The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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Internal Contradictions in the Bible

There are many verses in the Bible that contradict one another. We will be taking a look at a few below.

[It should be noted that these and other contradictions exists in the Bible and in the earliest extant manuscripts. Faced with the difficulty of defending these, some fundamentalists have chosen a different tack. Thus we see fundamentalist versions of the Bible (such as the NIV, the Book and the Living Bible) making textually unsupported changes to the text of their translations!]

The Creation Account

Let us begin at the beginning. In chapter one of Genesis, God is said to have created plants on the third day (Genesis 1:12-13), with animals being created on the fifth and sixth day (Genesis 1:20-25). Man was made after all these, on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-31). However, in the very next chapter, the Bible contradicts itself by explicitly noting that man was created before the plants and animals.

Created Before the Plants:
Genesis 2:4-7
In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Created before the animals:
Genesis 2:18-19
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

The difference between the above two accounts cannot be more explicit.

  • In Genesis 1:12 it was noted that the land had already produced vegetation on the third day, three days before the creation of man. Yet in Genesis 2:5, no shrub or plant had even grown when man was created.
  • Furthermore in Genesis 1:20-25, we are told that the animals were created on the fifth and sixth day of creation, all before man; yet in Genesis 2:18-19, they were created explicitly to find man a companion! Thus within the first couple of chapters of the Bible contradictions already exist.

We take a more detailed look at the contradictions and problems in the Genesis creation myths elsewhere in this website.

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The Flood Account

Our second example also comes from Genesis, this time from the story of Noah’s ark. In the first set of verses, God commanded Noah to bring a single pair or every animal into the ark:

Genesis 6:19-20
"And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive."

The wording here is very specific that each and every kind of animals was sent to the ark in pairs. However, a few verses later, a different commandment from God was recorded:

Genesis 7:2-3
“Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth. "

Again we have another obvious contradiction staring at us.[a] Genesis 6:19-20 says there are to be two of every kind of birds and no separation is made between clean and unclean animals, the word every before the kind of animal excludes the possibility, yet Genesis &;2-3 says that there are to be seven of every kind of birds and seven pairs of every kinds of clean animals.[1]

If you are interested, we discuss the difficulties and the babylonian origins of the flood myths in more detail elsewhere.

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The Conquest of Hebron

Our next example comes from the Book of Joshua. In chapter ten, Joshua was described as conquering Hebron himself, yet five chapters later it was Caleb who supposedly did the job.[3]

Joshua 10:36-37
And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.

Joshua 15:13-14
And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak...

Modern archaeological digs have exposed even more problems with the historicity of Joshua's conquest of Canaan.

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The Slaying of Goliath

Any child with an exposure to Christian education would have heard of the story of David and Goliath. David was the Hebrew hero who slew the Philistine giant Goliath. This story comes from the first book of Samuel:

I Samuel 17:23, 50
the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name...David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone and struck the Philistine and killed him.

In the second book of Samuel we have an entirely different account of the slaying of Goliath:

II Samuel 21:19
And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan the son of Joareoregim, the Bethlehemite, slew Goliath the Gittite.

Gittite means "man of Gath". So it is the same Goliath that was described as being slain in both I and II Samuel. In the former, David was the giant killer, in the latter it was Elhanan. So at least one of these verses must be false. Who slew Goliath: David or Elhanan? This inconsistency was so obvious to the translators for the King James Bible (or "The Authorized Version") that in an act of dishonest piety they actually rewrote the verse in II Samuel 21:19 to read as

Elhanan, the son of Joareoregim, the Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite

Of course, the words "the brother of" are not found in the ancient manuscripts and has been supplied by the translators from a similar verse in the Bible (I Chronicles 20:5).[b] Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that there exists two contradictory accounts of the slaying of Goliath in the Bible.

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David's Introduction to Saul

The next example at is also taken from the book of Samuel. In it David was introduced to Saul twice![4] In the first incident, Saul calls for Jesse to send his son, David to enter into the King's service as an armour bearer:

I Samuel 16:19, 21-23
...Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me David your son, who is with the sheep"...And David came to Saul, and entered his service, and he became his armour bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying "Let David remain in my service, for he has found favour in my sight." And whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand; so Saul was refreshed and was well...

The above passage clearly shows that David, as his armour bearer and entertainer, was known to Saul. Yet a little later, after David's fight with Goliath, Saul is made to enquire from his chief captain as to the identity of the giant slayer (I Samuel 17:56). And he is again made to inquire from David who he is, when he should have known this all along:

I Samuel 17:58
And Saul said to him, "Whose son are you, young man?" And David answered, "I am the son of your servant Jesse, the Bethlehemite."

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Michal's Children

Our last example from Samuel is regarding Michal, the daughter of Saul. We are told in the passage below, that she never did bear any children:

II Samuel 6:23
Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.

But we are told just 15 chapters later that Michal had children: she had, at least, five sons![5]

II Samuel 21:8
But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

Here, just as in the case of Elhanan’s slaying of Goliath, the pious translators of the Authorized Version tries to hide this contradiction by some convoluted wording. They translated the word “borne” as ‘brought up’ or raise, keeping the actual maternity relationship vague. Most modern translations translate it correctly as "borne”.

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Genealogical Contradiction

So far we have only looked at examples of contradiction among and within books of the Old Testament, now we will proceed to show similar examples from the New Testament.

First let us look at an example where a verse in the New Testament contradicts that in the Old. Luke, in his genealogical tree of Jesus mentioned that Shelah was the grandson of Arphaxad:

Luke 3:35-36
...the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad,...

But this is explicitly contradicted by Genesis:[6]

Genesis 10:24
Arphaxad became the father of Shelah...

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Joseph's Father

Matthew and Luke also contradicted each other fabulously in their respective genealogies of Jesus; both supposedly derived from Joseph’s side. They could not even agree who was Joseph’s father!

Matthew 1:16
and Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Luke 3:23
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli

Now, pray tell, who was Joseph’s father, Jacob or Heli?

These two examples are not the only problems with genealogies of Jesus. If you are interested, a more detailed treatment is given later.

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Matthew's Mistaken Reference

One of the most glaring mistakes in the New Testament is this one by the author of Matthew:

Matthew 27:9-10
Then was fulfilled what has been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price has been said by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

The problem with this passage is that nowhere in Jeremiah can this prophecy be found. Instead it is found in the book of Zechariah!

Zechariah 11:12-13
And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter...

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The Death of Judas

There was also another point Matthew and Luke (writing in Acts) couldn’t agree on: the manner of Judas’ death.

Matthew 27:3-5
When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

Acts 1:18
Now this man [Judas] bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.

Thus Matthew said that Judas committed suicide by hanging himself while Luke said Judas fell off a precipice. Note also that Matthew said Judas gave the money back to the chief priests while Luke said that Judas used the money to buy a plot of land.

We provide a more detailed analysis of the difficulties inherent in Judas' betrayal stories elsewhere in this website.

This type of examples can be multiplied tremendously but to show us that internal contradictions exist in the Bible, the above few will suffice.

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a.Even a cursory reading of Genesis is sufficient to convince anyone that the book is a haphazard compilation of a few different traditions. In fact modern critical historical researches have more or less accepted the hypothesis that Genesis is an amalgam of four different documents and traditions namely the “J” (Jahwehist) document, the “E” (Elohim) document, the “D” (Deuteronomic) document and the “P” (Priestly) tradition. According to this hypothesis, “J” originated from the southern kingdom of Judah and was the earliest to be documented around 900BC; “E” was written in the northern kingdom of Israel probably about a century or so later. The “D” document is dated to about 700BC. The documents were then combined into one by the priesthood, who added their own “Priestly” tradition to it, during the Babylonian exile (after 560 BC).[2] This finding is of no comfort to the fundamentalist for it shows that the Bible was a very human compilation of works that often times contradict one another.
b.For those who wants to conclude that the passage from Chronicles may be the correct original reading I would like them to consider this point: the book of Chronicles was written centuries later than Samuel. This addition of "the brother of" could also well be an indication of its authors misguided piety.


1.Howell-Smith, In Search of the Real Bible: p20
2.Andersen, A Critical Introduction to the Old Testament: p 22-49
Asimov, Asimov's Guide to the Bible: p20-21
3.Andersen, A Critical Introduction to the Old Testament: p 59
4.Howell-Smith, In Search of the Real Bible: p20
Asimov, Asimov's Guide to the Bible: p288
5.Lofmark, What is the Bible?: p43
6.Lofmark, What is the Bible?: p43

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