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Twelve Bible Errors

Entry 1362, on 2012-02-17 at 20:00:42 (Rating 3, Religion)

In a recent religious discussion I came to the point where the accuracy of the Bible was under examination. I asked if my opponent would like to see a dozen errors on the first page so I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to actually go through the first page and find those dozen errors before I was challenged on the claim!

What actually the "first page" is will depend on the version and form of the particular Bible in question so I thought it would be easier to look at the first chapter (even though those were never in the original material the Bible was compiled from). So here is my analysis and criticism of that chapter...

Quote: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Interpretation: The Earth was the first thing created, before all other objects, such as the Sun and other stars. What "heaven" means here is debatable but also largely irrelevant because I am concentrating on the Earth.

Conclusion: The Earth has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt to be much younger than the Universe as a whole and that includes many stars and other objects. Multiple techniques involving radioactive isotope dating, study of sediments, models of solar system formation, and many others, all agree. The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old and the Universe as a whole about 13.7 billion. Many stars are far older than the Earth. The first line in the Bible is wrong, and there is no reasonable doubt.

Quote: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Interpretation: Some people interpret this as something other than the literal interpretation of the word "light" but the consensus seems to be that that is just retrofitting the original meaning to fit the newly established facts.

Conclusion: Note that light is being created before the Sun and stars. What is this light? And why did it not exist before the Earth was formed? To say that light was formed after the Earth and before the Sun and stars is wrong beyond any reasonable doubt.

Quote: And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

Interpretation: This clearly shows that the light mentioned above is the standard meaning of the word, confirming that it is wrong. Also, how could the light exist before it was divided from night?

Conclusion: The idea that light was created then divided from darkness is meaningless.

Quote: And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Interpretation: What the "day" is here is open to debate. Some people say it is a literal period of 24 hours, others say it is a thousand years (and reference a quote elsewhere which says a day is like a thousand years to God), and others claim it is an indeterminate amount of time.

Conclusion If the word "day" is a literal day (or even a thousand years) then it is clearly wrong because these events took far longer. If it is any fixed time it is also wrong. Even if it a totally arbitrary time then the sequence is wrong, so there is really no way out of this problem for believers.

Quote: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

Interpretation: This clearly refers to the land areas of the Earth appearing from water which covered the whole surface of the planet.

Conclusion: The Earth was not originally covered with water. This has been established by many independent studies. The Earth was originally too hot to hold liquid water and most of the water was probably delivered through later bombardment of comets.

Quote: And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

Interpretation: Grasses and other plants which use seed and fruit for propagation were created next.

Conclusion: All the evidence indicates this is wrong. Plants only make fruit to attract animals so why would these plants exist first? Also studies of fossils and independent gene sequencing both show that many forms of life existed billions of years before the advanced plant life mentioned here.

Quote: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years...

Interpretation: This clearly refers to the stars which seem to be created after the Earth but before the Sun and Moon.

Conclusion: There is no doubt that stars existed before the Earth and certainly a long time before plants mentioned previously. Stars have been observed which are 10 billion light years away. Their light has been travelling for twice the age of the Earth. There is no reasonable doubt that this verse is wrong.

Quote: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

Interpretation: This obviously refers to the Sun and Moon. The stars are also mentioned again (as if they hadn't already been created earlier) but I will just assume this is just another example of the incredibly poor narrative quality of the Bible.

Conclusion: The Sun and Moon, and the Earth were all formed at about the same time and billions of years after the universe and oldest stars. There is little doubt that this is wrong.

Quote: And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales...

Interpretation: This is suggesting that sea life and birds were created at the same time. It also clearly mentions whales as a specific example of sea life.

Conclusion: Again the timing is all mixed up. Whales evolved billions of years after the earliest sea life. And birds are one of the newest types of life and also appeared much later (they evolved from a type of dinosaur).

Quote: And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

Interpretation: This seems to refer to life on land in general.

Conclusion: Again the sequence of the order of appearance of different types of life is hopelessly confused.

Quote: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Interpretation: What making man in God's image means here is debated. Presumably it doesn't literally mean a physical resemblance but we can never know for sure.

Conclusion: Evolution is a fact. Some of the details of the exact mechanisms are still being debated but evolution is what lead to humans appearing on Earth. Any suggestion otherwise is ridiculous.

Quote: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Interpretation: Again the interpretation of "image" is unknown but he created both sexes which complicates the whole issue further.

Conclusion: The whole creation sequence is mixed up beyond any hope of it ever being fixed. Not only that but the re-iteration of the myth in Genesis 2 is contradictory.

So those are my 12 errors in chapter 1. I could have looked for finer details and criticised those as well and I could have made theological or philosophical objections to a lot of this material (such as should man really have total dominion over all other life forms) but I just kept to the established scientific facts.

Anyone who thinks the Bible is a book of facts is living in a dream world. It's full of errors, it's badly written, and it's largely useless as a guide to modern life in any form. But that's exactly what we would expect from a book composed of various myths created by primitive desert nomads thousands of years ago.


Comment 11 (4592) by Sidwell Swate on 2016-10-26 at 20:39:30: (view earlier comments)

Opinions more likely seem to be true. I guess that you are making use of the bigban magnifying class, and English gramma to be far superior than the HEBREW writings.


Comment 12 (4593) by Derek Ramsey on 2016-10-26 at 20:40:39:

A relatively minor critique: Genesis 1:1 is a merism. It is a common biblical figure of speech. Day 1 doesn’t start until verse 3. There is nothing grammatically or structurally to suggest that verses 1 and 2 are in any way part of the time frame of the ‘narrative’ account that follows. The first two versions are in an indeterminate time period. Obviously there are plenty of people who do believe that “Day One” begins at Genesis 1:1, but it’s pretty obvious just from a cursory glance that this is not the case.

The work “Without Form and Void” by Arthur C. Custance suggests that the first two verses actually describe an initial creation, followed by a ruin, followed by the normal creation story. In other words, a completely separate set of creation events. I only just discovered this book myself, but will now have to read the whole thing because it implies that the earth came to be, was destroyed in a major calamity, and then had to be reformed. As I look over the work, it appears he addresses poc-hoc rationalization as well.

Reference here.


Comment 13 (4594) by OJB on 2016-10-26 at 20:41:06:

If you were deliberately making silly statements and referring me to nonsensical material just to get a reaction again, then you have succeeded! :) …

I think my point was that the verse states that the heaven and Earth were created at the same time and the stars much later. The whole thing is totally absurd. It’s just a primitive myth and reading anything into it is ridiculous. Even your arbitrary rationalisations can’t rescue it. And that silly book is a total waste of time. It’s like analysing a fairy story and expecting to get meaning. Just insulting to anyone’s intelligence!


Comment 14 (4595) by Derek Ramsey on 2016-10-26 at 20:41:41:

You seem to completely miss the point whenever I cite an external source. Very interesting trend.

1) Genesis 1:1-2 is a different context than the rest of the passage. The merism includes both earth and stars. It is not a chronological statement. The interpretation you gave is as nonsensical as the fairy tale you are excoriating. It’s basically a straw man. Point #2 below completely obliterates that interpretation as well.

2) The alternative view is a historically accurate [mythical] tale. At least parts of the view date back to at least the second century B.C. Change the sense of “was” to “had become”, and the whole tenor of the passage changes. Suddenly the earth was created, destroyed in a major calamity (external Jewish tradition suggests it was falling stars) and the standard creation myth begins as a rebuild. A number of the apparent difficulties you list in this post just disappear.

It isn’t that I think the book is great (I have not read it yet) or that I am trying to convince you that the creation myth isn’t mythical, but that in the only 5 minutes of research I did to point out the flaw in your opening objection, I found this book that appears to refute your entire post. Maybe you should reconsider trying to refute fairy tales so I don’t have to refute your fairy tale refutations.


Comment 15 (4596) by OJB on 2016-10-26 at 20:42:16:

Well that isn’t really research because you are just replacing one myth with another. There is no way that any remotely reasonable interpretation of Genesis can possibly fit the reality.

Here’s what really happened…
13.7 billion ya: universe begins in a hot Big Bang, no stars, planets, nothing.
About 300,000 years later: Normal matter and the first stars
4.5 billion ya: Sun and Earth formed.
A bit later: Moon formed, probably after a collision.
Water arrives on Earth, maybe from comets.
3 billion ya: Earliest forms of life
After that, life forms evolve in this order: unicellular life, simple plants, sea animals, land animals, dinosaurs, mammals, birds, humans.

I’m doing all this for memory so I might be not 100% in various places, but you can see that it really doesn’t fit Genesis at all.


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