REPLY #71 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
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My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
That is easily refuted just by examining some of the numerous internal contradictions between various Bible verses. These contradictions run the gamut from different and incompatible versions of facts between different books relating the same stories to disputes on the very natures of God and Jesus. Examples of factual contradictions include 2 Samuel 24:9 (which says 800,000 men drew the sword) vs. 1 Chronicles 21:5 (which says it was 1,100,000),
(R) These are translational errors that occurred over the many transitions of the Bible over the centuries.
(MB) "Translational errors"? If this particular example is known to be a "translational error", why hasn't it been corrected? Also, which version is the correct version? Can you show me any version of the Bible where these numbers are not as given here?
(R) Ancient systems of numerical notation were especially susceptable to mistranslation since only one digit added or subtracted can drastically change the number.
(MB) That also applies to modern systems of numerical notation. Decimal, hexadecimal, binary, and every other system has digits which represent multiples of the powers of the system's base value. Change the digits and you change the values. However, there is no system in which you can change the number 800,000 to 1,100,000 (or vice versa) simply by miswriting a digit.
(R) However, there is absolutely no historical evidence to support that the autographa and the original manuscripts contained these post-translational errors.
(MB) There is no historical evidence for the autographa and the original manuscripts -- period. They no longer exist. No claims about what they did or did not have within them can be verified.
(R) Remember, it is the autographa that is inerrant and directly inspired by God, not the various translations.
(MB) Any claim based upon the unverifiable contents of documents which no longer exist is barely worth the breath it takes to utter it. This is another "burden of proof" issue. How will you prove the inerrancy and inspiration of those autographa?
Matthew 27:5 (which says Judas died by hanging himself) vs. Acts 1:18 (which says he died by falling, bursting open, and having his innards gush out)
(R) This is a classic example of misreading the texts. The context of Acts gives more detail to what happen to Judas and how his body was discovered.
(MB) The text was not "misread". How can one "misread" something when it is quoted directly? Acts does not give "more detail". It simply tells a different story.
BTW, many of the objections you will bring up in response to Reply #57 have already been addressed in the first two parts of Reply #68. You may wish to read that reply and see if it answers your questions.
(R) It was against Jewish custom to touch dead bodies on the Sabbath.
(MB) It is not necessary to touch a dead body on any day of the week in order to tell the difference between a body that has been hung and one that has fallen and burst asunder.
(R) Judas hung himself before the Sabbath, and wasn't discovered until after the Sabbath.
(MB) Where in the text do you get that interpretation?
(R) As a result, Judas' body was left hanging. The branch that Judas hanged himself on was likely unsturdy, or perhaps partially rotted.
(MB) If so, it is more likely that the branch would have broken immediately from the initial stress of Judas' body dropping.
(R) Judas' body fell down once the branch gave out and his partially decayed body split open upon impact.
(MB) Acts says that Judas "fell headlong". A hanged body falling from a tree branch would have landed feet first.
(R) But beyond this quite plausible explanation, since Acts 1:18 does not explicitedly say that Judas *did not* hang himself, there is no contradiction.
(MB) Well, since the verse in Acts also doesn't explicitly say that Judas *did not* shoot himself, impale himself, poison himself, or kill himself in any of a hundred other ways (including being murdered), one can make those sorts of unsupportable speculations all day long. The only evidence we have to go on is the text of the stories themselves. And, the stories tell two different tales.
(R) In order for a contradiction to exist, there must be two separate accounts (in context) that give *opposite* statements.
(MB) Contradictions do not have to involve direct opposites. They only require that two stories be incompatible or mutually-exclusive. A hanged body can't "fall headlong". Also, the respective stories are concerning themselves with the cause of the death of Judas. Even if Judas "fell from a tree branch" after hanging himself, it should still have been clear to any observer that the hanging was the cause of his death. But, that is not what Acts is reporting.
(R) This clearly does not exist in your example.
(MB) Acts says he died from the fall while Matthew says he died from hanging. How is this not a contradiction? Also, there is the little matter of the field itself and how it was paid for.
...and, of course, the famous problem with the conflicting genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke.
(R) These are more famous for being tired old refuted dogs that don't hunt.
(MB) That applies more to the attempted harmonizations and the believers' blind refusal to accept how their own Bible reads.
(R) Scholars have explained this difference countless times and it still amazes me that there are still people who think that both geneologies are for the same parent of Jesus.
(MB) Apologists (many of whom can barely be called "scholars") have been trying to rescue the problem for a long time and none have succeeded. The list of wild nonsense that has been coughed up in defense of those genealogies does more harm than good for their case. What is amazing is how many people are willing to believe these completely indefensible harmonizations when it would be much simpler and more logical to accept that there are errors in the genealogies.
(R) Matthew gives the line of Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, and Luke gives the lineage of Mary.
(MB) Luke does not give the lineage of Mary. Jews never traced maternal lineages for any reason. In addition, Mary was a Levite and, therefore, was not of the house of David, so any lineage purportedly traced through her could not be used as proof that Jesus was of the house of David and, therefore, qualified to be the Messiah. The entire purpose of the genealogy was to prove that qualification.
(R) This understanding of the genealogies goes all the way back to the 5th century. Your about 1,500 years out-of-date with this argument.
(MB) Nope. You need to understand how genealogies were handled at the time that the stories were written rather than relying on 500-year-after-the-fact harmonizations. There are no examples in Biblical or secular Jewish history of maternal line genealogies, nor is there any reason under Jewish law or tradition why any such thing would have been required or even have been of interest.
Examples of doctrinal and philosophical contradictions include Romans 3:20 and Galatians 2:16 (which say Man is justified by faith alone) vs. James 2:20 (which says the faith without works is insufficient),
(R) This is another good example of your complete lack of understanding in
regards to hermeneutical interpretation.
(MB) This is another good example of demanding that one read things into the text that simple aren't there. See Reply #68b for more on this one...
Deuteronomy 24:16 (which says that children are not to be punished for the sins of their parents) vs. Exodus 20:5, 34:7 and Isaiah 14:21 (where God orders such punishment),
(R) Deut. 24:16 is spoken in regards to *God's* dealings with *Israel* who were His people, while the other 3 reference describe God's dealings with those who "hate" him.
(MB) This is silly. Considering how many plagues and how much death God dealt out to "His people" for their transgressions, it is clear that "those who hate him" also include members of "His people". Again, see Reply #68b for further explanations...
...and the ever-interesting 1 John 3:6 ("Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not") vs. 1 John 1:8 ("If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us").
(R) The contexts of each chapter determine the manner in which the word "sin" is being used. Throughout the Bible, the word "sin" is used to describe a single act, or an ongoing state of existence or a way of life.
(MB) "Sin" includes anything that is considered to be an offense against God or his laws. It is a generic term. This issue, as well, is addressed in Reply #68b.
It also seems fairly obvious that Peter, Paul, and Jesus have three differing views about what Christians are supposed to believe or practice. To relate just a few of the numerous examples, Jesus says at least three different times that his teachings are not meant for non-Jews (Matthew 10:5, Matthew 15:24, John 4:22) while Paul, in Acts 13:47, says that the Lord commanded him to "be a light for the Gentiles".
(R) This is easily understood as being a chronological order for God's plan.
(MB) "Easily understood" by who? Also, I think you have your "chronological order" backwards. Paul's epistles were written before the Gospels, but if Paul is acting in accordance with the commands of Jesus, then those commands came first. Did Paul change Jesus' commands into what he himself desired?
Once again, see Reply #68b...
(R) While Jesus was engaging in his earthly ministry, it was God's intention for the Jews to be engaged first with the message.
(MB) Sure. After all, the Jews were the "chosen people" who had been awaiting the arrival of the Messiah all this time, right? Unfortunately, when they largely rejected Jesus as the fulfillment of the object of their anticipation, the "message" had to find another audience.
(R) It was not time for massive evangelism when Christ was alive because he had not completely his work of redemption. However, once the work of redemption was complete and Christ had died and rose again, the message was to go out into all the world.
(MB) Of course! The Jews handed Jesus over to the Romans for crucifixion. Now, after his supposed resurrection, do you really think that his followers were going to go back to the Jews? Or, is it more likely that they would seek to gain new followers from the ranks of the Gentiles?
(R) You clearly see this in the Great Commission given by *Jesus* in Matt. 28:19,20 :  "Therefore go and make disciples of *all nations*, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." So once again, your comparison is erroneous, and there is no evidence of contradiction, but quite the contrary.
(MB) The contradiction is still there. Remember that there is no independent verification of either the resurrection or of the Great Commission. Also, if Jesus says to his disciples that people should be taught "to obey everything I have commanded you", wouldn't that also include his aforementioned commands that his teachings are not meant for non-Jews? Again, please read Reply #68b for much more on this one...
Peter, in Acts 2:22, says that the ability to do signs and wonders can be used to prove that one is approved by God while Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, says that Satan and his followers can also do signs and wonders.
(R) Actual, 2 Thess. 2:9 qualified Satan's signs and wonders as "counterfeit". This was a conspicuous ommission by you.
(MB) This one is also discussed fully in Reply #68b...
(R) So what we have communicated between these two passages is that God causes signs and wonders for His own purposes, and Satan can produce counterfeit signs and wonders. So how are we to know which signs and wonders are real and which ones are conterfeit? The answer is in 1 Thess. 5:21: "Test everything. Hold on to the good." And in 1 John 4:1: "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." The Bible explains itself, this is why you can't just approach it looking for isolated texts to pick fights with. Which inevitably what skeptics do.
(MB) Your Biblical "explanations" fall somewhat short of the mark. All they say is to "test everything" (this is actually no different from the scientific method). But, do they say *how* to test everything? Do they say what results one should get from his test? How does one's test reveal whether or not something comes from God or from a false prophet?
Also, these "explanations" have another problem. If both God and Satan can produce signs and wonders ("counterfeit" or otherwise), that means that each can make the same things happen. Consider the healing of a leper, for example. If we agree that both God and Satan have the power to heal that leper, isn't that leper still just as healed of his affliction no matter whether the wonder was "real" or "counterfeit"? How would the leper "test" this wonder to see whether or not it was real? If he is healed, then the wonder really happened. If the wonder really happened, then, by Acts 2:22, it was approved by God. Yet, by your interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:9, the wonder was "counterfeit" if it was performed by Satan. This simply doesn't follow.
Peter, in Acts 15:8-10, counsels that adherence to the Law is no longer necessary, while Jesus, in Matthew 5:8, advocates strict adherence to the Law.
(R) I don't know what you are talking about. That passage is from the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:8 says: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." This isolated verse is in no way communicating anything about the law. How you deduced this is a mystery. Either that, or your skeptics' catalogue for Bible discrepancies which you are copying from contains errors.
(MB) This was a typing error in the original reply that was corrected in Reply #68c. The verse citation should read Matthew 5:18.
It's clear that the Bible, when read in toto, presents a rather confusing story. Yes, it holds that God and Jesus are #1, but that's about it as far as any "unity" goes between the stories.
(R) When skeptics come to scripture to isolate verses, carelessly rip them out of their intended contexts, and then interpret them using their own queer predilections instead of sound interpretive principles, they come out without confusion that is of their own making. This is the only thing you have proved, and done so quite well.
(MB) On the contrary, more damage is done to the context and content of the Bible by its adherents than by any skeptic. The sheer volume of unsupportable apologetic nonsense that has been written to cover up, gloss over, or explain away the problems in the Bible just add confusion to the normal believers' ignorance of his own religion. Skeptics didn't create 1500+ different sects of Christianity. There's more than enough confusion created by the believers themselves who contribute to those thousands of different interpretations of scripture and doctrine. Christians don't research their beliefs. They just believe them. Why else would "faith" be such a cherished part of their religion while their Bible counsels against reason and questioning?