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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Using .04 percent to reject the 99.06 percent

How much is .04 percent?

Trick question.

Before I 'splain, I add, this is a discussion about the Bible and touches on religion, It's also not about religion. It's about people, judging, society and being giant flaming hemorrhoids.

It's about using a less than one percent to represent a whole. .04 percent prezackly.


So then, I draw your attention to this article.

11 Bible verses that turn Christians into Atheists -

These are a few isolated passages. The verse system, created in 1551, has about 31,100 (plus or minus depending on your translation). To judge that entire work based on less than a dozen verses is a disservice.

However, these passages are disturbing.

As an evangelic pentecostal preacher and a person who wants to be more like the man we call Jesus the Christ, I say, "Some of these passages do bother me a lot, especially when taken in full context. I cannot explain them."


A good question is: If we know the Bible has things like this and errors, then how can we trust any of it?

Because humans are built to trust. We must trust. We have to trust. Even the most ardent atheist (and some of my friends are such) has to trust.

If you do not trust, then you must go through the world in a constant state of amazement. You go to sleep, trusting that you will wake later. You get into a vehicle trusting that you will arrive safely. You go to a doctor and get treatment for maladies, trusting the doctor knows what he is doing. Or, you trust in naturopathic remedies or holistic remedies or the most woo factor of all, homeopathic rememdies.

Doctors fail. People die. Fatal allergic reactions to everything happen.

Yet. We trust.

What we're after here is a threshold. How much of it has to be bullshit before we refuse to trust.

Now, we invite Satan into this discussion. Yes. Math looms like the slasher in a horror flick staring down the nubile wench in lingerie.


To accurately state how much .04 percent is pretty easy in math (if you understand math, which I do not). 

Adding context can change that .04 percent a LOT. Let's get contextual.

"All 50 states have now set .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI). For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI or DWI conviction nationwide."

Yowza. Yowza. Yowza.

More context (and more math than I can do) - "An average fatal concentration for humans was estimated as 546 ppm hydrogen cyanide after a 10-minute exposure (DOA 1976, as cited in Ballantyne 1988)." and "An average fatal dose of 1.52 mg/kg cyanide for humans has been calculated from case report studies of intentional or accidental poisonings (EPA 1987a)."

Can you get cyanide poisoning from apple seeds? Yes, but...

Short this circuit. Amounts matter. Concentrations matter. The particular item being discussed matters. What is the threshold?


Those who take the 11 passages and find that's enough to reject Christianity are taking .04 percent of the Bible to judge the rest.

Is that fair?

To those who judge the Bible based on those passages, I say "and if I judge you based on three minutes of conversation with you, would I have an accurate picture of who you are?"

If I took .04 percent of your life and used it to form an opinion of you, is that fair?

Take .04 percent of anything. How much do you really know about it?


M. posted a while back that W. took one of her arguments, distilled it, simplified it and reduced it to the point where his comment was completely erroneous.

Arg. Too complicated.

In other words, W. took M's statement and turned it into gibberish.

It's been done before. "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and them teams up with three strangers to kill again." Any idea what that sentence summarizes?

Here ya go -

Taking .04 percent and using it to represent the other 99.96 percent is an error on the order of multiple magnitudes. Any decent researcher will tell you that is a bad place to stake a firm opinion and decision.


While I can't explain those 11 verses, I can say this: Ancient Hebrew is a major language which scholars have to guess at. There is more than .04 percent of the Bible where we simply do not know what the words mean.

There is no completely accurate Ancient Hebrew - any other language dictionary out there.

Complicating matters, much is lost in translation. Anyone who works with more than one language will tell you this. I read an article about several modern languages which have words for which there is no direct English equivalent. Surely the same must be found in Ancient Hebrew.

Consider the word "gay." Use the word "gay" in a sentence today and it means a person with a same-gender sexual attraction. Use it in a sentence from 1964 and it meant a happy person. Use it in a sentence from 1975 and you have to guess at the context. "He is a gay person." Ehhh, what do you mean?

We guess based on context.

An educated guess by a scholar steeped in learning and lore is still a guess.

What if we guessed wrong?


Some people who read the Bible say you have to understand it in context. In other words, pulling a line or two leaves out too much. Troo dat. The Book of Proverbs is an exception. For most of the Bible, you need the entire passage to get the sense of it.

Taking that .04 percent is and using it to represent the entire Bible is like taking 11 lines at random from any large work of literature and using that represent the whole.

Take your favorite book. Has to be at least 200 pages. Go to pages 3, 47, 95, 102 and the last page. Take a line from the middle of each page. Does that do a good job of explaining the entire book?


Some who read, believe and follow the Bible say it is God's word direct as handed down to man and must be accepted literally. Never mind the parables are specifically NOT meant to be taken as literal fact.

Some believe it is a complete work of fiction. Never mind archeological accounts now back up parts of the historical records in the Bible.

Some believe it is a work of fiction and a historical account. Separating fact from fiction is quite a challenge.

Some believe it is inspired by a Divine Being but cannot be taken literally all the time and it has errors. This strikes me as accurate.


Show me one thing God has handed to man, which man has kept perfect, intact and sacrosanct. Show me ANYTHING man has handled which has remained inviolate.


\We have ancient Hebrew texts and we do not have a complete understanding of that language as I note above. So how can today's translations be exact and perfect? Some say the KJV corrected any errors. Every KJV apologist I've come across will not understand all of the KJV terminology and syntax. They have the ability to learn to understand, but chosoe not to.

If you won't understand something, are you truly a reliable source about its authenticity?

Some of Solomon's writings have words which appear once. The best Bible scholars admit we don't know what these words mean. There's not enough context to get the word defined.

In the New Testament we have Ancient Aramaic, Greek and Latin Vulgate. We have a much greater understanding of those languages. So is the NT correctly translated?

Here's Galatians 3:24 in Latin - itaque lex pedagogus noster fuit in Christo ut ex fide iustificemur.

Here's Galatians 3:24 KJV Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

NKJV - Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

JUST to monkeywrench this, here's the entire chapter in The Living Bible,

The word here is "pedagogus." It means either a slave responsible for assisting a child with school work or a teacher and not a slave. Pretty critical difference. One is owned and property being subject to the whims of the owner and the other is an instructor not subject to any arbitrary whims of an owner.

The meaning in this one is pretty critical. Which is it? How do you know which is correct? I can argue it either way and each way has a very different meaning.


Suspend your disbelief for a moment. Posit God exists. So, if the Bible we have today has all these errors, how can God allow this to happen?

So what's the deal here? If God is really running the show, how can He allow His word to be changed? Why does He allow errors?

Perhaps the answer is all around us today. God does let people have their own way, even when it is wrong. We are not automatons. Posit God handed down all of creation and made humankind stewards. How's that working out? Made a right mess of things not the least of which is nuclear bombs dropped on Japan.

Perhaps the answer is God is getting ready to smite humankind once again because we've made such a mess of things. 2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Perhaps the answer is, we just don't know and cannot know, at least in this existence. We cannot understand our fellow humans, much less anything else. That does not stop us from trying. It certainly does not stop us from trying to be better.


The Muslims and the Mormons both say God sent down a later work that corrected the errors, explained and expounded on His true word. Evidence says the current Koran corresponds "closely" with the oldest versions we have today. "Closely" is not exact. The Book of Mormon has also been modified.

The "Bible" as used by Protestants today is a massively cut-back, trimmed, edited and abridged version. The Catholics have an expanded version. Western Orthodox adds more. Eastern Orthodox adds even more. (They are excellent reads, as are the Dead Sea Scrolls if you like history).

The Bible itself says there's a lot more out there. The Book of Enoch. The Book of the Kings of Israel.  The Book of Jasher. The Epistle to the Laodiceans. Get you some.

What about the Gospel of Barnabas? The Gospel of Mary? The Gospel of Thomas?

The urge to tinker and improve is impossible to overcome. The Councils of Nicea. The Councils of Jamnia. The Protestant Reformation. The "New World Translation" of the Bible by the Jehovah Witnesses has undergone several revisions.

I asked a former pastor why all these were cut out of the Bible. His reply was "That was done by people who know a lot more than you or I." [insert eye roll here] I'm always willing to accept an honest "I don't know," which that was most emphatically not!


A lot of this sounds like Christian Apologetics. It's not, really.

Rather, it's an observation on human nature.

All of us are more than willing to take .04% or less and use that to pass judgment on the whole. We're willing to take .04% or less and use that to create an unshakeable opinion about the remaining 99.06%. We're a bunch of flaming hemorrhoids.

Is that really fair?

Imagine someone seeing half of one of your shoelaces and using that to describe everything about you. Fair?

Yet, that's exactly what we do. Why?

We seek order from chaos. We demand straight lines and understanding. We willingly extrapolate from the most meager details to arrive at our preconceived notion of reality.

To massacre a quote from the Bible, "Lead me not into temptation for I already know the way."

1 comment:

  1. Kudos from the under educated.. Thank you ..


Hi. I welcome lively debate. Attack the argument. Go after a person in the thread, your comments will not be posted.