Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

4000 BC seems too recent a date for the creation of the world. Isn’t the world billions of years old?

According to atheistic scientists, the universe is about 14 billion years old, and the earth nearly 5 billion years old. The real reason for these figures is not the evidence; rather, atheistic origins theories such as the theory of evolution require long periods of time. Long ages (for civilizations, the earth and the universe) are justified using highly speculative dating techniques. There is actually considerable evidence for a young earth and universe.  Thus, there is no logical reason to doubt the Bible's claim of creation in about 4000 BC and a worldwide flood in about 2400 BC. It is worth noting that apart from the Bible, no written material claims to be older than 2200 BC.

Old Testament stories are similar to pagan legends. This suggests that the Bible is a bunch of plagiarized myths.

The Biblical accounts of Creation, the Fall, the Flood and the Dispersion have parallels in the mythologies of ancient civilizations. Skeptics suggest that the Biblical authors copied from them. However, this is special pleading because it deliberately ignores the other possibility: these events actually happened, and the descendants of the participants in these events narrated them in their legends as they got dispersed all over the earth.

These stories are not confined to the Middle East, but spread all over the world (for example, see a list of flood myths from all over the world similar to the account of Noah's Flood in the Bible). This makes the plagiarism claim implausible. Why should a handful of stories be plagiarized worldwide? There are many unique stories in the myths of different cultures; this shows that the ancients were not lacking in the ability to compose stories! Why should they copy from across the globe instead of only inventing their own stories? According to secular anthropology, civilizations developed separately all over the world as hunter-gatherer communities adopted agriculture. If this is the case, how did distant civilizations copy from each other? Just like the Jewish Biblical authors supposedly plagiarized from Akkadian sources, are we to believe that Mexican and Chinese civilizations also sent their representatives to learn myths from Akkad (Iraq)? Outlandish claims like this call for outlandish evidence, which skeptics have not provided.

Genesis 1-11 was written before 2000 BC - contemporaneous or prior to the writings of other ancient civilizations. Moreover, Biblical accounts are detailed and less fanciful than their pagan counterparts. This also refutes the notion that Biblical authors copied from others.

Conclusion: The events of Genesis 1 to 11 actually happened, and most ancient civilizations narrated them (no doubt with distortion and embellishments). Thus, far from discrediting the Bible, the similarity between the Biblical narratives and other ancient stories constitutes historical evidence that the Bible is based on fact

The Biblical Jesus is similar to and thus fabricated from pagan Christ-like figures.

Let us examine the similarities between some important events in Jesus' life and figures from pagan religions.

The death and resurrection:
  • Baal and Tammuz die and rise based on the seasons
  • There is no clear account of Marduk dying.
  • When Osiris is claimed from the dead, he does not come back to the earth but becomes god of the netherworld
  • Asclepius, Bacchus, Hercules and Ariadne went to the stars directly after death.
  • The mystery religion of Mithras and the resurrection accounts of Attis and Adonis date to post-1st century AD (although Mithras, as such was worshiped centuries before Christ)
The virgin birth:
  • Zeus lusted after women and impregnated them by sex or other penetration, giving birth to Dionysis/Bacchus
  • Virgin births are sometimes claimed for Alexander the Great, Krishna and for Buddha; these claims are false. In fact, written sources for Buddha's life appear only 5 centuries after his death! Krishna's mother was not a virgin when she conceived him, and the account is narrated 3000 years after his supposed birth.
  • Zoroaster lived centuries before Christ, but the story of his virgin birth appears first in the Denkard, a ninth century AD document.
Skeptic Thomas Boslooper, although he rejects the virgin birth himself, admits:
"The literature of the old German Religiongeschichtliche schule (school of the history of religion), which produced this conclusion and which has been the authority for contemporary scholars who wish to perpetrate the notion that the virgin birth in the New Testament has a non-Christian source, is characterised by brief word, phrase, and sentence quotations that have been lifted out of context or incorrectly translated and used to support preconceived theories." – Thomas Boslooper, The Virgin Birth, (Philadelphia: Westminister, 1962), p135
Myth details above have been taken from Edwin Yamauchi, quoted in Strobel, Lee, The Case for the Real Jesus, p166-182.

Teaching of being born again (see John 3:1 onward) and being ransomed by death or the shedding of blood (Mark 10:45): The idea of a rebirth by means of the Taurobulium (rite where the blood of a slaughtered bull fell on the initiate) became part of the Attis cult only in the fourth century AD, so in no way can the Biblical concept of redemption through the blood of Jesus be based on it. As the Bible itself says, the Old Testament Jewish sacrifices (and not any pagan rite) prefigure Jesus' death.

Dan Brown claims that the figure of Christ in the Bible is inspired by Mithras, a god of a Persian mystery religion. So let's see the facts:
  • He was born out of a rock (not from a virgin) in a cave (not in a stable)
  • He was born on December 25 (unlike Jesus' whose birthdate is not recorded)
  • He did not teach or travel, and did not have 12 disciples
  • He did not die or rise again - he only killed a bull.
  • He was not called Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Logos, the Redeemer, etc.
Christian writers Tertullian and Justin Martyr warn that the Mithraic meal is an imitation of the Lord's Supper. They could only do this if the Mithraic meal came after the first century.

As you can see, the similarities between Jesus and others are superficial. To summarize:
  • Copycat theorists assume that just because two things exist side by side, one copied from the other (in particular, that Christianity copied from paganism rather than the other way round)
  • The similarities are exaggerated and fabricated.
  • The chronology is wrong
  • Paul, the most prolific New Testament author would never borrow from pagan sources because he specifically warned against pagan influence
  • The first-century Christians discussed controversial things (see Acts 15, for example). Any syncretism with paganism would have elicited a big debate (but there is no evidence of such a debate).

Further reading:

  • Did paganism influence the New Testament?
  • Komoszewski, J. Ed, M James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace. Reinventing Jesus. Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel, 2006
  • Machen, J. Gresham. The Virgin Birth of Christ, Grand Rapides, Mich.: Baker, 1995
  • Mettinger, Tryggve N. D.. The Riddle of Resurrection. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2001
  • Metzger, Bruce. Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish and Christian, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1968
  • Nash, Ronald H. The Gospel and the Greeks. Phillipsburg, N.J.: second edition, 2003
  • Wagner, Gunter, Pauline Baptism and the Pagan Mysteries. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1967
  • Yamauchi, Edwin M. Persia and the Bible. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1996
  • Yamauchi, Edwin M. Tammuz and the Bible. Journal of Biblical literature 84 (1965), 283-90

Who was Cain’s wife?

The Bible makes it clear that Adam was the first man (1 Corinthians 15:44), that Eve was his wife, and that Eve was the mother of all subsequent human beings (Genesis 3:20). In Genesis 5:4, we’re also told that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters (besides Cain, Abel, and Seth, who are explicitly named). The implication is clear: Cain’s wife would have to be his sister or niece.

“That’s incest!” you probably protest. Most people believe incest is wrong for the following reasons:-
  • It just doesn't feel right [this is hardly a valid reason!]
  • The offspring resulting from incest are likely to be severely deformed.
In 1500 BC, God forbade incest (Leviticus 18:6-9). Thus, God does not want us to indulge in incest today! Then why did He make no other provision for Cain and others? Why has He changed the rules?

The answer lies in the second objection that I mentioned. The offspring of a union between a man and woman related by blood can be severely deformed. Let us understand how this happens.

Each one of us has a set of genes that determine our features. There are genes for blonde hair, dark skin, long noses, and so on. Genes can be dominant or recessive. We inherit two sets of genes, one from each of our parents. Reproduction involves making a copy of the genes of the parents for the offspring. Sometimes, there is an error in the copying process and a defective gene is produced. Defective genes tend to be recessive. So if my mother has a defective gene (that will make sure that my hair is really bad), there’s a good chance that my father’s “hair gene” is normal, and it dominates over my mother’s and I’ll have normal hair. On the other hand, if my father was related to my mother by blood, he’d probably have the same defective hair gene as her, and I would surely have really bad hair! These copying errors, called mutations, accumulate from generation to generation (there is a 1 in 10,000,000 chance for such an error). Cain and his sister had first generation copies of Adam’s and Eve’s “original” genes. So their genes would hardly have any errors, and there would be no problem in the offspring that Cain and his sister would produce.

So then, incest was no biological problem for Cain and others, and so God let them practice it. With hundreds of generations gone by, incest is extremely dangerous, and so God has forbidden it, and (in His mercy) also given us an instinct that makes us squirm at the thought of incest so we won’t indulge in it even if we don’t care for Him and His laws.

Are even babies sinful?

Yes. David (Israelite king who ruled from 1055-1015 BC), writing in the Bible says:

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:5

You may have noticed that it takes a great deal of effort to teach little children how to be polite, tell the truth, and so on, but you don’t have to teach them to steal, lie and be selfish. Why? Because they’re sinful right from the start!  Our everyday experience proves what the Bible says about sin, not just regarding babies, but everyone else as well. Not only is sin a reality, its remedy also is!

Is pain good?

This world has a lot of pain that cannot be linked causally with any specific misdeed:-

  1. Disease ridden animals torture each other in a desperate struggle for survival
  2. Women go through menstruation and child delivery
  3. Some people (not necessarily bad people) undergo misfortune, such as the loss of a loved one, destruction of property, etc.
  4. Some people undergo oppression, abuse, etc.

The Bible tells us that God is not the author of this pain. Why does evil exist then?

Liberals and Muslims believe that God is the author of pain - He created a rotten world. Atheists and Biblical Christians say that such a God is not worthy of worship even if he exists. Muslim apologists say he is, because pain is good. The following are the reasons they offer, and my responses.

Pain is a helpful signal. Leprosy patients don't feel pain in their limbs and so don't realize it when they hit their limbs against something or burn them. So they don't tend to their wounds because they don't feel them! Hence their limbs deteriorate. Thus, pain is a blessing in disguise. But this explanation is inadequate. Why couldn't God think of some better warning signal? Why are animals carnivorous? Why does child delivery have to be painful?

Pain is cathartic - it is good for you because it makes you a better person. This argument is invalid because:-

  1. Even people who use this argument use pain killers and anesthetics. This proves that they don't really believe it.
  2. Both Islam and liberalism deny that man has a sinful nature - people only choose to commit sinful acts occasionally. If this is the case, there is no logical reason why pain can be cathartic because most pain in the world has no direct correlation with wrong choices. Chronic medication can only be cure for chronic disease.
  3. Defending this argument requires documentation to prove that precisely those people who need extra catharsis are the ones going through the greater pain. No proponent of this argument has ever provided such evidence. There is in fact, every indication to the contrary. For example, in WW2, Germans who were complicit with the Nazis (the bad guys) did not suffer as much as Germans who opposed the Nazi atrocities (the good guys).
  4. The Koran does not address the problem of pain and suffering using this (or any other) argument. This argument has merely been invented by Islamic apologists to defend their religion.

To summarize: Pain is intrinsically bad, and the gods of Islam and Liberal Christianity who made pain an intrinsic part of their world are not worthy of worship even if they exist.

I don’t consider myself a sinner. I’m quite good and respectable, and people look up to me.

When the word “sinner” is mentioned, most people think in terms of murderers, rapists, and so on. However, the Bible makes it clear that sin is much closer to home. For instance, Jesus said that treating a person with contempt is equivalent to murder, (Matthew 5:21-22) and lusting after a woman is equivalent to adultery (Matthew 5:27-28). Do you love gazing at good looking women/men and fantasizing about them? God does not give you brownie points if you didn’t sin because you were worried about the repercussions or did not get the chance! Do you entertain yourself by watching theft, adultery, cheating, violence and gossip on TV? Then you violate God’s command in Philippians 4:8. Have you been loving Jehovah-God with all your heart and loving others as yourself? If not, you've violated God's commands (Mark 12:28-31). Thus, all of us are sinners. We all look so good and respectable on the outside. We put on these facades because we look at the outward appearance; however, God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

So what is God's assessment of us?
  • "There is NONE righteous, no, not one" - Romans 3:10, here it is applied to all human beings, not just Jews
  • "[Even your] righteousness is as FILTHY RAGS..." - Isaiah 64:6
  • "[Your] heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" - Jeremiah 17:9
  • “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
The reason we consider ourselves so good is that we’re busy evaluating ourselves and each other against the standards of the bad guys “out there”. When it comes to God’s standards, we’re all in the same boat, falling miserably short. This does not mean that each of us is equally bad – there is gradation in sin, but, there is no one who can be called “good” by God’s standards. I certainly don't claim to be "good". I'm just a sinner like you, but I've received God's forgiveness that's available in Jesus Christ.