Ward Ricker is an atheist who (as so often) was formerly a self-described “fundamentalist”. He likes to poke holes in the Bible and “prove” that it is a terrible and “evil” book, not inspired, hopelessly contradictory, etc. He put together a 222-page book called Unholy Bible (2019): available for free as a pdf file. It contains 421 couplets of passages that he considers literally contradictory, and 256 more couplets of not technically contradictory but “problem” passages (according to him). Ward wrote in his book: “I . . . am including here only what I consider to be the more firm examples of contradictions. . . . I do not want to include examples that are ‘weak’ and will be easily refuted. I have made my best judgment.” Ward also wrote to me:
[M]any Bible critics (“atheists” or otherwise) will use some pretty ridiculous arguments . . . I have screened out those bogus claims that some critics make and have published my own book . . . of contradictions that I and others have found in the Bible that are clearly contradictions. (letter to National Catholic Register about one of my articles there; reproduced in my first reply)
He issued a challenge for anyone to take on his alleged contradictions. After my first reply, he wrote a 5 1/2 page article suggesting in-depth dialogue. I responded, explaining in depth why I thought dialogue between us would be unfruitful, for many reasons. He then accused me (among other things in his two replies) of “hypocrisy” that “knows no bounds.” This is, of course, against my discussion rules, which forbids such rank insults, so he was promptly banned from my blog, and I replied: “I was exactly right in my judgment that no dialogue was possible. It never takes long for the fangs to come out if they are there.”
But I had already stated: “I may still take on several of your proposed contradictions, just so I can have opportunity to show how very wrong atheist contentions are (which is one thing Christian apologists do).” This series represents that effort. Mr. Ricker can respond on his page as he sees fit. He can still see my posts. His words will be in blue. To search any of this series on my blog, paste “Ward’s Whoppers #” in the search bar on the top right of my blog page. He uses the King James Version for his Bible verses. I will use RSV in my replies.
Exodus 12: 43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof
Numbers 9: 14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land
Q: Were “strangers” (foreigners) allowed to eat the Passover?
This is easily resolved, and is no contradiction at all (remember, I predicted that there would be many like this — indeed, virtually all of the ones I refute: and so I am a prophet). Again, context is the solution and key. It’s quite clear that the overall thought on this issue is: “a stranger / foreigner who does not abide by our laws may not partake of the Passover, which is specifically our Hebrew / Jewish ritual.
On the other hand, any stranger / foreigner who decides to join us and abide by our laws and requirements (including circumcision for males), is welcome to partake.” It’s exactly analogous to a non-Catholic not being allowed to receive Holy Communion in a Catholic Church unless he or she has accepted all that the Catholic Church requires them to accept, to be a Catholic. Then they are more than welcome to the Table.
Ward (who likely found this in another atheist list that may have been around for hundreds of years) paid no attention to context once again. It’s explained in the immediate surrounding text, with words similar to the Numbers passage above:
Exodus 12:48-49 “And when a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it.  There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
Obviously, it’s saying that strangers / foreigners who have no intention of abiding by Jewish law and custom, cannot eat the Passover meal, but those who do that (essentially, converts to the Jewish faith) may, and will be treated no differently. This is utterly evident in the texts. So why is this force-fit into a trumped-up supposed “contradiction”? These things are embarrassing and should make any atheist who “reasons” in such a manner blush with shame. Yet it keeps happening. Hey, if atheists want to make these dumb allegedly rational “arguments” I’m more than happy as an apologist to shoot them down. No skin off of my back . . . I was bored and looking for a new project. Man, did I find it!
For more about how the ancient Jews and the Old Testament viewed foreigners, and when and how they accepted them into their fold, see these excellent articles:
“What the Bible Says About Our Illegal Immigration Problem” (Ralph Drollinger, 9-27-16)
“A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy” (James R. Edwards, Jr., 9-16-09)
“Stranger and Sojourner (in the Old Testament)” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online)
Exodus 14: 21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
Exodus 17: 5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
Q: Did Moses stretch his hand over the Red Sea or did he hit it with a stick?
Oh boy! I feel like a professor of mathematics, forced to go and teach third-graders the times tables. You gotta have fun with this stuff to keep from crying or going nuts . . . What it does definitely show over and over (and this is very valuable from the Christian apologetic standpoint) is how very desperate atheists are to shoot down the Bible. Anything goes, no matter how asinine or ludicrous. These two that I deal with in this article are among those that Ward considers (like all 421 he has selected) “clearly contradictions.” Me: I consider them “ridiculous.” You be the judge. We simply go to context for the exceptionally simple solution:
Exodus 14:15-16 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.  Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go on dry ground through the sea.
Exodus 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
We see then, that Moses, rod in hand (just like in the old 50s movie with Charlton Heston that we recently watched), lifted his hand up over the sea, causing it (by God’s power, of course) to divide. 14:21 simply mentions that he raised his hand, without mentioning the rod again (because this was done five verses before). It’s not a logical contradiction. It would be like saying:
“The reporter at the press conference raised his hand to ask a question.”
“The reporter at the press conference raised his hand (with a pen in it) to ask a question.”
I’ve often seen reporters do that, because they are taking notes with their right hand (if they are right-handed) and then they raise their hands to be recognized: still holding the pen in it. Thus, the two statements do not contradict. Neither do Exodus 14:16 and 14:21: only in the fertile mind of desperately special pleading atheists who treat the Bible like a butcher treats a hog.
Exodus 14:21 is already understood as Moses holding his hand up with the rod in it, before we even get to another stupid alleged “contradiction.” All Ward or any atheist who finds this slop compelling had to do was read the passage in context (a thing elementary to all research whatever). Now, some reader may think I am “angry.” I’m not (I’m very cool-headed at almost all times). I’m what I would call “intellectually disgusted” at these unworthy atheist tactics. It’s an embarrassment to all thinkers of any stripe, to have to point out how silly these things are. Atheists know better than this.
But because the first passage hasn’t been read in context and understood, now we get an equally dumb suggestion that Exodus 17:5 “contradicts” it. Wonders never cease (no pun intended). This passage has nothing to do with the other, and is referring to something completely different. It occurred after the time of the parting of the Red Sea: in the “wilderness.” God, in talking to Moses, makes reference to “the rod with which you struck the Nile” (“river” in the KJV above).
Is a “river” or, specifically, the Nile River, the same thing as the Red Sea now in an atheist’s mind? Basic geography and landscape details are up for grabs, too, in the rush to make fools of Christians? Who‘s the fool here? God was referring to what was described in the following passage:
Exodus 7:19-21 And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, `Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'”  Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, he lifted up the rod and struck the water that was in the Nile, and all the water that was in the Nile turned to blood.  And the fish in the Nile died; and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
Ward ought to plead for mercy, retract and unpublish his book, and repent in dust and ashes (hopefully becoming a Christian again, too), so I can stop this series (as an act of charity). Otherwise, it’s only going to get uglier and more laughable as we go on, with dozens more examples of “contradictions” like the two above.