[last updated 1/1/2001]
"If the truth gives pain, it is not the fault of the teacher, nor of the reader who hears it for the first time, but of error, which stabs and stings before it will surrender its victim." M.M. Mangasarian, The Bible Unveiled.
Despite claims of imaginary "personal relationships" and "revelations", the foundation of the Christian religion is based upon the bible. Although penned by human hands, believers insist that this book is the "inspired word of God", it is claimed that the people who wrote the bible were inspired or directed by god to write his laws and teachings. (I refute that claim here).
The bible is forced upon us at every turn-- we take oaths on it, U.S. presidents are sworn in on it, it is impossible to get a hotel room without one, and there are unrelenting efforts to get bibles re-introduced into public schools. The media and public use the phrase "the Good Book" so often and so freely that people have come to accept that the bible is without imperfection. I will now demonstrate that this assumption is untrue-- it is a lie that has been spread by the ministry and media, and accepted by the public who do not read the damn thing.
The bible is a blend of ancient Middle Eastern history, Jewish law, and mythology-- mythology both traditionary among the Jews but also borrowed from neighboring nations such as Babylon and Assyria. An important question arises: do the historical parts of the bible offer proof that supports the miraculous parts?
There are some religious people who accept that the bible is not the literal truth. Much of this page will not apply to them. This page is mainly directed at the literalist-- the Biblical Fundamentalist, or inerrantist. However, even the liberal believer, who insists that although the bible is not accurate in its history or science, will not be shielded from my words. Those who claim that the bible offers moral and spiritual teachings will be shown that not only is that statement unsupportable, but that the exact opposite can be demonstrated-- that the bible is the source of much of the world's evil.
Let us begin! How can we know that the bible is true? The historical record supports the existence of some of the towns mentioned in the bible, but that should not be surprising. If we wrote a book today which said that there was a country called the United States, and it had 50 states, and Bill Clinton was the president in the year 2000, and that he walked on water and made dead people rise from their graves, well, some of that would be true, and some of it would not be true. Would the fact that we were right about the U.S. and Clinton being president make the other claims true too? No, they wouldn't. Just because the bible mentions towns and kings that were in existence 2000 years ago, that does not make the whole book true. Towns and kings were "current events" when the biblical texts were written. That proves nothing. As far as the New Testament, no first century historian confirms the existence of Jesus. That's right. None of the contemporary Jewish or Roman historians, living during the time in which Jesus said to have lived, wrote one word about him. Modern biblical scholars agree that the New Testament scriptures were written 35 to 90 years after the alleged events, and the names Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were attached afterward by the Church. The clergy do not mention this fact, and would have their flocks go right on believing that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written by the men whose names they bear. But this is not the truth.
So, why do people believe the bible is true? To find out the answer, ask a Christian. I have received many answers all along these lines. Christians say things like:
- "It must be true because everybody just knows it's true. How can the whole world be wrong?"
- "The Bible is true because it is the word of God."
- "It's true because it is the most perfect moral guide ever produced. Nothing written by humans approaches its perfection."
- "Its writings span 1,500 years, written by 40 authors, and there are no errors, contradictions or difficulties. No book written by mere humans could be so flawless."
The Christian uses these assertions instead of facts-- belief in place of evidence.
Is the bible true? Says who? No one can tell, except that we tell each other so. Priests and ministers, who make their living selling salvation, tell us so. But why should we believe them? What authority do their words carry, other than the authority that they give themselves? Strip away the claim that the bible is the "word of God", and who in their right mind would still believe it?
Basically, we believe the bible is true because our parents told us it was, and then they told us not to question them. In the west, we are told the Christian bible is true. In the middle east, the New Testament is held to be false, and the Jews endorse only the Old Testament. If you are Islamic, the Koran is the only true bible. Other religions have their own sacred writings. Which book you believe depends predominantly on where you were born. You believe what your parents tell you, just like they believe what their parents told them, and so on, since the book was written. For the most part, you are either a Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or Buhddist because your parents were.
You were brought up to believe it. Under the same circumstances, you would have believed anything. Centuries ago, to disagree with the Bible was to face punishment, shame, torture and even death. (The bible itself gives instructions on how to execute non-believers.) Given these conditions, it is no wonder that nobody questioned it for two thousand years. It is obvious why Christianity had such a stranglehold on the minds of the population. To dissent was to be executed. When religion ruled the world, we call that time "The Dark Ages".
As far as "inspiration" goes, how can anyone establish the truth of this claim? What does it mean to be "inspired"? Most theologians would say that it meant that god used men as instruments, making them write his thoughts. How can an inspired man prove that he is inspired? How can he know himself that he is inspired, and not insane? He couldn't possibly know for sure. And what is inspiration anyway? Did he take possession of their minds and destroy their wills? Were these writers only partly controlled, so that their mistakes, ignorance and prejudices were mingled with the wisdom of God? Some people assert that men were guided to write god's will, through their own words and in the prejudices of the times. How are we to separate the mistakes of man from the thoughts of God? How could we do this without being inspired ourselves? If the original writers were inspired, then the translators should have been too, and so should be the men who tell us what the bible means.
And translation is subject to error, and so is copying. Translation and copying are also subject to deliberate alteration, with the translator interjecting his opinions on the subject. With the church being in posession of the original manuscripts, is there any doubt that they could write whatever they wanted? There are passages in the bible where this sort of tampering is obvious, and those will be listed below.
As far as the bible being a revelation, Thomas Paine answered it best, more than 200 years ago. He said that it is a contradiction in terms to call anything a revelation that comes to us second-hand, either verbally or in writing, because a revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication, and that after that it is only an account of something that another person says was a revelation to him. We have only his word for it, as it was never made to us. This argument never has been, and probably never will be, answered.
Furthermore, most of the bible does not fall under the meaning of the word "revelation", which is information told to someone who did not know it before. Therefore, anything written in the bible in which a person has been the actor or the witness cannot be called "revelation", because a person doesn't need a revelation to tell him something that he saw or did himself. So when Samson caught his foxes, and whether he did so is nothing to us, he needed no revelation to write it. When David slaughtered innocent men, women and children during his thieving raids, he needed no revelation to record it. When wise King Solomon slept with one of his thousand women, why would he need god to 'reveal' that to him? To call the bible "The Word of God", simply doesn't work for this reason alone-- most of it could not have been a revelation, because it was either done or seen by people, and did not need to be revealed.
I am about to tear apart the self-perpetuating myth of the bible on this one page. There are three parts.
Consider the following:
Biblical Contradictions and Errors
What if the bible were filled with thousands of contradictions and errors? Would you still think it was the "inspired word of God?" What if it had only one truly irreconcilable contradiction? One absolute error that could not be fixed? Could it have come from the Mind of God?
I will supply only a few contradictions that are truly impossible to reconcile, then give links to pages that contain hundreds of contradictions and errors, if you wish to explore further. One of the main points I would like to make is that if the bible is the inspired word of God, not only should it have no errors or contradictions, it should not even give the appearance of having such problems. It should be a book that no human mind could produce. And if God has given the bible to us through authors He has "inspired", should he not "inspire" the translators as well? Why would He allow His Word to be corrupted by incompetent men?
Contradiction Number One:
In Matthew 27:5, Judas threw down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed and he went and hanged himself.
But in the Acts of the Apostles 1:18, Judas kept the silver and purchased a field with it; he went into it and falling headlong, he burst open and all his bowels gushed out.
That is a contradiction. Did Judas throw down the money in the temple, or did he purchase a field with it? He cannot have done both. He cannot have both hanged himself and threw himself face down into a field and exploded. One account MUST be false (or both are). Which one should you believe? Why should you be placed in this position of having to choose between scriptures as to which one is true and which one is false? Who purchased the field? Judas or the priests? Both of these stories cannot be true at the same time. This one example leads to the honest and inescapable conclusion that the bible is not wholly true and consistent-- that it is flawed.
Contradiction Number Two:
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."
Of course, the most spectacular instance of God flip-flopping on an issue is when He changed His mind about creation, and killed every man, woman, child and animal on the planet with a Great Flood (with the exception of Noah and his family, of course). If He was all powerful, why didn't He just make the wicked people vanish off the face of the earth, clean and simple? Wasn't He powerful enough to do that? That would have been much more impressive than rain.
- Exodus 32:14 "And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."
- Jonah 3:10 ". . . and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
- Jeremiah 15:6 "Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary of repenting."
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."
Didn't He know 'the beginning from the end', as we are led to believe? Did He forget that Humanity would become so utterly evil that all men, women and children, millions of them, needed to be drowned? That's not something you would think He'd miss. But apparently He did. But someone who knows the future CANNOT regret something he did. To regret something is to wish you had not done it. If he regrets something, that means he did not know the future in the first place.
The purpose of the flood was to rid the world of wickedness. Was it successful? Anyway-- does God change his mind or not? If He does, why does the bible say He doesn't? If He doesn't, why does He admit that He does? You can't have it both ways and remain honest with yourself.
Contradiction Number Three
Has anyone seen God?
- John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any time."
- Exodus 33:20 "Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live."
- I John 4:12 "No man hath seen God at any time."
Has anyone seen Him and lived? Or not? It says both. Both statements can't be true.
- Genesis 32:30 "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."
- Exodus 33:11 "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend."
- Isaiah 6:1 "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple."
- Job 42:5 "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee."
Contradiction Number Four (and five):
Mark states that Jesus was crucified in the "third hour", (MK 15:25), while John states clearly that Jesus was crucified "about the sixth hour." How can he be crucified in the sixth hour if he had already been crucified three hours earlier? Also, Matthew, in 27:28, states that Jesus had a scarlet robe put on him (the Greek word for scarlet here is kokkinos), while John states, in 19:2-3 that the soldiers dressed him in a purple robe (the greek word for purple here is porphurous).
If you think that these are just differences in opinion or perception, you might want to think again. You are then admitting that the "Word of God" is subject to interpretation.
As Robert Green Ingersoll stated so well:
"The question is, were the authors of these four gospels inspired?
If they were inspired, then the four gospels must be true.
If they are true, they must agree.
The four gospels do not agree."
(About the Holy Bible - 1894).
Contradiction Number Six:
Who was Moses' father-in-law?
Exodus 3:1 Jethro was the father-in-law of Moses.
Numbers 10:29, Judges 4:11 (KJV) Hobab was the father-in-law of Moses.
Contradiction Number Seven:
Does God tempt people?Contradiction Number Eight:
- James 1:13 "Let no man say I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
- Genesis 22:1 "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham."
Are we all sinners?
- Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
- Romans 3:10 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."
- Psalm 14:3 "There is none that doeth good, no, not one."
- Job 1:1 "There was a man . . . who name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright."
- Genesis 7:1 "And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation."
- Luke 1:6 "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
Contradiction Number Nine:
"... the earth abideth for ever." -- Ecclesiastes 1:4
"... the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." -- 2Peter 3:10
Contradiction Number Ten:
Jesus stated that he was the only person to ascend up into heaven, thereby denying all the other biblical ascentions.
Error Number One:
Leviticus 11:20-23 states that there are winged insects that go around on all fours. This is completely false. All insects have six legs.
Error Number Two:
Leviticus 11:6 states incorrectly that rabbits chew their cud. They do not-- this is wrong. Why didn't God know this? And why would the All Powerful Creator of the Universe really care whether or not people ate rabbits anyway?
Error Number Three:
In Exodus 17:14, God states quite clearly: "Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." BUT, didn't God just permanently preserve a record of them in the bible? How could the memory of them be blotted out from under heaven?
Error Number Four:
Isaiah, in 30:26, thinks that someday "the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun". This was written in the days when people thought the moon gave off it's own light. It does not. There is no "light of the moon".
Error Number Five:
Matthew 4:8 states that there is a high mountain from which all the kingdoms of the world can be seen. There is no such thing. (Note: This implies a flat earth.)
Bible Contradictions by Dan Barker (concise)
The bible does not conform to history as it has been revealed by historians and archeology. The bible is a circular reference with no external support. NO first century historian confirms the existence of Jesus. NO external eyewitness accounts exist. There were historians (Philo-Judaeus and Justus of Tiberius) living in or near Jerusalem during Christ's alleged lifetime, but wrote not one word about him. Then there is Flavius Josephus, who was born in 37 CE (after Christ's alleged death), and has two mentions of Jesus in his vast histories. But most scholars, including most Christian ones, agree that Josephus's accounts are forgeries- earlier versions of his work dating from before the second century do not mention Jesus at all. There are many places where the mention of Jesus would be appropriate, but Josephus makes no mention of him. (see The Jesus Problem, J. M. Robertson, M.P., 1917, chapter 4, The Silence of Josephus, page 121). The paragraph on Jesus was added to Josephus's work at the beginning of the 4th century, during Constantine's reign, probably by Bishop Eusebius (who was well known for saying that it was permissible for Christians to lie in order to further the kingdom of god). This is stated directly in the New Testament, where Paul writes in the 3rd Chapter of Romans "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why yet am I also judged as a sinner?"
The claim that the Israelites were held captive in Egypt has been disputed as an historical fact. There is no substantial evidence for it, and other clues, such as the absence of any cross-contamination of languages, Hebrew and Egyptian, cast doubt on the event.
There is also no evidence for other biblical claims, such as the murder of the infants by King Herod at the birth of Jesus. Such an event would have at least merited a few lines in the works of contemporary historians, especially his enemies; those historians who were hostile to Herod wrote of his other atrocities. But no. But no one noticed the killing of all children under the age of two.
The Genesis story of creation is certainly not an historical event, as modern science has revealed, as well as the Flood of Noah's time. This flood has been conclusively demonstrated to be a piece of mythology, borrowed from the Assyrians, and probably built up upon a real, localized flood (the Black Sea flood of about 5000 B.C.E. has been proposed as the original model). There NEVER WAS a global flood... it did not happen!
The existence of an actual Jesus is very much in doubt. The famous humanitarian Albert Schweitzer studied the problem of Jesus and concluded that Jesus did not exist. Most of the Founding Fathers of America, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Paine, James Madison and George Washington, did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. They thought he was a man-- a teacher of morals-- but not a god, and equal to other humans. They regarded "true" Christianity as simply following the benevolent teachings of Jesus, and did not believe the miracles or salvation through Christ. The existence of Jesus, even as an ordinary man, is not established beyond a reasonable doubt.
The New Testament gospels were written 65-120 C.E., and the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were attached to the books that bear their names much later by the early church. Matthew and Luke were constructed from Mark, and John is thought to be written even later by early church leaders. These books were not divided into chapters and verses until the Middle Ages. There is no evidence that these people actually lived at all. Many believe that Paul is the real figure behind the spread of Christianity, and that the Jesus story was constructed by him. The messiah construct was very common 2000+ years ago. Consider Mithra, a messianic figure who pre-dated Christ by several hundred years, and who also was born of a virgin, had a last supper and was crucified, and rose into heaven. And he had 12 apostles. Other messiah figures also had 12 followers-- representing the 12 signs of the zodiac.
The Jesus Puzzle- was there no Jesus?
People assume that the bible contains stories which serve as moral guides to live your life by. While the bible does contain some good moral precepts, such as any ethical person could write, it contains some stunningly immoral teachings.
Everyone has bought into the assumption that the bible is the "Good Book", but I have found that few people have even read it. How do they get their information? It is given to them from the pulpit-- by priests and ministers who have chosen non-offensive, morally mainstream stories to read to their congregations. I am about to share some things with you that you won't hear coming from any pulpit in any church. But they come straight from the pages of the bible.
The bible, both in the Old and New Testament, is morally repugnant and should be rejected by every ethical person.
It is true that you can find some moral teachings in the bible. However, you may not realize that none of those moral teachings are original. All of the favorable teachings of Jesus can be found in earlier "pagan" writings. Nothing good said by Jesus was original-- it was all said before. The following are some examples are from Robert G. Ingersoll's "Some Reasons Why".
Christ came, they tell us, to make a revelation, and what did he reveal? "Love thy neighbor as thyself"? That was in the Old Testament. "Return good for evil"? That was said by Buddha, seven hundred years before Christ was born. "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you"? That was the doctrine of Lao-tsze. Did he come to give a rule of action? Zoroaster had done this long before "Whenever thou art in doubt as to whether an action is good or bad, abstain from it."
Did he come simply to tell us that we should not revenge ourselves upon our enemies? Long before, Socrates had said: "One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him." And Cicero had said. "Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive." Is there anything in the literature of the world more nearly perfect than this thought?
Was it from Christ the world learned the first lesson of forbearance, when centuries and centuries before, Krishna had said, "If a man strike thee, and in striking drop his staff, pick it up and hand it to him again?"
Is it possible that the Son of God threatened a vast majority of his children: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels," while Buddha, centuries before, was great and tender enough to say: "Never will I seek nor receive private individual salvation; never enter into final peace alone; but forever and everywhere will I live and strive for the universal redemption of every creature throughout all worlds. Never will I leave this world of sin and sorrow and struggle until all are delivered. Until then, I will remain and suffer where I am"?
What Jesus brought to the world was this: the idea of condemning someone for their honest opinion to eternal torture. The infinite revenge of Jesus, for failing to believe his unbelievable tales, is the most intense form of pain and anguish imaginable, and not just for a long time, but forever. Apparently, his inexhaustible forgiveness runs out when it comes to hell. From hell there is no pardoning-- the gates of hell are one-way only. His "unconditional love" comes with this condition: believe these unreasonable accounts or suffer so much you'll wish you had never been born. And considering that the vast majority of the people who ever lived either never heard of Jesus or didn't believe in him, and are thereby subject to this doctrine of eternal pain, the notion of infinite revenge should be enough to sicken any moral, just person.
Was it God, or the devil, who said: "I will strew your flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with your carcass. I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood..."
Was it God, or the devil, who said: "Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in the midst of you and sons shall eat their fathers...I will send famine and wild beasts against you and they shall rob you of your children; pestilence and blood shall pass through you; and I will bring a sword upon you."
Was it God, or the devil, who said: "Behold, I will corrupt your seed and spread dung upon your faces..."
Was it God, or the devil, who said: "Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women..."
Was it God, or the devil, who said: "...I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the light of this sun."
Was it god, or the devil, who said: "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."
Was it God, or the devil, who said: "Samar'ia shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open."
Was it God, or the devil, who killed every man, woman, child and animal on earth because he lost his temper with them? Was it God, or the devil, who killed 50,000 of his children for merely looking into the ark of the covenant? Was it God, or the devil, who killed every firstborn child in Egypt for the deed of the Pharoah?
Obviously, it is Jehovah who did all of these atrocities. But I ask you, under similar circumstances, what would the devil have done? Allow yourself to think about that. Could a devil have done worse? In fact, please find one instance in the bible of the devil actually killing someone. You will not be able to.
The links below, most of which were written by me, will show how, as a moral foundation, the bible crumbles into dust.
Is the bible the "Good Book"?
Inevitably, I get accused of taking the bible out of context. What they are really saying is that I'm not reading the book through the filter of faith- that I'm not reading it like a believing Christian. If I did, then I would get the "correct" interpretation. Well, sorry, but I'm not a believer. My mind is not compartmentalized. I look at the bible objectively, from the outside, and am not influenced by its threats of pain and bribes of eternal reward.
"Out of context" is the handy knee-jerk response that the true believer uses as a way of avoiding difficult bible verses. It is the believer's way of looking at a verse to make it mean something other than what it actually says. Christians are quick to pronounce these troublesome passages as metaphoric or allegorical, yet insist that the parts of the bible that they agree with are literal, and should be taken at face value.
These the facts. I add or delete nothing. If you have a problem with what is on this page, the problem lies within your own mind-- struggling to reconcile the ridiculous, immoral bible with your rational, ethical self.
my Tribute Page to Robert Green Ingersoll
The Age of Reason, the classic by Thomas Paine
Biblical Criticisms at Infidels.org
Criticisms of Christian Apologetics
The Jesus Seminar
Ken Harding's Atheist Debater's Page