Atheists and skeptics love to hurl criticism at the Bible, the word of God. But God’s
word provides its own best defense, for it has the ring of truth, tolling down
through the centuries. I was sent a series of questions by an atheist. Some are valid,
others just silly, but they are the sort of questions all Christians are asked at some time.
God expects us to give an account of our belief, to “contend earnestly for the faith”
as Jude put it. So here are our Biblical answers to a critic’s questions.
First, here is what God says:
"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with
their mocking, following after their own lusts and saying
"where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers
fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning
of creation." 2 Peter 3: 3;4.This refers to people who snigger
and scoff at things they do not understand. It's really rather sad.
But the Bible predicted it would be so, immediately prior to the Lord's return. .
"Why did God not like Cain's vegetable sacrifice but
loved Abel's cooked meat?"
Hebrews 11;4 gives the answer: “By faith Abel offered to
God a better sacrifice than Cain through which he obtained
the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about
his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”
11;6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him…”
In other words, Abel had true or “saving” faith, Cain didn’t.
Everybody believed and knew God in those days, of course.
They also knew what kind of sacrifices He wanted.
Heb 9:22 ‘…without the shedding of blood there is no remission..’
Sin is so terrible and so offensive to God that there is nothing
valuable enough to pay the penalty of it except blood. That
is why Jesus suffered and died and shed His blood. He
would not have had to do that if there had been any other way.
Abel’s blood sacrifice was acceptable. Cain is a type of
someone who offers God his own good works. Isaiah 64:6
tells us that our good works are like stinking rags to God.
Here is a site that will help you
There is a good poem about this at http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0148.htm
"Who was Cain afraid would kill him when God put him
out of the Garden for killing Abel? There were mum, dad,
his brother and himself on the whole planet at the time."
By the time of the Flood, 1,656 years after Creation,
the world could have had a population of seven billion.
Not every child would have been recorded, only
those relevant to the story. As people had long lifespans
then there could have been many other people around and
indeed were. In its first 800 years, the possible lifespan of
Cain, the earth could have had a population of 120,000
(source, The Genesis Record by Henry Morris).
The first marriages were all brother and sister marriages
- the gene pool was strong then. All that world was
destroyed- we just have bones and fossils left.
If you want to find out more about Creation,
look up this website: Creation.com
"Why would God stop the whole earth for a day
so Israelites could finish a genocide against the enemy?"
This is from Joshua 10:12
Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day
when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before
the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,"O sun,
stand still at Gibeon,And O moon in the valley of Aijalon."
Joshua 10:11-13 (in Context) Joshua 10 (Whole Chapter)
The context is that the Amorites were hopelessly evil and
God wanted them removed from the face of the earth.
The Lord listened to Joshua’s prayers and fought for
Israel, as he has done many times right up to the present
day- and continues to do so, which is why such a tiny
land is strangely invincible. This is one of the great
indications that the Bible is true, incidentally.
Why do you use the word ‘genocide’? This smacks
of an evil mindset against God and against the Bible.
God gave the Amorites every chance. He even kept
the Israelites in Egypt as slaves until the wickedness
of the Amorites was full (Gen 15:16). They were
horrible people and to see what they did to babies and
children, click on the link below.
"How come the horses in the Exodus die twice in the
Ten Plagues and still survive for Pharaoh to mount
a final attack against the Israelites, and then die again."
The text in Exodus 9: 3;7, says that many animals,
some of all kinds, should die by some form of pestilence.
Verse 19 makes clear that not all the animals of Egypt
were destroyed. Verse 20 says that “The one among
the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the
Lord made his servants and his livestock flee into
the houses to shelter from the coming hailstorm.
You have to read the text carefully and with a
good commentary, like William McDonald’s.
"Why, no matter what, is it always the humans'
fault and God never gets any blame for not
making good on his promises?"
This is easy - unbelievers are always wanting to turn
things round and blame God rather than their own
original sin. God makes good on all His promises.
Name one that he hasn’t made good on. The reason
people are to blame is that it is their fault for
disobeying the clear word of God, set out in great
detail throughout both old and new testaments.
The ones not yet fulfilled will be and in fact many
are being fulfilled at this time. You either put
yourself on the side of God and believe the truth,
or reject God and start pointing the finger at him.
That’s a bit pathetic, really.
"Why does the Apostle Paul, who writes most of
the New Testament, NEVER quote Jesus, tell a
story of his life or death, discuss a miracle or teaching?"
Luke also wrote a lot and, in Acts, starts by
talking about the aftermath of the crucifixion.
He quotes The Lord Jesus in verses 4, 5,7 and 8.
He quotes the Lord again in Acts 9, verses 4, 5,6, 11, 12 and 15.
Luke again quotes Jesus in Acts 22: 7;8; 10; 18 and 21. And
so on – Chapter 26: 14;15;16;17;18. Bibles with the words
of Jesus in red help you pick them out.
I don’t see the relevance of this question. The life,
miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus were told
in the Gospels and cover events prior to Paul being
converted. He wasn’t there - hence no first hand reports.
Paul had a different purpose; taking the news about
Jesus out to the wider world and, once churches were
established, teaching the leaders/appointing the
leaders of those churches.
Paul recounts his very own conversion miracle and
meeting with Jesus in Chapter 26 when he appears
before Agrippa. All of Paul’s teaching was directly
inspired from the Lord Jesus, transmitted via The
Holy Spirit. He sums up the teaching of the Lord in
Acts 26: 23: “that the Christ was to suffer and that by
reason of His resurrection from the dead He should
be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish
people and to the Gentiles.”
"Why do neither Mark nor John know anything
about Jesus' birth, while Matthew and Luke do
but tell contradictory stories?"
Of course they knew all about the birth of Jesus.
Mark starts his account with the story leading up
to the start of Jesus’ ministry. John goes back
further, to the Creation. Not every Gospel,
not every book, needs to repeat the same facts.
The story progresses and is told from different
perspectives. Some accounts add more detail but
they never, ever, contradict each other. There is
not one contradiction in the whole Bible.
Critics make these claims- but seldom name one!
God gets things right first time.
"Why does Paul only say Jesus was born of
a woman like everyone else?"
Because this was the truth. It was His
fatherhood that was not of human origin.
"Did Paul ever spend five minutes with the
real human Jesus?"
Paul was a religious Jew and even as a boy
probably went up to Jerusalem for the feasts,
so he may well have seen Jesus at some stage.
This is irrelevant. The main thing is that Paul
came to faith in Israel’s Messiah. You are
following rabbit trails that may be interesting,
but you could be in danger of missing the main event.
Jesus was crucified, rose and ascended to
Heaven prior to Paul’s conversion, so obviously
he did not spend time with Jesus on earth.
This was not necessary as the Lord spoke to him
on the road to Damascus.
1 Cor 11 23 says: ‘For I have received of the lord
that which also I delivered unto you…’ so Jesus,
although He had already gone back to Heaven,
obviously did teach Paul by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 1:17,18 After Paul’s conversion he did not go
back to Jerusalem, ‘but I went into Arabia and returned
again unto Damascus Then after three years I went up
to Jerusalem to see Peter and abode with him 15 days.’
No one knows what went on in those three years,
but that is how long the other apostles were with Jesus.
Gal 2:1,2 ‘Then 14 years after I went up again to
Jerusalem with Barnabas and took Titus with me also.
And I went up by revelation…’ Paul had direct revelation from God.
2 Cor 12:2 Paul was caught up to Heaven and heard
things there. The important thing is that Paul believed
the Scriptures and believed in Jesus, fully man and fully God.
"Isn't it strange the man who writes most of the New
Testament and tells us all how to live, think and believe
about Jesus, never met him, while the Twelve who did,
vanish into thin air and write nothing/"
Nothing strange about it. Paul met Jesus, as detailed above,
and was inspired of the Holy Spirit to act and write as he did.
He knew Jesus very well indeed. Vanish into thin air?
No, they were busy preaching and teaching the gospel.
"How come Jesus never wrote anything himself while
alive, but then writes perfect Greek after he is dead
in the form of the Book of Revelation?"
Answer: He wrote in the sand when the woman
caught in adultery was brought before Him.
As the Creator of the universe, mere human languages
are unlikely to be a problem for Him. He knows everything, after all.
"If Herod killed all the little children under two to
get at Jesus, who escaped, can we not say the little
children had to die for Jesus before he died for them?"
Non-believers can say what they like, but that
doesn’t make it true. The children were murdered
by an evil man, inspired by Satan. Satan is
now trying to stop the Second Advent - and
always has - by trying to wipe out the Jews.
You must have noticed that they are the
most persecuted race on earth. Not an accident.
"How come Herod couldn't follow the Star
of Bethlehem himself to find Jesus, but
sent others to report back when they found him?"
The star was obviously supernatural, visible
to the wise men and not to Herod. Stars
do not go before people and stand over a house.
Herod didn’t send others: the wise men - not
necessarily three of them by the way - were sent
and inspired by God. Herod asked them to
report back but they were warned by an angel
not to go, so returned home by a different route.
"How could Mary leave town after being warned
of Herod's intentions and never tell the women
in the town their kids were about to be butchered?
Do you think Mary thought, 'I know something
you don't know,' as she left town?"
You have a really nasty mind. The text doesn’t
say that Mary was told all the children would be
killed. Try reading it before phrasing these questions!
Matthew 2; 13 tells how an angel appeared to
Joseph – not Mary –and told him to take his
family and flee to Egypt… “for Herod is going
to search for the child (singular) to destroy Him.”
At that stage Herod had not decided to kill
all the children – this comes only in verse 16
when he realized he had been tricked by the Magi.
So the snide remark about Mary is uncalled for.
"How could Jesus' family flee to Egypt sometime
during the first two years in one story but go home
to Nazareth quietly after 40 days in the other?"
They went back up to Nazareth after the birth.
Then at some stage the wise men arrived, at
a house not a stable, and Jesus was a toddler,
not a baby. When the angel woke Joseph up
and warned him, the family left the country.
We are not told if they were by then in
Nazareth or Bethlehem or some other
village at the time. Herod had the babies killed
throughout the Bethlehem area because his
advisors told him that was where Messiah
would be born. Remember that the Jews
had three feasts and they went to Jerusalem
three times a year, so they may well have
gone down from Nazareth to the Bethlehem
area to stay during one of the festival seasons.
It would have made it much easier on them
if they were in Bethlehem, because they
would have had fewer miles to travel to Egypt.
"How come in Mark 3 Mary and Jesus’
brothers came to get Jesus and take him home
because they thought he was "mad" which
I assume means insane. Did Mary forget who He was he was and how he got here?"
Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him at that
time (John 7:5). His mother knew, but was
probably alarmed at how He was going about things.
Remember, the Jews were looking for a conquering
king Messiah, not a suffering servant Messiah.
Mary could no doubt foresee the danger He was in from the rulers.
"How come Matthew uses the Old Testament
to weave a story of Jesus, where every quote
he uses has absolutely nothing to do with
the point he is making about Jesus birth?"
You are muddled. Matthew shows the line of
Messiah going back to Abraham. That has a
lot to do with His birth. Then he shows how
the birth fulfills OT prophecies, of Mary
being a virgin, yet pregnant (Isaiah 7) ; that
his name would be Immanuel, God with us,
which is what He is, that he would save his
people from their sins. Then the magi and
the star, fulfilling more OT prophecy.
Then born in Bethlehem, the very place
prophesied in Micah 5. Then the flight to
Egypt, fulfilling the pattern that refers to
Messiah and Israel both coming ‘out of Egypt’.
Matthew was showing that Jesus was the true
Messiah, fulfilling the prophecies made
hundreds of years before He came.
"If Jesus was asked 'who sinned, this man or
his parents that he was born blind?', would that
not imply the man had sinned before his birth,
perhaps in a previous life, if his blindness at
birth was some kind of punishment? I mean,
the blindness was from birth, so the sin had to be before that."
No. There is no such thing as reincarnation.
Heb 9:27 ‘As it is appointed for men to die once,
but after this the judgment…’
There is no question of a previous life. The
Bible has never taught reincarnation. It is a
false doctrine. The question put to Jesus
indicated that the man born blind could
have sinned while in the womb, not that he had a previous existence.
That you get Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s teaching
series ‘Life of the Messiah from a Jewish Perspective’
which will answer every question.
Also Believers’ Bible Commentary by William Macdonald.
Recommendation from Pat:
Paul, I am concerned about you. You seem to be
aggressively looking for some excuse to rubbish the Bible
and blame God. You seem to think He is cruel,
when in fact He is loving and kind, slow to anger,
abundant in mercy to those who fear Him.
I detect no fear of God in your questions. I fear for you.
If you have read Romans 3 you know that all have
sinned, including me and including you. My
real life began when I got on my knees and begged
God to forgive all my sins. That was in 1981.
That was the day I was born again.
That is what you need, Paul – to stop nitpicking
and start examining your own faults and asking
God to forgive you. Then you will be able to come
to the Bible with a new heart. If you repent of your
sins and put your trust in the Lord Jesus, He will give
you a new life and a new heart, and make you to
be a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17 and 2 Cor 3:18).