Conversations with an Agnostic:
God and the Bible vs. Science
The following is a series of conversations between an agnostic named Seth and Shali, webmaster of The Refiner's Fire. The subject matter that kicked off the correspondence was the coming "end time" scenario as outlined in the Bible.
Initial correspondence from Seth:
There have always been Tsunami, earthquakes, and disease.
To put it bluntly, it's primitive to assume that because you hear of every major event across the planet (whereas in earlier centuries, before mass-media whose bread and butter are DISASTERS), that there are somehow more of them than in the past.
When Lisbon, Portugal was all but destroyed by an earthquake in 1751, was that a sign? Or when the Black Death struck Europe and killed 1 in every 3 people? People thought so then.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth:
Yes, there have always been earthquakes, natural disasters and disease: Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed in the Garden of Eden. Before that, life was hunky dory, with no disease or natural disasters or anything else "bad". Since then, it's been all downhill and bad things can happen to anyone, including tiny babies. As crazy as it might sound to you, an agonostic, the Bible describes the creation, life immediately after the creation, and the history of man since then - right down to events that haven't even happened yet. Myriad prophecies have already come true with amazing accuracy....and it's not over yet because there are a few more to go.
YHWH (the Name of our Creator, most likely pronounced Yah-way, Exodus 3:13-15) is very logical and very methodical. We humans messed up, and He has been using our mistakes to bring about His end time scenario. Time, as we understand it, means nothing to him. "The end times" have to happen in proper order, not out of sequence. Yeshua our Messiah had to be born and crucified 2,000 years ago instead of today; the conflict between Isaac and Ishmael had to come to fruition (check out the events between the Jews and Arabs and the continuing fight over Israel); man had to be allowed to continue on his own path that would eventually lead to destruction (as is evidenced all around us).
And the "end times scenario" outlined in Scripture could not have happened before one of the major prophecies came true: The one that happened on May 14, 1948 - when the world briefly felt sorry for the Jews and returned Israel to them. The Jews "became a nation" again in one day, just as predicted in the Old Testament. The OT prophesied that when the Jews again owned Israel, the Land would arise from a barren desert into a prosperous land - which it did! Before that (please check history books) it was nothing but a desert, good for absolutely nothing. Even the Arabs didn't want it. But, suddenly, when the Jews entered back into the picture, BAM! The Six Day War! And who won? The enemy way outnumbered the Jews! What happened? God kept His promise!
Everything is happening just as the Bible predicted!
The Bible is not a science book, yet it is scientifically accurate. We, at The Refiner's Fire, are not aware of any scientific evidence that contradicts the Bible. So, ask yourself this concerning the world around us: Why is it that water freezes differently from other fluids (it gets less dense), and that it is critical for our very survival? Explain why trees don't just become a pulpy, sappy mess when we cut them down. Why do they remain intact as something we can use for fire, shelter, build houses, make paper, etc? Why do atoms stay together (the same charges)? Why is everything on earth to human scale? Why is there just enough gravity on earth to keep us from being squashed like bugs? How can this be just "coincidence"?
If you want to see exactly how consistent the Bible is with astronomy, meteorology, biology, anthropology, geology, paleontology, etc, please check out Science and the Bible: Clarifying Christianity.
Nobody can force anybody to believe in God or the Bible. In reality, the existence of God cannot be proven or disproved absolutely. In fact, we cannot prove that you exist. Since God's existence cannot be proven, how do we determine if God's existence is probable? The only way to find out that God really exists is to die.
Seth's response to The Refiner's Fire:
The Refiner's Fire said: The Bible is not a science book, yet it is scientifically accurate. I am not aware of any scientific evidence that contradicts the Bible. Ask yourself this concerning the world around us: Why is it that water freezes differently from other fluids....
Response: No, it's not. It's the antithesis of science; the Bible mandates that you take something on faith without weighing it objectively and completely.
Why does water expand when it freezes? Because of the precise angle that the hydrogen and oxygen atoms coincide in forming the molecule. The electromagnetic difference (with the oxygen side being negative and the hydrogen side being positive), that is, the asymmetrical way in which the molecule is constructed, forces the atoms apart as they lose kinetic energy (cool down). Why is it critical for our survival? Because it's widely available. It's not designed for us, we're designed around it. Life naturally conforms to its surroundings.
Why don't trees become pulp? Because life isn't some supernatural force; it's a self-regulating, self-replicating system of matter and energy. When you rob the tree of it's life (deprive it of one of the ways in which it supports itself), it doesn't change the material make-up of the tree, it just removes it's ability to replenish the water that it naturally respires into the air. It dries out, and doesn't turn into mush, because it's naturally damper than the air around it (notably, trees DO decay, and quickly, in humid environments, because the moisture does not escape. They turn into mush, essentially. Only when wood is properly stored, treated, and cured, is it viable for building or burning. Ask a carpenter, or a woodsman.)
Why do atoms stay together? There are 4 forces; strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational. The strong force holds together the nucleus, the weak force holds the electrons from crashing into the nucleus. ...what I think you were getting at, why MOLECULES stay together (you mentioned charges, an electromagnetic phenomena), is because electrons and protons are constructed of fundamentally different particles: quarks. Up, Down, Top, Bottom, Strange, and Charm are the 6 varieties of quark. Up, Top, and Charm have +2/3e charges, Down, Bottom, and Strange have -1/3e charges. 2 U,T, or C quarks + 1 D, B, or S quark = a proton (net charge +1e); 1 UTC + 2 DBS quarks = neutron (net charge 0); 3 DBS = an electron. Other combinations result in neutrinos, leptons, bosons, etc. In atomic structure, the electrons exist in energy shells around the nucleus of protons and neutrons; they have a predilection towards being paired (they spin opposite directions, and are thus tied), but some atoms, having a neutral charge, and an odd atomic number (or a non-neutral charge and an even atomic number), have an imbalance in electrons; sometimes atoms will steal or share electrons (forming a molecular bond) in order to balance off the uneven energy shells.
As I said earlier, the environment is not to our scale, we are to its scale. WE are designed (as chance would have it) around the environment; it was not crafted to cater to us; and we have FORCED any aspects of it that aren't catered to us (like the deep sea; I'd be interested to know the names that Adam gave to the transparent fish that live at the bottom of the ocean, when he named all life) to accept us in some way (deep sea submarines, thermal suits for volcanoes, shelter in the arctic climates). If you look at the environment as existing for us, then you're bound to see design. If you look at it from a humbler perspective; that of us existing within it, as a part of it, you see that it we fit it well, not vice versa.
Same argument goes for the gravity. The amount of gravity has nothing to do with how much life existed on the early earth. There was how much gravity there was (and is), and life developed around that, taking it into account. The world wasn't designed around life. Life formed itself around the world as it exists.
The Bible states clearly that the heavens orbit the earth. It's astronomically in the stone age. Meteorologically, it claims that God sends storms directly. They're measurable and predictable several days in advance (the number of tiny causes for them is almost infinite, hence why we can't predict weather forever in advance, we just can't gather the location and energy of every particle in the world, simultaneously.)
Biologically, it teaches that life is some sort of mystical force. It teaches that life was created, rather than evolved; evolution is SIMPLE to prove rationally; we prove that DNA exists, that it causes us to exhibit specific traits, and it's pretty simple to understand how it's advantageous to be able to run faster than another human being (largely controlled by genetics); if you run slower, the saber-toothed tiger gets you, rather than your fast friend.
Anthropologically, it teaches that one culture (Hebrew) is good, and that all others are wicked. Except, if your forsake your culture, and follow the son of the Hebrew God, you can become not-so-wicked. It makes up a history for the Hebrew civilization (there is no record of them in Egypt, nor of their 40 year trek across the desert. Lack of proof is not proof of absence, it is true, but it means that there is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION in believing that it's true).
Geologically, it teaches that the earth was created by God on the first day, slightly less than 6,000 years ago. Fact is, we can trace how old various layers of dirt are, and, the one we STAND ON TODAY is older than that. There are layers of rock that we can dig to, over 500,000,000 years old.
Paleontologically, it states nothing about things older than 6,000 years. I can't believe you even mentioned paleontology; which, ad definitum, is a study of things that, according to the Biblical account, cannot exist.
This information is all readily available through a science book, but you claim that it's inexplicable unless you believe in God, because you don't really WANT to know why, you simply see the problem at it's face value, and won't look deeper.
You also said: Nobody can force anybody to believe in God or the Bible. In reality, the existence of God cannot be proven or disproved absolutely....
You can say the same thing for any religion. The only way that you can PROVE that Osiris will not weigh your heart against the scales of Truth in the afterlife of Egyptian lore, is to die. But that's no justification to believe; to do so, in YHVH or in Egypt's Gods, is out of fear, and not love, respect, and everything that Christianity claims to stand for.
Look, I'm not claiming that your religion is wrong. But your insistence that it is right, no matter WHAT other people believe...your insistence that it MUST be right, because of a few pieces of ancient parchment...your insistence that you know better, is not humble. And the root cause of all strife is someone resenting someone else. Usually because they believe, and act upon the belief that they know, or are better. The Middle East doesn't hate America for it's culture; they hate us because we think it's superior to theirs, and treat them like barbarians, rather than a civilized culture.
My interest is that humankind give up these petty differences, and work together, for once. And holding the belief that you know best, and making it your mission to tell as many people as possible how wrong they are, is counterproductive, hence my continued argument. For every person who realizes that they are ignorant, that's one less person likely to hate someone else for believing something else.
As for prophecy:
It's easy to claim that all prophesy has been fulfilled, because anything that HASN'T can be said to be "in the future." But some examples of prophesy not going as it was said to:
- Isaiah 19:5-7 talks about the drying up of the Nile as a punishment upon Egypt for grievances in the 8th century BC. It hasn't happened yet.
- Isaiah 17:1-2 States that Damascus will cease to be a city. Eventually, maybe, but today, 2,800 years later, it's still alive and well.
- Isaiah 7:1-7 states that Ahaz, King of Judah would not be conquered by Pekah of Syria; and yet, even according to BIBLICAL account, it was (II Chronicles 28:1,5-6).
- Ezekiel 26:7-14 states that Tyre will be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar (written during a period in which Nebuchadnezzar was actually BESIEGING Tyre, so it was a pretty safe bet), but, after a 13 year siege, Nebuchadnezzar withdrew, and Tyre survived until being destroyed by Alexander of Macedonia 250 years later. Ezekiel wrote later (29:17-20) about how Nebuchadnezzar LOST the same siege that he predicted 3 chapters earlier, that he would win!
- Ezekiel 29:8-12 states that Egypt will be laid to waste. Hasn't happened yet.
- Ezekiel 29:20 states that Nebuchadnezzar would earn Egypt for his labor for God, but that didn't happen either.
- Jeremiah 36:30 claimed that Jehoiakim would have no heir to his throne, but II Kings 24:6 details HOW his heir claimed it.
- The book of Daniel seems accurate because it was written after the events it predicts; the original date it was claimed to have been written in was about 650 BC, testing the original texts reveals that they were written in about 200 BC.
- As for Jesus... the genealogies listed in Matthew and Luke are contradictory. It lists different family trees for Jesus, which is significant, if you want to claim that he was a descendant of David.
- A mistranslation of Isaiah is responsible for the widespread belief that Jesus HAD to be born of a virgin, in order to be the Messiah. The OT, properly translated from Hebrew into Greek (where it was mistranslated before), says nothing of a virgin birth.
- There is no Roman record of Herod slaughtering the baby boys of a generation. The Romans were OBSESSIVE record keepers.
- The death of Herod and the census of Roman lands were separated by a decade. They are presented as taking place nearly simultaneously.
- Psalm 22:16 is often viewed as a prophesy of the crucifixion; but it's based on a mistranslation of the Hebrew text. Here's an in depth look at that: http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/pierce.html
- According to Isaiah 7, Aram and Israel MUST be laid waste to by Assyria by the coming of the age of accountability of the Messiah. In no stretch was Aram laid waste to, and, if you stretch Rome conquering Israel; there is no stretch that turns Rome into Assyria.
- According to Isaiah 8:8, the sign of the child was fulfilled by Isaiah's own son (Isaiah 8:3-4).
- No biblical record details Jesus being called Immanuel until after his death. This is a violation of Isaiah 7:16.
- Immanuel was to be a sign for Ahaz of Israel. Jesus was born 7 centuries after the death of Ahaz.
- Matthew 2:15 refers to Hosea 11:1, claiming that Jesus was referred to as Israel in "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son..." I invite you to read the REST of that passage, that Matthew ties to Jesus.
- The Bible predicted that the Messiah's coming would save his people. There have been millions upon millions of Jews who refused the New Covenant, and who, therefore, were not saved.
- Jeremiah 31:15 claims that Rachel cries over the deaths of her children. Matthew 2:17 interprets this as being over the children killed by Herod (a hoax in and of itself). However, Rachel, as mother of Benjamin and grandmother of Ephraim, has no call to weep for the children of Bethlehem, because that town, as a city of Judah, and not of Samaria (the two ancient Hebrew kingdoms), was not within her children's inheritance.
- Matthew 2:23 claims that the prophets talked of a Nazarene. There's no such prophesy to be found in the OT.
- Consider Matthew 10:35-36 and Micah 7:6. Matthew attributes to Jesus claiming to turn houses against themselves; Micah laments that the godly will be swept from the earth, the most upright being no more than a thorn, because of houses being turned against one another. Jesus is labeled ungodly by Micah's prophesy.
- Zecheriah 9:9 claims that, upon the coming of the King of Kings, Israel shall never again fall, and it's realm shall encompass the earth. Jesus did not fulfill this in any stretch. The prophesy of the King coming to Jerusalem fails, because Jesus, although he rode a donkey triumphantly into the city, did not protect her from "marauding forces."
That list took me an hour to compile; there's more out there. These are the failed prophecies that you claim do not exist.
Just please consider that the Bible is fallible, and that, though you can interpret to your heart's content, it has been wrong, and it's possibly ENTIRELY wrong. You just don't know.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth:
Dear Seth - This has turned out to be a rather long e-mail, but I hope you will read each of my responses very carefully:
The Refiner's Fire said: The Bible is not a science book, yet it is scientifically accurate...and Seth replied: No, it's not. It's the antithesis of science; the Bible mandates that you take something on faith without weighing it objectively and completely.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Exactly. The Bible even tells us that we have to believe by faith alone. In the Garden of Eden and in OT times, God manifested Himself physically in various ways. Since Yeshua, it's strictly by faith. The Bible does NOT, however tell us that we have to take something on faith "without weighing it objectively and completely". We're free to weigh however much we want. We can choose to believe or not. God gives us all that choice.
Seth said: Why does water expand when it freezes? Because of the precise angle that the hydrogen and oxygen atoms coincide in forming the molecule....
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Woops, ya missed the point. You gave a "scientific explanation" rather than answering the question. I know quite well that science has described how water molecules behave, but I asked you why it behaves this way. The answer is that if water did not expand when it freezes, all life in lakes and rivers would die, because they would freeze out, from the bottom up and all the fish would end up dead in the ice or laying on top and humankind would be in a world of hurt. You see, you are using science as "proof" of something, rather than understanding that science only describes based on an accepted set of measures and standards that can be used to compare things to each other. Science is wonderful - it allows us anticipate how things will work, build new devices, and make discoveries, but science only describes - is does not explain the existence of things.
Seth said: Why is it critical for our survival? Because it's widely available....
Response: Again, you missed the point. A human cannot exist without water. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and has no calories yet our bodies must have it. Yet here we are on a planet with plenty of it. I'm sure you will have an "evolutionary" explanation for it, but, again, you miss the point as to WHY.
Seth said: Why don't trees become pulp? Because life isn't some supernatural force; it's a self-regulating, self-replicating system of matter and energy....
Response: Well, sorry, but ditto the above. Of course, the "scientific discovery" is that when wood is properly treated, and cured, as a carpenter or woodman knows, and you were so kind to point out, it becomes a useful product. But even before the "scientific discovery" that one can intentionally prepare trees for use, many species of wood become useful whether man intervenes or not and man has been able to take advantage of that for several thousand years. So the question "why don't they become pulp?" was perhaps not well stated. What was intended to get you to think about the bigger picture only succeeded in getting to share your book-knowledge of the "scientific explanation". Trees don't become pulp because it provides man with a building material. It is not nature, but design. Did I prove it? No. But where I see intelligent design, you only see "self-regulation" and "matter and energy". You only see the "explanations", not the essence.
Seth said: Why do atoms stay together? There are 4 forces; strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravitational....
Response: Ditto the above. You, brilliantly provided the current "scientific explanation", which, once again, is a description, not a reason. You are clearly current with all the latest scientific knowledge! Yes, man has delved deeper and deeper into molecules and atoms and has found that a good model is one that divides the atom into fundamental particles. Indeed, Bohr's model looked real good at first, but then Schrödinger showed that electrons behave as waves. Other great scientists came along and added new observations and "laws" for quantum mechanics providing more and more "rules" about the behavior of atoms. But, as things now stand we know essentially nothing about the atom but can only describe the behaviors.
Take the radioactive disintegration process, for example. We can describe and make rules about it; indeed those rules work well enough for us to make weapons and derive power but we essentially don't know anything about radioactive decay other than that it "happens". We do not know what the structure of the atom is prior to a radioactive event, what changes take place during the event, or what initiates a radioactive event in the first place. The point is, it doesn't matter what we can "describe" - the question was intended to get at the essence. The question "why do atoms stay together" was not meant to solicit the current scientific theory, but was intended to question the very essence of "atoms being" in hopes you would see the design. But, I'm sure you'll find some "self-regulating, self-replicating system of matter and energy" to explain away any possible design....
Seth said: As I said earlier, the environment is not to our scale, we are to its scale. WE are designed (as chance would have it) around the environment; it was not crafted to cater to us....
Response: And if you look at humans as having been "fit" to the environment by "chance" then you are bound to rule out design! The argument can be used either way. So if man came about by chance and is changing (in the evolutionary sense), then how come we are bipedal? How come only 2 arms and not 3? From an evolutionary perspective, more legs could be determined to be better, after all, it is more stable and would not require a complex brain, and certainly 3 or 4 arms would be quite superior to 2.
And as to the environment not being to our scale, how come trees aren't so huge we could not cut through them? How come they are tall and thin instead of short and very fat? How come they grow straight and tall instead of, say, like a helix? How come mountains are constrained to a thin shell between sea level and 29000 feet (give or take) - how come they aren't hundreds of miles tall? (Oh, I know you will have a scientific, gravitational explanation, but again, you will be missing the point.)
Yes, we can "force" our way into those parts of the earth that are beyond our comfort zone, but that is still missing the point. Look at the bigger picture. Maybe you will see things as "for us" rather than "here by chance." I'm hoping you will not feel compelled to answer all the questions above for I'm quite sure a person of your perspicuity and eloquence will ably regurgitate the most current and accepted scientific description for each case. But that is not the end goal. The goal is to get you to see that you, in all your scientific knowledge have missed the forest for the trees. And what could be a more humbling perspective than recognizing that, perhaps, we were put here?
Seth said: Same argument goes for the gravity. The amount of gravity has nothing to do with how much life existed on the early earth....
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Again, the observation about gravity was meant to convey the bigger picture, the essence. It does no good to argue whether we are sized for the gravitational field we are in, or if the gravitational field was sized for us. The point is, there is a gravitational field that is just right. The fact is that there is gravity - another "entity" science simply can't explain. Thorne, Misner, and Wheeler could do no more than fill a book with equations describing gravitation - they never got to why. Yes, science can measure and describe gravitation, (the acceleration of a body due to gravity at the Earth's surface is 32 ft/s2, blah, blah, blah), but the fact that gravity "is" is the bigger picture. You can scientifically describe it all you want, but you can't explain why it exists by conjuring up "chance".
Seth said: The Bible states clearly that the heavens orbit the earth. It's astronomically in the stone age....
Response: OK, don'tcha think this is getting a bit ridiculous? The problem you are encountering is that the Bible was not intended to give us an account of the creation that would answer all of the scientific problems and phenomenon as you are expecting. The Bible was written at a time when man's scientific knowledge was limited, and the language and knowledge of the time was used. You are reading the Bible expecting it to conform to your modern knowledge, theories, and human eyes.
Oh, sure, evolution can be "proved" - rationally - an example being that it is advantageous to be able to run faster than someone else - so the four-legged man would win out over the two legged man every time! No, wait, there are only two-legged men. Oh, and it is not "clearly stated" at all in the Bible that the heavens orbit the earth. Actually, it is not possible to determine one way or another, for the Hebrews lacked a word-concept for "sphere". Again, you have missed the point. The Bible is not to be looked at and picked apart, it is to be looked through for its essence beyond the words.
Seth said: Geologically, it teaches that the earth was created by God on the first day, slightly less than 6,000 years ago. Fact is, we can trace how old various layers of dirt are....
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: "Geologically" is nothing more than a measure, based on concepts man invented to compare and describe. Geologically, indeed, there may be rocks we can measure that are over 500,000,000 years old - according to the scale man invented - but that does not prove the Bible wrong. It merely provides an arbitrary measure of "age" as compared to other objects against a scale chosen by man. If an object were created, and given intended characteristics, then when it is measured against man's invented scale, it would measure a certain age, (even millions of years old), but then I would have no way of knowing my scale was "the" scale, unless I knew the true scale in advance, which I don't. You are giving man's scale authority it does not deserve. The scale is good for comparison between objects, but not for extrapolation outside its limits. Does that mean the Bible is exact in its description of the time of the creation? Does it matter? Fact is, we only have translations of translations of an ancient language, and the words and descriptions may not be right on the money. But is my acceptance of whether or not there is a God dependent on which is most correct - science or the Bible? For me, no. For you, clearly it is. You have chosen to dismiss the idea that there could be a God because you have elevated science to be your god.
Seth said: This information is all readily available through a science book, but you claim that it's inexplicable unless you believe in God, because you don't really WANT to know why, you simply see the problem at it's face value, and won't look deeper.
Response: Yes, I understand, there is a great deal of knowledge in science books, and they explain, wonderfully, and quite to the benefit of mankind, the way things appear to be and how things work. But, none of that changes anything. You say I won't look deeper; on the contrary, I believe I have looked far deeper than you.
I said: Nobody can force anybody to believe in God or the Bible. In reality, the existence of God cannot be proven or disproved absolutely. In fact, I cannot prove that you exist. Since God's existence cannot be proven, how do we determine if God's existence is probable? The only way to find out that God really exists is to die. However, I wouldn't recommend it unless you have been "saved".....
As for prophecy:
Seth said: It's easy to claim that all prophesy has been fulfilled, because anything that HASN'T can be said to be "in the future."
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: But, what about the hundreds of prophecies that have come true? Can you just ignore them? Can you honestly call them ALL "coincidence"?
Seth said:As for Jesus... the genealogies listed in Matthew and Luke are contradictory. It lists different family trees for Jesus, which is significant, if you want to claim that he was a descendant of David.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: The careful Bible student is likely to conclude that Matthew and Luke present two different genealogies. Following through the genealogies, one will notice that there are some names which are common to both, but also, a great number of differences. Matthew begins at the patriarch Abraham, and works his way to Yeshua the Messiah. Luke begins at Yeshua, and works his way back to Adam. There are two genealogies, with two distinct purposes. But Matthew, reveals the genealogy of Mary, and Luke, presents the genealogy of Joseph - quite the opposite of what most conclude.
Matthew, penning his gospel with the Jews in mind to show that Jesus had the authority of King, sets out to establish Yeshua's qualifications to be the Messiah through Mary's genealogy. Thus, beginning with Abraham, he maps the Lord's genealogy through David, and the kings which followed. He presents Yeshua's royal lineage (through the males) through "...Joseph, the guardian of Mary (not "husband" of), of whom was born Yeshua..."
Luke, writes to the Gentiles with the "father's" side of the inheritance. Thus, Luke begins at Yeshua, and follows the genealogy of Joseph, passing through the patriarchs, ending with the very first man, Adam.
If Matthew is tracing the genealogy of Mary, why does he cite Joseph's name? Because Matthew calls out Mary's guardian - who had the same name as her husband. Note that because it was a virgin birth, Jesus' lineage to be King had to trace back to David through Solomon while Luke's genealogy traces back to David through Nathan.
How can Yeshua have a genealogy without having a biological father? Very simply, in legal terms, Joseph was Yeshua's legal father (look at it as a step-son who has all the rights and privileges of an adopted son). Thus, the genealogy of Joseph was legally applied to Yeshua.
There is no contradiction.
There are some more indepth articles on my website concerning this very topic. Please read one of them at: Jewish Assertions (to bypass other topics on the same page, search on the word "genealogy").
Seth said: A mistranslation of Isaiah is responsible for the widespread belief that Jesus HAD to be born of a virgin, in order to be the Messiah. The OT, properly translated from Hebrew into Greek (where it was mistranslated before), says nothing of a virgin birth.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Yes, it does.
According to the 70 Jewish rabbis who worked on the Septuagint translation of the Old Covenant, the Hebrew word "almah" (Isaiah 7:14) is translated "parthenos" meaning virgin. Furthermore, the word "almah" is used just seven times in the Old Covenant and refers every time to what can only be a virgin. So when you say "almah" is mistranslated, you are disagreeing with traditional Jewish thought.
Even if the word almah in Isaiah 7:14 meant "a young woman" - in the context of the Tanakh it always referred to "a young woman of unsullied reputation," which is why the Jewish translators of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Tanakh prepared 200 years before Yeshua's birth, rendered this word into Greek as parthenos, "virgin". This is also the word used at Mat 1:23.
There are hundreds of Jewish and Gentile Bible scholars who believe that the prophet Isaiah was predicting the virgin birth of the Messiah. A list of the Jewish scholars alone would include such names as Dr. Sanford C. Mills, Milton Lindberg, Dr. Arthur W. Kac, Dr. Henry J. Heydt, Dr. Leopold Cohn, Dr. Jacob Gartenhaus and Dr. David L. Cooper. All of these eminent Jewish theologians believe that the Hebrew word "almah" is best translated by the word "virgin."
In Isaiah 9:6, you will find a description of this special child who was born to a virgin: "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
A child will be born who will be called "Mighty God"? Jewish commentators did not dispute the Messianic nature of this prophecy until modern times. As proof, let me cite the paraphrase of this passage given in Targum Jonathan:
"And there was called His name from of old, Wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, He who lives for ever, the messiah in whose days peace shall increase." (Targum of Isaiah)
Granted, one shouldn't read something into the Biblical story that isn't there. However, it is just as dangerous to delete or ignore things that are there....
Seth said: There is no Roman record of Herod slaughtering the baby boys of a generation. The Romans were OBSESSIVE record keepers.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Do the Romans have records dating back 2,000 years ago?
Furthermore (according to PBS's Secrets of the Dead), on the night of July 19, 64 AD, a fire broke out among the shops lining the Circus Maximus, Rome's mammoth chariot stadium. In a city of two million, there was nothing unusual about such a fire -- the sweltering summer heat kindled conflagrations around Rome on a regular basis, particularly in the slums that covered much of the city. Knowing this, Nero himself was miles away in the cooler coastal resort of Antium. Yet this was no ordinary fire. The flames raged for six days before coming under control; then the fire reignited and burned for another three. When the smoke cleared, ten of Rome's fourteen districts were in ruin. The 800-year-old Temple of Jupiter Stator and the Atrium Vestae, the hearth of the Vestal Virgins, were gone. Two thirds of Rome had been destroyed.....
Seth said: Psalm 22:16 is often viewed as a prophesy of the crucifixion; but it's based on a mistranslation of the Hebrew text.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Stern's Complete Jewish Bible says: Dogs are all around me, a pack of villains closes in on me like a lion [at] my hands and feet. In order to understand this, it is necessary to realize there is a difference between the texts. The Christian versions say "They pierced my hands and feet", while the Masoretic text says the above. The Septuagint has "They pierced my hands and feet," implying the Hebrew word karu in its source text. The Masoretic Hebrew text, accepted as standard in traditional Judaism, has k'ari, and the line reads, "Like a lion, my hands and my feet."
Be that as it may, you need to take it on context. Psalm 22 speaks of a man who cries out to God for deliverance from intense persecution. There are parallels between the details in Psalm 22 and the details written in the New Testament about Jesus' crucifixion, such as:
In Psalm 22:7, it speaks of a man surrounded by others who scorn and despise him. This is what happened to Yeshua in Matthew 27:39 and Mark 15:29.
In Psalm 22:7, it speaks of a man being mocked, which is similar in the descriptions of Yeshua's crucifixion given in Matthew 27:31, Mark 15:20 and Luke 22:63; 23:36.
In Psalm 22:8, it says, "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." In Matthew 27:43, Yeshua's enemies taunted him by saying, "He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him."
In Psalm 22:16, it speaks of a man who was numbered with the transgressors, meaning an innocent man being regarded as being one of a group of criminals. Yeshua too was numbered with the transgressors when he was crucified next to two criminals, as described in Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27, Luke 23:32 and John 19:18.
In Psalm 22:16, it speaks of a man whose hands and feet are either pierced, or mauled, or disfigured, depending on which is truly the best English translation of the original verse. In John 19:23,34,37 - Yeshua's hands and feet were pierced with nails during the crucifixion process.
In Psalm 22:17, it speaks of a man who would be surrounded by others who stared and gloated at him. This too was the situation for Jesus during the crucifixion, according to Matthew 27:36 and Luke 23:35.
In Psalm 22:18, onlookers gamble for pieces of clothing that belonged to the person being persecuted. As explained in Matthew 27:35, Roman soldiers gambled (cast lots) for articles of Yeshua's clothing while he was being crucified.
There are other descriptions in Psalm 22 that sound like an accurate description of what would happen to a person being crucified, such as the disjointing of bones, the drying up of a person's strength, an intense sense of thirst, a heart melting like wax (Yeshua was stabbed in the side with a sword during his crucifixion), and being "poured out" of one's body. When He was stabbed with a sword, blood and water poured out from the wound.
Many Christian scholars have written about their views of the significance of Psalm 22 and the crucifixion of Jesus. The late Charles Briggs, who had been a professor at the Union Theological Seminary, said "These sufferings [of Psalm 22] transcend those of any historical sufferer, with the single exception of Jesus Christ. They find their exact counterpart in the sufferings of the cross.... This ideal is a Messianic ideal, and finds its only historical realization in Jesus Christ."
Seth said: No biblical record details Jesus being called Immanuel until after his death. This is a violation of Isaiah 7:16.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: Please read our article on Almah. As to the "virgin birth":
Let's briefly examine the powerful term "Immanuel." A natural reading of the passage would lead us to expect that the presence of God is to be seen in the birth of the child himself. This interpretation, however, is seriously disputed and rejected by most modern writers on the passage. It would seem that, if the prophecy refers to a local birth, the child to be born must be someone prominent. The most prominent person, Hezekiah, is ruled out and therefore we must assume that it is a child of Isaiah or some other child of Ahaz.
But this is also ruled out by the word "almah." Neither the wife of of Ahaz nor the wife of Isaiah could properly be designated an "almah", for the obvious reason that both were married women.
It seems best, then, to apply the name Immanuel to the child himself. In his birth the presence of God is to be found. God has come to his people in a little Child, that very Child whom Isaiah later names "Mighty God" (El Gibbor). This interpretation is strengthened by the fact that Isaiah is seeking to dissuade men from trusting the Assyrian king. The nation's help rests not in Assyria but in God. In this dark moment God is with His people. He is found in the birth of a child.
The infancy of the divine Child is a measure of the time that will elapse until Ahaz is freed from the fear of his two Northern enemies (Isaiah 7:15-16) Ahaz rejects the sign of Immanuel and turns to the king of Assyria. That king and his successors caused Judah's downfall, but for the remnant there was given the promise of Immanuel, and in Immanuel they would find their hope and salvation.
Seth said: The Bible predicted that the Messiah's coming would save his people. There have been millions upon millions of Jews who refused the New Covenant, and who, therefore, were not saved.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: That is indeed a future prophecy because the eyes of many Jews will yet be opened. Many have already come to faith Yeshua....Just like you, they have a choice.
Some believe that all Jews will be saved, based upon Romans 11:26, "And so, all Israel shall be saved." They have the idea that, at some future time, God is going to save all Jews. But notice, it doesn't say all the Jews will be saved, it says all Israel. Paul writing to the Romans, quoted Isaiah: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sands of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved, for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly." Romans 9:27-28, NASB.
This was, again, a prophecy of the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem, perhaps, updated by Paul. Are these two Scriptures contradictory? No! Realize that the epistle to the church at Rome was written before the A.D. 70 desolation of Jerusalem, in which 1,100,000 Jews were killed. They died without Christ.
Those Jews had said to Pilate, concerning the crucifixion of Jesus, "His blood be upon us, and upon our children." Matthew 27:25.
Even though Yeshua prayed on the cross, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do," it is obvious that those Jews were not saved and will not be, unless they repented and accepted Yeshua as their Final SIN Sacrifice (which He was!). Yeshua said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6. It would be pure folly to believe that He would give eternal salvation to those whom He destroyed in His wrath. Those Jews had said to Pilate concerning the crucifixion of Jesus, "His blood be upon us, and upon our children." Matthew 27:25.
So the Scripture in Romans 9:27-28 is referring to the A.D. 70 desolation, while the one in Romans 11:26 is addressing the salvation of all the Israel of God, Christians [Abraham's seed and heirs according to promise]. There will be no blanket salvation for all Jews no more that there is blanket salvation for all mankind. It is quite clear, that all Jews will not be saved, neither will all natural Israel, nor all the gentiles, but only those who accept Yeshua haMaschiyach - the Torah observant Messiah who came to show us who God was, how to properly worship Him, and then to martyr Himself on our behalf.
Seth said: Zecheriah 9:9 claims that, upon the coming of the King of Kings, Israel shall never again fall, and it's realm shall encompass the earth. Jesus did not fulfill this in any stretch. The prophesy of the King coming to Jerusalem fails, because Jesus, although he rode a donkey triumphantly into the city, did not protect her from "marauding forces."
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: This is indeed future prophecy. This will occur upon His return. How do we know? Because Yeshua has so far only fulfilled the first FOUR of the SEVEN Biblical Feasts; there are three more to go....
Seth said: Just please consider that the Bible is fallible, and that, though you can interpret to your heart's content, it has been wrong, and it's possibly ENTIRELY wrong. You just don't know.
The Refiner's Fire's response to Seth: We at The Refiner's Fire believe that the Bible is true and infallible. We can't force anyone see that or agree with it. All we can say is that once one's "spiritual eyes" are opened to YHWH's Truth, EVERYTHING changes. We begin to view the entire world differently and start to change our thinking and behavior to match God's Will. The thing is, the Bible tells us not to argue with unbelievers because they simply cannot understand. It's like trying to explain the Pythagorean Theorem to a pre-schooler; it doesn't work! All you can do is share what you know with those who are interested....