25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 3)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 3) October 6, 2014

Remember John Hagee’s hysteria over something unspecified happening somewhere at some time during an 18-month period? We’re in the middle of it now (more here), and the second scary lunar eclipse happens on October 8. Totality begins at 3:27am Seattle time. Enjoy today’s post, because who knows if you’ll be around for the next one …

stupid Christian arguments apologeticsLet’s continue with our list of stupid Christian arguments (Part 1 here).

Stupid Argument #9a: Argument from silence. The Jewish leaders would’ve been eager to shut down a rogue sect. If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead, they would’ve pointed to the dead body. Faced with this refutation of their most important claim, early Christianity would’ve collapsed. And yet they didn’t produce the body—because they couldn’t!

This is the Naysayer Fallacy (discussed in detail here). It’s easy to imagine early Christianity withstanding contradicting information. Believers in lots of other religions haven’t let disquieting facts get in their way.

The Jewish leaders and the empty tomb are story elements in gospels written over forty years after the events they claim to describe. To say that Jewish leaders ought to have done this or that forty years earlier is like arguing with novelists that the characters in their stories ought to have done this or that. Characters are just pawns in a story, and they do what the authors make them do.

Stupid Argument #9b: Demand for counter-evidence. I’ve given you evidence (for the resurrection, say). You may not be impressed, but you’ve got to admit that it’s something. If you want to rebut that, you must provide contemporary counter-evidence. What’s that? You say you don’t have any first-century evidence against my argument? Well then I guess I win!

Nope, I don’t have first-century evidence of people arguing that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, and I’m sure I never will. Is that what you’d expect to see if the Jesus story got embellished with supernatural elements in the retelling—people preserving first-century letters that say that the Jesus story was nonsense?

Let’s imagine that demand in the case of Merlin the magician. The story goes that he was a shape shifter. Are we obliged to accept that as history unless we can find contemporary evidence against it? I propose that we are entitled to conclude that such a remarkable claim needs far more than just an old story to support it.

Ditto the Jesus story.

Stupid Argument #10: Appeal to objective truth. You can’t say that something is really wrong.

Really or truly, as qualifiers for some moral word (good, bad, right, wrong, and so on), are used to imagine some sort of objective morality grounded outside of humans. Apologist William Lane Craig defined objective morality as “moral values that are valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not.”

No, Mr. Christian, I can’t say that something is objectively wrong, but then neither can you. I’ve explored claims of objective morality from a number of apologists (Greg Koukl, William Lane Craig, J. Warner Wallace, Frank Turek, and C.S. Lewis), and they do little more than make an appeal for it. The error they make is confusing universal moral truth with universally held moral programming. We’re all the same species, and it’s easy to see how we would share moral thinking.

Moral words like good, bad, and so on don’t need either objective grounding or God. Look them up in the dictionary and see for yourself.

Stupid Argument #11: Argument from accurate place names. The Bible mentions names that archaeology has later validated—Jericho, for example. The Bible’s accurate historical track record where it could be substantiated means that unsubstantiated claims should be assumed to be accurate as well.

The Iliad also mentions names that archaeology has later validated—Troy, for example. That the Bible has confirmation on some of its names of people and places isn’t remarkable; that only means that it is worthy of further investigation. More here.

Stupid Argument #12a: The Bible makes clear that God’s existence is plain for all to see. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

The Christian’s book says, “God exists; deal with it,” and that is supposed to mean something to an atheist? Let me respond with a quote of my own: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” (Christopher Hitchens).

Stupid Argument #12b: The good in the world shows the hand of a loving god. Think of the birth of a baby, sunsets and rainbows, or an unexpected remission of cancer. That’s the hand of God.

If desirable things point to a loving God, what do terrible things like smallpox, tsunamis, and birth defects point to?

Christians have a long history of handwaving away this Problem of Evil. The term for this discipline is theodicy. But a discipline that dates back to the early days of the church makes clear that this is no obvious matter. Apparently, this particular God is not “clearly seen,” so I have an excuse.

In a desperate move, one apologist attempted to argue that this is a two-edged sword, and evil is a problem for everyone, both the Christian and the atheist. That’s true, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about evil but the Problem of Evil, the riddle of how a good god could allow so much evil to exist. The atheist drops the god presupposition, and the problem vanishes completely. The Christian is still stuck with it. (More here.)

Continue with Part 4.

Why doesn’t God heal amputees?
Because they don’t deserve their arms, they deserve to die.
That’s what the Bible teaches.
Sorry if you don’t like that!
VenomFangX

Photo credit: Tony Fischer

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  • Matthew Prorok

    I’ve always thought the Romans 1:20 argument is pretty hilarious. I mean, aside from the fact that me being an ex-Christian atheist already pretty clearly means I don’t accept that the things the Bible says are true, if God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen, they’re hardly invisible, are they?

    • wtfwjtd

      Yes, to the apologist, being invisible and yet clearly seen, makes perfect sense…as does the trinity, in which one being is three, and three beings are one. It all sounds suspiciously like a convoluted word game to me.

      • TheNuszAbides

        good point; early medieval times were really hurting for creative writing workshops!

    • Kodie

      being understood from what has been made

      It means his seenness is extrapolated, just like you know the postal carrier has been there when you get a letter.

    • James

      I think Romans 1:20 made a wee bit more sense 2k years ago – if an object falls, god moved it. If a bird flies, god lifted it. If lightning flashes, god flashed it. If the ground shakes, god shook it. Not knowing the actual answer, the cause may have been invisible (i.e. unknown) but the effect was quite clear and obvious. Now days, all these things and many more have been explained as natural processes. Believers want to believe, so they just insert god as the Big Bang Banger; since this area of science is still quite speculative, their speculation doesn’t seem so speculative, at least on the surface. What they forget is the God Hypothesis’ poor track record of successfully explaining our universe – that, and the fact that they’re not really deists except apparently when they’re debating atheists. That allows them to only have to support one hypothesis, not many, one which currently is largely unfalsifiable, unlike the many, quite specific hypotheses they actually believe in but refuse to support and defend. What they really believe in is not some abstract deism, some vague immaterial first mover or big bang banger, but a very particular book and a very particular ancient deity for whom they make a whole of lot of very particular and far more Earthly, testable claims – they just refuse to test them. The YECS deny the evidence; the old-Earth creationists and theistic evolutionists turn the detailed claims of Genesis into metaphorical assertion; in neither case is a positive claim being supported through evidence.

      • MNb

        What most of them also forget is that all current Big Bang theories are not causal but probabilistic. Saying that a god pulled off the Big Bang has the serious theological consequence of a god playing dice. Of course that’s not a problem for polytheists and pastafarians. But abrahamists should think twice.

  • MNb

    @9b: we have solid counter evidence against the Resurrection. It violates some natural laws. Oh, it’s a miracle, you say? Then I refer to

    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/hume-miracles.asp

    which makes

    “you’ve got to admit that it’s something”
    irrelevant.

    If I claim that I can fly merely by flapping my arms I also have something – my very own testimony.

    • I’ve seen this argument (“you must also provide copies of 1st-century documents, otherwise I win”) occasionally since I first saw it maybe 8 years ago. It’s a desperate attempt at highlighting something that skeptics don’t (and never will) have, but I agree–irrelevant.

  • Without Malice

    Darn it Bob, you make it sound like Christians don’t have a prayer of coming up with a good argument to believe in the snake oil they’re trying to sell. But, they are nothing if not tenacious in holding to their beliefs come hell or high water. They’re like the knight guarding the bridge in Monty Python movie; no arms, no legs, completely defeated but shouting, “come back you dirty atheist, I’ve yet to use my strongest arguments.”

    • Good analogy.

      I’m in an odd spot, because if I’m saying that these 25 arguments are bad, are there others that are good? What I’m trying to highlight is arguments that are so on-their-face bad that even Christians should be embarrassed to see them used. The other arguments are also bad, but just not so obviously so.

      • JT Rager

        For those, they need to sprinkle in a bit of obfuscation and clever use of rhetorics to sweep the fallacies under the rug… I’m not convinced that they’re any better.

        • MNb

          Yes, I noticed as well how much apologists like to obfuscate. BobS has written about it: search for Hoare’s Dictum.

        • Yes! The “better” arguments are just better camouflaged.

          Perhaps the slam-dunk argument against Christianity is to say, “OK, then where is this God of yours?” If he wants a relationship, he’s not going to hide behind riddles and smoke screens.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’ve bumped into a [thankfully] few painfully smug elitist-theists who explicitly differ on that point; they are educated in math and science and consistently place all of bog’s mystery squarely into The Gaps (because obviously any given thing ‘works’ whether or not we can explain how, amirite?)

          one takes every opportunity to sneeringly equate dis- or non-belief with sheer stupidity. the most impenetrable privilege bubble i’ve ever seen.
          (he’s on LJ; wouldn’t be caught dead on a filthy public forum of course)

        • LJ? Is that a blog?

        • TheNuszAbides

          it’s a monster!
          okay, not really.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiveJournal
          proto-facebook, pretty much.

          actually it turns out the guy i was referring to does blogspot now. named that one ‘Iliocentrism’, his lj nym was ilion7

  • Paul

    ““What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”
    So if an atheist says “There is no God.” and offers no support for that claim, I can just dismiss it.

    • Kodie

      That’s all you got, Paul?

      • Paul

        Do you agree or disagree?

        • Kodie

          I don’t believe in god, so that’s on you. Make an argument I can believe.

        • hector_jones

          I see now why he tried so hard to stick to bible quotes. He’s got so little game it ain’t funny.

        • Paul

          Why don’t you believe in God?

        • Kodie

          Because the evidence is ridiculous and the believers think it’s awesome.

        • Timothy Cooper

          Can you produce non biblical evidence of the Christian god that can’t be explained be either natural means or another god/gods.

        • Susan

          Why don’t you believe in God?

          Referring to anyone’s deity of choice as “God” is conceding more than is reasonable.

          I’m an igtheist.

          All I can gather is that you believe an agent exists that is consistent with the sort of agent that some people who call themselves christians believe in and for which they never provide evidence or even coherent explanations.

          What agent do you believe exists and why should anyone else believe it? That seems to be the focus of the hard work that Bob is trying to do here.

          At least acknowledge his honest efforts at reasonable discussion on the topic and address the questions and problems he and many commenters here raise.

          Provide a coherent definition and evidence. Why is that complicated?

        • Kodie

          Excellent!

        • Susan

          (sheepishly waving hello)
          Thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          Because if the theist gives a coherent definition, then they have drawn a line in the sand. Typically, when this has been done in the past, it hasn’t turned out well for the religious types.

        • Kodie

          You ever notice that when they let us use a coherent definition based on past arguments we’ve been in with other Christians, then the Christian will come along and say that’s not it at all, and no wonder we’re atheists if we believe god is like this or that, but they won’t offer a correction or clarification?

          It’s so hard to pinpoint and yet a moron can understand it.

        • Susan

          no wonder we’re atheists if we believe god is like this or that, but they won’t offer a correction or clarification?

          Yes. No matter how hard we try to address what they seem to be saying (and what so many christians state as a matter of fact), we are always accused of attacking strawmen.

          The only terms they agree on are the vague ones.

          And of course that Jesus died for our sins.

          When we make every honest attempt to nail various flavours of Jell-O to thousands of shifting walls, we are accused of being unsophisticated and not “open”.

          Also “prideful”, not “sincerely” seeking the “truth” and one of my favourites was recently used repeatedly here by a theist.

          Actually, I think it was Paul. “Fools”.

          Of course the last one is obviously true because someone wrote in the bible that anyone who didn’t accept what the writer claimed was a “fool”. How prophetic.

          I’ve never thought of trying that tactic in an argument. “It was written that if you don’t buy what I’m selling, you are a fool. My sales manager told me about you people and your existence is proof that he was right about everything.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          and now i know about Sherwin Wine. thank you!

    • Greg G.

      Yes, you can. If the atheist says there isn’t sufficient evidence to warrant belief in the supernatural, you can move along or provide the evidence. Your problem is that you can’t provide sufficient evidence.

      • TheNuszAbides

        and he never will if he can’t grow out of the “er, god provided sufficient evidence, it’s called the universe, google it” tripe.

    • Blizzard

      Yep you can dismiss it. You can also google since statements don’t live in a vacuum lol. That includes Hitchens too by the way. For example if someone asserted something to Hitchens without evidence he could always look it up on google and see if there is evidence. Assertions don’t necessarily have to come with a “dog ate your homework” sign taped on their back. The dog may have ate their homework but that doesn’t mean it ate yours too.

    • Esquilax

      That is why most atheists- as far as I can tell- do not make such simplistic statements. Nobody has here, at the very least, so I wonder why you brought it up. I get that winning cheap rhetorical points is appealing to theists, but you could at least tailor the message to the people around it, instead of making non-sequiturs and acting undeservedly smug about it.

      • ZenDruid

        Come now. He refrained from calling us fools here, you will have noticed.

    • ZenDruid

      There is no god, but there is a monster under my bed.

      • Keiko Mushi

        The Cosmic Mega-Dolphin creepily stares at you while you sleep. Yes, he is a bit of a stalker… 😀

    • James

      Surely you know the difference between a positive and null hypothesis? A positive hypothesis claim given without evidence can be dismissed readily. Null hypothesis claims are simply saying “prove your positive claim.” If I say “Big Foot exists (blank)” anyone is free to dismiss it. If I say “God spoke to me and he said you Christians are doing it wrong (blank)” you’re free to dismiss it. If I say “the sky is falling (blank)” you’re free to dismiss it. Only when a positive claim is made with evidence does the skeptic have any intellectually honest obligation to examine the evidence. No evidence = no reason to believe the claim is true; the null hypothesis has not been refuted. Or to put it another way, positive hypotheses are supported by refuting the null hypothesis with evidence.

      It’s Christians who say “my deity exists, not just any deity but my particular deity – my deity does certain things and my deity is responsible for the creation of the entire universe and everything in it. And not only that I really, really want you to believe it too or something unimaginably terrible will happen to you after you die;” the skeptic is simply saying “great – now give me the evidence.” Science explains our universe pretty well all on its own rendering any sort of deity redundant and has the added benefit of being well-supported by copious, closely examined and vetted evidence – and that makes the positive claims that any given flavor of theism make quite extraordinary, demanding correspondingly extraordinary evidence. Hence bold assertions, statements of extraordinary confidence (i.e. “faith”) are very nice and all – but where is the evidence?

    • The atheists that I know would instead say, “I see no evidence for God,” at which point the burden of proof would be yours.

      • Paul

        No, the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. The burden of proof does not fall on me unless I make a claim. If an atheist said “I see no evidence for God.”, I would ask what kind of evidence they are/were looking for.

        • hector_jones

          So you don’t think God exists.

        • Paul

          What’s your evidence for me thinking that?

        • hector_jones

          Because if you have no burden of proof regarding god then you can’t be making any claims that this god character exists.

        • Paul

          “Because if you have no burden of proof regarding god then you can’t be making any claims that this god character exists.”

          I made no claims about God’s existence in this conversation. Therefore, I don’t need to provide proof. If I did, then yes, I would need to provide proof. But this particular conversation is about who needs to provide proof and when.

        • Kodie

          I think you have a gross misapprehension of atheism. You’re a theist, pretty obviously, so you are making a claim. I am not convinced by the evidence you don’t think you need to provide, so how can I FUCKING BELIEVE IT. Therefore, I remain atheist, for there has been shown nothing to believe in.

          I cannot just will myself to believe so how do you expect me to change my fucking mind, you absolute moron.

        • Paul

          “I am not convinced by the evidence you don’t think you need to provide, ”

          I don’t need to provide evidence because I make no claim in this conversation.

          “I cannot just will myself to believe”
          Nor should you.

          Cursing and name calling won’t win any arguments, but it might cause your peers to vote up your post.

        • Kodie

          You don’t understand atheism is a response to a claim. It’s not a claim.

          If you’re not here to make a claim, then there is no conversation to be had. Your tactic is not smart.

        • Paul

          “If you’re not here to make a claim, then there is no conversation to be had.”

          Sure there is. I pointed out that “.. if an atheist says “There is no God.” and offers no support for that claim, I can just dismiss it.”
          Feel free to join in the discussion if you’d like.

        • Kodie

          That’s not a discussion. The topic is “stupid arguments Christians should avoid” and your point is surely one of them. If you want to know why we’re atheists, look at the topics and read them – these are the stupid arguments that point to there being no god, at least not the god you believe in. So where are these atheists you’re looking for to make the claim you can dismiss without providing evidence for your god? Typical ignorant Christian.

        • hector_jones

          Stop with the ‘in this conversation’ nonsense.

        • Paul

          Topics to a particular conversaion are important. I do my best not to be fooled by atheist’s red herrings.

        • hector_jones

          And yet you are such a fool nevertheless.

        • powellpower

          down voted due to stupidity

        • hector_jones

          “I made no claims about God’s existence in this conversation.”

          So I reiterate, you don’t think god exists.

        • Paul

          No, it just means that I didn’t make any claims about God’s existance IN THIS CONVERSATION.

        • hector_jones

          No one cares any more what claims you have or haven’t made.

        • Kodie

          What do you imagine this conversation is separate from another one with the same people? I mean, we all know what you said.

        • Kodie

          You were told what kind of evidence someone was looking for and you made up a lame excuse.

        • Paul

          First of all, I made no excuse, lame or otherwise. I simply inquired about his reasoning for God providing that particular piece of evidence he was seeking.
          Second, not everyone is going to give the same answer he did.

        • Kodie

          You did make an excuse, a very lame one.

          The verses are to show you that God doesn’t appear the way you expect
          Him to. You expect that He would warn everyone of impending disaster.
          I’m telling you to change your way of thinking.

          The reason this is encoded in the bible is appeasement. God obviously doesn’t demonstrate his existence to anyone’s satisfaction, so you have to perform some in-group behavior and contort your ability to reason just to see it, the bible tells you how to do it and how little to expect, and to pretend his ways are marvelous and awesome. That IS a lame excuse.

        • Paul

          “God obviously doesn’t demonstrate his existence to anyone’s satisfaction…”

          Then why are there people that believe in God? How could God demostrate His existance to you?

          “so you have to perform some in-group behavior and contort your ability to reason just to see it…”

          In what way did I contort my ability to reason? Are you sure your reasoning is not contorted?

          “That IS a lame excuse.”
          I’m sure it might seem that way from atheistic perspective.

        • Kodie

          Paul, are you illiterate?

          The bible passage you quoted there BEGINS with the acknowledgment that god cannot be demonstrated to anyone’s satisfaction, and then teaches you to have another definition of satisfaction, because he’s never going to show up. That’s THE lame excuse.

        • Paul

          “Paul, are you illiterate?”
          No.

          I explained what those verses meant. It’s not that God cannot be demonstrated to anyone’s satisfaction. But He certainly can. He certainly has been demonstrated to my satisfaction. But the verses mean that God doesn’t always answer the way we expect Him to.

        • Kodie

          Yes, your explanation was a lame excuse though. I said the same thing you said in so many words. Instead of giving evidence, you said you would ask someone what evidence they were looking for, and someone told you what that was, so your answer to that was they had to distort their reason to come to the same conclusion as you did. I think you’re illiterate because you could not follow the thread.

          These are the appeasements for gullible people. They’re not evidence.

        • Paul

          “Yes, your explanation was a lame excuse though.”

          How are you quantifying lame?

          “I said the same thing you said in so many words.”

          No, you didn’t.

          “..so your answer to that was they had to distort their reason to come to the same conclusion as you did.”

          No, you said I had to contort my reasoning to be able to see it. I simply was asking you how you know that your reasoning is not distorted. You haven’t answered the question. I did say they had to change their way of thinking. And what did I mean by that? I already explained it to you: God doesn’t always appear the way we expect Him to. Elija was expeting Him to be in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. But it was only when things were still he was able to find God. So I was in no way telling others to change their reasoning, I was telling them to change their perceptions about God.

        • Kodie

          And why do you think the bible has that passage in it? I know your reasoning is distorted because nobody thinks like that unless they are forced to in order to accept something unbelievable. If I give you another religion’s claim, you are not going to distort your reasoning in order to accept it, you’re going to use normal reasoning to reject it.

        • How
          could God demostrate His existance to you?

          I don’t know, but God would. And he doesn’t do it (whatever it is).

          I guess he doesn’t care that I won’t believe and he’ll have to send me to hell. Sounds like a bit of a dick.

        • You make no claim? You don’t claim, “God exists”? I assumed you were here to advance the Great Commission.

          In the statement “I see no evidence for God,” I make no claim.

        • Paul

          I didn’t say you were making a claim. I just said I would inquire about the evidence.
          And yes, I made no claim about the existence of God in this conversation.

        • Kodie

          You really can’t avoid it. You have made claims, you said the universe is perfect, you have said that god gave people free will, and humans disobeyed god and that’s why the world stinks so much now, but that it will be perfected again someday. You said all those things, those are your baseless claims.

          Good job disabling your disqus account so people can’t find your comments to catch you up in them, but as long as I respond to them, I can totally find all of them. Isn’t technology great?

        • Paul

          “You have made claims, you said the universe is perfect…”

          I think your confusing this conversation with the one on “Guest Post: 25 Godly Blunders”

          “Good job disabling your disqus account…”
          I don’t have a disqus account, facebook account, twitter account, or a google account. So I’m posting as a guest.

        • hector_jones

          It’s all the same conversation because it all boils down to one issue – where is the evidence that this god you worship exists?

        • Kodie

          I think you’re confusing a productive line of discussion with derailing the topic.

        • Pofarmer

          “In this conversation” evasive passive aggressive disshonesty. Just get on with it already.

        • Paul

          But we all have the exact same evidence: the universe and everything in it. We’re just coming to different conclusions.

        • You really think these are symmetric positions? That you and I have worldviews informed exclusively by evidence? We’re both simply following the evidence, without an agenda, to the conclusion?

        • Paul

          That’s what I’m trying to find out. How is it we look at the exact same evidence and come to different conclusions?

        • Probably because you have an agenda and/or because you use other ways of “knowing” besides following evidence where it leads. For example, many Christians say that a personal experience or personal revelation was critical to their faith, and they don’t pretend that this would be convincing to anyone else.

        • Paul

          Yes, I do have an agenda: to find out how people can look at the exact same evidnece and come to different conclusions. Can’t say that I’ve had the personal experience others claim. For me it was following the evidence where it leads.

        • hector_jones

          Hint: you aren’t actually looking at the exact same evidence. You are cherry picking the evidence that supports your presuppositionalism. God is good, according to your view, therefore when you look around and see puppies and sunsets you think that’s proof of God. You completely ignore earthquakes and ebola.

        • God goggles.

        • Paul

          Dismissed due to unsubstantied claims.

        • hector_jones

          LOL Fuck off, idiot.

        • You can browse here (All Posts tab at the top) to find some of my reactions.

          What arguments for God are most compelling to you?

        • Susan

          How is it we look at the exact same evidence and come to different conclusions?

          What evidence are you looking at? I get the sense that we’re not looking at the same evidence as on the other thread, you explained that suffering and death began with human disobedience.

          This implies a claim about your deity of choice and suggests that you are not looking at most of the evidence for the history of our universe.

          That it came up on another thread shouldn’t be an issue. You have claimed your deity of choice exists repeatedly at this site.

          No one here is buying it because you have simply asserted it, never supported it.

          You can’t say you’re not familiar with the burden of proof and the null hypothesis at this point, because I know it has been explained to you.

          I’ve been a lurker for a long time here. I think it’s a great site but I had very little to add.

          I’ll give you points for baiting me into commenting, but for nothing else.

        • Dys

          I usually respond by asking how many computers have been prayed into existence.

        • Greg G.

          I see a universe with good and bad. It’s indifferent. I don’t have to do mental gymnastics to support an assumption of a good god behind it.

        • Paul

          “In the statement “I see no evidence for God,” I make no claim.”
          So if stated “I see evidence for God.”, I woulnd’t be making a claim either. But I’m sure then someone would ask me about the evidence.

        • Kodie

          You don’t see evidence for god.

        • Paul

          Would you care to share how you know that?

        • Kodie

          I dismissed your claim. That was your whole argument.

        • I’m not sure what your agenda is here. You just don’t want to be boxed in and forced to defend your position? I thought that sharing your best reasons for God’s existence would be an opportunity.

        • hector_jones

          He wants to be able to take one position in one thread and, if necessary, a completely contradictory position in another thread. Because it’s totally a rule of the internet that you get to do that if you are a christian. Look it up.

        • Dang Christians and their privilege!

    • RichardSRussell

      Yes, if that’s the way it’s phrased — as an absolute, didactic statement — you surely may.

  • Nemo

    For stupid argument 11, I have taken to calling that the Frank Turek Method, named after the guy who, in his book, literally said that getting a few setting details accurate, such as place names or the names of historical people, means we should take all of the claims of the Bible seriously. No, really, he said that.

    • Keiko Mushi

      Frank Turek strikes me as a bit of a con man. He is also making a heck of a lot of money selling intellectual dishonesty to the masses.

      • RichardSRussell

        They’re all con men — some consciously so, some not, but all peddling vaporware in return for hard cash. Nothing for something; it’s the Christian way.

        • Keiko Mushi

          Intent plays some part, but a lie is indeed still a lie.
          I believe that Frank Turek is in the former rather than the latter. He sort of relies on his followers not understanding the elements of a good argument, appealing to their belief in him as some sort of expert. I have even seen him have convenient” technical errors during debates when fielded with a question that he seemingly had no pre-made argument for. Frank Turek heavily relies on his scripts.

  • Robert W Ahrens

    I like a better argument for #11. I’ve noted that Tom Clancy wrote tons of books, every single one placed into locations that exist. Real world, actual geographical places. With names. And yet, every single story he wrote was fiction. Heck, he even used some real historical figures on occasion. Again, real people, fictional story.

    • And Wizard of Oz mentions Kansas. Heck, I’ve been to Kansas.

      I guess it’s a documentary then.

      • $28895381

        And of course Spider-man and many Marvel Super Heroes live in New York City.

    • Shaun Keefe

      Ha, Seriously. Harry Potter books are set in England and Scotland. Those are real places. According to the logic described, the Harry Potter books must be true.

      • Greg G.

        But if the Harry Potter books are not true, why don’t we have any writings debunking them?

        • The Christian will come back by saying that Harry Potter was deliberately written as fiction. No one is confused about Harry Potter being anything else.

          To remedy this, use Merlin the wizard in the story of King Arthur set in (wait for it!) England as well. Those writings could be history, and now you have the Christian apologist tap dancing about why Merlin is bunk but Jesus is, like, totally true.

        • MNb

          “The Christian will come back by saying that Harry Potter was deliberately written as fiction.”

          Historians during Antiquity didn’t mind inserting a lot of fiction either. A fine example is

          http://www.livius.org/hi-hn/ha/hist_aug.html

          The fun is that

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historia_Brittonum

          actually does contain some historical information about the British Dark Ages (400 – 550 CE) as it to some extent matches

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Badon

          If the Brits have won a battle they must have had a military leader. It’s not a great stretch to assume that that nameless guy (all suggestions are just speculations) inspired the stories of King Arthur.

          In a similar way a case can be made for a historical Merlin.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin

        • A nice collection of sources, thanks.

      • Kansas exists; therefore, The Wizard of Oz is true.

        England exists; therefore the story of King Arthur and Merlin the shape-shifting wizard is true.

        And so on.

  • patrick.sele

    “The Iliad also mentions names that
    archaeology has later validated—Troy, for example. That the Bible has
    confirmation on some of its names of people and places isn’t remarkable; that
    only means that it is worthy of further investigation.”

    The Iliad was meant
    to be a work of fiction, whereas e. g. the Book of Acts wasn’t. As for the
    latter the following assessment of the trustworthiness of its author provided
    by the New Testament scholar F. F. Bruce is very informative:

    “A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in
    matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where the
    means for testing him are not available. Accuracy is a habit of mind, and we
    know from happy (or unhappy) experience that some people are habitually
    accurate just as others can be depended upon to be inaccurate. Luke’s record
    entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”

    (Source: http://www.bible.ca/b-new-testament-documents-f-f-bruce-ch7.htm)

    In the following
    quote Bruce applies the idea that someone is either habitually accurate or
    inaccurate to the assessment of the historical reliability of the miracle
    accounts in the Gospels:

    “To some extent it is true to say that the
    credibility of these stories is a matter of historical evidence. If they are
    related by authors who can be shown on other grounds to be trustworthy, then
    they are worthy of at least serious attention by the historian.”

    (Source: http://www.bible.ca/b-new-testament-documents-f-f-bruce-ch5.htm)

    The same idea lies
    behind what the atheist philosopher Stephen Law has called the “contamination
    principle” and which he explains in the following paper in the paragraph “The
    contamination principle”:

    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2012/04/published-in-faith-and-philosophy-2011.html

    Stephen Law applies
    this principle to the miracle accounts in the New Testament Gospels. Being an
    atheist and therefore rejecting the possibility of miracles he arrives at the
    conclusion that the mundane parts in the New Testament Gospels must be rejected
    as well. But, following the “contamination principle”, if one accepts the
    mundane claims of the New Testament Gospels, one consequently must accept the
    miracle accounts as well.

    • hector_jones

      How do you know the Illiad was meant to be a work of fiction? Were you there?

      Your reasoning just boils down to “the bible is true because it says it’s true”. The argument that it’s true because it refers to archaeological places obviously doesn’t work because that argument, according to you, only applies to works that ‘intend’ to be true.

    • What hector said. The Iliad was the proud history of the Greek people.

      How do we know that Luke was accurate? Because he tracks Josephus. But what if he wrote his books after reading Josephus?

      I’m having a hard time seeing your point at the end that if the mundane parts are true, the miraculous ones must also be. The Iliad is again a counterexample.

      • Pofarmer

        You also can’t rule out that Acts was written to look accurate as a propaganda piece to incorporate the supernatural into the mundane. I also agree with Hector take on not really knowing the original purpose or thoughts on writing the iliad. Matthew Ferguson, I think, has had some posts on this.

        • MNb

          Of course Acts are written as propaganda. Every single historian had an agenda. The historical context makes this agenda clear: after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE the two remaining jewish denominations (pharisees and christians) needed to redefine their identities to avoid disappearance.

      • patrick.sele

        Bob Seidensticker: „How do we know that Luke
        was accurate? Because he tracks Josephus. But what if he wrote his books after
        reading Josephus?“

        With respect to the
        Book of Acts, as far as I know the writings of Josephus hardly contain anything
        that could have been helpful to Luke. As for Luke’s accuracy in his Gospel and
        the Book of Acts in particular and the historical reliability of the Gospels
        and the Book of Acts in general the following talk held by philosopher Timothy
        McGrew is very informative:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAPG3eECaxw

        From 24:37 onwards
        McGrew points to a book on the Book of Acts, written by the New Testament
        scholar Colin Hemer, which provides evidence for the accuracy of this Biblical
        book.

        • Greg G.

          There’s a list of about 25 names in Luke-Acts confirmed by other historical documents. Only one or two are not found in Josephus and most are only known from Josephus. When I looked at it, I noticed a couple that were not listed, both from Josephus. Josephus mentioned that there were many bad guys and lists three. Acts has those same three.

          Paul mentioned shipwrecks in an epistle. The Acts shipwreck is very similar to Josephus’ shipwreck from time of year, course, wrecked at same spot, both had religious prisoners.

          When Paul is arrested and tells the officer that he is Greek, the officer is surprised because he thought he was the Egyptian. That what Josephus calls one guy. Acts has the officer talking about three different details, each found in nearby passages in Josephus but attributed to different people.

          Some of the names are there gratuitously in Luke and Acts but Josephus has them involved in stories.

          Josephus tells about discussing the law with scholars when he was age 14. Luke has Jesus do the same but at age 12, a thematic number.

          You can say it’s a coincidence a half dozen times or so, but when it reaches two or three dozen “coincidences”, it is a pattern. The pattern points to Luke using Josephus and not the other way around.

          Luke and Josephus – Secular Web (Richard Carrier) by Richard Carrier (before he was a mythicist)

          The Reliance of Luke-Acts on the Writings of Flavius Josephus by Paul Tobin

        • A helpful list, thanks.

        • Greg G.

          That was off the top of my head. The links I gave should provide references to most of the things I indicated.

          I think CodyGirl posted the list of names. I looked up each of the names.

        • Pofarmer

          Richard Pervo in “The mystery of Acts” disagrees. Dr. Mcgrew seems to be as kuch apologist as philosopher.

    • Lark62

      How do you know that Acts was not written as fiction? Were you there? The author and his initial readers may have known that Acts and the gospel of Luke and the others were fictional tales.

  • Pofarmer

    Had an epiphany a little while ago. Probably file this under “obvious”. Having a “conversation” with Randy Gritted on Leah Libresco’s blog. Anyway, talking about religion in general, etc. Psychologists tell is that religions are generally organized around a fear of death. Catholics in particular believe that Jesus death “saves” us so we can go to heaven. They then proceed to believe they actually eat his flesh and drink his blood and they need to do this as often as possible. Catholics is 100% a death cult. I had read people saying it before, but it never struck me until today for some reason how it is actually supposed to work.

    • An afterlife of bliss sounds pretty good. Just give me compelling evidence, and I’m on board. (Not a big request, right?)

      • Dys

        You mean really, really, super-duper wanting it to be true isn’t enough?

      • Timothy Cooper

        That the earth is made perfectly for life isn’t enough for you. It’s not like people could have just evolved to survive conditions in their environment. /s

        • Lark62

          Or, life evolved to fit the available conditions.

          If you want to live in your ignorant bubble and spout nonsense, carry on.

          If you want to learn and understand, read a decent book on evolutionc or two. Start with Why Evolution Is True by Coyne and Your Innrr Fish by Shubin.

        • Timothy Cooper

          I was actually being sarcastic that’s why I put the “/s” at the end, but thanks for the book recommendations.

        • Lark62

          Oops. My mistake. I read right over it. Sorry. But at least you will enjoy the books.

        • Timothy Cooper

          I’ll just add them to my ever growing list of books to read.

        • Lark62

          Do you have any good recommendations on your list?

        • Timothy Cooper

          The Origins of the World’s Mythologies Jan 4, 2013
          by E.J. Michael Witze

          Christian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins Nov 24, 2014
          by Philippe Walter and Claude Lecouteux

          The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’tSep 27, 2012

          by Nate Silve

          1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History)Mar 23, 2014

          by Eric H. Cline

          There are probably better books then these but these are on my list. If I find a better one I change it. (Sadly I don’t have the time nor the money to read as many books as I want)

        • Lark62

          These all sound like ones I’d like, especially Christian Mythology. I tend to mostly listen to audible audiobooks while commuting and chauffeuring munchkins. There just isn’t time to sit and read.

    • MNb

      “Psychologists tell is that religions are generally organized around a fear of death.”
      Do you have a source?

      • Pofarmer

        Just a marriage counselor who I liked a lot.

      • TheNuszAbides

        if there’s any incentive to narrow it down to a particular fear, i’m increasingly inclined to attribute it to a fear of independent thought.

        that’s in the context of a constructed religion, mind you. i think “the religious impulse” is a hamfisted misnomer that essentially equates to “mob mentality”: any individual within a superorganism can feel more powerful/prideful because of their membership.

        a thought-impulse that ‘indirectly leads’ to a religion, however, could be as objective as the germ of any scientific pursuit: why does this feather have so many vibrant colors in it? why did i escape back to the camp while my sister was caught and torn apart by… whatever that was?

        this is why i am still deeply suspicious of conversation-killers to the effect “stop trying to make things complicated!” we can’t all be Rutherford… or can we?!

  • Some guy on the internet

    WALL OF TEXT INCOMING:

    Anecdote time. The bus was running late today (okay, I was running late) so I asked my aunt to drive me to college. During the drive she mentioned a 15-year-old girl getting hit by a truck the other day or so and proceeded to ask me whether or not I was scared to die. I said no, because it’s probably inevitable and it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me for some reason. She asked me if I still prayed (the Muslim way) and I lied and said yes. I sometimes perform the physical prayer, but it’s meaningless to me. Then she asked me if I believed in God. I hesitated then said yes. Again, a lie but I knew she would never stop bugging me about it if I said no. I hate lying, but none of my family will ever tolerate my lack of belief.

    She claimed that looking up philosophy has polluted my mind from the truth of Islam, and that I could find “answers” if I read the Qur’an. This got me thinking, why do I actually not believe in God? I’m certainly not opposed to it, but I get the feeling theists think atheists actively try to suppress evidence of God when it’s really just that the evidence is just non-sequiturs like “Puppies and rainbows, therefore God.” The biggest one for me, and probably the most powerful driving force for my atheism, is investigation of God’s motives. Theists say that the existence of the universe is best accounted for by an intelligent being, citing that there must be a final cause. This becomes absurd when one considers why God would do anything in the first place. The problem of “what started it all” is not so clear-cut because of the problem of God’s motives. If God causes everything but is himself uncaused, we can surely ask why God caused anything in the first place. If it’s because of his nature, then we can ask why he has that nature, and so on. Eventually theists have to say “I don’t know” or “It just is”. If there is no ultimate reason for God taking an action then it’s no better than saying the universe “just is”, because it’s the last thing we can say before we have to have to make assumptions about entities backed up by yet more baseless assumptions about how said entity. I prefer to call myself agnostic rather than atheist for this reason.

    • Kodie

      Asking why god would be whichever way is probably the most memorable process I have between my before and after. It is all making up a god to fit in with the “clues”, so why would god be whatever way I think he is, and then if he was, why would he be that way in the first place? Couldn’t he be something else that I can’t think of, that nobody’s thought of yet – but as long as he comes from thoughts, why would he exist? That’s the short version.

      • Some guy on the internet

        It’s customary for Muslims to say “Subhanallah!” (roughly “Look at what God has done!”) when encountering some amazing facet of nature, like bio-luminescent fish living deep in the ocean. They probably think things like, “God has made things perfectly for their environment, you expect me to believe that this happened by chance?” It’s pretty ridiculous when you consider that God would have made the environments too and living creatures dependent on that environment. They’re pretty much saying God could make environments with no restrictions but his ability to create creatures within them is restricted by the environment (and those restrictions are supposedly decided by God too). My point is, assuming a God created the universe, he could have created it any way and it could still be considered “perfect”, so there is nothing about this universe that implicates a God more than any other. For instance, God could have made it so that humans breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, but he didn’t and a scientist can’t object to such a universe because they have to rely on how this universe works when the point is that this would be a different universe. There’s no reason which way for God’s actions which is why I refer to God as “random chance with a face.” I find teleological arguments invalid for this reason.

        • Terowyn

          I know this is old, but this is the epitome of pretentious writing. You’re over-complicating two simple concepts through the use of ridiculously incoherent run-on sentences (which 7 people seemed to have flocked to).

          Kodie’s point was clear. You’re pretty much just rambling in circles while trying to say, “what incentive did God have to even create the universe? And why did he make it the way he did?” And this is clearly supposed to be an counter-argument against the existence of God, so why is this the reason you’re an agnostic?

    • I understand your concern about lying, but perhaps you can tell yourself that the Muslim environment imposes it on you. It’s the best option you have out of a difficult situation.

  • chrijeff

    “We’re all the same species, and it’s easy to see how we would share moral thinking.”

    But we don’t. Cannibals think cannibalism is quite moral. Eskimos think sharing their wives is. Morality is what *your particular culture* considers moral.

    “We’re not talking about evil but the Problem of Evil, the riddle of how a good god could allow so much evil to exist.”

    One possibility would be the Zorastrian idea: that God is indeed good, but is opposed at every turn by another power, equally as old and strong as itself. And sometimes one wins, and sometimes the other does.

    • MNb

      Killing your mother is considered good in precious few cultures.

      “One possibility would be …..”

      Polytheistic religions (and the way you describe the Zoroastrian idea is bitheism indeed) don’t suffer from the PoE.

      • chrijeff

        PoE? Define, please. (Zoroastrianism still makes as much sense to me as anything else–and more, in this sense, than Christianity: I agree absolutely that if God *were simultaneously* all-powerful, good, loving, and just, there would be neither evil nor suffering. You encountered this idea and decided (I presume) to be an atheist. I decided to be something else.)

        • Greg G.

          POE = Problem of Evil

          It goes back to Epicurus in the fourth century BC.

          You have pretty much defined it. I think Epicurus adds that if they can’t prevent evil, why call them gods.

        • adam

          ..

        • Greg G.

          Thank you. I was thinking of that meme.

        • MNb

          God. Singular. More than one omnipotent god doesn’t make any sense (which is why the christian devil is not an answer to the PoE).

    • Greg G.

      Cannibals tend to kill and eat enemies. They frown on the idea of killing and eating their friends and family. The killing part of that moral precept is quite common across cultures.

      • chrijeff

        And what about Eskimos lending their wives, to take my other example? A wife is not (generally) an enemy.

        • Greg G.

          Murder, stealing, and lying within your local group are common, but they do not necessarily hold with out-group interactions.. As population density has increased, the local circle has increased. I think a general sense of fairness could be included here.

          This is not just for humans either. Even monkeys and other apes use these principles. I read about a young monkey gave the warning call for a predator so he could get to the best food. The other monkeys realized what he had done and punished him. They considered that lying. Monkeys and even dogs have been shown to have a sense of fairness.

          I don’t disagree that a culture can add other restrictions to morality.

        • chrijeff

          “Murder, stealing, and lying within your local group are common, but they do not necessarily hold with out-group interactions.”

          Interestingly, among our American Indians, especially the Plains Tribes, exactly the opposite was the case. Aggressive impulses were channelled toward tribal enemies. To kill a member of one’s own tribe, clan, or extended family, or to steal from same, was heinous; to kill an enemy, or steal his horses, was praiseworthy. (And Indians seldom lied, because most of their problems were environmental: weather, predators, enemy tribes, illness, accident, the landscape itself. You can’t lie to your environment, or lie to yourself about it; if you try, it kills you.)

          I think something similar was true in Biblical times. The Commandment we usually render as “Thou shalt not kill” should actually read “Thou shalt not do murder.” The Ancient Hebrews, especially in Old Testament times, killed often; they waged many wars (see the Canaanites). I think the commandment was meant to say, “Don’t kill within your group; Jews are precious.” (Which, in a sense, they were, being the only monotheists in the world at the time.)

        • Greg G.

          Sorry, I left a _-_- or two out of that sentence. Those three things are the common immoral actions across cultures. It’s hard to edit on a phone with pops coming at you.

          I agree with “Thou shalt not murder”.

        • Boris

          None of that is true. The Jews conquered no one, not ever.

        • You could argue that they weren’t “Jews” at that point, but after the Exodus, they conquered Canaan. The Bible reports 2 million Jews, and God said that they would conquer 7 tribes that were bigger than they.

          Kinda puts the Holocaust in perspective, eh? Or maybe that’s all just legend.

        • Boris

          The Numbers of the Exodus

          Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived – Isaac Asimov

          Amram married Jochebed his father’s sister and she bore him Aaron and Moses, and the length of Amram’s life was one hundred thirty-seven years (Ex 6:20). The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and she bore to Amram: Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam (Num 26:59). The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years (Ex 12:40). Moses was eighty when he led the Exodus so he was born 350 years after the Israelites began living in Egypt. Jochebed was born to Levi in Egypt but her brother Kohath came to Egypt with Jacob (cf. Gen 46:11) and lived 133 years. This means that if Korath, Levi’s second of three sons, was two years old when he came to Egypt and lived 131 years in Egypt he died 219 years before his sister gave birth to Moses. If Jochebed was fifty years old when she bore Moses she was still 300 years younger than her brother Korath. This is quite impossible since Levi the father of Korath and Jochebed only lived 137 years so he could not have had two children almost 300 years apart in age!

          Reading the Bible in a logical order may dispel some commonly held beliefs about the event of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years (Ex 12:40). This is often held to mean that the Israelites were slaves for four hundred-thirty years, but this is impossible. Slavery began after Joseph died at the age of one hundred-ten, 71 years after Jacob arrived in Egypt when a new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph (Ex 1:8). This same king was in power after some supply cities were built and when Moses was born and Moses led the exodus at the age of eighty. So the total time period of slavery was around 100 years at the most. Starting from the time that Jacob came to Egypt when Joseph was thirty-nine, the Israelites were in Egypt 171 years (71 + 100 = 171). The time that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt could not have been longer than 100 years because Moses’ grandfather Korath, who lived only 133 years, came to Egypt with his grandfather Jacob and lived there at least 71 years before slavery began.

          If Jochebed was 2 years old when slavery began and twenty-two when she gave birth to Moses, this coincides with the length of time the Israelites were held in slavery being 100 years. But there seems to be about 259 years missing from the Israelites stay in Egypt. This is because we are counting from Jacob’s arrival in Egypt instead of Abraham’s. It was Abraham to whom God said that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years (Gen 15:13). Abraham began his sojourn in Egypt when he was seventy-five, he lived to be one hundred seventy-five and Isaac was born when Abraham was one hundred. Isaac fathered Jacob when he was sixty (cf. Gen 25:26). So Abraham was in Egypt for 11 years, and then moved back to Canaan. Then Isaac lived sixty years in a foreign land that wasn’t Egypt (cf. Gen 26:2) before Jacob was born and then Jacob came to Egypt when he was one hundred-thirty. That adds up to 215 years (25 + 60 + 130 =215) exactly half of the 430 years that Israel was supposedly oppressed in Egypt.

          If the king who did not know Joseph did not initiate the slavery of the Israelites for fourteen years until after the death of Joseph then that means that the Israelites were oppressed in one of two foreign lands that were not theirs for four hundred years as God originally said to Abraham they would be. The prophecy did not say that the Israelites would be slaves the entire four hundred years, just oppressed, nor did it say which land Abraham’s offspring would be oppressed in. Since the Israelites were a people without a land at that time, any land was a foreign land. If slavery did not begin until forty-four years after Joseph died we have a total period of some sort of off and on oppression in a foreign land of 430 years (215 + 71 + 44 + 100 = 430). The problem is that Exodus 12:40 makes the claim that the total time the Israelites were inEgypt was 430 years. Fundamentalists back this claim up with numbers. Slavery began nine years after Joseph died and eighty years after the arrival of Jacob in Egypt. We know that Korath lived

          133 years, his son Amram 137 years and Moses was 80 when he led the exodus, so that makes 430 years (80 + 133 + 137 + 80 = 430). This presupposes that both Korath and Amram fathered children in the last year of their lives which isn’t likely since Abraham needed a miracle from God to father Isaac when he was only one hundred, decades younger than either Korath and Amram would have had to have been for the fundamentalist formula to be correct.

          The biblical authors confused traditions about Elohim’s four-generation cycle of divine justice (Gen 15:16) with Yahweh’s four hundred years (Gen 15:13) and wound up with two separate 215 year periods and two four generation groups: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Levi with Korath, Amram, Moses and the generation of Joshua that entered the Promised land. This might be enough to hint at the mythic nature of the whole exodus event to some readers. Another hint at the possibility that the entire event is a myth might be the following:

          Levi had three sons, eight grandsons, and fifteen great grandsons, two of whom were Moses and Aaron. Moses had two sons and Aaron had four sons and a grandson at the time of the Exodus. This means that Levi’s other thirteen great grandsons fathered an amazing total of much more than 22,978 of their own sons and grandsons (probably at least 10,000 more considering the mortality rates in ancient times) by the time of the enrollment of the clans (Num 26:62) shortly after the Exodus. At that time there were 23, 000 male descendants of Levi that were over one month old! The great grandsons of the other eleven tribes of Israel were able to perform this same miracle. How did they accomplish this? It wasn’t until after the Exodus that Moses said to them…”Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves (Num 31:15-18). Suffice it to say that unlike Moses and Aaron who had only one wife each, the other great grandsons must have had hundreds and hundreds of wives who were pregnant nearly all of the time before the Exodus. In that case who had time to work as a slave and when exactly did they have the time or energy to work?

          Whatever the case the new king said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we” (Ex 1:9). The midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them (Ex 1:19); and the people multiplied and became very strong (Ex 1:20).

          The seventy people born to Jacob just two hundred fifteen years before the exodus multiplied to a total of about six hundred thousand grown male descendants besides the women and children that were born and were still alive in only five generations to just twelve brothers. In other words Moses’ great-grandfather Levi and each of his brothers had an average of about fifty thousand living grandsons, great and great-great-grandsons alive at the time of the Exodus, not to mention their other relatives that combined for a total of well over two million people.

          The enrollment of the clans in the Book of Numbers deals with smaller yet still very inflated figures: From thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who qualified for work relating to the tent of meeting; and their enrollment by clans was two thousand seven hundred fifty. This was the enrollment of the clans of the Kohathites (Num 4:35-37). From the genealogy that the Bible gives us about the descendants of Levi and specifically the clan of the Kohathites, it is obvious that there is something very wrong with the number of descendants of Kohath between the ages of thirty and fifty given in Numbers. Kohath had four sons, thirteen grandsons, and 2733 great-grandsons that served at the tent of meeting. Two of Korath’s grandsons, Moses and Aaron, had only two sons each that served at the tent of meeting. This means that the other eleven grandsons of Korath fathered at least 2729 sons that were between the ages of thirty and fifty at the time of the enrollment of the clans. Moses and Aaron themselves had grandsons but they would not have been old enough to serve at the tent of meeting and we can assume the same to be true of any other great-grandsons of Kohath.Because not all of those people could be descended from the same twelve brothers, either the number of Israelites that left Egypt all in one day is inflated, or the Israelites were never in Egypt.

    • Some moral traits are common to pretty much everyone. That is likely because of evolution.

      But some moral traits vary across cultures. That is because some moral elements come from society.

      • chrijeff

        Exactly! Note my second response to Greg G., below. Or consider what Margaret Mead discovered about sex roles in different societies.