Alleged Bible contradictions

bible.jpgWhile many atheists are quite reasonable and charitable when discussing religious matters, I think one of the strategies of the New Atheists is to run around with their Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites to distract you, waste your time and plant seeds of doubt with bad arguments.  I addressed many of their standard lines in Poor arguments to make with theists.  (In fairness, I had previously addressed Poor arguments to make with atheists, because theists also make poor and uncharitable arguments at times.)

If there were any legitimate objections in this list of 194 alleged contradictions that DJ Black Adam pointed me to then they were lost in their overly literal and transparently false interpretations.  You don’t even need any Bible knowledge to debunk most of them.  The skeptics just misread the text or read it out of context.  I also think that their dictionary doesn’t contain the word paradox, though most of the items on this list don’t even approach that level of sophistication.  I pray that they would take the text seriously and accept its life changing message.

Their conclusion starts with this charming, question begging personal attack:

Every one is aware that there are contradictions in the Bible, except for the fundamentalist idiots.  

First, let’s recall the definition of a contradiction:

1. the act of contradicting; gainsaying or opposition.
2. assertion of the contrary or opposite; denial.
3. a statement or proposition that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous.
4. direct opposition between things compared; inconsistency.
5. a contradictory act, fact, etc.

So mere differences aren’t contradictions.  To be a contradiction something has to be the opposite. 

Just for grins, I grabbed a few of the 194 “contradictions” to see how robust they were. 

#4. The angel told Joseph. Mt.1:20.  The angel told Mary. Lk.1:28.

Let’s look at the two verses in question: 

Matthew 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

So the angel went to Joseph and to Mary.  That is simply not a contradiction.  Why they would include something like this is beyond me.  

#11.  Satan tempted Jesus. Mt.4:1-10; Mk.1:13; Lk.4:1,2.  Satan had no interest in Jesus. Jn.14:30.

I agree that Satan tempted Jesus, so there is no need to review those verses.  But let’s look at the second claim and see if it states that Satan had “no interest” in Jesus: 

John 14:30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 

The plain reading of the text shows that Satan has no hold on Jesus.  It does not claim that he has no interest in Jesus.  Why do they think that is a contradiction?

#27 The people were not impressed with the feeding of the multitude. Mk.6:52.  The people were very impressed with the feeding of the multitude. Jn.6:14.

Mark 6:52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

John 6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

At first glance the skeptics appear to have a point.  After all, Mark 6:52 seems to indicate that they didn’t have a strong reaction.  But did you notice that the first word of the verse isn’t capitalized?  I wonder what the previous verse says and why it wasn’t included . . .

Mark 6:51-52 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

Ah!  Maybe the skeptics left it out because it annihilates their “contradiction.”  It turns out the people were impressed after all.  You just have to go back one half sentence, or one word for that matter.  So are these guys really that ignorant or are they truly deceptive?  Do they just assume that people won’t open the book for themselves? 

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I may come back for more later.  The Tektonics Apologetics Encyclopedia is a good site to bookmark (it is in my Apologetics links to the right).  You can quickly look up a passage to see thorough responses to common objections.

Mozy on over to back up your data

This is a follow up.  I ended up paying for the unlimited Mozy online backup service (roughly $104 for two years) and am glad I did it.  It took a long time for the initial backup, but we now have all of our thousands of pictures, music, videos, data files, etc. backup up.  The incremental backups are automatic and brief and don’t slow your PC down much at all. 

Click here if you want to sign up for 2 GB for free.  That is more than enough if you are just doing data files and smaller amounts of photos and such.  Remember, even if you back up at home you could lose the data in a theft or a fire.  Having some sort of outside backup, whether online or taking the backup drives offsite, is very important.

As the saying goes, it isn’t if but when you’ll lose part of all of the data on your hard drive.  Some people have backup drives at home, but guess what?  If you have a theft or a fire you’ll lose the original data and your backup.

I use a 160 GB backup drive which I leave at home (I back up most files every week or so).  I also use a 250 GB backup drive once per month and then store it in my office at work.  That way, even if everything is lost at home I will still have some fairly recent files. 

Another solution is online backups.  Forbes gave a positive review to Mozy.com.  You can get unlimited storage for $5/month or 2 GB of storage for free.  Click this link.   They’ll give you 256 MB extra for free for every person you get to sign up.

I just signed up and it was pretty easy to get started.  It even prompted me with a bunch of folders it recommended to backup (MyDocuments, Outlook, etc.). 

The first backup took many hours (for about 1.5 GB) but the subsequent ones only backup changed files.

I tried restoring a file and it worked!

Forbes also recommended http://www.xdrive.com/, which has free service for the first 5 GB.  However, the protection wasn’t quite as robust.

Job 22-24

job22.jpgGreetings!  I have to admit that at this stage of Job I struggle with the repetition.  Even study Bibles offer very few comments.  At the same time I trust that every verse is important and belongs here.  So why is that?  Is the repetition to drive the point home?  Perhaps I’m just not reading closely enough.

Eliphaz

22     Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

2 “Can a man be of benefit to God?

Can even a wise man benefit him?

3 What pleasure would it give the Almighty if you were righteous?

What would he gain if your ways were blameless?

4 “Is it for your piety that he rebukes you

and brings charges against you?

5 Is not your wickedness great?

Are not your sins endless?

6 You demanded security from your brothers for no reason;

you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked.

7 You gave no water to the weary

and you withheld food from the hungry,

8 though you were a powerful man, owning land—

an honored man, living on it.

9 And you sent widows away empty-handed

and broke the strength of the fatherless.

10 That is why snares are all around you,

why sudden peril terrifies you,

11 why it is so dark you cannot see,

and why a flood of water covers you.

12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?

And see how lofty are the highest stars!

13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?

Does he judge through such darkness?

14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us

as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’

15 Will you keep to the old path

that evil men have trod?

16 They were carried off before their time,

their foundations washed away by a flood.

17 They said to God, ‘Leave us alone!

What can the Almighty do to us?’

18 Yet it was he who filled their houses with good things,

so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

19 “The righteous see their ruin and rejoice;

the innocent mock them, saying,

20 ‘Surely our foes are destroyed,

and fire devours their wealth.’

21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him;

in this way prosperity will come to you.

22 Accept instruction from his mouth

and lay up his words in your heart.

23 If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:

If you remove wickedness far from your tent

24 and assign your nuggets to the dust,

your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines,

25 then the Almighty will be your gold,

the choicest silver for you.

26 Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty

and will lift up your face to God.

27 You will pray to him, and he will hear you,

and you will fulfill your vows.

28 What you decide on will be done,

and light will shine on your ways.

29 When men are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’

then he will save the downcast.

30 He will deliver even one who is not innocent,

who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Those were some very strong claims against Job.  They appear to be speculation and not fact-based, though.

 

Job

23     Then Job replied:

2 “Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.

3 If only I knew where to find him;

if only I could go to his dwelling!

4 I would state my case before him

and fill my mouth with arguments.

5 I would find out what he would answer me,

and consider what he would say.

6 Would he oppose me with great power?

No, he would not press charges against me.

7 There an upright man could present his case before him,

and I would be delivered forever from my judge.

8 “But if I go to the east, he is not there;

if I go to the west, I do not find him.

9 When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;

when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

10 But he knows the way that I take;

when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

11 My feet have closely followed his steps;

I have kept to his way without turning aside.

12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;

I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?

He does whatever he pleases.

14 He carries out his decree against me,

and many such plans he still has in store.

15 That is why I am terrified before him;

when I think of all this, I fear him.

16 God has made my heart faint;

the Almighty has terrified me.

17 Yet I am not silenced by the darkness,

by the thick darkness that covers my face.

24     “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?

Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

2 Men move boundary stones;

they pasture flocks they have stolen.

3 They drive away the orphan’s donkey

and take the widow’s ox in pledge.

4 They thrust the needy from the path

and force all the poor of the land into hiding.

5 Like wild donkeys in the desert,

the poor go about their labor of foraging food;

the wasteland provides food for their children.

6 They gather fodder in the fields

and glean in the vineyards of the wicked.

7 Lacking clothes, they spend the night naked;

they have nothing to cover themselves in the cold.

8 They are drenched by mountain rains

and hug the rocks for lack of shelter.

9 The fatherless child is snatched from the breast;

the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.

10 Lacking clothes, they go about naked;

they carry the sheaves, but still go hungry.

11 They crush olives among the terraces;

they tread the winepresses, yet suffer thirst.

12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,

and the souls of the wounded cry out for help.

But God charges no one with wrongdoing.

13 “There are those who rebel against the light,

who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.

14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up

and kills the poor and needy;

in the night he steals forth like a thief.

15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;

he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’

and he keeps his face concealed.

16 In the dark, men break into houses,

but by day they shut themselves in;

they want nothing to do with the light.

17 For all of them, deep darkness is their morning;

they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

18 “Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;

their portion of the land is cursed,

so that no one goes to the vineyards.

19 As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow,

so the grave snatches away those who have sinned.

20 The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them;

evil men are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree.

21 They prey on the barren and childless woman,

and to the widow show no kindness.

22 But God drags away the mighty by his power;

though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

23 He may let them rest in a feeling of security,

but his eyes are on their ways.

24 For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;

they are brought low and gathered up like all others;

they are cut off like heads of grain.

25 “If this is not so, who can prove me false

and reduce my words to nothing?”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Job rightly points out that sometimes the wicked prosper.  We often want justice now for evildoers, but we want grace now and forever for ourselves.  Yes, God lets some evil go unpunished for a time.  But as the saying goes, if He eliminated every element of evil from the planet at noon today, where would you be at 12:01?

Reducing abortions in Russia?

Courtesy of Marshall, this piece on reducing abortions in Russia:

Authorities in Novorossiysk, a city near the Black Sea, have declared this week to be a “week without abortion.” Doctors won’t conduct termination operations except in “the most extreme cases.” In addition, at the city’s maternity clinic psychologists and gynecologists will work with pregnant women to prepare them for motherhood. More astounding, the city’s universities will screen films describing the detrimental effects of abortions. And a representative of the city’s government says that “doctors will do everything they can to stop women from doing the irreparable.” 

Too bad our universities won’t show films like that.

Re. “doing the irreparable” — That is one of the things the pro-legalized abortionists ignore. People change their minds sometimes, and woman often do so during their pregnancies when they are feeling very stressed or unsupported.

But you can’t undo an abortion.

Marshall also made a good point about Social Security. The scientific fact that abortion destroys an innocent human being is all the reasoning we need to demonstrate the immorality of the practice, but there are many other negative consequences as well, including the absence of tens of millions of people in our economy.

Roundup

pro-choice-baby.jpgFrom the “I am not making this up” department: Planned Parenthood offers gift certificates, just in time for Christmas.

P.S. Did you know that Planned Parenthood used to be “anti-choice” because they knew that abortion killed a baby and was bad for the mother?  From their own advertisement:

Is it [birth control] an abortion?

Definitely not.  An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun.  It is dangerous to your life and health.  It may make you sterile so that when you want a child you cannot have it.  Birth control merely postpones the meaning of life.

Musings from a Theo-Geek has a good piece on Why Secular Psychology and Christianity Don’t Mix

 —

Long depression was FDR’s fault – Be skeptical and even nervous about all the “solutions” being bandied about today.

Ten reasons not to ask Jesus into your heart – tips on avoiding false conversions

Serbian abortionist becomes pro-lifer after 48,000 abortions – I hope our leaders who are pro-choice have the same dreams that this guy did.

The Nutcracker Ballet (the “t” is silent)

Ticket still available for the shows on December 5 -7.

Go to HRB Tickets or buy them at the door.

This is my annual Nutcracker post, which is one of those family pieces that not everyone will care about.  You’ve been warned. 

If you are in the NW Houston area and would like to get tickets to any of the shows (December 5-7), click here.  It really is your best holiday entertainment value.  No need to drive downtown and pay higher ticket prices for the Houston Ballet. 

They used a picture of Daughter 2 in the poster again this year.

I love Nutcracker weekend.  The kids work so hard and finally get to perform five shows over three days and spend lots of time with their friends.  A few professionals are brought in, including two from New York’s American Ballet Theatre.

This will be my fourth year to be part of the production.  It is sort of a glorified crowd scene role (one of the guys joked that we are just there as eye candy – ha!).  There are six families in the opening party scene, so they need some dads to be involved.  The role is referred to as “Party Dad,” but not in the sense of, “Woo-hoo!  Hey hey!  Party Dad!”  We basically mingle, pretend to talk, and do some limited old-timey dancing (not ballet). 

The girls each have a bunch o’ roles.  Daughter #1 is the Snow Queen, Dewdrop Fairy and others.  It is her last year so she will have lots of stage time in the lead roles.  Daughter #2 is the lead Arabian, Harlequin Doll and in the cast of several group numbers.  They’ve been in the shows nearly 10 years, starting with roles as mice, so it is fun to see them dance more and more every year.

Job 19-21

job19.jpgGreetings!  The back-and-forth with Job and his not-so-supportive friends continues. 

Job

19     Then Job replied:

2 “How long will you torment me

and crush me with words?

3 Ten times now you have reproached me;

shamelessly you attack me.

4 If it is true that I have gone astray,

my error remains my concern alone.

5 If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me

and use my humiliation against me,

6 then know that God has wronged me

and drawn his net around me.

Job seems to drift off course here.  His is correct in rebuking his friends, but not in saying that God has wronged him. 

May we all be quick to credit God for all good things and the countless blessings we have and to remember that for those who love him He will take the bad things in life and use them for good (Romans 8:28).

7 “Though I cry, ‘I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response;

though I call for help, there is no justice.

8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass;

he has shrouded my paths in darkness.

9 He has stripped me of my honor

and removed the crown from my head.

10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone;

he uproots my hope like a tree.

11 His anger burns against me;

he counts me among his enemies.

12 His troops advance in force;

they build a siege ramp against me

and encamp around my tent.

13 “He has alienated my brothers from me;

my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.

14 My kinsmen have gone away;

my friends have forgotten me.

15 My guests and my maidservants count me a stranger;

they look upon me as an alien.

16 I summon my servant, but he does not answer,

though I beg him with my own mouth.

17 My breath is offensive to my wife;

I am loathsome to my own brothers.

18 Even the little boys scorn me;

when I appear, they ridicule me.

19 All my intimate friends detest me;

those I love have turned against me.

20 I am nothing but skin and bones;

I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.

21 “Have pity on me, my friends, have pity,

for the hand of God has struck me.

22 Why do you pursue me as God does?

Will you never get enough of my flesh?

23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,

that they were written on a scroll,

24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,

or engraved in rock forever!

That is ironic, considering that we are still discussing his words thousands of years later!

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

What a great verse in the midst of his lament!  Yes, Jesus lives and He stood on the earth and will stand on it again.  That is such an interesting thing for Job to say, especially considering that this may be the oldest book in the Bible.

May all Christians remind ourselves that our redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,

yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him

with my own eyes—I, and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!

28 “If you say, ‘How we will hound him,

since the root of the trouble lies in him,’

29 you should fear the sword yourselves;

for wrath will bring punishment by the sword,

and then you will know that there is judgment.”

Job seems to know that there is more than just this earthly life.  We are eternal beings.

Zophar

20     Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

2 “My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer

because I am greatly disturbed.

3 I hear a rebuke that dishonors me,

and my understanding inspires me to reply.

4 “Surely you know how it has been from of old,

ever since man was placed on the earth,

5 that the mirth of the wicked is brief,

the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.

Again, Job’s friends speak some truths and some overly broad generalizations.  Yes, true and lasting joy will only be yours if you are tied in to the author of all joy.

6 Though his pride reaches to the heavens

and his head touches the clouds,

7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;

those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’

8 Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found,

banished like a vision of the night.

9 The eye that saw him will not see him again;

his place will look on him no more.

10 His children must make amends to the poor;

his own hands must give back his wealth.

11 The youthful vigor that fills his bones

will lie with him in the dust.

12 “Though evil is sweet in his mouth

and he hides it under his tongue,

13 though he cannot bear to let it go

and keeps it in his mouth,

14 yet his food will turn sour in his stomach;

it will become the venom of serpents within him.

15 He will spit out the riches he swallowed;

God will make his stomach vomit them up.

16 He will suck the poison of serpents;

the fangs of an adder will kill him.

17 He will not enjoy the streams,

the rivers flowing with honey and cream.

18 What he toiled for he must give back uneaten;

he will not enjoy the profit from his trading.

19 For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute;

he has seized houses he did not build.

20 “Surely he will have no respite from his craving;

he cannot save himself by his treasure.

21 Nothing is left for him to devour;

his prosperity will not endure.

22 In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him;

the full force of misery will come upon him.

23 When he has filled his belly,

God will vent his burning anger against him

and rain down his blows upon him.

24 Though he flees from an iron weapon,

a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him.

25 He pulls it out of his back,

the gleaming point out of his liver.

Terrors will come over him;

26 total darkness lies in wait for his treasures.

A fire unfanned will consume him

and devour what is left in his tent.

27 The heavens will expose his guilt;

the earth will rise up against him.

28 A flood will carry off his house,

rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath.

29 Such is the fate God allots the wicked,

the heritage appointed for them by God.”

Job

21     Then Job replied:

2 “Listen carefully to my words;

let this be the consolation you give me.

3 Bear with me while I speak,

and after I have spoken, mock on.

4 “Is my complaint directed to man?

Why should I not be impatient?

5 Look at me and be astonished;

clap your hand over your mouth.

6 When I think about this, I am terrified;

trembling seizes my body.

7 Why do the wicked live on,

growing old and increasing in power?

8 They see their children established around them,

their offspring before their eyes.

9 Their homes are safe and free from fear;

the rod of God is not upon them.

10 Their bulls never fail to breed;

their cows calve and do not miscarry.

11 They send forth their children as a flock;

their little ones dance about.

12 They sing to the music of tambourine and harp;

they make merry to the sound of the flute.

13 They spend their years in prosperity

and go down to the grave in peace.

14 Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!

We have no desire to know your ways.

15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

What would we gain by praying to him?’

Job correctly notes that sometimes the wicked prosper in this life.  They have been mocking God and his existence for thousands of years.

16 But their prosperity is not in their own hands,

so I stand aloof from the counsel of the wicked.

17 “Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out?

How often does calamity come upon them,

the fate God allots in his anger?

18 How often are they like straw before the wind,

like chaff swept away by a gale?

19 It is said, ‘God stores up a man’s punishment for his

sons.’

Let him repay the man himself, so that he will know it!

20 Let his own eyes see his destruction;

let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what does he care about the family he leaves behind

when his allotted months come to an end?

22 “Can anyone teach knowledge to God,

since he judges even the highest?

23 One man dies in full vigor,

completely secure and at ease,

24 his body well nourished,

his bones rich with marrow.

25 Another man dies in bitterness of soul,

never having enjoyed anything good.

26 Side by side they lie in the dust,

and worms cover them both.

27 “I know full well what you are thinking,

the schemes by which you would wrong me.

28 You say, ‘Where now is the great man’s house,

the tents where wicked men lived?’

29 Have you never questioned those who travel?

Have you paid no regard to their accounts—

30 that the evil man is spared from the day of calamity,

that he is delivered from the day of wrath?

31 Who denounces his conduct to his face?

Who repays him for what he has done?

32 He is carried to the grave,

and watch is kept over his tomb.

33 The soil in the valley is sweet to him;

all men follow after him,

and a countless throng goes before him.

34 “So how can you console me with your nonsense?

Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!”

 The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.