Whacked Bible Contradictions: 2

October 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm 19 comments

Mathematical contradictions. Gotta love ’em.  You’d think the almighty creator of all (including math presumably) could get his earthly scribes to do simple math correctly.

Not that such things as flat-out, numerical errors will ever stop a true believer from staying the course.

Gen 11:26 — Terah was 70 years old when his son Abram was born.
Gen 11:32 — Terah was 205 years old when he died (making Abram 135 at the time).
Gen 12:4  — Abram was 75 when he left Haran.
Acts 7:4 –This was after Terah died.
Thus, Terah could have been no more than 145 when he died.

2 Kings 24:8 — Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months.
2 Chronicles 36:9 — Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem.

I like this next one. Two, consecutive verses.
Gen 8:4 — And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
Gen 8:5 — And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

Actually these are all more time errors than math errors. Maybe BibleGod has trouble with that since he “lives outside of time”. (We’ll not bother with the silliness of that concept for now.)

Oh, but here’s a math error for y’all.
1 Kings 7:23 –Then [Solomon] made the molten sea; it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim. A [rope] of thirty cubits would encircle it completely. 
Hmmm…. Pi = 3 …. That would have made a lot of calculations easier in school.

Entry filed under: LeoPardus.

Whacked Bible Contradictions: 1 The myth of the virgin birth of Jesus

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lucian  |  October 31, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    #2: the contradiction is only in the Hebrew (but it’s not in the LXX: the Septuagint has 18 inboth places).

    #3: no contradiction. (a boat’s bottom reaches further below than sea-level, in case you didn’t know that…) — but the LXX has 27 days, not 17 days.

    (I guess the +/- 10 days/yrs deviation are the same kind of scribal errors that are redsponsible for the difference between the LXX vs MT Genesis-genealogies).

    #4: very funny.

    #1: Abraham wasn’t born together with his two older brothers (they weren’t triplets, if that’s what you thought…)

  • 2. mikespeir  |  October 31, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Dang, the contortionists believers have to be to rationalize things like this away!

  • 3. Quester  |  October 31, 2009 at 9:50 pm


    #1, check your math.

    #2, this makes you feel better?

    #4, Pi is only inherently funny if it is banana cream.

  • 4. Shadowfx  |  October 31, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    “#4, Pi is only inherently funny if it is banana cream.”

    Ha, I got a laugh out of that.

  • 5. Lucian  |  November 1, 2009 at 6:53 am


    #1 Abraham was not born when Terrah was 70 yrs old.

    #2 Yes.

    #4 Measure Your the dimensions of your ashtray.

  • 6. Quester  |  November 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    #1 Gen 11:26 – “After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.”

    #2 – Oh goodie. So long as the translators correct mistakes as they write, the scriptures are inerrant?

    #4 – Pi “is a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter in Euclidean space” (Wikipedia).

    Shadow- Glad you liked my joke.

  • 7. Lucian  |  November 1, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    #2 The oldest (and almost complete) manuscripts of the Septuagint are half a millennium older than those of the Massoretic text.

    #4 Measure your ashtray, and then start preaching to me about the abstract Auto-CAD-like Platonic space of ideal forms.

    #1 Terah didn’t have all his three sons at the same age (of 70 yrs) He had his first-born at that age, afterwards he had the other two.

  • 8. Quester  |  November 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    All right, Lucian. I’ll concede.

  • 9. HeIsSailing  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Here is my own take on these (doing my best to be fair to all sides):

    #1 – This one all hinges on what Gen 11:26 means: “Terah lived seventy years, and became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.” Does this mean Abram, since he is the first listed, is the firstborn? I think so, and if so, I think it is fair to say he was born when Terah was 70, and the contradiction holds. If Terah’s sons are not listed in chronological order, than what other order could they be in? And if the three sons were not triplets (which I doubt the author intends this to mean), why would the text say that Terah lived 70 years and gave birth to sons, when in fact those sons were born many years after Terah’s 70th year? That is like saying I lived to be 10 years old, then graduated high school. What is the point of that? What is the point of specifying ‘the 70th year’ if the text does not actually mean ‘the 70th year’? Also, the pattern of geneology matches that of other Genesis geneologies (ie Gen 5, where Patriach X lives Y years, gives birth to Z Patriarch, etc…). Was Patriarch Z born on year Y as the text says, or at some indeterminate time after?

    It seems to me that this is a valid contradiction, but it can be gotten out of by saying the ordering of the geneological names, or the number of years given does not mean what it implies – that they are markers of something not immediately obvious. I dunno, but that seems to be shakey ground for the Christian.

    An interesting sidenote, is that I believe the LXX also gives Terah’s age of death as 145, so this may also comfort the Christian – however I think this may also be a case of translators harmonizing the same problem. Who knows?

    This same passage reveals much worse problems though, and I think the solution can be found in the Documentary Hypothesis, that is, that since Genesis is a compilation of numerous sources and traditions and ingeneously stitched together, there are naturally quite a few details that don’t sort out very neatly and create strange contradictions – such as the differing chronologies of the Patriarchs. Another contradiction, in this same passage of Genesis, is Abraham’s place of birth. In Gen 11:31, Abraham is from Ur in Mesopotamia. In Gen 12:1, God tells Abram to “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house…” while Abram is in a place called Haran, but Abram’s country from Gen 11 is Ur! In addition, in Gen 24, when Abraham asks is servant to find a bride for his son Isaac, he was to go “to my country and to my relatives”. Where does the servant go? Not Ur, not even Haran – but now he goes to Aram Naharaim to a town called ‘Nahor’. To further add to the confusion, both hometowns given for Abraham, Haran and Nahor, are also the names of his brothers.

    I think what we have here is a real confusing jumble of names, locations and dates. The stories are essentially the same, but the details are a bit muddled – and when they are edited together from seperate, form a real problem for the Christian who insists on ‘Inerrancy’.

    #2 – There are scads of these kinds of numerical errors betweens Kings and Chronicles. I don’t know, but as a Christian, I knew of them but they never bugged me. I just figured that originally they must have said the same thing since Chronicles heavily copied from other Biblical sources like Kings and Isaiah (yes, as a Christian I had no problem with admitting this) and somewhere down the line of transcription, some scribe copied the numbers wrong. I don’t know – it was just a non-issue and I don’t know of any Christian who is aware of this who gets hung up over it.

    #3 – Sorry… I see no contradiction. The Documentary Hypothesis won’t even save you here. I think the author is implying that the bottom of the barge has touched ground, which is still below the surface of the water. Consider the vast draft of such a vessel.

    #4 – Pi.. Ah yes, pi. I have to confess, this is one of my biggest pet-peeves amongst Biblical skeptics – or dare I say, Biblical lampooners. Let me say it loudly and proudly:


    There, that felt better. Seriously though, in all fairness, this is not an engineering manual. It is a description of the temple. Kings is a (supposed) general history of Israel and Judah, and 1Kings 7, in particular, is a general description of Solomon’s Temple to a lay audience. This book was not intended to be read by the architects and builders of the temple for crying out loud!! How many significant figures do you expect the author of this book to use when describing dimensions to a lay-audience? 3? Maybe 4? Should 1 Kings 7:23 read something like this instead:

    He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring nine cubits plus four-hundred and seventy-nine cubits, that portion of which is divided by one-thousand cubits, and from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of twenty-nine cubits plus seventy-eight cubits, that portion of which is divided by five score cubits to measure around it. This measurement of the Sea of cast metal is accurate only to one cubit in one thousand cubits

    Such accuracy would be pointless anyway, when such ambiguous and inconsistant units of measurement as ‘cubit’ and ‘handspan’ are used. Seriously, nobody talks like this – When we describe our houses to our friends, we use general units of measurement – just like the Bible.

    Sorry – but this really is a pet-peeve of mine, and I cringe whenever I hear the claim that the Bible is bogus because it says Pi is 3. Please have some sympathy for the Bible as an ancient document.

    OK – well that is my ‘Whacked’ take on these ‘Whacked Bible contradictions’.

  • 10. Lucian  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:59 pm


    Because in the case of the other Patriarchs, we’re interested in the first-born, after which comes an indistinct mention of “sons and daughters” in general, … whereas here we’re interested in Abraham, (that’s why he’s the one listed first), but who’s not the firstborn of Terrah. Terrah had his firstborn at the age of 70, and we can’t skip that (You can’t just say “Terrah lived X yrs and begat Abraham”, when he already gave birth to two sons before him: it’s wholly improper and disrespectful to do such). But what You can do is be honest and conflate the two things: the age he had his first-born, and the list of the other sons, containing the one You’re interested in. — Other times when the first-born is exchanged for another one are, for instance: Cain/Seth (due to murder); Reuben-Judah (due to adultery); Esau/Jacob (due to gluttony); David; etc. In this case, it was idolatry, in case you were wondering.

    And no, the LXX has 205 yrs for Terrah, but with the addition “in the land of Haran” (which doesn’t “harmonize” anything, but only adds more yrs to Terrah’s age, and more mystyery to the exact age he had at death).

    And while God said to Abraham “go out of thy father’s house etc”, his father was together with him and his brother in Haran, so I don’t understand what contradiction You see there. Same with the city of Nahor, where Abraham’s brother Nahor had settled.

  • 11. Jeffrey  |  November 1, 2009 at 9:40 pm


    I think the pi = 3 example is worth more than you are giving it credit for. I do agree that the Bible isn’t an engineering manual – but not all fundamentalists agree with this.

    For instance, I just opened to a random page in a book by Henry Morris, and he quotes Psalm 107:24 “These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.” This is used to support the idea that the Bible understood how complex the ocean floor is, and that it’s not just a simple sandy beach that smoothly goes down. (The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, page 268.)

    The Bible teaches pi = 3 with far greater clarity than hundreds of other scientific facts that are supposedly in there. So the argument just has to be qualified a bit. Either fundamentalists’ approach to what the Bible is saying is fundamentally wrong, or the Bible teaches pi = 3.

    Depending on context, it can be better still. When talking to someone with Morris’ approach to the Bible, there’s no need to qualify the argument. The Bible teaches pi = 3, according to them. Sure a reconciliation exists within evangelical Christianity, and even within some definitions of inerrancy, but it’s still a fair argument that Morris-type fundies are wrong.

  • 12. Joshua  |  November 2, 2009 at 12:24 am

    If God really cared about us, He would have taught us math.

    All we got was the Trinity.

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  November 2, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    All we got was the Trinity.

    So does this mean pi=3=1 ???? Now my math is really messed up.

  • 14. HeIsSailing  |  November 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    If God is omnipotent and can do anything, can He make PI equal 1? As a Christian, I thought ‘yes’. Seriously.

  • 15. LeoPardus  |  November 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    And he can make a more than infinitely heavy rock, and he can make circular squares, and he can make predestined creatures who have free will, and he can be loving and just yet leave us to suffer here and forevermore in hell, and …………………………

  • 16. Joshua  |  November 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    This conversation reminds me of a comment by James White where he says that numbers are a part of creation.

    The loopholes running around in that man’s mind must be tremendous. I’m embarrassed just to think that I might have to explain to someone what is wrong with that proposition.

  • 17. the chaplain  |  November 5, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    If God really cared about us, He would have taught us math.

    All we got was the Trinity.

    LOL! Well done, sir.

  • 18. Charon  |  November 10, 2009 at 12:16 am

    “can He make PI equal 1?”

    Sure… at least at some place in a positively curved space. Well, and if “He” existed.

    For example, one can easily imagine a great circle on the 2-manifold surface of a sphere (e.g., the Earth’s Equator). Pi=2 in that case (the radius connects the equator to the North Pole).

    So if this is posed within the context of Riemannian (non-Euclidean) geometry, it’s all good. If it’s just an example of pseudo-intellectual contortions to justify an irrational, anti-empirical belief, not so much…

  • 19. HeIsSailing  |  November 10, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Charon, that was exactly along the lines of my reasoning. The three angles of a triangle ALWAYS add up to 180 degrees – unless you are on a curved surface. Then all bets are off. I figured God had the capability to transcend as many dimensions as he wanted, and could create any geometry he desired.

    This thinking was the result of listening to far too many Chuck Missler cassettes back in the day….

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