Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 79

Another week, another Tuesday. It’s time for Jesus to call an innocent child back to his loving embrace:

Two members of an Oregon sect that believes in faith healing have been charged with murder in the death of their premature infant daughter. Sarah and Travis Mitchell, 24 and 21, have been under investigation since Sarah gave birth to twin girls at her grandparents’ home in March. The birth was attended by three midwives, church members, and family members. But when one of the twins, Gennifer, struggled to breathe, no one called 911. A church elder contacted the city’s medical examiner only after the baby died.

The Mitchells are members of a Christian sect called the Followers of Christ Church, which has a history of infant deaths. Adherents reject traditional medical care in favor of prayer, and believe that if a person dies, the death was God’s will. An Oregonian investigation in the late 1990s found that 21 of the 78 children in the church’s graveyard could have been saved by medical intervention. Sarah Mitchell’s own sister, Shannon Hickman, and her husband were found guilty of second-degree manslaughter in 2011 for the death of her infant son, who was born two months premature and weighed less than four pounds. The church, which is influenced by Pentecostalism, has about 1,000 members in Oregon and Idaho.

“If a person dies, the death was God’s will.” Now we know.

If a person sacrifices a child on the alter of stupidity, some jail time is due. No they know.

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Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 4

Recently I resumed posting on this topic. “Stronger than dirt” refers to an advertising campaign from the 1950s. There was a cleanser that was proposed to be “stronger than dirt.” Among a small group this slogan became a metaphor for a philosophy that was stronger than reason. Hopefully that answers any questions.

I received a comment from a reader named Reece. Follow the back-link to catch up on the history. Anyhow, Reece proposed to me why some of my statements regarding false statements and contradictions in the Bible were wrong. Along with his own thoughts, he included two links. Follow these, he proposed, and make an evaluation. The two links are here:

https://answersingenesis.org/contradictions-in-the-bible/scripture-index/

http://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-difficulties/

The first one leads to a page belonging to the Young Earth Creationist group Answers in Genesis (AiG), founded and currently led by Ken Ham. The second link leads to a site called Defending Inerrancy. Content of the two appears similar, but additional inspection may be required. I will start with the AiG link.

Their start page displays a table of links related to books of the Bible, starting with the Old Testament:

 

 

And so on. It may be that Ruth does not have any prominent contradictions. I opened the link to Genesis and came to this:

GENESIS 1:1—HOW CAN THE UNIVERSE HAVE A “BEGINNING” WHEN MODERN SCIENCE SAYS ENERGY IS ETERNAL?

PROBLEM: According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” If this is so, then the universe must be eternal, since it is made of indestructible energy. However, the Bible indicates that the universe had a “beginning” and did not exist before God “created” it (Gen. 1:1). Is this not a contradiction between the Bible and science?

SOLUTION: There is a conflict of opinion here, but no real factual contradiction. The factual evidence indicates that the universe is not eternal, but that it did have a beginning just as the Bible says. Several observations are relevant here.

First of all, the First Law of Thermodynamics is often misstated to the effect that energy “cannot be created.” However, science is based on observation, and statements such as “can” or “cannot” are not based on observation, but are dogmatic pronouncements. The First Law should be stated like this: “[So far as we can observe] the amount of actual energy in the universe remains constant.” That is, as far as we know, the actual amount of energy in the universe is not decreasing or increasing. Stated this way, the First Law makes no pronouncement whatsoever about where energy came from, or how long it has been here. Thus, it does not contradict the Genesis declaration that God created the universe.

There is more, so you need to go to the link. But first there are some problems with the above. Reference is made to the First Law of Thermodynamics along with a proposal it should be revised. But there is no need for revision. Natural laws are merely statements about what is observed in the natural world, and one of the things observed is that energy is conserved. That wording required some revision 112 years ago when Albert Einstein demonstrated that matter and energy are two manifestations of the same thing. It turns out that what we call energy has some critical properties of matter. Particularly, energy has gravity to the same extent as the equivalent mass.

Now AiG would want us to know that the Bible is right in predicting a finite Universe, contrary to what a simple understanding of the First Law would imply. Modern cosmology does hold for a finite Universe and a moment of creation of the Universe, but natural explanations are understood to be at the root of this origin. See a previous treatment of the topic.

Lest any readers remain puzzled after reading all the referenced material, it is considered the total energy in the Universe is exactly zero. The creation of the universe did not create new energy.

The AiG page goes further. That includes the following statement:

Second, another well-established scientific law is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It states that “the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing.”

This is not a precise statement of the Second Law, but I am not going to hammer AiG for this shortcoming. That is because when I reviewed text books for the state of Texas a few years ago, I had to point out the same issue appearing one of the books. A more precise statement of the Second Law would go something like this:

In a closed system the total entropy does not decrease.

For entropy you can read lack of usable energy if you want. The Second Law does not state usable energy must decrease. It only states it must not increase.

AiG is covering ground that modern science swept years ago. The argument they are attempting to make for Biblical inerrancy is empty. Genesis gives a time for creation (in its biblical context) of slightly more than 6000 years ago. Well grounded science has demonstrated this planet to be in excess of four billion years old. The Bible begins with an erroneous statement, and it never recovers.

In future posts I will address a few additional points from  AiG and then let the matter drop. Keep reading.

This is your President speaking.

Number 2 in a long series

We have this from the President of the United States:

Why would Suzie insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call her “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be her friend – and maybe someday that will happen!

Wait! There’s been a mix-up. While composing this post I accidentally picked up a tweet posted by Melissa Justin, a sophomore at Providence High School in the San Fernando Valley. My apologies. Here is the actual tweet from the President of the United States:

Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!

You will agree that is much more Presidential. We can now be more comfortable with our choices from last November.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Apparently I’m never going to run out of bad movies. This is another from Amazon Prime Video, a treasure vault of bad movies. It’s Bank Alarm , from 1937 out of Grand National Pictures. And it’s in decent shape for being 80 years old. A notice up front informs that this has been remastered, but that may be only the sound. The notice talks of unavoidable dips in sound level. Details are from Wikipedia.

This features Conrad Nagel as FBI Special Agent Alan O’Connor and Eleanor Hunt as Bobbie Reynolds, Alan’s sharp looking assistant. They are trying to track down a gang of bank robbers. The FBI investigates bank robberies. They’re not having a load of luck. They captured gang member O’Hern, but then a hit man disguised as a lawyer rubbed him out inside the jail and then got clean away.

Despite their desperate need to corral the robbers, the FBI duo takes time out to greet Alan’s pretty sister, Kay O’Connor, played by Marlo Dwyer, as she arrives on a flight. Apparently on the flight, Kay has met the infatuating Jerry Turner (Frank Milan). This scene also introduces bumbling photographer Clarence ‘Bulb’ Callahan (Vince Barnett), who’s going to provide comic relief for the next 53 minutes of run time.

So urgent is their need to catch the bank robbers, that everybody takes the night off to dine, drink, and dance at Club Karlotti. Spoiler alert: Karlotti is the ring leader of the bank robbers. You can tell  he’s Italian by his name, except the Italian alphabet doesn’t have the letter K. You figure it.

Jerry excuses himself for a few minutes as he leaves the festivities to go into the club’s back room to confab with ring leader Karlotti.

Another heist is coming up. Jerry gets in on this one. It’s in the core of the Great Depression, and sheriffs around the country make an effort to  keep their districts clear of hobos, who roam the land looking for work or handouts. Jerry and his pal pretend to be hobos to get themselves thrown in the pokey overnight. The pokey is where they want to be, because in this small town, where a Nevada tunnel project is in work, the workers’ payroll is being stored in the same building as the jail. While the sheriff (Henry Roquemore) sleeps the pair pick the lock on their cell, grab the cash, and stash it under their mattresses. Come next morning the sheriff sends them on their way, with the cash stuffed in their shirts. Pretty slick.

In the meantime, Police Inspector J. C. Macy (William L. Thorne) vows mightily to catch the bank robbers.

But when Jerry and his pal departed the jail with their loot, they bummed a ride in a Cadillac, conveniently close by to pick them up. And somebody got the plate number. So when agent Alan goes to check on the Cadillac, it turns up at a farm. The farmer tells them some people drove up in the car, left it, stole his Ford, and drove away. He gives a description of the perps. The driver was a notably short person, he says.

The cops take the Caddy back to the police garage to check it for fingerprints. It’s clean, but when agent Bobbie gets in the driver’s seat, the first thing she notices is her feet don’t reach the pedals. Bobbie is a a short woman. No amount of adjustment will do. The farmer was lying. The driver was not by any means short. Further checking turns up the farmer does not own a Ford. The fuzz conclude the farm is a base for the robbers.

Meanwhile, the Second National Bank is held up,  and this time the robbers get away clear after bank workers attempt multiple time to activate the bank alarm. Hence the title of the movie.

Agent Alan questions bank employees. The man sitting with his back to the wall is the alarm company service man. He was in just prior to the robbery to test the alarm. It worked fine. They call in the head cashier, Leon Curtis (Phil Dunham). He’s the one who schedules alarm testing. He said he called for the test, because it was time, according to the testing schedule. But Alan has additional information that there were two men in to test the alarm. One came after the scheduled test. Things are looking suspicious. The robbery was an inside job.

Meanwhile, Inspector Macy is shown holding two bills in his hand. He is saying he is going to bust this case wide open. Later, those outside his office hear multiple gunshots. They rush in. Macy has been murdered.

Alan studies the two bills. One has been altered. It has the same serial number as another. Suspicion focuses on bank teller Curtis. He’s an immigrant from Serbia, and a master engraver. An attempt at counterfeiting? The robbers figure they must get those bills back. Jerry gets on the phone, and with a pencil gripped between his clenched teeth to disguise his voice, he phones Alan. He warns that if Alan doesn’t deliver the two bills by mail, the robbers are going to rub out Alan’s sister.

The fuzz respond by moving Kay to a safe apartment and substituting Bobbie at Kay’s hotel room. Bumbling photographer Clarence Callahan is sent over to keep Kay company, provide protection, and also to provide additional comic relief.

But Kay phones Jerry, not suspecting he is in with the robbers. She reveals where she is. Next we see, Clarence is recovering from a knock on the head, and Kay is gone, taken by the robbers.

Then there follows a bunch of round and round, which I will not detail, and the robbers are taken in a shootout, Kay is rescued, and Alan and Bobbie have plans to make the partnership permanent. They pose as Clarence takes a photo.

There is little not wrong with this movie. Start with the lukewarm acting and the dialog, which is beyond redemption. Get to the plot’s banality and some noticeable lack of continuity.

I only watched this through one time before skipping around to pick up details, but one thing was immediately obvious. The two robbers, posing as hobos, are in jail, on purpose, to grab the payroll cash while the sheriff is sleeping. They take the bills and stuff them under the mattresses in their cell. Later we are told the payroll is new bills, fresh from the Federal Reserve. But the bills the robbers are manhandling in their cell are obviously much used and not clean, crisp, and in tight bundles.

Alan and Bobbie pick up Kay and Jerry at their airport. Where do they go that night to celebrate (apparently in Los Angeles)? Why Karlotti’s club, of course. How much greater a coincidence can their be? And the friend that Kay meets on her flight? Why, one of the bank robbers. Amazing!

The robbers need to get the incriminating bills back. Why? Think about that for a few seconds. How are they going to get the bills back? They are going to threaten Kay. But they don’t have their hands on Kay at the time, giving the feds ample opportunity to stash her away in a safe place, which turns out to be of no help, since Kay spills to Jerry.

The robbers promise to release Kay after the bills are recovered. But Kay has by now already laid eyes on Jerry and the others as members of the gang. The gang has previously murdered Macy in his office after word gets out he’s going to crack the case. But when Karlotti gets his hand on Bobbie during the hunt and roundup, he does not use the opportunity to put a few rounds into her. Good news for Bobbie, but a prize for lame plots.

Conrad Nagel had a long and successful motion picture career, even if this production give no clue as to why. He started with Little Women  (silent) in 1918 and finished with The Man Who Understood Women in 1959. IMDb shows Eleanor Hunt’s last movie was in 1940. Grand National Films is one of those companies I have mentioned previously. The period 1936 to 1939 saw multiple startup studios come and go during this period. Grand National was purchased by RKO in 1940.

And you figured it out already. You don’t need to subscribe to Amazon Prime to watch this movie. It’s available to watch on YouTube. Here’s the link.

 

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

A lawyer meets with his client after the police lab completes an analysis of his blood. He tells his client, “The police completed the tests, and there is good news, and there is bad news.”

“All right, tell me the bad news first,” the man says.

“The bad news is your blood matches the stains found on the victim.”

“So, what’s the good news?”

“Your cholesterol is down to 140.”

Friday Funny

Number 84 of a series

And I thought, “This is really funny.” Then I thought maybe it’s not so funny. Actually, it is funny. Here it is:

Woman Arrested For Training Squirrels To Attack Her Ex-boyfriend

45-year old Janice Smith was captured toward the beginning of today by officers of the Detroit Police Department, for supposedly catching various squirrels and preparing them to assault her previous sweetheart.

The casualty, 51-year old James Robinson, was probably assaulted by the rodents on more than twelve events in the course of the most recent month.

These assaults caused him numerous genuine wounds, including the loss of two fingers and one gonad, gnawed off by his assailants.

The poor man had no clue why squirrels continued assaulting him until the point when he saw his ex, a previous carnival creature coach, cheering the creatures amid one of the assaults.

What I’m thinking is I ‘m not even going to check with Snopes to see whether this is genuine. It is just too funny.

Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 3

Reece has responded to my previous post. See the link above. He sent an email, which follows:

Thanks for sharing and taking the time to respond to my comment. I’d just like to respond to a few of your points made in the article…

“When we say “God,” what do we mean.”

You already know what God I mean, because out of the many that exist, there’s only one God which atheists focus on with their attacks 99% of the time. I know this wasn’t a straight out argument, but I see the point you were making. The problem with this statement, and the common argument about the thousands of other gods that atheists make, is that it’s like saying to a prosecutor of a murder trial: “You believe John Smith killed this man? Well, I don’t think anybody killed this man; he died accidentally. I mean, think about it. There are 7 billion potential murderers out there, and you believe that 6,999,999,999 of them did not kill this man. I just believe in one less murderer than you do .” The prosecutor doesn’t just arbitrarily pick one suspect out of billions, each of whom is equally guilty. Instead, she has good reasons for choosing this one suspect out of all the others. Just because there are thousands of false gods or billions of people who are innocent of a certain crime, it doesn’t follow that there is no true God or no single person who is guilty of a crime.

 

Now you’ve listed a list of some of the usual ‘so called’ Bible contradictions. First, let’s be clear that there are viable and intellectually plausible answers to every supposed Bible contradiction and error. See: https://answersingenesis.org/contradictions-in-the-bible/scripture-index/ or http://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-difficulties/ 

So we can’t really use apparent contradictions to disprove the Bible’s reliability if we are being honest here. For example:

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
Satan did (I Chronicles 21:1)

1. This would appear to be a contradiction, however, when we know God’s nature from other verses, and that all temptation is permitted by God, but not caused by God. We realize that Satan provoked David to number the people, and God allowed him to do so. God allows those things which serve to advance His holy and perfect will. 

In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
One million, one hundred thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

How many fighting men were found in Judah?
Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

2. It is possible that this 1,100,000 describes the grand total for Israel including the standing army which consisted of 12 units of 24,000 men each (288,000, 1 Chron. 27:1-15) plus 12,000 especially attached to Jerusalem and the chariot cities (2 Chron. 1:14). These 300,000 subtracted from 1,100,000 would yield the 800,000 figure in 2 Samuel 24:9. Also the chronicler may not have included the 30,000-man standing army of Judah (6:1) whereas they were included in chapter 24. This would raise the 470,000 total of Chronicles to the 500,000 of Samuel. 

God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

3. The solution to this one can be solved when we look at the verse before it. It says,
 
“Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” (2 Samuel 21:1)
 
Clearly, Israel had already experienced three years of famine before David numbered the people of Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 24:1–7 record the initiation of the census, but we find in verse 8 that “when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.” 
 
So according to the text, numbering the people was nearly a year-long process, and there is no clear indication that God had suspended the initial three-year famine prior to the events in chapter 24. Now if God had combined three additional years of famine (1 Chronicles 21:12) with the three years of initial famine, and a possible intervening year while the census was conducted, the resulting overall famine would have totaled about seven years (2 Samuel 24:13).

How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

4. We aren’t given too much information here, but there are two solutions which clear up this apparent contradiction. Either the 42 is in reference to the beginning of the kingly reign of which Ahaziah is a part, or this was a copyist error which changed the original 22 in 2 Chronicles 22:2 to 42.

I could go on, but please do take a look at those two links above and check out the answers for yourself. 
 
The trouble is, myself and Christians who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God, know that all of these can be reconciled, whereas skeptics will most likely deny again and again. But as long as you can admit, we can’t use the so called contradictions to disprove the Bible because there are answers to everyone of them. Also, do you think if someone went to all the effort to make up the Bible, they would put in such obvious contradictions?

“We have to justify the existence of God (the God of Abraham) without resorting to the Bible. How?”

It seems to me like you think the Bible, and nature are the only ways to prove God’s existence. That’s true, but I can prove God on many other factors excluding the Bible. If I prove the Bible is true and God exists, would you want to become a Christian?
 
Can I show you some evidence for God, John? I’m not going to force you to believe, but if you are willing to look open mindedly I’ll show you some.
 
Regards, Reece

I responded to Reece’s email, and I promised to post his comments and to respond. Here is my response.

Regarding my need to establish which God is being discussed, too much is made of asking the question. It is standard and good practice before entering a discussion to  establish that both parties are using the same terminology. Of course we are talking about the God of Abraham. I never doubted that. I wanted Reece to say it, so I posed the question. That’s the only reason.

Reece talks of “apparent contradictions.” No. These are actual contradictions. Reece links to two sites dealing with apparent contradictions. I will proceed for now without digging into those. I will address those matters in a separate posting. Follow the blog to catch it when it gets posted.

Reece’s number 1. “This would appear to be a contradiction…” It is an actual contradiction. I will not allow anybody to explain this away with another made-up story. Introducing a made-up story to explain another made-up story does not accomplish anything. To explain away a made-up story what you need to do is to demonstrate that it is not made up.

Reece’s number 2. “It is possible that this 1,100,000 describes the grand total for Israel…” Again, no. This is a real contradiction and it cannot be explained away by a wave of the hand. Any serious reader will come to the conclusion that the Bible first says one thing and then later says something that contradicts what was said previously. Any reasonable and coherent text would include an explanation were there one to be given. There was not.

Reece’s number 3. “The solution to this one can be solved when we look at the verse before it.” All right. Let’s examine the context from BibleGateway.com:

1 Chronicles 21 King James Version (KJV)

21 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.

And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king’s word was abominable to Joab.

And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.

And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

And the Lord spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,

10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee

12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

14 So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.

15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.

17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lordmy God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

18 Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord.

20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.

22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.

23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.

24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.

25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

26 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.

27 And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

28 At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.

29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.

30 But David could not go before it to enquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

2 Samuel 21 King James Version (KJV)

21 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?

And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.

And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord did choose. And the king said, I will give them.

But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord‘s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:

13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.

14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.

15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.

16 And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.

17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.

19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him.

22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

2 Samuel 24 King James Version (KJV)

24 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:

Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,

And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.

So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,

12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.

14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.

18 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.

19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lordcommanded.

20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.

21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.

22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.

23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.

24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

25 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

So there is the verse from 1 Chronicles and the two verses from 2 Samuel, and a reasonable person who reads these three will come to the conclusion that in one case the Bible says there were three years of famine during the time of David, and in the other case the Bible says there were seven years of famine in the time of David.

Reece’s number 4. “We aren’t given too much information here, but there are two solutions…” Again this appears to be searching for an explanation other than the one apparent to even a careful reader.

Reece states, “I could go on, but please do take a look at those two links above and check out the answers for yourself.” I will do that, and I will give my findings in a future post.

Reece says those “who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God, know that all of these can be reconciled.” Those who believe so are invited to do so.

He also says, “[W]e can’t use the so called contradictions to disprove the Bible because there are answers to everyone of them…” Let’s not use these contradictions to disprove the Bible. Let’s use those contradictions to demonstrate the Bible was written by people who made mistakes. The Bible is the work of people, and it is not the work of an infallible being, natural or supernatural. Fallibility has been demonstrated. Where does this logically lead us?

Also, do you think if someone went to all the effort to make up the Bible, they would put in such obvious contradictions?” Apparently so. Not by design but through human fallibility.

If I prove the Bible is true and God exists, would you want to become a Christian?” If you can accomplish this I will do just about anything you command. I have currently posted an award of $12,000 payable to anybody who can do such a thing. That can be for starters if you like.

Can I show you some evidence for God.” Please do. That is what this blog site is all about. It is for critical analysis of all things that need such.

Keep reading. There will be more to follow.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

Of course they are. But, before they do, take a final moment to get off a final few rounds:

THORNTON, Colo. (Reuters) – Police in Colorado on Thursday were searching for a gunman who calmly walked into a Walmart in suburban Denver and opened fire with a handgun, randomly shooting at shoppers and store clerks, killing three people, before he fled.

Right on! A responsible gun owner doing what responsible gun owners do every day. You shoot ’em. I’ll count ’em and stack ’em.

Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 2

Many months ago I posted the following:

Would that you had provided more of a challenge. I congratulate Michael Snyder, who is credited in the post I copied these from. He has dredged up what may be the most comprehensive collection of creationist nonsense I have come across in many years. This has been a refreshing tour and a reminder to me, and others as well, of the shallowness of the creationist argument. If there is any demonstration of the standing of modern science with respect to superstition and myth, these kinds of postings stand out. They are sorely appreciated.

Heartening to witness, a number of people commented. Most recent has been a comment from Reece Stevens:

All I’m seeing are some uneducated responses to famous scientists. And were they supposed to be arguments or just some one silly sentence with your uneducated opinion? Because all I was seeing were true scientific facts from Snyder, which you couldn’t even rebut, and silly little one sentence opinions from someone who doesn’t want to believe God exists.

That was worth a response, and I approved Reece’s comment, and I sent him an email:

I invite you to amplify on your statement. I will also respond in more depth where you believe clarification is necessary. For example,you mention “someone who doesn’t want to believe God exists.
On this point you completely misunderstand me. I have no desire to believe one way or the other. I am content to believe or not to believe. It just so happens I do not believe, since that is the way the evidence points.
Additionally, you may want to bring up why there should be a connection between God and biological evolution. The two would appear to exist in different fields of study. Can you expand on your thoughts about this?
Thanks for reading, and especially thanks for taking the time to comment.

Best regards and all that sort. He responded:

The reason I connected God into it is because I am just shocked by the fact there is lack of any evidence for evolution, and you’d expect people to recognise it straight away, but they still believe it. And really the only explanation as to why this is comes down to a quote from zoologist, D.M.S Watson: “Evolution is a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” It makes me think the reason evolution is accepted despite lack of evidence is because the only alternative requires believing in a God.

My response:

I finally got your name right. My apologies.
Your response is appreciated. I will post this dialog to a future item on Skeptical  Analysis.
First, I need to dispute D.M.S. Watson. There are alternatives besides God. That said, I do not believe in  God, and I have good reasons for doing so, and those reasons do not involve biological evolution. Details on request.
You mentioned “true scientific facts from Snyder, which you couldn’t even rebut…” I am thinking that at the time I made no attempt to rebut Snyder, because I wanted to give other readers the opportunity to chime in. In my future post I will address Snyder’s remarks.

So I promised  to  spell out at some length why I don’t believe in God, and biological evolution is not at the heart of it. To start, we need some definition. When we say “God,” what do we mean. We will assume we mean the God of Abraham, as described in the Bible. I’m going to say I do not believe in that God, and I will ignore all other Gods, besides which I do not believe in them either. And we start.

Before I can believe in God I need to know about God. You can’t not believe in something if you have never heard of it. There are a number of ways you can know about God in order to not believe:

  • You never heard of God before, but you made him (it?) up on your own.
  • You observed God first hand.
  • Somebody told you about God, else you would never have known about God.

I’m picking the third choice, because that’s how I learned about God. Somebody told me. If I want to believe in God I have to believe what somebody told me. This sort of thing generally needs some convincing. Here is something you would not consider on your own without outside advice from dsomebody, and it’s also something you never observed. Somebody told you. Are you convinced?

That depends. That depends on how convincing is the presentation from the person who told you about God. Is this person’s word reliable, and should you take this person’s word at face value without investigating? That depends. If the person is known to tell a fib from time to time, or if the claim is so outlandish as to boggle the mind, you might want additional evidence. In my case the person who first told me about God was a family member known to fabricate stories, but not often. Also, the story about God turned out to very hard to believe, with emphasis on very.

Of course I was informed I should not merely take this person’s story about God. There must be a higher authority. I will gloss over the number of church people of high standing who vouched for God, and I will go to  the ultimate source, because that is the source these preachers always gave. That source is the Bible. There is where God ran into  real trouble. If the Bible is the ultimate and true source, and if the Bible turns out to be an unreliable source, then it is going to be difficult to believe in God, especially when the concept of God lacks credibility. Let’s start with the Bible.

Genesis 1:1-5 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And also:

Genesis 2:4-9 King James Version (KJV)

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

On the very first page the Bible gets into trouble both with fact and with internal consistency. To begin with, the two stories do not agree with known facts. They presume this planet is slightly more than 6000 years old. Also, here you have conflicting stories of the same events. There are additional places where the Bible contradicts itself. Take this example of the Bible attempting to tell who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel:

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?

  • God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
  • Satan did (I Chronicles 21:1)

The Bible appears to give differing accounts of the same event. It’s worth seeing the exact wording:

2 Samuel 24:1 King James Version (KJV)

24 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

1 Chronicles 21:1 King James Version (KJV)

21 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

And this goes sort of thing recurs in multiple instances. One source cites 100 more such instances. Here are some:

  1. In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
  • Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
  • One million, one hundred thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
  1. How many fighting men were found in Judah?
  • Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
  • Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
  1. God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
  • Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
  • Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
  1. How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
  • Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
  • Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

God is omnipotent:

Genesis 1 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And God has limited abilities:

Judges 1:19 King James Version (KJV)

19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

There is all this and more. The Bible does not seem to be a reliable source of information.

But suppose. Suppose one of the following:

  • The Bible was transcribed by people, and from  time to time they made errors in transcription. The original intent of the Bible is correct, even if the wording is sometimes confusing.
  • The Bible was written by godly people who wanted to tell their story and to establish a basis for orderly life. What they wrote was a work of fiction with good intentions.

Other possibilities may exist, but the Bible should not be taken literally as a set of instructions for righteous living. That needs to come from those who interpret the Bible. But that abandons the Bible as a testimonial for the existence of God, and it’s the existence of God that is in  question.

We have to justify the existence of God (the God of Abraham) without resorting to the Bible. How?

First turn to the wonders of nature. How did all this marvelous stuff come into existence all by itself? The argument goes something like this.

  1. We don’t see airplanes assemble themselves.
  2. Animals, even the simplest living cell, are all more complex than an airplane.
  3. If an airplane cannot be assembled by purely natural means, it’s absurd to think a living cell can be.
  4. Some supernatural power must be at work here.
  5. That supernatural power must be the God of Abraham.

The argument for the existence of God moves steadily from points 1 through 4, but it hits a road bump at 5. It does not logically follow that God is the supernatural power argued for in 1 – 4. Any supernatural power of sufficient capability will suffice.

But then it will be argued that God is the only supernatural power acclaimed by people far and wide. And that’s your argument for God? But now you need to ask why God is acclaimed by people far and wide, and the answer is the biblical tale, demonstrated (see above) to be insufficient to demonstrate the existence of God.

You may argue that what is important is not the existence of God (the God of Abraham), but the divinity of Jesus. Really? Supposing Jesus was a real person, and I do not intend to disprove that, then we can conclude that at the least Jesus was a worthy philosopher and teacher, and we should live according to Jesus’ teachings. But not all of them. If the Bible is accurate in what it says, then Jesus had some distinctly unrighteous views. Jesus saw nothing immoral with slavery and never preached against it:

Luke 12:47-48 King James Version (KJV)

47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Additionally:

Ephesians 6:5 King James Version (KJV)

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

A group called Focus on the Family a few years ago produced a series of videos featuring creationist Stephen C. Meyer. The first came out in 2009 and is titled “Does God Exist?” That “season” comprised 10 episodes, and I reviewed each, hoping to settle the question. My conclusion was that, at the very least, Meyer failed to make his case for the existence of God. If God exists, God exists without the benefit of creationist Stephen C. Meyer. The postings are back-linked, and you can start with Episode 11, which is a bonus feature concerning challenges fundamentalist Christians encounter when they leave home and venture into the outside world, particularly to college. A link to the previous post heads each posting, and you can click links until you arrive at the review of Episode 1. Then follow the entire series.

Focus in the Family released another video, this time in 2010, and the title is “Is the Bible Reliable?” There are ten episodes, and I reviewed them over four postings. Again you can start with number 4 and work your way back to the beginning and then review the entire series.

Readers can follow the remainder of my argument against the existence of God by reading these 14 reviews. Comments and questions are invited.