Is It Really Possible To Have ‘Biblical Morality’?

David G. McAfee has written a revised version of his book Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings and it’s perfect for anyone who has studied the Bible and loves to see its inconsistencies pointed out.

One of the chapters, Morality versus Worship, is republished below:

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” — Quote by Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (26 April, 121 – 17 March, 180).

I would like to begin with this quotation because it outlines very eloquently one of the most popular arguments against Christianity, though it can be applied to many theistic traditions. Christians often preach, and The Bible states, that there are prerequisites for entrance into heaven beyond simply following the moral teachings of The Bible as you might interpret it, including the requirement of having accepted Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior. The Bible explicitly indicates that acceptance of Jesus as Lord is a necessary condition for entry to heaven in John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” This verse is, however, only one of the many indicating the necessity not of moral behavior to be saved, but of accepting Jesus Christ — who, according to doctrine, is supposed to have lived thousands of years ago and for whose existence we have little to evidence, neither as a man nor as part of the divine Christian God-head. It is on the basis of this acceptance requirement that missionaries began their crusades to spread the word of Christ, because those who have not heard the true word of Jesus would be sure to suffer eternal damnation. From this we can infer two things: firstly, that those who have heard of Jesus the Christ and deny him will not receive the gift of eternal communion with God; and, secondly, that those who have not heard of the teachings of Jesus will likewise be condemned as all humans are sinners according to this tradition and, in order to be forgiven for any sins, you must accept that Jesus Christ is God incarnate.

According to missionary authorities (Statistics according to “The Joshua Project” global mission statistics), somewhere around 2.74 billion people have not heard the “gospel of Christ” and are therefore subject to the punishment of God. The problem with this lack of Christian universalism lies within the worship/morality barrier. Would a just God sentence a morally good individual to hell for never having heard of him? And for that matter, would a just God expel a morally good individual to hell who has heard of Jesus, but simply finds no evidentiary reason to believe? According to any reasonable interpretation of Christianity’s key doctrines, the answer is a simple and firm “yes”. This is because, according to Christian dogma, it is impossible to be “moral” without Jesus Christ; I disagree with this on a fundamental level. It seems to me that this claim indicates that if a Christian were to lose his or her faith, he or she would no longer know right from wrong — a scary concept, to say the least. Yet, if there exists a person who follows biblical moral code strictly but doesn’t believe in Jesus’ divinity, the “merciful” Christian God promises eternal damnation. If it is the case that nonbelievers are punished based solely on nonbelief, and this is the purpose for early Christian missionaries to spread the Gospel, then we can conclude that those individuals who haven’t heard or cannot understand the teachings will be likewise damned. The problem is therefore extended from nonbelievers to those ignorant of Christ’s teachings to those incapable of believing due to mental defect or age. For example, because The Bible teaches that no man is without sin and does not mention the specific status of children in the afterlife, it is easy to conclude that, logically, children who die when they are too young to know of Christ’s word may not have a place in eternal communion with God. This debate led to various sects creating new Christian teachings promoting different purgatories and limbo-like layers of afterlife for unbaptized children. Many “modern” Christians stray away from this rather unpopular concept, but the fact remains that, biblically, it is impossible to enter heaven without first accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The requirement to obey and acknowledge God and Jesus Christ has caused the teachings of the Christian tradition to stray from morality to idol worship, creating a world in which a murderer can be forgiven and sent to heaven, whereas a loving and caring skeptic would be cast into damnation.

Not only do I believe that it is possible to maintain moral standards without the crutch of religion — but I would argue that it is the only way to achieve true goodness and express real altruism. Free from the constraints of organized religion, a human being is able to express decency from one’s self — as opposed to attempting to appease whatever higher power he or she may believe in. By separating worship and morality, we can act in accordance with our own human morals and be able to be less selfish in our motivations for kindness and moral behaviors.

If you’d like to win a copy of David’s book, all you have to do is tell us your favorite Biblical inconsistency :)

Just make sure the word “Mittens” appears at the end of the comment.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • David C. Frier

     
    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” 

    Holy Crap (pun intended).  Pascal must have seen this and come up with his wager in desperation for some response.  

    mittens

  • Ben Porter

    When god tells david to hold a census, than causes a plague as punishment for holding the census. Mittens.

  • Rbray18

    can’t name the book chapter or verse for either one but when jesus says he is here to from a new convent and yet in a different part says he is here to up hold the old ways.mittens

  • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

    Ok, I’ll bite. I’ll go with the very inconsistency that first led to me doubting Christianity, somewhere between 7th and 8th grade (that would have made me what, 12? 13? not sure).

    I was taught, as so many, that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving. He didn’t want anyone to go to hell. Wonderful.

    But then I looked at the story of Man’s Fall From Grace. I’m sure you know the tale: Adam and Eve, frolicking in the Garden of Eden. There are two trees, one of Life, and the other the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God says “Eat whatever fruit you like, except from that tree, right there, with the Knowledge.”

    Easy, perhaps, but people are curious, and it looks tasty. And then there’s a talking snake, who’s very persuasive. Eve takes a bite, then Adam. Now, God is pissed. Humanity is kicked out of paradise, and forced to suffer, well, real life. 

    It occurred to me: this is not the act of an all-loving God, that also happens to be all-knowing and all-powerful. Such a being should have been able to predict the consequences of the set up he provided. He should have realized that Eve and Adam were likely to try the fruit, especially if he allowed that snake in the garden. And “allow” is definitely the right word for an all-knowing, all-powerful being. He could have stepped in at any moment to stop Eve, to give a counter-argument if he didn’t want to use force (although, threatening death is force). He could have avoided the whole affair by not putting the Tree there. He could have created Adam and Eve with less tendency to being tempted. He could have done any number of things.

    Then he kicks them out. He punishes them with tilling the soil for food, and all women ever with painful menstruation and painful childbirths. He does this to punish them for something that *he* couldn’t be bothered to prevent in the first place. The only possible conclusion I could see at that age (and I haven’t changed my mind) is that he set them up. He deliberately set them up to fail. 

    I don’t know if I was an atheist as soon as I figured that out, but I knew I wasn’t Christian. I couldn’t worship such a being. 

    (I actually did stop being an atheist for a period in my late teens early twenties, but I was never Christian again. I returned to being an atheist based on issues of evidence, and somehow, I don’t see that changing again)

    Oh, and MITTENS! On kittens! Because kittens are cool. So yea. Mittens.

    • Anonymous

      In the immortal words of Admiral Akbar: It’s a trap!

      It gets even more ridiculous from there on. His first solution to fix mankind screwing up is to drown 99.9% of it, together with most other life on Earth. Then people screwed up again and all the almighty creator can come up with is a primitive human sacrifice. Really? He can’t just forgive people without them worshiping the torture and execution of someone else?

      • Flawedprefect

        We really need a poster set during the flood where a drowning protester is sinking with a placard reading “we are the first ever 99%” or some such sentiment.

      • Anonymous

        The story gets even less coherent if you believe in the Trinity. That means that God condemned humans for a choice he saw coming and created them to make, allowed them to live thousands of years with this curse and then sent his son (who is himself) to be killed so that the sacrifice of Jesus (who is God) could allow God (who is Jesus, and also the pigeon) to forgive mankind. Of course, future humans would not have the option of saying they would never wanted someone tortured and killed in their place and in any event the curse of mortality, painful childbirth etc. was not lifted.

        Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

        • Anonymous

          Yep, god sacrificed himself to himself, in order to appease himself for an offense he caused (or at least forsaw) himself

          • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

            It’s also amazing the way that gets in your head, even after years of being atheist and thinking about these things. I didn’t even notice it until I read Hitchens “Letters to a Young Contrarian,” but then, well, it was pretty frackin’ obvious.

  • Jeff

    My favorite is really easy to find as it’s right at the beginning. The whole two creation stories going on at the same time. Funny thing about it most christians don’t even realize it.

    Oh, and  Mittens!

    • Anonymous

      I like that those two have a contradictory order of events.  I recall there’s another interpretation of creation in the Pauline texts, which contradict the first two.

      Mittens, I guess I like to wear them.

  • Trina

    I’m too tired to get into details; the brain is drained.  Of course the bible is full of contradictions.  What most comes to mind is the contradiction between killing (fill in the blank) and loving everyone.

    Mittens!

  • UTJD

    My favorite contradiction is the vast difference between the resurrection stories found in the Gospels. We’re there guards there or not? Was the stone rolled away or not? How many women visited? We’re there angels waiting or not? Did the women tell the remaining disciples or not? How long before Jesus ascended into heaven? These issues are my favorite contradictions because the resurrection myth is so central to Christian belief that it is nice to be able to point out that, not only is the bible full of contradictions, but it is even full of contradictions in the most key areas.

    Mittens.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    This is from my favorite book of the Bible: Job.

    One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
       Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
     8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
     9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
     12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”  Job 1: 6-12

    I like how the God of divine love incites Satan to put the hurt on His guy, Job.

    mittens

  • http://profiles.google.com/nathanlee2 nathan lee

    My favorite bible inconsistency? I think it might be the famous Matthew 7:7 “ask and you shall recieve, seek and you shall find, knock and a door will be opened to you”.

    The sentiment is expressed several times with different wording throughout the bible, is debatebly the entire cause of the start of Mormonism; yet it is completely inconsistent with entire book of Job and half the book of Psalms. It’s also completely inconsistent with ‘the lords prayer’ and every story where someone asks for something that they don’t get.

    Mittens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jarrod-Travis/637165013 Jarrod Travis

    my favorite biblical inconsistency is the lack of mention of dinosaurs anywhere in the bible. If the bible covers stories from the creation of the planet until when it was written, you would think they would mention dinosaurs somewhere in passing. Dinosaurs wouldn’t exactly have been easy to miss. Or more likely, since they hadn’t discovered fossils of dinosaurs yet the writers had no reason to include it in their writings.

    mittens.

  • Anonymous

    OOOH!  OOOH!  I love the one in the ten plagues! 

    One of the plagues kills ALL of the livestock of Egypt.  Then two plagues later, hail smote all the livestock. (Which were already dead?)  The final plague kills all of the firstborn, including the firstborn of the (dead) livestock.

    In Chapter 14, after the Isrealites leave, Pharoah chases them with his chariots .  I’d like to know what was pulling those chariots!  All the horses had died way back in Chapter 9!

    (The Brick Testament does a wonderful job with this.)

    Mittens.

  • Sundancementhol

    My favorite is the whole “justified by works or faith” contradiction, because it’s so important.  Galatians 2 says it’s by faith alone that salvation can be found, while Matthew 19 tells us that to enter life you must keep the commandments.  Romans 3 says we’re justified by faith, not by following the law.  James 2 tells us a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.

    Mittens

    • Anonymous

      Solution: split into different sects who believe different things

      The doctrine of salvation by faith alone is easily one of the most immoral and disgusting things about Christianity – specially Protestantism. Doesn’t matter what horrible things you did. Just believe that someone was executed for you and you’re good enough for heaven

      • badassmother

        Yes, it means the greatest “sin” in christianity, is not something like genocide, or eating a couple of the kids down the street. Instead it’s a thought crime!

  • Anonymous

    My favorite comes very early, in Genesis:

    And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
    And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
    Genesis 4; 16-17

    At this point in the Bible only four humans are mentioned as existing; Adam, Eve and their sons Cain and Abel (though at this point in this uplifting tale, one of the humans has already murdered another). Where the Hell (ajem) Abel gets himself a wife (harsh punishment for murder, eh?) is always a fun question. Either god made more dirt-people, or Abel married a previously unmentioned sister, which is usually where the Biblical literalists will (very uncomfortably) go. How fast and furious the Adam-Eve family had to fuck amongst themselves in order to found a city by the third generation is another fun question.

    Of course, the reality is that the story was almost certainly picked up from earlier spoken-word legends and never intended as a tale of the origin of mankind. In this reading, it would make sense for the character in the story to go into a city from a different civilization.

    I’m not in the running for the book because I frontally disagree with the notion that “true goodness” (a term I find suspect anyway) and “real altruism” are impossible with religious faith. I find the assertion bigoted and tribalistic so I have no wish to have this notion given to me in book form.

    • http://thefloatinglantern.wordpress.com/ Tim Martin

      You mean you have no wish to have your mind changed through rational argument for free? Seems a bit of an odd complaint to me. You can disagree with the guy’s conclusions, but to write him off before you’ve even read the argument?

  • damarc

    Can we please stop misquoting Marcus Aurelius? It’s been known for a long time that this quote is misattributed. Sloppy research, man.
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius#Misattributed

    • Anonymous

      He actually never questioned the existence of gods. Though it should be mentioned that it’s misattributed, I still love the quote. Beautiful sentiment.

  • Greg

    My favourite contradiction isn’t so much in the words themselves of the text, but rather the concept of a loving, just god, and the concepts of heaven and hell.

    You need really special mental gymnastics to think that God could be both loving and just, and yet send people to hell for eternity whatever their crimes are, and similarly you need those same extra-flexi gymnastics to think God could be just, and yet send people to heaven for all eternity whatever their accomplishments, or else that God could be loving (or just) and send only some people to heaven for all eternity (i.e. playing favourites).

    Hmm, run-on sentences like that should be covered up by mittens.

  • Sjames_1958

    Basically the whole flood story. Also the 4 different tales of Jesus’ cruxifiction. Mittens.

  • Anonymous

    So many of the good ones are listed already.

    How about the death of Judas. In Matthew he throws back the money (for betraying Jesus) and hangs himself. In Acts, it has him buying a field with the money and falling to his death.

    Mittens.

  • Anonymous

    The crucifixion to the resurrection.  Between the time that Jesus was apparently caught with a naked boy in the Garden of Gethsemane to when the one womentwo womencrowd of people go to the openclosed tomb in the morningat night and see the one strangertwo angels standing outside.

    Mittens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1662432506 Jonas Green

    Not so much a contradiction, but an outright falsehood –
      1. Pi == 3.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
                          (II Kings)
    and

     2.  Bats are Birds
            (Genesis)

    Mittens

    • Loxenfox

      [ I Chronicles 3:22The sons of Shemaiah: Huttush, Igal, Bariah, Neriah, and Shaphat, six.]Basic counting fail. Counting is hard for religious folk apparently. I meet Christians all the time who keep counting one god, when I tell them I believe in the existence of none.Mittens.

  • Anonymous

    God is jealous. (Exodus 20:5)

    God is love. (1 John 4:8)

    Love is not jealous. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

    MITTENS!

  • EJC

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the whole “Bats = Birds” nonsense! That one stands out for its sheer simplicity and stupidity!

    MITTENS

  • http://twitter.com/RobHoffmann Rob Hoffmann

    I personally like the fact that the four gospels (all supposedly the history of Jesus’ time on earth) can’t agree on many of the details… this is supposed to be the best evidence of Jesus’ existence?  Really?  If anything, it’s proof of the concept that the more of the Bible you read, the less of its god you believe.

    Oh… almost forgot… MITTENS!   (And I’ll need them this week when God causes temperatures to drop to the teens here because we don’t believe in him enough…)

  • Redrocker

    You don’t have to read very far to get an inconsistency. How about in Genesis when Cain leaves the garden of Eden and finds him a wife. And so where did this wife come from?

    Mittens

  • Dave

    My favorite simply because it’s one of the first AND it’s a ‘two for one special’. Genesis 1:29 “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the
    whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be
    yours for food.” Genesis 2:17 “…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” There are actually two contradictions, the obvious one AND that no one died.

    • Anonymous

      Wait, so they can eat safely every fruit that has seeds.  So the fruit of the tree of Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil must have had no seeds, right?  So then it was a banana that Eve ate?  Ha, Ha, take that, Ken Ham!

  • Fester Sixonesixonethree

    “Thou shalt not kill.”
    (Deuteronomy 2:33-34) – “And the Lord our God delivered him over to us; and we defeated him with his sons and all his people. 34So we captured all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor.”

    Mittins er… Mittens

  • Panofsky

    My favorite inconsistency or bit of weirdness really is when God tries but fails to kill Moses. Tired of of Moses’s incessant waffling and whining that he’s not up to the job of talking to the Pharao, God makes his move. Fortunately Moses’s wife is prepared and saves Moses by rubbing his foot with their firstborn son’s foreskin.

    For sheer weirdness, mittens.

  • Flawedprefect

    Can’t really go past the order of how things were created in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Gen1 goes: Sky, earth, light, water, plants, sun moon stars, fish, birds, mammals, creepy-crawlies, humans (and man AND woman, he made them), and then sickies (days off). Gen2 goes: earth and sky, man, plants, animals, THEN woman (sounds like a Borat Sketch about order of importance).

    mittens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    Genesis 6

     1And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

     2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

    Sons of God?  Plural.  Do a google search on this and you’ll get page after page of christians tying themselves into mental knots trying to explain this, they were fallen angels, they were godly men, it’s a mis-translation of Kings, and so on

    Smacks to me of something that was forgotten about in the rewrite.

    Also, Mittens.

  • jmgreen

    I like how God somehow fails to forsee that saving ‘righteous’ Lot from the destruction of Sodom will result in Lot having drunken sex and impregnating both of his daughters.  Epic fail!

    Mittens!

  • Mwilt887

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus inveighs against ostentatious displays of faith:

    Matthew chapter 6: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.    2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
       5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

    By the time the Pentecost rolls around in the Acts of the Apostles, however, ostentation is the name of the game, and we have our first demonstrations of tebowing.

    Acts 2: 1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
     5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? . . . we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

    Mittens.

  • Spotted_toad

    Thou shall not kill.  Except for the following list of people that thou shall kill of course. 

    Yea verily I am smitten with kittens in mittens.

  • http://logofveritas.blogspot.com/ VeritasTruthseeker

    My favourite is the way the various Gospels describe the same situations different, like the Virgin Birth. It’s like they’re not divinely inspired at all!

    I’m a Canadian, no idea if this contest is open outside of the USA, so redraw me if it’s not.

    Mittens. (we sound like a Mitt Romney fan club.)

  • http://agardeninthesun.blogspot.com/ renoliz

    Biblegod knows everything but…when Adam and Eve eat of the fruit and realize what they have done, they hide.  Biblegod comes to the garden of Eden and says “Hey, where are you guys?”  WTF?  

    Cain kills Able and Biblegod visits and then says “What have you done, Cain?”   WTF?Right there,  in the first book of the Bible it is shown that Biblegod doesn’t know everything.  All apologists, all over the world need to take note.

    Mittens

  • Duo

    Since it was just Xmas… How about the date of Jesus’ birth?Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (4 BC or earlier).
    (Matthew 2:1).
    Jesus was born during the Roman census while Quirinius was governor of Syria after Herod was dead. 
    (in 6 AD). (Luke 2:2).Mittens

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1563083137 Todd Flood

    There are just so many to choose. One of my favorites is where followers are told that they should get credit for their good deeds, and then told that they do their good deeds in secret.

    Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

    Matthew 6:3-4 – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    I think we all know which one Mittens would choose!

  • Bryan

    My favorite contradictions are those uttered by the big J to the Esus himself whilst dying for our sins on the cross (and no, it wasn’t “Always Look on the Bright Side”).

    Matthew 27:46 says: “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”

    Luke 23:46 says:  “Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

    Aaaand John 19:30 says: “When he had received the drink [the vinegar/wine sponge], Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

    The only consistent accounts are Mark and Matthew, and that’s because Matthew took notes from Mark’s version. Bart Ehrmann goes into way more detail on this in Misquoting Jesus; I’ highly recommend it!

    MITTENS!

  • Mommiest

    Most of my favorites are already mentioned, so let me just add: all-loving (or even a mostly-loving) god would not force a woman to marry her rapist.

    Not even if he wore mittens.

  • Blzbob

    I love when the Jews were wandering through the desert and asked God if they could have some meat instead of just the manna. The loving god said, “sure” and then killed 1/3 of them with food poisoning. His reasoning? Man cannot live on bread alone. sadly, that’s what they were asking, can they live on something other than bread.

    That’ll teach them!

    MITTENS

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002943798951 Amelia Ingrao

    My favorite bible inconsistency is more of the whole set of them in the biblical account of creation. The writers just couldn’t decide if they wanted Adam before or after trees, birds, animals, or at the same time as Eve. I remember being quite confused as a little devout Christian girl trying to read that thing. No matter how I went about it, it never made sense. That’s when I started questioning my faith, and later became an atheist (Pastafarian on the side). “Mittens”

    • AtheistMom

      Genesis is so funny! I never could understand why anyone would take that story at face value. Really, a multitude of plants thrived before the Sun was created? Utter nonsense.

  • Kate C.

    That god is all good and all powerful, yet somehow he couldn’t ‘save’ his people unless his son died pure to open up the gates of heaven. If god really wanted to forgive his people and let them into heaven couldn’t he have just done it if he’s all powerful? (somewhat based on catholic teaching from years of school not strictly the bible… catholics don’t really read the bible anyway.)

    mittens

  • Mike

    I love the story of Balaam and his talking donkey.  Balaam is worried that the heathen king is going to call on him to prophesy against the Israelites (Balaam’s a closet Yahweh fan), but God tells Balaam to go ahead and go with the men who come to collect him.  Literally the very next day, God sees Balaam going with the men, and proceeds to get angry with Balaam for going to the king. Bleedin’ abusive boyfriend is what that is… (I don’t have a Bible handy, so please forgive me if I’ve gotten some details wrong. The gist of the story is correct.)

    Mittens!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBAMPHNDKNSKDNVTY3VRYGWMYQ Jack

    2 Samuel 22:31
    Deuteronomy 32:4 (ESV)
    ___________

    If God’s way is perfect he couldn’t change his mind when doing something since it would imply that there is a course of action more perfect (perfecter? sorry for my English ]: ) than the one he had in mind. Something more perfect than something already perfect is inconceivable. In short, if God chooses to do something, it would be perfect already AND he would not have to change it.

    Now according to this, if God is shown to change his mind about anything or feeling bad for not doing better (more perfect than perfect) then it would be an inconsistency:
    ____________

    1) Pro Eye-for-Eye in OT:
    Exodus 21:23 -25
    23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,
    24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
    25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    Leviticus 24:19-20
    19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him,
    20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.

    Deuteronomy 19:21
    21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

    2) Change in NT:
    Matthew 5:38-39
    38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
    39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also

    Of course, this is under the assumption that Jesus is God…
    _____________

    So there… Again, I apologize for my English u_u

    Mittens… god, I almost forgot D:

  • Taxihorn

    Though never taking the bible seriously in any sense, I have always enjoyed the inconsistency of translation between the original book of Genesis and every translation that followed, right in the first sentence of the bible. It has always been translated as “In the beginning…”, but a scholar specializing in ancient translations pointed out to me the correct translation is “In a beginning…” It puts a different spin on all that follows! Even mittens!

  • BJS32

    How about all of those quotes saying that god is all powerful followed by my favorite bible quote: ” The lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill
    country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains,
    because they had iron chariots.”

    I’m so glad that god is all powerful, unless he is faced with chariots of iron. Then he is SOL.

    mittens!

  • http://www.facebook.com/thebigreason Mark Eagleton

    In Genesis 1:3 – 5, God creates night and day on the first day.

    In Genesis 1:16, God makes the sun on the third day.

    Mittens.

  • JugglingFool

    My favorite is the way the four gospels are all written with different audiences in mind, the Jews, the gentiles etc…  I like it because it highlights the absurdity of claims for divine inspiration.

    • JugglingFool

      Oh and Mittens

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Nolte/48701519 Christopher Nolte

    I’ve always found the discrepancy of the major events in Jesus’ life to be fascinating. Particularly how John is wildly different from the other three.

    In Matthew it’s: Triumphal Entry, Cleansing of the Temple, Bethany.
    In Mark: Triumphal Entry, Cleansing of the Temple
    In Luke: Triumphal Entry, Cleansing of the Temple, Daily Teachings in the Temple.

    Ok. A little off, but nothing we can’t deal with.

    But in John, the Temple Cleansing comes very early in his career, with Supper with Lazarus next followed by his Triumphal Entry. No Temple Cleansing after that.

    Jebus…even as an epic story the bible is poorly thought out, let alone a supposed accurate history of true events…

    Kitten Mittens!

  • http://twitter.com/CoboWowbo Cobo Wowbo

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those whose persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous…” Mt. 5.43-46

    “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.” Lk 19:27

    Mittens.

  • AtheistMom

    The Book of Job is my favorite Bible inconsistency. (It’s hard to believe that, during my childhood as a Roman Catholic, I often read this story to gain insight to the cruelties in my life. But, then again, religious indoctrination is, as we know, powerful enough to do this and more.) Anyway… back to Job.

    In the Book of Job, Satan double-dog dares God to test the faith of Job. He suffers greatly and loses everything he held dear to his heart, including his children. At the end of the story, God finally gives him a second chance at a good life. The thing that stands out to me nowadays is how God thought giving Job a new batch of children would somehow make up for the killing of his previous children.

    And how moral is a god who allows innocent children to be killed as part of a game?

    Mittens.

  • AtheistMom

    Just thought of another biggie… Adam and Eve’s children. How did Cain and Abel populate Earth? And if Adam and Eve’s later daughters and sons were key to populating Earth, then does that mean incest is okay with God?

    Mittens.

  • Evan Kelley

    The one mentioned in the excerpt above is, I think, the one I focused on as a pre-teen that led to my atheism. But the one I often use as a quick starting point in debates is the genealogy of Jesus. The two gospels that list his ancestry, Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38, are different from each other. And then there are more inconsistencies with their lists and the account given at the beginning of 1 Chronicles. I also discovered this in my pre-teens because I was a huge fan of genealogy and wanted to map it out. For a long time I thought I must have been doing something wrong because they weren’t lining up. But it’s really just because the authors got it wrong.

    Can I get that book in my mittens now? :-)

  • http://cuterus.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    God wants everybody to be saved.

    God predestines some people to be saved and deceives other people to send them to hell.

    Mittens.

  • Bill Boling

    My best bible inconsistent reference is in genesis where after eve and Adam gain the knowledge of good and evil. il.
    That they saw that they where nude and looked to cover them selves , so being nude is evil and so god was being evil by keeping them nude.
    “Mittens”

  • Fitzgerald

    If god is omnipotent, why can’t he beat some bronze age tribes with iron chariots? (Judges 1:19)

    Mittens

  • Panofsky

    I’m posting a second favorite, which I love for just it’s simplicity. How many animals did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on? You’d think that would be an easy thing to determine, but apparently not for the bible.

    • Anonymous

      He rode a Velociraptor of course

  • Anonymous

    My favorite is Galatians 3:28 — There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Surrounded, of course, by all of Paul’s misogynistic advice about women and the early church–women be obedient, silent, cover yourselves, etc.

    I know there are funnier contradictions but this one effected my life the most.

    MITTENS!

  • Beadknitter

    For me the biggest inconsistency is the idea that Jesus died for our sins and it was a huge sacrifice. He knew he was coming back to life in a few days. So what is the sacrifice here? Now, if he wasn’t coming back at all, THAT would be a sacrifice, especially if he was wearing his Mittens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1144762705 Dan Crane

    My personal favourite is when the bible can’t decide whether it was god or satan who ordered David to take the census. The bible clearly contradicts itself, yet the apologists play semantic games to explain it away.

    Mittens.

  • http://madhominem.wordpress.com/ Mad Hominem

    The two Christmas stories! Matthew: Joseph finds out Mary is going to have a child. Luke: Mary finds out she’s going to have a child. And it all goes downhill from there.

    Surprisingly, though it doesn’t freeze as much as it does up here in the midwest US, Bethlehem gets cold enough in the winter that Mary and Joseph probably would have needed mittens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/billyup Jesse Jones

    God Loves all of his creations, but if you fuck with him you better watch the hell out.

    Mittens

    • Maya Kulik

      I am using this from now on!

  • http://www.txwatson.com/ T.X. Watson

    The variability between the gospels is my favorite part in the bible itself.  Though my *favorite* biblical inconsistency is the failure to line up the results of archaeology establishing history in the real world with the lineages all over the Old Testament.

    Mittens

  • hman

    This is boring.  So much of this hand-wringing philosophizing on the part of atheist writers begins and ends on the same tired premises.   Not all Christians are fundamentalists.  In fact, most are NOT.  They are, in most cases,  NOT creationists and have accepted that the Bible has passed through many, many mortal hands.  They have accepted that regional authors have been influenced by their surroundings.  Most don’t accept the OLD Testament as  truths (   factual accounts of real events).  Most look for the Truths ( universal constants of  family, loyalty, community)  And, desert resident without modern convenience should probably not eat pork.  Having passed through hands, and mouths for generation after generation, The Bible has been altered and adapted.  The Contemporary Christian community understands that there are inconsistencies.  Again,  its the the  consistencies ( love, sharing, community, forgiveness, charity, faith; that which you do unto the least of my brothers) that are their focus.  Stop dragging out the OT and insisting that this is how the contemporary Christian community operates.  Its academically disingenuous, shows a complete lack of meaningful research, displays an established prejudice and is, as I stated earlier, boringly repetitive.  Modern Christianity , subject to its own evaluation and re-evaluation of its tenets, has long discarded  such a narrow definition of “accepting salvation” to such a degree to make the author’s point moot.  As long as the  dogmatic church of the NA focuses on the small ( and statistically shrinking) number of fundamentalists it fails to move their arguments forward in any real way.  Boring

    • http://madhominem.wordpress.com/ Mad Hominem

      And yet you ignore that the author accepts that reality, and reminds us that those “broad” Christian thinkers are simply wrong: “And for that matter, would a just God expel a morally good individual to hell who has heard of Jesus, but simply finds no evidentiary reason to believe? According to any reasonable interpretation of Christianity’s key doctrines, the answer is a simple and firm “yes”. … Many “modern” Christians stray away from this rather unpopular concept, but the fact remains that, biblically, it is impossible to enter heaven without first accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”

      If we point out that they aren’t following Biblical teaching X, and that they’re OKAY with this and it makes SENSE to them that they don’t follow X, it’s easier for them to dismiss Biblical teaching Y. They need to be made self-aware that they are dismissing Biblical authority, because although they do it, the significance and implications of what they’re doing don’t occur to them.

    • Anonymous

      They still believe in God.  That’s wrong enough for me.

    • Anonymous

      Ok first. Try posting your definition of christianity on any of thousands of “christian” boards and prepare to be flayed as a heretic, who has forsaken the bible. Secondly, the contradictions that are most profound, are not the obvious inconsistencies in narrative of physical events, but of the theological ones that try to fit a God of “love” definition to a torturing sadist who Jesus himself spoke of repeatedly with his hellfire threats. You read love sharing community and forgiveness from the book, all of which can be found, but that is because in a collection of sixty six wide ranging books from which you would like to draw morals that resonate with you, you can do so easily if you are willing to ignore so many of the passages and concepts, that would make a guy like Pol Pot seem very mild mannered. I would be happy to have a e-mail conversation regarding this as you seem like an individual who cares about morality and therefore tries to make a “nuanced” understanding of the bible work. I did that for a long time myself, but the glaring self deception just kept hitting me in the face.

      • hman

        I appreciate the offer, but I’m  more careful these days with my e-mail addresses.  I already get enough hate mail from my activity on political sights.  Apparently, I’m a Godless Commie.  I just don’t want any more mail from rigid, dogmatic true believers OF ANY KIND. I DO care about morality, but  I DON”T nuance anything.  At 44, I’m quite content with my view of the universe and my place in it.  I enjoy wandering the internet, museums, art houses, etc. out of  curiosity.  If I spot anything that will spark a paradigm shift, I’ll investigate it further…I’ haven’t seen it yet  :)

    • Greg

      So… we’re only using the Old Testament to make Christianity look bad. Which, presumably, is why most of these comments, and the quoted text talks about things to do with the New Testament…

      Maybe you should stop being bored, and actually read what is said?

    • Scotjowett

      Of course most Christians aren’t fundamentalist, but how many Churches speak out against the sheer nuttiness and moral depravity of Fundamentalists?

      And. I would bet most Christians don’t have a clue as to how the bible was created.

  • snoofle

    The flood!  No way would all those animals fit on the boat, not to mention keeping them healthy and fed.  Anyone who believes this literally is either an idiot or remarkably talented at functioning well with cognitive dissonance.
    Mittens

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527580163 Elizabeth Klein

    My favorite inconsistency is while God is supposed to know everything before it happens with a laid out plan for everyone, he still must test his subjects. Then murder and other heinous crimes abound in the name of a “peaceful” deity.

    Mittens.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve got another one.  Jesus apparently preached a message of unconditional love (John 13:34-35, Luke 6:35) while introducing the concept of an eternal punishment by hellfire for those who didn’t kowtow to the almighty.

    How about them mittens.

    • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

      That is the central inconsistency with Christianity in a nutshell. Mittens.

  • Anonymous

    Was man created before animals? Or were animals created before man?

    Mittens

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne


    Isaiah 40:28 and Isaiah 43:24
    . In the former, it is declared that God does not grow weary; in the latter, that the iniquities of Israel have made him weary.

    Kittens in mittens.

  • Marco Conti

    So many inconsistencies to choose from….
    I’d have to say that my favorite(s) is how god at least twice ends up with only few humans that somehow repopulate the earth. But in order to do that they have to commit incest. There is just no way around it. And, in fact, incest is not even limited to those two famous cases. It seems to be pretty widespread around the bible.

    Mittens! I say.

  • Greg

    Got another one:

    “Thou shalt not kill.”

    This contradicts a little story which takes place in the New Testament, in which God carefully arranges the death of a human being as a sacrifice, to supposedly wash away the sins of all men and women that believe that there is a god, and it is the same one as described in the Bible. You might have heard of it? Obviously, for this to work, there is a requirement that someone er, kills the sacrifice, so God ensures it happens. It’s all part of his plan, you see; doing the killing was the most important part.

    In this cold weather, sometimes I find it a good idea to wear two pairs of mittens.

  • Jim

    I suppose my favorite inconsistency is the two versions of the death of Judas in Matthew and Acts.

    Mittens!

  • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

    Here’s Two in one (Tee Hee :D)

    “Thou shall not kill”

    This obviously comes after God already killed 99% of the living organisms on earth because they didn’t “please him”

    Yeah. Because an omnipotent being has regrets…..
    And also believes in doing as he says not as he does……..

    Mittens!!!!

  • jalyth

    One from Isaiah somewhere: the little one shall become a thousand, and from the Sermon: narrow is the gate and few are the ones finding it.

    God can’t make up his mind how many people, even as a ratio, are going to be with him in paradise/heaven. 

    If these two separate verses aren’t quite a total contradiction, they do contradict the belief that God is omni-moral and everything he does is right and good. This concept here helped me leave (along with blatant misogyny).

    Mittens.

  • Roseyposeyclark

    Col.3:22Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.Mt.23:10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.mittens

  • Anonymous

    “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” Proverb 26:5

    “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” Proverb 26:4
    I chose this contradiction because one of these versus *immediately* follows the next. Therefore, his contradiction is so obvious, it’s like a rhino wearing MITTENS.

  • usclat

    Wow! How can I just choose one inconsistency? I choose all of the above! With mittens, of course.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    My favorite inconsistency isn’t a specific chapter or verse. It’s that the Bible says there is only One True God ™, but then continually refers to other gods, directly and indirectly. If there’s only One True God, why would you need to explicitly tell your followers not to follow those other gods, amirite?

    I can’t seem to find my mittens…

  • Dan W

    Here’s my current favorite pair of contradictory passages-

    1 Corinthians 7:12-16, which basically says it is ok for Christian and a non-Christian to be married.
    2 Corinthians 6:14-18, which starts off by saying “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” and I’ve seen used by many Christians as the reason for why they won’t date atheists and other non-Christians.

    • Dan W

      Oh, and Mittens.

  • John

    “THOU SHALT NOT KILL.*”

    *excluding… gays, adulterers, rape victims, rapists, Canaanites, Philistines, Amalekites, etc. etc. etc.

    Mittens!

  • Tryittom

    genesis 11:29-30  ..The name of Abrams wife was Sarai.. But Sarai was barron.  (meaning she can’ thave kids)

    Genesis 1:28  Be fruitful and multiply.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    The one that poked me in the eye when I first read it was when God more than once hardens Pharaoh’s heart against Moses and the Jews. Wait, what?? Pharaoh doesn’t have a will of his own? He thinks and feels whatever God wants him to? He’s a thought and feeling puppet?  God is like a little boy playing with Pharaoh and  Moses action figures? “Yo, Pharaoh, let my people go!” “No way, Moses, you gotta stay and work for me! Aaii! It’s a pillar of fire!”

    Somehow I got the impression that we’re supposed to have “free will” (a Greek concept, I think) and so that’s why Gramp Adam and Grams Eve defied God’s “Do not eat” sign, and why we’re always held responsible for all our other “willful sins.”

    Mittens 

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      See illustration below.

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        Literally laughed out loud. Spaceballs for the win!

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        “No, sir! I did not see you playing with your dolls again!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tristan-Bingham/1438800052 Tristan Bingham

    My favorite is the first inconsistency, because it proves that you don’t have to look far to find a Biblical inconsistency.  Within the first chapter of Genesis, God creates day and night before he creates stars, to include the sun.  It’s literally on the first page

  • red

    LOVE all the posts blowing The Bible to multiple pieces of inconsistency and absurdities.  So fun to read!!!!   I have too many favorites and no new ones to add.

    Mittens

  • Jordan

    My favorite inconsistency deals with god being both merciful and just. These two things are totally incompatible since mercy is the suspension of justice. Also, when people tell me that god is merciful, I point them to Joshua 7:1-26, where god kills Achan and his entire family simply because Achan stole something.

  • Jordan

    ^^Oh, and MITTENS!

  • http://twitter.com/6uldvnt 6uldvnt

    I like how god creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day, yet he didn’t make the light producing objects (the sun and the stars) until the fourth day (1:14-19). 1:3-5 I knitted some mittens for my kittens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1267822455 Ross Cunningham

    I’d have to say my favorite inconsistency is the two creation stories. I mean, if they can’t even keep that straight, how do they manage to keep track of their mittens?

  • Siobhan Duffey

    My favorite isn’t so much a contradiction in itself as a fine illustration of the fact that God is a petulant jerk, which does contradict the whole “God is love” thing. It’s just a little throwaway line during the dramatic bits of the Exodus, where the narrator tells us that the Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Jews go… Because God had “hardened his heart”. So he could show off by destroying the guy and his country as punishment for something God directly caused.

    Mittens.

  • inquiry

    ya so the boss created Adam and then took  one of Adam’s ribs to create Eve, right?  So males should have one less rib than females right?  men and women alike reading this blog should count the number of ribs they have in their body and please share it with the opposite sex…
    what about having same exact DNA since Eve came from Adam’s rib, which contains Adam’s genes. So Adam ended up fucking Eve(Adam or himself) as a clone and had offspring.  Maybe it was Adam and Steve, or some sort of multiple personality disorder thing going on there, I don’t know.

    Also, Bible disproves of astrology yet the 3 Magi’s follow the star to see baby jesus born from a virgin female. Oh lord, I believe you. take me to heaven and save me from these heathens…

    mittens, please.

  • Guest

    Not available on Nook, unfortunately.  When it is, I’ll read it.

  • Andrew Bernhard

    My favorite is the one the author pointed out. That the Bible cannot be a moral guide because you have to do literally zero good to receive eternal happiness, but can go to hell for saving babies your entire life.

    Mittens

  • Nena

    I haven’t read all 116 comments, so if this is a duplicate, I apologize.

    The inconsistency that has baffled me since even before I was an atheist is this:

    Mark 9:31: He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

    Now, explain to me how Friday-Sunday is three days.

    You say that Jewish days are counted from sundown on the first day, so technically that span includes all three days? Then how about this:

    Matthew 12:40: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

    You may be able to say it includes three units of daylight, but there is no way it is three days and three nights. 

    • Nena

      Shoot. MITTENS! Do I have to repaste the whole comment for it to count?

  • Anonymous

    MThW 10: 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
    MThW 24: 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

    But how is that possible?  I mean if I can’t get to all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes and how will I make it to all of the nations so that the testimony get’s to all of the nations?

    Mittens!

  • Anonymous

    On that whole “God is Love theme” – I like to point people toward Leviticus 21:16-23 (of course, this is in the Old Testament, so apparently it doesn’t count).

    This is the passage were the god of love says, “no retards, midgets or blind folk’ll need apply.”

    Gott Mit uns  (get it?)

  • Tex

    Ive always been struck by the fact that it took god seeing Adam and Eve wearing fig leafs to cover themselves to know theyed eaten from the tree of knowledge.  Not very good for an omniscient being lol.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

      oh yeah and mittens :-D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

    (Tex above)

    Oh yeah and Mittens

  • Rick Montalbano

    I’m a little late to the party, but here goes:

    When I was about 6 or 7 and in a Catholic grade school, one of the withered old nuns was telling us the story of Adam and Eve.  I asked her why God punished them for eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, when they couldn’t have KNOWN it was wrong to do so until AFTER they’d done it.

    I was immediately punished for being “sassy,” which I guess answered my question: “because He CAN!”

    But I will never forget the look on her face; looking back as an adult, I think it was her faith crumbling away.

    Mittens!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tracy.Bradley1 Tracy Bradley

    All of the above, plus the entire book of revelations and how it completely contradicts anything even remotely close to reality. Also: every mention of unicorns.

    “Then I saw heaven open and there was a white horse, and its rider had eyes like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.   He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and mittens.”


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