The American Athests Bible “Contradictions” Refuted.
There is a quote by Johnathan Swift that goes “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” That is to say, it is easy to spread misinformation, and it takes time and work for the truth to come out. There are few examples better than the American Atheists “Bible Contradictions” page on their website. (Found here: https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/biblical-contradictions/ )
To start, let me just say I’m disappointed. I expected so much more from the group that claims its non-profit status is to defend the civil liberties of atheists. I mean, these people are on t.v., doing live debates, etc. You would think that a group dedicated to such an endeavor as the preservation of civil liberties, would at least be able to accurately and in an in depth way, be able to point to and explain the errors and contradictions from its main target: Christianity.
Sadly, this isn’t the case. The group, founded in the 1960’s, seems still stuck in its infancy in terms of representing the bible and the supposed contradictions therein. I came across this list on their website via a google search. It was one of the first to come up, so it intrigued me. I thought “It must be quite good if it’s this high up in the search rankings!” Then seeing that their Board of Directors sports names such as Matt Dillahunty, and Aron Ra, I was surprised to find this list populated by such elementary and surface level arguments. The list itself reads more like a young teenager who is trying to rebel against his parents, than a treatise on what these folks believe is the greatest threat to their civil rights.
With all of that said, perhaps the best thing to do is to jump into the list and dismantle it like the house of cards it is.
“It is a central dogma of all fundamental Christians that the Bible is without error. They teach this conclusion by “reasoning” that god cannot be the author of false meaning and he cannot lie.”
We’re only two sentences in, and we already have a problem with childish antics. Adding the quotation marks around reasoning. This doesn’t bode well if out of the gate, we begin with the insults. However that is the modus operandi of the New Atheists.
Is this true? If written by a perfect being, then it must not contradict itself, as a collection of books written by different men at different times over many centuries would be expected to contradict each other.
With this in mind, let us have a look at the Bible on several subjects.
The Sabbath Day
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” — Exodus 20:8
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” — Romans 14:5
Let me point out a couple of things. First, you’ll not find any explanation as to how these are contradictions. The verses are simply posted without context, and then set against another they think contradicts it. Secondly, you’ll also notice they use the King James bible for their quotes. This is because it’s far easier to misrepresent it, since many of the words in the King James hold different meanings today than they did when it was first published.
That’s not the case here, because what we have is a fundamental ignorance of basic Christianity by the American Atheists. One must make an effort to remain this doggedly ignorant of what Christianity teaches to proffer this nugget. To begin with, there were three types of laws laid out for the Israelites of the Old Testament era. There were the ceremonial, moral, and judicial. Most of these were designed to set the Israelites apart from the rest of the world. They were also foreshadows of Jesus (Colossians 2:17). In Mark 2:27, Jesus corrects the distorted view the Pharisees had saying: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” We also now see that Romans 14:5 has been taken completely out of context, as we see that in Roman’s 14, Paul is telling other believers to be thoughtful of those who are weak in their faith, and to help them. ( https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+14&version=NASB ) Now, on to the next.
The Permanence of Earth
“… the earth abideth for ever.” — Ecclesiastes 1:4
“… the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2 Peter 3:10
Notice the ellipses at the beginning of the verse they’ve shredded from its context? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. They’ve pulled this partial verse from a portion of poetry in Ecclesiastes. Wanna know why they didn’t give the first half? Because the entire point of the verse is contrasting the short lives of men, with the long existence of the earth. Here’s the whole verse: “A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” The opening poem where this verse was taken from was written by Solomon who is looking for happiness and seemingly not finding it. It’s not a teaching passage in terms of age or longevity of the earth, but the melancholy words of a depressed man looking for the meaning of life. With that context in mind, it’s not hard to see why 2 Peter 3:10 in no way contradicts Solomon’s lamentation. So, dishonest quote mining, check!
“… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30
“No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18
I must say, I’m disappointed this made the list, considering Mr. Dillahunty is a former Baptist minister. Of all people, as a former trinitarian he should know better than to try this. Again, let’s get the context for these verses shall we? In Genesis 32, starting at verse 24, we have the story of Jacob, on his way to meet his estranged brother. Along the way, someone starts a wrestling match with him. How does that square with the fragment given us from John 1:18? First, John 1:18 is a description of Jesus and an affirmation of His deity. Here is the whole verse: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” So here we see that John is saying no one has seen the Father. The Father is Spirit, as is the Holy Spirit. That leaves us with a couple of options. First, that the man who wrestled with Jacob was a pre-incarnate Christ, or that it was an angel. The word for God in Genesis 32:30 is elohim, which is a generic term for God, and could also be used for the messengers of God. No matter how you slice it, the exclamation of Jacob after receiving his blessing, in no way contradicts John 1:18. Especially when you give the whole verse, and don’t try to atomize it to suit an agenda.
“… Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God…” — Leviticus 18:21
[In Judges, though, the tale of Jephthah, who led the Israelites against the Ammonites, is being told. Being fearful of defeat, this good religious man sought to guarantee victory by getting god firmly on his side. So he prayed to god] “… If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” — Judges 11:30-31
[The terms were acceptable to god — remember, he is supposed to be omniscient and know the future — so he gave victory to Jephthah, and the first whatsoever that greeted him upon his glorious return was his daughter, as god surely knew would happen, if god is god. True to his vow, the general made a human sacrifice of his only child to god!] — Judges 11:29-34
Here we see them doing their best to twist two scriptures in an effort to fabricate a contradiction. Let’s help them out with the definition of contradiction. From Merriam-Webster:
1: act or an instance of contradicting
the defendant’s contradiction of the plaintiff’s accusations
2a: a proposition, statement, or phrase that asserts or implies both the truth and falsity of something
… both parts of a contradiction cannot possibly be true …
— Thomas Hobbes
b: a statement or phrase whose parts contradict each other
a round square is a contradiction in terms
3a: logical incongruity
b: a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another
At least this time they attempted to explain the supposed contradiction. However, once again we have major differences in context. Leviticus 18 is part of the holiness code. It lays forth many of the moral and judicial laws that the Israelites were to follow. In Judges we actually see a man, going beyond what he was supposed to do. Here Jephthah was attempting to manipulate God for a blessing he already had. He was trying to bribe God. In fact, the only way for Jephthah to keep from compounding his sin would have been to immediately admit his vow was foolish and to not sacrifice his daughter. This was the point God was making. He’d made a vow that would have broken the law, and instead of admitting his wrongdoing, he compounded it by fulfilling the unlawful vow. God didn’t want Jephthah’s daughter, He wanted Jephthah’s repentance. Had Jephthah listened to God and taken Ecclesiastes to heart, he would never have made such a vow. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 and 4-6) So we can see, this wasn’t demanding human sacrifice, but was punishing Jephthah. Again, only an extremely anachronistic reading of these texts can result in believing that a single instance out of context, is a contradiction.
The Power of God
“… with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26
“…The LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” — Judges 1:19
Here’s what I was talking about before. New Atheists love using the KJV because of it’s old english. Here’s the same verse in the NASB: Now the Lord was with Judah, and they took possession of the hill country; but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had iron chariots. Notice the change in pronouns? That’s because the “he” in the KJV is referencing Judah as a whole, much like how we use the word “man” to encompass all of humanity. The NASB uses “they” because that is how we speak now. We also see, with only a cursory study of the passage, that the reason Judah couldn’t drive out the inhabitants is not because of God’s failing, but because the men of Judah were cowed by the iron chariots. They forgot that God was with them, and instead feared the innovation of their enemies. (Ellicott’s Commentary for English readers) So again we see that the only way to create a contradiction, is to purposefully misrepresent the text. This is beginning to look like a pattern.
“…thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. ” — Exodus 21:23-25
“…ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Matthew 5:39
If I could sigh in text, I would. This isn’t even a challenge. Here our New Atheist friends are trying to juxtapose the old testament lex talionis with Jesus’s teaching in the new testament. One was for the theocratic Israel, the other is for all of Christianity. We went from having the Law to having Christ. One was a judicial system of laws and punishments meted out by the governing body, the other was how we are to treat one another in our day to day lives. Seriously, these were the best they could come up with?
“This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” — Genesis 17:10
“…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” — Galatians 5:2
This is literally so bad, I actually facepalmed. One is the mark of the covenant God made with Abraham and the Israelites, the second is telling us that this sign is no longer in effect because we have a new covenant in Christ that includes gentiles. This is so bad, I’m not sure if I can finish this list.
“Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of this mother…” — Deuteronomy 27:22
“And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter…it is a wicked thing….” — Leviticus 20:17
[But what was god’s reaction to Abraham, who married his sister — his father’s daughter?] See Genesis 20:11-12
“And God said unto Abraham, As for Sara thy wife…I bless her, and give thee a son also of her…” — Genesis 17:15-16
Note the ordering of the passages here. Abraham was born around 2033 b.c. Moses, who handed down the law to the Israelites, wasn’t born until around 1527 b.c.! A full 500 years later! These laws would not have existed yet, and therefore would not have applied to Abraham. He broke no covenantal law, as it didn’t exist yet. You can’t contradict what didn’t exist. There is also the possibility that Sarah was not in fact a half sister as we see it today. The word used for sister can also mean cousin, so it may have been that Sara was a cousin from Abraham’s father’s side. This isn’t a great argument, but even so, it’s better than trying to claim one is contradicting a law that didn’t exist.
“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD…” — Proverbs 12:2
Now consider the case of Job. After commissioning Satan to ruin Job financially and to slaughter his shepherds and children to win a petty bet with Satan. God asked Satan: “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” — Job 2:3
Ok we are really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. First, Proverbs is just that, a collection of writings and sayings. Idioms and poetry. Again, trying to set something not meant as literal, against the story of Job is simply ridiculous. The story of Job is about an upright man who loved and revered God. Satan made the claim that Job only loved God because God had blessed him. So already, the proverb is shown to be correct. Now we have a single instance, where God allowed satan the ability to attack Job and take everything from him. God used this to show satan that Job would remain upright. He did. You cannot take a single proverb and try to pit it against a single instance and claim it is an example of the whole. This is the hasty generalization fallacy. Though this entire list has been a farce, so it’s not surprising.
The Holy Lifestyle
“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart…” — Ecclesiastes 9:7
“…they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not…” — 1 Corinthians 7:30
Wow….all I can say, is wow. These aren’t even whole verses, again! Also, they aren’t talking about the same thing! Here’s the full verses: Ecc. 9:7 Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. 1 Cor. 7:30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess. So we can see, once again our New Atheist friends have chosen to take two verses, utterly out of their context and tried to set one against the other. Too bad they’re talking about completely different things. Ecclesiastes 9 is Solomon telling those who are still alive to be thankful for that fact, for those who have perished without being penitent, have passed into sheol. The joy being expressed is that of those who know they have God’s favor. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is teaching about marriage. Here are the verses around it for context: 1 Cor. 7:29-31 “But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.” So we see that once again, putting an old testament text against a new testament text when they aren’t speaking on the same thing, is foolish.
“The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father…” — Ezekiel 18:20
“I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” — Exodus 20:5
Here we go again, leaving out vital portions of a text in order to set up strawmen. At this point one match could burn down their whole website. Here’s the rest of the passage in Ezekiel. “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” Now let’s read the rest of Exodus 20:5 and 6 shall we? You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” So again, a simple reading of the text eliminates the idea of a “contradiction” instantly. You see, Ezekiel is talking about the guilt of the father not being given to the son, while in Exodus, Moses is referring to the effects and consequences of the sin. So here God is saying “Your children won’t be guilty of your sin, but the effects will be long lasting.” We see that today when a parent makes bad decisions and it affects the family for generations. So, I’ve lost track of the number of strikes, but I’m sure we’re up to several innings worth of strikeouts.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” — James 1:13
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…” — Genesis 22:1
Here we are again with the New Atheists using the KJV to create a “contradiction” out of whole cloth. The word there is translated better as ‘tested’, not ‘tempted’. We see this same word used in 1 Samuel 17:39 “David girded his sword over his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested [them]. So David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested [them].” And David took them off.” It would be pretty odd if David was worried about tempting his armor now wouldn’t it? Again, a very surface level amount of effort shows us that this is in no way a contradiction. It seems our New Atheists friends didn’t think to do this prior to putting together this list.
“Honor thy father and thy mother…”– Exodus 20:12
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. ” — Luke 14:26
Considering Jesus’s entire message was to share the gospel, it seems rather silly to take this one verse, again utterly out of context, and set it against the law given to Moses and the Isrealites. So once again, lets go ahead and post the whole verse since it seems impossible for our New Atheist friends to do so. Exodus 20:12 “ “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”” Here we have Moses handing down the ten commandments to the Isrealites. One of those is the commandment to honor your father and mother. What does that mean? As the Benson commentary puts it: “The fifth commandment concerns the duties we owe to our relations; that of children to their parents is only instanced in, honour thy father and thy mother — Which includes, 1st, An inward esteem of them, outwardly expressed upon all occasions in our carriage towards them. The contrary to this is mocking at them or despising them.” So does this contradict Jesus’s words in Luke 14? Of course not. Since Jesus is the author of the bible, He would know this commandment. Instead, what does Jesus mean in this passage? This is actually already done for us in the parallel passage in Matthew 10:37 where we read “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” So we see Jesus isn’t saying “hate” as in unrighteous anger towards your parent’s (especially since Jesus also stated that if you hate your brother you are guilty of murder in your heart) but that in comparison to the love you have for Jesus, it would be so much less as to seem like hate. The entire intent of this passage is to say that you must love Jesus with your whole heart, and have nothing before Him. So again, not a contradiction. We’re coming down to the end folks! Only two more to go!
Resurrection of the Dead
“…he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. ” — Job 7:9
“…the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth….” — John 5:28-29
Notice all these ellipses? There’s a reason for that. Because posting the entire verse has a tendency to eradicate the supposed “contradiction”. See, let’s show the whole verse, plus verse ten from Job.
““When a cloud vanishes, it is gone,
So he who goes down to Sheol does not come up.
“He will not return again to his house,
Nor will his place know him anymore.
This is a small portion of a lament of Job, that his life seems futile. This is a long treatise again juxtaposing that which seems to be fleeting and that which seems to be permanent. This isn’t a statement on the future resurrection of the dead, but as the Barne’s notes on the bible states: “Shall come up no more – Shall no more live on the earth. It would be pressing this too far to adduce it as proving that Job did not believe in the doctrine of the resurrection. The connection here requires us to understand him as meaning only that he would not appear again on the earth.” And verse ten supports this. And now, finally…
The End of the World
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. ” — Matthew 16:28
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. ” — Luke 21:32-33
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” — Romans 13:11-12
“Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” — James 5:8
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” — 1 John 2:18
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” — 1 Peter 4:7
These words were written between 1800 and 1900 years ago and were meant to warn and prepare the first Christians for the immediate end of the world. Some words are those supposedly straight out of the mouth of the “Son of God.” The world did not end 1800 or 1900 years ago. All that generation passed away without any of the things foretold coming to pass. No amount of prayer brought it about; nor ever so much patience and belief and sober living. The world went on, as usual, indifferent to the spoutings of yet another batch of doomsday prophets with visions of messiahs dancing in their deluded brains. The world, by surviving, makes the above passages contradictions.
Except they don’t. As I posted the definition earlier, we can see this isn’t a contradiction. Our New Atheist friends may think its not correct, or didn’t happen, but that doesn’t make it a contradiction. It takes mental twisting that would have Gumby screaming to make them a contradiction. Let’s take this one verse at a time.
Matthew 16:28: As Matthew Poole’s commentary puts it: “But the most generally received opinion, and which seemeth to be best, is, that the coming of the Son of man here meant is, his resurrection from the dead. His ascension into heaven, and sending the Holy Spirit, after which the kingdom of grace came with a mighty power, subduing all nations to the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Luke 21:32-33: Here verse 33 is added, nut isn’t speaking of the same thing. I’d say that verse has been well established as true, since we still have Jesus’s words. Even the renowned agnostic bible scholar, Bart Ehrman agrees that the bible we have is the same as the original texts. “By way of response, to begin with, I completely agree (of course!) that we have thousands of New Testament manuscripts of the New Testament and are better informed about its text than any other book in the ancient world that is absolutely right.” ( https://ehrmanblog.org/do-we-know-the-original-words-of-the-nt/ ) As for verse 32, as the Cambridge commentary says: “This verse has a nearer and a farther meaning. That very generation would not have passed when, 40 years later, the Jewish nation was crushed, and the Mosaic dispensation rendered impossible. But genea also means race, and the Jewish race shall last till the end of all things.
Romans 13:11-12: This is a call to wakefulness, vigilance by Paul. It’s not a direct timeframe of the end of the world, but an admonition to be prepared because we do not know when Christ will return. This isn’t an apocalyptic verse, but a verse on being diligent.
James 5:8: Here, when one places this verse in context, we see this is a verse of exhortation for the believer to be patient. Whether that they would die and be in the presence of the Lord, or that He would return. Again, this is not placing some arbitrary end date and return. One must look at the verse rather anachronistically to see such a thing.
1 John 2:18: When one looks at Matthew 24:24, we see that the “last time” John is talking about is the last hour of the Jewish state, which was seen in 70 ad with the fall of the Temple.
1 Peter 4:7: Here we have yet another verse that is meant as an exhortation of the faithful to be vigilant. As stated in the Benson commentary: “Many commentators indeed understand St. Peter as speaking only of the end of the Jewish commonwealth, city, temple, and worship. Thus Whitby understands him: “This phrase, and the advice upon it, so exactly parallel to what our Lord had spoken, will not suffer us to doubt that the apostle is here speaking, not of the end of the world, or of all things in general, which was not then, and seems not yet to be at hand, but only of the end of the Jewish state.” Thus also Macknight: “This epistle being written about a year after the war with the Romans began, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state, Peter, who had heard his Master’s prophecy concerning these events, and the signs of their approach, had good reason to say that they had approached.” But, as Dr. Doddridge justly observes, this was an event in which most of those, to whom the apostle wrote, were comparatively but little concerned. It is probable, therefore, that the apostle either referred to death, which may be considered as the end of the whole world to every particular person; or the consummation of all things, which may be said to be at hand in the sense in which our Lord, long after the destruction of Jerusalem: says to the church, (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:20,) Behold I come quickly. To the same purpose is Mr. Scott’s interpretation: “All Christians must expect tribulations in the world, but these would soon terminate; for the end of all things was at hand, and death was about to close their course of trials or services; nay, judgment would not be so long delayed, as that the intervening space should, in the estimation of faith, be at all compared with eternity.””
What is incredible about the Bible is not its divine authorship; it’s that such a concoction of contradictory nonsense could be believed by anyone to have been written by an omniscient god. To do so, one would first have to not read the book, which is the practice of most Christians; or, if one does read it, dump in the trash can one’s rational intelligence — to become a fool for god, in other words.
So setting aside the insults and ad hominem attacks, the American Atheists “spiking the ball” is unwarranted. In fact, it’s embarrassing. They provided exactly zero contradictions, and simply displayed their abject ignorance on the subject. Yet here we see them celebrating as though they’d accomplished something. I will concede one point to them however, and that is that Christians today do not read their bibles enough. But reading the bible is only step one. Studying, digging deeper into what the contexts are, are the next steps. I’ve seen folks like Mr. Dilahaunty, Aron Ra, and David Silverman lose decisively to Christians to know that it’s not the Christians dumping their rational intelligence into the trash. ( https://youtu.be/MkG8y5seGWM, https://youtu.be/a4oNDSg_g-8, https://youtu.be/LA_B5cx_y30, https://youtu.be/4GN6ut2ZRoQ )
To be an atheist, one need only be able to laugh when such obvious nonsense is offered as being “divine” truth.
I’d say the only people laughing are the Christians, if this is what passes as the best list of supposed contradictions our American Atheist friends could come up with. Remember, they put this list forward as their best examples, and they were horrifically bad. I know this was originally put forward by Frank Zindler, but I have to assume the other members of the board are aware of this farce on their website, so I can only conclude that they concur with it. If that’s the case, perhaps our friends could get together and try again? Otherwise, all I can say is this won’t cut it. I almost feel as though I completely wasted my time responding, but I guess it will help my new and/or weaker brother’s and sister’s in the faith. If this is the best their “activism” can offer, they need to rethink their approach to activism! The only real response this joke of a list really deserves is…