Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Almost a week has slipped by without a post. Sorry about that. It's not that I've been busy so much as just distracted. I can't seem to write a coherent paragraph. So I apologize in advance for what will likely be a bit of a mess.

First, I have continued to play with the links over on the right hand side of the page. You will notice a distinct change from serious to not-so-serious. Every politician from the dog catcher (or in the case of Kalkaska, the director of the Kaliseum) to the President is a liar and a thief, and considers himself above the law. I know that, you know that, everyone knows that, yet we as a nation continue to elect the same liars and thieves to public office. I guess I've grown weary of reading about it and would rather read about Waiter Rant's latest rude customer or a bouncer's Guido stories.

I also registered with a traffic statistics site about a week ago. It's interesting the number of people that read this blog that I do not know. I even have a reader from Tokyo. I would have never believed that this site would get over 100 hits in five days. That completely blows me away. Some of the site traffic is obviously members of Debbie's or Nestina's or my family (one thing Web-Stat does for me is to show me a map of the world with little circles on the cities that my traffic comes from). But many of them are truly a puzzle as to how they found this place.

A while back, I promised a reply to Eric after I had some time to think about what I wanted to say. Others have since posted comments, sent me private e-mails, or had private conversations with me. I would have to write a 500-page book to address every question, comment, or concern. I will pick out a few that I think raise key points and answer them here. By no means can I cover everything. Not only do I not have enough time (or bandwidth), I don't necessarily have everything figured out in my own head yet. There are things I know. There are things I believe. There are things I really don't have an opinion about.

Let me repeat: I don't pretend to have everything figured out at this point. I truly envy those of you that are completely assured of your beliefs. (There is no sarcasm in that statement; probably a first for this blog.)

Which leads nicely to my first point: The tone of this blog has been described (not by me) as sarcastic, cynical, know-it-all, and, most recently, flippant. Honestly, I'm not trying to be any of those, and if that bothers you, I am truly sorry. But this is how I write, and at 40 years of age, I don't foresee any change. If it bothers you to the point of offense, all I have to suggest is that the internet is a big place and I'm sure there are others that say much the same things you read hear, only in a tone that is more to your liking. I'm not saying that to be a jerk; I don't intend to anger people (at least not most of the time), but PC I'm not, nor will I ever be. If reading this blog angers you, might I recommend a more constructive use of your personal time?

2: I have no illusions that anything said here is going to change anyone else's mind on much of anything, be it the value of the King James Version of the Bible or the validity of evolution. I will state my views (this is my blog) and anyone reading them can accept them, reject them, or whatever. But understand that the converse is also true. I have spent every moment I could spare (and many that I really couldn't) in reading, prayer, and not a few tears while considering the origins question, and all that followed from that. Please don't insult me by thinking I am going to abandon my present stance and come running "back into the fold" because someone quotes a verse or tosses a factoid or hurls a few insults.

3: Many have communicated their support in various ways. Thank you. You have no idea (and I hope you are never in a position to find out) how much that helps, especially after being "voted off the island" by members of my own family.

4: Several people have expressed sadness at what has happened to me. Don't be. I'm not, even though this has cost me in ways I cannot even think about right now. If you truly believe that God is in control, then this is happening for a reason. If He isn't, then ...well... (shrug) none of this really matters, now does it?

5: As far as being flippant about people going to hell, it is true that I made a flippant comment about people going to hell; that is not necessarily being flippant about individuals going to hell. If I were, I doubt I would have spent as much time over the last few years in ministry. I doubt I would have voluntarily cut my hours (and my pay) by 20% to be more available. I doubt I would have spent nearly $20K on a Christian education. I'm not saying that to brag, but only to point out that it isn't likely that I am casual about hell.

I do have to wonder about just how serious the average evangelical takes hell. (Understand this isn't directed at Eric, Steve, Tom, Mike, Jon, Lindsey, etc.; all of whom are active in ministry.) How much money and resources are spent on politics by the average evangelical? How much is spent on cable and satellite TV? How much is spent on politics to try to clean up what comes in on cable and satellite TV? How much on movies? How much on politicians who denounce movies? I could fill, pages, but I think my point is made: if anyone is flippant about people going to hell, it is an attitude picked up in the church.

Taking another shot at this from a different direction: I have spent 40 years listening to Christians casually condemning millions of other professing Christians to hell because they are Roman Catholic, or Pentecostal, or attend a church with a woman pastor, or use the NIV Bible, or accept evolution (and yes, I've been told I'm going to hell). Again, if anyone is being flippant, including myself, it is a learned behavior. Hell is where you put anyone you don't like, or holds a view you don't like, or makes a point that you don't have a good refutation for.

6: Bible translations (actually, English Bible translations). Here, I will address a number of sub-points.

a: All English translations of the Bible have problems. Every. Last One. Of. Them. None are inerrant.

b: All of the existing manuscripts, including those used to create the Textus Receptus, have errors. Every. Last. One. Of. Them. None are inerrant. There are over 5,000 copies of the New Testament, but only 50 are complete, and no two are the same.

c: The KJV has one major deficiency completely apart from translation issues or what manuscripts were used; for anyone that has not grown up in the church using the King James, it may as well be written in Latin. I guarantee that it is unintelligible to anyone currently in the youth group. Many of the words used have had significant shifts in meaning since 1611, and several have actually reversed meaning. The Apostles wrote the New Testament in common Greek, rather than the scholarly "high" Greek to ensure that it was available to average people. What has changed in the intervening 2,000 years that we must use an English version of the Bible that is unapproachable by the average person?

d: The New Testament KJV is not based on the Textus Receptus, which was first published in 1624. It was based on the Stephens of 1550, which was used, along with other manuscripts, to create the Textus Receptus.

e: The original KJV had over 8,000 marginal notes, including alternate translations and indications of disagreement between the manuscripts. In the preface to the 1611 KJV, the translators defended this practice, as well as calling for continuous updates as new manuscripts came to light and the English language continued to evolve. Oddly, this preface has been removed from subsequent versions.

f: The original KJV included the Apocrypha. It began to be omitted around 1769.

g: The first Bible to make landfall in the Americas was the Geneva version. The KJV was considered a "Papist" translation, and was shunned by evangelicals in favor of the Geneva version.

I could go on, but the alphabet is only so long and I'm getting carpal tunnel. My point is that no translation is perfect, and every translation involves interpretation. In my previous post, I mentioned the word translated as "created" in Genesis 1:1. Here we are five words into the Bible and we have a serious problem with a literal translation: as Eric mentioned, the verb in the Hebrew text is in the infinitive form. But that makes no sense in English: "In the beginning God to create the heavens and the earth." So interpretation comes into play, and we have the past tense, "created," in most English Bibles. But how true to the original text is that given that Hebrew does not have a past tense?

One could easily write a book on this (and many, many have) so I'll just stop at an arbitrary point. If you want to read more, just Google "KJV problems" (or "NIV problems" or "NLT problems" or "NKJV problems" or "NASB problems" or...). You will find sites for, against, and everywhere in between on every English version of the Bible back to Wycliff. Many contain extensive bibliographies that could keep you reading for years to come.

7: The statistics you find tossed around casually in creationist literature are simply bogus. They are based on complete ignorance of chemistry and biology. DNA, amino acids and proteins are not the precise, fragile things that creationists like to present them as. There is wide variation that is possible (and in fact is found in nature) while still retaining their function. The whole process of transcription from DNA to protein is far messier, flexible, robust, and interesting to study than any description from creationist literature (or, unfortunately, most high school biology text books) would lead you to believe.

In addition, even if I grant that the odds are anything more than just random numbers pulled out of thin air, creationists completely ignore the number of "tries" that are possible. An example: the odds of me rolling 1,000,000 5's in a row with a single, six-sided die are astronomical. But if I roll 1,000,000,000 dice, it is a near-certainty that 1,000,000 of them will be 5's. How many molecules are in a gallon of sea water? in a billion gallons of sea water? in the Pacific Ocean?

I could obviously go on and on, but life is short, and I'm getting hungry. I will likely make a more typical post later today to update everyone on all the stuff going on in the Frost household.


Eric said...

I would like to thank Ric for his post today.
Much of that is true and I'm not going to nit pick. He pointed something out, too. None of the translations are totally inerrant. As a defender of the KJB I could get into trouble going around saying that. That would be one of those bogus arguing points that show a vast ignorance on the subject.
There is still much to be said on the issue but not here. I could write all night about this translation and that one. And my faith in the traditional Greek is not a blind faith. I have done much research on this.

Ric is right, only around 50 manuscripts are complete NT. I like when people do research on Bible translations.

Ric said this is his blog and I think I have said plenty. Ric is probably ready to tell me to get my own blog, and rightly so.

Salvation is a heart matter between you and Christ. I am truly sorry that some have accused you of not being saved. Whatever they may have intended to do by saying that, it could not have helped.
People who accuse others of not being saved because of a Bible translation they use are causing themselves a problem.

Ric, if you say that you are saved by grace through faith, I have to accept that. And I do.

Yes I described your blog as coming off as flippant about Hell. I said that I don't believe you personally are though, and believe me, I think you are serious about that.

Ric, I am praying for you, and I covet prayers from you also. We allways could use much prayer in our everyday life. I surely need at least as much prayer as you.

I do not think myself superior to you or anyone else. I have learned that in the past the hard way.

Oops! I gotta keep this short. Ric, when I pray to the Father, you and Debbie and those in your household are in my prayers.

Ric said...

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, and for taking the time to post here. I am the last person on earth that should complain about someone being long-winded.

I do believe I am saved by grace through faith. I may not have much else to hang on to, but I do have that.

As far as getting your own blog, I would encourage anyone with internet access to do that. It is one of the best tools for a person to sharpen up their ability to communicate. It's also a way to meet a lot of very interesting people.