We will cover several of the following criticisms of the Bible:
The Bible is a collection of many different types of books. Not all the books carry the same message. For instance, Nehemiah, calls for the preservation of racial purity by the prohibition of inter-racial marriages, while Ruth has for its heroine a Moabite woman who married a Jew. As another example, the book of Proverbs extols living the good life which it says is God’s reward for righteous living while Ecclesiastes says life is meaningless and prosperity is accidental.
The New Testament stands in an uneasy contrast with the Old. The Old Testament says that the Jews are the chosen people of God. This God may sometimes abandon them as a punishment for their unfaithfulness but the severance was always only temporary. Yet in the New Testament we are shown that the Jews are completely severed from God and are in fact responsible for the murder of his Son.
The above are some of the criticisms and contradictions that Atheists claim make the Bible ERRANT not INERRANT. The problem is they are taking a literal interpretation of several translations and failing to read or understand the words written in the original languages viable at the time.
From the website http://rejectionofpascalswager.net/internal.html we will start with this poorly thought out fallicy:
“Let us begin at the beginning. In chapter one of Genesis, God is said to have created plants on the third day (Genesis 1:12-13), with animals being created on the fifth and sixth day (Genesis 1:20-25). Man was made after all these, on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-31). However, in the very next chapter, the Bible contradicts itself by explicitly noting that man was created before the plants and animals.
Created Before the Plants: Genesis 2:4-7 In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Created before the animals: Genesis 2:18-19 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
The difference between the above two accounts cannot be more explicit.
- In Genesis 1:12 it was noted that the land had already produced vegetation on the third day, three days before the creation of man. Yet in Genesis 2:5, no shrub or plant had even grown when man was created.
- Furthermore in Genesis 1:20-25, we are told that the animals were created on the fifth and sixth day of creation, all before man; yet in Genesis 2:18-19, they were created explicitly to find man a companion! Thus within the first couple of chapters of the Bible contradictions already exist.”
This is one of the weakest of the so-called ‘contradictions’ they pick on. My refutation follows:
Just as there are few words that can be directly translated from one language to another, understanding the writings of all ancient peoples is as much an art as it is a science. Perhaps the English word ‘love’ is closely related to the Italian word ‘amore’ but that always seems a little bit more romantic. The Spanish version ‘corazon’ also seems to imply more of a close relationship than our simple word ‘love.’ You have seen the President at press conferences with foreign dignitaries and he speaks a few short words (hard for him do to, I know) and then it takes 50-60 seconds for the response to be relayed into the other language. They are translating not word for word but word for applicable phrases that convey the closest meaning. We must keep that in mind for a more detailed explanation of my idea of exegesis (critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible) please see: http://intelligentdesign.blog.com/2013/12/07/statement-of-facts/
Between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve, the Bible says (Genesis 2:19) ‘out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air’. On the surface, this seems to say that the land beasts and birds were created between Adam and Eve. However, Jewish scholars apparently did not recognize any such conflict with the account in chapter 1, where Adam and Eve were both created after the beasts and birds (Genesis 1:23–25). Why is this? Because in Hebrew the precise tense of a verb is determined by the context.
It is clear from chapter 1 that the beasts and birds were created before Adam, so Jewish scholars would have understood the verb ‘formed’ in (Genesis 2:19 to mean ‘had formed’ or ‘having formed’. If we translate verse 19 as follows, ‘Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field …’, the apparent disagreement with Genesis 1 disappears completely.
The question also stems from the wrong assumption that the second chapter of Genesis is just a different account of creation to that in chapter 1. It should be evident that chapter 2 is not just ‘another’ account of creation because chapter 2 says nothing about the creation of the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc. Chapter 2 mentions only things directly relevant to the creation of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden God prepared specially for them. Chapter 1 may be understood as creation from God’s perspective; it is ‘the big picture’, an overview of the whole. Chapter 2 views the more important aspects from man’s perspective.
Genesis 2:4 says, ‘These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens’. This marks a break with chapter 1. This phraseology next occurs in Genesis 5:1, where it reads ‘This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man’.
‘Generations’ is a translation of the Hebrew word toledoth, which means ‘origin’ or ‘record of the origin’. It identifies an account or record of events. The phrase was apparently used at the end of each section in Genesis identifying the patriarch (Adam, Noah, the sons of Noah, Shem, etc.) to whom it primarily referred, and possibly who was responsible for the record. There are 10 such divisions in Genesis.
The differences in the toledoth statements of Genesis 2:4 and 5:1 affirm that chapter 1 is the overview, the record of the origin of the ‘heavens and earth’ (2:4)—whereas chapter 2 is concerned with Adam and Eve, the detailed account of Adam and Eve’s creation (5:1,2). The wording of 2:4 also suggests the shift in emphasis: in the first part of the verse it is ‘heavens and earth’ whereas in the end of the verse it is ‘earth and heavens.’
The purpose of Genesis 2:18–25 is not to give another account of creation but to show that there was no kinship whatsoever between Adam and the animals. None was like him, and so none could provide fellowship or companionship for him. Why not? Because Adam had not evolved from them, but was ‘a living soul’ whom God had created ‘in His own image’ (Genesis 2:7 and 1:27). This means (among other things) that God created Adam to be a person whom He could address, and who could respond to and interact with Himself.
Let us apply this understanding to another objection: some also see a problem with the plants and herbs in Genesis 2:5 and the trees in Genesis 2:9. We have already realized that Genesis 2 focuses on issues of direct import to Adam and Eve, not creation in general. Notice that the plants and herbs are described as ‘of the field’ in Genesis chapter 2 (compare 1:12) and they needed a man to tend them (2:5). These are clearly cultivated plants, not just plants in general. Also, the trees (2:9) are only the trees planted in the garden, not trees in general.
Genesis was written like many historical accounts with an overview or summary of events leading up to the events of most interest first, followed by a detailed account which often recaps relevant events in the overview in greater detail. Genesis 1, the ‘big picture’ is clearly concerned with the sequence of events. The events are in chronological sequence, with day 1, day 2, evening and morning, etc. The order of events is not the major concern of Genesis 2. In recapping events they are not necessarily mentioned in chronological order, but in the order which makes most sense to the focus of the account. For example, the animals are mentioned in verse 19, after Adam was created, because it was after Adam was created that he was shown the animals, not that they were created after Adam