Tag Archives: Apologetics

Biblical “Science” – The Water Cycle

Christians, especially Young-Earth Creationists, often claim that the Bible contains accurate scientific information which would have been impossible for anyone to have known at the time the Bible was written. The claim is that the existence of advanced knowledge could only come from divine revelation and is proof that the Bible is the word of God.

Does the Bible contain scientifically accurate information which could only be recorded if it had been revealed by God?  Before we can determine the best explanation for any advanced knowledge in the Bible, we first need to verify if there is information beyond the scope of what the primitive authors could have reasonably known at the time.  Usually, a claim is stated and several verses which supposedly support the claim are listed; however, apologists don’t usually quote the verses directly – and they almost never include any context.  Let’s look at one of example and review the verses listed and see if we can determine why apologists would choose to be intentionally vague.

The water cycle was discovered by a Roman engineer named Marcus Vitruvius in 30AD – so how is it that Solomon wrote about it in complete detail 1000 years earlier

You’ll find this argument on many Christian apologist websites along with a list of several Bible verses which are supposed to prove the claim.

Eccl 1:6-7
“The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again”

The author of this verse recognized that the sea levels didn’t get higher despite a constant inflow of water  from streams and rivers – no deity is needed to make that observation.  The author then concluded that the water must somehow be returning to the river. I see nothing miraculous about making an observation and inferring based on that observation. The author was correct but no mechanism was described, no advanced scientific information was revealed.  The verse simply describes an observation and inference which could have been made by any ancient person living by a body of water.

Eccl 11:3
“If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.”

Nothing about the water cycle is revealed here. This verse says clouds drop rain, and trees fall. Why would this require divine revelation? Couldn’t ancient people recognize that it only rained when it was cloudy without a God to reveal that information to them?

Job 26:8
“He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them”

This verse shows a lack of scientific understanding and demonstrates that the author did not understand how rain and clouds work. He thinks water is stored in the clouds and he seems amazed that clouds don’t break under the weight of all the water they are carrying.  The author doesn’t recognize the clouds ARE water. If he understood that clouds are water vapor he wouldn’t have been surprised that they don’t break.  Again, I see no evidence of divine inspiration.  I see evidence of erroneous ancient beliefs.

Job 36:27-28
“For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.”

Rain falls from clouds, this is nothing new. There is nothing in this verse that wouldn’t have been noticed by every person on the planet for thousands of years.  To suggest that the author wouldn’t have recognized this phenomenon without revelation from a God is highly insulting to the intellect of the author.

Amos 9:6
“It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.”

At first glance this one could look promising, after all, we now know that water from the sea evaporates, condenses into clouds, and then is falls upon the face of the earth as rain.  Is this verse evidence of God describing the water cycle?  Unfortunately for believers, no.

When you read the entire chapter it becomes apparent that the verse is describing magic actions God will take to destroy his enemies. This verse is describing God’s vengeance and his magical powers. Amos 9, verses 1-3 describe how enemies can’t hide from God on top of mountains or at the bottom of the ocean.  In verse 4 God says, “I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.” Verse 5 says God will touch the land and melt it so that it rises and falls like a river, verse 6 (quoted above) says God will pour water from the sea upon the earth.  Verse 8 says he will destroy (the sinful kingdom) from the face of the earth.

Does it make more sense that verse 6 is describing the water cycle or that it is, like the rest of the chapter, just describing another violent magical method God could use to cause death and destruction to his enemies?

So there we have it.

I’m not surprised apologists don’t usually quote the verses when they make this argument, the Bible simply doesn’t say what the apologists want to pretend that it says.  Most believers will simply accept the arguments on faith and repeat it uncritically.

I Don’t Believe in Atheists

A good friend of mine sent me a link to the article, I Don’t Believe in Atheists, and asked for my opinion. My initial response was to say the author obviously has no understanding of the theory of evolution. However, that statement doesn’t address the errors in the article, so I decided a more thorough response was needed.

To begin with, the author confuses acceptance of evolution with atheism.  These are two wholly separate concepts.  An atheist is someone who does not accept claims about the existence of deities. Atheists can’t, by definition, believe in “Special Creation”, because they don’t believe in gods, however they can be atheists and not believe in evolution. Also, there are millions of religious people who accept evolution. A notable example is Francis Collins, head of the human genome project and devote Christian.  Collins acknowledges the truth of evolution but believes it was the tool chosen by God.  The author of the article is simply wrong if he thinks refuting evolution is the same as refuting atheism.

The rest of the article is the authors attempt to show problems with evolution. He posits special creation as a better alternative while providing absolutely no evidence for creationism.

I am not a biologist, nor do I work in that field.  I will discuss his points from a layman perspective. If you want to see thorough arguments showing evidence for evolution and the problems with creationism, I recommend watching the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism video series from AronRa on YouTube.

Now on to the article:

I have issued three public challenges (not to mention several private ones) to the more than 215,000 followers on my Facebook page for atheists to provide specific qualified evidence for Darwinian evolution. Each time, my challenge has been met with deafening silence.

I have not seen his Facebook page but I doubt that his challenge has been met with deafening silence.  A simple Google search will provide millions of scholarly articles from numerous and diverse scientific fields providing evidence for evolution.  If I were to speculate, I would guess he has had his challenge met numerous times but he has rejected the responses.

Yet, when I say something about faith in God or the wonder of His creation, I am met with hostility, insults and mockery from outspoken atheists who say I am unscientific and stupid.

I doubt he is holding himself to the same criteria he demands of atheists, mainly “specific qualified evidence” for his claims about faith in God or creation.  If not, mockery may be the correct response.

If you didn’t see my challenge, here it is again. I am asking for one example (just one) that meets these five criteria:

  1. It must be a random mutation that has occurred naturally
  2. It must have been observed (aka science)
  3. It must have added NEW information to the genome
  4. The mutation must also benefit the host
  5. Don’t resort to citing silly examples of E. Coli or other microorganisms.

There are several problems with his challenge.  Lets look at the first two criteria. If you provide an example of evolution observed in a lab he will reject it because it will fail the first requirement, because anything that occurs in a lab couldn’t have occurred naturally. If you provide an example from nature it will violate the 2nd requirement because it wasn’t “observed” scientifically in a lab. The first two criteria essentially cancel each other out, making his challenge meaningless.

The third item seems arbitrary.  What qualifies as “new” information?  Technically any change will be “new” in the sense that it is different from what was there previously.  Thousands of books have been written in the English language but they all use the same 26 letters in the alphabet.  Do the books published this year count as “new information?” Does an author need to make up new words or add new letters to the alphabet for “new information” to be present? I’m not sure what he is looking for here, and I doubt that he knows what he is looking for either.

As for the 4th criteria, evolutionary scientists agree that the vast majority of mutations are neutral (not helpful or harmful to the organism), others are harmful, and a very few are helpful.  Limiting “evidence of evolution” to beneficial changes would be like asking for proof of a poker game while ignoring any hand that isn’t a royal flush.  There can be plenty of examples of beneficial mutations, but they are not the ONLY examples of evolutionary changes.

The last requirement shows his bias.  Humans have a limited lifespan so most of the evolutionary changes we will be able to observe will be in organisms with a significantly shorter lifespan.  Examples of evolution in E. Coli or other microorganisms are not “silly” they are some of the easiest things we can observe due to their rapid rate of reproduction and the limitations of the human lifetime.

Every Christian, no matter how conservative, believes that organisms do adapt and speciate… But the Darwinian claim that organisms can evolve into different “kinds” (as opposed to species) by gaining complexity through the addition of new genetic information has NEVER been observed…not even once!

A “kind” is a biblical term, it has no meaning to the scientific community.  No scientific paper on evolution has EVER claimed organisms change into different “kinds” because there is no scientific definition saying what a “kind” is. However, since the author already agrees that organisms adapt and evolve into different species, I guess he believes in Darwinian evolution afterall!

This means that the kind of mutations we have observed cannot change organisms into different or more complex kinds. They will adapt, but they will never be anything other than what they are:

  • A dog’s genes may be manipulated to produce many different breeds but they will always be dogs.
  • Fruit flies may grow a second pair of wings, but they will always be fruit flies.
  • Finches may grow longer beaks, but they will always be finches.
  • Bacteria may find new food to metabolize will always be bacteria.

… There is not one shred of evidence to suggest that bacteria are becoming dogs and flies are becoming finches. This means that Darwin’s cult is a matter of faith not science.

The theory of evolution by natural selection does NOT predict that flies will turn into birds or bacteria will become dogs.  The theory states that offspring will be different from their parents, and that offspring with beneficial traits will be more likely to survive and pass on those traits to their own offspring. Changes happen slowly, one generation at a time, and changes build on what is already there.  Insects will ALWAYS be insects.  Humans will ALWAYS be apes.  AronRa explains it best in his 11th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism video, quoted below:

To comprehend evolutionary Theory, one must first understand that it’s only ever a matter of changing proportions –altering or enhancing existing features to build on what is already there.  Developmental biology, genetics, and comparative morphology combine to confirm many of these taxonomic stages such that organs do not seem to have appeared abruptly or fully-formed as if out of nowhere, because there is an implied evolutionary origin evident in every case.  Even the transition of fish-to-tetrapods, dinosaurs-to-birds, or apes-to-men are each are just a matter of incremental, superficial changes being slowly compiled atop successive tiers of fundamental similarities. These represent monophyletic clades which will forever encompass all the descendants of that clade.  This is why birds are still dinosaurs, and humans are still apes, and both are still stegocephalian chordates.

No matter how much you or your heirs may change, you obviously can’t outgrow heredity.  The very concept of common ancestry is a multi-tiered and intertwined complex phylogenetic system which shows why there can’t be any distinctly separate “kinds” to begin with!  At the same time, the act of speciation splits the population presenting an eventually impassable boundary between them.  We often see this demonstrated live in the form of “ring species”, where different evolutionary stages exist all at once in a geographic rather than chronological distribution.  Subspecies (A) may breed with subspecies (B), and (B) may breed with (C), and (C) with (D), but (A) and (D) cannot interbreed because by the time their territories overlap again, they’ve grown too distant genetically, and can’t come back.  This is when we see the formation of new features, organs, or skeletal structures, each examples of new genetic “information”.  What all these show is that even though a new species of perching bird (for example) is “still” a finch, it is now a different “kind” of finch, a distinct descendant species proving there is no “boundary” against macroevolution.

The author ends the article by changing his subject to atheism and claiming victory for God:
My bottom line – I don’t believe in atheists. They are at war, not with God, but with themselves. They are as conflicted as a child denying its mother. This is why their resistance seems painful and passionate – not what you would expect from someone denying a fairytale. They are rejecting the inner witness of their own souls, the testimony of nature and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It must be an extremely itchy existence “kicking against the goads.” My heart is broken for the atheist. I’m praying for you today (sincerely). I don’t pray that you would come to any religion (I hate religion as much as anyone). But I pray that you would come to know the love of God through Jesus Christ.

The author’s flawed understanding of basic evolutionary principles is not evidence for Jesus. In order to refute evolution, he should find out what it actually is first.  Then, if he was successful, he would still need to provide “specific qualified evidence” for his alternative (i.e.: Creationism).  Until he has done that, no one is justified in believing it. And, even if evolution were proven false it would not be evidence that the world was created by the Christian God or that he tortured and killed himself as his son in order to persuade himself not to torture and kill all of us for the crime of being born.

Whether you believe in atheists or not is irrelevant.  And no, it isn’t an “extremely itchy existence” to say stories about talking animals are too silly to believe without evidence.

Mathematical Proof that Jesus is God

It is often claimed by Christians that Jesus fulfilled numerous prophecies within the Old Testament, so I decided to take a look at some of these claims and see if they stand up to basic critical analysis.

Often times Christians will list several prophecies at once, and list statistics for each prophecy. Despite numerous requests, I’ve never had a Christian actually present the methodology used to determine the figures reported. Several prophecies will have completely different statistics listed depending on your source. The basis of claims regarding Jesus fulfilling Old Testament Prophecies, especially claims with statistical figures attached, is that the statistical likelihood that someone “just happened” to fulfill so many Old Testament prophesies is so unlikely that it is not reasonable to think of Jesus as anything other than the Messiah.

Statistics are useful tools when they are based on accurate figures, but they have their limits.

Let’s look at an example: Let’s assume the odds of predicting the final score in a Vikings vs. Cardinals is 1/5000 (whether or not this is an accurate statistic is not important). The odds of you correctly predicting the outcome of a specific game on a specific day are very small. That is only true if you are predicting the outcome of a specific game. If you make an open-ended prediction – that someday the outcome of a Vikings vs. Cardinals game will be X – then the statistical likelihood of your guess one day being correct becomes nearly 1/1. It also becomes impossible to prove your prediction wrong, since you can always say you were predicting the outcome of a future game.

There is another problem with biblical prophecies, we don’t know how accurately the bible portrays the life of Jesus – some biblical scholars even doubt whether or not there was a historical Jesus on whom the stories were based.

Let’s return to the sports analogy for a moment. Imagine you are a sports commentator reporting the outcome of a game that took place 150 years ago, you weren’t at the game and neither was anyone currently living. No one can validate any account or correct any errors. In fact, there is no way for you to verify your own information. If you found an earlier prediction about the game you may use it to create your commentary. You may simply assume the prediction turned out to be right, even though the prediction was actually false. You are in a position to simply make up figures to match the prediction, and no one can prove you wrong. In fact, you could invent an entire game based on the prediction, the actual game need not ever to have taken place. Statistics are useless when discussing a completely fictional, or highly embellished, story.

Let’s review several “prophecies” and see if Jesus’ “fulfillment” of these prophecies is as incredible as some people make it out to be:

Prophecy 1: Born in Bethlehem

The odds of someone being born in a specific town will vary wildly based on where their parents live, where their ancestors are from, how often they travel, where they travel, etc. The odds of me being born in Bethlehem were extremely low, because my family is not from Bethlehem, and has never visited that part of the world. If Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem – as the book of Matthew claims – then the likelihood that their child would be born there is almost 1 to 1. (Most people are born in the city where their parents live.)

This claim is referring to Micah 5:2, which says: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

There are several problems that make it impossible for Jesus to have fulfilled this prophecy. (Notice that most of the time when this prophecy is mentioned, only part of the prophecy is actually voiced. The part about being a “ruler in Israel” is usually ignored for some reason.)

First: “Ephratah” is the ancient name of Bethlehem, but “Bethlehem Ephratah” is also the name of a person: Bethlehem the son (or grandson) of Ephratah (depending on whether you go by the genealogy listed in 1 Chronicles 4:4 or 1 Chronicles 2:50-51). Which means this prophecy could refer to either a native of the town of Bethlehem or to a descendent of Bethlehem Ephratah. If the latter, Jesus does not qualify since neither of his alleged genealogies (found in Matthew and Luke) list either Bethlehem or Ephratah. If the former (which is the usual claim), then Jesus may qualify by birthplace but he still fails to meet the condition of being “ruler in Israel.” Most Christians claim this part of the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. (See my comment earlier comment about saying you were predicting a future game whenever the prediction fails.)

Second, and perhaps more important, are the differences in the gospel accounts. The gospels of Mark and John never mention Jesus’ birthplace. (Mark is generally accepted as the oldest gospel.) The nativity story only appears in Matthew and Luke. The authors of both gospels report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but they have drastically different ways of getting him there.

Matthew says Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem then moved to Nazareth after fleeing to Egypt with Jesus to avoid the slaughter of the innocents (Herod’s order to kill every male child in Judea). Luke says Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, and that Jesus was only born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary were forced to travel there to enroll in a census. Luke makes no mention of Herod’s slaughter (neither does any other historian, including Josephus), and Matthew makes no mention of the census. Both stories are mutually exclusive and contradictory.

Even the date of Jesus’ birth varies drastically between the two stories. Matthew places Jesus’ birth during the reign of Herod (Matt 2:1) 4 B.C. or earlier, while Luke has Jesus being born when Quirinius was governing Syria (Luke 2:1-2), 10 years later in 6 A.D.

Although both gospels place Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem, they disagree on nearly every conceivable point. Of one thing we can be certain – one or both of these accounts is wrong.

Since we’re focusing on statistics, which is statistically more likely?

1. Jesus’ parents simultaneously lived in Bethlehem and Nazareth, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod and then again 10 years later when Quirinius was governing Syria, and that Herod slaughtered thousands of children but no one other than the writer of Matthew noticed?

or…

2. The writers of Matthew and Luke independently embellished an earlier account (such as Mark) and each invented their own nativity story in order to make the character of Jesus “fulfill” the prophecy in Micah?

We know people lie and embellish, we also know the gospels of Matthew and Luke were not written until nearly 100 years after the events they report. But I’ll let you decide the odds for each of those yourself.

For the first “fulfilled prophecy,” Micah 5:2, we know that at least one (possibly both) of the gospel writers fabricated the nativity account in order to make that Jesus’ story fulfill the existing prophecy (like the sports commentator who invents his own scores for a 100 year old game to match an earlier prediction), but they were unable to embellish the story enough to satisfy the entire prophecy because Jesus was never the “ruler of Israel.”

Prophecy 1: Micah 5:2 – False.

Prophecy 2: Preceded by a Messenger

This is referring to the prophecy in Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Christians claim this prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist. But, did John the Baptist really “prepare the way” for Jesus? Josephus, the historian, talks about John the Baptist in great detail, but he never mentions any tie with Jesus. The earliest Christian writings (the letters from Paul) don’t mention John the Baptist at all. The gospel of John says John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the Messiah before he was arrested by Herod, but Matthew and Luke both have John the Baptist sending messengers while he was in prison to ask Jesus if he is the Messiah. (Matt 11:2-3, Luke 7:18-20) “Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?”

If John the Baptist were truly sent to “prepare the way” for Jesus, why would he have needed to ask this question?

For the second “fulfilled prophecy,” Malachi 3:1, we know that at least 2 of the gospel accounts shed serious doubt on the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Prophecy 2: Malachi 3:1 – false according to 2 gospel accounts

Prophecy 3: Entered Jerusalem on a Colt

This is referring to the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

First of all, in a world without cars does anything really think it was rare for people to ride into Jerusalem on horses or donkeys?

The prophecy does not describe just anyone riding into town on a colt, it specifically described a king: someone who, due to his station, would not be expected to ride into town on such a lowly creature. The prophecy is notable because a king has wealth and power and therefore would have no reason to ride a colt. Jesus was not a king, nor was he a powerful or wealthy man. He didn’t even own his own colt. (The colt he rode into Jerusalem was stolen at his order by two of his disciples.)

Jesus was never a king, so immediately this prophecy could not apply to him. Even without that, the “fulfillment” of this prophecy is problematic. According to Mark, Luke, and John Jesus rode in on a colt – however, according to Matt 21:1-11, Jesus rode into Jerusalem simultaneously riding a colt and an ass. (Showing that the authors were confused about what this prophecy specifically described.)

For the third “fulfilled prophecy,” Zechariah 9:9, in a world without cars it wasn’t unusual for ordinary people to ride into a city on a colt or a donkey. Jesus’ lack of wealth and power did not make his ride in on a colt or donkey especially notable. The gospels disagree about the how Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, meaning that one or more of them is wrong and may have been fabricated to make it appear that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.

Prophecy 3: Zechariah 9:9 – Contradictory accounts suggest fabricated history.

Prophecy 4: Betrayed by a Friend

This is referring to Psalms 41:9 “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”

The psalm talks about the bitter pain of being betrayed by a close and trusted friend. However, it is not prophetic. There is no indication that this verse was ever meant to be a prophecy. The verse is quoted by Jesus in John 13:18, but he leaves out an important line “in whom I trusted.” Which makes sense, Jesus supposedly had foreknowledge of who would betray him, and therefore couldn’t have actually trusted Judas.

The fourth “fulfilled prophecy” therefore has several problems: 1) The verse is not a prophecy; 2) If it is treated as prophetic, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas would not qualify due to Jesus’ foreknowledge of the event; and 3) Nearly every person alive has been betrayed by a friend in some way, so the “prophecy” has been fulfilled by nearly every person who has ever lived.

Prophecy 4: Psalms 41:9 – Fulfilled by nearly every person alive, including Jesus

Prophecy 5: Hands and Feet Pierced

This refers to Psalms 22:16, “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.”

Many Christians argue that this entire chapter is a prophetic description of Jesus’ crucifixion. Matthew and Mark both have Jesus quoting part of Psalms 22:1 for his final words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Luke and John have other words listed as Jesus’ last.)

This is a psalm gives no indication of being prophetic and describes the speaker being hunted down and killed, not being arrested and then crucified. Some scholars have argued that a more accurate translation of verse 16 would be “like a lion they are at my hands and feet.” In fact, most Hebrew manuscripts translate it that way. (Some Bibles, like the English Standard Version and the New International Version are honest enough to admit this in the footnotes.)

I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but there are several verses in this chapter that seem to fit the “lion” translation – and don’t fit well with the idea of a crucifixion.

Psalms 22:13 “They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.”
Psalms 22:16 “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: like a lion they are at my hands and feet.”
Psalms 22:20 “Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.”
Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth…”

As you can see, the verse in question makes more sense in context when the when the Jewish translation is used — however, even with the translation Christians prefer the chapter cannot be about Jesus.

Psalms 22: 2 says the man was crying out to God day and night, “O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” Jesus did not cry out to God in the day and the night, he was crucified early in the afternoon and was dead before sun down.

This chapter describe a man being mauled to death and suffering for days, it cannot be a prophecy about Jesus.

The 5th prophecy: Psalms 22:16 – is not a prophecy, and doesn’t describe a crucifixion.

Prophecy 6: Wounded and Whipped by his Enemies

This refers to Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

During this time period crucifixion was a common death penalty. Jesus’ suffering would not have been significantly more or less than any other person who was unfortunate enough find themselves within this assembly line of torture. The two thieves crucified with Jesus were most likely whipped and wounded as much as Jesus, in fact everyone who was ever crucified was probably beat and whipped first.

The verse in Isaiah describes a person being “wounded for our transgressions.” Jesus wasn’t whipped by the Romans because of our transgressions, he was found guilty of trying to subvert the government and sentenced to die by crucifixion for his crime.

The 6th prophecy, Isaiah 53:5 – failed because Jesus was “wounded and whipped” for his crimes, not for our transgressions.

Prophecy 7: Sold for Thirty Pieces of Silver

Matthew 27:9-10 says Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver in order to fulfill a prophecy in Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet…” Unfortunately for the author of Matthew, there is no such prophecy in Jeremiah.

There is a similar verse in Zechariah 11:12-13, but in those verses Zechariah is talking about himself – and there is no betrayal.

Prophecy 7: Does not exist

Prophecy 8: Spit Upon and Beaten

This prophecy is referring to Isaiah 50:6 “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting”

This is basically the same as #6, many people who have lost fights have been spit upon and beaten. That portion is too vague to be applied to one specific person. However, their is no biblical account of anyone plucking off Jesus’ hair, so he could not have fulfilled this prophecy.

Prophecy 8: Isaiah 50:6 – Failed because Jesus never had his hair plucked off.

Prophecy 9: Have His Betrayal Money Thrown in the Temple and Given for a Potter’s Field

Often listed as a separate prophecy this is actually the same as prophecy 7, the prophecy which doesn’t exist.

Prophecy 9: Doesn’t exist

Silent Before His Accusers

This is referring to Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

This can not refer to Jesus, all four gospels agree that Jesus spoke to his accusers (although they disagree on what he had to say). According to John 18:33-37, and 19:11, Jesus had plenty to say to Pontius Pilot. Jesus could not have fulfilled this prophecy.

Prophecy 10: Isaiah 53:7 – False according to all gospel accounts.

Prophecy 11: Crucified With Thieves

I’m not personally familiar with any prophecy about the Messiah being crucified with thieves. I searched the internet for this one, and the verse that came up was Isaiah 53:12 “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

I’m guessing many Christians are interpret “he was numbered with the transgressors” to refer to being crucified with thieves. This verse doesn’t say anything about thieves, it says “transgressors,” which could refer to any human being on the planet, since we supposedly all fall short of the glory of God. The prophecy doesn’t mention crucifixion or death.

Prophecy 11: Isaiah 53:12 – Too vague, it could be interpreted in many ways. Doesn’t foretell anything specific.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t find these prophecies to be especially persuasive.

Christians Hire Stalker-Bus

The Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason started a bus-ad campaign last week.  The ad reads: “Millions of Americans are Good Without God.”

This says nothing derogatory about Christianity, believers, or the God they worship.  It doesn’t even say or imply that God does or doesn’t exist.  (As opposed to the “You know it’s a myth” billboard put up by the American Atheists in New York City.)  This is just a (true) statement saying that non-believers exist and are good people.

Apparently, some Christians in Fort Worth think an ad proclaiming the existence of moral atheists is offensive.  An anonymous group has a new approach at apologetics.  They have hired a mobile billboard to follow one of the buses while carrying it’s own message saying: “I still love you. – God”

The bus has been dubbed the “stalker-bus,” and the group responsible has said they have considered using similar mobile billboards in other cities where atheist bus campaigns and billboards appear.

Personally, I think it’s great.  The stalker-bus does nothing to diminish the message in the atheist bus ads, and has brought more publicity to the campaign than the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason could have ever hoped for.  What started as a simple bus ad has now spread to television and gone worldwide on the internet.  You simply can’t pay for this kind of publicity!

I don’t think the ad paints Christians in a good light either, which is probably why the people responsible have chosen not to release their identities.

Is your faith in God so shallow that an ad stating that atheists can be good people is just too much to deal with?

The stalker bus comes across as extremely childish.  The only thing the Christian group could have done to paint Christianity in a worse light would have been to include a message that was more in-tune with Christian dogma.  Perhaps they should add a postscript saying: “P.S. You’re still going to Hell.”

Can you imagine the public outcry if an atheist group hired a bus to drive around behind a bus carrying a pro-Christian message?  It would be used as proof that atheists are hateful and intolerant, why is it that no one is saying that about the Christian retaliation campaign?

Source: KDFW Fox

More Mormon Questions

I received a reply from our Mormon defending friend.  You can see my response to the original email here.

A tactic I’ve noticed that seems to be more common among amateur Mormon apologists is “denialism.”  I discuss any controversial topics, at least I didn’t think so.  I simply restated common Mormon beliefs in an unflattering way.  However, this person has denied that many of the topics I mentioned are actual Mormon teachings. And he continues to deny it even after the evidence is presented in the form of direct quotes from Mormon “prophets.”

Here is a continuation of the discussion.

I notice that you didn’t say whether or not YOU believe God was once a man.

my answer to that is that i have no definitive answer and i love god and accept him as he is.

And here I thought you were just avoiding the subject.  Since you don’t have an opinion on the matter, does that mean you question the truthfulness of the teachings of Joseph Smith Jr, Brigham Young, Spencer W. Kimball, Orsen Pratt, and Lorenzo Snow?

Some pretty important members of the Mormon religion have expressed this as true. Perhaps you’ve heard of a few of these people:

If a historical tidbit seems inflammatory, we should read it in context with the time, setting, and conditions under which it was said.

I never said the belief was inflammatory, only that it was a Mormon belief.  If you disagree that this is a Mormon teaching, please explain why.  I provided quotes from 4 Mormon prophets, 1 Apostle and a member of the council of the seventy to support my claim.So far all you’ve done is

So far all you’ve done is say the quotes need to be taken “in context” (implying that I have somehow taken the quotes out of context), but you have failed to provide the correct context or clarify the actual meaning of the quotes I provided.When Brigham Young says ”

When Brigham Young says “He [God] is our Father–the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are,” what possible context could that be read to make it mean anything other than that God was once a man?

Many of Jesus’s own statements could appear inflammatory when taken out of their cultural and historical setting. Examples are when Jesus is preaching to “resist not evil” (Matt. 5:39), or when Jesus is being led by Satan (Matt. 4:5), or advising others to eat flesh or drink blood (Matt. 26:26-28). If the perfect master’s teachings can be made to appear preposterous when taken out of context, how much easier would it be to ridicule his imperfect servants’ statements?

Are you saying that you shouldn’t resist evil?  Or that any other of Jesus’ teachings are wrong?  If not, I don’t understand why you would use this example.You’re claiming that I have taken the quotes about God being a former man out of context and that I have somehow perverted the meaning, then you use Jesus’ teaching of “resist not evil” as an example.  Please explain the correct context for each quote, and why they should be taken to mean anything other than exactly what they say.

You’re claiming that I have taken the quotes about God being a former man out of context and that I have somehow perverted the meaning, then you use Jesus’ teaching of “resist not evil” as an example.  Please explain the correct context for each quote I provided, and explain why they should be taken to mean anything other than exactly what they say.

In addition to which, Joseph Smith once said: “This morning I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that a prophet is always a prophet; but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” (History of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 265).  Prophets, express personal and private views on many topics, including doctrine. These comments, if they are out of harmony with revealed scripture, can be rejected. Certainly, they are not doctrinally binding comments.

Are the sermons given by the “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” of the Mormon church during General Conferences (which are translated into multiple languages and transmitted via satellite to church members all around the world) simply “private views?”  Or is he “acting as” the prophet at that time?One of the quotes I provided was from a speech given by Spencer W. Kimball during the priesthood session of General Conference in 1977.  Another quote was from Brigham Young as quoted in the

One of the quotes I provided was from a speech given by Spencer W. Kimball during the priesthood session of General Conference in 1977.  Another quote was from Brigham Young as quoted in the Journal of Discourses, which is a collection of Conference sermons and talks.  Wouldn’t giving an address to every member of the church in an official church meeting qualify as “acting as” a prophet?  If not, I’m not sure what would.

If the belief that God used to be a man is not a Mormon belief, as you appear to claim, can you please provide some quote from a Mormon prophet “acting as such” clarifying this issue?

This apparent misconception about Mormon beliefs has been around for a very long time.  Surely you can find one quote from someone trying to clear this up and give the “official” church opinion on the subject.  (If you can find something explaining why the views expressed by Mormon Prophets during General Conference sermons should not be accepted as actual church teachings, that would also be helpful.)

How can you believe something without knowing what it is you believe? Something that is “impossible to comprehend” is also impossible to believe.

blessed is ye that has not seen but yet believe.

You didn’t answer the question.  I understand how you can believe something without seeing it (I believe Australia exists even though I have never been there), I don’t understand how you can claim to believe something without knowing what it is that you believe.

If you don’t know what you believe, then in what possible way can you be said to actually believe it?

What color shirts do the missionaries wear when then deliver the gospel to the souls trapped in Spirit Prison? If the gospel is not shared by missionaries, how is it shared?

it is shared in whatever god allows knowledge to be shared in the spirit world ive never been there to see it myself. if you think that we belive that missionaires knock on doors and have them slammed in their faces in the spirit world then you have a very earthly take on what spirit life is like.

I have no take on what the spirit life is like, and apparently neither do you or you would have offered some alternative rather than simply telling me I’m wrong.

Why is a physical body necessary?

because god thinks it’s necessary and that’s good enough for me. i do not question god’s ways he knows what’s best i don’t.

Have you ever spoken with God yourself? If not then you are unquestioningly taking the word of someone else who may or may not have actually spoken with God. You’ve moved your faith from God to man. It’s not “God’s ways” you are necessarily following.

How does getting dunked underwater change your ability to make an agreement with God?

read the scriptures. ”unless you are born of water and of the spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of god”.

That’s not an answer.  I’m not asking what the scriptures say, I’m asking why it’s necessary. Why do you need to get wet to make an agreement with God?  Please, rather than regurgitating some verse about baptism, please try to actually think about the question before you answer next time.

Why does God need a living person to get wet before he can enter into an agreement with a deceased person?

the same can be asked of the living person.why does god need a living person to get wet before he can enter into an agreement with the living person?

I did ask the same question about living people, you didn’t answer that one either.

Come to think of it, you haven’t actually addressed anything so far.  You’ve accused me of taking things out of context, while not providing the correct context.  You’ve claimed my “take” on spirit life is wrong, without providing a correct “take” or explaining how you know my “take” is wrong.  You’ve quoted scripture to address a question, when the verse quoted didn’t actually answer the question.  Now you’ve repeated my question – and still haven’t answered it.

Why is the living person able to force the hand of God?

they do not force god’s hand they are instruments of god’s will.

If God is unable to enter into an agreement with the spirit of a willing deceased person until some random living person get’s dunked in a bathtub on his behalf, then the living person is more powerful than God.

Again, this video was to address a few specific issues with Mormon beliefs, not a be-all-end-all video designed to address every single problem with every Christian denomination. (I didn’t even address all the problems with Mormonism.

regardless, the issues raised about Mormonism can be paralleled to issues in the bible and in other christian sects.

I agree, there are issues with other flavors of Christianity as well.

Mormons are almost non existent on the face of the earth. why pick on them? might as well pick on people who sing to trees or people who scream in pillows when they are frustrated. most people don’t know what a Mormon is and many of them laugh at Mormons and make fun of polygamy and call Mormons racist and satanic. remind me as to why you bother to pick on us?

When did pointing out the problems with Mormon doctrine become “picking on Mormons?”

Don’t feel flattered.  I haven’t singled out Mormons.  I had an entire series called Tough Questions for Christians detailing questions I have about standard Christian dogma.  (Most of the questions also apply to Mormonism, but not all.)  I had a series of called Wacky Bible Stories showing some of the absurd stories found in the Bible.  I started a series of Tough Questions for Muslims, and I was invited to be a guest on a Christian Podcast called Intelligent Christianity, which was hosted by a Lutheran.  I point out absurdities wherever I find them, the fact that there aren’t as many Mormons as there are members of other religions doesn’t make their beliefs any less absurd.

Come to think of it, I probably should have made a Tough Questions for Mormons series.  People would probably enjoy a more detailed questioning of the Mormon religion.

Thanks for your email,
Shawn
AKA: AZSuperman01