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Bible

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The holy book of the Christian religion.

The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Contents

Old Testament

The Old Testament (OT), also known as the Hebrew Bible or the Tanakh, contains accounts of the origin of the universe (Genesis), laws, history of the Jews, and assorted bits of Jewish lore.

Its writers did not appear to have much interest in what we would call science; Dr. Isaac Asimov once called it the authentic work of the ancient nonscientist. Perhaps the closest approach is Leviticus 11, which specifies which animals are considered fit to eat and which not. It starts off by stating that animals which chew the cud and have split hooves are fit to eat. It becomes somewhat imprecise according to modern nomenclature. It states, according to modern English translations, that rabbits chew the cud, leading Biblical skeptics to suggest a certain ignorance on the part of ancient Hebrews, and certain Apologists to suggest problems with interpretations. They suggest that the word translated "hare" may refer to some other small animal, and that coprophagy might have been a valid meaning of the words translated "chew the cud". Other biblical scholars point out that the references to "hare" was actually references to hyraxes, a group of African and Middle Eastern, vaguely rabbit-like ungulates related to elephants and dugongs. It goes on to list bats with birds, showing that the authors did not use modern systems of taxonomy. It seems to suggest that grasshoppers have four legs, though there are questions about whether this choice of words, "walks on four feet" was not an idiomatic expression meant to convey the posture of the animal's locomotion.

This is also reflected in its cosmological views, which are stated only in scattered and offhand fashion. However, one book that did not make the canonical cut, 1 Enoch, goes into much more detail, describing the Earth as flat and stationary and the sky as a bowl overhead that the Sun, Moon, and stars travel on.

New Testament

The New Testament (NT) concerns Jesus Christ, the son of God. The first four books, the Gospels, tell of the life of Jesus, the miracles he performed, and of his apostles. Jesus was eventually crucified and was resurrected, before ascending to Heaven.

Subsequent books of the New Testament tell of the apostles after Jesus' resurrection, mostly of Paul, who played an active role in building the early church. Many of the books are letters from Paul to church leaders in other areas.

The last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelations, tells of a vision seen by the apostle John concerning the coming end of the world.

Bible Skeptics suggest that much of the Old Testament is in contradiction with the New Testament. They give as an example the New Testament views on the Jewish laws. Many Christians believe that Jewish ceremonial law, while still "on the books" has already served its purpose. They also contend that the commandments and other Old Testament non-ceremonial Law is still useful as a guide to living a Godly life.

Its writers appeared to have essentially no interest in science, and they seemed unaware of the views of some of their contemporaries, such as that the Earth is shaped like a ball. Thus, Matthew 4:8 describes the Devil tempting Jesus Christ by showing him "all the kingdoms of the world" from a high peak. Many skeptics believe the implication was that the writer believed the view of all of the nations on earth could be revealed by a high enough vantage point. Biblical apologists take a different view, alternatively suggesting that the "kingdoms of the world" referred to the local political boundaries, or that the view was given as vision, and that the high mountain peak was not a necessity for this vision but only a circumstance.

An interesting creationist argument is that Jesus Christ referred to the creation (Matk 10:6, Matthew 24:21), Adam's son Abel (Matthew 23:35), and Noah's Flood (Matthew 24:37) as literally-existing events and people. However, he was known for speaking in parables (Matthew 13:10, Mark 4:34), and he may have regarded those events and people in the same light.

Whether the Biblical Skeptic is correct or the Apologist is on these contentious issues is irrelevant to the science of evolution, and many Christians and adherents of other faiths that include creation stories accept the validity both of science and of their own religious faith.

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