February 27, 2011 by Bill
Scholars with pre-eminent credentials all agree that the Old Testament is far, far removed from facts or history. Dr. James Bennet Pritchard has been recognized internationally as one of the most distinguished biblical scholars and archaeologists in the world. He was Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania; the curator of the Near Eastern section of the museum at the same university; biblical archaeological advisor to “National Geographic” magazine, as well as to the British Broadcasting System and Time-Life Books. Authentic biblical scholars of this caliber are rare indeed. In the professions of religious and biblical “studies” (I use the word loosely) there are more phonies, quacks and charlatans than any other known to me.
I heard him speak some years ago when he was the President of the Archaeological Institute of America. I have copies of his lecture in my files so that I have no need to rely only on my memory.
“It is no longer possible,” he said “to read the bible as our parents and grandparents did. Far too many discoveries have been made, using dating methods that are the most sophisticated known. Six discoveries are crucial.” It would take ten full columns to document why they know each to be true. They are:
- There was no flood. The Hebrews borrowed the myth.
- The myth of ‘divine’ commands (the Ten Commandments) was a common theme found everywhere (in many religions) as ‘cultic’ codes given by a God.
- The discovery of a highly sophisticated Canaanite language and mythology, hundreds of years older than the Hebrew mythology.
- Stories about David and Solomon are gross exaggerations.
- Basic New Testament ideas, themes and mythic formulas had been around for hundreds of years before Jesus.
- The discovery of Ebla. Biblical names and legends of the patriarchs had been used for a thousand years prior to Hebrew times. The Hebrews borrowed them from past cultures. Read more
February 20, 2011 by Bill
Question: Is Christianity unique among the world’s religions? My answer: YES, it is. And NO it is not. YES, it is unique in that no other religion in the history of our human species has been so fragmented, splintered, indefinable as Christianism. (I use “ism” because Christianism is only one other “ism,” with Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism and so forth.)
No phrase, or cliché, is more absurd, ludicrous and nonsensical than “a Bible Christian.” I would illustrate this point in my class at the University of Puget Sound by doing the following: I would invite representatives from ten different “Christian” groups to speak to my class about their beliefs. This was always the last 10 class periods of the semester. Each group had the entire hour. The students could ask anything they wanted. They had only one rule: to remain courteous. I would start with a Christian Science practitioner (who was always the best prepared). The next class would be with a group of Jehovah Witnesses, who always came in threes; then, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Pentecostals, a Greek Orthodox, Unitarians, a Roman Catholic priest, a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Unity minister, and a Presbyterian/Methodist. The students soon realized that what they were hearing was 20 totally different religions, all quoting from the Bible to affirm and justify their positions. And all claiming to be “real” Christians.
Protestantism alone has disintegrated into more than 400 different denominations, all quoting from their idol, the Bible, to “prove” or validate their positions. And in addition to the over 400 Protestant denominations are the Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox, as well as others. There is also in Christianism the pathetic and comical spectacle of many of these denominations telling other organizations such as Unitarians, Unity, Christian Science, Mormons and others that they are “not really Christians at all…not true and Seal-of-Approval Christians.” Added to this comic scenario is the practice of some Protestant denominations that refuse to allow any of the other 400 Christian groups to enter their church and share communion (the Lord’s Supper) with them. Catholics and Protestants have been killing each other off as fast as they could in the blood bath that was Ireland. How well Thomas Jefferson said it: “Christian creeds, doctrines and dogmas, the clergies’ own fatal and lethal inventions, will someday make of Christendom a slaughter house, dividing it into castes, with intolerable hatred one for the other.” Read more
February 13, 2011 by Bill
In February we celebrate President’s day and Valentine’s day. To find these two events combined symbolically in one man is a rare and unique experience, especially when they are combined in a man who was one of the most distinguished intellectual giants of civilization… Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson was in love with a French artist named Maria Cosway. Her love for him was equally strong. The only problem was she was married. When Jefferson left France to return home, he sat down and wrote her a 28-page letter in longhand. The title he gave the letter was, “My Head and My Heart.” In the letter he lets his heart debate his head. It has been called one of the most beautiful and classic love letters of history.
Here was the HEAD that wrote the Declaration of Independence.
The HEAD that designed Monticello and all the furniture in it.
The HEAD that designed the University of Virginia.
The HEAD that could write and speak in FIVE languages.
The HEAD that had a personal library of over 2000 books by the time he was 21…that later became the Library of Congress.
The HEAD that was an expert violinist.
The HEAD that had read the bible in Hebrew and Greek and rejected it all as superstition and mythology.
The HEAD that was 200 years ahead of his time in Horticulture and animal husbandry.
The HEAD that was a classical scholar…in the days when there were no corner book stores. All books had to be ordered.
The HEAD that allows his HEART to win the debate. As a man of passion and feeling, he fully understood the words of Blaise Pascal: “The Heart has its reasons that reason cannot know…I do not wish I had been more logical…I often wish I had been more passionate.”
Before I quote from the text of his letter I will tell you more about Maria Cosway, the woman of Jefferson’s heart. Read more