Earlier this week, I was asked to write a response to a contradiction that atheist Kenny Wyland lists as the “craziest biblical contradiction ever.” Scott Burgener mentioned this same contradiction as being the “watershed moment” that led to his rejection of Christianity, and it is also included as number 434 in the Skeptics Annotated Bible “List of Contradictions” as well as in Jim Merritt’s “List of Bible Contradictions” on infidels.org. So what is this contradiction which has attracted the attention of so many atheists? It is the very important question of whether it was God or Satan who tempted David to take a census of the nation of Israel.
In my previous Bible Contradiction article, I provided a solution to a contradiction that the Skeptics Annotated Bible (SAB) listed as having no Christian response. That’s not to say that I was the first Christian to solve this particular contradiction. They simply hadn’t linked to any response yet in the SAB list. So, after I posted my solution, I sent Steve Wells, the administrator of the SAB page, a tweet informing him of a new Christian response to that contradiction, and Steve was kind enough to add a link to my solution at the bottom of that page on the SAB.
One of the things that really bothers me as a Christian is seeing other Christians attempt to explain away the troubling passages of Scripture. This past Saturday, I had the privilege of hearing Paul Copan speak about his book Is God a Moral Monster. I’ve been very slowly reading through Mr. Copan’s book for some time now, so I was looking forward to the opportunity to hear this particular presentation. My hope was that hearing him in person would alleviate some of the concerns that I had developed while reading his book. Unfortunately, that hope did not come to fruition.
One of the greatest concerns that I have for Mr. Copan’s thesis is his apparent lack of consideration for the context of some of his proof texts. A good example of this flaw can be found on page 171 where Mr. Copan uses the accounts of the Anakim to prove his claim that Joshua was using “ancient Near Eastern hyperbole” whenever he spoke of utterly destroying some particular foe. Here is the quote from that section of Mr. Copan’s book which I find to be so troubling:
I love studying the supposed contradictions of Scripture. They're like little puzzles that God placed throughout His Word just to make it more interesting. When I was in college, I downloaded a list of over 300 contradictions, and working my way through that list was one of the most reassuring things that I've ever done. I was able to prove to myself time and time again that God's Word really is perfect in every way. Yesterday, I was confronted with another supposed contradiction, and once again, I found that God's Word is without flaw.
This particular contradiction comes from II Samuel 23:8 and I Chronicles 11:11. Here is what we find in those two passages of Scripture:
These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. (II Samuel 23:8)
And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had; Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time. (I Chronicles 11:11)
As you can see, the first passage says that the chief of David's might men slew 800 men at one time, but the second verse says that he only slew 300 men at once. Which one is correct?
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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