9/22/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~
A few weeks ago on this site a Christian woman claimed in a comment that she had once been an atheist and found it to be a life of emptiness and loneliness. She advised the article’s author to accept belief in Jesus for a better life. Her last sentence has been bouncing around in my head ever since. She wrote, “Don’t listen to your pride.”
Of course, many of us pounced on her assumption that atheists are empty and lonely, and rightfully so, but what did she mean by her parting shot? How does pride become an issue in believing the Christian story? Since the foundational story of Christianity comes from the Bible, I have to assume that she meant that to doubt the Bible is prideful, that one should just ignore his doubts and believe.
However, if there is clear evidence in the Bible that at least some of its contents are contradictory, false, stupid, and immoral, then wouldn’t it be stupid to just believe in it all without doubt? Must one be either prideful or stupid?
I would argue that if the Bible’s contents are flawed in all four of these ways, then nothing in it should be accepted without considerable supporting evidence from outside the Bible.
So, is the Bible contradictory? There are hundreds of examples I could use to show that it is, but here’s one simple and foolproof one. In Genesis, there are two different creation stories (Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25). In the first account, human males and females are created after the animals, while in the second, the man is created first, then the animals, and finally the woman. These accounts are contradictory so they obviously cannot both be true; at least one of these accounts must be false.
Genesis then provides a perfect example of material in the Bible that is both contradictory and false. But let me provide another example which might strike closer to home. The Bible also provides two different genealogies for Jesus, both tracing him back to King David. In Luke, forty-four generations are traced back to King David, while Matthew lists only twenty-eight, and both lists contain names not on the other list. (Odder still, these genealogies both trace through Joseph who, according to the Bible, was not even the biological father of Jesus - the Holy Spirit was the father, according to Luke 1:26-35.)
If someone handed you two wildly conflicting genealogies listing your own ancestors, could you possibly conclude that they are not contradictory, and thus that neither is false?
I promised an example of stupid from the Bible, and here it is. In Matthew 5:39 we find Jesus saying,
“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.”How could it be anything but stupid advice to not resist Hitler, or Stalin, or Anders Behring Breivik, who massacred 69 youths on a Norwegian island? There is no indication that Jesus was speaking of passive resistance here, ŕ la Gandhi, for he says simply, “do not resist.” If people actually took this advice, then the world would be ruled by brutal tyrants. Some world, eh? Just a moment’s thought proves Jesus’ advice to be stupid. Absolutely nobody else thinks it makes sense to let evil people always have their way (except, perhaps, evil people).
So, what about immoral? Can the Bible be shown to be immoral? A unbiased reader could easily provide dozens of examples, but I’ll just provide one which is simply beyond refutation. In Leviticus 20:13 we find,
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”So, without qualification, without reservation, the Bible commands that we should simply execute homosexuals. To kill a man BECAUSE he is homosexual is immoral in the eyes of any sane, modern adult. Can this really be argued?
Now, some Christians might argue that not all of the Old Testament rules need to be followed today, that the coming of Jesus heralded a new covenant between man and god. But, this is not what the Bible says. According to Isaiah 40:8,
"The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever."So, if you’re going to argue that the Bible is the word of god, then you are forced to accept that it will always be true. There is also Matthew 5:17, where Jesus says,
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”Clearly, he is speaking here of the Old Testament law and prophets.
And, in the end, it’s all hearsay anyway. Almost none of the authors of the Bible are known to us and none of their substantive claims have been verified by sources outside the Bible. These largely anonymous authors are simply saying, “Take my word for it.” But why should we? Why shouldn’t the Bible stand up to the same scrutiny we demand of other books, especially so called “holy” books - like the Bhagavad Gita and the Quoran?
It almost seems like the writing of the New Testament was sealed off from the rest of human history, as though it were complete fiction. Supposedly, Jesus fed 5,000 men plus uncounted women and children with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. The strangest part of this story is that there is not a trace of evidence that even one of those thousands of people ever wrote about it outside the Bible. You may argue that few people were literate in those days. Fine, but is it believable that not one of those thousands ever told that fantastic story to someone who could write, and who would think it was a story worth repeating? Tens of thousands would have heard that story, and not one of them wrote it down?
If someone handed you two wildly conflicting genealogies listing your own ancestors, could you possibly conclude that they are not contradictory, and thus that neither is false?We humans have always been fascinated by celebrities, and when one of us gets just a quick glimpse of a genuine celebrity we tend to tell everyone we know. Yet, there is not a single written account anywhere, except in the Bible, of a single person who ever saw Jesus. He goes around for 3 years followed by huge crowds, feeding thousands with scraps, healing disease with a touch, walking on water, it’s practically miracle after miracle, and repeating a strange new philosophy, yet . . . not one witness can be found outside the Bible. Maybe there was a small time preacher wandering around ancient Israel who loosely fits the description of Jesus, but if even a tenth of the events described in the New Testament actually happened, there would certainly be written testimony from that era, outside of the Bible.
And, further, according to the Bible (Luke 4:16), Jesus definitely could read and write (and besides, does it make sense that a god would be illiterate?). He claimed to be bringing the most important message in the history of mankind to the people, yet he never wrote down a word of it himself. The most important message in the history of mankind and he leaves it to his followers’ memories? And the Gospels weren’t written until at least 30 years after Jesus’ alleged death. And even then, most Biblical scholars believe the Gospels were not written by the disciples whose names are attached to them. Doesn’t this seem like a pretty sloppy way to get an absolutely vital message out to the world? Is this really the best this god could do?
Now, despite the simple and clear proofs I have shown, many Christians at this point will be thinking that all this contradictory, false, stupid, and immoral stuff in the Bible simply can’t be as it appears, and that we should just trust god. But, would you trust someone who claims to love you but stays hidden in a closet? (This line is thanks to House, M.D.)
If I must be either prideful or stupid, I’ll take prideful every time, thanks. Shouldn’t you?