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Austin Cline

Comment of the Week: Errors in the Bible

By April 24, 2012

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There are entire books detailing errors, flaws, problems, and contradictions in the Bible. We shouldn't need more than one or two such books, but the fact that believers refuse to acknowledge or even consider the existence of such problems means that the same well-worn ground needs to be covered again and again.

So you're probably tired of it by now, but if you can set that aside for a moment... which is your favorite error, flaw, or contradiction? And why? Is it a favorite because it's funny or because it's useful in an argument?

Dano writes:

Things believed true by the authors of the Bible:
  • - snakes and donkeys can talk (Genesis 3 &; Numbers 22:1-35)
  • - incantations (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24 &; 29)
  • - blood sacrifice (Genesis 4:4 &; 31:54, Leviticus 1:9 &; 9:18, 2 Kings 16:15 &; Ezekiel 39:17)
  • - ritual spells (Leviticus 14)
  • - enchanted artifacts (Exodus 7:8-12 &; 1 Samuel 5:6-9, 69 &; 6:19)
  • - pyrotechnic potions (Numbers 5:20-26)
  • - astrology (Genesis 1:14-15, Job 38:32, Isaiah 14:12-14, Luke 21:25 &; Matthew 12:32 &; 28:20)
  • - the five elements of witchcraft (Leviticus 14)
  • - rabbits chew cud (Leviticus 11:6)
  • - bats are birds (Deuteronomy 14:11-18 &; Leviticus 11:13-19)
  • - whales are fish (Jonah 1:17 &; Matthew 12:40)
  • - Pi is a round number (1 Kings 7:23 &; 2 Chronicles 4:2)
  • - if you display striped patterns to a pregnant cow, it would bare striped calves (Genesis 30:37-43)
I'm a little skeptical about the historicity of the Bible when, scientificly speaking, it's dead wrong about damn near everything.

[original post]

What do you think it would take to get more believers to acknowledge the existence errors, flaws, or contradictions in the Bible? Is there anything at all in your experience?

April 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm
(1) DigitalAtheist says:

What do you think it would take to get more believers to acknowledge the existence errors, flaws, or contradictions in the Bible? Is there anything at all in your experience?

Sadly, in my experience, there is nothing that can make a believer acknowledge faults in the “bible”, unless they come to their own realization of the fact. For me–in my younger “believing” days–the braking point came when I started to realize just HOW MUCH SPACE would be required for only two animals of each kind to fit in a boat. (not long ago, I calculated that just based on the average diets of lions, tigers, giraffes, and elephants, approx. 400,000 lbs of food would be needed to last for a year… never mind the extended stay on the boat).

April 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm
(2) Edmond says:

I think my favorite has always been the story of Balaam and his donkey. Balaam is riding along on his donkey (on a mission that god has both commanded and condemned), when an angel appears on the path in front of the donkey, but it is invisible to Balaam.

The donkey tries to circle around the angel by leaving the path, which angers Balaam. He beats the animal each time it tries to leave the path.

Finally fed up with the poor treatment, the donkey opens her mouth and asks why she’s being beaten, since she’s always been such a loyal animal. Balaam remains angry at her insolence, however, and wishes he had a sword so he could kill the disobedient animal.

The angel then appears to Balaam and they have a little conversation, sparing the animal, before Balaam is sent on his way.

Now, I understand that, if there’s a god, he could’ve made the donkey talk. No problem. But this story is so full of OTHER holes. Why did the angel appear only to the donkey, and not to Balaam? This only confused them both, and resulted in the animal being beaten needlessly. Why didn’t the donkey explain WHY she was leaving the path? She could have AT LEAST said, “There’s an angel in my way!”.

But it’s Balaam’s reaction that’s really priceless. He wants to KILL this talking animal because it was disobedient? He’s not the least bit SURPRISED by this amazing feat of nature? Does he see talking donkeys every day? What’s UP with this story?

The angel is no better. First it chastises Balaam for beating the donkey, even though it was the angel’s fault for being invisible to him. Then, the whole reason the angel even stopped them was only to give Balaam a message from god that he already had.

Who makes this stuff up? And who believes it without any questions? Don’t SOME of these questions occur to believers?

April 24, 2012 at 9:56 pm
(3) cag says:

The first 10 words of the bible is as far as I need to go to conclude that the whole thing is fiction. The earth was the first thing to be created in the universe? Not too likely. It then goes on to claim that forming the earth took 5 of 6 days and the rest of the universe, trillions of stars, was created in one day.

I believe that the translation of christian is “can’t read for comprehension”.

April 25, 2012 at 12:47 am
(4) sornord says:

Even as a CHILD, I thought all that was silly.

April 26, 2012 at 10:17 am
(5) Wade Nordstrom says:

Errors? How about contradictions? Here’s one: “For God so loved the world…” (you know that one, good ol’ John 3:16) as compared to “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15) There’s a strange way to love for you.

April 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm
(6) TJ Ozminkowski says:

I’ve always believed the best way to get a Christian to start doubting the bible is to get them to actually read the damnable thing.

This is far harder than it sounds because most of the theists I know (mostly Catholics) think they know the bible because selected passages are read to them weekly. Unfortunately, these are typically the SAME selected passages, year after year. They only get those few sanitized bits.

May 1, 2012 at 10:39 am
(7) Kathryn says:

TJ Ozminkowski has the definitive answer, in my opinion: “. . . the best way to get a Christian to start doubting the bible is to get them to actually read the damnable thing.”

I would bet that less than 1% of the Christians in my city have read as much of the Bible as Mr. Cline has. But a far greater percentage probably knows several verses about love, peace, forgiveness, salvation, etc. Knowing those “those few sanitized bits,” as TJ says, and hearing trusted authority figures’ opinions on the matter, is enough to convince them that the entire book is the Truth.

May 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm
(8) Ray says:

In the immortal words of Dr House on TV:

“You can’t reason with religious people. If you could, they wouldn’t be”

Rember that the definition of Religion is the substitution of fear for reason.

My father was an atheist, and told me to wait until I was 21, and if I found a good religion, then join it. I never found any good religion.
My father said that indoctrinating children with religion was child abuse, and kept them from being fully functional reasoning adults.

I asked a Rabbi in 1953 how God could allow the killing of the Jews in tWWII. He astounded me with an answer that “God didn’t interfere in the actions of men.” I then asked him to tell me, then, what Moses (who never existed nor did the Exodus) was smoking to become so delusional that he thought he talked to a God.

Like all religions, the preists want to be in a win-win situation. If your loved ones are killed, then still believe because God works in mysterious ways. If they are not killed, still believe but tithe more cash.
I would love to own a business in which all situations are win-win for me.

May 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm
(9) Marvin says:

(6) TJ Ozminkowski – “I’ve always believed the best way to get a Christian to start doubting the bible is to get them to actually read the damnable thing.”

I wish it were that simple. During the first quarter century of my life I read it obsessively, but somehow I managed to ignore the indefensible and inexpliclicable. I am now amazed at what I missed at the time.

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