27th November 2009

“The longer the gap between the start of an oral tradition and the time its information is finally written down, the more unreliable that information is. Personal experience shows us just how garbled facts can become when a single person or day comes between us and an incident, let alone many people or months. In the case of the Bible, hundreds of years seem to have come between the incidents related in the Old Testament and the time they were written down. Decades elapsed between the time Jesus lived and the time the four Gospels were written.”

James Tracy

11 Responses to “27th November 2009”

  1. PEB Says:

    Translate that text into several languages and the original lie becomes even more ridiculous.

  2. tech Says:

    Your comments are yours. you’re entitled to it.But as for me I’ll place my trust in God. PRAISE THE LORD. I love HIM.

  3. PEB Says:

    tech – SHOUTING random nonsense isn’t going to convince anyone on here that you are right. I would like to hear your thoughts on the quote and why you believe it to be untrue?

  4. Holysmokes Says:

    Hi Tech – wouldn’t you agree that the premise of lost, or inaccurate information becomes more likely as time goes by, especially if that information was not written down? It seems completely logical, especially if my memory is an accurate example.

  5. tech Says:

    I’m not shouting random nonsense nor am i trying to convince anyone of anything.God has proven to me that he’s real.i’m entitled to my beliefs as well as the next person. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  6. PEB Says:

    tech – of course you are entitled to your beliefs but this is a debate on the quote above and not a platform for you to shout your praises.

    We are simply interested in your opinion on the quote which you seem reluctant to talk about.
    I’m also a bit interested in how your god proved to you he is real?

  7. dragonknight Says:

    It really has nothing to do with believing or not believing. It has to do with accuracy of the story told. I accept that tech has faith in a higher power and honestly, that’s good for him.

    But the quote deals with details and information and the accuracy of that information. Gather twenty people together to play a little game i played as a kid called ‘telephone’ where one person whispers a phrase into the ear of the next. Continue on through the group until everyone has been told the message. Most of the time, depending on the complexity of the phrase and the size of the group, the original message gets either lost or garbled.

    Add to this, a change in language each time it’s told. First English, then french, then Russian, and so on and so on and then finally translate the last message back into the starting language. It will be even more lost and confused.

    This has nothing to do with faith but the unreliability of an oral tradition. Each iteration is subject to an interpretation and because of that, each time the translation and interpretation can be confused or lost.

    Does this problem with oral tradition deny faith? Not really, all it does is ask you to question that which was passed down for hundreds of years orally and to not take it as an absolute truth. The essence of the message might be intact, but the actual story, could be very very wrong.

    Applying this to theological texts we can see them as allegory, or metaphor. The underlying message, to treat people with kindness and grace, is a truly inspirational message, to believer and non-believer alike. However, assumptions that these stories of men who walk on water, conjure fish and bread from nothing, or fiery shrubbery that speak are true is buying into the notion that a story, told hundreds of times before someone has a notion to write it down, across multiple languages, translated a multitude of times in the thousand years since its happened, can hold onto the facts of the event at the time it happened.

    I’m not sure I agree with PEB’s comment that ‘the original lie becomes more ridiculous’. I could see a man, visiting a poor town, teaching them to make bread and fish more effectively as feeding the multitudes with a single loaf of bread and a single fish. I’m not entirely sure that biblical stories are necessarily lies; so much as they’ve been turned into mythological stories due to misunderstandings and thousands of years of wanting to believe in the mystical.

  8. Chris Says:

    I agree with Dragonknight that the accuracy of human testimony is a slippery thing. I also agree that this invalidates any literalist interpretation of any of the so-called holy books. So, to evaluate the usefulness of them, one should consider the usefulness or the “goodness” of the message. The bible is filled with deity sanctioned rape, murder, slavery and might makes right. To my mind, the central useful value to be found in the bible is “do unto others”, which is a crude rendering of social contract, an idea which far predates the bible and arose in many places of greater erudition than the middle east.

    I also think there is good reason to think that while the writers of the bible may not have been “lying” exactly, they certainly had good reason to do so. If embellishments had NOT been added for the benefit of the credulous, there would have been no Jesus Death Cult. They were trying to get one going and tossing in a bunch of miracles would certainly have been helpful. Why are there no miracles today? Because we’re better at detecting falsehoods.

    Many men have ended up on death row based on FIRST HAND eyewitness testimony and have later been exonerated. You ought not kneel for such weak evidence as decades old testimonies written by people with an interest in the outcome.

  9. tech Says:

    My LORD and SAVIOR was not playing any game here on earth.And i’m sure the people who wrote was not playing a game either.As for my thoughts on the Quote.IF you don,t believe and think its all lies then why are you trying so hard to prove that its a lie.Anyway ladies and gentlemen again I say GOD is good. he,s so good. PRAISE HIS NAME. GLORY TO his wonderful name.May HE bless you all.

  10. dragonknight Says:

    I don’t recall saying that any devine being, yours or anyone elses tech, was playing telephone.

    It was merely an example of how communication breaks down over time and between people.

    Let us, for a moment, assume your right. God exists. And all of creation is his divine will. He still told a bunch of people, way back in our history, a bunch of things that most of them couldn’t write down because they weren’t educated enough to do so. This is what is called oral tradition. They passed the teachings down from generation to generation via storytelling.

    Eventually, the keepers of the stories realise that its hard to keep the story straight when it spans generations, multiple cultures and languages. Pieces of the stories are getting lost, while maybe the basic elements of hte story are true. This is when they get written down.
    This is true for stories that pre-date the Judeo-Christian bible, why shouldn’t the same be assumed true for it?

    If you stop prosthelitising for a moment and think about what I’m saying its true. It doesn’t matter if the lessons in the bible, koran, or any other religious text origionally came from on high, they were passed down orally.

    Even the editions of the bible that are common amongst most european and north american communities are translations of translations. I highly doubt tech, that you are reading the origional hebrew or aramaic bibles.
    So since humanity is not God, and we are falliable where he is not, it only stands to reason that, over time, through retelling and retranslating over two thousand years and countless generations before that, that some elements of the stories might be inaccurate or just plain wrong.

    As I said, I’m not here to disprove God (although if you’d like me to try I’ve a rather hillarious quote from Douglas Adams’ that does a pretty good job of it), I’m not here claiming hte bible is lies or falsehoods, just that its really, REALLY old, and human beings suck at remembering and passing on information so odds are, whatever the true lessons God wanted to teach us (assuming he does exist), are likely obscured by generations, centuries even, of misinterpretation, mistranslation and embellishment.

    Just because I don’t share your view on religion tech, doesn’t mean I’m against you or anyone else for that matter. Try to be a little understanding of other peoples views, and they will try to understand yours. Intolerance, in all its forms, leads to chaos. There’s plenty of room on the earth for both the faithful and the disinterested.

  11. Holysmokes Says:

    Hi Tech – I scrolled back up and looked at your responses to this quote. You don’t appear to have addressed it. The primary point of these quotes to discuss them. This quote makes no comment about the validity of a god. It merely points out that human memory and the mind are not good at retaining facts over the long haul, nor do we always remember things exactly the way they happened. Time, memory and language barriers are contributing factors which allow errors to creep into any story, unless it is written down. Would you say this is a fair assessment? If not, then why?