Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ray Should Apologize for His Apologetics...

PZ Myers recently took Ray Comfort to task for claiming that Darwin thought that male and female humans evolved as distinct species and I don't think for a second that I could pour any more derision on that particular claim. However, reading PZ's post did lead me back over to Ray's blog so I could take a gander at some of his other oddball state. While I was milling around over there, I stumbled upon this post in which Ray tries to wrestle with a Biblical contradiction.

You see, there are repeated instances in the Bible in which Yahweh feels bad about stuff that he's done, but the Bible (see Numbers 3:19) repeatedly says that God is infallible. Here are a couple of examples of God changing his mind: (all quotes NRSV)

Genesis 6:6 - And the Lord was sorry that he made humankind on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.
1 Samuel 15:11 - "I regret that I made King Saul, for he has turned back from following me, and has turned back from my commands." Samuel was angry, and her cried out to the Lord all night.
Because Ray uses the KJV rather than the NRSV, his version of the first verse looks something like this:
Genesis 6:6 - And the Lord repented that he made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.
Ray seizes on the use of the word "repent" in the KJV passage and uses it to make something of a false distinction - He says that God doesn't "repent" in the sense of "confessing and forsaking sins", but merely that God's really just changing his mind. See, Ray's trying to avoid a situation in which his God can be called a sinner. But wait, doesn't that miss the point? Ray doesn't seem to notice that he's still left with a fallible God, since God wouldn't regret things or change his mind about stuff if he hadn't dropped the ball about them in the first place.

Better apologists than Ray have noted that there are many Biblical passages in which God "changes his mind" only in the sense that he promises to rain ass-whuppin' from the heavens if someone doesn't change their ways only to decide later not to make good on his threats, but that's not really what we're talking about here. Gen 6:6 plainly says that God regrets making human beings - He feels bad about it because the whole mankind thing isn't working out the way He'd planned. God thinks he screwed up. That's the important part, as it kind of butts up against the whole "God never makes mistakes" doctrine - Either God was wrong to make humans, or He was wrong to think He was wrong for making humans. One way or another, Yahweh made a bad call somewhere.

It's also interesting to note that most of these passages occur in the OT, a part of the Bible characterized by a very humanized God. In the Old Testament, God can smell people's offerings, he walks through the Garden of Eden, and he sets his bow in the clouds to remind himself not to kill everything on earth again. That doesn't sound like an omnipotent, all-powerful, completely infallible deity, it sounds like a guy.

It also sounds like Ray isn't nearly as familiar with Biblical criticism as he'd like to think he is.

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