Show Notes - Episode 101
The earth will last forever... but heaven and earth shall pass away. No man has seen God... except Jacob who saw him face to face. But god doesn't have a face because he's spirit. But we're made in his image and likeness and we have faces. We need to honor our parents... unless we decide to follow Jesus, then we need to hate them. Death is permanent according to Job, but not that permanent according to the gospel of John. I'm Spider...
...and tonight we're looking at the subject of biblical contradictions and the desperate arguments Christians make to cover them up. It is ridiculous how many ways the Bible contradicts itself and still there are many who believe that even the worst of contradictions have explanations that forgive, justify, or explain them. We'll get into the meat of that conversation in a few, but first...
A modern prophet who can't complete a pass, a pastor who can't help being an ass, and Greg Locke trying to resurrect the Salem Witch Trials (sorry, rhymes escaped me with that one). It's Christians behaving badly: Ultimate WTF edition.
Christians Behaving Badly
First Up: Super Bowl News! Time to update your prophecies for the New Year!
Johnny Enlow has updated us on the symbolic meaning of people...tackling people...at the Super Bowl. You may remember his other super bowl predictions from previous years.
First, he saw unmistakeable signs in the College Football National Championship in January of 2021.
“Enlow said that when the game began, he fully expected the final score to contain the number 45, which he said would be a prophetic sign regarding Trump, who is the 45th president of the United States.
Though there was no 45 in the final score, Enlow nevertheless found prophetic significance in the score when he saw it displayed on ESPN as “Ohio State 24 – 52 Alabama.”
To Enlow, the number 45 surrounded by two 2s was a clear sign from God that Trump is going to serve a second term.”
And then in early February he “asserted that a game-sealing interception by Buccaneers’ linebacker Devin White near the end of the game prophetically signaled that Trump will return to office because White wears the number 45.”
This year Johnny Enlow's Facebook contains the explanation of this years Super Bowl Prophecy (but the way he tells it, it sounds more like some weird parable):
Another Super Bowl tidbit. The Cincinnati Bengals ended the game with either 305 or 306 total yards ( not sure who sanctions official stats). 75 of those yards came on a throw from Joe that should have never counted. His receiver illegally grabbed the face mask of his defender that should have been a penalty against his team and no touchdown. It is called a “face-mask” penalty. Without those 75 yards the Bengals yardage total would have been 230 or 231. In an entirely different setting a different Joe who had a total of 306 electoral votes was part of an illegal “face-masking” that went unchallenged by the “referees” and allowed for a fraudulent score. What a coincidence? And the game ended with a player named Donald sacking a player named Joe so that the fraudulent score didn't matter. Hmm so interesting huh?
I wonder if Johnny Enlow is more limber thanks to all the stretching and reaching he's been doing...
Losing someone close to you is always difficult. Recently, a young man named Winchester Hagins, also an evangelistic preacher, was grieving his fiancee, who had been in a terrible car accident. He'd made a flower box, decorated with pictures of them, and that held live plants because she liked the idea of having live plants rather than being given flowers. The flower box was tastefully done and the city said it would be allowed unless a relative complained.
“Hagans says Hannah didn’t like cut flowers from a florist, she preferred living flowers. So, that’s why he says he made this planter box and left it on her grave.
“Even though she is gone I promised her I would never bring her cut flowers again. She was the love of my life the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” he said.
Hagans built a flower box filled with her favorite flowers and decorated it with pictures of the two of them to put by her grave. He spoke with the city to ask if he was able to place his flower box by her grave.
“The people of the city told me they don’t enforce that unless a family member asked for it to be removed,” said Hagans.”
Well one relative, the woman's father Tom Ford III, a Baptist preacher, did object, going as far as to swear out a warrant for his arrest. For what? “littering” a gift for his dearly departed fiancee.
It's hard for me to understand how people can savage one another this way. The only thing I can imagine is that her father is in such pain that he hates everyone including the man who would have become his son-in-law.
And Finally, last AND least, we have Pastor Greg “cotton mather” Locke who seems to be threatening his own flock with a witch hunt!
While he was casting demons out of a woman who'd come to him, he'd started a conversation with one of the demons inhabiting the woman, you know, as one does.
“The preacher, known for his sensationalist sermons about politics and COVID-19 skepticism — went on to describe the exorcism in detail, quoting a demon with scruffy voice who accused worshippers at the church of being witches.
Two of the witches were in his wife’s Bible study, said Locke, who warned the alleged witches not to make a move during his sermon. He then retold the New Testament story of Jesus casting a demon out of a man and into a herd of pigs, turning it into an extended monologue about witches in the church.
“You so much as cough wrong and I’ll expose in front of everybody under this tent, you stinking spell-casting, pharmakeia devil worshipping and mongrel,” he said, using a Greek word that sometimes describes those who practice witchcraft or sorcery. “You were sent to destroy this church.”
Hemant Mehta on Only Sky makes the point that this “witch hunt” is worse than it looks:
“Even if you think, as I do, that Locke is just trying to arouse anger in his church members, who need to be perpetually outraged to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, this particular line of attack is more than just creating a bogeyman.
Locke was essentially reminding church members that they must be obedient to him or else they’re acting against God’s wishes. Dissenters are controlled by Satan. Dissenters have a “Jezebel spirit.” Dissenters must be witches.
It’s not that Locke is going to expose witches. It’s that he’s creating an environment where anyone could be declared a witch. And if you don’t want to become a target, the best path forward is to do anything and everything that Locke says, lest you become a target yourself.”
Satanic Panic part 2 anyone?
PROMO – no episode next week, March 6: The Village
From the simple standpoint of logic, one must look at the examples we're going to cite tonight and see the flaws that exist in the so-called inerrant word of god. There are a lot of problems here, but like they do with everything that relates to their god, evangelicals are ready with their excuses for everything from his horrendous behavior to his abject stupidity on a broad range of topics, so, of course, they're ready with their explanations for how obvious biblical inconsistencies somehow... work?
How Christians deal with biblical contradictions and inconsistencies:
Josh McDowell had this highly intelligent and completely reasonable assessment of the situation:
“If, indeed, the Bible does contain demonstrable errors, it would show that at least those parts could not have come from a perfect, all-knowing God. We do not argue with this conclusion, but we do disagree with the initial premise that the Scriptures are full of mistakes. It is very easy to accuse the Bible of inaccuracies, but it is quite another matter to prove it.”
So it would appear that Josh has the same issue with the concept of proof that most Christians do: he has no fucking clue what it is.
Hey Josh, I've got some proof for you. It's called THE ACTUAL WORDS THAT ARE IN THE BIBLE. But that doesn't stop him from following through with this:
“Certain passages at first glance appear to be contradictory, but further investigation will show that this is not the case.”
Oh, this ought to be good...
“One of the things for which we appeal with regard to possible contradictions is fairness. We should not minimize or exaggerate the problem, and we must always begin by giving the author the benefit of the doubt. This is the rule in other literature, and we ask that it also be the rule here. We find so often that people want to employ a different set of rules when it comes to examining the Bible, and to this we immediately object.”
OK, listeners... let's see if we all read the same thing. I'm zeroing in on the term “other literature” here. Did Josh McDowell just admit that the Bible is just a book? I'm sorry, Josh, but when you tout your holy book as being actually, factually written by God (2 Tim. 3:16), you don't get to compare it to “other literature.” You don't get to make excuses for it by basically saying, “Yeah, it's God's word but people wrote it. People are imperfect therefore the book will be imperfect.” Here's my question: why would a perfect God who wanted his messaging to get out there and be 100 percent true and clear to the hearer without the possibility of misinterpretation ever leave to chance that the person he chose to write it might get it right but also might not and either way that's ok?
Oh, I love this...
“Some fail to make a distinction between contradiction and difference.”
But... but... if two accounts say different things that cannot be sorted out by way of things like context and dialect, do they not, by definition, contradict each-other? Let's look at an example:
Some people say macaroni, some say pasta. That's a difference, but they mean the same thing to a lot of people. My grandmother referred to all varieties of pasta as macaroni. Both terms in context and with deference to things like regional dialect can mean the same thing. So if I tell someone I had macaroni for dinner (a type of pasta) but I tell someone else I had pasta, both statements are true. If I tell someone I had pasta and I tell someone else I had steak, that's a contradiction. Saying God created light on day one in one verse, then saying God created light on day four in another, is not a difference, it's a contradiction. One and four are not synonymous. You cannot use the terms interchangeably even in if you plead dialect.
McDowell then cites... the case of the blind men at Jericho:
Matthew relates how two blind men met Jesus, while both Mark and Luke mention only one. However, neither of these statement denies the other, but rather they are complementary.
Suppose you were talking to the mayor of your city and the chief of police at city hall. Later, you see your friend, Jim, and tell him you talked to the mayor today. An hour later, you see your friend, John, and tell him you talked to both the mayor and the chief of police.
When your friends compare notes, there is a seeming contradiction. But there is no contradiction. If you had told Jim that you talked only to the mayor, you would have contradicted that statement by what you told John.
Dear Lord, where to begin...
First off... One and two? Again, not the same. And there's a very sneaky quality to the sentiment that jut because you only mentioned the mayor to John that didn't mean that the chief of police wasn't there. It's just plain nonsense to say “just because Mark and Luke say there was one blind man doesn't mean there weren't more. There was, in fact, one, as well as another one.”
Here's where this argument falls completely apart: In one instance, you're talking about written reports of a single event that are framed as reporting of historical events that have different details in the who, what, where, and when. In the other, you're talking about a verbal conversation between two people.
How do you equate a verbal conversation between two people with what is supposed to be an accurate written historical account? Maybe in each of the conversations, there were parts of the story that were either relevant or not. What if your friend Jim asked you directly if you talked to the Mayor and you simply said “yes,”? You didn't mention the chief of police because nobody asked about him. Now John generally asks you how you spent your day and you mention both conversations. But, if you were to write an accounting of your day, it would make no sense to omit a significant detail like the chief of police. The conversation is significant to the report. It might not have been in the context of a conversation.
In any similar context, the writer would be held accountable for the facts. If a journalist for the New York Times said that five armed gunman robbed a bank but the New York Post says that it was seven, the New York Times would look like a laughing stock by arguing “Well, there was a total of seven but if there were seven, certainly there were five.”
Sometimes two passages appear to be contradictory because the translation is not as accurate as it could be. A knowledge of the original languages of the Bible can immediately solve these difficulties, for both Greek and Hebrew—as all languages—have their peculiarities that make them difficult to render into English or any other language.
So a perfect God cannot produce a perfect message in any language? Why would any responsible deity not make absolutely certain that the messaging was correct? Did he just admit that his god has limitations? Did he just suggest that god can't illuminate his word to the people translating it so that more of the people he desires fellowship with would be able to know him perfectly?
A classic example concerns the accounts of Paul’s conversion as recorded in the Book of Acts. Acts 9:7 (KJV) states, “The men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” Acts 22:9 (KJV) reads, “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”
These statements seem contradictory, with one saying that Paul’s companions heard a voice, while the other account says that no voice was heard. However, a knowledge of Greek solves this difficulty. As the Greek scholar, W. F. Arndt, explains:
“The construction of the verb ‘to hear’ (akouo) is not the same in both accounts. In Acts 9:7 it is used with the genitive, in Acts 22:9 with the accusative. The construction with the genitive simply expresses that something is being heard or that certain sounds reach the ear; nothing is indicated as to whether a person understands what he hears or not. The construction with the accusative, however, describes a hearing which includes mental apprehension of the message spoken. From this it becomes evident that the two passages are not contradictory.
“Acts 22:9 does not deny that the associates of Paul heard certain sounds; it simply declares that they did not hear in such a way as to understand what was being said. Our English idiom in this case simply is not so expressive as the Greek” (Does the Bible Contradict Itself, pp. 13–14.)
So I guess I only have one question: did the word “understand” exist when the KJV was written? I'm pretty sure it did along with a few other equally clear synonyms. I'll play devil's advocate for a minute and say that I'll give Josh a point on that one. A little responsible exegesis can yield a conclusion like this and that conclusion can be correct. BUT... If a clearer, more concise way to convey this concept existed why did the translators choose to use more ambiguous language that could easily be misinterpreted by the reader? And again, why would God even allow it? “Don't useth 'heard' in both statements. Useth thou “understood” or “comprehended” in this one, thus saith the LORD.”
It must also be stressed that when a possible explanation is given to a Bible difficulty, it is unreasonable to state that the passage contains a demonstrable error. Some difficulties in Scripture result from our inadequate knowledge about the circumstances, and do not necessarily involve an error. These only prove that we are ignorant of the background.
Ummm.... not everyone understands or can engage in exegesis, Josh. And when you're talking about people who only open their Bibles on Sunday in the first place, I'll say it again – if there is a way to clearly convey the message whose meaning is discovered through exegesis, then the translation should reflect an everyman quality that leaves no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
And ya know what I'm not ignorant of? I'm not ignorant of the background of numbers. One has always meant one, two has always meant two. Two never means one because “if there are two, certainly there is one.” And if I'm ignorant to the background, where are the details that contextualize things in a way that makes them impossible to misinterpret? Again, for an all-powerful god, this Yahweh appears to have some serious limitations when it comes to use of language.
As historical and archaeological study proceed, new light is being shed on difficult portions of Scripture and many “errors” have disappeared with the new understanding.
This is said with zero context, explanation or example.
We need a wait-and-see attitude on some problems.
In the meantime your salvation and your eternity hang in the balance. What else are we misinterpreting? What if what we understand about grace and the atonement are wrong because we are misinterpreting it? I guess we'll wait and see. Hopefully we don't go to hell.
While all Bible difficulties and discrepancies have not yet been cleared up, it is our firm conviction that as more knowledge is gained of the Bible’s past, these problems will fade away. The biblical conception of God is an all-knowing, all-powerful being who does not contradict Himself, and so we feel that His Word, when properly understood, will not contradict itself.
Sorry, but I need something better than “feelings” when it comes to what I'm going to believe. I don't care how you feel about it. SHOW ME how it's right.
And Josh is far from alone. There's an article on Christianity.com that starts with this highly-objective analysis:
“Most of the alleged contradictions are made by atheists. All of the “supposed contradictions” are aimed at attacking the genuineness of the Bible and its divine nature.”
Hey, don't blame us. We didn't write it. And we aren't solely responsible for calling it out. Anyone with just average intelligence and enough time to do the research can see this plain as day.
They accuse retractors of the Bible of taking verses out of context. OK... but regardless of the context, either Judas hanged himself OR he took the money, bought a potter's field, fell, died, and all his intestines burst out. The context here is how Judas handled the guilt of betraying Jesus. One account says he killed himself. Another says he bought a trash heap and had a slip and fall. #BiblicalForensics.
There is no contextual issue surrounding the creation myth saying that light existed on day one but the sun showed up on day 4. I mean, they have all kinds of arguments but they're largely pulled out of their asses... [explain]
The writers of this article refer to “harmonization” as a means of tying various details together. This is where the explanation of what happened to Judas comes in. It's still silly.
They spotlight several contradictions in the gospels and says this about them:
As it is, the gospel accounts are different because it gives us the overall true account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Each of the gospels is a piece of the puzzle that when all placed together forms the entire picture of Jesus.
I wonder if this would fly in a court of law. Four accounts of the same story with sometimes wildly different details. A jury wouldn't be looking for the truth in all of them. They would be looking for the actual truth if such could even be ascertained from the available testimony. If not, the verdict has to be not guilty or they declare a mistrial. If four people say they saw the crime occur but give different descriptions of the perp, it's difficult – nearly impossible – to then “harmonize” the details and create an image of the defendant out of them.
They even reference Josh McDowell using the same logic in another argument.
Was there one angel at Jesus' tomb or two? Matthew and Mark say one. Luke and John say two. But if you're Josh McDowell it's not a contradiction because only one spoke so Matthew and Mark “chose” not to mention the other. Again, maybe this would fly in a verbal conversation (but not really) but it certainly does not in the context of someone attempting to produce a factual historical record of something with the significance of the salvation of all mankind.
Let's start with the creation myth. By the end of chapter two of GENESIS the whole thing is already unraveling...
Man was created equal, male and female. Gen.1:27.
Woman was created as a companion to the man only after he rejected the animals. Gen.2:18-24.
Man was created after the plants. Gen.1:12, 26.
Man was created before the plants. Gen.2:5-9.
The birds were created out of the water. Gen.1:20.
The birds were created out of the land. Gen.2:19.
The animals were created before man. Gen.1:24-26.
The animals were created after man. Gen.2:19.
On the first day, God created and separated light and darkness. Gen.1:3-5.
On the fourth day, God again created and separated light and darkness. Gen.1:14-18.
This is significant because this is supposed to be the all-authoritative word of God. It is supposed to explain where we came from. And yet, it doesn't seem interested in hiding the inconsistencies in the narrative AND there are plenty of evangelicals out there with all kinds of explanations for all the disparities and exactly none of them make any sense.
And I found this one interesting – one where the contradictions flow like water.
Exodus 20:13 - “Thou shalt not kill.”
Let's bear in mind that this is all it says. It doesn't say, “thou shalt mot kill unless the LORD says to.” It simply says don't do it. And then, throughout the OT there are instances where God tells people to kill other people...
The person who compiled these never made it out of the Pentateuch and there are scores of examples, as we've demonstrated.
And just for spite, I found an awesome list of contradictions on atheists.org:
Now, I'll cover the obvious problem that any Christian will bring up with a lot of these since they contrast things stated between the testaments. Many will argue “that stuff happened before the atonement. The atonement changed everything.” To that I say this:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” - Jesus, Mt. 5:17
Sorry but any “NT cancels out OT” arguments simply do not fly. Unless you want to contradict your so-called savior....
And just to make the point all the clearer, here are a few more...
How should strangers be treated? http://www.lyingforjesus.org/Bible-Contradictions/how-should-strangers-be-treated-sab.html
Be kind to them: Exodus 22:21, Exodus 23:9, leviticus 19:33-34 Deuteronomy 10:19, Jeremiah 22:3
Kill them? Numbers 1:51, Numbers 3:10, Numbers 3:38, Numbers 18:7, Deut. 7:2
Can Women Be Church Leaders? http://www.lyingforjesus.org/Bible-Contradictions/can-women-be-church-leaders-sab.html
Yes! Acts 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto [them], and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Romans 16:1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:
or No! 1 Cor. 14: 34, 35
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church
1 Timothy 2:11-12
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
If the man is saved, will his wife be saved too?
Yes, his whole family is saved by his belief
1 Corinthians 7:14
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
1 Corinthians 7:16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save [thy] husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save [thy] wife?
You know, we could go on with this all night and while even I looked at some of the examples out there and said, “yeah, that's a reach...” there are plenty that are legit. One verse says X, one says Y. You can't defend it by saying “if there were two angels, there was one so both are true and correct.” Semantical arguments don't work when you're supposed to bank your life and your eternity on the message of a book.
My question then is this: if there are so many inconsistencies in the Bible, how are we supposed to know what to believe? You can call different accounts harmonies all you want but someone can't be 22 and 42 at the same time. There is no harmony there. If X=22 and Y=42 X does not equal Y. Period.
And let's not forget that the whole grace versus works argument is NOT settled in the NT. Ephesians 2 says we're saved by grace and not of ourselves, not by works so no man can boast. James 2 says that a man is justified by works and that faith without works is dead. So when they told me at WOL that saying a prayer was enough to be saved and then told me I had to go to the altar, they acknowledged this discrepancy. They then chose to drive the “once saved, always saved” argument with fervor with me for years. WOLBI students are actually trained to deal with the whole “you can lose your salvation” thing...
Out of all the contradictions we looked at tonight, I think this one is more important than the rest when it comes to whether or not one should decide to be a Christian. The Bible guarantees everyone salvation (Rom 10:13), then scatters the fine print throughout the NT.
2 Pt. 1:21 says “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
If the Bible truly is the word of God, you would think that a God who created everything, understands the intricacies of the universe and of life itself would have to have a very, very organized mind. So here's the question: why, when dictating his word to the humans who were supposedly literally under the influence of the holy spirit, did he allow so many details to get so fundamentally skewed? Again, either Jehoiachin was either eight or eighteen when he reigned in Jerusalem. Does the Holy Spirit have a bad memory?
No matter what Josh McDowell wants us to think, the Bible is fraught with contradictions. You can twist words, apply your own meaning, argue from the standpoint of semantics and convince yourself that you don't see what you see in the so-called “word of God” but when you do any of that you sacrifice the single most important thing there is in matters of belief: the truth. It all goes back to believing the better story. Do you like the idea of Judas returning the blood money and hanging himself or do you prefer him literally exploding in a junkyard? You can decide to believe one over the other but not even with slick speculations that are rooted in nothing but opinion, you can't believe both. As a Christian, you also need to decide whether or not your eternity is based on a promise or the effort you make to earn it and keep it. And you'll never get a straight answer from the Bible.
Let me tell you what the better story is in this instance. It involves throwing out the entire Bible and applying logic to all the things you've been told you have to believe. It involves accepting that there is no clear messaging about anything in the Bible and that its own words out it as hopelessly errant and subsequently not worthy of being taken seriously. If God is perfect, his word should be, too. It should be clear, concise, and consistent throughout. The Bible is anything but. Stop putting your faith a book that can't make up its mind about basically anything or the god who is supposedly behind it who demonstrates over and over and over again that he's batshit out of his. See this book for what it is, reject its messaging, stop making excuses for the lies it tells and the errors it contains and start getting Unbound.