So It Is Written

Many people are awestruck and are left without words to describe the wondrous things that God and his son Jesus have done. They point to Genesis and the amazing way that God spoke life into being along with all of the other things in the universe. What a miracle it was for God to create man from dust and then woman from the rib of a man. Surely only a god could do such things. When Jesus came, he performed many miracles to the astonishment of the audience before him. Curing blindness, turning water into wine, walking on water and then dying and rising again. Truly astounding. How could any of this be possible if not because of the supernatural world being real? Simple. It’s a story.

I’m not a well-known author. I have one self-published book and a novel I have been shopping around to a few different publishers. Besides those books and this blog, I am unknown to most people as a writer. However, even with my limited experience and my limited imagination, I can come up with all sorts of things that do not exist in the real world. I have written about creatures that are not real, powers that are overtly unrealistic and situations that people in the real world would never find themselves in. All of this is possible with a little imagination and a lot of free time.

So when you hear stories of angels, demons, men who have the ability to perform miracles and a god who has unlimited power, you need to ask yourself if there is any good reason to believe any of it. Jesus was a miracle-maker and died on the cross. He rose again and ascended into heaven. Or did he? What is the evidence of that? Stories? Is there anything beyond that? No. What about the Exodus? Is there any evidence outside of the biblical account of that happening? Any archaeological evidence? Anything? No. Noah’s Ark? No. David and Goliath? No. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown in a furnace and escaping unharmed? No. All of the stories that involve magic, miracles or the supernatural have no evidence to back them up. Why? They are stories.

There’s a reason why the dinosaurs in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park were perfect for the big screen and why J.K. Rowling’s characters from Hogwarts made excellent Harry Potter movies. The stories were so well written that people were able to picture them really happening. Readers can envision these fictional characters as real people facing real challenges. The stories may be pure fiction but are written in a way that you forget that and they can become real in people’s minds. People like to be taken away from reality as they are swept into a world of imagination and fantasy. It is an escape. It is a break from the real world and a time for people to just sit back and be entertained. Good stories can do that. Good stories will make the reader beg for more. Then there are bad stories.

There are some stories that are not written just for entertainment. They are written as a means to deceive and control people by convincing them that the stories are based on facts. The stories and characters are so unbelievable that they require constant, changing interpretations and coercion in order to convince others that they are real. Embellishment is a huge component of oral tradition stories. The more outlandish they are, the more interested the person listening is. There are campfire stories and fish stories that people share that are full of deception but told as if they are 100% accurate. However, once written down, they become much more difficult to change.

I think that the writers of the Bible made a huge mistake when they put down on paper the words that were circulating for centuries. If they wanted to be more convincing, they should have left the stories as oral campfire tales. Oral tradition can be changed over and over and people can deny that certain parts were ever in those stories. That’s why when children play the “telephone game” (also known as Chinese Whispers) the story at the end is usually nothing like how it began. The oral traditions of the biblical stories were like those telephone games people played as children. Once written down though, the story was literally black and white. Now, people who defend it are forced to explain away all of the obvious errors, contradictions and outlandish things written in there. It’s much harder to do when it’s written down as a supposedly “finished” work that was inspired by none other than God himself. If just shared by word of mouth, subtle changes at first can lead to huge changes in the end and you can continue to make it whatever you wish it to be.

It doesn’t matter if a story is shared orally or is written down and then read by others. Without evidence, stories are just stories. They are fictional until proven to be factual. They are entertainment until they are proven to be anything else. Yes, some of the content might be helpful. Some of it might be instructional for the purposes of creating order and rules. But, again, they are merely stories without some hard evidence that shows that there is more to them.

The next time someone says something like, “Well if God isn’t real, then how did he part the Red Sea or how can you explain how Jesus walked on water?” you can kindly ask them why they are using stories to “prove” God’s existence. Stories are not real just because someone says that they are. Someone asked recently on their own blog, “Why do you think Jesus could endure such a great temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane, even to the point of sweating drops of blood?” That’s easy. He didn’t. At least, there is no evidence whatsoever that he did. People point to the Bible and fall to their knees in awe of the stories contained within, yet none can show that any of them actually happened. There is no difference between the stories of the Bible and any other fictional story. Well, now that’s not entirely accurate. Good writing keeps people wanting more. Bad writing bores people to death and makes people want to toss the book in the trash.

And this is why believers need to preach. If you can convince someone else that fiction is nonfiction, then it doesn’t matter how bad the plot is or how poorly written it is. All you have to do is convince someone that the jumbled up mess of the Bible is real and they will flip the switch in their minds that goes from using REASON, to believing in (and making excuses for) anything and everything in that book. The story may contain some incredible events and interesting characters, but without any evidence whatsoever that it is true, it remains a poorly written work from the minds of ancient men with little understanding of science. These were men who preyed on the minds of the weak. Those who follow in their footsteps today, carry on that tradition.

14 thoughts on “So It Is Written

  1. Re “I think that the writers of the Bible made a huge mistake when they put down on paper the words that were circulating for centuries.” I think this comment assumes that the writers of the book of the Bible were just writing down oral traditions. But the whole idea of oral traditions was made up to explain where the material in the Bible came from.

    This is especially evident in the New Testament. The gospel we call “Mark” has been dissected and every part of it is a story based upon an Old Testament (OT) midrash. If you remove the materiel written to develop OT themes, there is very little left. And the other “gospels” use quantities of Mark, often verbatim, as if it were, well gospel, meaning they didn’t think it was history either, or they couldn’t tell the difference,

    What most people don’t realize is that most of the Hebrew Bible was written in the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. They were written down as political literature, not meant for general circulation. The motivation for the sudden need for coherent historical roots for a people was created by the return of the Jews to Jerusalem which had been dragged off to Babylon. (Many of the subsequent writings show Babylonian/Zoroastrian influences.) The people “relocated” were the elites, the politicians and the priests and royals. Since almost a century elapses, the people who were returned were not the same people that left (and btw, the Persian emperor who gave the order for the return was labeled a messiah by the Jews) but they came back telling all who remained behind that they were their true leaders and their true priests and they should honor them, not any trumped up leaders who filled in when they were gone. So, legitimacy was the need of these “returnees.” Those that stayed behind were mostly Samaritans who assumed those folks were gone for good and built a temple in the north because they were not allowed to rebuild in Jerusalem). The “Returnees” were allowed to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and repaid the Samaritans for keeping the faith alive by making war on them and razing their temple.

    It wasn’t for centuries that copies of those books, written to provide a consistent back story for the “Returnees” were copied and distributed out of the temple. \

    We have no idea what the oral traditions were. That there were dozens, if not hundreds, of sects of Christianity, clearly indicating that oral traditions surrounding it were neither stable nor universal, so claiming them as a source is weak tea at best. I see no reason to thing OT “oral traditions” were any better.

    Sorry if I sound as if I am ranting. I wish these issues were more available to the general public. I have spent years piecing together the puzzles and am still working on them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. By all means, rant away. The comment section is often far more enlightening than the body of the post anyway.

      I am always limited by my own understanding from what I have been taught and what I have researched on my own. I think what I should have written was that some (not all) of what we call the Bible is “said to have been inspired” by oral tradition that was circulating in ancient times. There is, however, no way to verify all that is said to have been oral tradition as it was just people talking a long time ago. We weren’t privy to their conversations and anything said to have been written based on them is subject to all different opinions about their veracity. That does not stop believers, of course, from correcting me every time I say something was written in the Bible. “You know these stories were around long before they were ever written down, don’t you?” Believers always like to remind us that the truths of the Bible were around before there was a Bible. How they know this, I don’t fully understand.

      There is quite a bit of evidence that suggests the written works were altered through the years to be used for a purpose other than to just enlighten the reader about godly things. Bart Ehrman and those like him who have devoted a lifetime to studying texts are far more qualified to speak on those things.

      But, like I said, oral tradition or written text, it doesn’t matter without the evidence to back it up. The supernatural claims that suck people in by the billions are nothing but stories. Those stories are actually far less interesting than the history of church and government leaders through the ages using them to fulfill their own personal agendas and gaining lots of power by doing so.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. One question I’ve always had and that none of the apologists or priests or any other TB has answered to my satisfaction is this: If Jesus was such an influential and well known teacher/preacher, why in the world are there no contemporary accounts of him, his teachings, his actions, his followers, etc? People wrote things down, even then. They wrote letters to friends, wrote reports to government agencies, wrote histories, commentaries, etc. But we have absolutely nothing. No source that was contemporary with Jesus wrote anything at all about him. Neither the Roman authorities nor the Jewish ones mentioned him, despite the fact he was supposedly such a revolutionary preacher that they were afraid he was going to start a rebellion. But we have absolutely nothing until decades after his death, and even then what we have is, as Steve points out, of highly dubious sources. True, such accounts might have been written and lost, but come on – this was someone who, according to Christian tradition and the Bible, had literally thousands of people coming to listen to him preach. So why are there no letters, no records, no anything of a preacher who was so popular that thousands came to hear him until decades after he died?

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I find it interesting that fiction outsells non fiction about 3-1. People struggle to be interested in reality. Sometimes boring, not always fulfilling, but that’s where we are.
    Like Mel that you quoted above has stated, he doesn’t even care if it’s true, it has brought him comfort and healed his marriage.
    Just today on my site a similar comment was made that I should have left my faith because it wasn’t fulfilling. I stated I wouldn’t really care about that if any of it were true. If it was true I would have slogged it out.
    People are weird and so am I, I suppose, but that strikes me as dishonest and weak, to be only in it for its placebos.
    Nice work Ben. Always a pleasure my friend

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fiction does tend to be far more interesting to most people than the reality they are living in. When it comes to religion and modeling your life after an idea, truth should be of the utmost importance. If something is real, then you are justified in living it and helping others to live it as well. If God is not real, then none of the supposed commands from God are real either. The afterlife reward/punishment scenario will never play out. Believing whatever you want to is your right, but spreading it as truth when you aren’t even sure it is true is quite another. If you find out that your beliefs were unfounded, letting it go is the best option. Continuing to live a lie is something I don’t think that I, personally, could do. Like you, even if it were unpleasant to be a part of, I would stick it out to the end, knowing it was true and worth the effort.

      Just think what would happen if the Bible were offered to publishers today as the fiction that it is, rather than the nonfiction that it isn’t. It would never get published, as there are too many inconsistencies, plot holes, contradictions and timelines that are just plain wrong. It would never sell. No reputable publishing house would touch it. Convince people it is real, however, despite the lack of any evidence, and it will continue to sell.

      I’m curious how many copies of the Bible have been purchased because of guilt and not because of genuine interest.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I know that I have bought different versions of the Bible out of guilt that I wasn’t getting into “his word” enough. I figured it must be the translation…or the format…or something else. It definitely couldn’t be the content, right? I just needed the correct version in order to be the best Christian I could be. Unfortunately, they all ended up being just slightly different wordings of the same unbelievable stories. And that wasn’t enough to keep my faith.

        Gifting a Bible in order to create guilt is far more likely than buying one for yourself out of feeling guilty. Giving someone a Bible because they are living a lifestyle you don’t agree with is a very common practice. Just make sure you always add “It’s because I love you” and then people won’t know that you are judging them and forcing your beliefs on them.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I can’t understand why anyone would buy a copy, when there are so many available for nothing. I was using the wife’s KJV for reference so much, that it was falling apart. I took a free Gideons New American Standard copy from the hospital, when my brother had by-pass surgery. 😳

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I used to go to a local Christian bookstore that sold a lot of Bibles. They had a huge wall containing every version imaginable. There were always people buying them when I’d go shopping there. In fact, the name of the store is “Parable Bible Bookstore.” Parable is a good name for that store. When I was a believer, going there made sense. As an unbeliever, I don’t get it. I just don’t understand why anyone would waste their money.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I grabbed the free one (What??! They want you to take them 😯 ) because I wore out the 1945 Edition researching, and checking Apologists’ claims and quotes.
        I laughed/groaned recently, watching an episode of ‘The Atheist Experience,’ titled Are Atheists Just Afraid To Open The Bible? Studies show that few Christians actually read their Bibles. and Atheists generally know more about it than they do. 🙄

        Liked by 2 people

  3. So it is written. That set it in stone, so to say. Bart Ehrman has some great videos on you tube about Biblical history. Fascinating. But, that is another story. I’ve given up on this holy book stuff. All the discussion about religion is irrelevant because (I totally believe) the supernatural realm does not exist. There is no something else, somewhere else. Religions are fraudulent, selling something that they cannot deliver. GROG Oh, Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Religions are the best salesmen in the world. They offer everything, give you nothing but empty promises, and rake in billions. Religion, as a part of our history is interesting, but believing it as truth is a bit hard to comprehend. Using it still today despite knowing better, is something I no longer understand. With the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, there is no need to be relying on superstition. There is no good reason, other than it is a diversion from the sometimes painful reality of life.

      Liked by 3 people

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