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Alleged Biblical contradictions

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A Latin Bible handwritten in 1407 AD.

Alleged Biblical contradictions are statements in the Bible that appear to be in conflict. Atheists and anticreationists frequently use such apparent conflicts to dismiss the claims of Biblical apologists. This is ironically accomplished more often than not through a literal stance of exegesis, which encourages dismissal of contextual importance. The manufacturing of errors, contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical text casts the Bible as inaccurate and untrustworthy as a historical document. [1]

Creation Stories

The creation of animals is described differently in the first two chapters of Genesis. According to the way some translations read, the animals are said to have been created before Adam in Genesis 1 , and then when Adam is already present in Genesis 2 .

The actual language is not contradictory, although the narrative's style is sometimes misunderstood. The Bible tells of the creation of living creatures and Adam on the 6th day Genesis 1:24-27 . In the next chapter, the author retells in detail the story of Adam and Eve. God brings the animals (which he has already created) in front of Adam for him to select a helper. Adam names them, but no suitable helper is found. So God creates Eve. Genesis 2:19-22

The confusion comes in that in the retelling of Chapter 2 (commonly known as a 'flashback' in modern scriptwriting), the author first quotes God as saying "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him", and then revisits the fact that animals were created. The Hebrew word used in the original texts in this verse is the Hebrew yatsar in the wayyiqtol or waw consecutive form wayyitser, which translates correctly in context to the English pluperfect "had formed", according to Keil & Delitzsch and Leupold.[2] More modern translations, such as the NIV, use the correct verb tense, but the myth of a contradiction is perpetuated by the existence of unrevised editions of the KJV translation of 1611, which just has the word "formed", i.e. plain past tense, as the English translation of yatsar.

"Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them;" - Genesis 2:19

The two accounts are not separate but complementary. The actual chronological creation account is from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3.

Verse 4 of chapter 2 goes into the "account of the heavens," "in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven," or the third day of creation. After the creation account (Gen. 1:1-2:3), Moses gives some more detail about the third day: "no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted," because "the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground."

To recap, Genesis 2:4-6 are speaking about the third day of creation in a bit more detail. Then, at Genesis 2:7 , the narrative goes further into the sixth day of creation, when God created man.

First Light

Some people claim a contradiction related to the creation of light. God created light on the first day, but did not create the sun and stars until day four.

Day 1

"And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." Genesis 1:3-5

Day 4

And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.' And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:14-18

But humans are quite capable of creating light by various means (with fire, electrically, and chemically), and there is no reason to believe that an omnipotent God could not create light independently of the heavenly bodies. The fact that the Bible doesn't record the source of the pre-solar light is irrelevant.

Something to keep in mind when considering these passages about light is that visible light only comprises a portion of the entire wide spectrum of light, or electromagnetic energy. Light consists of photons, and we refer to infrared and ultraviolet as "light", but the spectrum extends beyond ultraviolet and infrared into X-rays, gamma rays, microwaves, radar, and so on. [3]

People have proposed a number of possible sources of light:

  1. Invention vs. Application - some interpret the activities on day one to be those of an inventor who developed the reactions to produce light. Then on day 4 that invention was applied to the creation of the solar bodies that provide light today.
  2. Universe Was Filled With Light - Cosmologists working with 'Big Bang' calculations indicate that a massive presence of photons would have crossed the entirety of the universe during the initial seconds of universal expansion. This would in fact have 'lit up' the entire universe, all at once. "...and there was light." [4]
  3. Sonoluminescence - Sonoluminescence is the process by which acoustic energy is turned into light. This is done by introducing a frequency to water while an air bubble is present. The light produced actually comes from this bubble.[5][6] Light could have been accomplished this way during the creation week when the earth was just a sphere of water before land appeared.
  4. The Light Came From God - God is often referred to as light. And because light that comes from God would be eternal just like God, it would know no bounds of time and could travel to the ends of space instantly.
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  1. The New New Atheism, by PETER BERKOWITZ, July 16, 2007, The Opinion Journal
  2. Evangelical compromise misses the essentials ("Genesis contradictions?" bookmark), by Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, A review of The Essence of Darwinism by Kirsten Birkett, December 28, 2001
  3. The Electromagnetic Spectrum, at MicroWorlds, Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  4. Steven Weinberg's book The First Three Minutes.
  5. Achieving Sonoluminescence, page maintained by Sarah Webb, Physics Department, UK Open University
  6. Hot Sounds: Single-Bubble Sonoluminescence Can Melt Steel, BY JIM WILSON, Published in the February 1998 issue of Popular Mechanics

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