Quite a few of the atheists on this site will be well versed in the bible (many of us are former theists, after all) so I doubt very much I'll have to get into great depth, but I'm curious to address the issue of the bible's many inconsistencies/areas of irreconcilability throughout the scriptures.
One such example would be the manner in which Judas died, with one account that god tore him apart, spilling his innards in a field, and the other (maybe more widely accepted), Judas hanged himself from a tree branch. Then of course you have the account that 2 of every single species that ever existed (never mind how many species we've discovered in the last 200 years alone) piled onto the same damn ark, void of proper nourishment, sunlight, plant life, etc for 40 days. There are many more examples, and I'm sure we could come up with dozens (or hundreds), but the point I'm trying to raise is that I understand how uneducated theists could buy into such ridiculous claims, but how on EARTH do serious theologians/apologists (the ones who don't convert to our side, anyways) maintain and defend such preposterous ideas? How can someone with any rationality whatsoever tend to these beliefs? Do they actually believe them, or are they simply disengaging their brains and reciting the same dogmatic drivel that was told to them at one time?
This has always raised all kinds of questions that I don't know how to answer.....
Forget the inconsistencies in the bible. I've never understood how seemingly rational adults could believe in magical people living in space. They even think these people or creatures or whatever they are want to grant them wishes when prayed to. Really? Compared to that, some inconsistencies in how Judas died are really trivial.
While most christians probably just don't think things through properly, I do know one personally who is highly intelligent, well educated and believes in the bible based on (generally speaking) logical and rational reasons. The existence of one makes me think that there are many more like him scattered around.
Reasons he has given previously in response to your points raised above include:
- A reason for conflicting accounts in the gospels is that it was based on eyewitness evidence of the actual events. The exact same thing happens in court cases where multiple people are witnesses to the same event and give different accounts because they have different perspectives.
- You don't need 2 of every single type of animal in the ark. With dogs, for example, you can get multiple breeds of dog from the descendants of a single pair of dogs due to the genetic information they contain. It is possible to get horses, zebras and donkeys from a single pair of ancestors.
- The animals do not need to be full grown. There is no reason you could not have put baby elephants or baby dinosaurs on the ark instead of adult ones. Only about 25% of the space would have been needed for food/water supplies.
Other explanations include:
- Rock layers and fossils formed because of the flood
- Adam and Eve's children intermarried to create the human race
- Evolution can't be true due to irreducible complexity
While I may disagree with many of the things he says, in all honesty I can't fault a lot of the reasoning or science behind it. Not that I am particularly clever.
The thing I have found is that if you start with the assumption that the bible is true, you can reinterpret a surprising number of facts to support this. The fundamental problem with this is that you should instead look at the facts first and then decide what explanation is most likely without prior assumptions (at least as few as possible).
Matthew, you're wasting your time.
Let Lucretius, in his On the Nature of Things, point you in another (and perhaps profitable) direction:
Religions are sublime to the ignorant, meaningless to the philosopher, and useful to the politician.
In short, politicians and churchfolk use religion to rob the ignorant.