Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christians go Nuts: Bible Says God Did NOT Create Universe!

What happens when you insist that the Bible be taken literally ... and it turns out there is a big mistake in the translation? For example, what if the original doesn't say God created Heaven and Earth?


It's a perfect example of what happens when you let irrational faith trump scholarship and rationality: every time a new fact comes along, your defense of your beliefs has to get even more contorted and far-fetched than before.

According to Professor Ellen van Wolde, the story of Genesis was mistranslated, and badly. God didn't create the universe, it was here already. He just sorted it all out and made sense of it. Sorting out the heavens and firmament, and the waters from the land, and so on, would be a mighty task, one worthy of any ordinary god. But it's a far cry from creating the universe itself ex nihlo.

If Professor van Wolde is right, it puts Yahweh in the same league as gods like Thor, Zeus and Baal: mighty gods, but of-this-universe rather than creator of the universe. Instead of being omniscient and omnipotent, Yahweh would just be more like an ultra-magical human. Quite a downfall.

While this academic debate over a single Hebrew word is interesting and amusing, it's the reaction of Christians and Jews that I find far more instructive, and sad. Professor Van Wolde's short thesis has spawned hundreds of replies on the newspaper's web site, and some of them fill pages with their arguments.

To a scholar, this sort of thing is fun and fascinating, and the debate is just part of an ongoing, somewhat esoteric, effort to expand knowledge. If this were any book other than the Bible, it would be left in the dry, dusty attics of just a few linguists and historians.

But because it affects one of the core beliefs of conservative Christians and Jews, it has to be refuted. Never mind that in a scholarly debate, everyone might eventually conclude that the professor is right (or not ... that's what scholarship is about). No matter what the facts are, these conservative Christians and Jews have to concoct dozens of reasons why the experts must be wrong.

The refutations fall into three main camps:
  1. Professor van Wolde's translation is wrong (this from people who don't even speak Hebrew).
  2. The word "separate" can be taken to mean "create."
  3. The original Hebrew is irrelevant, because the Bible is God's inerrant word and the current translation is His divine will.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog that is relevant again:
There is no objective truth for religion, no foundation. When religious people argue, they're arguing about opinion, and they can argue forever. But when scientists argue, it's over facts, and sooner or later, the facts prevail. One theory will win out because it is true, and the others will be forgotten. And the scientists will then move on to the next question, to expand our knowledge even more.
That's the beauty of true scholarship, that ultimately, through hard work and clear thinking, and by ignoring our own wishes about what we'd like to be true, we find a core truth that everyone can verify for him/herself. And we move on to the next question.

Religion's reliance on faith, and belief in things that can't possibly be true, makes it impossible to move forward. People waste days, years, and even whole lifetimes, concocting silly explanations to justify two-thousand-year-old mythology, simply because some priests or rabbis declared it to be from Yahweh's own mouth. It's a terrible waste of human intelligence.


  1. Rather shallow article. LXX says
    εν αρχη εποιησεν ο Θεος τον ουρανον και την γην

    This means that the translation made 2300 years ago says that God made heaven and earth. This interpretation is confirmed by the only one who rose from the dead - Jesus. He affirmed that God made heaven and earth. He affirmed the Bible that we read today. Sorry about your "scientist".

  2. Can he (it is a he?) please reaffirm that this is in fact his intended translation? I'm finding it hard to keep up with all these changing interpretations of the bible? And please, only evidence that would hold up in a modern court of law. I mean, surely that's not unreasonable... you know, for the creator of the universe and all.

  3. Etien Yordan, There are no contemporary documents even supporting the existence of Jesus Christ. The earliest transcripts from the New Testament date to years after the life of Jesus Christ. Even if we are willing to accept the Bible as evidence, we find internal contradictions. None of the books agree about the life of Christ.

  4. I agree with parts of the aricle... I just believe these "theories" could have been explained a little less biased and without slamming people of faith. Again. I do find the Theories the article quite interesting. There is a difference between Writing an educational artical, and criticizing faiths.

  5. Etien, for someone who believes in the Bible, you demonstrate limited knowledge of what it says. If Jesus is the only person to rise from the dead then what are we to make of Lazarus? Was he merely holding his breath for a long time?

    That aside, the Bible is of dubious authorship at best. None of the books attributed to Moses could have been written by him because they mention his death and are written in the third person (although he could have been a pretentious type). The gospels of the New Testament are hearsay written at least 70 years after the alleged death of Christ because they mention the burning of the Temple in Jerusalem which occurred after 100 AD.

    If you start with the premise that the Bible is inerrant and absolute truth, you will always arrive at that conclusion. This is poor scholarship. If you start by looking at the Bible as a book that may or may not be the word of God and let the words speak for themselves, your conclusions may be a little different. Start with the evidence and see what conclusions arise. Don't start with the conclusion then interpret the evidence to fit it.

  6. The bible has been translated and mistranslated so many times over the years it is difficult to take anyone seriously if they take the bible seriously

    1. totally agree with you. All religion is crazy...made up only to control people.

  7. Glad to see this post up. God is not dead he's wacko. I've read "His" book many times and come to find out God has more screws loose than a hotel high rise after an earthquake. And that goes for Jasper Christ. Funny that Philo never once mentioned the wonder maker or his famous cross bit.

  8. So many bibles and translations, and there are the same words on the same places, the same words on the same places. Thousands of years. So do not buy The Religion Virus today! Sorry about your "scientist".

  9. Mormons believe that God did not create the universe ex nihilo but created it out of matter unorganized; they have believed this since the early 1800s. They also do not believe that God created the earth in six days, but in six periods (and a period could be as long as it took). Lastly Mormons believe the Bible only so far as it is translated correctly (which in my opinion is an understatement). Of course, Mormons believe in the gold plates. LOL No religious system is perfect, right? So it's nice to read that others are catching up. Mormons also believe in the theory of relativity and that God is bound by irrevocable laws; hence, God could not abolish gravity for example; gravity exists; also Mormons believe that God is without beginning or end; that is, since matter and energy can be made to change but not be destroyed then ipso facto God is eternal. Blah, blah, blah. I think the foregoing is why in part Christians (some) have an intense dislike for Mormons, and why Mormons and atheists believe the same things when it comes to science and the lack of proof vis-a-vis the existence of a God. Basically, Mormonism in the 19th Century was ahead of its time; it even has a different approach to theodicy as well.


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