arguments against the Bible

Bible

While reading a book on religion, the thought popped into my head that there are some very simple critiques of the Bible that most believers in the Bible don’t seem to realize. I’m sure there are probably gazillions of websites fighting over these issues, but the four that popped into my head as I was reading the book are as follows:

  • The Bible is internally contradictory. I have two favorite examples for this. The first is the contradictory lineages of Jesus from Abraham in Matthew 1 and Luke 3:
Matthew 1   Luke 3
Abraham 1 Abraham
Isaac 2 Isaac
Jacob 3 Jacob
Judah 4 Judah
Perez 5 Perez
Hezron 6 Hezron
Ram 7 Ram
Amminadab 8 Amminadab
Nahshon 9 Nahshon
Salmon 10 Salmon
Boaz 11 Boaz
Obed 12 Obed
Jesse 13 Jesse
David 14 David
Solomon 15 Nathan
Rehoboam 16 Mattatha
Abijah 17 Menna
Asa 18 Melea
Jehoshaphat 19 Eliakim
Jehoram 20 Jonam
Uzziah 21 Joseph
Jotham 22 Judah
Ahaz 23 Simeon
Hezekiah 24 Levi
Manasseh 25 Matthat
Amon 26 Jorim
Josiah 27 Eliezer
Jeconiah 28 Joshua
Shealtiel 29 Er
Zerubbabel 30 Elmadam
Abiud 31 Cosam
Eliakim 32 Addi
Azor 33 Melki
Zadok 34 Neri
Akim 35 Shealtiel
Eliud 36 Zerubbabel
Eleazar 37 Rhesa
Matthan 38 Joanan
Jacob 39 Joda
Joseph 40 Josech
Jesus 41 Semein
  42 Mattathias
  43 Maath
  44 Naggai
  45 Esli
  46 Nahum
  47 Amos
  48 Mattathias
  49 Joseph
  50 Jannai
  51 Matthat
  52 Heli
  53 Joseph
  54 Jesus
  • My second favorite example of Biblical inconsistency is the assertion that Moses wrote the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and some how managed to write about his own death in Deuteronomy 34. Both of these arguments could basically be considered to fall into the realm of “internal validity” – does the book itself provide support for its claims? Internal contradictions would indicate that it does not. This is also the primary basis of criticism of Thomas Paine’s early works on the Bible.
  • The second argument that pops into my head when arguing against the Bible is another scientific concern: external validity. Is there evidence external to the Bible that supports the claims of the Bible? I have not seen any. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but in my relatively cursory examinations of such evidence there isn’t any. Additionally, I’m reminded of David Hume’s argument, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In order for me to consider the miracles in the Bible to be actual events I would need extraordinary evidence. This, too, is an argument for external validity as it would require non-partisan outsiders to verify the claims of the Bible. No such non-partisan witnesses exist.
  • The third argument I would present against the Bible is that it is morally repugnant. The Bible suggests death for homosexuality among various other immoral acts (raping of women, slaughtering of innocents, etc.). Even if those were the moral codes of people who lived 3,000 years ago that doesn’t mean I should hold them as a god’s word. If I were to use them for anything, it would be to illustrate how far humans have come morally in the intervening 3,000 years (well, not all humans).
  • The fourth and final argument I would give against the authenticity of the Bible is its origins. The books included in the Bible were included based on a vote. I’m a fan of democracy, but it doesn’t make much sense when you’re considering what should or should not be the infallible word of a god.

By no means am I Biblical scholar, but these are the thoughts that pop into my head whenever I think about the Bible. Do you have any others? Is my thinking wrong on these?

63 thoughts on “arguments against the Bible

  1. “Plenty of the best classics of literature have inaccuracies. The point is, these inaccuracies are not germane to what makes the books classics.”
    The best classics of literature don’t claim to be the word of an all powerful, all knowing god. So if he’s so all powerful, and all knowing, why are there any inaccuracies at all? Anyone who believes in talking snakes, 900 year old people, or claims to have an “invisible friend”, has mental problems.

  2. Of course there are not any “non-partisan witnesses” for evidence because those who were non partisan obviously converted once they found such evidence. Take Lee Strobel, for example. Atheist journalist who set out to disprove Christianity because he was fed up with hearing about it. He ended up proving to himself, and to many others as well with his book, that the Bible is true and therefore all that is in it is as well. His book is called The Case For Christ. I’ve read it personally, because I am a Christian and I like to know that what I believe is true. And it is. I would highly suggest you read it and see what you think. He asks and answers many questions about the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity in such a way as to disprove Christianity (he asks all the hard questions that meek Christians would not ask because they are scared of the answers). But the answers check. Read it. Obviously you are well-read in the Bible so you have some sort of interest in it. Further your knowledge. The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel.

  3. And I found this on http://www.coppit.org/god/arguments.php#Non-Christian-Good
    Doubter: Matthew says there were 41 generations from Abraham to Jesus, and Luke says there were fifty-six. The gospels also contradict each other in other areas (see the Inerrancy argument above). These contradictions are not inconsequential, and show that the gospels may be less than completely truthful. Christian: (from Toni Lawrence) In the bible “son of” and “was begotten of” could mean son, or grandson, or anyone on down the line. Those terms just indicate “is a descendant of.” In this way genealogies include different people based on what they are trying to communicate. For example – the Gospel according to Matthew was directed at the Jews, therefore he traces his genealogy back to Abraham for the sole purpose of proving Jesus’s credibility as the messiah since the old testament says that the messiah will be a son of David (read descended of) who was a son of Abraham. The Gospel according to Luke, on the other hand, was directed at gentiles who definately weren’t intimately familiar with the bible’s prophecies of the messiah and probably had never read it. In Luke’s gospel he is not merely trying to establish lineage, but he is tracing Jesus’s origins back to Adam and back to God Himself step by step.

  4. Of course there are not any non-partisan witnesses for evidence because those who were non partisan obviously converted once they found such evidence. Take Lee Strobel, for example. Atheist journalist who set out to disprove Christianity because he was fed up with hearing about it. He ended up proving to himself, and to many others as well with his book, that the Bible is true and therefore all that is in it is as well. His book is called The Case For Christ.

    I think there’s some confusion over the term “witness.” In Christian parlance, a “witness for Christ” is someone (like Lee Strobel) who strongly believes. Naturally, you’re right that they’re all partisan for Christ. What ProfXM means by “witnesses” (in this context) is people who were actually there at the time (preferably in person).

    those who were non partisan obviously converted once they found such evidence.

    The Bible itself documents the existence of people who interacted with Jesus and did not convert. For example, Jesus was (according to the story) put on trial by the Romans. Some of the Romans involved in that could have written about it. Or even some of the believers who were there at the time could have written something down about it. But they didn’t — at least nothing that was copied and preserved.

  5. Your first critique, the supposed internal contadiction, can be easily explained. Matthew traced Jesus’ lineage through Jesus’ foster father Joseph, whereas Luke traced his lineage through his mother Mary. That makes sense when you consider the authors’ backgrounds. Matthew was a tax collector, so he might have looked at matters in a more legalistic way, being more concerned about Jesus’ legal lineage (back then the male was the legal head of the family). Luke was a physicican, so he might have been concerned more about Jesus biological lineage (Mary was a biological parent of Jesus, but Joseph was not). As your chart accurately shows, the lineage is the same until David, where it diverges. Joseph descended from one son of David, and Mary from another.

  6. These are not good arguments. A moderately knowledgeable Bible believer would be able to answer concerns quickly.

  7. Oh, for heaven’s sake.

    Of course the Bible contains a lot of contradictions. It’s not meant to be a textbook.

    The best characterization of the Bible that I’ve heard is from Walter Brueggeman, the Old Testament scholar. He said that the books of the Bible are like the testimonies of witnesses in a court hearing: They will frequently contradict one another, often in striking ways, but together they will help us to get an idea of God.

    The purpose of faith is not to have a set of rules, but rather to have a close relationship with God. Close relationships are never simple and consistent. They are messy, erratic, and usually impossible to understand fully. Have you ever had one that wasn’t?

  8. Think of the Bible like a diary, the people, the HUMANS, who wrote it while influenced by God put their emotions and personality into it. If you ever sat down and wrote anything that you put your heart into, it’s going to show who you are in whatever you wrote. These people weren’t concerned about us looking back and combing through weather or not they got their facts correct, they were trying to show you who God was, they were trying to pass on morals through an art of story telling, and they were trying to pass on information you have to meditate upon in order to understand and implement upon your life to make both it and you better.

    Also, while you compare the two lineages from two different books of the Bible, you forget that these two lineages are from Jesus to God through his father and mother. Two different people, two different lines of heritage that lead back to the same place. It’s what one of the other cementers here said, one wrote down the line who was a tax collector while another a physician. If people look deep, and found information out like this, information the holy book gives you will make more sense; hence why you have to meditate and study it.

    Read Case for Faith. It brings up many questions that each person, weather you’re against the religion or with it, should think about deeply and understand.

  9. These people weren’t concerned about us looking back and combing through weather or not they got their facts correct, they were trying to show you who God was, they were trying to pass on morals through an art of story telling, and they were trying to pass on information you have to meditate upon in order to understand and implement upon your life to make both it and you better.

    One problem with that is that the morals taught by the Bible are often the opposite of good morals (see here for example), and the God described by the Bible is not a character who merits praise.

    If people look deep, and found information out like this, information the holy book gives you will make more sense; hence why you have to meditate and study it.

    Or you could spend your time studying better, more edifying books. We only have a finite amount of time in this life — we should appreciate it and use it wisely.

  10. Now you think you intelligent? No you not, you are too far from that. Maybe you do not even have a Doctorate Degree but you talking like the genius. All of you here who insult the bible, you are being used by Satan and you do not see that, because he deceived you. I respect God for everything I have today and the knowledge i gained all these years. I am earning lot of money because I am a cardiovascular surgeon, just because of him. But you come as barbarians, maybe who earn less than $500 000 p.a. If you do not believe in God obviously you believe in Devil your father because he is the enemy of our father God… May God bless you all.

  11. @61 Not sure whether this comment is serious or a parody.

    In case it’s serious: What does earning a six-figure salary have to do with this? Are you suggesting that by rejecting the Bible we’re missing out on the blessings of the prosperity gospel?

  12. No even devil worshipers have billions or even trilllions of dollars. But they have no wisdom, they wealth because of the evil they are doing. But reading God’s word gives you real wisdom. devil worshippers depend on hurting other people to get rich. What i’m saying is that if you have God’s wisdom you have everything in your life. But ignorant people like you, love being seen as unique and being seen as geniuses who discover hidden things. But the fact is that you are deceiving yourselves. If you saying the bible is just a book, then how was the earth formed? Don’t tell me about the ”BIG BANG THEORY” because scientist can’t even prove what they are saying. How did life form on earth? And don’t tell me it started with an atom then became a single-celled organism then life was created. you are lazy to use your brains. Now you believe that we are the descendants of the bacteria? If so, why we have never seen a bacteria growing into a human being?

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