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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Recommend-a-blog (24)

Are you a young Christian diligent in your pursuit of truth, burrowing into the scriptures daily and digging up every resource you can find on the side to explain those things you encounter there that don’t initially make perfect sense to you?

Well, I’ve got just the thing for you: it’s a new atheist app.

No, really. This is a useful tool, if only as a window into the mindset of active disbelievers who are expending an awful lot of time and energy trying to turn others from faith in Christ.

A Word from Our Sponsor

Let’s pause for a quick word from our heavenly Sponsor to any folks from that set that happen our way through backlinks:
“Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!
(Also, I should probably be careful about the “young believer” thing. It’s quite possible that someone not-so-firmly grounded in his or her faith could be spiritually derailed by the best the other side has to offer these days, though I’m fairly sure anyone who reads this blog regularly is probably up to the task. I’ve watched many once-on-fire professing Christians drift away from churches over the years; though, to be fair, it was usually through something like the choice of an unbelieving life partner rather than an intellectual stumbling block. I’m sure these sites catch some who are on the fence about the claims of Christ.)

Scientific Absurdities & Historical Inaccuracies

Anyway, this particular atheist web presence attempts to log what it calls “Scientific Absurdities & Historical Inaccuracies” in the Bible. That’s not a new trick; some of these objections go back hundreds of years (and have been answered by believers hundreds of times), but the difference here is … really neat graphics. Basically the x-axis of the main graph is the books of the Bible presented left-to-right from Genesis through Revelation. Each verse said to contain an absurdity or inaccuracy is linked with a thin red arc to the verse or verses alleged to contradict it.

Given the very loose definition of “contradiction” employed by the folks who designed it, this makes for a massive web of red pixels that resembles an attempt to track the trajectories of hundreds of surface-to-surface missiles all fired simultaneously. Placing your cursor on one of these red arcs pops up a list of the connected verses and a short description of the relevant atheist objection. (If you’re interested in how this looks but are reluctant to generate pageviews for the project, I’ve archived the main page here where it can be safely viewed. Alternatively, you can access the real website here. The archived version is of course only a screenshot; the mouse-overs don’t actually work.)

In any case, it’s a nifty visual, and even perhaps initially daunting. Are there really this many contradictions in the Bible? Ouch!

A Window into a Dark Room

Well, not so much. As I have already pointed out, the choice of objections to the Bible here is a real window into the evangelically-atheistic mindset; specifically its stone-blindness and proneness to making quasi-literate assumptions. Lo and behold, when I pass my cursor over a few arcs at random, this is the sort of thing that comes up:
  • “How should the Edomites be treated?” (five verses ranging from Deuteronomy through Obadiah allegedly give different answers to that question)
  • “Is it okay to steal?” (ten verses or so)
  • “Does God forgive sins?” (four more; expect yes and no answers)
and so on. Ten more passes give us many further objections of this type.

Context Context Context

The big problem with this approach? Most of these alleged inconsistencies — perhaps as much as 90% — actually contain nothing scary or intimidating to faith. What they do lay bare is the utter inability of the atheist to even begin to consider the context in which a verse occurs. I will leave it to our readers to decide whether this is a product of ignorance or malice; I don’t suppose it much matters.

Context is probably the single greatest determinant of meaning in any language. That’s a pretty colossal elephant in the room.

“When was it said?” “To whom was it addressed?” “What were the circumstances?” Ask these questions honestly about everything from Edomites to thievery to soteriology, and the number of legitimate concerns here is reduced to a tiny fraction of the original number.

Turns out most of those ol’ surface-to-surface missiles have no payload.

Now, that’s not to say that there are no difficult portions to be found in scripture and no legitimate questions that might arise, especially around the Old Testament. There are many, in fact. Just not most of these.

Skeptics Anonymous

So, while I can’t say I’d recommend this for any more than a quick pass, I was considerably more amused by a second website I came across this week.

Berend de Boer has done pretty much the same thing as our first site, only in reverse: he’s taken every single claim of inconsistency or absurdity made by the author of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and answered it, claim after claim after claim.

Wow. Seven years of hard work, and it shows. From Genesis to Revelation, if there’s a verse that’s been attacked by unbelief, Berend has probably dug up an answer for you. I don’t agree with every single one and I’m sure neither will you, but he has provided a great general resource that also directs the reader to other sources of godly answers. Berend points out in his introduction that unbelievers back in 1621 were actually asking deeper and more stimulating questions than atheists today, which should be a challenge to serious Christians to strive to up our game in apologetics: the other side is clearly flagging.

The Oldest Trick in the Book

Finally, to any of our atheist friends passing by, a quick tip if you want to be more effective in luring our young men away from the things of God: skip the intellectual teases and the cool graphics and just keep using the girls. That trick’s been working for at least 6,000 years.

Sadly, I don’t think it’s going to let you down anytime soon.

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