A Theological/Bible Related Commentary

Part III – The Rebuttal Begins

        In Part I of this article, we addressed the fact that the website Apologetic Press rigorously defends the bizarre idea that “On the third day,” and After three days” both denote one and the same day. (And is not the only apologetic source to do so either.**) The Apologetic Press’ Eric Lyons writes:

“…as awkward as it may sound to an American living in the 21st century, a person in ancient times could legitimately speak of something occurring “on the third day,” “after three days,” or after “three days and three nights,” yet still be referring to the same exact day”*

      The two-step process taken in pursuing this line of defense was to first stress that time-keeping in ancient times was not nearly as precise as it is in the 21st century; and second, to emphasize the fact that we moderns are not familiar enough with the Jewish idioms of Jesus’ day to recognize no real problem exists. Eric Lyons states:

“The idiomatic expressions that Jesus and the Bible writers employed to denote how long Jesus would remain in the grave does not mean that He literally was buried for 72 hours. If we interpret the account of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection in light of the cultural setting of the first century, and not according to the present-day (mis)understanding of skeptics, we find no errors in any of the expressions that Jesus and the gospel writers used.”*

    Eric lists six examples of biblical time-keeping verses which he feels are similarly ‘contradictory” to those undergoing our scrutiny, but which upon close inspection, prove to provide no real problem for the skeptic either. The most pertinent one related to our examination is reproduced below:

  • In 1 Samuel 30:12,13, the phrases “three days and three nights” and “three days” are used interchangeably.

     What is imperative to keep in mind, however, is that in I Samuel 30:12,13, the Egyptian is recounting the events of his ordeal on the fourth day of the week―not the third. Below is the text as to what actually transpired:

“They found an Egyptian in a field [on the fourth day of his suffering] and brought him to David. They gave him water to drink and food to eat— part of a cake of pressed figs and two cakes of raisins. He ate and was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days And three nights.  David asked him, “Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. ” (I Samuel 30:12-13-NIV; emphasis mine)

       So there is no question that in this  particular instance, both “three days AND three nights” and “three days” are, indeed, perfectly interchangeable seeing as the Egyptian is recounting his ordeal on the fourth day. The text of Matthew 12:39b-40, however, is an entirely different matter altogether. Here are the actual words of Jesus himself:

“An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days AND three nights, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (NIV; emphasis mine)

       There is simply no valid reason whatever to doubt that Jesus was being as precise as possible in detailing his prophecy. Taking Jesus at his word then, it means the resurrection would had to have occurred on the “Monday” following Good Friday, and not Sunday. But before we explore this point any further, let us first examine the ramifications of trying to insist that “On the third day” and “After three days” both refer to the same exact day, and that any “perceived” disagreement is simply due to a modern “misunderstanding” of 1st-century Jewish Idiom.

A Conversation Between Two Apostles

        Envision the following scene: Jesus’ apostles, Peter and James, have  just met at a well on a very hot Sunday afternoon in the village of Nazareth:

Peter:     Did you hear? Timothy is getting married!

James:   Why, that’s wonderful  news!! When’s the wedding?

Peter:     Well, let’s see, Bartholomew told me it was to be on the third day of this week, so that  would make it Tuesday afternoon.

James:   Well I’ll make sure then, that I have my mule and I ready to arrive as early as I can after [those] three days, on Wednesday, so that I don’t miss any  part of the wedding ceremony.

So much for the skeptic’s “misunderstanding” 1st-century “Jewish idiom” argument.

End of Part III

   * https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=756

**  http://www.defendingyourfaith.org/Contradictions.htm

Part 1  Here          Part II  Here     Part IV Here

Next Time: Part IV: The Rebuttal Continues

And So it Goes . . .

January 20, 2010

 A Personal Commentary

Still breathin’. Still alive. Still trapped out here on the outskirts of town.

With all the suffering that is presently going on in this country – primarily financial – I can hardly expect to receive any appreciable sympathy or genuine help out here. That’s well understood. Besides, what can an individual atheist, or the atheist organizations nation-wide do if state politicians refuse to put a stop to what I’ve been, and continue to be, subjected to? Especially seeing how difficult it may be for some to believe what’s been going on out here has actually been going on.

It all comes down to my word versus that of county officials and certain Wisconsin politicians in regards to my plight. And it’s rather obvious who is going to be believed more so than the other. Not a thing I can do about it but try and supply documented evidence buttressing my position and hope the politicians who have permitted what has happened pay for it, at at least politically, somewhere down the road. What they’ve permitted is unconscionable. (So too in regards to those accomodating locals choosing to go along with all this!) How sad.

The “loon” is talking “loony”, one might tend or like to surmise. But without an honest examination of some supra-critical documents not being given the rightful scrutiny they deserve, there’s virtually nothing I can do to counter the notion – no matter how true the facts of my case may be. There’s simply nothing I can do about it.

This country is in the pitiful state it is presently in precisely because of the type of individuals who contol my county. They have their way with virtual impunity – thanks to the unscrupulous politicians who aid and abet them. They seem to live in a parallel universe partly disassociated from the rest of us, and yet in a world in which they simultaneously misuse and abuse us to satisfy their own self-serving selfish needs to the detriment of ours. And all with astounding ease. It’s a problem more systemic than many an American realizes.

And so I sit in virtual isolation and confined to a structure unfit to live in, under truly appalling conditions.

Still, I’m quite the proud atheist who has successfully resisted every effort on the part of some rather intense, sanctimonious Christian locals (and others) trying either to convert me, or else have me kowtow to the big-wigs who really run Marinette County – along with the subordinates who rule over my home town.

The behavior of these people illuminates Christianity at its ugliest; the lack of honesty and integrity, the lack of moral backbone on the part of certain politicians in my congressional district – particularly in regards to my plight – just absolutely pathetic. Shame on them.

The solution to their dilemna? Why leave me out here to endure this fiendish ordeal indefinitely, of course! (Quite the antithesis of Jesus’s “Golden Rule”, they’d have to admit. Wouldn’t they? The principle of treating others in the same manner we would like to be treated being extolled in both religion and philosophy, I might add.)

I am painfully aware I have fought a losing fight in the most lop-sided manner imaginable.

Far too many Americans in this present economic, culture-ravaged, period in our history are suffering as well – albeit in other ways. So, I suppose, virtually no one can be expected to care all that much about what’s going on out here. And all things considered, I can’t really blame the outsider for that. That’s life, unfortunately.

Let’s face it: the “bad guys” have the upper-hand presently. They simply have too many “friends” in government seeing to their prosperity. They form a cancer that is bringing our beloved country to it’s knees. Our politicians, in far too many instances – but certainly not all – have become a huge part of the problem instead of the solution to our woes.

At this stage of things I fully realize that what I am attempting to do is utterly futile, utterly hopeless. But to just cease and desist isn’t going to change things for the better, will it? And so on it goes.

Note: I would like to continue composing bible-related and theological articles from an atheist perspective, but am hamstrung to do so satisfactorily enough due to the ever deteriorating conditions just depleting the heck out of me out here. Wish it were otherwise.

To be continued . . .

On Hiatus

December 5, 2009

  A Personal Commentary 

The Atheist Observer is on hiatus.

This atheist is involved in a hellacious life and death struggle for his very existence out here in Marinette County, Wisconsin . . . and I’m clearly losing the battle. Actually, I have decidedly lost it already. It’s just a matter of time now. No cavalry to the rescue for this non-believer, it appears.

The evil “religious” man can do to his fellow man just numbs the mind . . . and all the while projecting an utterly false and hypocritical image of noble piety while perpetrating it.

In “punishing” the atheist holding an extremely reasoned difference of opinion forming his non-belief, religious man violently violates some of the most noble precepts of his religion; the “Golden Rule” of his faith. What, then, is the point of his religious upbringing, his religious stance? Just disgusting

Virulent politically-related corruption and anti-atheist sentiment on the part of the powers that be rule with an iron-fist out my way, while otherwise “good” men and women in my community (and elsewhere) stand idly by continuing to do not a thing about it, unfortunately.

And religious man is morally superior to the atheist?

 

I am in desperate need of help. But to my deep disappointment I find that none is coming from any quarter – at least none that I’m aware of.

What is going on out here is unspeakably cruel and heinous. Words not said lightly. They are based on fact.

We human beings must be better than this. We have to be. That this could happen in my America grieves me to no end.

I fervently hope no one else reading these words is suffering a similar fate.

 

A Social Commentary

In recent decades atheists have seen a remarkable increase in the number of Americans joining their ranks—right along with an increase in antipathy towards the Christians that make up the religious right. And why not? Far too many far-right Christians have made transforming the United States into as close to a theocracy as possible their life’s mission.

Reclaiming America for Christ!” is what some of their leaders have labeled this pipe-dream; insisting all the while that in the course of promoting their faith they would not   impose their religious views on others. Just who they think they’ve been fooling with their patently disingenuous rhetoric, however, is anyone’s guess.

This quasi-theocracy would, of course, be led by individuals with a built-in abhorrence of and contempt for atheists and other freethinkers; individuals whose only “crime” is one of unbelief; fellow Americans guilty of nothing more than harboring a reasoned difference of opinion  with those who believe in alleged supernatural creatures that not a one of them can prove even exist!

But we’ve been speaking in regards to an extremist minority up to this point. What about the ‘good’ Christian? What about the ‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ Golden Rule-abiding friend, relative, or acquaintance that carry themselves in a manner we atheists often find downright “noble”; that stripe of Christian that is nearly as opposed to the religious right zealots as the non-believer? We atheists all know such individuals. More likely, several. What about them ?

Fact is that these wonderful people, these wonderful Christians, want to believe what they want to believe and have every right to do so. End of story.

Fact too is that despite our resounding differences of opinion, atheists respect, even admire, good Christians who do genuine good. The good Christian, we know, is possessed of grand character and a noble heart. But perhaps as equally important, a live-and-let-live spirit of amiability that is so vital to peaceful co-existence in a country filled with so many divergent beliefs as ours.

The 'Good' Christian

Dr. C. Welton Gaddy

The good Christian embraces a profound belief in his or her God while respecting the atheist’s right to disbelieve. The rabid, far-right Christian does not. The good Christian poses no real threat to the atheist, agnostic, or most any other shade of freethinking individual. We are, in fact, far more alike than dissimilar, the atheist and the good Christian.

The Christian extremist, on the other hand, does this country no real good. Their brand of Christianity is a bane on our cultured, freedom-loving society. They need to learn how to actually live  the Golden Rule like the good Christians do, instead of just speak of it in the abstract, or apply it only  to Christians of their own persuasion. They need to learn to be more accepting of those who do not share their world-view. After all it’s their  world-view, not ours. We atheists live on this planet too.

Non-believers are an ever growing segment of American society. But just as important is the fact that we are every bit  as moral and ethical as the Christians – often more so! Ever wonder which world-view those overflowing our jails and prisons to beyond capacity tend to call their own? Go figure.