Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Saturday, January 05, 2008

    Bill Maher on Conan O'Brian - Do you believe in a Talking Snake?

    I just listened to Bill Maher - the rampantly anti-religious talk show host - hold court on the Conan O'Brian late night show.

    (Look it up on youtube, if you can stomach it...ugh)

    Anyway, Bill was making the case that you cannot harmonize science and religion - that all religious people are, at best, schizophrenic. To emphasize this assertion and support his false dilemma, he posed this "challenge" to Conan using a popular anti-apologetical question, "Do you believe in a talking snake?"

    This had all the makings of a complex question and Conan played the perfect straight-man for the fallacy - to wit - there are at least 2 assumptions "built-in" to this seemingly straightforward question:

    a. It assumes a naturalistic worldview.

    b. It assumes the Bible account is ridiculous and irrational.

    Thus, the only "rational" answer is an emphatic "NO"! (although, to Conan's limited credit, it seemed as if he struggled a bit against the trap...)

    So, what is a rational basis for believing a serpent could talk?

    Well, here is one Christian's rationale:
    ......
    a. The bible is the infallible word of our sovereign Lord - the only rule for faith and practice - so I will be biased toward its credibility and authority over man's sensory experience.

    b. Naturalist and Christian can agree that the laws of the universe are mutable - that is - even the naturalist's worldview allows for universal laws emerging as an cosmologically evolutionary product, so things today are not the same as they were in the past, albeit we see things at a slightly different progression and from different sources... :)

    c. God is Lord over natural and supernatural events (He is supra-natural) - much like the master programmer of a virtual reality space and, if you follow the reasoning, Satan (that old serpent!), has been endowed with some supernatural abilities (See Matthew 4 for an example).

    d. As a Bible believer I know that demonic forces can posses animals as well as humans (see Matthew 8 for an NT account), so I have no problem with Satan inhabiting an actual serpent and communicating through it, just as I have no problem with the consequences God imposed on the animal as a reminder of the consequences of sin.

    I suppose I could go on and on, but this should be enough to help folk understand my thoughts on the matter! :)

    The correct answer is that if the Creator of the Universe wanted to allow a serpent to talk, then a serpent will talk.

    Maher is the perfect demagogue for his religion, don't fall into the snare of his father.

    -JD

    6 comments:

    irqconflict said...

    Interesting that the Judgments of God on the serpent aren't brought up?

    I didn't watch the video however. But according to the Word the serpent was the "wisest" of all the creatures. And was told he would eat dust the rest of the days of his life.

    This would indicate to me that the serpent was created with the ability to talk and walk but under Gods curse was abased.

    These so-called arguments are nothing more than ad hominem and aren't likely to produce positive results.

    They simply don't want to believe in the God of the Bible and without that faith you cannot possibly believe in the miraculous accounts therein.

    This same argument can be made by opposing everything in the Word that talks of miracles because most go against our everyday (natural)experience.

    Foolishness abounds in the presence of ignorance.

    Mat 7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

    August said...

    Dear Mr. Maher, do you believe in talking randomly assembled collections of carbon and hydrogen?

    Puritan Lad said...

    I'm not sure what Mr. Haher hopes to prove here, but he is clearly begging the question. He has merely assumed that:

    1.) Satan doesn't exist, and therefore...
    2.) The snake was just an ordinary snake.

    No proof, or even any valid argument. Just assertion.

    Steve Burri said...

    What's the problem with a talking snake, Bill? I have a talking ass right in front of me... albeit not nearly as articulate as Balaam's.

    yknot said...

    Shocked and amazed! By the comments posted though. This has nothing to do with a talking snake. Genesis was written hundreds of years after the events it reports took place. The stories in Genesis are not to be taken literally in that a snake actually talked. You have to realize that these stories were told from generation to generation passed down through song and dance, plays/performances if you will and over time much of the story got lost. Anyone trying to find a literal interpretation in the first few chapters of Genesis are sure to be disappointed. Even the two differing accounts of creation are both given. I have to chuckle when I see comments like those posted in the rationale "d.As a Bible believer I know that demonic forces can posses animals as well as humans (see Matthew 8 for an NT account..."
    This is the story of Jesus casting the demons out of the guy or guys depending on the gospel you are reading and sending them into the swine. Hasn't anyone ever told you that this wasn't an actual event? This was symbolism for what the messiah was to accomplish. Here is how we know this:
    The name of the devils: Legion
    Roman armies were called: Legion
    The man or men were being controlled by the Legion.
    The Jewish people were being controlled by the Roman Legion(s).
    What was the messiah to do? Free the Jews from the Roman rule. How would he do it? He would drive the Roman Legions into the sea and drown them. Oh yeah one more thing, what did the Jews consider the Romans? Unclean heathen pigs. It was no accident that this analogy has the demons go into pigs and drown into the sea. Come on people stop looking for the literal meaning in everything. Obviously the snake didn't talk.

    panta dokimazete said...

    "Shocked and amazed! By the comments posted though. This has nothing to do with a talking snake. Genesis was written hundreds of years after the events it reports took place. The stories in Genesis are not to be taken literally in that a snake actually talked."

    And your authority for asserting this is?


    "You have to realize that these stories were told from generation to generation passed down through song and dance, plays/performances if you will and over time much of the story got lost."

    And your conclusive evidence for this is?

    "Anyone trying to find a literal interpretation in the first few chapters of Genesis are sure to be disappointed. Even the two differing accounts of creation are both given."

    Anyone coming to the text with their skeptical presuppositions instead of a humble approach is sure to find the word of God foolishness to them.

    "I have to chuckle when I see comments like those posted in the rationale "d.As a Bible believer I know that demonic forces can posses animals as well as humans (see Matthew 8 for an NT account..."
    This is the story of Jesus casting the demons out of the guy or guys depending on the gospel you are reading and sending them into the swine. Hasn't anyone ever told you that this wasn't an actual event? This was symbolism for what the messiah was to accomplish. Here is how we know this:
    The name of the devils: Legion
    Roman armies were called: Legion
    The man or men were being controlled by the Legion.
    The Jewish people were being controlled by the Roman Legion(s).
    What was the messiah to do? Free the Jews from the Roman rule. How would he do it? He would drive the Roman Legions into the sea and drown them. Oh yeah one more thing, what did the Jews consider the Romans? Unclean heathen pigs. It was no accident that this analogy has the demons go into pigs and drown into the sea. Come on people stop looking for the literal meaning in everything. Obviously the snake didn't talk."

    Again it is clear that you have exchanged the truth of God's word for the imaginings of Man and have become a mocker. The tone and context of the narrative is not analogy, it is history. Pardon me if I decline your invitation to liberalize the clear meaning.

    Thanks for visiting, though!