Tag Archives: God

Bible Test for False Gods

With so many religions in the world, and people worshiping so many different deities, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to determine which gods were real and which were false?

Imagine you find yourself in a city where the people worship two gods, how could you go about proving which of them, if either is the real “God?”

Well, if you believe in the Bible, the answer is simple. The Bible lays out a specific solution to this very problem. In 1 Kings chapter 18 Elijah comes to a town where the people worship Baal and the LORD. Elijah tells the people they need to figure out which is the real God and worship him, whether it’s the LORD or Baal.

“How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

Elijah didn’t simply assert the validity of his god, he didn’t simply tell people to pray about it. He needed to demonstrate that the LORD was real and more powerful than Baal. So, he devised a test for both gods.

Elijah suggested that he and the prophets of Baal both offer a sacrifice to their deity. They will both choose a bullock and place it upon the altar but place no fire underneath. The god who can light his own altar will be considered the real god.

“And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answerth by fire, let him be God.” (1 Kings 18:24)

In the Bible story, Elijah allows the prophets of Baal to go first. They pray from morning until noon. When Baal still hadn’t answered their prayers, Elijah mocked those who prayed to him saying they needed to pray louder because their god must be talking, traveling, or possibly sleeping.

“And when it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” (1 Kings 18:27)

The prophets of Baal prayed louder and started flagellating themselves until they were bleeding profusely. They prayed all day until the time of the evening sacrifice, however, Baal still did not answer their cries.

“And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, not any that regarded.” (1 Kings 18:29)

Then it was Elijah’s turn. He built an altar out of 12 stones and dug a trench around it. Then he placed wood and the pieces of the bull upon the altar. Next, Elijah had the people dump barrels of water on the altar and the wood until it filled the trench surrounding the altar.

“Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood. And he said, Do it a second time. And they did it a second time. And he said, Do it a third time. And they did it a third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.” (1 Kings 18:33-35)

Now, it was Elijah’s turn to pray. He only needed to ask once, the LORD answered immediately.

“Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38)

The people were instantly convinced.

“And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.” (1 Kings 18:39)

It should be a simple matter to prove that your god is “the God.” If your god is able to light a fire based on your prayer alone then it is a real god, if not, it is a false god.

If a Christian wants to prove their God is real, hand them a match and ask them to pray to the LORD to light it. (They can even dunk it in water first if they want. You can even offer to taunt them and mock them like Elijah did to the prophets of Baal when their God didn’t answer.) According to the Bible, if the LORD is unable to  light the match then he isn’t a real god.

I have never yet had a Christian take up the challenge. Which means the prophets of Baal had more faith in their “false god” than the Christian has in the “real God.”

Christians refuse to take up the challenge because, regardless of how much faith they claim to have, they KNOW their prayer will not be answered. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the LORD will not light the match. It doesn’t matter how fervently they pray, their prayers will go unanswered, just like those of the prophets of Baal.

One Christian I asked to take the challenge refused and quoted Matthew 12:39.

“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign…”

I simply had him continue reading:

“… and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

I pointed out that Jesus fails that test as well because he wasn’t “in the heart of the earth” for “three days and three nights.” According to all of the gospels, Jesus died on a Friday and was buried that evening then was raised the following Sunday. That’s only one day and two nights. It’s a false prophecy, he failed his own test.

Back to the subject, why was the inability of Baal to light a fire by prayer considered proof positive that Baal was not a real God, but Christians won’t consider it proof that the LORD is not real?

One last thing. After proving his God was real, Elijah had the people capture all 450 prophets of Baal and then he slew them all. Perhaps he wanted to demonstrate the loving nature of the LORD.

“And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” (1 Kings 18:40)

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.

Choosing Your Religion Before You Are Born.

I overheard a couple of Mormons talking the other day.  One of them said: “We are the lucky ones, we were born into The Church, we have been able to live with the fullness of the Gospel for our entire lives!  It’s our duty to share that love with the world.” 

To which the other replied: “It’s not luck. I believe we choose where we will be born and what trials we will face in the preexistence.  I believe we even select the time and method of our own death.”

For those who are unfamiliar with Mormon theology, they believe our souls were born to spirit parents long before we were born to physical parents. They call this time before physical birth the “preexistence.”

I wasn’t part of the conversation but I still had to hold in my laughter.  I could just imagine God talking to their unborn soul and asking: “Would you like to be born into the One True Church and live with the fullness of the gospel or would you prefer to be born into a false religion and raised to THINK you were born into the One True Church?”

How would you know the difference once you were born?

And what about picking your trials in advance? How does that work with freewill?  If you “choose” to be raised by abusive parents, does that mean your parents didn’t have the freewill to choose any other action? What about people who are raped in this life? Did they choose that? Did the rapist have any choice in the matter?

The whole idea reeks of victim blaming.  (I’m sorry your life sucks, but you picked it.)  It seems like a way for people living comfortably to ignore those who are not as comfortable without feeling guilty.  After all, if a child is born into a poor family and dies of starvation that’s okay – they selected those trials and that death.

I don’t think Mormons realize how sadistic this belief makes their God.  Does he hand you a checklist with different ways you can suffer and require you to select a specific number of experiences?  “Please select at least 50 painful experiences from List A and 150 mild irritants from List B.”

Some people suffer extreme pain and even torture in this life, why would anyone VOLUNTEER for that ahead of time?  Imagine the spirits in heaven talking with each other: “You can choose to be killed by being burned alive when you are 14 or you can live until you 80 and die peacefully in your sleep. I’m so torn, I don’t know which to choose. Living to 80 would be so cool, but I wonder what fire feels like when it burns your flesh?”

Other Christian denominations don’t claim you pick your method of death or your trials – and whether or not you are born into the right religion is usually considered a matter of luck — of course, if you don’t get it right before you die God will still torture you forever… so God doesn’t look much nicer according to that theology.

Oh well, people believe crazy things.

Email — Adam and Eve

Not all my email is from people who disagree with me.  Below is an email from someone who enjoys my  blog posts.

I love your stuff.  I just wanted to tell you that, and offer you words of encouragement.  I know the pain of telling someone a truth and having them rationalize it and dismiss you without having presented any argument.  Most of the time, they don’t even have the capacity to recognize defeat in a debate.  I think that the faith philosophy forces them to repress their natural inclination to logic, reason, and skepticism.  I sympathize with them because I used to be a Christian: terrified to even think anything critical of my faith or my savior.  This is an exchange that really sums up the frustration if you want to read it.  I just wanted to say keep it up.  You’re welcome to post my response all over your blog.

Best wishes,

Brad

Her first response to the knowledge of good and evil argument:

I think you misunderstood the story completely. The point was that, they were created so pure, without a sin, they were innocent like children, but they were not like children incapable to sin. Adam an Eve was able to choose. They also were free to choose. They were not slaves. As you don’t force your loved ones to love you, God didn’t force them to love Him, even though he made a very wonderful world for them and loved them very much. But they chose not to obey his rules, they cheated God, so they were actually evil in God’s eyes! So how could God then let them live forever as long as they didn’t keep his word? Can God live together with evil? Of course not! And that’s when God chose to make us mortal, and let us suffer in this world.
As you know from that time men were sinners, and never could stop from sinning all over again more and more. Now we inherit the sin to each other, also help each other to do it.

My response:

Maybe you’ve missed the point I made: Adam and Eve were ignorant about the WHOLE subject of good and evil—they were utterly incapable of thinking about it, talking about it, or making any decisions about it. There is no way you can say it is morally just to punish someone for doing wrong when they have no concept of wrong. Likewise, it would be moral abasement to praise the creature for doing something that was morally proper, because he couldn’t have known it was good. Any decision he makes concerning good and evil is nullified by his ignorance. And if he does something good or evil, it is completely by accident and has nothing to do with his ability for discernment in such matters—because he has no discerning ability whatsoever. Let’s pretend that you had a child with a disability. And you told him not to do something, but he did it anyway. But also pretend that a part of his condition means that he cannot decipher language very well. In essence, it doesn’t matter what you told him, he can’t understand you. But after you discovered that he disobeyed you, with the full knowledge of his condition, you begin to beat him mercilessly until he screams in anguish and tears fill his eyes. You continue to beat him and as he begs for mercy, you kill him. This what god does in that story; could you do that to your own child? Adam and Eve are not human beings, they are Ken and Barbie dolls. They have a severe mental handicap: they are not just under informed, they are absolutely ignorant. The only thing happening before the fall of “man” was Adam naming animals all day and Eve lounging around with snakes. There may not have been a care in the world, but they wouldn’t have known it because they were just two oblivious husks of human beings. If anything, the “Fall of man” was the best thing that ever happened to him. The problem with the theological connotations behind that wretched story is that it tells people that they are wicked, evil sinners, and there is nothing they can do about it. What a terrible concept! First man is given the boot (from what we are told is a good place) for, when it comes down to the details, being ignorant. Now, post-Fall, he’s born evil, capable of nothing but sinning, except for the chance occasion that something else (but never him) commits a good act but uses his body like a puppet—and he had better make sure to direct the credit for such good deeds to the higher power and not himself or else it will be hubris. I don’t see how it’s defensible but through blind faith and a mind always prepared to rationalize every truth that contradicts it’s belief—which, as I showed earlier, is based on obfuscation. The main point that I want to underline concerning the texts, which is true of the Ark, the Fall, and every other story in the Bible is that they should never be interpreted as historical facts; they should be interpreted as symbolic, metaphysical ideas. To interpret the stories as historical facts is to miss the whole point behind them which is to present a metaphysical or symbolic idea.

Her Response:

Adam and Eve were not ignorant at all. God let them know that you must not eat from this tree, and that was an order, but they didn’t listen to God, can’t you see the difference? They did something that God didn’t want them to do, so that a sin. They were not incapable to understand as you are saying, it’s the opposite, they knew God but just liked “more” than what they got, but lost even what they had.

There are very evil and wicked people ,very bad bad people, so it’s not a terrible concept, it’s reality.

Thank you for the kind words, I will definitely put that on the blog. I always appreciate a good well-worded argument. Here is the approach I like to take when I’m discussing the Genesis creation story:

God told Adam and Eve “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

The serpent told them: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Now they have heard 2 claims, one from God and one from the serpent. Both claims were told to individuals who do not yet possess the ability to tell right from wrong or good from evil. (The tree was the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” to say they already knew good from evil means this was just a normal tree and not a tree of “knowledge” as the Bible God claimed.)

According to Genesis 3:22, God said: “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” confirming that the serpent told the truth when he described the results of eating the fruit.

Adam and Eve didn’t die the day they ate the fruit, but they did become “as gods, knowing good and evil.” God said Adam and Eve would “surely die” the same day they ate the fruit – that didn’t happen – instead, God realized they could still become immortal so he kicked them out of the garden. “… lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden…” (If someone uses the “a day to God is like 1000 years to mankind” argument, they’re saying God lacks basic conversion skills.)

Sure Adam and Eve knew something would happen if they eat from the tree, they had been told they will either “surely die,” or will “not surely die” and will become “as gods, knowing good and evil.” They didn’t know that obeying God was good and disobeying God was evil. They simply had two contradictory accounts of what would happen if they ate the fruit… and to top it off, the Bible says the fruit looked good.

Notice what God did NOT tell Adam and Eve.

He did not say: “Watch out for the serpent, he lies.”

He did not say: “If you choose to disobey me you will condemn you and all your children and every future generation of mankind to be tortured for eternity.”

He did not say: “If you eat the fruit you won’t actually die the same day, but you will be kicked out of the garden and forced to work for a living and have painful childbirth – and I will create poisonous plants and man-eating animals, and microscopic flesh-eating bacteria who will eat your future children alive.”

It’s like me telling you I have a quarter is in my right hand, and someone else telling you it is in my left hand.  Then asking you to guess which hand the quarter was in and telling you I will kill you if you get it wrong.  You didn’t see me place the quarter, so you wouldn’t know who was telling the truth.

Christians often argue that Adam and Eve did die that day, spiritually.   Saying they died spiritually is to simply ignore the meaning of the words used. The word translated as “surely die” in Genesis 2:17 is “muwth” it is the same word used in Genesis 5:5 to describe the physical death of Adam “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” It’s also the same word used to describe the physical death of: Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Haran, and Terah. (And that’s just in the first 11 books of Genesis) It’s also the word used for the “thou shalt surely die” threat God made against Abimelech in a dream (Gen 20:7) if he didn’t return the prophet’s wife.

The same word, the same threat, from the same God, in the same book – yet the same people would argue that the meaning is completely different. The same word is used more than 500 other times in the Bible, each time referring to physical death — except (according to some apologists) this ONE time.

I hope that helps with your discussion.

Thanks again for the email,

Your friend,
Shawn