Contradictions in the Bible

The Bible is an unreliable authority because it contains numerous contradictions. Logically, if two statements are contradictory, at least one of them is false. The biblical contradictions, therefore, demonstrate beyond doubt the book has many false statements and is not infallible.

Old Testament Contradictions

The contradictions start in the opening chapters of the Bible, where inconsistent creation stories are told. Genesis chapter 1 says the first man and woman were made at the same time, and after the animals. But Genesis chapter 2 gives a different order of creation: man, then the animals, and then woman.

Genesis chapter 1 lists six days of creation, whereas chapter 2 refers to the “day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Genesis 1:2-3 claims that God created light and divided it from darkness on the first day; but Genesis 1:14-19 tells us the sun, moon, and stars weren’t made until the fourth day.

Chapter 1 reports that the fruit trees were created before the man, while chapter 2 indicates they were made after him. Genesis 1:20 says the fowl were created out of the waters; Genesis 2:19 alleges they were formed from the ground.

Contradictions are also seen in the biblical story of a worldwide flood. According to Genesis 6:19-22, God ordered Noah to bring “of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort . . . into the ark.” Nevertheless, Genesis 7:2-3 relates that the Lord ordered Noah to take into the ark the clean beasts and the birds by sevens, and only the unclean beasts by twos.

Genesis 8:4 reports that, as the waters of the flood receded, Noah’s ark rested on the mountains of Ararat in the seventh month. The very next verse, however, says the mountaintops could not be seen until the tenth month.

Genesis 8:13 describes the earth as being dry on the first day of the first month. But Genesis 8:14 informs us the earth was not dry until the twenty-seventh day of the second month.

The Old Testament contains an interesting contradiction in the story of the census taken by King David and the resulting punishment of the Israelites. God was so angered by the census that he sent a plague that killed 70,000 men. According to II Samuel 24:1, the Lord had caused David to take the census – which makes the punishment appear even more nonsensical. But an attempt was later made, at I Chronicles 21:1, to improve God’s image by claiming that Satan incited the census.

Further, the Old Testament is contradictory as to whether the Lord commanded the Israelites to sacrifice animals to him. At Jeremiah 7:22, God denies he ever gave the Israelites commandments about animal sacrifices. In contrast, Exodus 29:38-42 and many other verses depict God as requiring the Israelites to offer animal sacrifices.

New Testament Contradictions

In the New Testament, there are contradictions between the genealogies of Jesus given in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke.

Both genealogies begin with Jesus’ father, who is identified as Joseph (which is curious, given that Mary was supposedly impregnated by the Holy Ghost). But Matthew says Joseph’s father was Jacob, while Luke claims he was Heli. Matthew lists 26 generations between Jesus and King David, whereas Luke records 41. Matthew runs Jesus’ line of descent through David’s son Solomon, while Luke has it going through David’s son Nathan.

The story of Jesus’ birth is also contradictory. Matthew 2:13-15 depicts Joseph and Mary as fleeing to Egypt with the baby Jesus immediately after the wise men from the east had brought gifts.

But Luke 2:22-40 claims that after the birth of Jesus, his parents remained in Bethlehem for the time of Mary’s purification (which was 40 days, under the Mosaic law). Afterward, they brought Jesus to Jerusalem “to present him to the Lord,” and then returned to their home in Nazareth. Luke mentions no journey into Egypt or visit by wise men from the east.

Concerning the death of Judas, the disloyal disciple, Matthew 27:5 states he took the money he had received for betraying Jesus, threw it down in the temple, and “went and hanged himself.” To the contrary, Acts 1:18 claims Judas used the money to purchase a field and “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

In describing Jesus being led to his execution, John 19:17 recounts that he carried his own cross. But Mark 15:21-23 disagrees by saying a man called Simon carried the cross.

As for the crucifixion, Matthew 27:44 tells us Jesus was taunted by both criminals who were being crucified with him. But Luke 23:39-43 relates that only one of the criminals taunted Jesus, the other criminal rebuked the one who was doing the taunting, and Jesus told the criminal who was defending him, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Regarding the last words of Jesus while on the cross, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 quote Jesus as crying with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Luke 23:46 gives his final words as, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” John 19:30 alleges the last words were, “It is finished.”

There are even contradictions in the accounts of the resurrection – the supposed event that is the very foundation of the Christian religion. Mark 16:2 states that on the day of the resurrection, certain women arrived at the tomb at the rising of the sun. But John 20:1 informs us they arrived when it was yet dark. Luke 24:2 describes the tomb as open when the women arrived, whereas Matthew 28:1-2 indicates it was closed. Mark 16:5 declares that the women saw a young man at the tomb, Luke 24:4 says they saw two men, Matthew 28:2 reports they saw an angel, and John 20:11-12 claims they saw two angels.

Also in the resurrection stories, there are contradictions as to the identity of the women who came to the tomb, whether the men or angels the women saw were inside or outside the tomb, whether the men or angels were standing or sitting, and whether Mary Magdalene recognized the risen Jesus when he first appeared to her.

As a final example of a New Testament contradiction, the conflicting accounts of Paul’s conversion can be cited. Acts 9:7 states that when Jesus called Paul to preach the gospel, the men who were with Paul heard a voice but saw no man. According to Acts 22:9, however, the men saw a light but didn’t hear the voice speaking to Paul.

The foregoing examples are just a few of the hundreds of contradictions contained in the Old and New Testaments. Each contradiction is an instance where at least one of the verses is wrong. Thus, hundreds of contradictions mean there are at least hundreds of incorrect statements in the Bible.

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