be also discovered. The tree of life is within human reach and will be sometime in the future grasped by mankind, but its place isn’t on Earth, but in the sky. To reach the tree of life without God’s approval would be another disobedience to Him but would be also a necessary consequence and continuation of eating from the tree of knowledge. If there is a secret of eternal life it is impossible not to be discovered by humankind at a certain moment of its scientific development.

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