Before I start things, I want to make my position clear. I’m not an atheist, nor do I practice any religions. My personal belief is that there is some sort of divine purpose for human life and that there is a supreme consciousness above us. This belief stems from my research on near death experiences, as well as personal feelings in my life, but my reasons for believing in what I do are a whole separate topic. The point I’m making here is that my beliefs don’t stem from anything I’ve been taught in a church, nor do I believe any book written by man to be the divine words of God. This brings me to the Bible. The events and people mentioned in the Bible are the basis for the Abrahamic religions, specifically Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Coming from a Catholic school, I’ve heard all the excuses the Church gives to defend the Bible’s divinity. They overlook God’s cruelty in the Bible-God killing Onan for refusing to impregnate a woman (Genesis 38:8-10) and God telling the Israelites to kill all the people of Amalek, including women, children, and babies (1 Samuel 15:1-3). They also overlook the verses that say women should never teach (1 Timothy 2:12) and women should remain silent in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). And certainly the Church doesn’t kill anyone who works on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2 and Numbers 15:32-36) or excludes those who are born out of wedlock (Deuteronomy 23:2). You’ll find that everyone who follows the Bible picks and chooses which verses to agree with. You almost have to with the amount of contradictions that are found in the Bible.
The amount of contradicting information in the Bible is the greatest proof that the Bible is not a book sent to us by God. It’s a collection of books written by various different authors over a period of time-more than 1000 years. An omniscient God would be able to write a coherent book and keep his story straight, especially on big subjects, such as the creation of the universe. The very first two stories of the Bible give us the first two contradictions. In the first story, God creates animals first and then goes on to create humans. In the second story, God creates Adam and then creates animals as a companion for Adam. When God realizes animals aren’t a suitable companion he then creates Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. So which of the two stories is it? Did God create humans together, or did he create Adam before Eve? Did God create animals before humans, or did he create animals as a companion for Adam? Creationists expect us to believe the creation of the universe happened the way it is told in the Bible, but the Bible tells it two separate ways. This is not the only contradiction found either. Another example is the death of Judas. Judas either hanged himself (Matthew 27:5) or fell to his death (Acts 1:18) depending on which story you read. Now some people argue that Judas could’ve hanged himself and then the branch broke and his corpse fell. The problem with this explanation is that in Matthew, Judas returns the money he got for betraying Jesus. In Acts, Judas uses the money to buy a field. Once again, which story is it? Contradictions like this make being a strict fundamentalist difficult, but there are also people who defend those contradictions by saying, “The Bible is not meant to be taken literally.” Then how much of the Bible is meant to be taken as literal? Christians certainly take the whole New Testament literally. In any case, the contradictions of the Bible only make sense if you take the Bible for what it is. It’s a collection of writings from different authors with different views and opinions. The Bible is not the work of an incompetent God who can create a universe, but can’t tell a coherent story.
“The Bible is the most historically accurate book.” I’ve heard people make this claim, as if everything in the Bible happened exactly as the Bible says it did. Once again, the contradictions in the Bible should disprove this idea, but some people decide to ignore the contradictions. Even those religious people who don’t take the Bible literally have to at least believe that some of the people and events of the Bible are real. After all if Abraham never existed, what does that make the Abrahamic religions that he allegedly founded?
The Exodus story is one of the most important and well-known events in the Bible. Moses-the man chosen by God to lead his people to freedom-is the most important prophet in Judaism and he’s a very important prophet in Islam and Christianity. As important as Moses and the Exodus are to those religions, there’s no historical evidence of the mass exodus out of Egypt that the Bible claims. The Bible says that over 600,000 slaves left overnight. Combine that with the plagues inflicted on Egypt and it would’ve thrown the whole country into turmoil. There are no signs that Egypt ever suffered through the economic struggles something like that would’ve brought on, nor does it appear that Egypt ever lost that much of its population in such a short period of time. One would also think that an event like Moses and over 600,000 slaves rising up against the pharaoh would be something that the Egyptians or the countries that traded with Egypt would’ve documented, but outside of the Bible, no other sources from that time claim that the Exodus happened. There’s also no credible proof that the Egyptians ever enslaved the Israelites for hundreds of years. The story of Moses seems to be largely surrounded by myths.
Another huge event in the Bible that has no historical basis is the most important part of the Christian doctrine. That is the existence of Jesus Christ. Looking at Jesus’ life and death strictly from a religious viewpoint creates a debate, even without looking at secular evidence or lack of evidence of Jesus’ existence. Christians believe that Jesus was the only Son of God, who was sent by God to die for our sins so that we could be forgiven. They also believe that Jesus was both a man and God. Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin-like Christians-and he is one of the greatest prophets in their religion, but they reject the notion that he was crucified or that he was God-many Muslims actually view equating Jesus to God as blasphemy. Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie was the reincarnation of Jesus. Others believe that Jesus was a great teacher, but not a prophet or the son of God. As you can see, there’s a great amount of debate between those who actually believe Jesus existed. Then there are people who view Jesus as a myth. They see Jesus as little more than a collection of the previous half-god stories that predated him. Whatever the truth is, certainly the Jesus found in the gospels did not exist.
The gospels are already questionable because they were written long after Jesus was supposed to have died. It’s a little strange to think that a man who was resurrecting the dead would not have been written about while he was alive, but that’s the case with Jesus. For all the great miracles the gospels attribute to him, there are no writings about Jesus during his lifetime. There also aren’t any records of Jesus’ crucifixion. According to Matthew, Jesus’ death was accompanied by earthquakes and the dead rising (Matthew 27:51-53). Events like this would’ve been hard to miss, and Matthew even claims that many people saw the dead people who had risen, and still no one bothered to record any of these events. Matthew also claims Joseph had to flee to Egypt because Herod the Great was murdering all the male infants of Bethlehem, which is another claim that is not supported by historical evidence-so much for the historical accuracy of the Bible. The lack of historical documents and first person accounts about Jesus would strongly indicate that he was in fact just a myth. The four gospels are really our only source about the life and death of Jesus, and they give conflicting information (more contradictions).
In Matthew, Jesus meets Peter and Andrew as he’s walking along the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18), but in John, Jesus meets the two brothers, then goes to Galilee (John 1:40-43). Matthew and John also give conflicting views on Jesus’ capture. In John, Jesus confronts the soldiers and tells them that he is the one they are looking for (John 18:1-8), but in Matthew, Judas kisses Jesus to let the soldiers know who to arrest (Matthew 26:48-49).
The date of Jesus’ birth is another contradiction. Matthew claims that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1-3). Luke links Jesus’ birth to a census taken during the time that Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-3). The contradiction here is that Quirinius became the governor of Syria after Herod the Great died. This leads us to another situation where only one of the two gospels is correct on this matter. Was Jesus born during the reign of Herod the Great or during the time that Quirinius was governor? Christian apologists struggle to reconcile this historical contradiction. One Christian tried to defend this contradiction by saying Matthew could’ve been referring to a different Herod. He did have a point. After all there was more than one Herod, but we know the Bible is referring to Herod the Great because in Matthew, Joseph is told about Herod’s death and Archelaus succeeding his father (Matthew 2:22)-Archelaus was the son of Herod the Great.
Even the last words of Jesus vary. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus’ final words are, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34). In John, Jesus says, “It is finished,” (John 19:30) and in Luke Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” (Luke 23:46). The exact words vary from translation to translation, but one thing remains the same. The four gospels give three different accounts of the last words of Jesus. It’s pretty clear that none of the gospel writers knew Jesus,-none of the gospels are written in first person and they never refer to Jesus personally-and if the writers of the gospel were “inspired” by God, why is it they give different accounts of the same events? Did God inspire them to do it? The conflicting information and views about Jesus just goes to show how little we truly known about a man who is considered by many to be their personal lord and savior.
The Bible is also a book full of prophecies, and Jesus warns us to look out for false prophets (Matthew 7:15). This is interesting because the Bible actually does contain false prophecies-yet another blow to the Bible’s “historical accuracy”. The prophet Ezekiel says God will send King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to destroy Egypt (Ezekiel 30:10-14). The problem here is that Ezekiel’s prophecy never happened. King Nebuchadnezzar never successfully destroyed Egypt, nor did the Nile dry up. The book of Ezekiel is also the same book that gives strong warning against false prophets (Ezekiel 13:1-2 and Ezekiel 14:9-10). That’s not the only example of a false prophet spreading lies. Isaiah tells us that Egypt will speak the language of the Canaanites (Isaiah 19:18). That never happened. Matthew mixes up Old Testament prophecies by attributing a prophecy to Jeremiah, even though Jeremiah never made the prophecy of Jesus being betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27:9)-Zechariah is the one who made it (Zechariah 11:12). The destruction of Damascus never happened (Isaiah 17:1). The only major prophecy that seems to have happened was the coming of Jesus, even though the Old Testament never mentions Jesus by name. Muslims also claim that the Bible mentions the coming of Prophet Muhammad. I mention this because both Christianity and Islam have built religions from vague Biblical prophecies, while many other Biblical prophecies never came true.
Some people claim that God is benevolent. Honestly, I don’t think the Bible is trying to indicate this point, nor do I believe that the original Hebrews viewed God as being a loving God. The God of the Hebrew Bible was an angry and warlike God. This is the same God who approved of the genocide of all the Amalekites. This is also the same God who planned to punish the people of Samaria by killing babies and ripping open pregnant women (Hosea 13:16). To say that God chose one group of people over another is to make God a bigot-as the Hebrews claim that God chose them-and to say God approved of the genocide of a group of people makes God a murderer. There’s no getting around this, yet many religious people don’t want to confront these facts. Even the Bible tells us that God is a warrior (Exodus 15:3). The concept of a benevolent God came about much later-in the New Testament.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said that the Bible and Church were the greatest stumbling blocks in the in the way of women’s emancipation. The Church’s lack of equal treatment towards women is what bothered me the most when I was in Catholic school. Women don’t hold any important roles in the Church-according to the Bible women shouldn’t even be speaking in church. Even in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity women are left out. It’s the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Mothers and daughters are left out of the equation. The only woman in the Bible of any real importance is Mary and that’s because she was the mother of Jesus. Her importance is really just childbirth.
For a book that is supposed to be the word of God, I’m not very impressed with the Bible. It’s full of contradictions, false prophecies, barbaric laws, and chauvinism. It’s not historically accurate at all and certainly not infallible. This is a book written by people who thought bats were birds (Leviticus 11:13-19). Ultimately, those who believe in the Bible’s divinity do so based on faith, not because the Bible is the most flawless and historically accurate piece of literature ever written by man or God.