Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Ecclesiastes 3:21
Concerning the straw men, not to worry, they are actually harmless fellows who are constructed and used by those who would deny or distort the plain meaning of the Bible. They are the agents of attempted distractions and deceit. You can see these poor constructs in churches all the time, and increasingly used to bamboozle the unlearned and unwary.
You know I try to defeat paganism and skepticism whenever I can. The two straw man attacks I would like to address now, are the denial of human mortality, and that the mother of Jesus was a virgin when she bore our Lord.. Big job for a little man, but the scriptures are plain on these points.
When I was in a college class on English literature, the teacher, out of the blue, began to scoff at the idea of the virgin birth. He said that such an idea was based on a doubtful text in Isaiah 7:14. "Behold a virgin shall conceive..." He explained that the word for virgin in this text just meant an unmarried woman, not necessarily a virgin. She could even be a prostitute (those who use this idea usually smile when they say it), as long as she is young and unmarried.
He, of course, did not mention that this birth would be a sign, as if a non-virgin giving birth would be a sign. The surrounding scriptures show the birth to be that of Jesus, prophesied 1,000 years before he was born. But the meaning of the Hebrew word almah can, by itself, be interpreted as the teacher intended.
What is missing in this pretended debate? The plain words of Mary. When told by Gabriel that she was with child, she said, "How shall this be,seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34). This is not controversial to believers, but to young college students, can be upsetting.
Another such misunderstood scripture pertains to the pagan doctrine of immortal souls. This one really is an example of assumed negative proof. Ecclesiastes 3:21 is about the doubt that humans and animals have different fates,or rather their spirits do. Souls are not mentioned, but the spirit of life from God. Plainly the author says "Who knows?" concerning any difference in their deaths.
A number of times I have heard people say, "Doesn't the Bible say people's souls go upward, and animal souls go downward?" That is simple to answer. "No." Since the one who says the quote is "under the sun" his skepticism is deemed wrong. Need we say that those from under the sun are the very ones who strongly believe in an immortal soul? Babylonians, Egyptians, and so forth. Somehow, by saying that people under the sun believe there is no immortal soul, and being, by nature "wrong", this proves that there are!
This portion of scripture has been kicked around more than a football. I challenge those who say that man under the sun is lacking in knowledge, to agree that he always is, or just when he disagrees with their pagan philosophy?
Can't an old man, preparing to die, think of something more important to write about? No, nothing is more important to me than the pure truth of the Bible.