UCTAA churchlight

Site Search via Google

Meditation 1094
Faith or Fact

Christianity Incongruent

by: Henry M. Taber

Comment by JT: A hundred thousand errors in the Bible? Perhaps that estimate seems a tad high, considering (depending on version) there's less than 800,000 words in the Old and New Testaments combined. But when you consider the multiple versions of ancient texts — then perhaps a hundred thousand errors might indeed be well within the ball park.

Your thoughts on this Meditation are welcome. Please sign in to the discussion forum below, or alternatively, use the contact page to provide your comments for publication.


THE word incongruity embraces in its meaning inconsistencies, contradictions, inaccuracies and absurdities, and as all these so abound in the books of the Bible, and as Christianity has adopted the Bible as the foundation of its faith, it, of course, adopts all that is incongruous in the Bible, so that the title of this article would seem to be both comprehensive and appropriate.

To speak of all the incongruities in the Bible or of the Christian religion would be a task impossible of accomplishment by anyone. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of them.

Prof. Ladd, of Yale University, says: “There are probably a hundred thousand errors in the text of the Bible.”

The Truth-Seeker says: “In the collection of the manuscript for Grierback’s edition, as many as 150,000 different readings of the scriptures are discovered.”

Rev. John W. Chadwick says: “The history of the New Testament revision made generally known the fact that there were 150,000 disagreements in the various M.S. of the New Testament alone, upon which the reviewers were dependent for their knowledge of the original Greek… While the first forty chapters are, for the most part, actually, Isaiah, the last twenty-seven are from another prophet, who lived two centuries later. Yet there is not a hint of this in the revision. … The Book of Daniel was written two hundred years
after Daniel’s death…Hundreds of years elapsed from the time that the books of the Bible were collected and assumed their present form. Meantime they floated about, written upon tablets, or leaves of bark, and on parchment; they were copied and copied again; they went through all sorts of changes; all sorts of mistakes were made… It was not thought a sin to change a manuscript a little here and there… Contradiction disfigures page after page of the New Testament (as well as of the Old). In the first three gospels we have one picture of Jesus, and in the fourth gospel another. If Jesus was the Jesus of Matthew and Mark and Luke, it is impossible that he could have been the Jesus of John… The Bible is partly true and partly false.. The Bible is not (as is claimed) a literary and moral unit, It contains sixty-seven different books, having in many instances no other connection than that afforded by the binders’ stitching of leaves, and were written at different times throughout a period of fifteen hundred years, during which period the thoughts of men underwent great changes… The Bible is composed of the most diverse elements, abounding in misapprehensions, contradictions and mistakes, and possesses no authority whatever. Every clergyman in the Protestant Church knows that these books have no validity... Science teaches us how from primal germs the world has been evolved into its present shape. A single page
of Faraday or Lyell signifies more than whole volumes of cosmogony like that of Genesis! Think of all the precious time wasted to endeavor to make the Bible echo the great truths of Science! . . . The great German critics, who gave up wealth and ease in their absorbing passion for truth, long ago convinced all scholars of the inaccuracies of Bible history; but it was left to Bishop Colenso — as true a heart as England ever owned — to publish these inaccuracies so plainly that a wayfaring man, though a fool, may not err therein. These inaccuracies are largely characteristic of the New as well as of the Old Testament.”

The Truth-Seeker says: “The criticism of the Pentateuch began as early as the eleventh century, chiefly among the Jews. The Christians were too ignorant to grapple the subject. Heathen authors, like Celsus and Julian, represented the Pentateuch as mythical, and paralleled its stories with pagan mythology… All the world knows about Jesus Christ is found in the four gospels. These gospels are anonymous, unreliable and contradictory. There is no evidence that one of them was written for at least one hundred and fifty years after the events they pretent to record had transpired… No Greek, nor Roman, nor Jewish writer ever mentioned Jesus. Jesus himself did not claim to be more than man. He was regarded simply as a human teacher… The attributing to Jesus of deity is the work of theologians… All four gospel writers tell each a different story, and Paul, the one who wrote earlier than either, disagrees with them all… The contradictions of the gospel writers, and the conduct of the apostles are inexplicable upon any theory which asserts that the writers knew any facts concerning events they pretended to record… We find in the gospels contradictions so plain that one or the other must be false.”

Of course only a very few of the errors and disagreements in the Bible can be noticed here, but enough can be shown to illustrate the utter unreliability and absurdity, and the allegorical character of the book which has become an object of superstitious veneration, at least among the Protestant portion of Christian worshippers. What is this book and from whom does it emanate? No one knows who are the authors of these writings, and as there are no autographs of them extant, it is impossible to determine how they would compare with the originals. Of course they are the productions of persons just as human and just as fallible as any living to-day, and have been altered, added to and interpolated in the interest of a church. It is claimed that they were inspired by God. Is it possible that believers in the Bible are willing to admit that  their God has furnished them with a book in which its false science, its inaccurate history, its incredible stories, its silly fables, its encouragement of polygamy, slavery, intemperance and deception, its cruelties and its obscenities are made so manifest? And yet such believers cannot fail of such admission if they would only read the Bible unprejudiced and without superstitious fear. Among others, many of the “fathers” of the church have questioned the literal meaning, the truthfulness of the books of the Bible.

Judge R. B. Westbrook says: “Pluto, Josephus, Papias, Tertulian, Clement, Ambrose, Athanasius and Augustine regarded the so-called Mosaic account of the creation and fall,
an allegory. ”

Maimonides, a learned Jewish rabbi, says (speaking of the Bible): “Taken according to the letter, this work gives the most absurd and extravagant idea of divinity.”

Rabbi Kohler, of the Temple Beth-El says: “People have made a fetich of the Bible, drawing from it their geology, their astronomy, their history, and all their science. By it they justified the burning of witches and heretics, slavery and polygamy. Chafing under the despotic sway of the book, men at last exposed its errors. Condemn not those iconoclasts like Voltaire and Thomas Paine; their ridicule emancipated the race from the thraldom of the book.”

Even the great apostle Paul himself speaks of what is written of the “Sons of Abraham” as “an allegory” — (Gall. iv: 24.)

Prof. John W. Draper says: “It is the decision of many learned and pious English and German moderns that the whole Pentateuch is unhistoric; that it contains the most extraordinary contradictions and impossibilities, sufficient to involve the credibility of the whole.”

Rev. Myron Adams, of Boston, in his book, the “Creation of the Bible,” speaks of Genesis as largely mythical, and its older parts products of oral tradition. The creation of the Bible began with Ezra, after the Babylonish exile, and adds: “The books of Job and Daniel are fictitious.”

“The Bible, although one of the most read, yet is the most misread of books, and the least understood.” — (Clodd’s “Childhood of Religion”")

“Modern Biblical criticism has shattered the traditional theories of the authorship of the Biblical book.” — (Rev. C. A. Briggs, D.D.)

“The Bible is untrustworthy.” — Rev. E. G. Smyth, D.D.)

“The Bible has sanctioned the violation of every part of the universally recognized moral code. It has outraged decency by its obscene recitals.” — (John E. Remsburgh.)

“The generally recorded opinion is that the manuscript of the books of Moses, Judges, Mordecai, Kings, Chronicles, Job, Samuel and others were destroyed by fire when Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem.” — (Chamber’s Encyclopedia.)

Rev. Minot J. Savage says: “The Books of the Bible are full of contradictions and errors, while the moral tone of many parts of them is such as to make it impiety in us to credit them to a just and loving God… It is incongruous, even to absurdity, to think of God as a localized, outlined Being, setting forth his arbitrary decrees like a celestial Kaiser… It is well known to all competent scholars, that Moses had no hand in composing the five books traditionally ascribed to him. It is also well known that the Jews did not attempt to tell any story of Adam or the fall until after they had borrowed it in the days of their captivity. These things are only pagan traditions, and there is no more reasonable basis for them than there is for one of the tales of the Arabian Nights, and yet they have stood in the way of the world’s knowledge; have been made the means of darkening human minds; oppressing human hearts and kindling fires for the burning of brave and noble men for ages… The first man is now found close on the borders of the animal world, and in the light of this discovery the utterly baseless tradition of the fall becomes absurd. Not fall, but the ascent of man is what now appears. This one fact is the deathblow to the old theology. In the light of to-day the plan of salvation has no rational excuse for continued existence one day more.”

The late Rev. N. A. Staples says: “Take the brush of criticism and paint the errors (of the Bible) into a dark background; if not done by those who love the Bible, it will be roughly done by those who do not love it. The inconsistencies of the old claim for the Bible are seen and perfectly well understood outside the church, and if the pulpit is not magnanimous enough to confess its old errors, the Bible will be thrown aside altogether. People must be taught that the Bible cannot stand in the way of science or philosophy, nor supersede individual judgment.”

According to orthodox Christianity, “We are required to believe that Jehovah, the ruler of all worlds, the pure, spiritual, supreme, ineffable creator of the universe, our father who is in heaven, selected one favored people (who never numbered one per cent. of the earth’s population) from the rest of his children; sanctified fraud; commanded cruelty; contended (and for awhile in vain) with the magi of other gods; wrestled bodily with one patriarch, eat cakes and veal with another; sympathized with and shared in human passions; manifested scarcely one untainted moral excellence; we are required to do this painful violence to our feelings and our understandings, simple because these coarse conceptions prevailed some thousand years ago among a people whose history, as written by themselves, is certainly not of a nature to inspire us with any extraordinary confidence in their virtue or their intellect.” — (Greg’s “Creed of Christendom.”)

“The God of the Bible is a moral monstrosity.” — (Henry Ward Beecher.)

“Vishnu, with a necklace of skulls, is figure of love and mercy, compared to the God of the Old Testament.” — (Rev. Theodore Parker.)

“From the aspersions of the pulpit I would rescue the reputation of the Deity.” — (Ingersoll.)

But let all read the Bible for themselves, and they cannot but be convinced that they are worshipping a God possessed of human frailties, reverencing a book that contains more untruths and indecencies than any other, and encouraging a religion that is deceptive, superstitious, and opposed to the conclusions of intelligent thought.

In Deut. xxxii: 27, God is said to have “feared the wrath of the enemy.”

In Ex. xxxii, Moses rebukes God, saying (12th verse), “Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people (16th verse) and the Lord repented.”

Gen. vi: 6, tells us that “it repented the Lord that he had made man, … it grieved him at his heart.”

In Num. xiv: 16, is shown how far short of omnipotence God came.

In Judges i: 19, we are told that God “could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley.”

God is said to be omnipresent, and yet in Gen. xi: 5, we read that he “came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men builded.”

In 2 Sam. xii: 8, God makes David a present of Saul’s wives.

In 2 Sam. xxi: 8, “ the five sons of Michal, the daughter of Saul” are spoken of, and yet in chap. vi, 23, we read that “Michal (the daughter of Saul) had no child unto the day of her death.”

In Ex. xxi, slavery is regulated, 6th verse : “and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.”

Lev. xxv : 44 and 46: “ of them (the heathen) shall you buy bondmen and bondmaids, … They shall be your bondmen forever.”

In Num. xiv: 34, God tells us of his “ breach of promise.”

Jer. iv: I0: “Ah, Lord God! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.”

Jer. xx: 7: “Oh Lord, though hast deceived me.”

Ezek. xiv: “If the prophet be deceived, … I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet.”

2 Chron. xiii : tells how God encouraged the spirit to enter the prophets of Ahab, and to put lying spirits in their mouths.

In Jer. xv: 18, God is asked the question, “Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar.”

2 Thess. ii: 11: “God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie.”

I Kings, xxii: 23: “The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these thy prophets.”

In one place we are told to swear by the Lord’s name, and in another to “swear not at all.”

Christ is called the “prince of peace,” and his teachings are spoken of as the “gospel of peace ” and yet he is made to say, “Suppose ye that I am come to bring peace on earth? I tell you nay, but rather division. The father shall be divided against the son, … the mother against the daughter, … the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law ” (Luke xii: 51-53) ; “He that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one,” (xxii: 36).

Mark xii: “The brother shall betray the brother to death, the father the son.”

In Rev. xii: 7, it says, “there was war in heaven,” therefore a peaceful and happy abode in heaven cannot be counted upon.

’ What are the Bible teachings as to the use of stimulants? In Ps. civ: 15, we are told how glad the heart of man is made by wine.

In Prov. xxxi: 6-7, the advice furnished is to “give strong drink unto him who is ready to perish, and wine unto those who be of a heavy heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”

In Eccl. ix: 7, we are recommended “to drink wine with a merry heart.”

“Drink, yea, drink abundantly.” — (Songs of Sol. v: 1.)

“Wine which cheereth God and man.” — (Judges ix: 13.)

Jer. xxv: 27-28, “Drink ye and be drunken… If they refuse, … then shalt thou say unto them, ‘Thus said the Lord of hosts, ye shall certainly drink.’”

John (i: 18) says: “No man has seen God at any time,” but Jacob says (Gen. xxxii : 30) : “ I have seen God face to face.”

Matt. (vii: 8) says: “Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth.” Per contra, we read in Prov. (I-28), “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but shall not find me.”

Paul tells that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (I Cor. xiv :), but in Ex. (xv: 3)) he is spoken of as a “man of war.”

We are told that “God is love,” is “very pitiful and of tender mercy,” and again we are told “God is a consuming fire.”

“The New Testament is filled with contradictions. The gospels do not agree even upon the terms of salvation, upon the gospel or mission of Christ. They do not tell the same story regarding the betrayal, crucifixion, resurrection or ascension of Christ. The evangelists do not give the same account of the same miracles, and the miracles are not given in the same order. They do not agree even in the genealogy of Christ.” — (Ingersoll.)

According to Matt. (xxvii: 5) Judas “ hanged himself.” But we are told in Acts (i: 18) that he died an entirely different death.

In the genealogy of Christ, as furnished by Matthew, there are twenty-eight generations, while that furnished by Luke gives forty-three generations from David to Christ. Both accounts in these lines of descent are almost totally different, but they agree in the fact that Jesus was the son of Joseph. This, however, is all contradicted by other portions of the New Testament, which calls Jesus the “son of God,” and makes the absurd, unnatural, impossible claim that he was born of a virgin.

According to John one woman came to the sepulchre; according to Matthew two women came; according to Mark three women came and according to Luke (not less than) four women came.

According to Luke (xxiv: 50-51) Christ ascended from Bethany; (but if Acts (i: 9-12) is to be taken as authority, the ascension was from Mount Olivet.

In the “sermon on the mount,” we are told to do what is impracticable not only, but that which would sap the foundations of social life.

To turn the left cheek to one who smites you on the right; to give your coat to one who takes your cloak; to go two miles, because you have been compelled to go one mile; to give equal wages to one who works one hour as to those who have for twelve hours, borne the heat and burden of the day; to treat the prodigal with greater favor than the frugal son; to give to him that asketh, and to turn not away from him that would borrow; to require the selling of all that a man bath and the giving of the proceeds to the poor; to urge the taking of no thought for the morrow; to love your enemies and those who would curse and hate and despitefully use you; would be to encourage wrong, injustice, improvidence, malignity.

The Bishop of Peterborough said that “society would not hold together a week if the sermon on the mount was practiced.”

Rev. Theo. Parker says: “It is easy to show, if we have the exact words of Jesus, that he was mistaken in some points of the greatest magnitude; in the character of God; the existence of the devil ; the eternal damnation of men; in the interpretation of the Old Testament; in the doctrine of demons and in the end of the world within a few years.”

That Christ (and his apostles) believed the end of the world to be in their day is witnessed by the repeated sayings of Christ. “There be some standing here which shall not taste death till they see the Kingdom of God” (Luke ix: 27.) “This generation shall not pass away until all these things be done” (Mark xiii: 30). Peter also says (iv: 7), “The end of all things is at hand.”

Either Christ never spoke of the end of the world occurring in the time of those then living or his predition was not (of course) verified. Which horn of the dilemma will the Church accept?

No quotations from those portions of the Bible which indulge in vulgar, indecent and immoral utterances have here been made, fearing to shock the sensibility, offend the taste, or bring the crimson hue to the cheek of my refined, innocent and virtuous hearers.

In Lord Bacon’s works, vol. xiv, pp. 143-151, are given what are called “ Christian paradoxes,” from which a few extracts may be taken : “A Christian is one who believes things he cannot comprehend… He believes three to
be one and one to be three; a father not to be older than his son…He believes a virgin to be a mother of a son and that very son to be her maker… He believes a most just God to have punished a most just person,.. He praises God for his justice, yet fears him for his mercy. The more he foresakes worldly things the more he enjoys them… He is a peacemaker, yet is continually fighting and an irreconcilable enemy… He knoweth he can do nothing of himself, yet labors to work out his own salvation… He prays with all his heart not to be led into temptation, yet rejoices when he is fallen into it… The world will sometimes account him a saint, when God accounteth him a hypocrite.”

The first two chapters of Genesis contains two entirely different accounts of creation.

It is evident that in the land of Nod, from whence Cain obtained his wife, there were people living contemporaneously with Adam.

The myth of the “fall of man” is gradually giving place to the almost universal truth of the rise of man from lower orders of beings. The theory — or rather fact — of evolution has done more to unsettle orthodox theology (among scholars and thinkers, at least) than anything that has occurred in the history of the Christian Church since the adoption of the heliocentric system of astronomy. Intelligent people no longer consult the Bible for information on the subject of astronomy, geology or biology; are seriously questioning its history, its truthfulness and its morality.

The Bible is authority for placing the age of the world at six thousand years, and yet there are villages in Switzerland which are known to be seven thousand years old.

Agassiz found human bones in Florida which he estimated to be ten thousand years old.

The discovery of burnt brick under sixty feet of Nile alluvium would indicate its age at twenty thousand years.

 “A human skeleton found at a depth of sixteen feet, under four buried forests, has been allowed an antiquity of fifty thousand years.”

John Fiske says that the American continent was inhabited by human beings at least four hundred thousand years ago.

Tools of human workmanship have been discovered which Wallace reckons were left five hundred thousand years ago. Lesly believes our race to have been upon the earth for very many hundreds of thousands of years.

Prof. McGee (at the Scientific Convention, Rochester, April 22, 92,) expressed the opinion that the duration of life on the earth was not less than fifteen million years.

Not only is the Bible inconsistent, contradictory, inaccurate and absurd, but the effect of its teachings has been, probably, more calamitous than has resulted from any other single cause. It has restrained innocent mirth by requiring us to “mourn and weep.” It has furnished authority for the husband to “rule over” the wife. It has encouraged tyrants by urging submission to “the powers that be.” It has discouraged learning. It has been the most inveterate foe of science. It has incited bigotry. It has encouraged the fabulous, the marvelous, the miraculous. It has made superstition its chief and almost entire support. It has held virtuous conduct as secondary to its dogmatic postulates. It has made imitators of the attempted or pretended sacrifice of Isaac, many an innocent child having become the victim of some fanatical Christian parent. It has shattered the reason of millions of intelligent, but credulous, human beings, who have had faith in the (so-called) “inspired word.”

Prof. Felix Adler says: “It is a paradox that the gentlest, most loving, religious teacher whoever lived should have become the founder of a religion that has, perhaps, shown more cruelty and shed more blood than any other.”

Deut. xiii: 6-9, furnishes the warrant by which “from the tenth to the end of the sixteenth century, not less than three million ‘heretics’ — scholars and free inquirers — had to expiate their love of truth in the flames of the stake,”

At least five million of our fellow-beings were sacrificed on the altar of fanaticism during the crusades alone.

“The extermination of the Moriscos reduced the population of Spain by seven millions.“ — (Prof. Oswald.)

The English author, Grant, states the result of belief in the verse of the Bible, “Thou shalt not permit a witch to live,” to be the martyrdom of nine millions of human beings.

“The dogma of exclusive salvation by faith made forcible conversion appear an act of mercy, and stimulated those wars of aggression that have cost the lives of more than thirty million of our fellow-men.” — (Oswald.)

“Religion raging with inhuman zeal,
Arms every hand and points the fatal steel —
Whatever names divine the parties claim,
In craft and fury they are both the same.”

In concluding this line of thought, I give what are infinitely better (of course) than any words of my own, those of the incomparable Ingersoll:

“The real oppressor, enslaver and corrupter of the people is the Bible. That book burnt heretics, built dungeons, founded the Inquisition, and trampled upon all the liberties of man. That book spread the pall of superstition over the colleges and schools. That book puts out the eyes of science and makes honest investigation a crime. That book fills the world with bigotry, hypocrisy and fear… If cathedrals had been universities, if dungeons of the Inquisition had been laboratories, if Christians had believed in character instead of creed, if they had taken from the Bible all the good and thrown away the wicked and absurd, if domes of temples had been observatories, if priests had been philosophers, if missionaries had taught the useful arts, if astrology had been astronomy, if the black art had been chemistry, if superstition had been science, if religion had been humanity, this world would have been a heaven filled with love, with liberty and joy.”

Next: Taxation of Church Property >

Have your say...

Please take a moment to share your thoughts, pro and con, on this Chapter.

comments powered by Disqus