Monday, August 17, 2009

33 Bible Contradictions and Refutations Pt 1

I've been again...interacting...with atheist on Twitter. I've been challenged to refute Dan Barker's list of 33 Biblical contradictions. These are nothing new but since @ BibleAlsoSays wants to dredge them up, it will be fun knocking them down all over again. My comments will be in red. This is part 1.

Should we kill?

  • Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill."
  • Leviticus 24:17 "And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death."


  • Exodus 32:27 "Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, . . . and slay every man his brother, . . . companion, . . . neighbor."
  • I Samuel 6:19 " . . . and the people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter."
  • I Samuel 15:2,3,7,8 "Thus saith the Lord . . . Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. . . . And Saul smote the Amalekites . . . and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword."

  • Numbers 15:36 "And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses."
  • Hosea 13:16 "they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with children shall be ripped up."

    For a discussion of the defense that the Commandments prohibit only murder, see "Murder, He Wrote", chapter 27 (Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist).

In order to see this as a contradiction, you would have to think that there is no difference between killing and murder and unable to read context. Exodus 20:13 uses the Hebrew term "ratshach". This term does not appear in any of the other references Barker seems to try to use to say that God condones murder. This means that the word is not being used in the same context as in Exodus 20:13. I think a better passage to compare is Ecclesiastes 3:3

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

The word tranlated "kill" is "Harag". Now this word is used in some of the places where Dan Barker is contrasting with "murder". Which means "kill" is not in any of the same contexts as Exodus 20:13. In other words, there is no contradiction. We are not to murder but sometimes killing is necessary.

Should we tell lies?

  • Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness."
  • Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."


  • I Kings 22:23 "The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee."
  • II Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."

    Also, compare Joshua 2:4-6 with James 2:25.

No where in the Bible is a lie ever condoned. In 1st Kings 22:23 the context is God speaking through the prophet Micaiah to warn Ahab and Jehoshaphat that Ahab's prophets could not be trusted and that they should not go to war against the king of Aram. Ahab didn't listen so he was killed. in 2nd Thessalonians one needs to look at the context verse 9-12

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

The people get the delusion because they refuse to love the truth. They delight in wickedness. Don't be like them [Dan Barker] and you won't be deceived or deluded.

Should we steal?

  • Exodus 20:15 "Thou shalt not steal."
  • Leviticus 19:13 "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him."


  • Exodus 3:22 "And ye shall spoil the Egyptians."
  • Exodus 12:35-36 "And they spoiled [plundered, NRSV] the Egyptians."
  • Luke 19:29-34 "[Jesus] sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village . . . ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. . . . And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him."

    I was taught as a child that when you take something without asking for it, that is stealing.

Exodus 3:22 is taken out of context

"So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.
And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians." - Exodus3:20-22

Israel asked for the goods and booty and the Egyptians gave it. The Hebrews worked for it. It was for 400 years of free labor. As for the colt, Jesus did not steal it. Jesus did not keep the colt. It was returned to the owner. According to the culture of the day Jesus broke no laws and it was according to his authority as a recognized Rabbi.

Shall we keep the sabbath?

  • Exodus 20:8 "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy."
  • Exodus 31:15 "Whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."
  • Numbers 15:32,36 "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. . . . And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses."


  • Isaiah 1:13 "The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity."
  • John 5:16 "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day."
  • Colossians 2:16 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."
Barker's kidding...must be. The context in Isaiah 1:13 is ignored and not quoted fully

13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
What is the context of John 5:16? The Jews were angry because Jesus healed a lame man on the sabbath, told the man to carry his bed, and they understood that Jesus was making Himself equal with God (verse 18).

God was not saying that the sabbaths were full of iniquity just the hypocrasy of people observing the event and living any kind of way.

As for Colossians 2:!6, Paul was writing to gentile Christians not Jews. Look back at the Sabbath Laws of the Old Testament, the laws are specifically given to the Jewish nation.

Shall we make graven images?

  • Exodus 20:4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven . . . earth . . . water."
  • Leviticus 26:1 "Ye shall make ye no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone."
  • Deuteronomy 27:15 "Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image."


  • Exodus 25:18 "And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them."
  • I Kings 7:15,16,23,25 "For he [Solomon] cast two pillars of brass . . . and two chapiters of molten brass . . . And he made a molten sea . . . it stood upon twelve oxen . . . [and so on]"
Dan Barker does not know what a graven image is. A graven image is something to be worshiped. The cherubim decorating the tabernacle and the Temples of God were not meant to be worshiped. No contradiction here.

Are we saved through works?

  • Ephesians 2:8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith . . . not of works."
  • Romans 3:20,28 "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight."
  • Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ."


  • James 2:24 "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."
  • Matthew 19:16-21 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he [Jesus] said unto him . . . keep the commandments. . . . The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."

    The common defense here is that "we are saved by faith and works." But Paul said "not of works."

The only person who would say that we are saved by faith and works doe not know what the Bible says. Paul was talking about keeping ceremonial laws when he was referring to texts in Ephesians, Romans, and Galatians. James was talking about good works and helping others. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-10 (Barker didn't quote the whole context.)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

As for the account of Matt 19:16-21, Jesus was not saying that anyone could be justified before God apart from Himself because none of us can really keep the law perfectly.

Should good works be seen?

  • Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works."
  • I Peter 2:12 "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that . . . they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."


  • Matthew 6:1-4 "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them . . . that thine alms may be in secret."
  • Matthew 23:3,5 "Do not ye after their [Pharisees'] works. . . . all their works they do for to be seen of men."
This deals with intent. We should not do good to glorify ourselves. Our lives are examples and everyone is looking and judging us. Our deeds are seen whether good or not.

Should we own slaves?

  • Leviticus 25:45-46 "Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, . . . and they shall be your possession . . . they shall be your bondmen forever."
  • Genesis 9:25 "And he [Noah] said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."
  • Exodus 21:2,7 "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. . . . And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the manservants do."
  • Joel 3:8 "And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the Lord hath spoken it."
  • Luke 12:47,48 [Jesus speaking] "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes."
  • Colossians 3:22 "Servants, obey in all things your masters."


  • Isaiah 58:6 "Undo the heavy burdens . . . let the oppressed go free, . . . break every yoke."
  • Matthew 23:10 "Neither be ye called Masters: for one is your Master, even Christ."

    Pro-slavery bible verses were cited by many churches in the South during the Civil War, and were used by some theologians in the Dutch Reformed Church to justify apartheid in South Africa. There are more pro-slavery verses than cited here.

The Bible does not say we can hold slaves. If anything it just shows that slavery existed. The slavery that was part of Biblical times is not like the slavery of antebellum America or European colonization and subjugation of Africa. You can't equate them. Slavery based on race was not part of the mindset.

Does God change his mind?

  • Malachi 3:6 "For I am the Lord; I change not."
  • Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent."
  • Ezekiel 24:14 "I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent."
  • James 1:17 " . . . the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."


  • Exodus 32:14 "And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."
  • Genesis 6:6,7 "And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth . . . And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth . . . for it repenteth me that I have made him."
  • Jonah 3:10 ". . . and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

    See also II Kings 20:1-7, Numbers 16:20-35, Numbers 16:44-50.

    See Genesis 18:23-33, where Abraham gets God to change his mind about the minimum number of righteous people in Sodom required to avoid destruction, bargaining down from fifty to ten. (An omniscient God must have known that he was playing with Abraham's hopes for mercy--he destroyed the city anyway.)

God does not repent. The Hebrew word for "Repent" is translated in more modern English translations as "grieved"as in Genesis 6:6,7; Jonah 3:10. In Exodus 32:14, the word is translated "relented". Depending on the context, you know what the correct translation is. God does not change his mind.

Are we punished for our parents' sins?

  • Exodus 20:5 "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." (Repeated in Deuteronomy 5:9)
  • Exodus 34:6-7 " . . . The Lord God, merciful and gracious, . . . that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."
  • I Corinthians 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, . . ."


  • Ezekiel 18:20 "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father."
  • Deuteronomy 24:16 "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."
The question to ask is the passage referring to ultimate damnation or temporal consequences. Ezekiel 18 and Deut 24 are referring to damnation and separation from God (in context). The citations from Exodus is pointing out that God has the option and the right to make children and Grand children experience consequences for the sins of parents. Look at Deuteronomy 5 in context

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Deuteronomy 5:9,10

Why would Barker not comment on verse 10. Look those whose children suffer hate God. Could it be that atheist who hate God don't like this scripture because they know that they are making the lives of their own children harder?

The reference to 1 Corinthians is important because it shows that each of us are suffering because of Adam- one man. God has option to deal with us corporately of as a species. His choice. Just as we all deserve death through the actions of one man, we obtain life through Jesus.

It's important to remember that the web page that this is taken from makes all kind of assumptions. Dan Barker believes that it doesn't make sense for God's message to look as it does and believes that these contradictions means that it is not true. However none of these objections are true. And it is easy to refute them.

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