SAB Contradictions #1

The Skeptics Annotated Bible is a website devoted to attempting to find contradictions in the Bible. And they have a lot of them – 536.

Since the SAB is one of the most popular sources for supposed Bible contradictions, it’s probably helpful to go through some of them and explain them. Many a Christian has been led astray by unfounded claims of ‘loads of contradictions’ in the Bible.

 

contradictions
A chart of supposed contradictions created by BibViz – the internet’s most popular Bible contradiction website.

 

The first of SAB’s many contradictions is found here. It states that Genesis bears two contradictory accounts of how creation occurred, pitting 1:1-2:4 against 2:5-25.

The SAB gives two supposed contradictions from these sections:

 

Contradiction 1: Man and the Animals

In the first creation story, humans are created after the other animals.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:25-27

In the second story, humans were created before the other animals.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:18-19

The key to this contradiction is understanding that Genesis 1:1-2:4 and 2:5-25 are written in very different styles. The first establishes a basic, indisputable chronology (which has, sadly, been disputed too many times to count) while the second focuses on the sixth day and the creation of the animals, man, and woman.

Genesis 2:18-19 has a more sweeping, general view of creation, which focuses on the creation and subsequent actions of Adam. To make the story more clear for its audience, the creation of the animals is not mentioned until it becomes important to the story. A better translation might provide the word ‘had’ in the first part of verse 19, to show that it was a past event. In fact, the ‘had’ does appear in multiple translations, including the NIV and the ESV, below:

Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens 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. (Emphasis added)

The use of the KJV in the original page feels deliberate, even more so since the NIV and ESV go unmentioned, despite solving the contradiction easily.


Contradiction 2: Man and Woman

This supposed contradiction is, if possible, even easier to refute. Here’s the post’s claim:


In the first creation story, the first man and woman were created simultaneously.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:25-27

In the second account, the man was created first, then the animals, then the woman from the man’s rib.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them…. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Genesis 2:18-22

Genesis 1:25-27 doesn’t state or imply that Adam and Eve’s creation was simultaneous. Likewise, you can imagine someone saying ‘I got the mail and closed the mailbox’ without believing these actions to be simultaneous – the idea is patently ridiculous. Genesis 2:18-22 simply provides a bit of clarification as to the order, though the first passage notably already places them in the correct chronological order.


In conclusion, the idea that there are two separate and contradictory accounts in Genesis 1-2 is somewhat ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the way it is believed to have occurred since these accounts were both written by Moses – and likely at very close times, since they appear right next to each other in the Bible.

Next week, we look at the real creator of heaven and earth – God, Jesus, or both?

Minimum Viable Population

Since the early 1970s, studies have been done to determine the minimum viable population (MVP) of many species, not least among them humans. In more colloquial language, MVP refers to how many members of a species must be present for it to have a 90 to 95% chance of surviving under average condition.

Perhaps one of the most famous MVP calculations in history – though relatively obscure in other fields – is John Moore’s number of 160 – that is to say, 160 people would be needed for humans to most likely survive. New Scientist calls this the ‘magic number’ for space pioneers, suggesting that for colonisation on Mars (or even further afield) one would need 160 people.

John Moore’s calculation is in the main correct, but New Scientist is but one of many who misuse or misunderstand the meaning of MVP. In the article, it is suggested that MVP could be ‘halved’ to 80 via social engineering (the idea is that later pregnancies will extend the lengths of generations), but this idea is flawed. Not because it wouldn’t work, but because MVP becomes an invalid source of measurement. Wikipedia states that ‘MVP does not take human intervention into account’, and this is a form of intervention – in this case, social scientists back on earth suggesting lengthening generations.

Now, why am I addressing MVP?

Minimum viable population is an attack used on creation by some evolutionists, so it’s important to know how to counter it. The argument is that Adam and Eve – two people – fall far below the MVP claimed by such surveys as Moore’s. There are a number of ways to refute the argument, which typically refers to the population bottlenecks of Adam and Eve as well as Noah and his relations (the latter less commonly than the former) as impossible.

Here are the rebuttals:

 

DNA Defects

Josephus states that, according to tradition, ‘The number of Adam’s children…was 33 sons and 23 daughters’. Whether or not this number is likely (and it seems to be when comparing the extended period in which Eve would have been giving birth to children). All of these children would almost certainly have had essentially perfect DNA – with no defects or mutations. And fertility is one of the scientifically observed facets of humanity which genetic mutations affect, making childbirth less common and more difficult.

Adam and Eve, being created perfect, would have an optimal set of circumstances, genetically speaking, to give birth to many children.

 

Evolution and MVP

There is evolutionary evidence – or at least, it’s interpreted as thus by many evolutionary scientists – that there was a population bottleneck eight to ten millennia ago (right before the most recent ice age), wherein human population dropped to about twelve. Yes, twelve.

Related image

Not only does this match the Flood timeframe reasonably well, it also provides the exact same problem for evolution. And all of these other solutions don’t work with it since they’re based on the ideas of a pure creation and divine intervention.

 

Extended Lifespan

To say ‘extended’ here is an understatement. Adam lived 930 years – not even 40 behind Methuselah, the oldest known person in history according to the Bible. (Don’t make the mistake of thinking Methuselah is definitely the oldest person in history. The Bible isn’t a categorical list of all people, and thus it’s possible – in fact, reasonably likely – that someone older than him is simply not listed in the genealogies.)

Scientifically speaking, since Adam lived about ten times as long as he would today (give or take a decade or two), Eve’s period of fertility would be extended tenfold – from 35 years to a staggering 350-year period. Since MVP is based on the prior length of time, it would probably decrease significantly in light of the new figure.

 

Divine Intervention

MVP is probabilistic. Even ignoring the other arguments, the elephant in the room is that God is, after all, a God of more than the improbable – He’s a God of the impossible. If Abraham can have a son at ninety-nine, if bread can fall from the sky in the Sinai desert, if David can defeat tens of thousands of Philistines single-handedly, then surely Adam and Eve can ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28).

 

Conclusion

Minimum viable population is a scant argument at best. With a bit of thought, the problems with it are clear, but that’s the problem – most people don’t give it enough thought. The principle problem – not just with the refutation to the problem of MVP but with apologetics as a whole – is that people give in too easily. How many times have you heard someone say ‘The Bible is full of contradictions’ and seen others accept it without proof?

So MVP should be a sign of the average Christian’s difficulty dealing with tough questions like these. If that’s you, don’t let it be. Study the Bible. Learn apologetics. And most of all, use it.

 


Sources

New Scientist

Children of Adam and Eve

Genesis 1:28

Minimum Viable Population

Population Bottleneck Chart