The Dishonesty Of Christian Apologists

When arguing against religion, some atheists are quite willing to jump headfirst into the bottomless pit of bible verse, where Christians twist and shape scripture into whatever meaning is most convenient –but I’m not one of those atheists, generally. I like to avoid giving credence to a work of fiction like the bible, especially when it concerns scientific matters. I mean no one points to a line of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” and declares it to be the inerrant word of Darwin; scientific theories stand or fall on real world observations, not on faith or allegiance. In science, the evidence is looked for outside of books, not inside of them. Anyway, here we go into the Pit of Despair… don’t even think about trying to escape.

ApologeticsPress.org, a Christian publishing company that does exactly what its name suggests, routinely answers those who dare find contradictions in the bible. One of my favorite unexplained errors, which AP fails to address honestly, is Judas’ death, which occurs twice in the bible –once in Matthew, and once in Acts, with two different methods of expiration, within two different story lines. The King James Bible says:

Matthew 27:5 –  And he[Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Matthew 27:6 –  And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, “It is not lawful to put this into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.”

Matthew 27:7 –  And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.

AND

Acts 1:18 –  Now this man[Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

Acts 1:19 –  And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

According to Matthew, Judas drops his booty and hangs himself, and then the priests take the cheese to buy a field for the John Does to be buried in. But according to Acts, Judas does the real estate deal, then takes a belly-busting, nose dive onto the ground. So, ostensibly, both the causes of death and the background stories are inconsistent and incompatible. In the former, Judas discards the silver and the priests buy the field. In the latter, Judas buys the field himself using the silver. Now, if the two books only differed in the method of Judas’ death, perhaps we could accept a single explanation as to why they differ, but since the details surrounding his death also fail to mesh, it’s a lot harder to see any reconciliation of the texts without applying some major rationalizations.

The Apologetics Press attempts to explain away the initial discrepancy with some not-so-subtle pasting. They argue that there’s only one death –that Judas’ guts did, in fact, spill out like a “bloated whale”, but only after he hanged himself and his body had rotted from decomposition:

According to ancient tradition, Judas hanged himself above the Valley of Hinnom on the edge of a cliff. Eventually the rope snapped (or was cut or untied), thus causing his body to fall headfirst into the field below, as Luke[the purported author of Acts] described. Matthew does not deny that Judas fell and had his entrails gush out, and Luke does not deny that Judas hanged himself. In short, Matthew records the method in which Judas attempted his death. Luke reports the end result. [AP’s emphasis]

So, the AP sees the holes in Matthew and Luke’s[supposed author of Acts] respective stories of Judas’ demise as an invitation for hole filling –with whatever fits the AP’s preconceived conclusion. But no where in the AP’s longwinded explanation do they even address the question of who bought the field, Judas or the priests. They completely ignore it. Apologists are in major denial when they refuse to acknowledge that the bible’s contradictions aren’t isolated misinterpretations, but interconnected, and cascading, failures. No contradiction is an island.

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6 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Christianity

6 responses to “The Dishonesty Of Christian Apologists

  1. There’s another problem in there: How did the field come to be known as the “Field of Blood”? Was it because it was bought with blood money (Matthew 27:6-8), or because of Judas’s bloody death there (Acts 1:18-19)?

  2. carl

    Even the first rationalization is sufficiently silly that further contradictions are uneeded. The splitting open in Acts clearly implies that thats how he died. If he died of hanging or cancer or drowning that trifle would be mentioned. A clearly implied meaning is still a meaning. I think you underate the literalist’s ability to invent justifications. My experience has been that they can come up with an inventive and usually humorous explanation for just about any biblical contradiction(thousands of years of practise). They don’t deal with the discrepency of who bought the field, because it wasn’t mentioned. Wouldn’t want to burn out those few remaining brain cells.

  3. D.

    I am told that apologetics’ purpose is NOT to convert the unbeliever! It is to DEFEND the faith and the believer, and make the critic SHUT UP.

    .

  4. Dr. Heinz-Guenther Pink

    AS A CHRISTIAN DEIST I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHOUT ANY DOUBT.

  5. Dr. Heinz-Guenther Pink

    Dr. Heinz-Guenther Pink
    September 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm
    AS A CHRISTIAN DEIST I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WITHOUT ANY DOUBT.
    WE ONLY HAVE ONE GOD, BUT TOO MANY MONEY GRABBING RELIGIONS. WHEN PASTORS, PREACHERS AND APOSTLES SAY THAT GOD REPAYS YOU TENFOLD TO ENCOURAGE DONATIONS, MOSTLY FOR THEIR OWN POCKETS, WHY DON’T THEY DONATE $1,000.- PER DAY AND COLLECT THE &10,000.- ??? AS A REFORMED CATHOLIC I WAS CONFIRMED WITH THE 1 CORINTHIAN 2.5 “YOUR FAITH SHALL NOT REST IN THE WISDOM OF MEN, BUT ONLY IN THE POWER OF GOD!” AS LONG AS RELIGIONS CAUSE WARS AND DISUNITY, THEY ARE USELESS. pinkhawaii@gmail.com

  6. There seems always a problem whenever we use isms to define ourselves or others. It leaves a bullseye on one’s back for someone to shoot at. If one is able to just conceive of the father or maker of things as what is past finding out or discovering, we can effectively distinguish cause – what makes things happen from an etiology or pathology (matters of origination) of things. It is here that we wage true war on the counterfeits and ghosts that imitate and simulate cause itself, which we can give the moniker of artisanship without artifice. Origination deals with chaos – a yawning chasm without metric. One can only hope to put coordinates inside it to create matter itself, sample it, analyze it, learning what to observe as movement and stillness in relativity and quantum mechanics. The problem with isms is that they deal with what always becomes and perishes and never really is. Organized religion struggles with this problem of things – things belonging to other things, somethings and is seemingly forever trapped in its own etiology and pathology. The ancients understood God as what makes things happen. Organized religion seems to leave a dissatisfaction and is ineffective because it is trapped in ontology. It needs a cosmogony related to generation, not an imitation cosmogony that is made up to be confused with cosmogony but is part of an ontology of sensation. It is in generation that one recognizes power of to be born and not I am born in theology or cosmology.

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