Does Hall’s book get any better? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
So as we go through and we’re past fact 100 now with nothing that has seen us blink so far, let’s see what we get. One of the first is that religious fundamentalists spread hate and intolerance, increase teen pregnancy by denying sex education, bomb abortion clinics, impose beliefs on others, throw homosexuals off of buildings, and other similar items. What do atheist fundamentalists do? Hurt your feelings and challenge your faith.
He left out that atheist fundamentalists can also murder millions of their own people, but details, who needs them? Of course, it’s easy to do something like this if you just take the worst of your opponents and overlook the rest. I prefer what Bruce Sheiman has said in An Atheist Defends Religion.
“The militant atheists lament that religion is the foremost source of the world’s violence is contradicted by three realities: Most religious organizations do not foster violence; many nonreligious groups do engage in violence; and many religious moral precepts encourage nonvio lence. Indeed, we can confidently assert that if religion was the sole or primary force behind wars, then secular ideologies should be relatively benign by comparison, which history teaches us has not been the case. Revealingly, in his Encyclopedia of Wars, Charles Phillips chronicled a total of 1,763 conflicts throughout history, of which just 123 were categorized as religious. And it is important to note further that over the last century the most brutality has been perpetrated by nonreligious cult figures (Hitler, Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe—you get the picture). Thus to attribute the impetus behind violence mainly to religious sentiments is a highly simplistic interpretation of history.”
He also says the early Christians were hypocrites since their love feasts were wine orgies. It is true that Paul says some people were getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper and he condemned that, but there is nothing about orgies going on. This was a criticism of the opponents of the early church, but Hall presents no such data to show this. It would be a shame if he was being hypocritical here and not giving evidence but making a blanket statement expecting us to take it on faith.
He says Genesis 1:29 says every plant is safe to eat. It says nothing of the sort. It says man has command over them and I am more prone to think it refers to the plants that are in the Garden of Eden since the world for Earth can also refer to the land. The ancients knew about poisons just like we do.
He says same-sex marriage are not redefining marriage since marriage predates religion. Let’s suppose I grant that marriage comes first. (Although I contend people have always been religious.) What of it? Marriage is a metaphysical reality that does not depend on any one religious claim. Have the reasons for marriage changed? Yes. Has there always been a man-woman unit? Yes. Hall could actually try to study the history of marriage and find a place that had same-sex unions. Good luck with that.
He tells us that some beliefs were borrowed from Zoroastrianism. These include a good being vs an evil one, every human having a soul, heavenly afterlife, final judgment, and an apocalyptic end of the world. A shame isn’t it that he gives no source for this. A shame that he never tells us when we have our first writings of what the Zoroastrians believe. Hint. It comes AFTER Christianity.
He says God killed a man for putting his load on the ground instead of “knocking up” his sister-in-law. This is the sin of Onan. No. It does not refer to coitus interruptus being a sin or masturbation being a sin. Onan was really protecting his own inheritance knowing that if his sister-in-law got pregnant, the child would not be his and he and his own family would lose any inheritance he could get. Meanwhile, he was denying her what he owed her and denying his dead brother his duty and getting all the benefits. This is much greater than Hall realizes.
Hall says there are over 25,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts and 99% of the New Testament is quoted in church fathers, however, these come after 300 AD (or CE as he says) and this is the same century Christianity becomes established and when they start burning libraries. Unfortunately for Hall, we find more and more manuscripts regularly and these date earlier. Second, the only library I know of being burnt is the Library of Alexandria. It’s not really an open and shut case. Furthermore, the Christians were not opposed to these other books. We were the ones faithfully copying them for centuries.
He says Adam was to die if he ate from a tree and instead he lived 900 years. First, I understand some Hebrew scholars indicate that it means that the process of death will begin at that point for Adam. Second, I think he did die. He died spiritually that day.
He takes Genesis 2:18 that tells us that God tells us that He would make a helpmate for Adam. Proper interpretation? Bestiality was the original plan for Adam. Friends. At this point, I really don’t think I need to say anything. I have no idea how Hall reached such a bizarre interpretation.
He also says prayer doesn’t work because of prayer studies for healing. First, it’s interesting to note that if prayer works, it’s supposed to involve us getting something. Second, I take such studies with a grain of salt anyway, but I am intrigued by the research of Candy Gunther Brown. Third, I want to explain why I don’t pay much attention to these studies.
For one thing, we’re not often told about who is praying. Are these people really people dedicated to a Christian faith? That’s relevant data. Second, God is not a genie or a vending machine that can be tested. God will heal who He wants and not heal who He doesn’t want to. Third, there will be people praying for those in the hospital anyway that can’t be tabulated. There are just too many variables here.
He says according to the Bible, donkeys, snakes, and bushes can talk. The creatures talking would be what we call miracles. That’s assuming this is to be read in a literalistic sense. Even if it is, these are one-time events. The bush is the burning bush and the text indicates that the Angel of the Lord appeared in the bush.
He goes to Leviticus to say tattoos are not allowed ever. This is part of the Levitical Law which is not binding for Christians and never has been. Hall has earlier indicated his ignorance on this point. It is not a surprise that he repeats it.
He says Genesis 3:14 says dirt is the primary food of snakes. The ancients knew just as well as we do what snakes eat. What this means is rather a statement of shame and humiliation for the serpent. It is not making any statements about diet.
He quotes the meme about Codex Sinaiticus having 14,800 differences from the KJV. How an English translation is compared to a Greek copy of the Bible like that is not really stated. It’s good to know that he gets his information from memes. Too bad he never read anything that disagreed with him.
He claims Christian worship on Sunday began under Constantine. I wonder what he does from chapter 67 of the First Apology of Justin Martyr.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
He says when Cain got married, his parents were the only other people on the planet. This is not said into the text, but it is read into the text, though understandably so for many people. I am not persuaded of this interpretation and think it more likely that Adam and Eve were our representatives.
Finally, there is condemnation that Noah who was a man of God cursed his son for the crime of seeing him drunk and naked. It could be far worse. Robert Gagnon in his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice says this could be a euphemism indicating that his son did more than just that and shamed his father sexually.
We will continue another time.