Wednesday, February 6, 2013

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: 5 Obviously False References in the Bible

From time to time, Debunking Christianity posts essays and articles written  by various people. This one by Joe E Holman is about presenting five things in the Bible that he thinks are obviously wrong. Holman does not seem to be an authority on history or the Bible and I think his essay is just an attempt to demonstrate that one does not have to be a scholar to see that the Bible is flawed. However Holman does not demonstrate that the Bible is false, instead he demonstrates what failure looks like. I'll try not to be too hard because professional scholars (and those who think they are scholars) don't do much better.

As the ages march on, it is a delight to find fewer attending churches and more making time to sit around doing other, more enjoyable things come Sunday. But even while classes full of growing students are satiated in going to their professors for answers instead of their priests, the age-old debate on the existence of God / validity of [insert religion here] somehow still rages on. The question should by now be settled, but those states where the collective IQ hasn’t exceeded 57 still have people who are clinging tightly to mom and dad’s hard-shell faith to define us.

Get the feeling that Holman thinks that people who believe the Bible are stupid?

However, it is a breath of fresh air to know that the seeds of doubt are first planted, not by scholarship or by secular parenting, but by common sense questions and healthy brains at work. Below are 5 biblical mentions that are in that camp known as “It don’t take no gosh-darn edjamucations to see this ain’t right.” Some things in God’s holy book are wrong simply because they defy any real level of sense. We begin the countdown with...

I'd argue that rejecting the Bible is a failure of common sense. Let the fail begin.

#5) The Global Flood of Noah: Quite a number of kids in Sunday school ask their teachers how Mt. Everest was once covered by water according to Genesis. One of the first apostates from the Church of Christ I tried to rescue as a preaching student asked the same question. After never getting a good answer (and not settling for bad answers), this individual drifted away, but like me at the time, most students just accept that it’s true because of those rapid-fire biblical assurances that go: “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4) See? It sounds so reassuring!

It's a shame when people who have questions about God and His word can't get good answers because they do exist. It seems stupid to think that it's only been now that some people have been asking and answering such questions recently. 

As any geology student can tell you, we know how much water is in the earth, on the earth, and frozen on the earth. It is not enough to cover Everest. Atmospheric pressure would be 1,000 times higher if it was. But if you still believe in the global flood, I have a nice song for you to listen to and sing your kids to sleep with. It’s educational!

Today, there is no enough water on earth to cover Mount Everest. How do we know that this was true when Noah was around? With continental drift being a reality, how do we know all the continents were not significantly closer than when Noah was around?  The Bible does not give us enough information to date the flood or Creation. We do not know. Therefore,  Holman has failed to show that Noah's flood is obviously false.

And as with all absurd biblical notions, the ideas don’t drop their absurdity with themselves; they spill over into other things, like, well, perhaps atheist Charles Lee Smith put it best in his 1929 debate with CoC’er W.L. Oliphant…

“How many of you here believe that the Chinaman, the negro and white man are descended from two Jews of six thousand years ago? Such differences would require one hundred thousand years to develop.” (Oliphant-Smith Debate, p. 119)
Not many of us today, Mr. Smith, because thanks in part to your efforts, we now have accepted that such a position would be as absurd as the flood itself.

Mr. Smith was incorrect. Adam and Eve were not Jewish and again we don't know if it was 6 thousand years or more according to the Bible. Yes, indeed much to be embarrased about. 

#4) 22,000 Oxen and 120,000 Sheep are Sacrificed in One Week: One of the things that makes reading to understand the Bible such a challenging task is that it is a book of excesses and/or exaggerations that, frankly, defy rational thought. In 2 Chron. 7:1-10, we find one of many such passages that should induce a chuckle or two...

“4Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. 5And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.” (vs 4-5)
This was the celebratory feast following the completion of Solomon’s temple (5:1-2). The feast lasted one week. Doesn’t give a lot of time to carry out 142,000 stomach-turning animal sacrifices that would a) deplete their sacrifice stock for a long, long time to come, b) would be a shameful waste anyway, and c) would be impossible to carry out. This problem seems to almost have been recognized by the author...
“7Moreover Solomon hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD: for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the brasen altar which Solomon had made was not able to receive the burnt offerings, and the meat offerings, and the fat.” (7:7)
This has Solomon somehow making arrangements to keep up with the workload of 5 oxen and 24 sheep being sacrificed every minute around the clock for a week straight! Rather conservatively estimated, you’d need 4 feet high and over 22 acres to put the chopped up carcasses down on (which I’m sure would smell just delightful in noonday heat!)

Why would one needs to assume that they were just being laying down in an area. They were burnt offerings which means that they were never all laying in the same area at the same time. Fail number 3. Are we really to assume that Solomon was personally offering the sacrifices with his own two hands?  The was a whole tribe of priest handling that. Many men. They would have been able to sacrifice 5 oxen and 24 sheep  and more every minute.

But “answer men” blowhards like JP Holding come to the rescue and say that this didn’t happen in a day, but throughout the year, despite the fact that the last 2 chapters focus exclusively on events of the dedication, on Solomon’s prayers, songs, and sacrifices at the feast. He says: “Thus, if we object to the numbers, or even to the ‘economic impact’ this would have had on Israel, this matter is resolved: If they were not all killed at once, and kept reproducing, this amounts to an economic boon for the average Israeli as Solomon redistributes his own wealth.”

The problem is that it does seem that the sacrifices being discussed were during that week long feast. But there is nothing in the text to take issue with.

Ah, count on the theologians to keep the magic of theism happening even when the gods and their scriptures can’t do it anymore! It just doesn’t make much sense to say that the altar couldn’t handle all the sacrifices and offerings if this was a standard year-long event now, does it? Read chapters and 5 through 7 and THEN come and tell me you get the impression this was over the course of a year.

So what?  Several hundred priests could sacrifice and offer that many offerings over the course of week. More failure.

And even if we stretch out prep time for sacrifices to, say, over a month earlier, it doesn’t really help too much. Any rational person reading these verses will conclude the same.

Rationality does not explain why Holman has come to his conclusions.

#3) Egypt Endured 40 Years as an Uninhabited Country: It is one of the less talked about passages for sure, and just as obviously untrue. But the Bible says it, and in so affirming, it even mentions animals not being there…
“8Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. 9And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it. 10Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. 11No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. 12And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. 13Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered: 14And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. 15It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. 16And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 29:8-16)
Some believers have the nerve to say that the current events in Egypt are the beginning fulfillment of this prophecy since it certainly has never happened at any other time...but it’s a little late, I’d say. If there was ever a time to pull out the “that ship has sailed” line, it’s here. At no point did Egypt go uninhabited for 40 years.

My my.  How novel. A book of prophecy that contains prophecies that has not occurred.  Just because Egypt has not ever been uninhabited for 40 years does not mean that this won't ever happen. This is a really bad example. It means that Holman believes that this will never and could never happen.
#2) The Waters of Bethesda: An angel came down to stir the waters of a pool in Jerusalem to miraculously heal whoever got in first. It left an aged man helpless since he was never fast enough to get in due to his immobility...
“2Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:2-6)
One wonders how the administering angel justified such a tactic of handing out God’s blessings in such an unfair system, but why isn’t this pool still around today? At what point did the angel close up shop and cease from stirring the waters? Why can’t we examine it? Was it when the veil of the temple was rent in twain? We’ll never know, but what we do know is that it never happened.

Another Fail. The pool John discusses has been found. It existed. This means that you can't categorically discount the story. The pool itself is a ruin, but that does not mean the story did not happen.

#1) Jesus’ Death Made Zombies Walk Around in Jerusalem: Think I’m just being colorful in my description? Nope, I’m not. Nowhere else in the New Testament do we find a passage with such brazen boldness in its fabrication...
“50Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:50-53)
Tell me this isn’t describing a first century zombie event and I will tell you I'm Cinderella! Although, the zombies are sort of uncooly just witnessing for Christ instead of eating the flesh of the living and causing a holocaust worth falling asleep watching on the Sci-Fi Channel.

This did not happen. Nuff said. But what good would it have done anyway? If the ultimate resurrection had not occurred and would not occur for a long time, why this “get up and walk into the holy city” maneuver? Or were the Old Testament saints released from the Hadean realm and went on into heaven after walking around the city like my grandfather believed, clearing out the “lobby” of the saved for the Christian righteous to come? Or did the writer of Matthew (like some other believers of the time) believe that this was the resurrection (see 2 Timothy 2:18)? That’s the thing about Bible belief. We can only wonder…and wonder and wonder.

Holman has a much wider definition of "zombie" than  I do. Given the fact that the people were recognized by people that must mean that like Lazarus, a few days before, they had just recently died. Also recall that they could not have been dead long given the Jews is practice of digging up loved ones and putting them in ossuaries.  Funny how atheists like to make things overly complicated.

So while the scholars will keep us stimulated with tit for tat in raging debates between believer and non, we can in the meantime look at the silliness of these examples and wonder how and why so many are ready to base their entire careers around preaching fairytales.


The only thing silly in these examples is Holman's inability to explain why they are obviously wrong. 

 When he’s not reviewing movies, Joe can be found wasting away at his website.

Given his poor exegesis of the Bible, Holman will stick to reviewing movies.

Debunking Christianity: 5 Obviously False References in the Bible
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