Christianity cut-and-pasted from other religions?
2) the Bible and the flood
religion, so dear to those whose life it sanctifies...necessarily contradicts
every other religion, and probably contradicts itself."
primitive religion could be explained away as an intellectual aberration,
as a mirage induced by emotional stress, or by its social function, it
was implied that the higher religions could be discredited and disposed
of in the same way."
Formed by the evolutionary hypothesis?
evidence recorded by ancient non-Christians has effectively forced modern
scholarly criticisms of the Bible's formulation into adopting the evolutionary
hypothesis. This is the belief that the specific books of the Bible were
continually being appended and changed, instead of having been written
by specific authors and having remained in that basic original form.
There are several good
Old Testament introductions that do an excellent job of justly representing
this hypothesis and defending against it in detail (an "introduction"
is a modern work written to illuminate the history and authenticity of Scripture
book-by-book). However, one facet of the hypothesis is too interesting and
important not to address here.
That facet concerns
those times when distinct and unmistakable parallels are discovered between
the scriptures and other ancient writings. Critics of the Bible will invariably
take what might be described as the glass-half-empty approach. Invariably.
If a story in the Bible resembles a story elsewhere, the conclusion critics
adopt is that the Bible borrowed that story from the other source rather
than vice versa. The defense against this charge is quite strong and compelling.
The particular example we will look at involves the many similar stories
of a worldwide flood.
What about these accounts of a worldwide flood?
than ancient Israel, cultures all around the world record an incredible,
devastating global flood. Gleason Archer reveals some very interesting parallels
among the different accounts:
But what shall we
say of the legend of Manu preserved among the Hindus (according to which
Manu and seven others were saved in a ship from a worldwide flood); or
of Fah-he among the Chinese (who was the only survivor, along with his
wife, three sons, and three daughters); or of Nu-u among the Hawaiians;
or of Tezpi among the Mexican Indians; or of Manabozho among the Algonquins?
All of these agree that all mankind was destroyed by a great flood (usually
represented as worldwide) as a result of divine displeasure at human sin,
and that a single man with his family or a very few friends survived the
catastrophe by means of a ship or raft or large canoe of some sort.
The Kurnai (a tribe
of Australian aborigines), the Fiji Islanders, the natives of Polynesia,
Micronesia, New Guinea, New Zealand, New Hebrides, the ancient Celts of
Wales, the tribesmen of Lake Caudie in the Sudan, the Hottentots, and
the Greenlanders, all have their traditions of a universally destructive
deluge which wiped out all the human race except for one or two survivors.
The most complete collection of these flood legends from all over the
world is contained in Richard Andree's German work Die Flutsagen
(The Epic of Gilgamesh
is the Babylonian version in which it is Utnapishtim who constructs an ark
to survive the deluge and finally lands upon Mount Nisir.5
do we make of the similarities of a global flood that only a handful of
Rather than jumping
to the conclusion that 3,000 years ago the Jews stole the idea of a deluge
from Mexican Indians or Australian aborigines, something else should be
considered here. Remnant elements of truth existing within the miscellaneous
religions of the world are exactly what we should expect if, according to
the Judeo-Christian belief, all civilizations came from one common root.
Naturally, remnant elements
of truth within the worlds religions would apply to cultures that predate
Moses as well as to any which came after him. But because Moses' knowledge
of the creation, including the flood, is claimed to have come from God himself,
the Bible should prove to contain the most accurate account.
The deviations in other
cultures' religions, as well as in their creation and flood accounts, may
have been partly why God inspired the proper recording of the actual events.
Moses' account might have been used to set the record straight. Evidence
for this exists throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament where
God's attributes are constantly being contrasted to neighboring pagan beliefs
and practices of the day. Thus it would be consistent with this precedent
to believe that God gave the flood account to Moses for the purposes of
being both a correct record of the event, and to disprove the other accounts
5.7 What an invented religion should have looked like.
Finally, one must consider
the would-be motivations behind a cut-and-paste methodology for making up
a religion. Why, for example, would the Bible's book of Job, clearly written
hundreds of years before
Christ and possibly written as early as the second millennium BC,
contradict all popular beliefs of its time? It describes the earth as "being
in empty space and hung on nothing" (Job 26:7) and as a type of "circle"
in every direction (Job 26:10).
It is doubtful that
"empty space" was understood then as we understand it now, but consider
the neighboring beliefs that Israel is alleged to have cut-and-pasted from.
If the biblical writing merely reflected the popular beliefs of its time,
it should have described the earth as the back of an incredibly huge elephant,
or turtle, or as having definitive edges (see the Islamic quote to the left,
or an incredible one here).
But instead, ancient Scripture contains an insight that was not seriously
considered by the world until literally thousands of years later.
If the religion of
Israel was derived from its contemporaries, it should have embraced ritual
sex, polytheism, companion male and female deities, and idol worship.
However, whenever Israel began to indulge in such things, the biblical writings
consistently show that God, through Israel's own prophets, vehemently condemned
the adoption of such practices.
In addition to the evidence
which Israel should have exhibited but did not (if they were only reflecting
the cultures around them), there are also elements within Israel's religion
that definitely should not have existed if their beliefs were merely
derived. These include affirmations of but one God, a God whose character
is holy and self-sacrificing, a God whose character is not subject to lust
and greed like men, express commands against making idols, and the exhortation
to be inwardly reverential.
This uniqueness of Israel's
religion, as well as the accuracy and insights within Scripture, are just
two of many examples of how, unlike false religions, Christianity continually
proves itself to be completely consistent, coherent, and inexorably tied
to recorded history, real people, and verifiable facts.
NEXT: BASIC TERMS...
Was Christianity cut-and-pasted
from other religions? - part one
Where did the earth