We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bible “Contradictions” Rebutted, #1

Over the years I have been questioned about many, many supposed contradictions in the Bible.  In fact, one can go on the Internet and find many sites publishing these “contradictions” as “proof” that the Bible is unreliable, invented by man, etc.  A while back a college student, whose family attended our church, sent me a very long list of these “contradictions” because they were causing him to doubt his faith and he wanted answers.  

This week I found this list and my responses, and thought it would be a good idea to make a series of posts so as to give my readers a resource for use if they encounter these issues.  So let’s begin; my responses will be in italic font.

Contradiction claim #1, the order of creation

Here is the order in the first (Genesis 1), the Priestly tradition:
Day 1: Sky, Earth, light
Day 2: Water, both in ocean basins and above the sky(!)
Day 3: Plants
Day 4: Sun, Moon, stars (as calendrical and navigational aids)
Day 5: Sea monsters (whales), fish, birds, land animals, creepy-crawlies (reptiles, insects, etc.)
Day 6: Humans (apparently both sexes at the same time)
Day 7: Nothing (the Gods took the first day off anyone ever did)
Note that there are "days," "evenings," and "mornings" before the Sun was created. Here, the Deity is referred to as "Elohim," which is a plural, thus the literal translation, "the Gods." In this tale, the Gods seem satisfied with what they have done, saying after each step that "it was good."

To begin with, the writer of this claim has land animals created on day 5 when the Bible says they were created on day 6.  Same with the “creepy-crawlers”.   The sun did not need to be created yet for God to give time - God created time.  The light was God, as the Bible so very often says.  “Elohim” does not have to mean “gods”, rather it means a plurality of God, that is, the Trinity - three persons in one God.  That’s why when in v. 26 it uses the plural of “us” and “our,” yet in v.27 it has singular “his” and “he”.  It’s a plurality of persons, not gods.

The second one (Genesis 2), the Yahwist tradition, goes:
Earth and heavens (misty)
Adam, the first man (on a desolate Earth)
Eve, the first woman (from Adam's rib)

Genesis 2 is a close-up account of day 6, not something different.  The chapter breaks were put there in the 13th century, which made an arbitrary break between chapters 1 and 2.  Chapter 2 should start at vs.4 when it begins to sum up the events that just transpired.  Then it tells us that the plants hadn’t begun to grow yet because man wasn’t there to till them yet (not that they weren’t created, just that they weren’t growing).  Then we learn that it was a mist that watered the earth vs. rain.  V. 8 says God planted a garden in Eden, but it really doesn’t say if the garden was planted before or after Adam’s creation, just that Adam was taken to it after it was created.  Verses 9-15 do NOT say all this was done after Adam was created; it just says a summation of things that God did - a recap.  Verse 19 does not say these animals were created after Adam, rather it just says how they were created.  

Contradiction claim #2, orderliness of creation

How orderly were things created?
Chapter 1: Step-by-step. The only discrepancy is that there is no sun or moon or stars on the first three "days."
Chapter 2: God fixes things up as he goes. The first man is lonely, and is not satisfied with animals. God finally creates a woman for him. (Funny thing that an omniscient god would forget things)

As for Chapter 1, why is there a problem with no astronomical bodies for the first 3 days?  Since when is God restricted to how He creates?  As for Chapter #2, this is certainly reading things into the text.  God did not “fix” anything.  He intended to create male and female from the beginning, the reason being that it was not good for man to be alone.  The animals were brought to Adam in pairs to show Adam that he needed another person to be complete, and none of the animals were the same as him so a distinct person had to be created to compliment him.  The passage does not say Adam was lonely - it said he was alone.  There is a lot of difference between those words.  

Contradiction claim #3, God’s satisfaction with creation

Chapter 1: God says "it was good" after each of his labors, and rests on the seventh day, evidently very satisfied.
Chapter 2: God has to fix up his creation as he goes, and he would certainly not be very satisfied with the disobedience of that primordial couple.

Chapter 2 claim is again taking things out of context.  God did not “fix up” anything; he completed it.  Genesis 2 is the recap of day six detailed.  Everything was good on day 7; it wasn’t until an unspecified time later that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree.

Contradiction claim #3, Did fowls come from water or ground?

Genesis 1:20  And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
Genesis 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 2:19  And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

This is a problem with KJV lacking clarity in modern understanding, but all 1:20 is saying is that the waters will bring forth water creatures at the same time birds are being created (this word for fowl means “flying ones,” and may include flying insects and bats).  The NET Bible translates 1:20 as “Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”  NIV translates it as “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”  Both these translations are dynamic, giving thought-for -thought translation.  NAS is a formal, word-for-word, translation and says, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”  ESV is similar.  Jay Green’s literal translation puts it this way (italicized words added for clarity): “Let the waters swarm with the swarmers having a soul of life; and let the birds fly over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens.”    And if you read the English over the Hebrew in the interlinear it says, “Let swarm the waters with swarmers having a soul living; and birds let fly around over the earth, on the face of the expanse of the heavens.”  So Gen. 1:20-21 are not saying the birds came out of the waters, rather it is saying they were created at the same time as were the creatures of the waters.

Contradiction claim 4#, which was first — beasts or man?

Gen. 1:25  And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Gen. 1:26 
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen. 2:18  And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Gen. 2:19 
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Genesis 2 is a recap of day 6 and the creation of man.  It doesn’t say the animals were created after Adam, it merely gives the fact that God had created the animals out of the ground, then He brought them before Adam.  The animals were already created; the author is just recapping how they were created, then the author points out that they were brought before Adam after Adam was created.

Contradiction claim #5, snakes do not eat dirt

Gen. 3:14  And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

This is a figurative way of saying that the snake will be living in the dirt and traveling in the dirt.  All the snake will know is dirt and dust.  It’s the same as when we say to someone, “eat my dust,”  as we accelerate our vehicles ahead of them - we don’t literally eat the dust.

Contradiction claim #6, the number of beasts in the ark

Gen. 7:2  Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
Gen. 7:8,9  Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

Gen. 7:2 says that unclean beasts are only one pair each, while clean beasts shall be 7 pairs (by sevens, male and female).  7:8-9 merely says they went by pairs.  Where’s the problem?

Contradiction claim #7, Odd genetic engineering

Gen. 30:39  And the flocks conceived before the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted.

Actually, there is nothing odd about the actual genetic engineering, rather it is the manner in which it was done.  First, remember that much of the O.T. is just reporting history, not necessarily reporting God’s approval of what takes place (e.g. David’s adultery and murder) or whether superstitions were correct.  For whatever reason, Jacob believed that striping the rods would cause the animal characteristics.  He placed them where the animals would mate so as to develop a herd.  Now the passage doesn’t say that they brought forth ONLY the ringstraked, speckled and spotted animals, rather that they did have some of these.  What he did then was separate these animals from the rest.  He did nothing more than breed for the markings.  

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