Category Archives: Contradictions of Biblical Proportions

Myth Math

Noah’s Ark is likely one of the biggest stories from the Bible. In this post I want to show that it just isn’t likely to have happened, and perhaps just couldn’t be possible.

And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
-Genesis 7:17-20

So, we have a few very good math problems ahead of us. Not only are they just math, they aren’t even that complicated of a problem. Before we begin I will lay out the parts of the problem that are similar to each version.

First, the size of the Earth. NASA (clicky click) states that the volume of the Earth is 108.321 x 10^10 km³. These are big numbers, but I have all the room I need, it’s my blog. The average radius, the mean of the equatorial and polar radii, is:

(6378.1 km + 6356.8 km ) / 2 = 6367.45 km

That is the radius we will use to find the volume of the Earth and compare it to what NASA gave us.

V = 4/3 π r³
V = 4/3 * 3.14 * 6367.45 km³
V = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258164563961 km³
V = 1078146900000 km³
V = 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³

NASA reports the volume of the Earth to be 108.321 x 10^10 km³. I’d say a difference of 500 km is close enough, yay us!

15 Cubits Flood

So the text states that the waters went up 15 cubits. That is the first measurement we are going to work with. I am going to do the math to see how much water would be required to raise the sea level 15 cubits. But, how big is a cubit?

 

cubit-manBecause I want to give as much leniency to the story as possible I went to the group that takes the story most literally, Answers in Genesis.

They state that the cubit could range from 17.5 to 20.6 inches. I think the best bet for this problem is to take a middle point between the two.

(17.5 + 20.6) / 2 = our cubit
19.05″ = 1 cubit

15 cubits = 19.05 * 15
15 cubits = 285.75″
285.75″ = 23.8′

That doesn’t seem like a flood to me and it certainly doesn’t seem like it would cover the mountains. We are going to go with this measurement first.

So to find out the volume of water we simply find the volume of the Earth during the flood and take away the volume of the Earth. The 15 cubit flood raised the water level 23.8 feet so we add that to the mean radius we found earlier, a difference of only 0.00011%.

23.8′ + 6367.45 km = intra-flood radius
23.8′ = 0.00725424 km
0.00725424 + 6367.45 = 6367.45725424 km radius

If we then plug that radius into the equation to find volume during the flood, V(f):

V = 4/3 π r³
V(f) = 4/3 * 3.14 * (6367.45725424 km)³
V(f) = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258165446319.04806285631451844903 km³
V(f) = 1078150536917.6085 km³
V(f) = 1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³

Then subtract the volume of the Earth, V,  from V(f) to find the volume of the water, V(w).

V(f) – V = V(w)
1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³ – 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³ = V(w)
2705768589.0812231584367839065848 km³ = V(w)

That’s a really hard number to imagine, at least for me it is. Let’s make that volume into a sphere and see how it shapes up (I know it’s a bad/good pun however you see puns). If we take that volume and place it into the equation to find volume and work backwards we can find the radius of a sphere of water, r(w).

V = 4/3 π r³
r = ((3V)/(4π))^(1/3)
r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r(w) = 1188.4360369823730308866574874648 km
r(w) = 738.5 miles

That’s it. A sphere of water with a diameter of >1400 miles would be needed to raise the sea level to just 15 cubits. You know what else is about 1400 miles in diameter?

SLw0NlC

That’s right, a ball of water the size of Pluto would be needed to raise the sea level just 15 cubits. Like I said above though that’s only 23.8 feet of water, nowhere near covering the high hills or mountains.

Maybe we didn’t go by the Bible well enough. It does say “…and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”

“and the mountains were covered” Flood

The tallest mountain we know is Mt. Everest at 29,029′ above sea level. If we change our math enough to cover it, not even counting going over it by 15 cubits, how much water would be needed then?

We are going to add 29,029′ to the radius of the Earth from above. Because water levels itself it would need to be at this level around the entire planet to cover any part of it. If you hold that the Earth was covered by a layer of water 15 cubits deep like a film over all the mountains and hill then I can’t do anything for you, that’s ridiculous (and I’m the one doing math to figure out Noah’s flood).

The radius of the Earth from earlier plus the added distance to the top of Mt. Everest:

r = 6367.45 km + 29,029 ft
r = 6376.2980392 km

An addition of just 0.1389%. If we then use that in the volume formulas from above we get the volume during the flood (I cut out the math but you are welcome to check for accuracy):

V(f) = 1085360995411.5541311496090510458 km³

To find the volume of the water, V(w):

V(w) = V(f) – V
V(w) = 7214100000 km³

Now, let’s find the radius of the sphere of water that would be required for that volume:

r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r = 1198.6641207880081840568342435861 km
r = 744.8 miles , d = 1490 miles

Isn’t that interesting? I know I am shocked. It’s less than 100 miles difference. That being said, that amount of water is staggering. Where did it come from and where did it go. Those are the big questions.

I know immediately the believer would bring up:

…all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
-Genesis 7:11

There just isn’t that much water underground, nor in the clouds, nor in the ice caps, nor in all of those combined. According to the USGS, all combined, there is about 1409560910 km³ of water on the Earth. That’s about 20% of the water needed to cover the Earth above the mountains.

Another theory I remember hearing is that the water came from an asteroid or some such object. Like we found the object would need to be nearly the size of Pluto to contain enough water, and that still leaves the question of where the water went after the genocide was complete.

The water couldn’t have been absorbed into the planet. Our planet is powered by a magmatic engine that would solidify if cooled by water. Without the core spinning we lose both our magnetic cover and our atmosphere.

It simply didn’t happen. I’m sorry if you can’t accept this point, but I feel like I have shown very clearly that the evidence just isn’t there to accept your claim of a global flood.

Well, that’s it. That was actually fun for me. I messed up the math in a few places because of the exponents and units but I feel this final post is error free. If you disagree with the math I urge you to do it for yourself and see that the only way Noah’s Ark would have actually happened is by magic. Be truthful to yourself and align your beliefs with those things that are provable. And let’s not even get started on the animals.

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Revelation Today, Misunderstanding Tomorrow

Free your mind and the rest will follow
Be color blind, don’t be so shallow… FREE YOUR MIND!

-Free Your Mind by En Vogue

This post was inspired by reading an article posted by a Facebook friend from LDS.org. As I am unsure if my comments on that particular wall will be saved from deletion, I expound upon my thoughts here. I would urge you to read the link below before continuing so we start on the same footing.

Race and the Priesthood

I won’t give it much room in this post for a few reasons but I must mention polygamy. At the time it was pronounced as the only way to enter the Celestial Kingdom, but after many years of criticism, and actions taken against them, Official Declaration I was revealed by Wilford Woodruff.  Perhaps the best evidence for the driving force for this ‘revelation’ is found in the text of the Declaration itself:

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

     -Wilford Woodruff, Official Declaration I, 1890

Spencer W. Kimball and his Quorum revealed what we know now as Official Declaration II in 1978. Although this was a good turning point in church history ultimately this declaration was ‘revealed’ after many years of social and political pressure. (Brown v. Board of Education – 1954, Rosa Parks – 1955, Little Rock Nine – 1957, ‘I Have A Dream’ – 1963, Civil Rights Act of 1964 – 1964, Loving v. Virginia – 1967, and many more)

Understanding the above sequences of events lends credence to the idea that the revelations may have been more socio-politically motivated than divinely revealed. Also, even though the Church is currently fighting against the ‘invasion’ of homosexuality and the fight for equality, one day in the future there may be a revision of beliefs, perhaps Official Declaration III; the teachings of the today’s leaders about the sin of homosexual behavior and the like may be taught as only being the ‘words of man’ and no longer the ‘inspired word of god’.

The words of each president of the church during their time as ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ are considered true and everlasting, insights into the world of the Lord, and divinely inspired teachings. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and latter prophets taught of the literal curse on the African race citing the stories in Book of Mormon, and were used as the basis for decades of discrimination by the Church.

I can understand that the teachings of a leader could go against the societal norm and cause controversy, but it seems more likely that a divine message from an all-knowing deity would/should be given before the society had already made the change. If, say, David O. McKay or George A. Smith had made the Official Declaration about African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement this argument would be very different, or perhaps if Joseph Smith or Brigham Young had used their power as ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ when founding the church on the correct terms there would have been no controversy.

The ability to change the teaching of someone who is considered a ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ from ‘divinely inspired’ to simply the ‘words of a man’ severely weakens the argument that those teachings were divinely inspired at all. In addition, how are we to be advised to follow some of the teachings of that person but to disregard others? Also, how are we to have confidence that the teachings of the current leaders will persist as ‘revelation’ into our future society.

With this post I am not arguing that the LDS church or its membership is secretly racist or that this change is somehow bad. I wish to make public the startling problem the Church now faces. It is great that the church and its members have come forward and admitted that the teachings and position they held concerning those of African lineage was wrong, but the fact remains that the teachings were based on the Book of Mormon.

The article I linked to above is a very good read and actually mentions some of the less glamorous parts of the history of the Church and also the progress that has been made by it and its members. I am glad that not only the good parts are presented but I must say it doesn’t speak the whole truth about the darker side (pun intended).

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

While the article states “…the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse…” The Book of Mormon is quite clear in describing who, when, and why the ‘curse’ was placed on some humans. 2 Nephi 5:21 states that the black skin was a cursing placed upon them for their iniquity by God. I can’t think of any way it can be explained that this was not a “sign of divine disfavor.”

Continuing the sentence quoted above from the article “…or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.” Once more the Book of Mormon is in conflict with the article; 3 Nephi 2:15 says the cursing could be taken off and they could become like the Nephites again. How better to say one race of people (who are described as ‘cursed, with a skin of blackness’) is inferior to another than to say that they could become like the other (who are described as “…white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome”).

One extra quote from the same paragraph that I will point out but then pass over. “…the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past…,” “…that mixed-race marriages are a sin.”

In contradiction to the article the Aaronic Priesthood Manual clearly states “We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background…” It doesn’t specifically state that interracial marriage is a sin or forbidden but it is clearly not approved of; I wonder when the new issue of the manual will be released to correct this problem.

With this post I would like to urge rationality to those who follow the words of the prophet. The prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are seen as a direct link to the Almighty, they ‘speak boldly and clearly’, and ‘make known God’s will and true character’. It should be concerning that anything they teach as doctrine could some day be considered wrong and interpreted so differently. How are we to know which words of the prophet are to be taken as the divine teachings of eternal doctrine and which will become simply the earthly words of a man. LDS.org has this disturbing sentence, “We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord…” What about the past prophets? Their teachings were considered the ‘will of the Lord’ but if it conflicts with the living prophet is it no longer trusted? This would logically say that the will of the Lord changed, but D&C 1:38 says “my word shall not pass away.”

The Book of Mormon is presented as a literal historical account of the civilizations that inhabited the America’s and are the ancestors of the Native American civilizations. If the story of the ‘curse’ is to be taken as an allegory or a figurative account, why not any other account in the Book of Mormon (or the Bible even)? How long until the teachings on homosexuality become the uninspired ramblings of a simple man who just happened to be speaking as the ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’? How long until the ban on giving the priesthood to women is lifted as it was with black males? I myself have seen the wavering and interpretation after interpretation of the Word of Wisdom, how long until it is interpreted out of existence?

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth…

     -Joseph Smith

Even though it has been held to be the most correct book and belief system on Earth, the Saints and their Book of Mormon are well versed in change. Among roughly 3000 changes in the Book of Mormon alone the largest and most recent must be pointed out. The original Introduction to the Book of Mormon, the necessary parts only (emphasis added):

After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.

a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas

And the Introduction after the 2004 and 2013 edits, respectively:

After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.

a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas

These two changes signify another monumental change in the teachings of the Church. Before the edits, the church taught that the Lamanites were the ancestors of the American Indians, the Native population of the Americas. The ‘curse’ explained their skin color but with recent advances in science the DNA couldn’t explain their origin. The Church was faced with the facts that there exists zero geographical, archeaological, anthropological, or genetic evidence in support of the Book of Mormon and its claim of the ancestry of the Native American populations. Analogous to the changes with polygamy and race issues in light of social pressure the teachings about the ancestry of the Native Americans has been adjusted.

I do not wish to turn the church back to its racist roots and I by no means think that this is their largest problem. I simply want the contradiction to be noted and more importantly admitted. The Book of Mormon is clear on its teachings about the ‘curse’ and the ancestry of the Native Americans; if the Church and membership are going to not follow these parts then what else can be given up until the meaning behind having and studying the Book of Mormon is trivial? Why hold the Book in such high regard if its basic teachings can be thrown to the wayside so completely? If you choose not to believe the curse part is true then why not the part about Jesus visiting the America’s; why not the part about the Hebrews making it to the same landing spot in the new world in three separate boats with but one small window; why not the part about being in the America’s all together?

This post will very easily be taken as a hate-filled, Mormon-bashing, atheist rant but please understand that I only bring these topics up as a matter of honesty and integrity. It is possible, however unlikely, that some of you reading this did not know about some of the problems or contradictions that exist in the church, and I hope that as you have now been advised that they exist you will do some simple work to investigate my claims. There is no dishonor or disgrace in investigation; wouldn’t it be more intellectually honest to be able to say that you have scrutinized the problems instead of denying that the problems exist? If, however, you are one of those who knew of these changes and the sequences of events that led to them and see no dilemma, I wonder if you know of the term cognitive dissonance?

I think it was Matt Dillahunty who said (probably better and in fewer words), in my life I strive to believe as many true things and reject as many false things as I am able. I will live my life to that standard as I hope all humans would. Thank you for reading, I end this post with two things; first, a poll meant for fun, second, some immortal lyrics.

 

You Aren’t Going To Read This Post…

Ha, I knew you would read this post, the title was just a joke.

Been thinking and discussing free will lately and I’ll apologize now, I just love memes.

One acquaintance of mine, I like to call her Handy Helper (HH), has been attempting to explain her god and his power and awe to me for quite a while and was the spark of my inquiry. She is quite literally the thickest headed person I have ever talked to as she will not hear or conceded any points I make. She even goes so far as to say that we needn’t worry about the lives of any other person in the world, or at least in the third world countries. More about her later.

As luck would have it, a call came in to a podcast show I listen to and the topic turned to free will. Below is a questionnaire-like response that was given to the caller. Courtesy of Matt Dilahunty of the ACA, I present to you an argument against the idea of free will. I didn’t conceive of the questions but I have changed them slightly because I couldn’t recall them exactly but i have captured the essence of them.

I offer them to you to ponder.

Answer each question honestly and then continue to the next. I do not expect this to change everyone’s mind nor do I expect everyone to have the same beliefs about free will and god, but it is at least something to think about.

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Do you believe god created everything?

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Yes-this universe and our lives are a direct result of that creation

No-why praise him, he is not then the all powerful creator god

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Do you believe god had decisions about what kind of universe to make or is this the only possible outcome?

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Yes-he chose this one, everything in it was created purposefully

No-is he not all powerful?

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Do you believe god has knowledge of the future; is he eternal, knows the future, knows the outcome of decisions and actions?

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Yes-god is eternal and all powerful, he created time and space and knows the past, present,and future.

No-god’s power has limits

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If you answered yes to all of these questions, like most people do, you should rethink your understanding or thoughts on free will.

These three circumstances preclude the option of free will.

A god that created this universe over other options with a knowledge of the future has already decided everything that has and WILL happen. He chose this universe in which this specific set of decisions has already been made; there is NO free will.

Many people believe that the god that created the universe knows the decisions that have/will be made, but the series of question addresses the fact that a god would have known the result of the decisions that would be made in the billions of different options and that god chose this very sequence of decisions. This logically means that the person would sense that they have the ability to choose between two or more options but that god has decided which decision will be made and knows what future decision will be made as a result of this one. Free will could only exist with a creator god if that god did not have knowledge of the future and had very little control over the universe that was created.

Back to HH, her stance is the most firm ‘just believe‘ stance that I have ever encountered. She believes in free will but also believes in ‘god’s plan’ (see the diagram below, the bottom question has so many options that I have presented her with but the loop continues). I have attempted to explain to her that free will doesn’t exist but I have been unsuccessful so far. She is the polar opposite of myself; she completely and admittedly refuses to think about anything she believes. I plan to continue because it is fun to see her try to explain something but then go back to the ‘mysterious ways’ claim. My arguments have never been as concise as the one presented above but also I understand now that my claim must change. I can’t argue against free will because I think free will does actually exist.

I will not try to explain that free will doesn’t exist anymore. I understand that my stance is, now, that free will does exist, just not in connection with the creator god claim, most especially the god of the bible, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.

The atheistic stance is the penultimate free will claim.

I do not accept the claim that a god is in charge and I make my decisions myself; the decisions I make affect myself, my friends and family, my community, and even my world.

That sentence can easily be continued to the conversation about morality, but I’ll save that for another post.

Monopoly vs. The Bible

While browsing the stories on the Yahoo news page one caught my attention. Click Here to read. Basically, it says there are a few rules that players have changed and/or forgotten about over the years and some people don’t even know they’re doing it wrong. This instantly clicked into my head as the same way most people have gone about learning about the Bible. My favorite sentence in the article,

“Perhaps because so many people learn the game from their parents, siblings and friends,

no one has bothered to read the actual rules for a while.”

Doesn’t that just ring true for the Bible and Christianity, and all religions at that.

We’ve almost all taken the knowledge of the Bible from our parents/friends and few have read the “rule book” for themselves. I actually have started to study the Bible so I can say I am one of those few, it really does change your perception of the religion and the stories if you read it yourself. Its easy to see that some or most of the stories in the Bible could possibly have gotten changed centuries ago over the years of verbal communication especially if the rules of a game were changed in today’s world. In addition, we haven’t got anything to gain by tweaking the rules to the game but back then if they could have their “Messiah” be better than the other messiahs they would have exaggerated some of the stories. Don’t even get me started on the changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon.

Contradictions of Biblical Proportions

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Prompted by the list of biblical contradictions on The Thinking Atheist, I want to start a series of posts to confront the issue of contradictions in the bible. I have seen many verses posted by hard core atheists (and by unlearned/uninformed ones) that claim the bible is wrought with conflicts and contradictions. In looking at some of these they do not actually seem to be contradictions at all. I plan to go through some of the supposed contradictions and work it out. I do not believe that all of the reported ones are actually contradictions, but are preyed upon by militant atheists. I urge everyone to read the verses around the contradictory ones, put it in context. Anything can be take from the middle of a conversation or sentence and be made to be contradictory, especially in our world of half-truths. Another big part of determining if something should be considered a contradiction is the version of the text you are reading.

I will be as middle-of-the-road as I can be because I really just want truth out there, not the utter destruction of religion. If you attack a religion its people will harden and not listen to anything but being fair to both sides I hope to bring us together to agree on some and (of course) disagree on others.

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Answer the Fool or Not?

Proverbs 26:4-5

“4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

 

This is hard to read. Are we to answer the fool, or not? This is the best example of reading the surrounding verses to put the questionable section in context in order to determine if it is correct to consider this a contradiction. My verdict….NOT A CONTRADICTION, just a poorly worded couple of sentences, but we are in proverbs so they are hard to read even on a good day.

In examining this verse, it states to not be like the fool who questions you. Don’t stoop to their level, but to answer them in kind. I can think of a great example of this but it turns the tables 180 degrees. A christian thinks to stop an atheist they need only ask the atheist where the original matter from the big bang came (this is not a hard question for most atheists, I’ll just let you know). The atheist can rant and rave about it being eternal and having always been there in one form or another (answering the fool according to his folly – verse 4), OR they can simply ask where god came from (answer the fool as his folly deserves – verse 5).

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Where did Aaron die? Mt. Hor vs. Moserah

Numbers 33:38 – Aaron died on Mt. Hor

Deuteronomy 10:6 – Aaron died in Moserah

 

This discrepancy will be much harder to iron out. Mt. Hor and Moserah are biblical locations that are not widely agreed on in current geography. Many sympathist would say that Moserah is a region and Mt. Hor was located within that area. The authors of the stories (and the verbal story tellers before that) chose to record the location of his death in different ways.

Much like if I was to talk to someone from Tennessee I would say I am from Clarksville, but if I was talking to someone in Europe I would say I was from Middle Tennessee. I actually had this happen to me when I was on vacation in 2008 atop a mountain in Switzerland. Some people came up to our group and asked us where we were from, we responded the US, they said “yes, what part?” “Tennessee” “We have family in Tennessee, where are you from?” “The Nashville area.”

Likely a contradiction but unable to conclusively say on this one.

 

I hope this is informative to everyone. I want to make sure that everyone follows the same logic when looking at claims of fellow atheists as when we reject the claims of theists. Don’t just believe it because they say it (or me even), look for yourself. I have provided the links for you to be able to see the context of all the verses. I may be wrong too, let me know if you think i am.

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