Introduction to the bible
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Introduction to the Bible. The structure of the Bible. ‘Babylonian Genesis’ compared to Gen 1. Gen 1 compared to Gen 2. Documentary Hypothesis. Theism or naturalism? The core Christian beliefs about creation. Old Testament (39 books accepted by all + 7 accepted by some) Torah (5 books)

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Introduction to the Bible

The structure of the Bible.

‘BabylonianGenesis’compared to Gen 1.

Gen 1 compared to Gen 2.

Documentary Hypothesis.

Theism or naturalism?

The core Christian beliefs about creation.

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Old Testament (39 books accepted by all + 7 accepted by some)

Torah (5 books)

Prophets (21 books)

Writings (13 + 7 or more)

New Testament (27 books)

The structure of the Bible

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Enuma Elish: ‘The Babylonian Genesis’Date uncertain, 1800BCE -1100 BCE

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Enuma Elish

Tablet 1

When there was no heaven, no earth, no height, no depth, no name, when Apsu was alone, the sweet water, the first begetter; and Tiamat the bitter water,.. when there were no gods (cf. Gen 2:4b)-

When sweet and bitter mingled together, no reed was plaited, no rushes muddied the water, the gods were nameless, natureless, futureless, then from Apsu and Tiamat in the waters gods were created…

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The Dismemberment of Tiamat, or How the World Came to Be

Tablet 4.

Marduk turned back to where Tiamat lay bound, he straddled the legs and smashed her skull (for the mace was merciless), he severed the arteries and the blood streamed down the north wind to the unknown ends of the world.

When the gods saw all this they laughed out loud, and they sent him presents. They sent him their thankful tributes.

The lord [Marduk] rested; he gazed at the huge body, pondering how to use it, what to create from the dead carcass. He split it apart like a cockle-shell; with the upper half he constructed the arc of sky, he pulled down the bar and set a watch on the waters, so they should never escape (Cf. Gen.1:6-8).

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Documentary Hypothesis:Source of the Pentateuch

  • Yahwist or J source (nineth c. BCE)

  • Elohist or E source (eighth c. BCE)

  • Deuteronomist or D source (seventh-sixth c BCE)

  • Priestly or P source (sixth-fifth c. BCE)

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“So Finely Tuned a Universe…”

  • Page 1: “Science itself can no more dictate to religion what it is to believe than religion can prescribe for science what the outcome of its inquiry is to be. They [science and religion] ask different questions: in the one case how things happen, by what process [science]? In the other: why things happen, to what purpose [religion]?”

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  • Page 2: “Of course, a religious stance involves faith, just as a scientific investigation starts by commitment to the interrogation of the physical world from a chosen point of view. But faith is not a question of shutting one’s eyes, gritting one’s teeth, and believing the impossible. It involves a leap, but a leap into the light rather than the dark.”

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The Anthropic Principle

  • Page 4: “When we look at the rational order and transparent beauty of the physical world, we see a world shot through with signs of mind … Unless the fundamental physical laws were more or less precisely what they actually are, the universe would have had a very boring and sterile history. In other words, it is only a very special universe, a finely tuned universe, a universe in a trillion, you might say, which is capable of having had the amazingly fruitful history that has turned a ball of energy into a world containing human life. This insight is called the anthropic principle.”

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The Revival of Natural Theology

  • Page 7: “I think we’re living in an age where there is a great revival of natural theology taking place. That revival of natural theology is taking place, not on the whole among the theologians, who have rather lost their nerve in that area, but among the scientists. And not just among pious scientists like myself, but among scientists who have no particular time for, or understanding of, conventional religion…That revived natural theology is also revised in the sense that it is more modest in its ambitions. Unlike either the natural theology of the late Middle Ages or the eighteenth century, it doesn’t claim to talk about proofs of God. We’re in an area of discourse where knock-down argument or proof is not available. Rather, we’re looking for insights that are intellectually satisfying. Theology offers science a deeper, more comprehensive understanding than would be obtained from itself alone.”

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The origins of the world: two major explanations

  • Naturalism: the world is the ultimate brute fact.

  • Theism: the world is created and sustained by God.

Terence Nichols, The Sacred Cosmos (Brazos, 2003)

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  • ‘The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.

    • Richard Dawkins.

  • ‘At least in the minds of academics, science has won and religion has lost. Darwin’s idea has banished the book of Genesis to the limbo of quaint mythology.’

    • Daniel Dennett

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  • Literal reading of Genesis

  • Six day creation

  • “Young earth” view

  • Supported by modern fundamentalists

    Important: mature theistic understanding of the doctrine of creation must NOT be identified with ‘creation-science’.

Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656)

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  • Fact: bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics

  • Fact: animals adapt to environment

  • Hypothesis: Random mutation of genes and natural selection led to gradual changes which account for the variety of life-forms on earth

  • Naturalist philosophy: No divine agent was involved in the process

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Problems with Neo-Darwinism

  • Missing links in fossil record

  • N-D is a hypothesis, not a fact

  • Does not explain the origin of life

  • Does not explain the origin of the universe

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The Big Bang

  • Fact: the universe expands

  • Hypothesis: the universe originated in a big explosion

  • Naturalist philosophy: no supernatural agent caused the explosion

Does Evolution prove or disprove that there is a God?

What about the Big Bang?

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Special Creation & Theistic Evolution

  • God created matter out of nothing

  • God intervened to create life

  • God intervened to create human soul

  • God directs evolution

  • Big Bang is compatible with divine creation out of nothing

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Core Christian beliefs about creation

  • God created the world by his Word.

  • The world was created out of nothing.

  • The world is not self-sufficient, but depends upon God.

  • Creation is a gradual process

  • Creation is good (in its original state).

  • Creation has order and purpose.

  • God created humans in his image and likeness.

  • God sustains the world.