Saturday, August 05, 2006

An answer for everything

Todd: Getting back to the original post, I love all the verbal tap-dancing these Biblical scholars do on the many contradictions found in Scripture. There must be no such thing as a contradiction, in fact.
No matter what passages are shown, there's always some "explanation" to make them reconcile.

SH: Well, I must confess that Todd has leveled a pretty devastating blow to the Christian faith. By his own admission, we have an answer for everything.

Now if that doesn’t disprove Christianity, I don’t know what would.

You see, if only we were without an explanation, Todd would be a devout Christian.

But the fact that we have an answer for every objection is proof positive that Christianity can’t be true.

Todd: Was Ahaziah 42 or 22 when his rule started? It was both! Why? Because God can do anything, including making a man 42 and 22 simultaneously.

SH: Apparent or actual numerical discrepancies in the text of Scripture can be due to a variety of factors, viz. mistranscription, round numbers, symbolic numbers, different calendrical systems.

In this instance, the original reading for 2 Chron 22:2 is preserved in the Syriac and Septuagintal text traditions.

Todd: "... I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." -- Genesis 32:30
"No man hath seen God at any time..."-- John 1:18

SH: In context, “God” in Jn 1:18, has reference to God the Father, in contrast to the Incarnate Son, who is the visible revelation of the Father.

All Todd does is to pluck an isolated verse from one part of Scripture, then pluck an isolated verse from another part of Scripture, then proclaim a “contradiction.”

This is for people who can’t do exegesis.

Todd: "And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's is a wicked thing...." Leviticus 20:17
But what was god's reaction to Abraham, who married his sister -- his father's daughter? See Genesis 20:11-12

SH: Several problems here:

i) This is not a contradiction within the same law code. Rather, it’s a difference between pre-Mosaic patriarchal customs and the Law of Moses.

Remember that Abraham was originally a pagan idolater before God summoned him to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Abraham was already 75 years old at that time. Clearly a married man.

He was married to his “sister” long before he received his divine vocation.

ii) It’s not as if God commanded in Genesis what he forbad in Leviticus.

iii) There’s also an elementary difference between precept and practice. Even if there were a discrepancy here, it would be a discrepancy between God’s command and Abraham’s behavior.

That does nothing to disprove the inspiration of Scripture.

iv) Finally, not every injunction in Scripture is a moral absolute.

Todd: So, these aren't contradictions. Okay. Name something that you WOULD consider a contradiction.

SH: When I find one, you’ll be the first to know.

Todd: Maybe something like "God tempts people" and then seeing something like "God DOESN'T tempt people".

Oh wait ..
"And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham." (Gen 22:1)

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." (James 1:13)

Now, I know what you're going to say ... "Well, the Genesis passage means that God ALLOWS men to be tempted."

SH: No, that’s not what I’m going to say. Unlike you, I don’t quote Scripture out of context. I pay attention to the actual wording of Scripture as well as the surrounding context.

Jas 1:13 says that God tempts no one to commit evil. The hypothetical (or more properly, counterfactual) sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22) was not an inducement to sin.

To the contrary, it afforded an opportunity for Abraham to demonstrate his faith rather than lapsing into infidelity.

Todd: So, if someone asks me if I went to the store, and I say "Yes, I did go to the store" when really, I had someone else go for me, this wouldn't be a lie?

SH: Sorry, but I didn’t find that in my concordance.


  1. Critics object to the fact that Christians offer an answer for all of the arguments against the Bible, yet those same critics will offer less plausible answers for every argument for the Bible. They claim to have so much difficulty with something like Abraham's marriage to a relative or using a term like "tempt" in different ways in different contexts, yet these same people will repeatedly propose widespread memory loss, widespread apathy, or widespread hallucinations in order to dismiss evidence for a Biblical miracle. Their skepticism is a one-way street. They complain about the difficulties involved in accepting a high view of the Bible, yet they accept worse difficulties in order to maintain a low view.

    Another problem in these discussions is that so many of the people who post on these subjects in online forums are ignorant of parallel cases in non-Biblical literature. Not only are they largely ignorant of the Bible, but they're also largely ignorant of ancient literature outside of the Bible (as well as parallel cases that could be cited from modern sources). Things like copyist errors and using the same term in different ways in different contexts are common in both ancient and modern literature, far more common than the sort of widespread hallucinations and memory losses that critics propose in order to maintain their theories.

  2. Certainly, this chap might have benefitted from reading a few commentaries as well as a more recent translation of the Bible. Yes, if you look for inconsistencies, you will find them, as this chap has, cutting sentences into bits and being willfully dense. But if you read a book you disagree with, or listen to a politician you disagree with, you will be looking for difficulties and not looking for answers to them. Scholars do not have that luxury, or should not allow themselves that luxury.

  3. Of course, when dealing with passages that obviously make no sense, we must put them "in context", "understand the history" behind them and generally bend the meaning of words do make them fit.

    Of course, when "liberal" denominations do the same with those 2-3 passages on homosexuality or on Paul's admonition that women keep their yaps shut, they're "deceived by Satan".

    ROFL! You guys are funny.

    - Todd

  4. Todd "says" they obviously make no sense, but he fails to "show" that they make no sense.

    Todd "says" we bend their meaning, but he fails to "show" that we bend their meaning.

    So Todd is just blowing smoke.

  5. Todd,

    What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to take passages out of context and ignore the history? That's the thing about atheists. You've got crackpots like Loftus who accuse Christians of not reading the Bible correctly by denying that God has a physical body. Then you've got the others like Todd chiding Christians for trying TO read the Bible correctly. I mean, could the deck be any more stacked against Christianity than this? Gimme a break...

  6. Craig asks: "could the deck be any more stacked against Christianity than this?"

    Well, why not just admit that Scripture frequently does NOT make sense and that it often is incomprehensible? How about some intellectual honesty? You're entitled to force the Biblical pieces to fit if that makes you feel better, but to insist that others make it fit in that same way seems a little arrogant, doesn't it?

    Calvinists are especially guilty of this: their little TULIP system has the Creator fitting into a nice, tiny little box. Passages that don't prop up this system are completely disregarded, and all words lose their meaning: "all" doesn't mean "all", "whole world" means "whole world of the 'elect'".
    So you have to ADD words or change the meaning of words to get it to fit the beliefs you ALREADY HOLD.

    - Todd

  7. Once again, Todd "says" that Scripture is incomprehensible and frequently makes no sense, but he fails to "show" that Scripture is incomprehensible and makes no sense.

    He "talks" about intellectual honest, but he fails to "demonstrate" intellectual honesty.

    He "says" we force the Bible pieces to fit, but he fails to "show" that we force the Bible pieces to fit.

    He "says" we render certain words in Scripture meaningless, but he fails to "show" that we render certain words in Scripture meaningless.

    Once more, he's just blowing smoke.

  8. Todd says:

    "Calvinists are especially guilty of this: their little TULIP system has the Creator fitting into a nice, tiny little box. Passages that don't prop up this system are completely disregarded, and all words lose their meaning: "all" doesn't mean "all", "whole world" means "whole world of the 'elect'".

    Paul says:

    Wow, Todd thinks that Calvinists put an immaterial being inside of a little cardboard box, a real one. How can a being not extended in space be "inside" a "tiny box?"

    Oh, he must be disregarding the "meaning" of "tiny" and "box" again. It's okay for atheists to do it because they're just real smart, but Christians can't, cause they're dumb.

    Oh yeah, Dan Rather is an atheist and on 9-11 he said, "The whole world watched as terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center." How come he gets to say whole world but not mean it but the biblical authors don't? Oh yeah, it's because Todd hates God and has an axe to grind. It's because Todd's not neutral. it's because Todd and atheism are intelelctually inferior that they need ever edge they can get. it's because Todd is inconsistent. It's because Todd doesn't bother to take the extra 10 secondas and think through his arguments. It because, well, it's because Todd.

  9. Where did I say I was an atheist? Unlike you, I'm at least OPEN to the possibility that there MIGHT be (or MAY have been) a Being that poofed everything into existence. Evidence suggests, however, that He might have left for an extended vacation since then.

    Do I have an "axe to grind"? Maybe. You wrap all of your theology in this flowery prose to hide the fact that it's foul.

    What evidence do I have (Steve)? Well, for starters, these ideas were powerful to allow John Calvin to stand and watch while Servetus screamed in agony as he burned to death for having the wrong ideas about God ... it was not a slow death, since it was reported that the winds carried the flames somewhat away from his body. He ended up roasting for hours. These "great saints" like Chrysostom preached no less than seven sermons on the entire Jewish race with terms one would hesitate to use against an animal.
    The early American settlers set people on fire and drowned them for being suspected "witches".

    "In 1208 the Inquisition was established. Seven years afterward, the fourth council of the Lateran enjoined all kings and rulers to swear an oath that they would exterminate heretics from their dominions. The sword of the church was unsheathed, and the world was at the mercy of ignorant and infuriated priests, whose eyes feasted upon the agonies they inflicted. Acting, as they believed, or pretended to believe, under the command of God; stimulated by the hope of infinite reward in another world -- hating heretics with every drop of their bestial blood; savage beyond description; merciless beyond conception, -- these infamous priests, in a kind of frenzied joy, leaped upon the helpless victims of their rage. They crushed their bones in iron boots; tore their quivering flesh with iron hooks and pincers; cut off their lips and eyelids; pulled out their nails, and into the bleeding quick thrust needles; tore out their tongues; extinguished their eyes; stretched them upon racks; flayed them alive; crucified them with their heads downward; exposed them to wild beasts; burned them at the stake; mocked their cries and groans; robbed their children, and then prayed God to finish the holy work in hell" - (Ingersoll)

    Are all Christians like this? Of course not. If you're telling me that believing in Jesus makes men "good", I'd humbly suggest you and I have very different definitions of "good".

    - Todd

  10. Todd wrote:

    "Are all Christians like this? Of course not. If you're telling me that believing in Jesus makes men "good", I'd humbly suggest you and I have very different definitions of "good".

    Travis writes:

    Actually, you probably do define "good" in a very different way than we Christians do, Todd. And since the Triablogue contributers have been over this so many times, you must have an answer. How do you define 'good', Todd, and how do you rationally defend holding to such notions as good and evil, given your atheism?

  11. Todd, what interests me is that you have gone from sneering 'the Bible's unreliable' to shouting 'so's your old man!' And all because Christians will not meekly fit themselves into your box.

    As to Calvin, I direct you to David Gay's excellent 'The Battle for the Church,' where Calvin is rightly criticised for his idenification of the Church and the civil power.

    Yes, Calvin had Servetus burned. Yes, that was contrary to Christ's teachings, but in a world where the Church was presumed to include all, it couldn't have been avoided. Now, my Hugenot forebears were expelled from France on such a principle. Do you think I agree with it? No, I am a Nonconformist by conviction, believing that the Church is a voluntary association of visible saints.

  12. Todd,

    Even if you're not an atheist, where did you even *attempt* to deal with what I wrote?

    Anyway, thanks for mentioning that my theology is foul: (1) this is what the Bible says you'll say of it. (2) Why would self-centered, basically good humans make something up that is so foul? Leave it to man to make up a religion and you'll get a lot of tip toeing through the tulips and sunshine being blown up our skirts.