So recently I did a guest post on an atheist blog answering questions that were supposed to stump a theist. Then I got put on moderation for committing the grave sin of asking . . . a . . . QUESTION! DUN! DUN! DUN! 1) This is intellectually dishonest and a bad faith act. It’s the equivalent of inviting someone to a debate, shutting off their microphones, pre-selecting your entire audience, and then telling them to scream anytime the person even breaths! 2) It’s impractical. As one answer to a response will sit in moderation limbo as five more people add new questions and comments. 3) It constrains the type of responses I can give since I may offend my host’s precious sensibilities. (Awww! I don’t like that you’re being mean to my friend! How dare you accuse him of a logical fallacy. After all, everyone knows atheists INVENTED logic!) All of which means I’m not going to respond anymore in that thread since essentially I’m being censored. Otherwise most of the responses were just logical fallacies (false dichotomy, appeal to consequences are the two I noticed, but I’m sure there were others), predictable emotional reactions from people, and complete misunderstanding of pretty straight-forward and consistent ideas (the Bible is literature, All of it!, as demonstrated by archaeological evidence, linguistic evidence in the texts, etc.). Nothing else to say really.
(Update: First I want to apologize. Apparently my comment went into moderation because it had two links. I genuinely thought my comments had been placed in moderation because I had asked someone a question, which you can imagine is why I thought my host was acting in bad faith. I asked a question, then the next thing I know my next comment went into moderation. So apparently I committed a Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, meaning I’m the one who is acting in bad form! So I do apologize. I am in the wrong.)
————————————————— An Answer to Final Questions
If he is tending towards agnostic and believing the bible to be myth, why then does he write god and g-d?
I can write God just fine. I write G-d, however, because I see no reason to adopt someone else’s cultural norms. I like my cultural norms. It’s not out of fear of God.
how [does] being Jewish [have] any bearing on whether [I] believe a god exists or not?
I don’t see a sharp line between where my religion begins and where my culture begins. Judaism for me is both my culture and my religion. The holidays for me are both cultural and religious. The foods both cultural and religious. etc. If I became an atheist tomorrow I wouldn’t change anything about how I lived my life or “practiced” my religion. I would pretty much do the same things and just call them purely cultural. So at best, it would just be a matter of re-categorization, but in all practical behaviors I suspect there would be no real difference. While my belief in G-d is as I described previously, I am still practicing this agnostic-style belief in the context of Jewish practice and rituals. I still celebrate all the major Jewish holidays and such like most Jews, including many atheist ones. In other words, I still identify as Jewish.
He has been asked how does he know that those who take the bible as the inerrant word of a god are wrong since he believes it is a collection of myths and narratives?
I don’t absolutely know they’re wrong and I’m fine with letting people believe whatever they like. After all, that’s sort of the point. What the heck do I know?
As for the reasons I hold my position. There are inconsistencies and discrepancies between narratives, which is best explained by there being multiple authors (the Wellhausen Hypothesis, JEPD, etc.) Let’s look closely at Genesis 3. There are 2 Creation stories in the bible (Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 + 3). So now let’s imagine an ancient redactor (an ancient editor who worked with multiple manuscript traditions and fused them over time). They have two different stories with different orders of creation. This suggests the following possibilities:
1) The redactor considered both traditions sacred and had no way of authenticating which one was the true creation story. This might mean he accepted that both could be right and had no way of determining.
2) Redactor just didn’t notice the details didn’t match up.
3) Redactor didn’t care about the details. He noticed, but the literal details didn’t matter to him. He included both stories because other aspects mattered to him more.
Option 2 still leads to a redactor who wasn’t overly worried about the literal details of creation.
Basically the fact that we have two creation stories with different orders of creation itself is evidence that the literal details didn’t matter that much. In other stories from the Bible, linguistic scholars have identified interpolations and additions. One example would be Genesis 22:11 – 12, the section of the Binding of Isaac when the angel pops down. Most scholars agree (using linguistic analysis, such as its fit, word choices, etc.) that this was added later on into the story. There are tons of examples of this sort of thing throughout the Bible and other ancient cultures’ myths and literature, suggesting it was a norm to modify and change stories, even after they stopped existing solely in Oral Culture and further suggesting that they weren’t overly concerned with the literal truth of these stories. A study of other cultures suggests borrowed tropes. All of these factors lead to the position I hold.
I read the Bible the way I would the Koran, the Mahabharata, and Ovid’s Metamorphosis.