Everyone reading this blog probably already knows that I’m an Atheist and a very outspoken one at that. As such it often happens, that I challenge Christians on certain verses, that I find irreconcilable with science and reality in general. One Christian challenged me to write a blog post about the verses I find to be problematic and while this list is far from extensive I do think these verses can certainly cause one to seriously doubt the accuracy of the document known as the Bible.
Let me warn you right away, since I am in the process of writing this: This post will be significantly longer than the others. I hope you don’t mind.
Before I however get into specifics, I want to lay down the law for this discourse or rather, let the Bible establish it. I am a strong believer (pun intended) that Christians should hold to Proverbs 30: 6 which says the following:
“Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar. ”
In other words when engaging in dialogue about certain verses we, both the nonbeliever and the Christian should extrapolate the meaning from the text not add to it. Now it is true, that the Bible needs to be interpreted but we should do so without adding things to the scriptures which aren’t indicated. For example it would be a valid inference to say that “the Kingdom of God” can be understood to mean “Heaven” based on Psalm 103: 19 where it says this:
“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.”
An instance where one might be adding to the text is when one proclaims that it was merely Jesus spirit that resurrected not his actual physical self. This would be blatantly contradicted by verses such Luke 24: 42-43 among others.
It is certainly true, that we have to interpret the Bible but adding words in order to fit it with modern science when no such thing is implied by the text is at least in my view dishonest to the nonbeliever, to yourself and to the historical text.
With that said, I’m certainly not perfect or beyond error but I try my best to stay honest to the text and I try to avoid Eisegesis (I like that word) i.e. adding to the text in order to fit my agenda as much as possible. I expect believers to do the same.
The first verse I want to address is Matthew 4: 8 . In order to address it though some background is in order:
In Matthew 4: 1-11 Jesus was to be tempted by Satan. Satan wanted to test whether Jesus was indeed the son of God by first asking him to turn stones into bread and then by throwing himself off of an exceedingly high temple, supposedly the highest temple of the holy city. Then “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” (Matthew 4: 8) The devil then offered him all the Kingdoms if Jesus worshipped him. Jesus didn’t give in to the temptation.
So now that we know the context of this verse what problems do I see with it? Basically my problem is that showing someone all Kingdoms of the world from a high mountain is not possible on a sphere.There are many shapes on which it would be possible for example on a Pyramid if you are at the top and the bottom of it had no kingdoms, on a cone again on the top of it provided that there are no Kingdoms on the bottom or on 2D objects.
I have run this verse by believers recently and I got two objections basically:
The first one was basically that Jesus just had a vision of all those Kingdoms that the devil gave him.
For this purpose let us go back to the original language of the gospels namely Greek and look up the word in question here namely to “show” or in greek δείκνυμι ( deiknumi) . According to BibleHub this word translates as “to show” or to “demonstrate” or to “point out” or even to “expose to the eyes” .
Now Jesus merely having a vision rather than having the Kingdoms demonstrated to him doesn’t jive with the the original words of the author.
The second objection that came up is that despite the Earth being round Jesus could still see all the Kingdoms as could the devil, because they don’t have the limited sight that we have. I was instantly reminded of the Eagle vision from Assassin’s creed but if you’re going with that reasoning, then I’d have to point out, that taking Jesus up on the mountain was utterly redundant. There was no need to go on top so why would the devil bother? Furthermore adding “eagle vision” to Jesus’ skillset is not something that is in any way indicated by the original text. It’s basically adding to it (for whatever reason) rather than extrapolating from it and taking the Bible at its word. The last point and really a devastating one at that is that Satan wanted to test whether Jesus was indeed God’s son. In his first two temptations he always starts his sentences with “If you are the Son of God” . The Devil wanted to see a demonstration of Jesus’ abilities so presumably the devil didn’t know how far Jesus’ abilities reached. Therefore how could he have known of Jesus ability to see the entire world?
The next verse which I would like to address is Matthew 16: 27-28.
Again let me put it in context for you:
Jesus starts off by telling his disciples that he will have to go to Jerusalem in order to suffer and in order to die and be raised from the dead. Peter starts to doubt, that this will actually happen to Jesus but Jesus quickly turns down his concerns. Jesus then warns his disciples that they have to deny themselves in order to follow him. They have to give up their earthly lives and devout it to him, in order to earn eternal life. Then Jesus preached the following message
“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. ( Matthew 16: 27-28 )
The problem I see here should be rather obvious. Jesus tells his disciples that some will not “taste death” (i.e. die) before Jesus Kingdom is to arrive. Yet God’s Kingdom has yet to arrive. The end times have not yet happened. So what is going on?
I would say in these verses the words we ought to take a second look at are “taste” “here” “son of man” and “his kingdom” .
The first word to “taste” γεύομαι ( geuomai ) and it roughly translates as To “taste” or to “experience” . Secondly let’s look at “here” ὧδε ( hóde ). Here we can find that it this word seems to apply in the present tense at the certain location of at which the event was supposed to take place. “son of man” is the next expression in question, which translates as “Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου” ( Huion tou anthrōpou ). The first word “son” is self explantory as is “of” so the critical one is “man” which translates as one man or the human race. If we assume the latter then this description would work to indicate him as the Messiah since Adam was the first man of whom all are descended (at least supposedly) and Jesus is often refered to as the last Adam i.e. the last in the chain of the human race our representative. Last but not least we need to address “his Kingdom” which would seem to imply to be the Kingdom of God.
With the hard legwork out of the way we can confidently say, that the “Kingdom of God” i.e. Heaven was to arrive before some of the disciples experienced death and it was addressed at the people at that time and place.
One common objection that I did get a few times is that this arrival of the Kingdom wasn’t literally the end times but rather referred to the transfiguration six days later, as outlined in Matthew 17. The obvious problem of course it that it would’ve been noteworthy, had someone tasted death within these 6 days yet it isn’t mentioned.
Moving on to the next passage which would be Joshua 10: 13 . Once again some context is in order.
Basically the situation at that time and place was that Gibeon was under attack as the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon joined forces. Joshua who had previously conquered Ai was informed of this and he went out with his troops. God spoke to him and told him that he would win the battle. True to his word Joshua with God’s help did manage to win. God handed the souls of the Amorites to the Israelites and Joshua praised him for it. As a not too unimportant side effect of this seemingly succesful battle it just so happened that “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.” (Joshua 10: 13) .
This verse is problematic for one really simple reason: If the sun did indeed stop in the sky then it would inevitably result in a mass extinction. It is estimated that the Earth rotates at a speed of 1675 km/h . If it stopped to rotate then we would experience a similar effect as if we drove a car and then suddenly stopped, only that we wouldn’t have buckled up and the speed would be about 10 times faster. As I write this I’m sitting in my room in front of a window and if the Earth stopped rotating right now I would fly right through the window and out into the parking lot which is 5 meters beneath me. I’m fairly certain that this would kill me, especially since all my other stuff in my room would take a simlar route as me.
Let’s take a look at the original text though this time it is in hebrew. I think the words under discussion are “stand” and “sun” . The first one to “stand” (or rather stood in the past tense) translates as וַיַּעֲמֹ֤דor ( way-ya-‘ă-mōḏ ) and it means to stop or to stand still secondly the “sun” הַשֶּׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ ( haš-še-meš ) is indeed the sun rather than a metaphor of some sorts.
So indeed the Bible does proclaim that the sun stopped in the sky i.e. that the Earth stopped rotating. Most often when confronted with this problem Christians tell me that God invoked a miracle to stop the disaster. However in the Bible the incoming destruction isn’t even hinted at and neither is a miracle that would have prevented it. To invoke one would once again be Eisegesis in an attempt to save the Bible from falsifiction. Once again in that case I point you towards Proverbs 30: 6 . The second solution many offer is to question whether a crash would actually happen if the Earth stopped. This answer shows a significant lack of imagination ( as the Earth would be analogous to a car stopping ) and is indicative of that person’s understanding of science. Or they block me which is also an option.
Last but not least let’s have a look at the most controversial book in the entire Bible. I am of course talking about Genesis and specifically Genesis 1.
My aim when taking a look at Genesis 1 is to investigate whether the Bible really does teach a recent 6 day Creation just 6000 years ago or whether the days could be longer periods of time stretching over billions of years. Furthermore I want to compare Genesis to what I take to be the history of our Universe and see if they’re compatible. In order to save space however I will this time merely link to the verses in question.
So let’s address first the history of the Universe as I see it (it pretty much lines up with what mainstream science claims):
About 13.7 billion years ago the Big Bang initiated the Universe as we know it, then light is born just a few seconds after the Big Bang, a few minutes later we get the first atoms aproximately 150 million years later we get our first generation of stars, then stellar nucleosynthesis happens which leads to heavier elements forming, then the milky way galaxy is born and within it our sun about 9 billion years after the Big Bang, dust from the formation of the sun leads to planets forming about 4.5 billion years ago Earth has formed it gets hit by another planet resulting in the birth of the moon, comets hit the Earth to give us water plus the chemicals from which the first life arises about 3.8 billion years ago, then we get fish land animals and birds (in that order) and about 200.000 years ago the first humans arise.
Genesis as you are surely aware has a different order:
First the Universe and Earth were created along with water, then light is born, then the atmosphere was created, then we get dry land along with vegetation, then the sun and the moon are born along with the stars, then God created fish and other sea animals as well as birds and every other creature which can fly, and finally he created land animals along with man.
So I would say right away that if you take Genesis to be a literal account of the history of the Universe then it is incompatible with evolution and the other theories Creationists deny.
There is however a bigger issue which is the question of how old the Earth is according to the Bible. If you add up the lineages from Adam to Jesus to today then you’ll arrive at roughly 6000 years. So the big question is whether the days in Genesis are six ordinary days or longer periods of time. For this purpose I’ll have a look at the words “evening” “morning” and “day” in Genesis.
Evening in Genesis can be translated to עֶ֥רֶב ( ‘e·reḇ ) and it is an ordinary evening . Secondly morning בֹ֖קֶר ( ḇō·qer ) is an ordinary morning . Last but not least day י֥וֹם ( yō·wm ) is flexible in its definition so it can mean day or ages etc. in this context however it seems to be indicated that the Creation days were indeed ordinary days according to the Bible which is of course irreconcilable with what science tells us.
Furthermore in Exodus 20 the forth commandment says this:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” (Exodus 20 8-11)
All in all I think the case for a Young Earth being indicated by the Bible seems to be made beyond reasonable doubt.
Those are just some of the reasons why I reject the Bible. Thanks for your time and feel free to offer me your take on what I presented.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation