A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible
Hunc tu caveto.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'd like to continue with my argument. Let's examine the flood myth in Genesis. Did you know that there are actually two flood myths being told at the same time? Together, they contradict each other, but when separated they turn into a coherent story.

In one version (J), God instructs Noah to take into the ark two of each unclean animal, and seven pairs of "clean" animals, for a sacrifice after the flood (Gen. 7:3). It says that the flood was caused by rain alone, and it rains for 40 days and nights. Noah then lets a dove out three times to look for land. First, it returns unable to find land. Second, it comes back with an olive leaf, and on the third try it doesn't come back (Gen. 8:8-12).

In the other version (P), God tells Noah to take two of each kind of animal, whether clean or unclean, onto the ark (Gen. 6:19-20). This version was probably a much older version of the flood myth. The cause of the flood is much more grandiose in this one as well, because the "windows of heaven" and the "fountains of the deep" are broken up (Gen. 7:11) ... and the flood lasts 150 days (Gen. 7:24). After the flood, Noah simply sends a raven to look for dry land (Gen. 8:7).

The first version I mentioned is based off a flood myth called "Atrahasis" (the cuneiform tablet above), and the second is based on "Enuma elish". At the end of "Atrahasis", the gods are attracted by the sweet smell of sacrifice and resolve to never again destroy humanity. Now look at Gen. 8:21. There are actually many variants of the flood myth that predate the Biblical account. The Epic of Gilgamesh is written about 100 years before the Bible's account (1100 BCE); Atrahasis has the most parallels with the Biblical account and is dated at about 1640 BCE; and Sumerian Eridu Genesis which dates back 3000 years BCE.

The second version of the flood is based off of the worldview of the "Enuma elish." This is evident because of the idea of heaven's windows opening and the opening of the deep. There was a fairly popular concept amongst ancient people that there was a solid firmament that separated chaos from the Earth. In fact, if we read the Genesis creation account you could see that there is mention of it, and that particular section of the creation account is based on the worldview provided by Enuma elish. Here is an interesting drawing of this firmament concept:

In "Enuma elish", Marduk sets his bow in the sky as a sign that the world order is established. Now look at Gen. 9:12-17, where God (El) sets his bow in the sky. The difference in these two versions is that the bow in "Enuma elish" is the star Sirius, and in Genesis it is a rainbow. However, in both stories the placement of both in the sky marks the final establishment of the earth as a settled place.

1. Enuma elish - http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/enuma.htm
2. Atrahasis - Lambert W.G. and Millard, A.R. Atrahasis; the Babylonian Story of the Flood, 1999.
3. http://www.livius.org/fa-fn/flood/flood2-t.html (of interest is the chart at the bottom).

Monday, July 23, 2007

Here's why I think the God of the Bible doesn't exist. And I'll just focus on one thing. The mythicist position.

The Bible is based off of older mythologies. For instance, and I get this from Tim Callahan's book Secret Origins of the Bible, the Israelites started off as pagans. According to Callahan, the ancient Israelites believed in many of the same gods as the Egyptians and the Canaanites.But as time went on, the mythologies conglomerated and began to be reinterpreted.

We forget that the writing of the Bible spans approximately 1600 years. The Israelites were never a great nation, though they make claims to that in the Bible. It is exactly this reason (that the Bible was written over 1600 years), that there are so many contradictions and inaccuracies in the Bible. Now, people may object to this claim but any reader would see that it takes a certain amount of mental gymnastics and semantic hoop-jumping to make it seem like the Bible isn't contradictory or inaccurate.

But really, it's the story of a cultural transition, from ancient pagan traditions borrowed from neighboring cultures to the consolidation of those into one God. El Elyon, translated as "Most High God", for example, was used by "Melchizedek (above left), the Canaanite priest-king of Salem who sacrificed to him on Abraham's behalf. Christian apologists say that Melchizedek sacrificed to god of the Jews, however that can not be true because "El Elyon" was a god worshipped by the Canaanites. Apparently, apologists later just said El Elyon was a reference to Yahweh.

El (pictured at right) was a sky god, creator and the grey-bearded patriarch of the Canaanite gods." (from Tim Callahan's Secret Origins of the Bible). You know the archaic image we all have of the bearded man in the clouds? That is El.

But it's not just the Old Testament that is full of ancient mythology, the story of Jesus himself is reminiscent of ancient gods, mirroring elements of stories like Osiris-Dionysus, and others.

The point of my argument is this:

1. Christians base their worldview on the Bible, claiming that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

2. Almost all Bible stories, but especially Old Testament ones like the Fall of Man and the Flood Myth are derived from the mythology of surrounding cultures at the time.

3. The New Testament needs these older myths to make sense out of Jesus Christ's death, because the Son of God died for the sins of mankind, who were cursed to be in a sinful state since the Fall of Man.

4. So, the Christian worldview has its foundations built upon old myths.