Bible Absurdities: Absurdities in the Bible
NOTE: These lists are meant to identify possible problems in the Bible, especially problems which are inherent in a literalist or fundamentalist interpretation. Some of the selections may be resolvable on certain interpretations–after all, almost any problem can be eliminated with suitable rationalizations–but it is the reader’s obligation to test this possibility and to decide whether it really makes appropriate sense to do this. To help readers in this task, these lists are aimed at presenting examples where problems may exist given certain allowable (but not always obligatory) assumptions. It should be kept in mind that a perfect and omnipotent God could, should, and likely would see to it that such problems did not exist in a book which s/he had inspired. It should also be kept in mind that what is and is not an absurdity is to some extent a matter of opinion. You are entitled to disagree with the author that these are, in fact, absurdities
GE 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven(s) and the earth.” (One might ask what “existed,” and where God dwelt, before he created heaven and earth. Of course, if God were pure spirit the question could be considered moot, but inasmuch as the God of the Bible allegedly participated in a wrestling match, ate solid food, was seen face to face, spoke with Moses, etc., it would seem that he possesses physical attributes, including form.)
(Note: Some biblicists contend that biblical chronology fixes the date of creation at 4004 B.C. thereby making the earth about six thousand years old. Some present-day creationists stubbornly adhere to a young earth timetable in spite of overwhelming evidence that the earth is actually billions of years old.)
GE 1:3-5, 14-19 There was light (“night and day”) before there was a sun. (Note: If there were no sun, there would be no night or day. Also, light from the newly created heavenly bodies seems to have reached the earth instantaneously though it now takes thousands or millions of years.)
GE 1:12, 16 Plants began to grow before there was sunlight.
GE 1:29 Every plant and tree which yield seed are given to us by God as good to eat. (Note: This would include poisonous plants such as hemlock, buckeye pod, nightshade, oleander.)
GE 2:15-23, 3:1-5, 1TI 2:14 Eve was created after Adam had already been given the prohibition about eating the forbidden fruit. Eve believed the serpent (the craftiest of all of God’s wild creatures) when he assured her that she would become wise and would not die if she ate the fruit. Eve has been blamed for causing Adam to fall, and ultimately for the fall of mankind. (Note: Prior to eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve would have had no knowledge of right and wrong; they would not have known that it was a sin to disobey God or to obey the serpent. After they ate the forbidden fruit, God placed a guard around the “Tree of Eternal Life” to keep them from eating its fruit. He could have done the same for the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” before Adam and Eve disobeyed. In addition, even though the prohibition regarding the forbidden fruit was made to Adam before Eve came on the scene, Eve has been blamed for the Fall; 1TI 2:14 says: “… Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”)
GE 3:1-5 The serpent speaks human language (presumably Hebrew).
GE 3:14-16 God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam for what they have done. (Note: This is inconsistent with God’s omniscience; God should have known full well, ahead of time, what the outcome would be. Since God created the three as well as the Tree of Knowledge, he is ultimately responsible for the Fall.)
GE 3:14 The serpent eats dust for the rest of his life (by command of God).
GE 4:15 A mark is placed on Cain as a distinctive identifying symbol when there were only three (known) persons on earth.
GE 4:17 Cain builds and populates a whole city in only two generations.
GE 6:4 There were giants on the earth at one time. (Note: No evidence exists to supports this assertion.)
GE 6:5 God is unhappy with the wickedness of man and decides to flood the earth to eliminate mankind. All living things including plants, animals, women and innocent children are also exterminated. (Note: This is like burning down a house to rid it of mice.)
GE 6:15 The size of Noah’s Ark was such that there would be about one and a half cubic feet for each pair of the 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 species to be taken aboard.
GE 7:17-19 The flood covered the entire earth at the same time. (Note: There is no evidence of a worldwide flood, but rather of many, widespread, but local floods.)
GE 7:19-20 The flood covered the earth with water fifteen cubits (twenty plus feet) above the highest mountains.(Note: This would require steady, worldwide rainfall at the rate of about 6 inches per minute, 360 inches per hour, 8640 inches per day–for 40 days and nights–so as to cover the entire earth with an endless ocean 5 miles deep, thus burying 29,000 ft. Mt. Everest under 22 ft. of water. How did the author know the depth of the water? Did Noah take soundings? And where has all this water gone?)
Noah’s first recorded action following the flood is to sacrifice one of
every clean animal and bird. (Since so few animals were saved, this could be considered rather wasteful and defeating–especially given that the stated purpose of taking the animals aboard the Ark was to keep them alive [GE 6:20]. To see a discussion of the various ways this verse can be interpreted, and in turn the different ways to approach the Bible generally, see addendum.)
GE 8:21 The odor of Noah’s sacrifices was pleasing to the Lord.
GE 9:12-16 God first creates the rainbow. (Note: Apparently the laws having to do with refraction of light were null and void prior to this time.)
GE 18:1, 7-8 God eats solid food with Abraham.
GE 30:37-43 Jacob alters the genetic characteristics of cattle by letting them view a striped rod. (Note: His purpose in doing so was to fleece Laban of his cattle.)
GE 32:24-30 God takes part in a wrestling match. He wins by injuring Jacob’s hip.
GE 38:27-29 Twins are being delivered. One puts out his hand and the midwife binds it with a scarlet ribbon to identify him as the firstborn. But he draws back his hand, and his brother is born first (thereby obtaining the rights of the firstborn son).
EX 4:24 The Lord sought to kill Moses (one of his own prophets.)
EX 12:30 The Lord kills all the first-born of Egypt and there is not a house where there is not at least one dead. (This means that there was not a house in Egypt that did not include at least one first-born—a most unusual situation.)
EX 12:37, NU 1:45-46 The number of men of military age who take part in the Exodus is given as about 600,000. Allowing for women, children, and older men would probably mean that a total of more than 2,000,000 Israelites left Egypt at a time when the whole population of Egypt was less than 2,000,000.
EX 17:14 God says that he will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek.
DT 25:19 “... you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.”
(That remembrance is now permanently preserved in the Bible.)
EX 28:34-35 Entering the holy place without wearing bells can result in death.
LE 11:20-21 There are winged creatures (birds or insects) that go around on all fours. (Note: There are no birds that go around on four legs, and all insects have six or eight legs.)
LE 11:6 (States, incorrectly, that the rabbit, or hare, chews its cud.)
LE 14:33-57 God himself believes that a house or clothes can have leprosy and he details the remedy.
LE 14:49-53 The cure for leprosy involves incantations and the blood of a bird.
NU 11:31-33 A “wind from the Lord” brings such an abundance of quail that “he who gathered the least gathered ten homers,” or about 62 bushels. Altogether, this would have been enough to fill several thousand boxcars. Unfortunately, it was immediately followed by a great plague (food poisoning?) from the Lord.
NU 22:21-30 A donkey sees an angel, recognizes it as such, and then speaks in human language (presumably Hebrew) to his master.
DT 1:1 Moses speaks to “all” of Israel, perhaps 2,000,000 people (see EX 12:37 above).
DT 2:14 All of the “men of war”–some 600,000–who left Egypt in the Exodus were dead just thirty-eight years later. (See EX 12:37 above.)
DT 7:15 Moses promises his people that the Lord will take away all sickness.
DT 25:5-9 A man has an obligation to produce a child with his brother’s widow. If he refuses, his sister-in-law is to spit in his face in front of the elders.
JS 10:12-14 God obliges Joshua by making the sun and moon stand still (so that he can finish his battle by daylight).
JG 3:21-22 (KJV) “Ehud … took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.”
JG 7:12 The camels were without number as the sand of the sea.
JG 15:15 Samson slays 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass.
JG 16:17-22 Samson loses his strength as a result of having his head shaved. (Note: This is not psychosomatic since he began to lose his strength while he was still asleep.)
JG 20:16 There were seven hundred men who were left handed and could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.
1SA 5:8-9 God causes “emerods” (hemorrhoids or tumors) amongst the Philistines (who have captured the Ark of the Covenant, where God was thought to reside).
1SA 13:5 The Philistines had “… troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude.”
1SA 16:14-23 Evil spirits can come from God (and be exorcised with God’s help).
1KI 3:12, 16-28 Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, can think of no better way to determine the natural mother of a child in dispute than to threaten to divide the child in half. (Note: This does not take into account the possibility of mental derangement on the part of the natural mother.)
1KI 4:29 God gave Solomon wisdom as measureless as the sand on the seashore.
1KI 6:2, 2CH 3:3 Solomon’s temple was only about ninety feet long by thirty feet wide, yet:
1KI 5:15-16 153,300 persons were employed to build it.
1KI 6:38 It took seven years to build.
1CH 22:14 ~7,500,000 lbs. of gold and ~75,000,000 lbs. of silver were used.
1CH 23:4 24,000 supervisors and 6,000 officials and judges were employed to manage it. (Note: Inasmuch as there seems to be uncertainty as to the exact weight of the biblical talent, some estimates place the weight of gold at more than 13,000,000 lbs. and the weight of silver at more than 116,000,000 lbs.)
1KI 10:24 The whole world sought an audience with Solomon to hear his wisdom.
1KI 17:2-6 The Lord commands ravens to bring bread and meat to Elijah.
1KI 18:33-38 Fire consumes wet wood, stones, and dust, and “licks up” water.
2KI 6:5-7 An iron axe head “swims” (or floats).
2CH 9:23 All the kings on earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom.
2KI 13:21 A man who is being buried comes alive after touching the bones of Elisha.
2KI 16:2, 20, 18:1-2 Ahaz was thirty-six years old when he died. His twenty-five year old son Hezekiah succeeded him. Thus Ahaz was a ten or eleven year old father.
2KI 19:35 (KJV) “…the angel of the Lord…smote…an hundred four score and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning … they were all dead….”
2KI 20:11 The shadow on a sun dial moves backwards.
2CH 7:5, 8-9 Solomon sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep in one week. This is 845+ animals per hour, 14+ animals per minute, for seven days straight.
2CH 21:20, 22:1-2 Ahaziah was forty-two when he became king; he succeeded his father, who died at the age of forty. Thus, Ahaziah was two years older than his father. [Note: Some translations use “twenty-two” here in an attempt to rectify this discrepancy. The Hebrew is clear, however, that 2CH 22:2 is 42. The Hebrew words involved are Strong’s H705 and H8147, “forty” and “two,” respectively.]
2CH 13:3 Abijah sent 400,000 men into battle against Jeroboam’s 800,000 men. This is a total of 1,200,000 men, all of them Jews. (Note: Assuming one additional woman per man of fighting age, plus two persons per man [either older persons or children] would put the Jewish population of the surrounding area at a minimum of 4,800,000 persons; hardly feasible.)
2CH 13:17 500,000 Israelites are slain in a single battle. (Note: This is more than were lost in any single battle of World War II, and even exceeds the number of deaths that resulted from the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.)
ES 6:6, JB 19:27, PS 7:9, 16:7, 73:21, PR 23:7, 16, IS 10:7, JE 11:20, 17:10, 20:12, MT 9:4, LK 2:19, 9:47, AC 8:22, RO 10:9-10, HE 4:12, RE 2:23 (See KJV especially.) Thought occurs in the heart. The kidneys (“reins”) are the seat of conscience.(Note: This is not merely a poetic use of these terms, as is now claimed. In early times, it was actually believed that various body organs other than the brain were responsible for our thoughts, feelings, actions and the like. The heart was believed to be the seat of thought processes and beliefs, while the kidneys were thought to be the seat of conscience.)
JB 9:6 (KJV) God shakes the earth out of its place and makes its pillars tremble.
JB 9:7 God can make the sun not rise and seal up the stars.
JB 28:28, PS 111:10, PR 1:7, 9:10, 15:33, IS 33:6 Fear of the Lord is equated with obtaining wisdom.
PS 121:6 It is apparently possible to suffer moonstroke as well as sunstroke.
PR 19:23, 22:4 Fear of the Lord brings freedom from trouble(s). Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth, honor, and life.
PR 20:30 Blows that wound cleanse away evil.
IS 30:26 The moon will someday be as bright as the sun now is. (Note: Until relatively recent times, the moon and the planets were thought to give off their own light.)
IS 38:8 The shadow of the Sun is made to move backwards.
IS 40:22 The earth is a circle. (Note: The earth is really a sphere, not a circle, and this verse does not imply a sphere as some believers like to infer.)
JE 20:7, EZ 14:9 Jeremiah says that the Lord deceived his own prophet. God himself says that he deceives his own prophets in order to get rid of them.
EZ 37:1-10 Dry bones come alive.
AM 8:9 The Sun will be made to set at noon in “clear day.”
MT 4:8 There is a high mountain from which all the kingdoms of the world can be seen. (Note: This implies a flat earth.)
MT 4:23-24, 9:32-33, 12:22, 17:14-18, MK 1:23-26, 32-34, 5:2-16, 9:17-29, 16:9, LK 11:14, 4:33-35, 8:2, 27-36, 9:38-42, AC 8:7, 16:16-18 Both physical and mental illness are caused by demon possession and can be cured by exorcism.
MT 7:7-8, LK 11:9-10 Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Everyone who asks, receives.
MT 13:41 Jesus will send his angels to purge his kingdom of evildoers and sin. (Note: How did evildoers get into his kingdom in the first place?)
MT 17:20, 21:21, MK 9:23, 10:27, 11:23, LK 17:6 Faith can move mountains. Nothing is impossible if you have faith [as small as] a grain of mustard seed.
MT 18:19 If two [believers] agree about anything they ask, God will do it for them.
MT 21:22, MK 11:24 Whatever you ask in prayer, if you have faith, you will receive it.
MT 24:29-30 Although the sun and the moon have been darkened and the stars have fallen from heaven, there is still enough light to see.
MT 26:52 All who take the sword will perish by it.
MT 27:52-53 The bodies of dead saints arise and go in force in the city.
MK 11:12-14, 20-21 Jesus curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season. (Note: Rather than cause the fig tree to wither and to bear fruit never again, he could have performed a miracle and made it bear fruit even out of season.)
MK 16:17-18 Those who believe are able to handle snakes and drink any deadly poison without suffering harm.
LK 1:39-42 The fetus in Elizabeth’s womb jumps for joy when Elizabeth hears Mary (who is pregnant with Jesus).
LK 22:28-30 Jesus assigns each of his twelve disciples (including Judas, his betrayer) a place (or throne) in his kingdom.
JN 6:24-30 A large crowd of persons (probably several thousand) asks Jesus for a sign so that they might see and believe. This occurs immediately following the Feeding of the Multitude which should have been one of the greatest miracles and most convincing signs of all time.
JN 8:51 Jesus says: “… if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
JN 12:34 A crowd of persons (speaking in unison?) asks Jesus a thirty word question.
JN 16:23 Jesus says: “Whatever you ask in my name, my Father will give you.”
RO 10:17-18, CN 1:23 The gospel had already been preached to every living creature even in Paul’s time.
2CO 12:2 There are at least three heavens.
2CO 12:4 There are things which cannot be told–things which man cannot utter.
GA 1:8-9 An angel (from God?) who preaches a gospel contrary to that of Paul will incur Paul’s wrath.
1TI 5:11 Younger widows want to marry because their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ.
1TI 6:10 The love of money is the root of all evil(s). (Note: Some translations emend the text to read, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils,” or something similar, in an attempt to ameliorate an obvious problem. Those additional words are not there in the Greek of the oldest and most reliable manuscripts.)
TS 1:12 “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars ….” (Figure the logic of this verse–if you can!)
HE 7:1-3 Melchizedek had no mother or father, no beginning or end.
RE 14:1-4 Heaven is to be inhabited in part by 144,000 virgin men who have not been “defiled” by women.
RE 21:16 The city of New Jerusalem (where the residents of heaven reside) is only about 1500 miles square.
PART 4 Tomorrow Atrocities