Atheistism #1: Context Fail

One of the things we are taught about good Bible study, is that we need to keep things in context and while atheists are particularly bad at it, they are even worse at keeping the Bible, as a whole, in context. Atheists present Biblical stories as impossibilities, but they’re looking at it through their own worldview instead of that of the Bible.

An atheist can claim all sorts of impossibilities when discussing Bible writings, but by placing those writings in his definition of real world, one without God, he has taken those writings out of context. After the atheist has taken the Biblical narratives out of their context, they then proceed to make claims such as: we know people don’t rise from the dead, people aren’t born from virgins, and people don’t get swallowed by whales. While these statements make perfect sense in a world without God, that is not the world within the Bible. The stories are recorded in the Bible where God does exist, and in that world, where God is capable of creating the universe, these so-called impossibilities are not problematic.

Where the Christian and the Atheist differ, is that the Christian sees the world we live in and the world of the Bible as one as the same. God exists in the Bible, and God exists in the real world, therefore, God can raise a man from the dead and God can produce a Son from a virgin. Jonah spent three days in the belly of a whale/fish in the context of a world created by God. In the context of this world, it is not unreasonable to think that a being big enough to create the universe would have the ability to stuff a man in the belly of a fish for refusing to follow his instructions.

While it would seem unreasonable if this world were different than the one portrayed in the Bible, it is not unreasonable when the two are the same. Atheists pride themselves on their education. Too bad their education didn’t teach them about context.

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2 Replies to “Atheistism #1: Context Fail”

  1. With all due respect, I believe this argument is ignoring the limitations of Biblical context. There are a multitude of texts from different faiths, and of course, there are multiple conflicts between them. It is dangerously presuppositional, then, to assume that the Bible is an appropriate model of the real world. Why is the Bible any more of a valid approach than the library of Greek mythology? Even if you are to take a pluralistic approach, and assume that all religious texts represent the realm of possibilities in which we live, there is no absolute truth, as each purports a different possibilities and ideology.

    Science is an appropriate context because it is a great equalizer. If everyone is to come to an understanding of how the world works using only their dogmas, nobody could agree on anything. Sure, Christians and Jews may find that their doctrines are very similar, and can even agree on many things, but try telling the Orthodox Jew to explain his or her worldview in the context of the New Testament, accepting that Jesus rose from the dead and saved the souls of all future generations. There is no point, and, furthermore, the self-importance of it is insulting.

    However, science is humble, and observable. It does not claim to have all the answers, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not a scientist. It operates on testable theories and observable evidence, and is open to criticism, so long as there is something TANGIBLE to back it up. Theories such as general relativity are constantly being tested and re-tested. We could go in circles all day if I claim that my Goddess Mother Earth says things fall to the ground because she grabs them, and my opponent says that it happens because one of his or her many gods controls the movement of all material things, but ultimately, even if our opinions differ, we can refer to a common language to describe what we are talking about – gravity.

    1. First, I want to say thank you for the comment. Although I tested the comment system myself, it’s nice to see it working for someone else!

      To say that scientists haven’t observed the supernatural, therefore the supernatural doesn’t exist, seems to be a bigger presupposition than those made between different faiths. Just because the supernatural has not been observed in a way acceptable to some scientists, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. As you pointed out, and I agree with you completely, scientists don’t have all the answers, but unfortunately there are many who act like they do. We all make presuppositions, including me, but when I discuss the differences between the beliefs of a Christian, an Orthodox Jew, or even the library of Greek gods, the differences are theological and based more on content, not context. All three are discussed in a supernatural context.

      As far as my presupposition regarding the existence of the supernatural, years ago I had flirted with atheism but found it lacking, so I think my presupposition is a little better founded. It’s not the “blind” faith that many claim theists follow.

      Also, note that I don’t have a problem with science. I like science, and all its cool technology. It’s Scientism that I have a problem with. While science could be used as an equalizer, Scientism’s dogmas keep it from reaching that position. The dogma that there is no such thing as the supernatural has caused scientists to arbitrarily throw out ideas on how things work, leading to some rather fantastic beliefs. I believe that the scientific method is a tool that has limits, but Scientism has no respect for its limits. Yes, I am a skeptic.

      Finally, why do you find the “self-importance” of Christianity insulting?

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