Dr Victor Zammit is a former Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the High Court of Australia: www.victorzammit.com
A LAWYER'S OPEN LETTER TO DR BILLY GRAHAM (and CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS)
Does the Bible have AUTHORITY?
Over a number of decades, as a charismatic Christian Bible crusader you influenced and you have attracted a huge number of people not only in the United States, but around the world. You swayed the multitude with your Biblical eloquence, with Biblical authority and you told them what to think, told them what is right, what is wrong, how to behave.
You have advised some of the world's leading religious and secular leaders. You have used your Biblical expertise to advise even American Presidents.
Your honesty, your sincerity and your integrity are not in question. Nor is your character or your intention or your motivation in question.
There is a universal perception that you are passionate about directing the multitude to the Bible as the ultimate authority. You have a fundamental right to your beliefs, your religion and to your Bible. I do respect that.
But when you cite Biblical authority to support your claim that empiricism about the afterlife is wrong, then I have to respond to your most definitively erroneous assumptions.
And undoubtedly, while you do have expertise in the Bible, that expertise cannot be equated with having objective, universal authority about what you state or how you interpret the Bible. Two thousand years of Christian history, your decades of Biblical preaching and being a Christian minister - and repeating 'faith' and 'belief' in the Bible a million times do NOT amount to you or the Bible having objective authority - except having religious subjective authority.
I state with great emphasis that empirical authority negates and invalidates any Biblical subjective authority.
Accordingly, I state there are five grounds why evangelists and fundamental Christians do NOT and can never have universally acceptable, enforceable authority emanating from the Bible.
i) the subjectivity of the Biblical texts (as against empiricism);
ii) the original Biblical texts do not exist;
iii) many of the contents cannot be attributed to God;
iv) contents have been plagiarized from previous spiritual writings and
v) the Bible has been changed a number of times greatly reducing its credibility.
i) Subjectivity - your authority is subjective
With the greatest respect, the authority you cite is subjective authority. This means that your Biblical authority extends only to those who want to believe in the Bible and to those who want to accept your interpretation of the Bible.
Your Biblical authority is not and cannot be empirically tested for validity. I guarantee you that all accredited universities will agree with that statement. Ultimately you may state that your authority comes from God. Again, that is also an untested interpretation and inevitably a subjective statement NOT independently supported by science, empiricism or by any objectivity.
And you know and all empiricists and scientists around the world know, anything subjective is itself subject to fundamental errors and to complete invalidation.
'Faith' and 'belief' - which are intrinsically most subjective - appear to be the most important words for evangelists and fundamental Christians. They occur in nearly every chapter of the New Testament and are used more than 200 times.
At one time the Church in the middle ages taught that faith and belief are more powerful than science and were to be stated dogmatically and to be accepted without questioning. I submit, judging by 'content analysis' of what they preach and by their conduct, that most evangelists, clergy, priests and ministers still erroneously believe this to-day.
When you ask people to believe in something purely on the basis of faith, you are robbing them of the fundamental right to question anything which is NOT supported by evidence.
The Catholic Church with an alleged billion followers has a practice of NOT encouraging Catholics to study the Bible for themselves; they have a policy of referring them to a limited number of "safe" passages knowing there are huge irreconcilable problems with many other passages.
Humans are given the power to think, to analyze, to evaluate, to investigate, to test all information for validity. I submit that any evangelist or anyone who tries to take away these things is himself committing a most heinous transgression, is violating Natural Law.
Empiricism (measuring phenomena using scientific method)
Whenever there is an inconsistency between theology and empiricism, between a personal religious belief and science, theology and personal beliefs inevitably are made invalid by empiricism.
For example, the Bible talks about the geocentric view of cosmology - the sun revolving around the earth. You know, I know - and the whole world knows- that this is not correct. The episode where Joshua claimed God stopped the sun is but one where the Bible misleads, misinforms, misguides and is blatantly fundamentally inconsistent with science.
Another example: Genesis fundamentally contradicts science - the earth is said to be older than the stars. That is definitively NOT the case. Is Dr Graham asking us to close our minds when we open the Bible?
This unequivocally shows that the Biblical writings of the fourth century reflected the restricted epistemology of the time. Certainly the writers did not have the benefit of at least two hundred years of science, empiricism, advanced technology and the advanced methods of observation we have to-day. Especially, when research into the afterlife has now been taken over by psi empiricists.
Empiricists state that faith and beliefs are irrelevant and immaterial as to evaluation of your worth on crossing over. Empiricists state that selfless service, doing anything to alleviate suffering, hardship, adversity of another person will be a million times more beneficial on crossing over than all the hallelujahs, amens and hymns sung and uttered during one's lifetime. Selfless good works have an immediate positive impact on the spirit's vibrations.
Accordingly, anything critical to man's understanding of his role in the universe has to come under the strictest empirical scrutiny to assess its validity. Biblical experts agree the Bible has egregious, insurmountable, irreconcilable problems when empirically tested. All these hugely reduce any alleged authority the Bible has. While the Bible has some very powerful poetry and inspiration, it cannot and must not be cited as the ultimate, infallible authority for universal spiritual truths.
ii) Original Biblical documents do not exist
It is procedural that any writings allegedly inspired by God have to be stringently tested and subjected to the toughest scrutiny. Now we find that the original New Testament Biblical texts are not original documents - i.e. the Biblical texts we have are NOT the authentic ones. No one knows who actually wrote them, they are not historical documents and no one has ever stated he or she ever saw the originals. Nobody knows when they were written. What remains are copies of copies, unsigned with no guarantee the contexts have not been altered.
Even to-day the courts will not allow me or anybody else to submit into evidence copies of original documents. Copies of the originals are unreliable, reduce or negate authority, are open to suspicion of internal changes and are subject to a presumption of fraud which must be rebutted. This is usually done by presenting the authentic, original documents. This is something no evangelist can do concerning the Bible, now or in the future.
iii) Many of the Biblical contents cannot be attributed to God
You will agree that there are too many parts in the Bible which are unspiritual in the extreme. God is made out to be a cursing God of vengeance, of hatred, of war. God is made out to be really heinously evil with unconscionable determination to eliminate large numbers of innocent people for trivial deeds by someone relatively insignificant. God is made out to indiscriminately kill innocent human beings, hate men, women and children. You know Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Isaiah and other parts in the Bible are too vicious even to mention. All the horror, all the bizarreness, the cruelty and brutality in the Bible cannot be the word of God. Therefore the Bible shows itself to be a reflection of man's own primitive thinking in the early ages and certainly not God's. Below are some passages which attribute to God a morality less than an informed, spiritually advanced human being. In fact they are vulgar in the extreme, most horrible and only a fool would accept that these came from or were inspired by God - in justification of murder, hatred, genocide, fratricide and other conduct prohibited by law to-day. For example,
(a most bizarre, unacceptable description of God). Ezek 1:4-21
When God is angry 'smoke and fire' comes out of his body. Ps 18:7-8
He (God) will shoot them with arrows, suddenly they will be struck down Ps 64:7
God travels on a cloud Is 19:1
I (God) will corrupt your seed and spread dung (cow's shit) upon your faces. Malachi 2:3
Lo I (God) have given thee cow's dung for man's dung and thou shalt prepare thy bread herewith. Ex 4:15
Serve the Lord with fear and trembling, kiss his feet or else he will get angry and you will perish in the way ...Ps 2:11
For the Lord is a devouring firer, a jealous God Deut. 4:24
If your brother ...daughter serve other gods... you shall kill him (her). Deut 13:6
No man can be Jesus' disciple unless he hates his parents, brethren ...Luke 14:26
The Lord is a man of war Ex 15:3
And you shall destroy all the peoples that the Lord your God gives over to you, your eyes shall not pity them. Deut 7:16
When the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them you must utterly destroy them and show no mercy to them Det 7:2
'God' orders a man to be stoned to death because he collected firewood on a Sunday Num 15:32-36.
'God' is the creator of evil ... Is 45:7-8 Rom 11:32
... the head of every woman is man Corinthians 1 11:3
Whosever lieth with a beast surely be put to death and you shall slay the beast Lev 22:15
The earth has pillars and foundation. Sam 1 2:8 Ps 104:5
These are just but a fraction of the absurdities and primitive, bizarre directions and reflections to be found in the Bible which evangelists claim is 'the word of God!'
Accordingly, these would destroy any claim that the Bible it is the word of God.
Further, the Bible is inundated with fundamental irreconcilable inconsistencies. The Internet lists hundreds of these- see Biblical inconsistencies. For example:
The earth to abide for ever Ps 104:5 Eccles 1:4: The earth to be destroyed He 1:10-11 Peter 3:10
Man is not justified by faith alone. James 2:21, 24 Man is justified by faith alone. Rom 3:20 Ga 2:16
Salvation secured through good works Mark 10:17-19 Salvation is to be gained only through belief in Jesus as Saviour John 3:16 ff Eph 2:8
I state that the Bible may be highly religious but not spiritual. These inconsistencies inevitably further reduce and even remove any notion that the Bible is God's authority to be disseminated to mankind.
iv) Contents are based on previous spiritual writings.
It may or may not surprise you that there is much in the Bible which is not original. Research shows that much of what is in the Bible comes from Eastern and Middle Eastern spiritual writings: for example, the Creation and the Fall of Man was a belief in Babylon some 1500 years before the Hebrews claimed they originated these beliefs. The Ten Commandments, the Trinity, Jonah and the Big Fish, Samson and his Exploits, The Flood, Jacob's Ladder, Ascension of Jesus - and many other items found in the Bible have been taken over from ancient beliefs.
From Buddhism we get the stories of the Prodigal Son, the Loaves and the Fishes, and the admonition as to the plucking out of the right eye if it gives offence, 'Peter' walking on the sea, the woman at the well. The Last Supper and other customs and rites originated with the Essenes who can be traced first to Alexandria in Egypt then to India. Other ceremonies and beliefs were taken from Mithraism which originated in Turkey.
But what is devastatingly critical evidence is the presentation made by Kersey Graves in his book THE WORLD'S SIXTEEN CRUCIFIED SAVIOURS, chapter XXXIL entitled Three hundred and forty six striking analogies between Christ and Chrishna. This shows how the early Christian writers plagiarized from the then existing Eastern spiritual beliefs. The following are just a fraction of the similarities between Christianity and Eastern spiritual writings from India - - the God or Savior in each case is the second person of the Trinity. - Chrishna as well as Christ was held to be really God incarnate. - Chrishna as well as Jesus (Christ) were 'Christ' incarnate. - The mother in each case was a holy virgin. - The father of Chrishna as well as that of Christ was a carpenter, - God is claimed as the real father in both cases. - A spirit or ghost was the author of the conception of each. - Both were (allegedly) born on the 25th December. - Both at birth were visited by both men and shepherds. - Each Savior had a forerunner - John the Baptist in the one case, Bali Rama in the other. - Each sustained the character of a Messiah. - Chrishna as well as Christ was a redeemer. - Both proclaimed, "I am the resurrection." - The mission of each was to deliver from sin. - The doctrine of atonement is practically realized in each case. - Both were human as well as divine. - Chrishna performed many miracles as well as Christ. - One of the first miracles of each was the cure of a leper. - Chrishna as well as Christ was crucified. - Darkness attended the crucifixion of each. - Each after giving up the ghost, descends into hell. - Chrishna and Christ resurrected. - A great and final day of judgment is taught by each.
There are another three hundred and twenty four similarities between Krishna and Christ one could find the in the above mentioned Kersey Graves' book.
Kersey Graves, whose research has hitherto not been rebutted, also identifies there were sixteen "crucified" saviors before Jesus - all of whom claimed they were sent by God to save mankind. There is also a plethora of evidence that there is nothing original in Christianity and all of its concepts were taken from previous religions. Some critical books so far not rebutted is the classic work of the Rev Robert Taylor's 437 page book DIEGESIS. There is the 380 page book MYTH, MAGIC AND MORALS by Fred Cornwallis Conybeare and BIBLE MYTHS and their PARALLELS IN OTHER RELIGIONS by T W Doane. All these works are highly intellectually substantiated by professors and although these most disturbing books have been around for nearly a hundred years, no one has been able to rebut the highly intellectual, most damaging research which shows the Bible has no authority.
All these show in unequivocal terms that the Bible's authority is necessarily subjective, restricted and mostly unreliable. This inevitably negates any authority anyone claims about the Bible being the word of God.
v) the Bible has been changed a number of times greatly reducing its credibility.
We are never informed why some 'spiritual' writings were selected and not others. The selection was inevitably subjectively done and we just cannot go back to the old adage - it was God's will etc. Biblical scholars such as J.B. Phillips state even to-day that Matthew's gospel had to have been written by somebody else. Nor can we accept that Moses' Biblical account was written by himself when he described how he was buried (Deut. 34:5-6). We do know there were fundamental Biblical changes throughout the middle ages - see important research by Peter De Rosa, a former Catholic priest of Monsignor rank called Vicars of Christ, The Dark Side of the Papacy, about Papal Biblical changes.
One can understand the huge problem of having to rely on the subjectivity and the questionable ecclesiastical discretion of the Popes of the middle ages as to what Biblical texts should contain. This was at a time of heightened Churchian dogmatism; even more sinister was the unspiritual, cruel and ungodly Inquisition during which the Popes thought of themselves to be omniscient and infallible. Even Luther had to use these doctored and manipulated Biblical texts. Because of the great number of changes in the Bible, there is not one authoritative Bible common to all Christians to-day. Each sect believes it has the true authorized version.
It is not unreasonable to state that if Jesus wanted us to have a proper, authoritative Bible, he would have written one himself. That would inevitably have saved the massive slaughter, the genocides, the butchery, torture and needless suffering - and hundreds of millions of lives lost over some two thousand years, victims of conflicts in interpretation of the Bible.
Changes in the Bible inevitably erode and even remove any claim of authority. All this negative conduct brought about because of the internal problems of the Bible reduce and even negate any claim the Bible has any enforceable authority.
Victor Zammit, Lawyer of the Supreme Court of NSW and the High Court of Australia (retired). Corporations Law consultant, lecturer.
A LAWYER PRESENTS THE EVIDENCE FOR THE AFTERLIFE www.victorzammit.com