Chapter 13: God's Word
The congregation took up a collection for the funeral. Unfortunately, it didn't begin to cover the expense. Ted applied to the elders, but they told him the Society had no responsibility to pay for funerals. "Let the dead bury their dead," David Nelson quipped.
Ted put all the money he had with what he had received, and managed to get a showing of the body at a local funeral home. The Witnesses filled the aisles that day just as if it were a meeting. And, in fact, it was conducted just like a meeting. Brother Garvias gave the 'funeral talk', speaking for only thirty seconds about Cyn.
"Friends," he began, "as you know, our dear sister, Cynthia Rose, passed away on Tuesday evening, December l6, 1980 at 9:53 p.m., the result of a car accident. She was born on March 3, 1961, and lived in this city all her short life. She is survived by an uncle, so far as we know, and a fiancé: our dear Brother Evanston, to whom our hearts go out.
"It is good for those of us who are living in this turbulent time to reflect on death, its meaning, and our readiness for it." There followed an hour-long talk on the Truth that was all too familiar to all present, though they were all experts at hiding this type of utter boredom.
Ted wanted to believe that there was something left of Cyn, but the Witnesses stole her soul with their logical words: no one had a soul. Cynthia Rose simply was no more, although she had a good chance of being resurrected in the New Order.
Richard further convinced him of this hard fact at the reception following the service. (This was held at Brother Nelson's house; Elvira had stayed home from the service along with a couple other sisters just to prepare the feast.) Richard told him: "Remember when Brother Olson talked about how the mind was an invisible, spiritual thing, like a spirit that would survive the death of the spiritual body?"
"I've been thinking about that a lot lately," Ted admitted.
"Well, I figured out an answer to it." Richard boasted delightedly. "It's so simple I wonder why I hadn't thought of it sooner. The electrons in our brains, which are our thoughts, are invisible it's true, but that doesn't mean they're spiritual. We just can't see them with the naked eye, but we can with a microscope. Electrons are real, material things because every material thing is composed of them. See what I mean? You can't say the mind is spiritual, because it's made up of invisible atoms just as every material thing is."
Richard was excited about his discovery and couldn't understand Ted's despondency. He wasn't sensitive enough to realize that a person likes to think of a dead loved one as still alive somehow.
"What's the matter? Richard asked, "How come you're so quiet?"
Ted did seem quiet amidst the controlled revelry of the Witness get-together. Anyone entering the room would never have guessed that the party going on was a funeral reception; it was indistinguishable from the wedding reception for Terry and Phyllis a few months before, with the exception that occasionally some sister would come over to Ted and offer her sympathy.
Richard sat down next to him, and Ted spent several minutes frowning into the carpeting and pretending to listen.
Ted snapped out of his daze when he saw Bill Jackson approaching him with an extended hand.
"I'm so terribly sorry, Ted," Bill said, "She was so young." He shook his hand and sat on the other side of him.
"I'm glad you came," Ted said, "and surprised."
Bill quickly explained: "When they told me at work that you called in about attending a funeral, I looked into it and discovered what had happened. I took off myself because I knew her and liked her, even if the feeling wasn't mutual. I really wanted to see you two happy together."
"We were for awhile."
"You must be Richard Johnson," Bill said, reaching his hand across Ted to him.
"Yes, how do you do," Richard replied, giving him a firm handshake, "I don't think I know you, brother."
"No, you don't, because I'm not a brother. I'm Ted's supervisor at work. Bill Jackson's my name."
"Are you the one who got him that good job?"
"I wouldn't go so far as to call it good;" Bill replied with a smile, "'better' is a more apt description."
"You seem like an intelligent man," Richard said, "so why aren't you a brother? I'm sure Ted's talked to you about the Truth. Do you have any particular objections to the Truth? Maybe I could help explain them to you." Richard never passed an opportunity to witness.
"Your question is self-answering," Bill replied, "Ted and I have had some interesting conversations, but there's been very little of what I’d call truth in them."
"Okay," Richard laughed good-naturedly, "I see you're opposed to the Truth, but what exactly is it you disagree with? I can't imagine anyone not accepting the Truth once they hear it presented well, unless they're incorrigible."
"First and foremost," Bill replied angrily, "I'm opposed to the fact that we are here today remembering a young woman who should be alive. I've heard the report from many lips today about how this lovely girl was allowed to die when medical help was available. And if there were any chance at all of winning such a case, I'd sue you people for murder.
"The second thing is that there was no real funeral. I understand that after you people let her die and got all your free publicity, you wouldn't even have the decency to provide for a funeral. Ted had to pay for that facade I was just at mostly out of his own pocket, and had to have the city bury her in a 'potter's field'.
"The third thing is that you enslave yourselves to the Bible, a book full of nonsense and things offensive to every sensible person with feelings.
"Lastly, I object to your so-called 'Truth' because you believe in a self-contradictory thing called 'God.'"
"You don't mince words, do you," Richard replied, "But since we do accept the authority of the Bible as God-breathed or inspired, we abstain from blood, and --"
"But she wasn't a Jehovah's Witness," Bill said, "as I understand it. So why did you people interfere?"
"She had a blood-card," Richard quickly explained, "so we weren't sure if she was a sister or not.
"But the main thing to decide is whether or not the Bible is God's word." Richard continued, swiftly turning the conversation back into a ‘witness’: "Once you accept that it is God’s Word, it's fairly easy to determine that his Word says to abstain from blood; you just have to read it."
Bill realized that Richard had drawn the boundaries of their discussion, and so decided to argue within those boundaries: "But how could anyone be so foolish as to come to the conclusion that the Bible is 'God's word'?" he asked.
"By looking at the facts." Richard replied, matter-of-factly, "Are you willing to do that?"
"Are you?" Bill threw back.
"I always am," Richard smiled proudly.
"Ted," Bill said, "after this last fiasco, the gloves are off! The time for pulling punches is over. Remember how I told you once that if you ever wanted to be freed from them, to come to me and I'd convince you that their 'truth' was anything but? Has that time come? Are you ready?"
"I’m ready to hear what you have to say;" Ted replied weakly, "I'm disfellowshipped now, anyway."
"Who told you that?" Richard asked in astonishment.
"Brother Nelson. It counts from the elder's decision, they decided, not from the announcement to the congregation."
"Then I shouldn't really be talking to you!" Richard stated in alarm.
"Well, you haven't been officially warned not to yet, so don't worry about it."
"Why were you disfellowshipped?" Bill asked, not knowing that it was a taboo question among the Witnesses.
"I told them to give Cyn blood -- but it was too late by then."
Bill sighed and said, "You see now why you have to know where you stand ahead of time? You can't let them tell you what to think and then wait till a crisis arises before deciding whether you'll go along with them or not. You have to get off the fence now and decide!"
"That's harder than you make it sound," Ted said, "but I'm ready to go one way or the other, if it's really an either/or situation. So let me hear your worst. Only I'd like a better defender of the Bible to debate you."
"What's wrong with me?" Richard laughed, insulted.
"I'd like you there too, as second best. But I’ll never be certain who's right unless I hear the two best representatives of both sides debate together. I very much need for all of us to visit Brother Olson now."
"Now?" Richard asked, shocked both by Ted's wavering over the Truth and by his forthright manner. Hadn't he studied all the important doctrines with this boy? Hadn't he even attended those meetings with Brother Olson wherein he'd defended the doctrines of the Truth against all the cleverest objections Arthur could think of? It never occurred to Richard that he hadn't won all those debates hands-down. He never realized that they only served to drive the point home to Ted that both sides were right and wrong at the same time, even though Ted had told them so that one time. "You want us to leave the reception here and go to the nursing home for another debate?"
"Yes I do." Ted replied, "Are you coming? I don't like it here anyway."
"You're distraught and don't know what you're saying." Richard concluded. "Maybe a visit with Brother Olson will do you good. Okay, let's go."
'You're not leaving us already?" Elvira pleaded as the men put on their coats.
"Yes, I'm afraid we have to," Richard apologized, "But it was very nice of you to have us all over. It was a wonderful reception and I'm sure if Ted weren't feeling his loss so heavily he'd thank you too."
And out they went into Bill's car, leaving Richard's car for Vonnie (whom he seldom spoke to anymore).
"How deeply you must be suffering," Arthur sympathized upon seeing Ted, "She was so full of life and love. It is a great loss to us all. But why are you here? I understood the funeral was today."
"It's over now," Ted answered simply.
"This is a friend of Ted's," Richard explained as Arthur viewed the stranger before him, "He's opposed to the Truth, Brother Olson, and he's trying to cash in on Ted's grief by talking him out of the Truth at this time. But he knew that you'd be able to answer any objection, so he wanted to bring him here to you today."
"I see," Arthur replied, and then addressed Bill: "Well, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have on the Bible, young man. But do you think it's a prudent thing to take advantage of someone who's just lost a dear one?"
"That's not exactly the way it is," Ted corrected, "I want very much to hear both sides and see which is right. I've been disfellowshipped for following up what you told me about letting Cyn have blood."
"I never said that, Ted, and you know it," Arthur replied wearily. He always seemed tired these days.
"Do you think it's a good thing that she didn't get a blood transfusion?" Bill asked him.
"What I think doesn't matter --"
"Then we may as well leave," Bill responded.
"You're a smart aleck, aren't you?" Arthur chided.
"No more than you're a fraud hiding behind evasive answers."
"Please, I didn't bring you two together to bicker," interposed Ted.
"Alright," Bill replied, "but if he never answers a question directly I can see how he can pose as a sage old man while spewing forth one contradiction after another. I mean to pin him down. Is he in favor of blood transfusion or against it?"
Seeing Arthur hesitate, not wanting to commit himself before Elder Johnson, Ted once again intervened; "You two are the greatest minds I know and you're both usually calm and open-minded when considering opposing views. I didn't expect this kind of behavior. Let's all sit down and discuss the Bible, please."
"Very well," Bill agreed, "I'm sorry, but I just feel very strongly that Mr. Olson knows better than to believe in it."
'I know no such thing. I believe in the Bible whole-heartedly."
"You can't; it's impossible even if you wanted to," Bill argued.
"The Bible tells us that 'Love believes all things' --" Arthur replied.
"But that isn't true," Bill interrupted, "You can't believe all things, otherwise you'd believe me when I tell you that the Bible isn't true, and we'd have nothing to discuss. You see, you can't believe two contradictory things at the same time. Doesn't that accord with your own definition of the Truth that Ted has told me?"
"Yes it does," Arthur agreed, "But you're implying that the Bible contains contradictions, and since that's the tack most of you people set out on, I'd like to say that there are only apparent contradictions in the Bible; they aren't real contradictions when you examine them closely. So, in light of what I anticipate from you, I'd like to quote Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason to you:
"'If we take single passages, torn from their contexts, and compare them with one another, apparent contradictions are not likely to be lacking, especially in a work that is written with any freedom of expression. In the eyes of those who rely on the judgment of others, such contradictions have the effect of placing the work in an unfavorable light; but they are easily resolved by those who have mastered the idea of the whole.'"
Bill smiled scornfully at this and replied, "It's very fitting that you chose to quote a philosopher who unashamedly admitted: 'I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.' Because, from what Ted has told me, your whole philosophy is to deny the facts and encourage simple-minded faith in Watchtower doctrines, even when you know them to be untrue.
"If I can persuade Ted to use his mind in a rational way for one moment," Bill continued, "you've already done my work for me; you've already amply displayed that the contradictions inherent in the Bible are not merely 'apparent', 'skin-deep', 'surface' contradictions; they're as deep as you can go. If you examine any particular doctrine and take the Bible as a whole rather than just 'single passages torn from their contexts,' you see that there is total contradiction. Is God a Trinity or not? Go as deeply as you like in examining the question from the Bible and you come up with the wonderful yes/no answer that is familiar to anyone who's asked the Bible any question. Go to the Bible in search of an answer to the hell-fire question; again the answer is yes/no. You, Mr. Olson, have already proven this to all here, and I can do no better than to point it out to them.
"But as for contradictions on the moral issues, we have the recent example of abstaining from blood being thought more important than saving a life."
"Let's skip that, please," Ted requested sadly.
"All right then," Bill said, "take lying as a moral issue. Is it always wrong to lie in every situation?"
"I believe it is," Richard answered, seeing as no one else was willing.
"Okay," Bill continued, "and to support your belief you could use the ninth commandment, and Proverbs 6:6-19 (where God is said to hate the person who lies), and Revelation 21:8 (which depicts all liars in the lake of fire).
"But what if I were to take the opposite belief? I could just as easily justify my view by the Bible too. I’d use the examples of Abraham lying to save his life when he told people that his wife was just his sister --"
"If you'd bother to look you'd see that she was his half-sister," Arthur said.
"That's true enough," Bill admitted, "but the story was so good they repeated it again, not only with Abraham and Sarah, but a third time with their son Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Now, was Isaac lying when he said his wife Rebekah was his sister? Or was she his half-sister as in the case of Abraham and Sarah?"
"No," Arthur answered, "she was a more distant relative than that, but you'll recall that God punished his sinning --"
"I know nothing of the kind," Bill interrupted. "The Bible says God blessed him after his lie:
"'Consequently the man became great and went on advancing more and more and growing great until he got very great.' (Genesis 26:13.)
"That's how Jehovah rewarded this man's sinning. He even came to realize that it was unjust to punish the innocent victims of Isaac's lie as he had done to the Pharaoh who had fallen prey to Abraham's lie about Sarah, visiting 'great plagues' upon him and his family. That, he must've realized a generation later, was unjust. But in neither case did he punish the sinner.
"Or go a generation further and note the elaborate deception perpetrated upon Isaac by his wife, Rebekah, and their son, Jacob, who posed as his favored brother, Esau. Was it a lie when Jacob said to his old, blind father, 'I am Esau your first-born.'? (Genesis 27:14.) And was it not a blessing he received for this lie, becoming the patriarch of the nation, and compared throughout the Bible to Christ himself, being his foremost ancestor? And doesn't the Biblical account seem to approve of the crafty way he later tricked his father-in-law Laban out of all of his cattle by means of sympathetic magic?"
"What do you mean by 'sympathetic magic'?" Ted inquired.
"What the Bible itself condemns as 'witchcraft'," Bill explained. "Sympathetic magic refers to the belief that by doing some particular thing on a small scale, it will cause a like occurrence in something major. Pouring out water upon the ground in hopes that the clouds will follow suit is an example of it, as is the mutilation of a 'voodoo doll'.
"After arranging with Laban to be given all the spotted and speckled sheep, you'll recall, Jacob peeled the bark off of some sticks, giving them a spotted appearance, and placed them in front of the flocks and in their drinking water. The Bible tells us that this caused them to come into heat and give birth to spotted offspring. The sticks, no doubt, were thought to work this magic by being phallic symbols."
Ted shook his head in doubt, "Does it really say all that?"
"If you don't believe me, you can ask Mr. Olson where it's at; I can't remember the numbers as well as he can. But --"
"Genesis chapter thirty, from verse 31 on," Arthur complied.
"But if you believe what the Bible has to say there, you're a bigger fool than I can imagine," Bill scoffed.
"Are there any other examples of sympathetic magic in the Bible?" Ted wondered.
"The Bible's filled with such incidents, though they're not always so obvious because you've been trained to think of familiar stories in other ways. But just look at the time when Moses cast the form of a serpent in bronze in order to stem the plague of serpents devouring his people. Now, outside of your usual thinking on this subject about types and antitypes, why should such a thing be done? Why should the symbol of the Devil be honored with a bronze idol and be given the power to save all those looking on it from the poison of real serpents? Why wouldn't God just want them to pray to him and ask his forgiveness, help, and salvation? The reason, once again, is sympathetic magic; it runs throughout the entire Bible and makes many obscure incidents clear. The casting of the image of a god in some precious metal assuaged that god's wrath and caused him to stop tormenting one. So, honoring the serpent-god made him call off his earthly representatives.
"Of course, I realize you'll say this had nothing to do with such superstitious beliefs because you think the serpent represented Christ. But in the Bible’s own symbolism Christ is supposed to be represented as stepping on the serpent's head with his heel, rather than being the serpent itself.
"So let's look at the pagan Egyptians. In First Samuel chapters five and six we see that God was up to his old plague-striking tricks again and, given his odd sense of humor, afflicted them all with 'piles,' or as we would say today, hemorrhoids. He also threw in an infestation of rodents for good measure. So what do you suppose they did? They made golden images of hemorrhoids and rodents! That, of course, was more expensive than the hemorrhoid ointments of today, but evidently just as effective. And I very much doubt that you'll argue for these golden hemorrhoids typing Christ. So, you see, this is the way all the ancient races of men behaved; it was the age of superstition, and the Israelites were no different from anyone else in this matter. But we today should know better, and not regress to their advice.
"But you're leading me astray from my subject. (There's so much nonsense in the Bible that it's easy for me to get onto a sidetrack and talk all day without ever returning to what I started to say.) We were discussing the Bible's view of lying, which outwardly condemns it but in actuality honors all the 'great men' in its pages who lied.
"Passing from Jacob, we can quickly skip over to Jeremiah who thought nothing of lying to save his skin in Jeremiah 38:24-28.
"Worse still was his fellow prophet, Isaiah, who confidently told King Ahaz that the kings of Aram and Ephriam would not succeed in their war against him. Ahaz, being evidently well acquainted with the ways of the Lord's prophets, asked for a sign to prove this prophecy. Isaiah granted the sign in a startling proclamation; he announced that a virgin would give birth, and 'before the child learns to reject the bad and choose the good, the land of those two kings whom you dread shall be deserted.' (Isaiah chapter 7.) In chapter 8 we go on to read the words of the prophet:
"'Then I went unto the prophetess and she conceived and bare a son. Then the Lord said to me, "Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz," [poor kid!], "For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, 'My father, and my mother,' the riches of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria shall be carried off by the king of Assyria.'
"Now it's clear to see that the 'prophetess' was no longer a virgin when she gave birth to this child of Isaiah's, and in fact, Ahaz was defeated by the kings of Aram and Ephriam. You can read that for yourself in 2 Chronicles 28:5-8. So, it appears that Isaiah was perhaps playing a trick on Ahaz and getting his kicks with the prophetess at the same time. In any case, his prophecy certainly backfired and the whole episode is now used as a prophecy, in the book of Luke, of Christ's virgin birth! That tends to throw the whole idea of Christ's virgin birth upon the scrap pile.
"But let's say something in defense of Isaiah, at least as far as the prophecy itself goes. He may not have been lying but just saying exactly what God told him to say, if we believe what the Bible tells us in 1 Kings 22:20-23."
"I’ll bet I know what that says," Ted boasted, "That's about where Jehovah sends a 'lying spirit' to lie to the prophets so Ahab would die following their oracle to go into a war he was told he'd win."
"Precisely!" Bill exclaimed, and then read the passage:
"'And Jehovah proceeded to say, "Who will fool Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead?"' and one volunteers, '"I shall go forth and I shall certainly become a deceptive spirit in the mouth of all his prophets."' So God said, '"You will fool him, and what is more, you will come off the winner. Go out and do that way." And now Jehovah has put a deceptive spirit into the mouth of all these prophets of yours; but Jehovah himself has spoken calamity concerning you.'
"So, you see, God himself lies, despite what Titus 1:2 says. His ruse succeeded, and Ahab died in the war.
"If that's hard to believe, consider Jesus himself; he lied to his own brothers according to John 7:8-10:
"'Go to the feast yourselves; I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet come." So saying, he remained in Galilee. But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but in private.'
"So you see that the Bible contradicts itself right there on the simplest of moral issues. Although it repeatedly makes the over-simplification of saying thou shalt not lie in any circumstance because all liars end up in the lake of fire, it also shows that such notorious liars and cheats as Jacob and the 'lying spirit' have an eternal abode in heaven, or at least in God's kingdom.
"But now I want to turn to textural contradictions. These are difficult to prove --"
"That's because they aren't true,' Arthur jabbed, though he still appeared very weary, almost asleep, with his eyes, as usual, shut.
"No," Bill disagreed, "not because they're not contradictions; they are. But because you can talk you way out of a contradiction so easily. Let me show you what I mean. Richard, I want you to get the Revised Standard Version, as it's the most clear on this Scripture, and read 2 Samuel 24:1 for us."
Richard complied and read, "Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'"
"Okay, now let's say that I want to contradict the Bible. How can I best go about it in this instance? Shouldn't I try to say the exact opposite of what that verse says? Of course. And what is the exact opposite of Jehovah God?"
"Satan the Devil," Ted responded.
"Very well, so trying my best now to contradict the Bible, I say 'Satan incited David to number Israel.' Have I succeeded?"
"Yes," Ted replied.
"Are you sure?" Bill asked with a smile.
"Well," Richard thought, "since the Bible said Jehovah God incited David to number Israel, you certainly contradict that statement by saying that Satan incited David to number Israel."
"All right," Bill agreed, "it all seems perfectly clear. But if we go to the Bible again, it suddenly becomes unclear. 1 Chronicles 21:1 is another place where this same account of this "numbering" or census taking is related. Would you read that for us, Richard?"
"It reads, 'Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to number Israel.'"
"Now, when I said those very words, you were sure that I was contradicting the Bible, and thus telling a lie. So, to be honest, you must now admit that the Bible contradicts itself and therefore cannot possibly be true."
They all sat in stupefaction for a moment as the full weight of the objection sank in; this seemed an undeniable contradiction.
Richard wondered how it was possible to take back what he'd already said about Bill's words.
"Cyrus," Arthur wheezed at last, "Tell him about Cyrus."
Richard took the hint and proceeded, "Oh yeah, it's just like how God used Cyrus to free the Israelites from Babylon. Cyrus, being a gentile king, was an enemy to God's people, just like the Devil is, but God used him anyway for his purpose. So, on the one hand you could say that God freed his people from Babylon, and on the other, you could say that it was Cyrus who did it; but neither statement contradicts the other. So too in this case with God and Satan."
"There, you see how hard it is to maintain a contradiction!" Bill exclaimed, "Even when we tried our best to make a contradictory statement to the Bible, even when we were all convinced that it was indeed contradictory, it turned out that as soon as you saw it in the Bible you were able to explain it away.
"But let's examine your explanation for a moment, because if I'm not mistaken, it will lead to further contradictions and do more harm to your set of beliefs than good.
"You are saying -- now correct me if I'm wrong -- that the explanation for the Bible attributing the inciting of David to number Israel to God and Satan at the same time is that God acted through Satan just like he acted through Cyrus?"
"That's it exactly," Richard responded.
"And if we were to read further in this account," Bill said, "we'd see that the Bible calls this census a sin. And that it was punished by a great pestilence falling upon Israel. Now, since you are reasonable men, I assume you believe that there is a cause for every effect. So what was the cause for David's sinning by numbering Israel? What was his motivation to do so? Well, the Bible tells us, and you tell me, that God and Satan were behind it: they 'incited' him to do it; or, to speak plainly, God made him do it, using Satan as a messenger of his will. Keeping this in mind, would you read James 1:13-17 from the American Translation of Goodspeed for us, Ted. This is a set of verses I'll be referring back to, and that version is the one that brings out my point the best."
Ted went to Arthur's shelf and located the volume. He opened it and read:
"'No one should think when he is tempted that his temptation comes from God, for God is incapable of being tempted by what is evil, and he does not tempt anyone. When anyone is tempted, it is by his own desire that he is enticed and allured. Then desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and when sin is mature, it brings forth death. Do not be misled, my dear brothers. Every good gift and every perfect present is from heaven, and comes down from the Father of the heavenly lights, about whom there is no variation of changing shadow.'"
"Thank you," Bill said, "You'll notice that James tells us that it is by our own desire that we are enticed to sin, not by God. So how can we explain David's being enticed not by his own desire but by God? It makes little difference if God spoke through Satan or not (although this would be a momentous occasion; the first and last time he did so) so long as the original temptation to commit this 'sin' came from God, it contradicts James' words.
"But let's examine the two census accounts more deeply so that you won't accuse me of tearing Scriptures out of context. We read that after the census was taken, God punished Israel for this sin by a pestilence that killed off 70,000 men. Now, I realize all too well that 'God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours' (and this is the same argument believers in hell-fire use), but even using our own lowly moral standards, what can we think of this slaughter of innocent people, whose only crime was to allow God's appointed king to count them? Now let's get this straight: God tells Satan to make David number Israel (which happens to be a sin this week for some odd reason. It was not a sin when Moses, for example, had taken his censuses.) And then God kills 70,000 men for the sin David committed. What possible reason could there be for all this on God's part? Unless he just needed some excuse to engage in mass-murder."
"If you'd take the trouble to read the account," Richard replied, you'd see that it says God was angry to begin with, and that's why he did it. Being just, he had to punish them."
Bill shook his head and responded: "If I get angry and kill off 70,000 people 'because I was angry,' would you say I had a higher moral standard than most? If God was angry for a purpose (like some past sins of the Israelites), why this farce of punishment for a census?
"In addition to all this, the two accounts contain at least three more glaring contradictions. First of all, the infamous census comes up with totally different figures. 2 Samuel gives the count as 800,000 men in Israel and 500,000 in Judah, while 1 Chronicles has 1,100,000 men in Israel and 470,000 in Judah.
"Second, when God (in all his vanity) agrees to stop the deadly pestilence if David will build an altar to him on Ornan's (or 'Araunah's') threshing floor, David buys it from the owner for a mere 50 silver shekels in 2 Samuel, but a whopping 600 gold shekels in Chronicles.
"Third, we read that at the height of the destruction:
"'The angel stretched forth his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD regretted the calamity and said to the angel ... "Enough now! Stay your hand!"' (2 Samuel 24:16, New American Bible.)
"Here, not only do we see God changing his mind and thus contradicting James' words about God in 'whom there is no variation or change,' we also see him 'regretting,' of which 1 Samuel 15:29 says in your own New World Translation:
"'He will not feel regrets, for he is not an earthling man so as to feel regrets.'"
"The reason for the destruction is left out," Richard stated, "so that we can put our faith in the fact that God would always act justly. We don't know all the facts in the case, but we know enough to believe that God would always do the just thing. As for the census figures it's probably just an error in the translation, or maybe one included some group that the other left out. The difference in the price paid for the threshing floor is just a matter of inflation. The writer of Chronicles was stating the price paid in what it was worth in his time: 600 gold shekels were then worth what 50 silver ones had been worth in David's time, no doubt. As for God having a regret, that's not to be taken literally. It's just a figure of speech so we humans can understand him. Just like God is said to have eyes and arms when in reality he's a spirit without these things; they're just written so we can understand him from our human viewpoint."
"You're doing very well explaining away real contradictions;" Bill stated, "that doesn't mean they’re not contradictions, of course. The main one, in fact, remains untouched: God doesn't tempt, and yet he tempted. I still don't think you fully understand how a person can explain away a contradiction that's nonetheless very real. Even though you’re a master at it (all you Jehovah's Witnesses are); you do it unconsciously. Ted, I want you to make some sort of a statement about anything at all and then contradict it to show you what I mean."
"Okay. The sun is hot. The sun is cold."
"That's easy," Bill smiled. "Hot and cold are relative things. Compared to earth's atmosphere, the sun is hot. Compared to a super-nova, the sun is cold. I've adequately explained away your contradiction, but that doesn't mean that what you said wasn't a contradiction; you meant it to be, and so it was. Try another."
"Try this: I'm dead. I am alive."
Bill smiled again and replied, "I can say that's no contradiction by using the Bible itself. It says that a person can be 'dead in trespasses and sin,' or dead to their former life of sin, yet alive in Christ."
"The world is flat; the world is round," Ted offered.
"You can do better than that, can't you?" Bill laughed, "There are large areas of the earth which are flat. You didn't mean the whole world."
"Okay, the whole world is flat; the whole world is round."
"The physical world is round," Bill responded, "but the Bible often speaks of 'world' when it means the people in the world. Just as you use the vulgarism 'worldly people' or 'the whole world is in the power of Satan' meaning not the planet but the people, it was this latter definition of people you referred to when you said the world was 'flat'. You meant flat like a sour note in music, or like a beer gone flat, not physically flat. You're saying that people are without good taste, or at least not to your taste."
"That's stretching it a bit, isn't it?" Richard asked.
"Not at all. You should see yourself when it comes to explaining away the Bible's contradictions; then you'd see some real stretching. But this is why we need to go to external evidence to determine the real meaning of what the writer meant, otherwise you can explain it however you want and get the exact opposite meaning of his thoughts, just as I've demonstrated with Ted's contradictions. For instance, in our example of David's census, it would be helpful to go to anthropology and discover that the primitive peoples of that time were very superstitious and wont to attribute any calamity to the last major activity they'd performed. It was sympathetic magic in reverse. The Israelites, suffering a great pestilence so soon after their census-taking, naturally connected the two, and came up with the notion that census-taking must be a sin, and God was punishing them for it. When it came time to write this account, it was wondered why David would commit such a sin. It was decided that he must've been made to do it since he was a good king. But would God allow anyone to make David do this terrible thing? No one but God Himself could wield such authority, so God himself must've done it. But why? He must've been angry over some hidden sin of Israel's. It's kind of convoluted logic, but they must've thought along these lines.
"Now, again turning to external evidence, we have the very best explanation as to why the writer of Chronicles changed the instigator from God to Satan. It's enlightening to know, first of all, that this is the very first mention of Satan in the Bible."
"What about Job?" asked Richard.
"Job was written much later according to the experts," Bill explained, "and really isn't a Jewish book at all.
"The fact is that Chronicles was written after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, and they wanted to rewrite their history. That's why you have the same things repeated from Samuel and the book of Kings in Chronicles."
"Yes, we know that," Richard responded.
"And did you know that Zoroasterism was all the rage in Babylon right at that time?" Bill asked, "And that Zoroaster's main contribution to religious thought was the idea of an Adversary? This Adversary was thought to be a spiritual being wickedly opposed to God. Now before this, all the peoples had generally ascribed both good and evil to their gods. If bad things befell them, it was because they had displeased their god, and they'd better make a sacrifice to him or build an altar, just like the first version of the Israelite's census. But with the invention of the Adversary, they could now keep their God an unchanging source of good, and pin the blame for evil on the Adversary. Since the Hebrew's religion was already an admixture of Egyptian and volcano-worshipping religions, they readily added this innovation as well. And when they returned to their homeland and rewrote their history in Chronicles, they zealously set the record straight about who made David sin: it wasn't God, it was the Adversary, or, in Hebrew, 'Satan' who made him do it.
"In conclusion, this external evidence helps us to realize that the writer of Chronicles deliberately set out to contradict the account in 2 Samuel, so none of our 'explaining away' is valid.
"Now, we could go through all the contradictions at this same depth and prove that they really are such, but hopefully from here on you'll trust me a little more.
"If we start at the beginning, then, we can quickly go through the book and find it consists of a mass of contradictions. Starting in the first chapter of Genesis, we have many problems attempting to believe the story of creation. God creates light and 'separates it' from the darkness as if light somehow had been mixed with darkness. Note this now: he calls the light 'day' and the darkness 'night'. Then we read, 'there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a first day.' But how could there be night and day? God just finished defining these terms for us as light and darkness, not day and night as we define them today. Our night and day are not universal things; the universe doesn't go black and then light up again at regular intervals. Such a concept as we have of day and night could not have possibly come into the picture yet, since they refer merely to the period when a certain spot on a planet is either turning into or out of the light of the star it orbits. Since God's own definition of day is light, how could there come to be a first day, a second day, etc. when no planets were yet formed?"
"Well, these ‘days’," Richard explained, "were not 24-hour periods, as you've implied. There'd be no reason for them to be such periods since light was not yet reaching the earth and no living thing was on it. We find that each of these days was actually 7,000 years long."
"Then what does all this business about morning and evening mean?" Bill wondered, "Where does the day (light) and darkness (night) come into the picture? Did God turn off and on the light like some cosmic lamp every 7,000 years?"
"It could be referring to spiritual light and darkness," Richard guessed.
"God was in spiritual darkness?"
"No, the angels were. And they were enlightened when they saw what God had accomplished; the light 'dawned on them.'"
"It's too bad you're blind to your own 'stretch-marks' now!" Bill said, "The writer had just finished describing the creation of physical light and the naming of it 'day,' and physical darkness as 'night'; yet you say that the very first use he puts these just-defined words to is a spiritual one. Very strange. It seems to me that he obviously had no concept of spiritual light and darkness referring to enlightenment or ignorance. His style is too simple and straightforward. It seems obvious to me that he could only think in terms of his own surroundings, and imagined God as being subject to day and night, just as he was. (This is a fault we will detect in many subsequent passages throughout the book.) The writer didn't conceive of the earth as turning, of course, but of the light and darkness as traveling around the earth next to one another (hence the strange notion of 'separating' the light from the darkness). Since this writer could see light before he saw the sun in the morning, he concluded that lightness and darkness were not dependent on the sun. Therefore, God didn't have to create the sun until the fourth day.
"I suppose you could attempt to resolve these difficulties by arguing that the sun was already created before the first day as part of the 'heavens'. And that on the fourth day God simply allowed the light from the sun and moon to penetrate the earth's atmosphere for the first time. But then we are still left with the disturbing question of how God separated that first light from darkness, and how that first, second, and third day and night are to be accounted for. Where did the light and darkness occur? And where did it occur all at once so that one period could be called day and another night. I add this because, if other planets were already receiving light from stars, it follows that these planets contained day and night at the same time, one on either side of their surface. So 'day and night' could still not be thought of in any universal regularity so that God, overseeing all, could say, 'It's night now' or 'day now'."
"I already told you," Richard insisted, "day and night was in the angel's understanding of God's work."
"And, as I already said, that's unreasonable , " Bill responded.
"But let's move on. What I really wanted to point out about the creation stories is that they contradict one another. In that first chapter of Genesis, the order of creation is: vegetation, animals, man and woman. But in the second chapter we find:
"'At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens--while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted… the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground… then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man that he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow… The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him"… So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was his name… and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman.'
"This shows the order of creation being: man, vegetation, animals, and (last and least) woman. A clear contradiction of the order in the first chapter."
"There's no contradiction," Richard calmly replied, "The second chapter doesn't say there was no wild vegetation existing prior to man's creation, it says there was no vegetation of the field; in other words, no cultivated vegetation. All the wild plants were already existing before man, and the same with the animals. It doesn't say that there weren't any animals in existence already, God just made some more for Adam to name rather than just bringing him the ones he'd already created."
"I knew I should've read every word!" Bill exclaimed in exasperation, "It says that no grass or shrub of the field had sprouted yet because there was no rain yet. The fact of there being no rain would have just as much effect on cultivated as on wild vegetation. But let me ask you, do you think these field shrubs and grasses produced seeds?"
"As far as I know, all plants produce seeds of some sort," Richard shrugged.
"Then they would be covered under the category of 'every kind of plant that bears seed'?"
"Then wouldn't they have been created on the third day when 'the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed'?"
"Then we have a definite contradiction," Bill smiled, "If they had been created on the third day, and man was created on the sixth day (according to chapter one), it cannot be true that they were not created till after man (according to chapter two).
"Each of these accounts is complete unto itself and written with a different style," Bill explained. "The second chapter begins in verse four, second sentence, with its version of creation, and it starts right at the beginning with the creation of heaven and earth. It again lists the creation of man and woman. So why should we doubt (when it starts from the time when there is only heaven and earth in existence) that its mention of plants and animals (clearly implying that none existed before) is not a re-creation, but the only creation this account knows of. The only logical inference is that this is a second story of creation which contradicts the first. Actually, going to external evidence, we find that the second chapter was written about 850 BCE and the first about 450 BCE. Thus, the second chapter is much more primitive in style, as it shows God walking in the garden, having to look for the human couple, forming man out of dust and woman out of man's rib… none of which appears in the latter, loftier view of the first chapter, where even women were given a somewhat higher recognition."
"I don't buy any of your 'external evidence,'" Richard scoffed.
"No, but here's some more anyway:" Bill continued, unabated, "That later story in Genesis chapter one is a near-verbatim copy of the Babylonian account of creation which is ancient by comparison. Their account has first the primeval chaos of waters and darkness called in Babylonian Tiamat, but in Hebrew Tehom. The creation of light is first, then the division of the waters by means of a firmament; then land and vegetation; the creation of luminaries for dividing time; and finally the creation of man. Once again we see how the Jewish scribes or priests changed their own account and adapted the Babylonian view since it seemed so much better. In 450 BCE they had already returned from their captivity in Babylon, and had been 'going over the books' for quite some time. Unfortunately for its believability, they left in the first account and put this new one ahead of it, hoping no one would notice the glaring contradictions -- and amazingly, hardly anyone has!
"But now we must come to the 'Adam and Eve story'; it is less original than the creation account in chapter one! Similar stories predate the Bible's account in many countries. There were subtle differences in all of these, and the Genesis version seems to miss the best points.
"Primitive peoples have always seen the snake as a symbol of immortality because of the fact that the snake sheds its skin when it's old and wrinkled, and appears in a new, smooth skin, like a baby. Seeing this, it was natural for them to jump to the conclusion that it was able to do this whenever it got old, and thus to live forever.
"But why was it that snakes were immortal and people weren't? It seemed that it should be the other way around. So a great mixup is suggested to the myth-making mind of the primitive people: some switch must've come about between snakes and people, they reasoned, and framed their story accordingly:
"The first humans had a fruit tree which contained everlasting life, as well as a tree which contained death. Now God sent a messenger down from heaven to tell them to eat from the tree of everlasting life. (You'll notice that in your own account, they are allowed to eat from all the trees except the tree that means their death; and this, of necessity, means that they were allowed to eat from the tree of everlasting life.) Now, in some versions of the story, the messenger (almost without exception a snake) gets mixed up and tells the human pair to eat from the tree of death. When the messenger realizes his mistake, he quickly eats from the tree of everlasting life himself so that God cannot kill him for his error. In other stories the snake deliberately misleads them so he alone can eat from the right tree and live forever. The whole purpose of the myth, remember, is to show why snakes are immortal while men must die. And all your Biblical version lacks is to have the snake eat from the tree of life in the end (for he wasn't very shrewd and cunning unless he derived this advantage from the trickery)."
"But the Bible's account has nothing to do with snakes," Richard insisted, "It was Satan the Devil who took the form of one to tempt them; snakes can't talk of themselves."
Bill shook his head again and said: "But this was before the Jews had a Satan, an 'Adversary'; they hadn't been to Babylon yet at the writing of this part. It was just a snake, and nothing more. It is only in much later Christian writings that it is even implied that this snake was Satan.
"But let's move on more quickly, as there's a lot to cover yet. We come to Cain and see once again an ancient superstition in the belief that a murderer had a dire effect upon the soil if he remained in his homeland. He had to be banished in order for the crops to grow.
"Chapter five also shows Babylonian influence, as we return to the account of 450 BCE. I know this is hard for you to accept yet, but there are these two accounts running through the book, as well as the compilers' comments interspersed in an attempt to piece them together. For convenience, they are referred to as the P and the J documents (the P being the Priestly account of 450 BCE with its avoidance of the name Yahweh, and its Babylonish influences; the J being the older (850 BCE) 'Jehovistic' account, which uses the name 'Yahweh' or 'Jehovah' often). We will continuously pick up evidences for their existence, though I may not always point these out to you. Chapter one was P; from 2:46 up to chapter five was J, and now we're back to P.
"The Babylonian's also had a record, like Genesis chapter five, of ten ancient kings with fantastically long life-spans who reigned successively before the flood. And as this chapter refers to Enoch, it would be well to see where the Jews stole him. It was again from Babylon: the legend of Enmerduranki. He was also the seventh in line (as Enoch is from Adam) of the Babylonian kings before the flood, and was called up to heaven by the sun god to learn spiritual secrets. Now could it be that Enoch is the same as this 'god of the year'? His dying on his 365th birthday is just too suggestive to be passed over. According to the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, Jewish tradition had it that he died on the very hour he was born: 'At what hour he was conceived, at that hour he was born, and at that hour too he died.' (68:5) This undoubtedly connects him with the god of the solar year; for the solar year is 365 days long, and when it 'dies' at the end of 365 days, it is 'born' in the same hour, and thus never really dies but becomes 'translated' (as they say of Enoch) into the new year.
"Coming back to J, we read in chapter six of the Nephilim who were 'the heroes of old, the men of renown' -- giant offspring of angels and women. This only serves to show how freely the writers of Genesis borrowed from the mythology that abounded at that time and prior thereto in all the 'gentile nations.'
"But now we come to the flood story which demonstrates the piecing together in a crazy patch-work of the writings of J and P. Look closely and you can see the seams: P has God instructing Noah in Genesis 6:19 to take two of all living creatures into the Ark, period. But in chapter seven we switch to J, who has God instructing Noah: 'of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, and of the unclean animals one pair.' J, once again, was suffering from his own narrow-vision. He imagined that times in the distant past were the same as his own day. He didn't stop to think that the designations 'clean' and 'unclean' weren't made till the giving of the Law about a thousand years later. Noah knew of no dietary restrictions of the Mosaic Law. In fact, when he later emerged from the Ark, God said he was free to eat any of the animals: 'every creature that is alive shall be yours to eat.' (6:3) So this is an evident mistake (again) by J. When P wrote his account, he carefully avoided such near-sightedness and simply put down that Noah took two of every animal.
"Then there is the great difficulty of trying to get the two accounts to come together on the length of the flood. J insists that it was forty days and nights, after which there was a period of three weeks in which Noah sent forth his birds to determine if the water had drained off. Then he went out and built his altar, and so on. But P never mentions the forty-day period or even how long it rained. He just says that 'the waters maintained their crest over the earth for one hundred and fifty days' (7:24) and, comparing the starting date he gives in 7:11 with the ending date in 8:14, the whole thing took one year and eleven days. Try as you might, there's no sensible way to harmonize these two accounts and say that one person wrote the whole thing.
"In the first part of chapter eight, the compiler of the two accounts has already given P's record of the waters subsiding to the point where the tops of the mountains were visible and the Ark, in fact, was sitting atop Mount Ararat. But then we read in verse 6, 'After the forty days had ended, Noah opened the hatch…' What forty days? We've just gone through P's 150 days. It doesn't make sense to talk about a 40-day period now, unless you assume (correctly) that this account in verse six knows nothing about P's 150 days and is continuing its own story where we left it back in verses 17-23 of chapter seven. Then it's entirely sensible for Noah to send forth a bird and to have it come back because there was no place to land. But if this is all one account written by Moses, then the bird had all the mountaintops on which to land.
"But there's one last thing I must say about the flood story," Bill said, looking closely at Arthur's bookshelves. Recognizing a certain large volume, he helped himself to it and opened it. "Tell me if this sounds familiar at all to you -- I hope you don't mind my using one of your books, Mr. Olson? Arthur didn't reply, and Bill assumed that he was asleep. "The account here reads:
"'O man of Shurippak, son of Ubaratutu: Frame a house, build a ship; forsake thy possessions, seek to save life; abandon thy goods, and cause thy soul to live: bring up into the midst of the ship the seed of life of every sort. With all that I possessed I laded it: with all the silver that I possessed I laded it; with the seed of life of every kind that I possessed I laded it. I took on board all my family and my servants; cattle of the field, beasts of the field, craftsmen also, all of them did I take on board… Six days and nights raged wind, deluge and storm upon the earth. When the seventh day arrived the storm and deluge ceased, which had fought like a host of men; the sea was calm, hurricane and deluge ceased. I beheld the land and cried aloud: for the whole of mankind were turned to clay; hedged fields had become marshed. I opened a window, and the light fell upon my face. When the seventh day arrived, I brought forth a dove, and let it go: the dove went to and fro; as there was no resting place it turned back. I brought forth a swallow and let it go: the swallow went to and fro; as there was no resting place it turned back. I brought a raven and let it go: the raven went, and saw the decrease of the waters; it ate, it waded, it croaked[?], it turned not back. Then sent forth everything towards the four winds of heaven: I offered sacrifice: I prepared an offering on the summit of the mountain. I set Adagur-vases seven by seven. Underneath them I cast down reeds, cedar-wood, and incense. The gods smelt the savor, the gods smelt the godly savor; the gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer."
"That's from the Babylonian Epic of Gilsamesh, and it leaves no doubt as to where the Hebrews got their story of Noah's flood.
"In a similar vein, though I don't have a copy of it with me, and don't know where to find one in Mr. Olson's library, the 'tower of Babel' story comes directly from the Sumerian story of Babili; it's one of those many legends that sprang up in an effort to explain how it came to be that there were different languages that men spoke. Of course, there are a lot of reasons why it cannot be true, but they're all so obvious that I won't go into them."
"I think you should go into them" Ted spoke up, "I haven't been too impressed with what you've done thus far. We know that other peoples had these same traditions; why shouldn't they? Noah was their ancestor, too. So, naturally they preserved a slightly distorted picture of the flood and of creation. That only serves to prove that the Biblical account is true, not that it stole from other writings! And I don't see how it's so obvious that changes in language couldn't have come about at the tower of Babel by God's thwarting mankind's wickedness through the confusion of tongues."
"Good for you, Ted!" Richard said.
"Well," Bill said thoughtfully, "you can look at it either way; but then if your criterion for the truthfulness of a legend is that a number of countries have versions of the same tale, you’d have to believe in a lot of pretty far-flung things (least of all hell-fire and reincarnation). As for why the tower of Babel story cannot adequately account for the diversity of languages, it has to do with the structures of those languages themselves, as well as the way the human mind works.
"We can see that there are 'families' of languages in which nations living close together have similarly structured languages, whereas those separated by mountain ranges or seas are different. All of which shows a natural development and influence over thousands of years: not an instantaneous creation of languages. Writing of these languages is, perhaps, a better example in that it's easier to see what I mean. Writing, the graphic symbolizing of sounds, is so different in unrelated language-families that it cannot have sprung from one corrupted source but must've had independent origins; even the writing of numbers and methods of counting are diverse.
"In any given language you have two things: the names of things, and grammar or syntax (which means the way sentences are put together). Learning a different language would be simple if it involved only the first part -- you'd just have to substitute one word for another, and in a short time you'd know the entire 'substitute vocabulary'. But, unfortunately, this isn't the case at all. The first snag is words that mean more than one thing; and the second, greater obstacle, is grammar. Words are not strung together in the same way in different languages, so the patterns of word-thinking differ and make for years of study.
"Now, if God 'confounded their languages' there at the tower of Babel, we know that he must've confounded the grammar, not just the names of things. In addition to this, he must've taken away all their memory and put in its place the new language. For when a person learns a new language, he doesn't cease thinking in his native tongue and stringing his thoughts along its grammatical paths. So God had to fill their minds with not just substitute words, but entirely new words separate from all former word-object associations, as well as new, complex grammar. This means that they would've suddenly had to think in entirely new ways. The world they knew an instant ago was no more; God had created a new world inside each and every mind there. And if he had managed to somehow convert all their past memories into thought-patterns consistent with their new language, then he performed a double miracle. That any human being could even survive such drastic tampering with his mind makes it a triple-miracle, and in fact the greatest miracle recorded in the Bible! For God needed seven 'days' to create the physical world, having all space to work in, yet here he created hundreds or even thousands of thought-worlds in the tiny area of the delicate minds of men in an instant!"
"All this is very interesting," Ted commented dryly, "but what's wrong with it? Where's your contradiction?"
"I admit I've strayed somewhat from my goal of pointing out the textual contradictions; but you asked why the story was obviously untrue, and that involves reasoning on the matter, not just finding a contradiction. You see, once we really understand what God had to have done in order to accomplish this feat, we realize how unlikely it is that he would've done it."
"Well, does God do stupid or wasteful things?"
"Then why would he do this? Why go through all the work of creating new thought-worlds and memories (for the men would've had to believe that they had always spoken this new language if God reworded their memories into it for them; and if he hadn't, then he performed the greatest mass brain-washing technique in history) just to make them split up? No matter how you look at it, God was putting lies of one sort or another into their minds, and it would have been far easier, as long as he was totally rearranging their thinking processes anyway, to simply make them his worshippers."
"God doesn't force anyone to worship him," Richard noted.
"No," Bill agreed, "in fact, so far is he from forcing people into righteousness, that he actually helps divide mankind up through language, and thus fosters misunderstanding, hatred, and war (if you believe the Bible's account, that is). He has great scruples when it comes to putting good thoughts into someone's head, but putting lies there is perfectly all right. I guess that's about par for a god whose main worry is whether men will succeed in building a tower up to his off-limits heaven, and (horror of horrors) whether mankind might 'become like him' and live forever on top of it!
"If you also want a common-sense reason why the flood story isn't true, I’d ask you: first, where all that water came from. To cover the tall mountains of the entire earth (and remembering that water seeks out the lowest places first and fills them) this quantity of water would've been much more massive than, say, five miles deep. Now you know that today we consider it a heavy rainfall if we get more than a couple of inches, so we're talking about a whole lot of water here -- around fifty-three-thousand-billion gallons! It would've been falling on the wooden Ark at a rate of one-thousand-six-hundred-thirty-six gallons an hour and would have utterly demolished it!"
"The water came from the 'waters above the earth' mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis," Richard replied, "You'll recall how God created the firmament by dividing these waters from the waters on the earth. Well, this 'water-canopy' is what came down in the great flood. And that's really not so much water to have been way up in the atmosphere and encircling the earth; it's funny it wasn't more! As it is, the quantity you're talking about is only one-tenth of all the waters in all the oceans. So we have no problems with where it came from or where it went. It all makes perfect sense."
"You obviously don't know how much water weighs," Bill replied. "Such a quantity of water hanging over mankind would have a pressure of 10,560 pounds per square inch! It would want to come down bad! And what would stop it? When we take into consideration that our bodies deal most effectively with an air-pressure bearing down on us at 14.7 pounds per square inch, and that the least change in that barometric pressure affects our entire metabolism, we can get some idea of what this 10,560 pounds per square inch would do to our bodies if it were in the upper atmosphere! We'd be crushed to nothing instantly. On the other hand, if it were outside the range of our present atmosphere, the pull of our gravity might be too weak to hold it together; it would splay out into the universe and break up into tiny droplets and disappear. Or, it would freeze and become like the rings of Saturn, but could never fall to earth. In any case, I don't see how man could live with such a quantity of water effectively blocking out the sun's rays. It just couldn't have happened that way, gentlemen; it's impossible. And no matter what distortions the Watchtower has told you, no respectable geologist believes that there could have been an earth-wide flood of this extent.
"The only 'earth' that people knew back then was their own back yards. When the Euphrates overflowed its banks once upon a time in the dim and dark past and a certain man, perhaps by the name Gilgamesh, floated away to safety with his few possessions in a boat, the stage was set for an 'earth-wide' flood story. Doubtless such incidents happened all over the world, leaving survivors to spin the tale of their heroism at the 'great flood' like a modern day fisherman telling of the one that got away.
"The last and not at all the least reason for disbelieving the tale, is the lowly platypus. He, and others like him, refute the tale as far as the animal part of it goes. If all the animals that we see today had their ancestors on that ark (as we did), and then were released after the flood waters subsided on a mountain in the Middle East, how comes it that the funny little platypus made its way to Australia? It can't swim such great distances as a voyage from the Mediterranean to Australia would entail. It's a slow little creature, and quite unique. No one has ever found a trace of him or his ancestors anywhere along the route from Mt. Ararat to Australia. He is found only in Australia, just like the koala bear and the kangaroo. How can we explain it? Or the many unique species to be found on the Galapagos Islands? It's inconceivable that any of them could've made it there in one generation from the Mediterranean. So there should be populations of them, or fossils or bones of them scattered all along the route; but there are none. Furthermore, it's clear that many of these animals never could have lived in the climate of the Mediterranean. The koala, for instance, lives off of eucalyptus leaves only; he can't live off of anything else, and eucalyptus trees don't grow in the Mediterranean.
"So all the facts about us in nature disprove this idea of an earth-wide flood, not to mention the fact that it was a waste of effort on God's part since the wickedness he meant to wipe out forever was back very shortly. Even the horrid Nephilim, which are listed as one of the main things that ticked him off, are back again in Numbers 13:33. So he evidently didn't do as thorough a job as the Bible would like us to believe.
"But now that I've gone through the flood and the tower of Babel at such length (and still more could be said of them), I hope you’ll see why I'm not going to continue this practice. There are several methods I've shown you so far: showing a textual contradiction, showing external evidence, and using commonsense. I’ll try to confine myself to one method per instance henceforth, but keep in mind that the others apply to most of them as well.
"Continuing in chapter eleven after the Babel yarn, we come to a textual contradiction in verse 12 in which a certain Arpachshad is said to be the father of Shelah. Yet in Luke 3:35,36 we learn that Shelah's father was not Arpachshad at all, but one Cainan; and, in fact, Cainan's father was Arpachshad! This one fact alone throws off all your carefully calculated chronology for the time of the end of 6,000 years of man's existence; so you see, it is of some importance, as are all these contradictions, no matter how trivial they may seem at first glance.
"In chapter 12 we come to the story of Abraham’s lying about Sarah being his sister. I've already commented on this cowardly and unchivalrous action, so let me skip over to the other versions of the story in chapters 20 and 21. Here the patsy is Abimelech, the king of Gerar, who 'sent and took Sarah' after Abraham lied to him about her being his sister. Now God, in all of his divine justice, threatens to kill Abimelech! But Abimelech returns Sarah and is saved. About this same time, due to a dispute over a well, Abraham and Abimelech enter into a covenant of friendship over the well, and 'that is why the place is called Beer-sheba; the two took an oath there.' There are two odd things here: the first is that, according to Genesis 17:17 and 18:11, 12, Sarah is 90 years old. To be specific, we read:
"'old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods. So Sarah laughed within herself and said, "Now that I am so withered and my husband is old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?"'
"All of this before the incident with King Abimelech. So was there any real reason for Abraham's apprehension about the beauty of his wife being a temptation to others? Can we honestly believe that this king who had a harem full of the most beautiful girls in the kingdom would desire a withered 90-year-old woman who was (if we believe the account) pregnant on top of it?
"The second odd thing about this account is that it's used yet again in chapter 26. The place and the 'sinner' are the same: Gerear and the king. The sin is the same, and the lie and the conclusion are the same. But Isaac and Rebekah take Abraham's and Sarah's places. Once again, it ends in a dispute over a well. Isaac and Abimelech enter into a covenant, and, 'hence the name of the city, Beer-sheba, to this day.' It is far beyond the laws of chance that the same spot should be named twice with the same name resulting from the same set of bizarre circumstances. I think even you will have to agree that this is clear evidence of the same story used twice (or really three times, if we count its use in chapter 12 as well). It seems the Jews had whole sets of these legends into which they could interchangeably insert the names of their great men, and some of these stories were so juicy that they inserted more than one of their heroes as its perpetrator. But none of this suggests divine inspiration to my mind.
"In chapter 14, Lot is captured by a ransacking horde that descends upon Sodom and Gomorrah (where Lot, for some reason, liked to live). So Abraham, who has suddenly found courage from somewhere (which must've surely delighted his wife), musters up three hundred men and goes in pursuit against great odds. Now, in this successful chase we are told in verse 14 that they went as far as 'Dan'. This is very interesting indeed. Whom do you say wrote this book?"
"Moses wrote Genesis, as well as the first five books of the Bible, which we call the Pentatuech, meaning five books," Richard informed him.
"And now would you read Judges 18:27-29 for me, please?" Bill asked.
Richard stuck his thumb at Genesis 14 and flipped over to Judges, reading: "As for them, they took what Micah had made and the priest that had become his, and they kept going towards Laish, against a people quiet and unsuspecting. And they proceeded to strike them with the edge of the sword, and the city they burned with fire. And there was no deliverer, for it was far away from Sidon, and they had nothing at all to do with mankind; and it was in the low plain that belonged to Bethrehob. Then they built the city and took up dwelling in it. Furthermore, they called the name of the city Dan by the name of their father, Dan, who had been born to Israel. Nevertheless, Laish was the city's name at first.'"
"All right," Bill continued, "that raises some other interesting points, but before I get side-tracked on them, let's note what it says about the name of the place. It was Laish up to this time, and then the Danites changed it to Dan. Was Moses still alive at this time?"
"No, he died long before," Richard answered.
"Then why did he call the location 'Dan' and say that Abraham had gone there? He should've said Laish, shouldn't he have?"
"Maybe it was a different Dan," Richard offered.
"That would be nice for you if it was, but it wasn't. So someone who lived long after Moses had to have written Genesis chapter 14; someone who was living long after the time the Danites renamed the city; someone who suffered from the narrow vision of thinking that things in the past were the same as in his day. In fact, the preceding verse (14:13) gives evidence that this account was written by a foreigner, because it suddenly mentions one 'Abram the Hebrew' as if we'd never heard of him before. 'Hebrew' at this time was used only by foreigners in regard to this Semitic tribe, because it had a somewhat disparaging connotation, like 'immigrant' does today. The fact is that there was a legendary Abraham, a warlike sheik of Palestine that adorned many a tale throughout this region. The Jews just picked up on him and made him their ancestor.
"But, if I may comment on the passage in Judges, since we've had it read already: what the Danites took that Micah had made were molten and carved 'gods' and the 'priest' for those gods. These they stole from him and threatened to kill him if he interfered. The last verse in that chapter tells how they set up these images and worshiped them 'all the days that the house of the true God continued in Shiloh.' Well, isn't that just fine. They went and stole god and priest, and then the 'true God' helped them butcher up a 'quiet and unsuspecting' people who had nothing to do with the world, so they could steal their land and set up the worship of these idols. Now this, you'll admit, is quite different from the usual explanation given for God's slaughtering of the Canaanites. Usually you Christians justify that by saying how very wicked the Canaanites were, and how God allowed them to get so bad that he couldn't take it anymore and had his 'chosen people' who were filled with the 'right' religion come in and do his cleaning-up operations as effectively as the great flood had done a few generations before. But no honest person can read this account and not feel that a very great wrong was done here.
"In chapter 15 of Genesis we read something that sounds very strange. Abram receives the 'oath-bound covenant' from God. And how does God take an oath? He has Abram cut up a heifer, a she-goat, and a ram, all three years old, and place each half-piece opposite the other at some distance. Then Abram falls fast asleep, but somehow still sees as God passes between this butchery in the form of a torch and smoking brazier as he recites his promise to give the land belonging to many other peoples to Abram and his descendants. Why did God happen upon this particular manner of making an oath? How was it an 'oath' simply to represent himself passing between cut-up meat? The answer is that this was thought by the primitive peoples to tie one's soul up with the sacrifice, and if one then proved false to the promise he had made at the time of the sacrifice, what happened to those animals he'd walked between would happen to him as well. It was just another application of sympathetic magic. The Bible even provides us with this very answer in Jeremiah 34:18 in which the Lord declares in one of his more imaginative threats: 'The men who violated my covenant and did not observe the terms of the agreement which they made before me, I will make like the calf which they cut in two, between those two parts they passed.'
"In the next chapter we have another gallant action on the part of the great Abraham. He willingly complies with his wife's order to have a go with her maid, and succeeds in making her pregnant. But this makes the vacillating Sarai angry when she sees her in this state and she begins to cruelly abuse her. Now we have one of those 'take charge' courageous actions on the part of the kind Abraham, who was known as 'God's friend': 'Your maid is in your power,' he tells his wife, 'do to her whatever you please.' Sarai then abuses her so much that she runs away from her.
"To ‘console’ the maid Hagar, God tells her that her son will be 'a wild-ass of a man; his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him; in opposition to all his kin shall he encamp.' Judging from that, I’d say that God's a pretty poor consoler. This is J's account mostly, but in chapter 21, verses 9-19 we have an account by ‘E’.
"’E’ is the Elohist document, which we haven't discussed yet. It's known for constantly referring to God as neither Jehovah (as J does) nor Adonai (as P does) but as Elohim (God). There are other subtler differences that I won't go into now.
"In E’s account, Hagar is once again driven away by Sarai's abuse, only this time Ishmael's already born, and other details differ accordingly. To harmonize this with J’s account, the compiler merely had to have Hagar go back after her first running away. It would've been most unlikely for her to do so, though, even with God's 'great promises' concerning her son.
"Skipping a little, we come to chapter 22 where God, who 'reads all hearts' doesn't know if Abraham is devoted to him until he shows himself ready, willing, and able to sacrifice his son to him. Now just try to imagine what we, today, would think of someone who told us he heard voices (God's voice, no less) telling him to kill his son. We'd put him away as quickly as possible, wouldn't we? But here Abraham does the same irrational act and gets rewarded for it by God.
In my opinion, Abraham failed the test miserably. He should have said, 'Listen, God, I love you and all that, but if this is the sort of proof you need, forget it! I won't kill for you, especially not my own son. And if you think that means I don't love you enough, well, that's your problem.'
"How is this God of the Bible any better than the god Molech whom Jehovah despises in Jeremiah 31:35 for accepting the burned-alive bodies of the Israelites' children? There, he rightly calls such a thing a sin, but when he asked Abraham to do the very same thing, that was all right and proved Abraham a righteous man!
"The long involved stories of Esau and Jacob, as well as Joseph and his problems with sibling rivalry, arose from one simple misunderstanding on the part of the writers: they didn't understand that ultimogeniture was the rule back then."
"What's that?" Ted asked.
"It means the youngest son in the family inherits the father's wealth, rather than the later practice of primogeniture in which the eldest inherits all. Anthropologists have determined this sequence of events for all peoples who move from a nomadic, shepherd's life to an agricultural one -- and most peoples did move from one to the other eventually. In the beginning, when the tending of the flocks and herds was the way of life, the first-born son, when he reached maturity, would take a few of the cattle and set off on his own to greener pastures. When the father died, it was the youngest son who was still with him and inherited his possessions. But when they became farmers, their land provided their livelihood, not portable cattle as in the past. So the eldest son stuck around, and when his father died, there wasn't anyone (least of all a kid brother) who was going to take the ownership of that farm away from him. So primogeniture was already a long-established rule by the time the Bible was written. And, once again suffering from imposing present conditions on the past, the writers had to think up some elaborate stories to account for the fact that Isaac and Jacob's youngest sons seemed to have been the favored ones. The fact that they had no scruples about having Jacob perpetrate a cruel deception on his aged father to bring this about shows what a tight grip this illusion of inserting the present on the past had over them, and hardly argues for divine inspiration.
"So far we have seen little reason for God to have selected this line of descent to be his chosen people or the ancestors of his son. From Abraham to Jacob they have been a despicable lot. Any hopes we might've had about Jacob's sons come crashing to the ground in chapter 34. Here we read that the sons of Jacob promised to give their sister Dinah in marriage to Shechem the Hivite if all the males of his country were to get circumcised. After the Hivite men dutifully complied with this odd request, the sons of Jacob advanced upon the place, while the men there were still in pain from the crude operation, and massacred them all. Then they carried off their women, children, and all their goods.
"You conveniently forgot to mention," Richard reminded him, "that Shechem had raped Dinah."
"And what do you suppose Jacob's sons did with the Hivite women they 'carried off'?" Bill asked. "They multiplied the wrong they were trying to right hundreds of times over with deceit and murder.
"But the Bible nowhere approves of their action," Richard objected.
"No, but it doesn't disapprove either. What does Jacob say upon hearing of what his sons did? He only worries about the Canaanites taking revenge, and his having too few men to kill them all off if they do. So he prays to his God who (naturally) protects him, and even names him ‘Israel’ and renews his promise of giving him the Canaanite's land.
"In telling of the descendants of Esau in chapter 36, the writer makes one of his by-now-familiar errors and says, 'before any king reigned over the Israelites,' (verse 31). Now, if Moses had written this, as you claim, how did he know that any king would ever rule over the Israelites? There had been no Israelite kings in his time, and not for a very long time after his death. This statement had to have been written sometime after the time of Saul who was the first king of Israel.
"Next we come upon the story of selling Joseph into slavery by his brothers. It is the easiest place in the Bible to spot the two different accounts that are pieced together rather unsuccessfully. In this case it is J and E who are at work. Just reading it consecutively can be pretty revealing; the seams are showing here more plainly than anywhere, and reveal the hands of men, not the hand of God.
"First we read that when Reuben heard of the plot to kill Joseph, he suggested throwing him into the cistern in order to save him later. Then the brothers sat down to their meal (not even losing their appetites after this dastardly deed) and spotted a caravan of Ishmaelites. Judah then suggested selling Joseph to these Ishmaelites, which they did for 20 pieces of silver.
"All well and good so far, but suddenly we read, 'Some Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him into Egypt. When Reuben went back to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not in it, he tore his clothes, and returning to his brothers, he exclaimed: "The boy is gone! And I -- where can I turn?"'
"Apparently, Reuben was not with his brothers when they sat down to their meal (where he was is hard to imagine since he was evidently nowhere near the cistern either, and a caravan could be seen a long way off), and so he is flabbergasted to find Joseph missing from the cistern. But, oddly enough, Judah doesn't console Reuben by telling him how he sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites in order to save him from death. In fact, all the brothers now seem to be in the dark as to how Joseph comes to be missing from the cistern. But, more glaring is how, after they sold him to the Ishmaelites, 'some Midianites' happened along and 'pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him to Egypt'! How can this be? It can't. There are two accounts here."
"No," Richard argued, "there's only one account. The Midianites had inter-married with the Ishmaelites, and so their names could be used interchangeably."
Bill shook his head and said: "But it's not likely that one person writing one narrative would use the two different tribal names for one group. He would choose one name and stick to it through his account, not switch back and forth.
"Further, if you claim that the solution is to be found in saying that the Ishmaelites were identical with the Midianites, how is it that these shrewd traders would hand over 20 pieces of silver for a slave, and then pull him up and take a look at him? And if the Midianite traders are supposed to be the same as the Ishmaelites who just paid a good sum for Joseph, why does the writer refer to them now (having already introduced them into the account as Ishmaelites) as 'some' Midianite traders? It would be much more natural at this point to say 'the' Midianite traders. And he certainly wouldn't say 'Some Midianite traders passed by,' he would say 'So the Midianite traders went over and pulled Joseph out.' But even so, it's hard to imagine them paying for him before pulling him up. The way it is written gives every indication that these Midianite traders are by no means the Ishmaelites who just bought Joseph.
"The only logical conclusion is that there are two stories here. If we read the chapter to verse 20, then skip to verses 25-28a (25-27 in the New World Translation), we get one complete story from J in which Judah is the hero who saves Joseph from murder at his brother's hands by selling him to the Ishmaelites. Then, if we read verses 21-24 and skip to 28b-36 (28-36 in the New World Translation), we have E's story in which Reuben is the hero who saves Joseph by suggesting to his brothers to just throw Joseph into the cistern (from which he intended to rescue him later). But when they are away at their meal, Midianites take Joseph out and away. Reuben discovers this when he goes back to save him, and all the brothers are in genuine perplexity over his disappearance.
"The reason for the discrepancy about which brother was the hero is that J was written in the two-tribe kingdom of Judah, whereas E was written about 800-750 BCE in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel; each was exalting its favorite patriarch in a simple-minded patriotism."
"But all that is pure conjecture by so-called scholars who like to call themselves 'higher critics,'" Richard noted. "Why should we believe what they say?"
"Because you can see it for yourself by simply reading the chapter in your Bible." Bill reasoned. "The term 'higher critic' isn't an egotistical one; it just distinguishes literary criticism from manuscript criticism ('lower criticism'). It isn't setting itself up as higher than religious interpretations, but as distinct from another branch in its own field. So don't be intimidated on that account. But it hasn't just been what you term 'so-called scholars' that have come up with this thought. In T. H. Robinson's The People and the Book, on page 153, he tells of a group of Sunday-school teachers who had met to discuss the lesson for the next Sunday, which happened to be Genesis 37. As they studied it with a view to making it plain and teachable, they found difficulties in reconciling the contradictions it contains. The case seemed hopeless until the possibility was suggested that two stories were intertwined in the chapter. At once they set about disentangling them, and with nothing but the King James Bible they succeeded in half an hour. They came up with the same results as I've just explained to you in dividing up the two accounts. But had they been told that they were doing 'higher criticism', I'm sure they would've been horrified.
"So much for Genesis. Exodus abounds with a treasure trove of contradictions and incredulities. If I went into only half of them, we’d be here several days. So I’ll have to sum up.
"I recommend that you read Sigmund Freud's Moses and Monotheism, in which he postulates that Moses was an Egyptian at the time that Amenhotep was Pharaoh. There are several startling proofs of this theory. The first goes back to the legendary birth of Moses. It was another common story (first used in connection with Sargon, long before) that the Hebrew writer adapted to Moses. Arabia, Assyria, and Phoenicia all had their own Moses, only he was called Mises. In the Orphic Hymn to Bacchus, Mises is picked up floating in a box on the waters. For this reason he is called Mises as well as Bimater (meaning of 'two mothers'; one by nature and one by adoption).
The laws of Mises were written on stone tablets. He had a rod for working miracles. The rod had power to change into a serpent and to divide the rivers Orontes and Hydastus. He also passed dry-shed over the Red Sea at the head of his army (something Alexander was to repeat in much later historical legend). When Mises' army thirsted, he struck a rock with his rod and water gushed out. Wherever he went the land 'flowed with milk and honey.' And, whereas Moses had to be content with a pillar of fire, Mises had the light of the sun at night. So, we can see where the mythical notions of Moses came from, but Freud presents a fair argument for believing that a real Moses existed as well. And, removing the veil of the legendary one, we can get a glimpse of the real Moses.
"In the first place, since such stories were tacked on to all great heroes before and after Moses, we can rather dismiss the whole Nile incident. Freud relates the anecdote that when a boy was asked in Sunday school who Moses' mother was, he replied it was Pharaoh's daughter. 'No,' replied the instructor, 'she just found him floating in the Nile, she wasn't his real mother.' 'That's what she said,' the boy quipped. And there's a lot of truth in that. There is reason to believe that Moses was born an Egyptian, and that he brought a band of Semites out of Egypt after the death of Amenhotep. He became such a hero to the Jews, that the Bible writers borrowed this much-used story to transform him into a Jew.
"If Moses were an Egyptian, it sheds light on a few otherwise difficult points. The first is his name. We are told that the daughter of Pharaoh named him Moses because in Hebrew it means 'drawn out'. But what is an Egyptian princess doing with knowledge of Hebrew etymology? It doesn't make sense. What does make sense is this: Mose was a common Egyptian name, which simply meant 'son'. This 'mose' was tacked onto the end of a name much as we today tack on 'son' in many surnames. The pharaoh which many people wrongly believe ruled at that time is an example of this: Ramose, or simply 'Ramses', meaning son of the god Ra. Doubtless Moses also had an Egyptian deity as the first part of his name, though it was later dropped. He was an important Egyptian, with quite possibly a governorship over a region populated with the group of Semites who were later to call themselves Hebrews. But, since he couldn't speak their language (no self-respecting Egyptian would stoop so low as to learn it), he needed an interpreter to speak to them. Enter Aaron."
"Oh, that makes sense!" Ted exclaimed. "I often wondered how Moses could speak right up to God and make demands of him, and yet was supposedly too shy to talk to the people. But if he couldn't speak their language because he was an Egyptian, well, that explains it."
"But let's turn back to Amenhotep for a moment because it's very important -- we’re dealing with the very foundation of Judaism and Christianity here. Amenhotep broke with all traditional Egyptian religion and held that there was one God, represented by, though distinct from, the sun. This God he named Aton (borrowing the sun-god's name, but making him much greater). He had all inscriptions to plural gods effaced, and brought down temples and disbanded priests of other gods. There was only one god over all, he taught, just as there was only one Pharaoh over all. But the people went along with it begrudgingly. He was way ahead of his time, and after his death the old religion began to spring up again immediately. But it was sometime after his death before the government resumed its full authority under a new Pharaoh, and it was at this time, when no Pharaoh was ruling in Egypt, that Moses, an adherent to the Aton religion, walked out quietly with the people in his region to set up the great religion elsewhere. The people, he figured, would be so grateful for being freed from slavery that they would readily accept what the Egyptians had disdainfully cast away.
"Now I know all this contradicts the Bible, but I'm telling you the reasonable account first before I show you why the Bible's account is obviously made up. If we take a look at the Egyptian name for Moses' god, Aton, and compare it with the Syrian Adonis, and then with the Hebrew Adonai, we get some idea of what was going on here; the Aton religion was finding its way into other lands.
"And what was one of the first things Moses asked of these people? That they be circumcised. Now this is very odd indeed. If there had been Hebrews before this, descendants of Abraham, certainly they'd already be circumcised; their being in Egypt wouldn't have prevented that. But evidently they weren't. This is because they hadn't borrowed the Abraham figure yet and made him their forefather, and they hadn't introduced circumcision yet because this was an Egyptian practice! So the first thing Moses the Egyptian must do in order to have any dealings at all with these unclean people is to have them become Egyptians in a sense by being circumcised. Doubtless they resented this, but he wanted them to remember their having been in Egypt and that it was an Egyptian who led them to freedom. They obeyed, but their grumbling began. And as he tried to pass on his monotheism to them, taking away their very gods, their grumblings grew louder still, until they (according to much tradition) killed him."
"What is all this nonsense you're talking about?" Richard asked, making a face.
"Only what probably happened. They killed Moses before they ever made it to Palestine (or I should say Canaan). The reason given in the Bible for his not reaching there with them is that God wouldn't let him for some really unspecified reason. It sounds like a cover-up to me. Anyway, Moses' retinue was still very much alive; these would've been his Egyptian friends, scribes, servants, and adherents of Aton. They were the only force left directing the people towards Aton (or 'Adonai') worship, and played a great role in the future forming of their religion; eventually becoming the Levites who were never given a share in the land, but acted as priests. (It is only among the Levites in later times that we find Egyptian names.)
"At Mount Horeb and/or Sinai (a Biblical contradiction) these fugitives came across another Moses, whose father-in-law was the priest of the volcano-god of the mountain. Actually, in the Bible Moses is given at least three fathers-in-law who are all supposed to be the same man. So which father-in-law belonged to which Moses is hard to say; either Reul (Exodus 2:18), Jethro (Exodus 3:1) or Hobab (Numbers 10:29; Judges 4:11). Take your pick. Reul is probably a mistake from a careless reading of Numbers 10:29, so Jethro was the father-in-law of one Moses, and Hobab of the other.
"There being two Moses' is also backed up by the very great difference in their characters. The Egyptian one had a hot temper (as is said of him when he kills the workman in Egypt); breaking the stone tablets in anger, striking the rock in anger, and so on. Whereas the other Moses is spoken of as 'the meekest of men,' and this appellation cannot apply to the first one in any sense. So, there must've been two of them, though they were later combined into one man with a split personality.
"Anyway, when they came to Horeb/Sinai (again you can take your pick), they accepted this volcano god and adopted this new Moses as a replacement for their old one. The god's name was Jahve, or, as you people say it, Jehovah. The religion of this new Moses was filled with magic and demons; his god was a pillar of smoke that changed to fire by night (that is, the appearance of a smoldering volcano). Its rumblings the people mistake for the voice of God speaking with Moses as he ascends the sacred mountain to take dictation. But it was a compromise that was wrought there; the people still retaining a guilty reverence for the Egyptians among them. These Egyptians (and we might as well start calling them Levites from this point on) retained a lot of Aton for their small numbers, especially when you consider that they were up against this impressive smoking mountain. The people, for instance, could worship this Jehovah God, but only if they said Adonai instead of Jehovah."
At this point Ted got such a look of surprise and revelation on his face that even Bill stopped talking and looked at him.
"You're not buying all this crap, are you?" asked Richard.
"I don't hear you refuting it," Ted replied.
"The Bible refutes it. Refute it? There's nothing to refute! He's just running off at the mouth. He hasn't shown any contradictions in the Bible yet."
"Ha!" Ted cried, "What do you call them then?"
Richard didn't respond, so Ted turned to Arthur. "Brother Olson, are you awake? What do you think of all this?"
Arthur wearily opened his blood-shot eyes and whispered, "Still I believe." He looked around for a moment, and then shut his eyes again.
Ted turned his attention back on Bill who resumed: "Well, then they had to ascribe great things to this god. They had to credit it with freeing them from Egypt instead of merely the Egyptian man Moses. (They probably hadn't yet hit on the idea of transforming him into one of them.) So they spun their tale and filled it with great miracles that a powerful mountain might be thought capable of, such as spewing forth plagues, and causing a great storm to divide the sea, and leading them with its pillar of cloud and fire. The Levites, having the records for safekeeping, were free to tamper with them here and there and inject as much as they could of Aton worship in with Jahva worship.
"When they made war upon the Canaanites, they were called Habiru by them, because the Habiru were hordes of warlike Aramaeans who'd been sacking their countries for years, making them easy pickings for these people when they came along. So, as I said before, Habiru, or 'Hebrew' was originally a disparaging thing to be called, and it was only later, when they'd forgotten this fact, that they adopted the name for themselves.
"So much for reconstructing history as it probably happened. Let's go to the Biblical account you're so anxious to have me disprove. In Exodus 6:3 God tells Moses that his name is Jehovah, and that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never knew his name."
"That's not what it says," Richard interrupted, "It says that he didn't make himself known to them as Jehovah. That doesn't mean that they didn't know his name was Jehovah, but that he'd never proven to them all that Jehovah was; he'd never fought for them as he was to fight for Moses."
Bill quickly responded: "And when Abraham rescued Lot and gave thanks to Jehovah, he was wrong in doing so because Jehovah hadn't fought for him? And when Jehovah said, 'I am a shield to you' he was lying to Abraham, because he never fought for him? In either case you have a contradiction, so it little matters what you answer. The fact is, this is P writing here; the priests who added to the documents left in their care, and who quite rightly believed that this name Jehovah was unknown before the time of the second Moses. In none of P's writings prior to this does the name Jehovah appear; it is always either God or Adonai (Lord). It is only J who contradicts this thought, thinking everything has been the same from eternity.
"But let's examine this God Jehovah's actions in this affair. First of all, let me ask you this: do you still agree with what we read from James about God not tempting us to sin?"
"Certainly," Richard replied.
"And is it a sin to disobey God?"
"Then when we read in Exodus, chapter 7, that God is going to:
"'make Pharaoh so obstinate that, despite the many signs and wonders that he will work in the land, he will not listen,'
"and that God promises:
"'Therefore I will lay my hand on Egypt and by great acts of judgment I will bring the Israelites out of Egypt, so that the Egyptians may learn that I am the LORD,'
"we are reading of God making Pharaoh sin, because he is going to make Pharaoh obstinate and 'harden his heart'! According to this, the Pharaoh had no choice in the matter -- no free will. God made him sin so that he could awe the Egyptians with a big show of all his worst calamities so that they would know exactly what kind of a god he was and what great power he had. Such great vanity being exercised at the cost of so many lives show us, indeed, just what kind of a god we are reading about. This is not some superficial 'word-contradiction'; this is a 'thought-contradiction,' having just the opposite thought to the thought in James about God not tempting anyone to sin.
"We have another contradiction in this same chapter. In verse 19 God says that when Aaron stretches out his staff over the waters:
"'their streams and canals and pools, all their supplies of water -- that they may become blood. Throughout the whole land of Egypt there shall be blood, even in the wooden pails and stone jars.'
"They then accomplish the deed; 'But the Egyptian magicians did the same by their magic arts.' The difficulty here is, where did these magicians get water to change into blood, when all the water was already turned to blood?"
"They must've dug some up and changed that into blood, as verse 24 says the Egyptians had to dig for water," Richard offered.
"But that's hardly doing 'the same thing' that Moses and Aaron did," Bill replied.
"In the fifth plague," Bill continued, "which God eagerly dishes out according to his pre-arranged plan for his glory, 'All the livestock of the Egyptians died.' (9:6.) But the writer of these accounts is so ready to magnify the greatness of God's merciless slaughter, that he has them all killed again in the seventh plague! Yet, even after being killed twice, the Egyptian horses have no trouble racing towards the fleeting Israelites with armed men on their backs and chariots being pulled behind them!
"The 16th chapter of Exodus is clearly mistaken in assigning its events to the '15th day of the 2nd month after their departure from Egypt.' It is out of place because this would've been before they came to Mount Sinai and received the ten commandments; yet the chapter certainly implies that they've already received them:
"'Moses then told Aaron, "Take an urn and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD for safekeeping for your descendants." So Aaron placed it in front of the commandments for safekeeping, as the LORD had commanded Moses.' (Verses 33, 34.)
"What were these 'commandments', and where were they placed so as to be 'before the LORD'? The only answer is that they were the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets that were placed in the Ark of the Covenant (as this represented God's presence). But none of these things existed until after they'd come to Sinai (which doesn't happen for another three chapters). This is backed up by Numbers, chapter 11, which describes the same incident of the manna and quail, but assigns the date to the period after they had been at Sinai.
"It's also rather odd that the Israelites were crying out for meat in the desert so that God had to send manna and quail since we're constantly told (in Exodus 12:32, 38; 17:3; 34:3; Numbers 20:19; 32:1) of their numerous livestock.
"At last we come to the Ten Commandments themselves in chapter 20. These are the Ten Commandments by P, and no one who was actually there at Mount Sinai ever heard of them, least of all Moses (who wasn't really there according to the Freudian theory).
Almost immediately after giving the second commandment:
"'You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth ... You must not bow down to them or be induced to serve them'
God commands the Israelites to break it by the making of an ark with two cherubs (a form of something in the heavens above) cast in gold, which he commands them to serve by sprinkling blood of sacrificed animals on them. And no sooner is this completed than God commands them to break the sixth commandment ('thou shalt not kill') by ordering them to kill someone they caught collecting wood on the Sabbath! (Numbers 15:32-36.)
"Moses breaks (literally) the stone commandments, so God has to write them up again. Before doing so, Moses asks to see God. But God replies, 'No man may see me and yet live.' This causes us to wonder if Isaiah was dead when he wrote:
"'In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high-and lofty throne.' (Isaiah 6:1.)
"But back to Moses:
"'The LORD said to Moses, "Cut two stone tablets like the former, that I may write on them the commandments which were on the former tablets that you broke."' (Exodus 34:1.)
"But God proceeds to recite, not the Ten Commandments that were on the former, but some very different ones indeed :
"'And Jehovah went on to say to Moses: Write down for yourself these words, because it is in accordance with these words that I do conclude a covenant with you and Israel. And he continued there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights. He ate no bread and he drank no water. And he proceeded to write upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.'
"This account of the 'Ten Commandments' is obviously the older, cruder one. It is less concerned with treating one's neighbor righteously, and more concerned with the appeasing of a fussy deity. The compiler, having both these accounts at hand, merely made up the story of Moses breaking the first set so that he could work in this second set under the pretext of rewriting them. But in no sense could these be said to be 'the same words'.
"It's also very revealing that the last commandment is a bit of pure sympathetic magic. The cattle were very important to Israel; at an early time it was their sole means of support. So the health of the cattle was of prime concern. It is a common belief amongst many primitive peoples that boiling the milk of an animal will harm that animal through sympathetic magic. You are doubtless familiar with this idea in the practice of Voodoo (where they take a hair or some other part of a person and affix it to a voodoo doll, and believe that what they do to the doll affects the person). To cook that animal's offspring in its milk was really asking for trouble, because the animal would be tied to your actions in two ways.
"So much for J's original Ten Commandments. But even looking at the new improved version of P's, we find that they reflect a certain malice beneath what we would expect of a God. He tells us that he is a:
"'jealous God, bringing punishment upon sons for the error of fathers, upon the third and the fourth generation.' (Exodus 20:5.)
Jealousy is a fault, not a virtue. And to punish a son, grandson, and great- grandson for the error of the father is unjust in the highest degree. Would we send a criminal's children to prison, and their children, and so on? Of course not. But why? Simply because it's unjust. So either God is unjust, or he never inspired this to be written. Besides, we hear a completely different tune from the God who 'doesn't change' in Ezekiel, chapter 18, in which he scolds the Israelites for saying that sons bear the errors of their fathers, and adds, 'A son will bear nothing for the error of the father.' This is just, but it contradicts what he supposedly said in Exodus.
"Let's move on now to one of my favorite Bible stories, the tale of Balaam and his talking ass. This poor prophet seems to be the most unjustly criticized person in the Bible. Peter and Jude both rail against him (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11) and he even gets dishonorable mention in John's Revelation (2:14). He is accused of loving the wages of wrongdoing, thoughtlessly rushing into something for the sake of gain, and instructing Balak to tempt the Israelites with fornication and foods sacrificed to idols. All in all, he is given the character of a very evil person. Strangely enough though, the record in Numbers totally contradicts all such thoughts. It presents Balaam as a humble prophet who rushed into nothing. When the entourage from Balak arrives with the offer to come and curse Israel, Balaam has them spend the night so that he can ask God what to do. God tells him not to go, so he doesn't. When the messengers come back a second time with offers of a handsome reward for his cursing, Balaam replies:
"'Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small, contrary to the commandment of the LORD, my God.'
"He has them spend the night again and this time God says:
"'"If these men have come to summon you, you may go with them; yet only on the condition that you do exactly as I tell you." So the next morning when Balaam arose, he saddled his ass and went off with the princes of Moab. But now the anger of the Lord flared up at him for going.'"
"Balaam was the unfortunate victim of a God who couldn't make up his mind. He tells him to go, then gets mad when he does! Now the ass speaks to him (this, of course, is from J, who also believes that serpents can talk (Genesis 3), and so has Balaam show no surprise in the matter), and then the angel says:
"'"This rash journey of yours is directly opposed to me. When the ass saw me she turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away from me, I would have killed you; her I would have spared." Then Balaam said to the angel of the LORD: "I have sinned. Yet I did not know that you stood against me to oppose this journey. Since it has displeased you, I will go back home."'
"What can we say about this? In the first place, his actions were in no sense 'rash'; hadn't he waited overnight for the Lord's command on the matter? In the second place, how could it be directly opposed to God when God was the one who told him to go? And how can we believe that a just God would have killed Balaam for obeying his command but for the fact that his ass turned away? Almighty God's purpose thwarted by an ass? You’ll notice that Balaam offers to return home, but now the angel says something really astonishing: 'Go with the men; but you may say only what I tell you.' This was the understanding all along. Why did the angel stop Balaam and try to kill him, when in the end he sent him off to continue doing exactly what he was doing from the start?
"Finally, Balak and Balaam reach their destination, and every word that transpires between them is given: Balaam blesses rather than curses Israel. He then predicts Israel's victory, and 'then Balaam got up and went and returned to his place. And Balak also went his own way.' (Numbers 24:25.)
"Immediately in chapter 25 we read that the Israelites began having immoral relations with the daughters of Moab, and began worshiping the god Baal of Peor. It is obvious that Balaam had no connection with this; he just blessed Israel and went home. And it's clear that he was a worshipper of Jehovah, not of Baal. But, because of this sinning on the part of Israel, God orders a total extermination of the Midianites (I mean, that's only fair, after all, isn't it?) And so we read of it in chapter 31:
"'They waged war against the Midianites, as the LORD had commanded Moses, and killed every male among them. When Moses and the priest Eleazar, with all the princes of the community, went outside to meet them, Moses became angry with the officers of the army, the clan and company commanders, who were returning from combat. "So you spared all the women!" he exclaimed. "Why they are the very ones who on Balaam's advice prompted the unfaithfulness of the Israelites in the Peor affair, which began the slaughter of the LORD’s community. Slay, therefore, every male child and every woman who has had intercourse with a man. But you may spare and keep for yourselves all girls who had no intercourse with a man."'
"What comment can I make on this order from the 'meekest of men'? Is this God's 'Holy Word' with its moral guidance for our lives? Or isn't it rather the record of the exploits of some fiendish being unworthy of the name 'human'! What justice is there in slaughtering the children of a people who tempted Israel to sin? I thought James said that each one is tempted by his own desire, but here we learn that this is not the case at all. It is not one's own desire that tempts one to sin; it is the Midianites! But even granting that, what have innocent children to do with it? And what kind of savage morality exterminates a whole people, but saves its virgins for itself? We can well imagine what use these 32,000 virgins were put to. The Israelites having 'immoral relations' with the Midianites is supposedly what started the whole thing, but in the end the same thing was continuing, only on their own grounds. In addition to all of this, we get a first-hand glimpse of Moses' horrible character. It shows, amongst other things, that he was either uninformed or given to lying, for he states that Balaam was behind the whole thing.
"After reading here of the total destruction of the Midianites (save the virgins) and the burning of their cities without a single casualty to the Israelites, we come to Judges 6:1, 2 and read:
"'The Israelites offended the LORD, who therefore delivered them into the power of the Midianites for seven years, so that the Midianites held Israel subject.'
"But how can this be, when, according to the previous account, the Midianites no longer existed? If we believe the account in Numbers, we cannot believe the account in Judges, and vice-versa. It is impossible to believe in the Bible.
"What's really ironic is that we can read so boldfaced a lie after all of this as in Deuteronomy 10:15-17:
"'Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so attached to them as to choose you, their descendants, in preference to all other peoples, as indeed he has now done ... For the LORD your God is the God of Gods ... who has no favorites (or 'who treats none with partiality' according to your New World Translation).'
"What sense does this make? First of all we're told that he chose them over all other people, then in the same breath we’re told that he has no favorites and shows no partiality. God clearly showed favoritism and partiality to Israel in the Bible. How else can we account for his fighting on their side against the Canaanites? If he treated all people the same, why did he help the Israelites steal the Canaanites' land and mercilessly slaughter them instead of helping these poor people defend themselves against the foreign invaders?
"I wish it were possible for you to be open-minded enough to put yourself in their place and see if you could then consider the people who murdered all your people, raped your daughters, burned your cities, and stole your land as the 'chosen people of God' and the 'holy nation of priests,' and if you could agree to worship their God as just and good and impartial.
"I mention this because we've now come to that most bloody book, Joshua. It recounts in gory details the massacre of the Canaanite people, and is just about as bad as what the 'good Christians' did to the Native Americans when they patterned themselves after the ancient Hebrews and called their stealing of the land 'Manifest Destinty’. But bearing in mind how brutal the whole thing is, let's look in on a few of the contradictions.
"In chapter seven we see God punishing the son for the father's sin in contradiction to Ezekiel 18. In fact, God punishes Achan's entire family, his ox, his ass, his sheep, his tent, and all his possessions (all of which were stoned). More importantly, God makes the Israelite army fall in defeat to Ai, and 36 soldiers die because of Achan's sin. And what great sin did Achan commit? He took some spoils in war. Evidently, God feels that only virgins are acceptable plunder. Also, it's good to note that the city of Ai wasn't really in existence at this time. It had been destroyed long before in 2000 BCE and wasn't rebuilt till some 400 years after Joshua's time. The name, Ai, in fact, means 'The Ruin'.
"You're all well aware of Joshua's great feat in chapter 10 of making the 'sun stand still' so that his army could see to kill more Amorites. And you know that it contradicts the fact that the sun doesn't move around the earth. In order for the sun to stand still in the sky, the earth would have had to stop turning. The Israelites didn't know this, of course, but if God inspired the writing of this, it's funny that he didn't know it either! As late as the time of Martin Luther this Scripture was used to prove that the sun moved around the earth, and those who knew otherwise had better keep their mouth shut. The poor ignorant Christians didn't even know the earth was a sphere till relatively recently, yet the philosopher Pythagoras had taught, as early as the 6th century BCE, that the earth was round and moved around the sun. Christians burned all such 'pagan' books that contained these truths in an effort to remove all traces of the sources for their own stolen myths. In the process they set their own knowledge back by 2,000 years!
"The validity of Joshua is continually marred by his habitual forgetting those he'd killed off; and so he kills them off again for good measure: In 10:33:
"'At that time Horam, king of Gezer, came up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his people, leaving him no survivors.'
"Yet in 16:10 we read:
"'But they did not drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, who live on with Ephriam to the present day.'
"'Joshua went up with all Israel to Hebron, which they attacked and captured. They put it to the sword with its king, all its towns, and every person there, leaving no survivors, just as Joshua had done to Eglon. He fulfilled the doom on it and on every person there. Then Joshua and all Israel turned back to Debir and attacked it, capturing it with its king and all its towns. They put them to the sword and fulfilled the doom on every person there, leaving no survivors. Thus was done to Debir and its king what had been done to Hebron, as well as to Libnah and its king.'
"But in 14:6-15 we find that Caleb asks for this very region from Joshua:
"'"Give me, therefore, this mountain region… True, the Anakim are there, with large fortified cities, but if the LORD is with me I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD promised." Joshua blessed Caleb, and gave him Hebron as his heritage… Hebron was formerly called Kiriath-arba, from Arba, the greatest of the Anakim.'"
"'Joshua gave Caleb… Hebron. And Caleb drove out from there the three Anakim from there he marched up against the inhabitants of Debir…"
"The contradictions here, of course, are that Joshua had already killed every living person in these cities and captured them, so how could Caleb drive anyone out of 'fortified cities', or how could there be inhabitants in Debir to march against?
"In Joshua 11:1-10 the Israelites kill Jabin, the king of Hazer, and all his people, leaving no survivors. How is it, then, that in Judges 4:2-4 we read:
"'So the LORD allowed them (the Israelites) to fall into the power of the Canaanite king, Jabin, who reigned in Hazer with his nine-hundred iron chariots he sorely oppressed the Israelites for twenty years.'
"In a story strikingly similar to that of Lot in Sodom, the men of Gibeah (Benjaminites) clamor for the owner of a house to send out his male guest (a Levite) so they can lie with him. (This is in Judges 19:22.) But instead, the Levite thrusts his guest’s concubine out the door (chivalry was evidently unknown to the Israelites). The men rape and kill her. For this outrage, the Israelites vow vengeance upon the entire tribe of Benjamin. Judges 20:46-48 records how they wreaked that vengeance:
"'Those that fell of Benjamin on that day were in all 25,000 swordsmen, warriors to a man. But 600 others who turned and fled through the desert reached the rock Rimmon, where they remained for four months. The men of Israel withdrew through the territory of Benjamin, putting to the sword the inhabitants of the cities, the livestock, and all they chanced upon.'
But, not wanting to be an eleven-tribe kingdom, they hit on the idea that the 600 survivors of the purge needed wives. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, the men of Israel had all taken an oath that none of them would give his daughter in marriage to a Benjaminite. Calling a meeting of all Israel to ponder this perplexing problem, they discover that no one from Jabesh-Gilead is present at this all-important conference.
"'The community, therefore, sent 12,000 warriors with orders to go to Jabesh-Gilead and put those who lived there to the sword, including the women and children.' (You didn't get away with missing meetings back then.) 'They were told to include under the ban all males and every woman who was not still a virgin. Finding among the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead 400 young virgins, they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. Then the whole community sent a message to the Benjaminites at the rock Rimmon, offering them peace. When Benjamin returned at that time, they gave them as wives the women they spared, but these proved not to be enough for them.' So they stole some more virgins from Shiloh.
"What can our opinion be of such actions? This, you'll keep in mind, is the book we encourage our young people to read and ponder for 'moral uplift'! And much of it is like this, the record of a barbarous, ignorant people, feigning holiness. Further, Jabesh-Gilead could hardly have been depopulated here since in Saul's time it is shown to be a strongly fortified city withstanding a siege. (1 Samuel 11; 31:11-13.)
"In First Samuel we learn that God torments people with his 'bad spirit' (doubtless one of those 'good and perfect gifts from the Father of heavenly lights' that James refers to). For we read in 16:14-23:
"'And the very spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and a bad spirit from Jehovah terrorized him.'
"This is doubtless J’s idea, before Satan had been borrowed from Babylon and evil as well as good was still attributed to Jehovah.
"But there is further evidence of the piecing together of J with E here:
"'And the servants of Saul began to say to him: "Here now, God's bad spirit is terrorizing you"… and one of the attendants proceeded to say: "Look! I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful harpist, and he is a valiant mighty man and a man of war"… Then Saul sent to Jesse and said: "Do send to me David your son, who is with the flock." Thus David came to Saul and attended upon him and got to love him very much, and he came to be his armor-bearer. Consequently, Saul sent to Jesse, saying; "Let David, please, keep attending upon me, for he has found favor in my eyes." And it occurred that, when God's spirit came upon Saul, David took the harp and played with his hand; and there was relief for Saul and it was well with him.'
"After reading this, we come upon the story of David and Goliath, 'the Philistine from Gath, whose wooden shaft on his spear was like the beam of loom workers'. In this story David is described as 'only a youth' ('but a boy', New World Translation), and as never having tried on armor before (17:33, 39). This is quite a contrast to 'a valiant mighty man and a man of war'. Even more odd is what Saul says after David chops off the Philistine's head:
"'When Saul saw David go out to meet the Philistine, he asked his general Abner, "Abner, whose son is that youth?" Abner replied, "As truly as your majesty is alive, I have no idea." And the king said, "Find out whose son the lad is." So when David returned from slaying the Philistine, Abner took him and presented him to Saul. David was still holding the Philistine's head. Saul then asked him, "Whose son are you, young man?" David replied, "I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem."'
"How could Saul have forgotten that David's father was Jesse when he had sent him messages on several occasions? It's obvious that there are two entangled accounts throughout here. In the one, David is a mighty man of war who becomes an attendant of King Saul with his father Jesse's full knowledge and approval. In the other, David is a shepherd boy and is first seen by Saul when he fights Goliath. In 17:15 we can see the compiler's hand attempting a rather crude knitting together of the two accounts by having David go back and forth from attending on Saul to attending his father's sheep!
"In addition to this, it is evident from 2 Samuel 21:19 that it wasn't David at all who killed Goliath:
"'There was another battle with the Philistines in Gob, in which Elhanan son of Jair from Bethlehem, killed Goliath of Gath, who had a spear with a shaft like the beam of loom workers.'
"Scholars agree that this is the older and more reliable account, and that instead of crediting an otherwise unknown man named Elhanan with the deed, legend came to attribute it to David in time.
"In chapter 31 of First Samuel, we read of Saul’s death by suicide (verse 4). But in 2 Samuel 1:9,l0, we are told that Saul requested an Amalekite to finish him off, and the Amalekite did so. Yet, we are later told that it was the Philistines who had killed Saul (2 Sam. 21:12).
"Second Samuel chapter 8 and First Chronicles chapter 18 are similar except for the last words, which, in the former are: 'And David's sons were priests,' and in the latter: 'and David's sons were the chief assistants to the king.' To the priestly Chronicler, no one could be a priest unless he was of the tribe of Levi. He therefore had to change 'priests' to 'assistants to the king'. This also indicates that the so-called Mosaic laws which contained this prohibition on priesthood were not around in David's time but came much later, and so, were not at all from Moses.
"Even the murderous-minded David, who had no qualms about sending men to certain death and then taking their wives, is upset at God's uncontrollable temper in 2 Samuel 6:6. There we read of Uzzah who, acting on reflex, reached out his hand to catch the sacred ark that was tipping, only to be instantly zapped by God for such a horrid sin!
"In 1 Kings we come upon that 'wisest man in the world,' Solomon, the builder of the temple that never existed. In First Kings 9:15-22 we learn that Solomon conscripted Canaanites to do the building, and that none of the Israelites did the work. But in 1 Kings 5:13 we learn that they were all Israelites.
"If I may digress to external evidence for a moment (for I could go on forever with these textual contradictions), I’ll tell you why I believe this Solomon never really lived (and I have my doubts about most of the people in the Bible, for that matter). The story told to illustrate his great wisdom, in which he judges who is the real mother of a child, is taken from the literature of the Jains of India. And Proverbs 22:17 to 23:11 is a nearly verbatim translation of the Egyptian book The Wisdom of Amenemope, written about 550 years before. The story of Sheba (the queen thereof coming to see Solomon) was taken from the Mahabharata, a book of Hindu poetry older than the book of Samuel. According to 2 Chronicles 9:23, 'all the kings of the earth sought his presence.' If this is true, it is very strange that not one of them mentions him. He allegedly lived just prior to Homer and Hesiod, yet they do not mention this richest and wisest man on earth. Herodotus, the 'father of history' who traveled throughout the Middle East at this time, does not mention him or even the Jews (who were in reality a tiny, insignificant, Semitic tribe, indistinguishable from those about them).
"Returning to the contradictions: Elijah calls down fire from heaven to consume two groups of messengers (51 in each killing). The leader of the third group foolish enough to brave his God's unpredictable wrath, implores Elijah (in Second Kings, chapter one):
"'Let my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants, count for something in your sight! Already fire has come down from heaven consuming 2 companies of fifty men. But now, let my life mean something to you!'
"Elijah certainly needed someone to teach him the value of human life, but then so did the God who sent the fire. Prometheus also brought down fire from heaven in the ancient Greek myth (but that, of course, is an unbelievable myth, whereas the Hebrew copy is Divine Truth). In later times the myth-makers made their heroes more humane; Jesus, for instance is made to reprimand the disciples for wanting to call down fire on their enemies. Elijah also seems to be at variance with later and earlier admonition to be obedient and respectful to the king (and so his messengers) (Proverbs 24:21; Romans 13:1-4).
"Elijah's being taken up in a fiery chariot wasn't original either; Romulus, the supposed founder of Rome, was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot, and Mirtha, the king of Persia, rode a similar vehicle to the same destination.
"Elijah’s successor Elisha carried on his fine tradition: when some little children called him a 'bald-head', he had God send two bears to tear them to shreds. What very tolerant people these men of God were! Can this be in the same book that says to love our enemies and pray for them? If it is, then these two parts of the book are ignorant of each other; and therefore God couldn't have supervised the writing of it.
"Jehu belongs to the same class of unfortunate prophets as does Balaam. He did what God told him to do, and is judged as wicked for having done so. The account in chapters 9 through 10 of Second Kings presents Jehu as having done well: God first commissions him,
"'"Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, you shall destroy the house of Ahab your master… and all the rest of the family of Ahab. I will cut off every male of Ahab's line"… Thereupon Jehu slew all who were left of the family of Ahab… leaving him no survivors… The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well what I deem right, and have treated the house of Ahab as I desire, yours sons to the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel."'
"What a surprise we get, though, when we read in Hosea 1:4:
"'I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezereel'!
"Jezereel was the place where Jehu 'did well what God deemed right' by slaughtering the family of Ahab. Now God is going to punish his great-great-great-grandson because of it? Yes, the prophecy was fulfilled by the murder of Zechariah in 2 Kings 15:10.
"A quick contradiction in the 17th chapter of 2 Kings concerning the Samaritans who 'venerated the LORD' according to verses 32 and 33, and who 'did not venerate the LORD' according to verse 34 (which was written later, when the Jews' animosity towards their neighbors had increased).
"I've already mentioned the intervening books in one connection or another, so let's skip to Daniel. The story of Daniel was taken from a North Syrian poem written about a thousand years before. The hero, Daniel, was a judge, lawgiver, and provider for his people. This poem about him became the source and model for many mythical heroes in many races. It is this Daniel that Ezekiel refers to in 14:14 of his book."
"How do you know that?" Ted asked, "How do you know it's not the Daniel of the Bible Ezekiel refers to?"
"Quite simply because Ezekiel was written before the time of the Biblical Daniel. Even a comment in the New American Bible on this verse in Ezekiel admits:
"'The Daniel mentioned here may be the traditional just judge of the ancient past; celebrated in Canaanite literature, who is possibly reflected in Daniel 13, but is not the hero of Daniel 1-12.'
"In fact, it's thought that the writer of the book of Daniel got the idea for the name from Ezekiel's comment, rather than the other way around. This Syrian Daniel was also the source for the Hebrew's Joseph, and even for the woman he married. (Joseph is said to have married Asenath, whereas in the Syrian poem it is Anath, which, allowing for slight corruption, is the same name.)
"The story of Jonah is also a copy. Hercules (we are told) was also swallowed by a whale at Joppa, and he too remained in its belly for three days. The Persians tell us that Jamshyd was devoured by a sea monster that later vomited him out safely upon the shore. Then there is the Greek myth of Arion, who was thrown overboard for causing a storm, and was saved by a dolphin. In India, Saktadeva was swallowed by a fish and later stepped out unharmed. All these stories, of course, are patent falsehood, and only the Bible is Gospel Truth.
"If you're beginning to wonder why Almighty God couldn't come up with more original stories for his one and only book, and why he had to resort to such plagiarism, I have an even better topic for wonderment: Why couldn't God's son see through all this? Why did he also fall prey to believing in the Bible? Why was he unable to see (as we've proven beyond a doubt) that Moses, for instance couldn't have written the Torah? Why does he say 'in the book of Moses' or 'where Moses wrote…' and such expressions?
"The reason Jesus didn't detect that these were myths is that Jesus himself is a myth! Consider the myths surrounding the Greek Hercules, from which the Jews got a few of their ideas for Jesus: Hercules was born of a virgin, he had a god for a father, he too was the 'only begotten' of his father Zeus, he too was called 'Savior' and 'the good shepherd'. He died, went to the lower region, and then ascended to heaven from Mount Orca. He was also called the 'Prince of Peace', and was known to strangle snakes in his crib.
"Virgin birth was a favorite myth to attach to 'saviors' long before Jesus came on the scene. The mothers of Sosiosh the Persian, Attis, Romulus and Remus, Bacchus, Aesculapius, Zoroaster, and many others, were all virgins. Christians laugh at the credulity of those 'pagans' who believed such things. It's obvious to them that such stories were only told in order to magnify the greatness of the individuals. But perhaps Christians should concentrate on the 'beam in their own eye'!
"Annunciation was also part of the myth-makers' stock-and-trade: an angel announced the birth of Samson and Samuel, as well as Zoroaster. In Mexico an angel announced to Sochequetzal (a virgin) that she would conceive and bear a son (Quetzalcoatl) miraculously. Bodhisat announced to Maia the coming birth of Buddha.
"In fact, even the name Mary seems to have been borrowed from the surrounding nations for the Jesus myth. We've just seen the similarity in the name of Buddha's mother Maia. Agni's mother was Maya; Adonis' mother was Myrrha; Bacchus' mother was Myrrha; Sommona Cadom, the Siamese savior, had a mother named Maya Maria; Krishna's mother was Mariama; and the divine mothers of Pontus and Sumeria were Ma and Mama, respectively.
"We are told in The Anacalypris that at the birth of Socrates, 470 BCE:
"'Magi came from the east to offer gifts at Socrates' birth, also bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh.'
"It's interesting that myrrh plays such a large part in this: Adonis, who was a god of vegetation, was said to have been born from a myrrh tree, and so the use of myrrh as incense at the festival of Adonis became established. Incense was also burnt by the idolatrous Hebrews to the Queen of Heaven Astarte (Easter) as in Jeremiah 44:l7-l9. Later, a rationalistic touch came about when it was suggested that Adonis' mother was named Myrrh(a).
"At the birth of Krishna, 1200 BCE, 'angels, shepherds, and the prophets attended. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were brought to him.' And when Confucius was born in 598 BCE, 'Five wise men from a distance came to the house, celestial music was heard in the skies, and angels attended the scene.' Magi also attended the birth of Mithra, Zoroaster, and Osiris.
"The savior myths also have the common theme of some great power trying to kill the savior. In Egypt, it was Herut seeking to destroy Horus; in Greece it was Python, the serpent, who threatened Apollo; in India, Kansa sought to destroy Krishna; the same theme occurs in Pharaoh trying to kill the infant Moses, and even in God seeking to kill him later (Exodus 4:24). Saul seeking to kill David recreates the same idea.
"The story of the youthful Jesus in the temple comes from Egypt in its original form. There, Isis searches for her lost son Horus and finds him in the temple of the sun teaching the priests.
"The gods of India, Greece, and Egypt were all baptized (in fact the Egyptian god Anup was called 'The Baptizer') and supernatural phenomena attended each baptism.
"The temptation in the wilderness is a steal from the Vendidad in which Zoroaster is tempted; and this story was taken, in turn, from the story in Hindu literature in which Buddha was tempted by the demon Wasawrthi.
"The 12 apostles found their origin in such myths as the Hindu's 12 Aditya; the Greeks had 12 Titans; in Scandinavia they were the 12 Aesirs of Asgard; the gods Osiris and Marduk also had their 12 helpers.
"We are told that Jesus fed 5,000 on five leaves and two fishes in Bethany. But so near a contemporary as Origen (of the second century) could find no trace of 'Bethany beyond Jordan'. It never existed; the idea came from Egypt where Bethanu was called 'the place of multiplying bread'. Such a thing suggesting a miracle to the Hebrew mind is paralleled in how they thought up the idea of all the water in Egypt turning to blood. You see, every year the Nile floods it banks and the red clay turns the water red.
"The resurrection of Lazarus also was taken from Bethanu, Egypt. There, Horus came to raise his father from the dead. Even the names Mary, Martha , and Lazarus were taken from this story where the two sisters were Meri and Merti, and their brother was El-Azarus.
"The story of raising Jarius' daughter came from India. In the Hari-Purana we have an account of Krishna raising a young girl from the dead, and the similarities in detail are too great to ignore:
"'"Why do you weep?" replied Krishna, in a gentle voice, "Do you not see that she is sleeping? See she moves. Kalavatti! Rise and walk!" But the crowd marveled and cried out, "This is a god, since death is no more for him than sleeping."'
"You Witnesses have rightly noted that the cross was a popular pagan article of veneration and was used to represent all manner of gods around the Mediterranean. What you failed to note is that the reason so many crosses represented gods, was that these gods had died on crosses! In Babylon, Ishtar 'stood the cross beside' (as a forerunner of Mary) as her son, Tammuz, was crucified. (He was then buried and resurrected, of course, being the god of vegetation that he was; and his resurrection corresponded to spring, right after a 40-day period of 'Lent' in which the women 'wept for Tammuz' (Ezekiel 8:14).
"Among the Telingonese, their god is pictured with nail holes in his feet. In the Norse Elder Edda, Odin is 'wounded with a spear' while hanging in self-sacrifice on the World Tree (just as Jesus is said to have died on a 'tree' in Acts 5:30) and he is represented as saying, 'I knew that I hung on the windswept tree nine whole nights wounded with a spear, and to Odin offered myself to myself on that tree.'
"Quetzalcoatl was not only crucified, but the place where he was crucified means 'place of the skull' (as does Christ's Golgatha). In fact, some 16 'saviors' were crucified.
"Why is it that men kill their gods almost without exception? Once again the answer lies in primitive superstitious sympathetic magic. The Bible is right, actually, when it ascribes our salvation to Jesus' death. But the later rationale behind this was not that which originally brought about the story. First of all we must take into consideration that primitive peoples were very superstitious. They had no understanding of meteorology or simple science; spirits and gods caused everything, and one must be constantly on guard against taboos that would cause the loss of one's soul or affect the seasons and the vegetation. Kings and leaders were connected in their minds with gods. Pharaoh was worshipped as a god, and even the king of Israel was thought to be God's son (Psalm 2:6, 7).
"The god-king had to be extra-extra careful about breaking taboos, for the whole universe hinged upon him. In some cases, he was not allowed to even touch the earth lest he be defiled, and he had to be carried about. Even an awkward movement of his arms might bring bad luck to the world, so he was constantly watched over. Now, if the king had such a strong connection with nature, what would happen if the king were allowed to grow old and feeble, and eventually die? Why that would mean catastrophe! The end of the world! The first solution they hit upon was to murder the king at the first sign of enfeeblement and transfer his powers to some virile young man. After awhile it's easy to imagine that no one wanted the job of being king, so they hit upon an improvement: find a substitute for the king, and kill him instead of the king! I'll quote Sir James Frazer, the anthropologist, on this:
"'Now it was as a god or demigod that the king had to die; therefore the substitute who died for him had to be invested, at least for the occasion, with the divine attributes of the king. But no one could so well represent the king in his divine character as his son, who might be supposed to share the divine afflatus of his father. No one, therefore, could so appropriately die for the king, and through him, for the whole people, as the king's son.' (The New Golden Bough, page 296.)"
"Very fine," Richard yawned, "We're glad you know so much about the early pagans, but there's nothing like that in the Bible. The Jews didn't put any of their kings to death, they respected them as the anointed of Jehovah and let them live long lives."
"Not true." Bill corrected, "Most of them died in war while they were still young, and we can't really take their word for how long the rest of them lived, since they tell us some people lived for hundreds of years. The smart but ruthless kings seemed to have appeased the superstitious desires of the people by murdering their brothers upon succession to the throne. Solomon executed his eldest brother (supposedly the rightful heir) Adonijah (1 Kings 2:22-24) to remove the stipulation for his own death; Jehoram put all his brothers to the sword in 2 Chronicles 21:4; and Abimelech did likewise with all seventy of his brothers.
"But, more importantly, let me again quote Frazer:
"'Among the Semites of Western Asia, the king, in a time of national danger, sometimes gave his own son to die as a sacrifice for the people. Thus Philo of Byblus, in his work on the Jews, says: "It was an ancient custom in a crisis of great danger that the ruler of a city or nation should give his beloved son to die for the whole people, as a ransom offered to the avenging demons; and the children thus offered were slain with mystic rites. So Cronus, whom the Phoenicians call El, being king of the land and having an only-begotten son called Jeod (for in the Phoenician tongue Jeous signifies 'only begotten'), dressed him in royal robes and sacrificed him upon an altar in time of war, when the country was in great danger from the enemy." When the king of Moab was besieged by the Israelites and hard beset, he took his eldest son, who should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. (2 Kings 3:27.) With the preceding evidence before us we may safely infer that a custom of allowing a king to kill his son, as a substitute or vicarious sacrifice for himself, would be in no way exceptional or surprising… the criminal, who perished on the cross or the gallows at Babylon, died instead of the king in whose royal robes he had been allowed to masquerade for a few days.'
"It is this ancient superstitious custom, then," Bill continued, "that the high priest Caiaphas refers to when he tells the Sanhedrin:
"'You do not know anything at all, and you do not reason out that it is to your benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people and not for the whole nation to be destroyed.' (John 11:49, 50.)
"Why would the nation of Israel have been destroyed if they hadn't killed Jesus? It doesn't make sense from the Biblical account. That says that God cast them off because they did have Jesus killed! But, reasoning on the superstitious level, it makes sense that they had to have a sacrifice of someone who represented their king-god due to the pressures of the Romans upon them.
"Anyone who knows anything about the history of this time would know that the last thing in the world the Jews would have shouted out would be 'we have no king but Caesar'. Their hatred of the Roman's rule over them was intense. This could only have been written by a gentile who, together with his 'let his blood be upon us and our children' was trying to cast aspersions on the Jewish people.
"The whole story, I think, was made up, though doubtless there could have been Jewish males at that time about that age with the name Jesus. And perhaps one of them even was a 'prophet'. And, of course, there is even a slim chance that he said something like the things that are recorded in the Bible, and may have even been executed for sedition. But even granting that, taking the story as a whole, I'd still have to say it is made up. In the nineteenth century an eminent scholar, Rabbi Wise, searched the records of Pilate’s court for records of Jesus' trial. He found none. Had there actually lived a man who walked on water, raised the dead, healed the sick, and so on, history would've recorded it. It didn't. And it wasn't due to a lack of interested historians. The most illustrious historians of all time were living just then: Seneca, Martial, Juvenal, Epictetus, Tacitus, Livy, Pliny, Philo, Josephus, among others. These were men of great intellect, deeply concerned with the doctrines and morals of their day. Why, then, didn't they record the wonder-worker of all time? Because he was a savior, and all saviors are myths. The fact is, there is not a single word about Christ, secular or otherwise (including 'Divine') dating from the first century. And the evidence of uncertainty about dates and times in the details of the Gospels indicates a long-subsequent authorship (such as the second or third centuries)."
"What confusions about dates are there?" Ted asked.
"Well, for instance, Herod was king at the time of Jesus' birth according to the Bible, and for about two years thereafter. But, in fact, he died in 4 BCE. So Jesus would've had to have been born in 6 BCE, not 1 CE, as is claimed. And, according to Luke, Cyrenius was then governor of Syria, but according to Syrian records, Herod had died nearly ten years before Cyrenius became governor.
"But I don't want to get into the contradictions in the Gospels because I’m running out of time. Let's talk a little about Jesus' teachings instead, because that's the one thing that 'makes' the Bible for a lot of people.
"But here again we find nothing original. The Son of God could find nothing totally new to say. The famous 'golden rule' already existed in seven different religions by this time. Buddha himself was reputed to have said it in reverse 600 years before Jesus: 'Do not do unto others what you would not want them to do unto you' was the gist of it.
"Jesus said to 'turn the other cheek'. In my early life I followed this advice to the letter, and as a result was constantly getting beat up at school. When people know that you won't fight back, they'll take advantage of you. It sounds real nice on paper, but it just isn't a practical theory.
"But turning the other cheek and praying for your enemies was certainly something new for the Jews to hear. Especially after their God had helped them kill off all the former inhabitants of the land they were now on, and after they’d been told not to let their heart feel sorry for these people. It was a totally different philosophy to them and contradicted everything in their 'sacred books' as to God's real nature (being the 'Lord of armies').
"But it's questionable as to whether Jesus practiced what he preached on this matter. Look at him 'cursing his enemies', the Pharisees, and physically throwing the money-changers out of the temple!
"Look at his crass attitude towards the mourners he elsewhere says are 'blessed because they will be comforted', when he says, 'let the dead bury their dead'.
"Towards the poor he also promised a blessing. But when it was pointed out that he could do without the luxury of perfumed feet and donate the money to those in poverty around him, he dismissed the idea offhand with: 'The poor you always have with you, but me you do not always have with you.' Some compassion!
"Look at his gross disrespect for his family and his refuting of the commandment to honor one's parents when he refuses to even talk to or acknowledge his family, and saying in Luke 14:26:
"'If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own soul, he cannot be my disciple.'
"So let's not assume that Christ's message was one of total love and peace, it was a confused message with only an occasional glimpse of goodness. He tells us that he's come to bring, not peace, but a sword, and to divide up families. But this side of him is ignored, and was ignored from the start; contrast what we just quoted Jesus as saying about hating your parents and brothers and sisters with 1 John 3:15 which tells us that anyone who has hatred for his brother in his heart is a manslayer!
"Or take Jesus' breaking of the Law (which he said he wouldn't do, only modify it) when he refuses to stone an adulteress, and contrast that to his promising eternal hell-fire to anyone who has lust in his heart -- it just isn't consistent!
"The only good things Jesus' teachings contain are simple truths which we don't need anyone to tell us. The nations all about Israel had similar moral codes; only Israel hadn't developed them yet, so anyone coming along preaching them would seem very lofty indeed.
"Outside of that, Jesus only offers us blind faith and child-like innocence and trust in the supernatural. He said to take no thought for the next day; that God would provide. Well, if you follow such pretty thoughts, the heavenly father will let you starve and his murderous parasites will get you. Mankind must realize that we need to take things into our own hands and stop wasting time waiting around for God to take care of us. If Jesus were really mankind's savior, he wouldn't have cured a handful of people of blindness and leprosy; he would've taught mankind the real causes of diseases and their cure so that we wouldn't have had to go through thousands of years of leeches and blood-letting and plagues that killed millions. (But then again, if God were really a God of love, there would never have been disease to begin with.)"
"Are you done now?" Richard asked as he stared in mock amazement at his watch.
"I could be, if you have to go. Though I’d also like to say a few things about Paul, since he's the real founder of Christianity."
"Well, I think we've given you more than enough time to present your viewpoint."
"Yes, and I want to thank you for not interrupting me; you let me present nearly my whole case and didn't hamper me at all. Now, if you'd care to make your case for the Bible's truthfulness, I'd be happy to reciprocate."
"Brother Olson," Richard called, "he's finished now. Did you want to say anything?"
Arthur, his eyes tight shut, stirred a bit, licked his lips with great effort, and forced the dry words out: "Still I believe." With that his body relaxed and he evidently faded off to sleep.