Whenever I speak to a believer about their holy text, I always seem to get the same answers when I bring up the inconsistencies within, or that fact that the Old Testament is rife with murder, rape, and genocide. What is it about this text that makes it holy or even the Word of God?
If we were to take it literally, nothing within this book is worthy of being deemed as anything but horror stories and fantasies. Sure, there’s some actual historical names and places sprinkled within to make it seem authentic, but none of the stories, in either the New or Old Testament can be validated by historians.
When I bring up the Old Testament to those believers and ask how they can think that the horror within says anything about a loving God, the response I receive is something like, “That was before Jesus”, or some other similar type of reasoning. What they fail to justify though is why they continue to use that same book to justify their own belief.
This is why atheists, and others, accuse believers of cherry-picking their scripture, taking to good parts and ignoring the bad or inconvenient bits that show their religion to be other than what they claim.
The New Testament, although not filled with the same sort of acts by God as the Old, still shows a lot of inconsistencies that believers refuse to recognize. Ask any of them and they’ll say that there are none. Really? A six-year-old could point them out. Read. Matthew and Luke in parallel, especially the birth account, and note how the birth of Jesus differs between the two.
One of my favorites though is I and II Thessalonians, the first actually written by “Paul” the second, is a pseudograph or outright forgery. In I Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul encourages his fellow believers that they will not “fall asleep” as some others have, before the Lord returns. Yes, Paul actually thought that the return was imminent.Well, that prediction failed, so someone, after Paul, wrote II Thessalonians which states in 1:1-11 for believers not to believe that Jesus has already come back, and to hold fast and have faith because he will return.
A bit of sleight of hand here isn’t it? Paul predicted, even guaranteed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. Oops! That didn’t happen so we better console the flock by telling them to just hang in there.
Examples like this are not difficult to discover, but bringing it to a believer and asking them to explain it, results in some interesting word salad that means nothing. Of course, they’ll quote Jesus from Matthew 24:36 but that doesn’t answer as to why Paul told believers something else. Of course Paul wrote long before Matthew was and maybe, just a thought here, the “quote” from Jesus was included to assuage others away from the idea that the return would happen at any moment.
I encourage all non-believers to get to know, at least a little, the text that Christians hold up as infallible. As we are already aware, it’s not, but the more we know about their book, the better enabled we are to refute any and all claims.