Atheist Ramblings - 2.3

From approximately January 1999

Funny Quote:

...This was pasted from an IRC convo I had last month, forgot who said it. I really hope the person was joking:

God must exist because he wouldn't be so cruel as to make me believe he existed if he didn't.

1500 Years:

...One of my recent crusades (funny word) has been against the claim that since the bible was written over 1500 years, it must somehow be more true. The claim goes something like this:

The Bible contains 66 books written by 44 authors over 1500 years so it must be true since no work of fiction could make the same claim.

...Actually, the claim is both stronger and weaker from a couple of other facts. The council of Nicea 'trimmed' the bible some and chose which books would be included in our modern rendition, so there are more than 66 books and more than 44 writers, so its even more 'miraculous'. However, to the contrary, few would argue that the Bible is a 'seemless whole'. There are errors and inconsistencies (what were Jesus' last words on the cross is a good one). Its easier to string together 66 stories loosely into a whole.

...Which is the basis of this article. 66 books over 1500 years sounds impresive, but that's barely 1 book every 20 years, even a modest writer could acomplish that task easy.

...What does it mean to 'write' a book at the time? Literacy is a fairly recent invention. Back in the BCE times, the most common means that books/stories were created and passed along was through bards or storytellers.

...Now imagine you are a 'writer' or story creator for the time. You want to make a new story that will spread out and be remembered. You have two choices, make a story with new characters and events, or build upon an existing story line.

...In either event, you would make this story and tell it to a passing storyteller who would carry it on to other places. Now people tend to remember things that fit into their existing thoughts, so the story that built upon an existing story would be easily remembered. By the same token, it is likely that a story that was totally new would be edited slightly to fit with existing stories.

...Again, in either event, when the storyteller re-told his stories, regardless of their source, they would sound like a connected set even if they didn't totally fit. And the more he told them, the more the stories would blend together and seem like part of a whole.

...Here's another plausible scenario: I'm a story teller for my town. a bard wanders in and tells 7 connected stories and I memorize them. For years I retell those 7 stories. then another bard comes to town and tells an 8th story that's kind of similar. I weave it into my list of 7 stories or just keep it seperate and now have 8...Later, I tell these stories to another bard who passes them along... now there are 8 stories where there were 7...

...Both of those scenarios is totally plausible and not all that hard to believe given that only 1 new story had to be added every 20 years or so. Add to this the fact that morality stories are usually the most common stories told and that people like hearing stories about past great events (the flood, the exodus, creation), and you have the OT and some of the NT too.

...Now, of course, at some point between the OT and NT, the stories started being written down. The act of writing them down removed some of the maleability from them, so the above doesn't totally explain all of the books, but it is a plausible scenario for many of them and counts for my 2 cents worth in this debate... :-)