We Get Mail! An Apologist Writes to HAAM
HAAM recently received this letter from an anonymous email address containing the word “Jesus”:
Hey guys, I found your site while googling pix for Bible stories. As the Messianic rabbis say, “Coincidence is not kosher!” Anyways, I write to offer perspective.
Your issues with Bible contradictions are explained pretty easily. First, the gospel writers did not all necessarily tell the life of Jesus chronologically like we would. Remember, they thought Jewish.
Some events that seem the same were really two different occurrences. Do you believe Jesus only gave the Sermon on the Mount one time, and one time only? He probably told that one scores of times.
Luke’s gospel was probably narrated to him from Mary, Jesus’ mom. Her take would be unique to her. She would be impacted by things differently than say, Simon Peter, which we believe is the guy who narrated the story to John Mark. Peter, being an action guy, gave us a gospel of action that reads like a shooting script. Levi (Matthew) was a civic official and tax collector, and by trade needed to be adept at shorthand. I think you’ll find his quotations to be the longest, most detailed of the four.
You say the four contradict one another; really, they complement one another. When they record the same event, everything they all wrote is true. One writer was simply selectively editing out small details that another thought added impact. If you put four street guys in a room and asked them to describe a scene acted out from “Henry V”, they would never be identical, and yet, they would all be correct.
Each gospel writer had a unique perspective and point to emphasize. Of course they aren’t identical!! The four gospels are a mosaic: Matthew describes Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, Mark describes Jesus as a servant, Dr. Luke shows Jesus as the perfect Man, and John writes Jesus as the Son of God. Unique; different, and yet, all very true.
Here’s a bonus: every atheist points to the Old Testament God as being a genocidal maniac (Flood of Noah, Joshua taking the Holy Land). No one ever answers you guys well, so I will. Both stories had one thing in common: there were Nephilim in the land, and Nephilim are not human. When the Bible says “Noah was perfect in his generations”, the Hebrew word is the same as an unblemished animal. Noah had no Nephilim DNA, nor did his kids or daughters-in-law. It ain’t murder or genocide to kill a hell-spawned, cannibal half-breed. Look it up.
How do we respond to comments like this? For starters, we look on the bright side – the writer looked at our website and read some of the Bible Study notes. For example, he probably looked at the section called ‘homework assignment‘ and its accompanying Excel file listing contradictions in the gospel narratives.
Our Outreach Coordinator, Pat Morrow, has the honor of replying to our website messages. Here is his response:
Thank you for your perspective. I hope you’ll appreciate that as Humanists we come at it from a different perspective. For us, whenever we read stories, whether in the local paper or scripture from ancient times, some things may be true, some things may be false; but in the end, if a story is to have a modicum of truth to it, it has to at least make sense. We run into a little bit of trouble with the Gospels.
First, the four gospels contradict each other irreconcilably. If four guys watched Henry V, and you asked them to describe it after, they would each have a different account, but they would all be correct because they all watched the same play. Their accounts might contradict each other on minor details, because their memories are not perfect. But the gospels contradict each other on major points, such that if one account is true, the others cannot be true.
Here are a couple of these irreconcilable differences:
According to Matthew, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1). According to Luke, Jesus was born during the first census in Israel, while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:2). This is impossible because through multiple historical sources we know that Herod died in March of 4 BC and the census took place in 6 and 7 AD, about 10 years after Herod’s death.
The story of Jesus’ ascension is also a bit of a mess. According to Luke 24:51, it took place in Bethany, on the same day as his resurrection, but Mark placed it in or near Jerusalem, after supper (16:19). According to Acts 1:9-12, the ascension took place at Mount Olivet, forty days after Jesus’ resurrection. In Matthew there is no ascension; the book ends on a mountain in Galilee. This seems like a pretty important part of the Jesus story for Matthew to miss.
Your email seems to indicate that you believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually wrote the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I can assure that you most every biblical scholar, theologian and textural critic worth their salt understands that the Gospels were actually written by anonymous authors, and probably more than four. This information is available in most Bibles and Bible compendiums.
Regarding your statement “It ain’t murder or genocide to kill a hell-spawned, cannibal half-breed.” Fictional Nephilim giants aside, statements like this have been used to justify the genocide of millions of people throughout the ages. Ancient Romans used this idea to persecute the tribes of Europe, and more recently it has been used to justify the genocides of Jews in the 1940’s and Bosnian Muslims in the 1990’s (both by Christians), and the Tutsi tribe of Rwanda in the 1990’s by the Hutus. If you demonize your opponents or call them inhuman it makes it easier to kill them. This is a truly sick way of thinking but it has worked well for religions and governments throughout the ages when trying to do an end run around human empathy and natural goodness.
In the absence of any empirical evidence that these cannibal Nephilim giants actually existed (and even if they did), I and many others would still hold the God character of the Bible to be a genocidal maniac.
Regards, Pat Morrow
The apologist responds
My son, be careful of what you know to be true. For centuries, the self-proclaimed experts said the Bible was crap because it talked about a non-existent Hittite empire. The acting king of Babylon, Belshazzar, was also a well-known Bible error.
Herod the Great’s year of death is in dispute, largely based on conjecture of what eclipse Josephus spoke of. Of course, I favor arguments for the 1 BC date.
Your inventory of Bible scholars, theologians, and textural critics must be cherry-picked and very small. You hurt your case and affirm a lack of research when you make such statements as “most every Bible scholar …worth their salt…”. It simply isn’t so. You need to get out more. I’d encourage you to explore the work of just two men: Chuck Missler, and L.A. Marzulli. One of Missler’s gems is a $4 apologetics book I’ll give you if you supply a mailing address. And Marzulli has been uncovering Nephilim evidence for 15 years. His new “Watchers X” will either tick you off or blow your mind.
If the Son of Satan shows up in our lifetime, how will he convince Canadian atheists, Chinese Buddhists, American Catholics, Israelis, and Saudi Muslims to all change their allegiance and worship him as God? Many of us suspect he’ll play the alien/hybrid card, proclaiming the panspermia ET gospel. Don’t fall for his lies, son. Do your homework now!
A final reply from Pat:
Just one more note because I thought your last email was worthy of a response, and maybe I can clarify further where I and other Humanists are coming from. There’s actually very little we know to be true. Often our beliefs have to be based on what is most likely true.
Take the year of Herod’s death. There were a few lunar eclipses around that time; we’ll just consider the ones in 1 BC and in 4 AD. Josephus mentions the eclipse occurring about 25 days before Passover; this lines up with the one in 4 AD. We also know from Roman records that in Herod’s will his empire was divided up between three of his sons, and this also lines up with the 4 AD date. There is more, but overall the evidence seems to favour the 4AD date. In order to justify your preference for 1 BC, you will need more evidence than just that an eclipse happened in that year. In the end it really doesn’t matter to most of us as we have no money in this crap game. But if minds are going to be changed it will be done through reason and evidence.
When I use statements like “most every scholar … worth their salt …” I’m referring to the general consensus of academic scholarship by men and women who have spent years in schools of higher learning immersing themselves in ancient languages, studying ancient cultures, and trying to tease out what the writers meant and how they lived. This consensus represents a great many men and women, not a cherry-picked few.
I am quite familiar with Chuck Missler and his work. Although he may call himself a theologian, he is no biblical scholar or textual critic. He’s a Christian apologist. There is a very big difference between scholarship and apologetics. Scholarship is interested in expanding human knowledge. Apologetics means defending a point of view in spite of expanding human knowledge.
As for as the other fella, L.A. Marzulli, I admit I had to look him up. I hope when he gathers all this information and evidence about chemtrails, prophecy, and the human/demon hybrids known as Nephilim, he will write a research paper on them. It would stun the world of science when his evidence is tested and verified.
Finally, regarding the son of Satan, his return is not something we worry about because there’s no evidence for it and therefore no reason to worry about it. You can choose to believe in gods or devils, but reality will always come down to reason and evidence.
If you would like to know more about nonbelief you can find lots of information here.
First a brief glossary of some of the references in these letters:
- Nephilim are a race of giants mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 6:1-4).
- Chuck Missler is an evangelical Christian who speaks about Bible prophesy and is known for his “peanut butter” argument for creationism. (Quick summary – we don’t see new life form inside a jar of peanut butter; therefore no new life has ever evolved.)
- L.A. Marzulli is a super-naturalist who speaks and writes on the subjects of UFOs, The Nephilim, ancient prophetic texts, and chemtrails. He claims that there has been a massive cover up of what he believes are the remains of the Nephilim, that they will return to earth, and that a breeding program has already begun!
- Panspermia is the theory that life on earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space and able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment.
What’s happening here is that, like many religious apologists, our letter-writer believes that if only we read the Bible, or heard it interpreted according to their own particular sect, we would accept it as the truth and believe. They don’t realize that reading the Bible is, in many cases, what led atheists to abandon their religious superstitions, and that we have heard all these same tired arguments multiple times before.
Because this scenario is so common, we recently added a new reference page, called Exploring Nonbelief, to our website. It contains links to many common topics of discussion and debate between theists and atheists, including the Bible, apologetics, evolution and science, morality, and living without religion.
We invite this letter-writer, and anyone else who’s curious or questioning, to have a look. And also don’t forget that all the archived notes of our Atheist Bible Study – complete with illustrations, animated videos, music, and a little humor – are available as well.