As I argued in the previous article, one can safely conclude that the Bible is fallible if one can find irreconcilable contradictions in its own text. One cannot have it both ways: textual contradictions imply that at least one of the versions is false—if not both. Undoubtedly, this is the ultimate litmus test for the Bible’s infallibility or otherwise since the Bible is supposedly God’s word, and presumably God cannot contradict himself: it defeats the opponent on one’s own home court, so to speak. Naturally, as in the previous article, I shall let the Bible speak for itself.
This article consists only of textual contradictions we find in the Old Testament and between the two Testaments. I’m sure the reader will appreciate that this article is not an exhaustive study of the Bible or even of the Old Testament, for that matter; so a few examples will have to suffice. Indeed, being written, edited, and re-edited by many authors and sub-authors, the Bible is overloaded with contradicting accounts and statements; there are many, perhaps hundreds, of contradictions: reflecting the different opinions of these authors/sub-authors. To the pure of heart, however, even one clear such instance should prove, unequivocally, that the Bible is fallible. We find all sorts, a whole spectrum, of contradicting texts throughout the Bible.
Order of Creation
According to the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, chapter 1, humans (both male and female) were created after all the animals.
“God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light ‘Day,’ and the darkness he called ‘Night.’ And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, ‘Let there be a firmament [dome (NAB) or vault (NIV)] in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the [rain] waters from the [lake/sea] waters.’ And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament ‘Heaven.’ And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear’: and it was so. And God called the dry land ‘Earth’; and the gathering together of the waters called he ‘Seas’: and God saw that it was good. And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth’: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth’: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light [the sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [the moon] to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.’ And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.’ And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind’: and it was so. 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. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.’ …And it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:3–28, 30–31, KJV)
Here’s a short summary of the above Genesis passage for easy reference and comparison with that of chapter 2 below.
(1) On the first day of the Creation, God created light.
(2) On the second day, he created a dome/vault (the heavens/sky—thought to be made of a shiny metal).
(3) On the third day, he created the seas, the land (earth), the plants, and the trees.
(4) On the fourth day, he created the sun, the moon, and the stars.
(5) On the fifth day, he created the sea animals, the fish, and the birds.
(6) On the sixth day, he created the insects, the land animals, and finally humans (both male and female—together).
According to Genesis chapter 2, however, Adam was created before all the animals. Compare the above summary, with the following passage.
“These are the generations [makings] of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God formed man of the dust [slime (DRC)] of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison … the name of the second river is Gihon … the name of the third river is Hiddekel [Tigris (NAB)] … and the fourth river is Euphrates. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’ And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet [suited (NAB)] 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. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet [suited] for him. 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 2:4–11, 13–22, KJV, emphasis mine)
Here’s a short summary of Genesis chapter 2 for easy reference and comparison with that of chapter 1 above.
(1) First, God created heaven and earth.
(2) Then, he created the plants and grasses.
(3) Afterward, he created a man (Adam).
(4) Next, he created the trees.
(5) Later, he created the land animals, the birds, and every other animal.
(6) Finally, he created a woman (Eve).
So, contrary to Genesis chapter 1, clearly, in Genesis chapter 2, Eve was not created at the same time as Adam: Adam seems to have been created before the animals, while Eve seems to have been created after the animals (Genesis 2:7 & 2:22). Which version of the Creation is the correct one: chapter 1 or chapter 2?
Why does the Bible contradict itself in the same book, just a couple of pages apart? Why is God’s word so sloppy? Or, maybe, it is not God’s word after all. Maybe, the Bible is simply a book written by ordinary people. Being a meticulous person, these and similar discrepancies, which I discovered while reading the Bible cover to cover, made me rethink my initial assumption: namely, the Catholic (and Christian) doctrine that the Bible is infallible.
In all fairness, however, in their book The Bible: God’s Word or Man’s? Jehovah’s Witnesses make a good attempt at reconciling this discrepancy. They argue that while Genesis chapter 1 is a chronological account, chapter 2 is written in order of topical importance. They contend that in Genesis chapter 2 other information is added subsequently as required. They explain that after a short introduction, Genesis chapter 2 starts with the main subject: that is, the creation of man, Adam. Next, it tells us that Adam was to live in a pleasure park, and so details about the garden are added. They continue,
“Jehovah [God] tells Adam to name “every wild animal of the field and every flying creature of the heavens.” Now, then, is the time to mention that “Jehovah God had been forming from the ground” (Genesis 2:19, NWT) all these creatures, although their creation began long before Adam appeared on the scene” (pp. 94–95).
As much as this might be a possibility, I do not see it this way for the following three reasons.
First, since, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, both Adam and “his family” constitute the main subject (i.e., of first importance, p. 94), I do not see why Eve was not mentioned in the beginning with Adam: that is, before the animals and the garden. In Genesis chapter 1 they are mentioned together.
Second, if one examines the context of Genesis chapter 2, the tenses of the verbs do not add up to what Jehovah’s Witnesses are saying above. Following their own Bible translation, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, we read:
“Then Jehovah God said: ‘It is not good for the man [Adam] to continue to be alone. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.’ Now Jehovah God had been forming from the ground every wild animal of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call each living creature, that became its name. So the man named all the domestic animals and the ﬂying creatures of the heavens and every wild animal of the ﬁeld, but for man there was no helper as a complement of him. So Jehovah God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and then closed up the ﬂesh over its place. And Jehovah God built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman [Eve], and he brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:18–22, NWT, emphasis mine).
Notice the future tense in the clause: “I am going to make a helper for him.” I think that is when God decided to create the animals to serve as a helper for Adam. He did not create them beforehand: the same way he decided to create Eve, later, when none of the animals worked out as Adam’s suitable helper. The past tense in the clause: “God had been forming from the ground every wild animal” does not jibe with the future tense used in the previous sentence. In fact, the New American Bible has,
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.’ So the Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.” (Genesis 2:18–19, NAB, emphasis mine).
Notice the introductory word “So.” I found three (i.e., two more) translations with this introductory word “so,” but I also found five (i.e., four more) translations with the past tense “had formed”: https://biblehub.com/genesis/2-19.htm.
Third, I think the actual writing sequence clinches the argument. I contend that anyone’s interpretation of the Bible is only an opinion: it is not what the Bible, in fact, says. In a court of law, it is usually what one does that matters most: intentions must be supported by factual evidence. In my opinion, therefore, there were, probably, two different authors (or groups, like the ‘Yahwists’ and the ‘Elohists’ NAB: pp. –, Genesis 1:1–2:3n, 2:4n) who initially wrote the first two chapters of Genesis, and they thought differently: God does not seem to have interfered at all to reconcile them.
To add weight to my observations above, I here quote New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, who in his book Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them), specifically mentions some of the contradictions and scientific shortcomings in Genesis.
“The Creation account in Genesis [chapter] 1 is very different from the account in Genesis [chapter] 2. … Are animals created before humans or afterward? Is ‘man’ the first living creature to be created or last? Is woman created at the same time as man or separately? Even within each story there are problems: if ‘light’ was created on the first day of creation in Genesis [chapter] 1, how is it that the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day? Where was light coming from, if not the sun, moon, and stars? And how could there be an “evening and morning” on each of the first three days if there was no sun?” (pp. 9–10)
I agree with all Ehrman says above except regarding “light.” I used to think like him too, that is, that the sun had to be created before light. However, the first thing that seems to have happened in our universe, according to the big bang theory, was its being full of electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves consist of all sorts of energy waves of different wavelength, namely, gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared (heat), microwaves, and radio waves (in order of increasing wavelength). So, visible light happens to be a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. In my opinion, if I were God inspiring a biblical author to write an accurate account of the beginning of the universe, I too would tell him to write “light” as the first thing created: given the fact that humanity was unfamiliar with any other portion of the electromagnetic spectrum—except heat, perhaps, but it is much less descriptive.
I am writing this clarification to show the reader that I have been wrong before, and I am willing to admit it: I am only interested in finding the best version of the truth. Moreover, I do not take for granted whatever experts say; that is, not without researching, considering, and weighing other opinions.
According to Genesis, Adam and Eve were the first and only people created directly by God on earth. Initially, that is, at the time the following episode happened, they had only two male children: first Cain then Abel.
“Adam knew [had intercourse with (NAB)] Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare [bore] Cain, and said, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord.’ And she again bare [bore] his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep [shepherd], but Cain was a tiller of the ground [farmer].” (Genesis 4:1–2, KJV)
Cain killed his brother, Abel, because he was jealous of God’s preference for Abel’s behavior. God punished Cain for his crime by making the ground (soil) unproductive for him; forcing Cain to become a wanderer. (See Genesis 4:3–12.)
“Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew [had intercourse with (NAB)] his wife; and she conceived, and bare [bore] Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.” (Genesis 4:16–17, KJV)
Now, where did Cain’s wife come from, if at that time there were only three humans on earth (i.e., Adam, Eve, and Cain)? How did she grow up so fast?
In their book The Bible: God’s Word or Man’s? Jehovah’s Witnesses suggest one examine the context to find out where she came from; so let me do just that.
From the verse in which Cain’s wife appears suddenly (verse 17) to the end of that chapter there are almost ten more verses, and the next chapter in Genesis is simply a genealogy of Adam’s descendants. Now obviously, eventually Adam had to have more children through Eve; otherwise there would be no humanity (i.e., if one were to assume that the world started with only one male-female pair of humans). So, they (as well as all other Bible-inerrancy believers) propose that Cain married a sister or a niece (pp. 90–91). Of course, there must have been a time lag of twenty-odd years for Cain to marry a sister and forty-odd years for him to marry a niece. Naturally, this would have been feasible at a time when people supposedly lived eight or nine hundred years. (See Genesis 5:1–32.)
The problem I find with this explanation is that, in fact, the Bible context does not show it, as Jehovah’s Witnesses claim: there is absolutely no delay in the biblical text. I took here their own translation, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, so there would be no debating.
“Then Cain went away from before Jehovah [God] and took up residence in the land of Exile, to the east of E’den. Afterward Cain had sexual relations with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to E’noch.” (Genesis 4:16–17, NWT, emphasis mine).
I checked twenty-seven other English translations, only two of which add the word “Later” at the beginning of this verse: https://biblehub.com/genesis/4-17.htm.
In the original Hebrew, there is no corresponding word for “Afterward” or “Later”: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/4-17.htm. (Should the reader decide to check the annexed link, please note that Hebrew is written from right to left—i.e., backward.) In other words, the original context tells me exactly this: that Genesis’s author slipped and overlooked the details—typical of a human book, not a divine book—and that Bible-inerrancy believers now try to cover up the textual problem.
Even a lower than average writer would feel the need to explain where Cain’s wife came from—let alone God (if he were truly the Bible’s author). In my opinion, had God really anything to do with this verse, it would have been to tell us clearly not to take the account too seriously.
Now, if science were to prove categorically that humans evolved from apes, this would be almost irrefutable evidence that the Bible supported science in this respect. And I have no doubt whatsoever that Bible-inerrancy believers would use it to their advantage. They would contend that this is where Cain’s wife came from—from other developed ape communities—and the Bible knew it!
I here adhere closely to the biblical text in figuring out how many Israelites left Egypt in their supposed ‘Exodus.’ My derived number from the Book of Exodus text shows clearly a blatant contradiction with the biblical text in the Book of Numbers.
Levi, one of the twelve sons of Jacob (Genesis 29 & 30), was Moses’s progenitor. Jacob (recall he was renamed Israel in Genesis 32:28) and eleven of his sons joined Joseph (Genesis 46) after he was sold by his brethren (Genesis 37) and became famous in Egypt (Genesis 41). According to Exodus, from Jacob (Israel) to Moses there are only four generations. (Focus on the italicized names.)
“These be the heads of their fathers’ houses: the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben. And the sons of Simeon; Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman: these are the families of Simeon. And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years. The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families. And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years. And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations. And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare [bore] him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.” (Exodus 6:14-20 KJV, emphasis mine)
So, summarizing the above italicized names (from Jacob/Israel to Moses), we have: (1) Jacob (Israel) had Levi, (2) Levi had Kohath, (3) Kohath had Amram, and (4) Amram had Moses.
Note also that Levi’s brothers, Reuben and Simeon, had no more than six male children each. Even if we assume that every male in every generation bore twelve children (i.e., six male and six female), after four generations the Israelite male population (young and old) would only reach about 3,100: 1×12+12×6+12x6x6+12x6x6x6 = 12+72+432+2,592 = 3,108, assuming nobody dies in the four generations.
Now, according to the Book of Numbers, about two years after leaving Egypt, God asked Moses to take a census of the Israelite male population, who were more than twenty years of age and fit for war.
“The Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, ‘Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies.’” (Numbers 1:1–3, KJV, emphasis mine)
Numbers also gives the final figure.
“So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty [603,550 men]. (Numbers 1:45-6)
Keep in mind that this number excludes those under age twenty and those too feeble or handicapped to fight. So, compare a maximum of 3,100 men with well over 603,550 men. Is my calculation far out or is Numbers exaggerating the Israelites’ population?
If I am right, the Israelite ‘nation’ that was freed from the slavery of Egypt was not a nation at all; but just a sizable band of people. I hate to undermine the Jews’ most treasured ‘history,’ but numbers don’t lie. Moreover, I am only using information given in their Bible: to me, it looks like the event was mythologized over time.
In fact, according to the Rational Wiki website, there is no geological evidence that a great nation spent forty years migrating from Egypt to Israel: like a concentration of broken pottery or buried corpses strewn along the way there.
“Archeologists from the 19th century onward actually expressed surprise when they failed to find any evidence whatsoever for the events of Exodus. By the 1970s, archaeologists had largely given up the Bible as any use at all as a privileged field-guide. … Israeli archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog provides his view on the historicity of the Exodus: ‘The Israelites never were in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction—made in the seventh century BCE—of a history that never happened.’ Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology Eric H. Cline also summarizes the scholarly consensus in his book Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (published by Oxford University Press and winner of the 2011 Biblical Archaeology Society’s ‘Best Popular Book on Archaeology’): ‘Despite attempts by a number of biblical archaeologists—and an even larger number of amateur enthusiasts—over the years, credible direct archaeological evidence for the Exodus has yet to be found. While one might argue that such evidence would be difficult to find, since nomads generally do not leave behind permanent installations, archaeologists have discovered and excavated nomadic emplacements from other periods in the Sinai desert. So if there were archaeological remains to be found from the Exodus, one would have expected them to be found by now. And yet, thus far there is no trace of the biblical “600,000 men on foot, besides children” plus “a mixed crowd…and live stock in great numbers” (Exod. 12:37-38) who wandered for forty years in the desert.’ Nevertheless, another current consensus among scholars suggests that some historical elements lie behind the Exodus narrative, even if Moses and the Exodus belong more to collective cultural memory than to verifiable history. According to Avraham Faust, a professor of archaeology in the department of General History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel: ‘While there is a consensus among scholars that the Exodus did not take place in the manner described in the Bible, surprisingly most scholars agree that the narrative has a historical core, and that some of the highland settlers came, one way or another, from Egypt.’ Those Canaanites who started regarding themselves as Israelites would likely have been joined or led by a small ‘Exodus group’ of Semites from Egypt, likely carrying stories and collective memories that made it into the written composition of Exodus: ‘It appears that while many individuals, families and groups were involved in the process of Israel’s ethnogenesis throughout the Iron Age, and that many of those who eventually became Israelites were of Canaanite origins, the first group was composed mainly of Shasu pastoralists. Other groups, probably including a small ‘Exodus’ group which left Egypt, joined the process, and all were gradually assimilated into the growing Israel, accepting its history, practices and traditions, and contributing some of their own. Traditions and practices that were useful in the active process of Israel’s boundary maintenance with other groups were gradually adopted by “all Israel”. It appears that the story of the Exodus from Egypt was one such story.’” http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_for_the_Exodus.
This confirms exactly what I said above: the numbers in the Bible don’t jibe.
In the Book of Job, God asks the protagonist,
“Where wast thou [Job] when I [God] laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof?” (Job 38:4–6, KJV)
In the same book, Job tells his friend Bildad,
“He [God] stretcheth out the north [firmament/heavens (NAB note)] over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” (Job 26:7, KJV)
So, which is it? Does the earth have “foundations,” or does it hang “upon nothing”? One would naturally opt for what God says (which would, in fact, turn out to be wrong) rather than for what Job says; but it does not matter here: one of them is wrong, anyway.
I shall now change gears and address contradictions between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Book of Deuteronomy portrays Moses as God’s oracle telling the Hebrews,
“See now that I [God], even I, am he, and there is no god with me.” (Deuteronomy 32:39, KJV)
And again Isaiah portrays God saying practically the same thing.
“Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his [Israel’s] redeemer the Lord of hosts; ‘I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. … Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.’” (Isaiah 44:6,8, KJV)
Isaiah also portrays God declaring to the Persian king Cyrus the Great,
“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.” (Isaiah 45:5, KJV)
So clearly, according to the Bible, there is only one God. However, in John’s gospel we read there is another God (the “Word”): that also Jesus is God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, KJV, emphasis mine)
Later, in the same chapter, the evangelist John makes it very clear that by the “Word” he means Jesus because he writes,
“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, KJV, emphasis mine)
Of course, I know that Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians believe in the Trinity, and that they declare it a mystery that defeats human understanding. Maybe, however, there is no mystery at all; the solution to the riddle may simply be that the Bible is fallible: that one should not assume that every biblical verse is true, and that there might even be contradictions in its own texts—as I have shown in this and my previous article. (See also my article on “The Trinity.”)
On the other side of the religious fence, even though Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe the Bible to be infallible, they do not believe that Jesus is God. This, therefore, constitutes a major discrepancy in the interpretation of the same Bible.
How do they reconcile these two seemingly conflicting biblical statements? Their translation of the first verse in John’s gospel is a little different; they have,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god [or divine (note)].” (John 1:1, NWT, emphasis mine)
Notice the article “a” and the lower key (not capital) in “god.” So, they claim that the so-called ‘contradiction’ in the biblical statements is only apparent and can be reconciled by proper translation of John’s text. Personally, I disagree with both their and other Christians’ doctrines: I contend it is simply a biblical contradiction like all the examples I have given above and below.
Let me start my discussion of the subject with an overview of the Gospels. The first gospel written, Mark’s around 70 CE (NAB, p. 69), does not narrate anything from Jesus’s infancy: it portrays him only as an adult and claims he is “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1, KJV). However, this begs the question: how is it, exactly, that a human being became the Son of God? So, the two later gospels, Matthew’s (written around 80 CE, NAB p. 10) and Luke’s (written around 90 CE, NAB p. 96), try to answer this question by informing us that Jesus was the Son of God from his conception: they give us an infancy narrative of Jesus telling us that the Holy Spirit somehow impregnated his mother, Mary. (See my article on “Mary’s Virginity.”) So far, so good, miracles do happen occasionally, and God, possibly, decided to personally mold a special person for us. Still, this was not enough for the early Christians. For some reason, they started to believe that Jesus existed with God even before his birth: so, initially, they identified him with God’s personified “Wisdom” in the Old Testament, or the way he thinks—his “Thought.” So, the latest gospel, John’s (written around 100 CE, NAB p. 144), declares that Jesus existed “in the beginning” (John 1:1, KJV) of the Creation, and that God sent him on earth to reveal to us his Father. Therefore, John identifies him with God’s “Word”: words are the expression of one’s thoughts, and God created the entire universe simply by his word—according to Genesis. That is why John’s gospel also starts, like Genesis, with “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1, KJV): meaning in the beginning of the Creation or the universe. (Scientists now say in the beginning of ‘time.’)
Naturally, John’s gospel, and by inference the Bible, does not make much sense in today’s concept of God. It may have been excusable, however, in John’s time since many considered even the living Roman emperor, although human, to be divine. In his book God and Empire, biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan writes,
“Other human beings who had greatly benefitted their fellows were divinized only after their death, but [Roman Emperor] Caesar Augustus [63 BCE–14 CE] was unique in having achieved divine status while still alive. Nothing like him, therefore, had come before or would come after him.” (p. 19)
I develop this theme in more detail why this happened under “First-Century Divinity” in my article on “The Trinity.” Over time, the early Christians tried to extol Jesus more and more, until they eventually made him God like the Roman emperor. Recall that John’s gospel was the last canonical (official) gospel written: it therefore lends itself to being the least authentic because of the lack of eyewitnesses who could question it at the time it was written. In fact, Jesus’s divinity is only claimed in John’s gospel: one does not find such a claim in any of the other three gospels—the ‘synoptic’ Gospels.
In trying to emphasize Jesus’s importance, John ended up making Jesus greater than he really was. However, it backfired on him because Christianity, later believing his book to be infallible, came to the wrong conclusion of the Trinity: that is, roughly, that there are three ‘Gods’ in the one God. The three Gods in the Trinity are best described as Siamese twins (triplets rather) or possibly like the three-headed Greek mythological monster, Cerberus. At the time the Trinity was defined in 381 CE, Christians were still highly influenced by Greek philosophy and mythology. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, the third US president and main author of the US Declaration of Independence, compares the Trinity to Cerberus in his 1822 letter to theologian James Smith; he wrote,
“The hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.” (https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/98-01-02-3202) Indeed, if you read the entire letter, he was confident that the Unitarianism (one God) would be the new religion of the new world.
“I confidently expect that the present generation will see Unitarianism become the general religion of the United States.”
Because, he adds, it was the religion of the early Christians:
“No historical fact is better established than that the doctrine of one god, pure and uncompounded was that of the early ages of Christianity.”
Unfortunately, his dreams did not pan out.
I honestly do not really understand what Jehovah’s Witnesses mean exactly by “a god” or “divine” in their translation of the first verse of John’s gospel—except what ordinary folk, like you and me, think they mean. Whatever translation one adopts, the word used in John’s gospel is misleading: typical of a human book. If it were truly God writing John’s gospel, he would not have used the word “god” or “God” for a created supernatural being like an angel, say: he would have used a word like ‘spirit.’
If one really thinks about it, all this mess stems from a ludicrous assumption that every Bible verse is infallible: Christians promoted a simply human book to divine status; but Christianity is not a truth factory, nor is the Bible. The whole mystery of the Trinity would be no mystery at all if one were to concede that the Bible is fallible: which, I believe, I manage to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt in my book Is the Bible Infallible?—A Rational, Scientific, and Historical Evaluation.
Even though I disagree with their somewhat weird translation of the first verse in John’s gospel, I think that, of all Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses have the best concept of who, or what, Jesus is. I find it hard to admit this because it goes against what I believed most of my life. Still, I disagree with them that Jesus pre-existed from the beginning of the universe (or earlier) simply because a handful of New Testament verses, mostly from John’s gospel (John 1:1, 14, 30; 8:24, 28, 56–59; 10:30–33, 37–38; 13:19; 14:20; 17:5, 21–24; 18:5–8. 20:27–28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1), happen to say so. Again, if one were to simply forget about the initial assumption, the ‘axiom,’ that the Bible is totally infallible, it would be easy to come to the right conclusion: namely, that Jesus did not exist before his birth—like every one of us.
I suppose what the evangelist John tried to convey in his text was the concept that Jesus is most like his Father (God), that he is like a chip of wood taken from a large tree; in other words, that he is of the ‘same substance’ as his Father—but not physically, of course: he is as close as a human being could possibly get to being like God. Having said this, I believe Jesus was still totally human, and his existence only started when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in his mother Mary’s womb—no more. We are all made in the image of God, but he is the image of God par excellence.
Now, is there any biblical support for my opinion? Surprisingly enough, there is quite a bit. The early Christians thought that God exalted Jesus to his ‘right-hand,’ but only after his resurrection. The first such passage comes from one of Paul’s undisputedly authentic letters, Philippians (written in the mid-50s CE, NAB p. 301); he writes,
“Let this mind [attitude (NAB)] be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form [essence (AMP), or nature (NIV), or father-son living image (mine)] of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant [slave (NAB)], and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11, KJV, emphasis mine)
According to Plato (c.428–c.347 BCE), the form is an imitation of a concept: like drawing a circle or a triangle, say, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_forms. Observe the word “exalted” in the above passage. Had Jesus been God, how could he be “exalted” any higher? Paul, like John, probably perceived Jesus as closest to the nature of God himself: like a son is to his father; indeed, Jesus was known as the “Son of God.” Paul too recognized Jesus as the Son of God in the Galatians passage (1:16) we saw at the beginning of the previous article: but not exactly God—there was only one God for Paul.
Moreover, in Acts, we find a second passage showing that the early Christians did not believe Jesus was God. About fifty days after Jesus’s resurrection, the original apostles’ leader, Peter, addressed the crowd that gathered following the commotion at Pentecost (the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first Christian community) as follows:
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. … This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by [to (NKJV)] the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Spirit], he hath shed forth [upon us (NLT)] this, which [what] ye now see and hear.” (Acts 2:22–23, 32–33, KJV, emphasis mine)
Again, notice the clause “to the right hand of God exalted” and the phrase “a man” (not ‘a god’). Was Peter being heretical, then? Of course not, the source of this speech is probably from very early Christianity; at which time Christians simply thought of Jesus as a special person: “a man approved of God.”
We find the same clause again in Acts, which portrays Peter before the Sanhedrin saying,
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree [cross]. Him hath God exalted with [to (NKJV)] his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:30–31, KJV, emphasis mine)
But later in Christianity, there was a concept evolution: trying to understand how, exactly, Jesus was so closely connected to his Father. Unfortunately, this evolution went in the wrong direction.
Furthermore, John’s gospel itself gives us another verse showing that John himself didn’t believe that Jesus was equal to God; he writes, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28, KJV). The Douay-Rheims Bible tries to explain this embarrassing, contradicting verse as follows:
“It is evident, that Christ our Lord speaks here of himself as he is made man: for as God he is equal to the Father. (See Philippians 2:5–11.) Any difficulty of understanding the meaning of these words will vanish, when the relative circumstances of the text here are considered: for Christ being at this time shortly to suffer death, signified to his apostles his human nature by these very words: for as God he could not die. And therefore as he was both God and man, it must follow that according to his humanity he was to die, which the apostles were soon to see and believe, as he expresses, [in the next verse] ver. 29, ‘And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe.’” (John 14:28n, DRC, emphasis mine)
Notice the clause: “as God he could not die.” Presumably, however, neither does a human soul die when one dies, but we still talk about a person dying.
According to Christian doctrine (Council of Chalcedon 451 CE), Jesus is supposedly one person with two natures: in whom both divinity and humanity are inseparable (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 104, ¶ 467).
“This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person [prosopon] and subsistence [hypostasis—essence/substance], not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.” (https://earlychurchtexts.com/public/chalcedonian_definition.htm)
Therefore, following this doctrine, when Jesus says “I,” it should include both his humanity and his divinity: just as when a person says “I,” it includes both one’s body and one’s soul. The lengthy explanation the Douay-Rheims Bible gives is only an indication of biblical contradiction.
Personally, like early Christianity, I tend to think of things a little simpler than later Christianity: I believe Jesus is Mary’s son through a special sperm donated directly by God (or better, by the Holy Spirit—God’s emissary). Admittedly, a small miracle, creating a special sperm, was required of God: but then, God is capable of much greater miracles—as I detailed in the chapter on “Miracles” in my book Is God a Reality?—A Scientific Investigation (pp. 283–324).
The Gospels’ evangelists, as well as later New Testament authors, over time, mythologized Jesus (like Robin Hood or Zorro) and tried to exalt him to a higher and higher position: until he became equal to God. Finally, he was also declared God: one of the persons of the Trinity. But I think that, all along, this was only wishful thinking on the part of Christians. (See my article on “The Trinity” for further political insight.)
In short, John’s gospel and a couple of New Testament letters (Titus & Second Peter) written after John’s gospel contradict the Old Testament assertion that there is only one God; the so-called mystery of the Trinity is merely a miserably-failing attempt to work around this contradiction.
Assuming the Bible was inspired by God himself, one would expect it to be a book advocating ‘proper’ morality. One would also imagine that God’s laws wouldn’t change over time: what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong: time, places, and customs should not be a factor, no?
There is hardly any question, at least nowadays, that monogamy (one wife) is proper morality while polygamy (more than one wife) is devious morality—possibly even evil.
Genesis starts by saying clearly that monogamy is the way to go.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife [singular]: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, KJV)
So then, why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament?
In the First Book of Samuel, the Bible says that God himself considered David “a man after his own heart.” It portrays the prophet Samuel telling King Saul, the Israelite king preceding David,
“But now thy [Saul’s] kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, [David] and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” (1 Samuel 13:14, KJV, emphasis mine)
In Acts, Luke portrays Paul confirming God’s opinion of David, given above, stating,
“When he [God] had removed him [Saul], he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” (Acts 13:22, KJV, emphasis mine)
Yet, this same David had many wives, six for starters: in the Second Book of Samuel, we read,
“Unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; and his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David’s wife. These were born to David in Hebron.” (2 Samuel 3:2–5, KJV, emphasis mine)
David continued to increase the size of his ‘harem’ after he captured Jerusalem.
“David took him [himself] more concubines [plural] and wives [plural] out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.” (2 Samuel 5:13, KJV)
Of course, there was also the well-known Bathsheba, with whom David committed adultery, practically murdered her husband, Uriah, and then married her too. (See 2 Samuel 11:1–27.)
In short, we do not really know, exactly, how many wives and concubines David had: https://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html.
As if this were not bad enough, King Solomon, one of David’s four sons through Bathsheba, is said to have had a thousand wives and concubines:
“He [Solomon] had seven hundred wives, princesses [queens (DRC)], and three hundred concubines: and his wives [women (DRC)] turned away his heart.” (1 Kings 11:3, KJV)
How can one justify this drastic morality change in the Bible?
The answer is very simple: morality depends on the times, locations, and customs. If men are scarce because of wars or exile, I suppose women would rather have half a loaf than no bread: so, under such circumstances, polygamy becomes acceptable to them—naturally, men will not object to it.
Contrary to what Jehovah’s Witnesses claim in their book The Bible: God’s Word or Man’s? (pp. 168–70), this inconsistency of moral principles in the Bible shows, quite clearly, that it is not even a yardstick for what is right and what is wrong. Inconsistencies in moral laws are across the Bible: from incest among Adam and Eve’s children, to polygamy as we saw in this subsection, to divorce as I shall show in the next subsection. The obvious conclusion is that the Bible is not a divine book but a human book.
Divorce is a similar subject that is easily allowed in the Old Testament but, practically, absolutely prohibited in the New Testament: again, showing inconsistency of moral principles in the Bible. The New Testament has no problem admitting that divorce was allowed in the Mosaic Law.
“The Pharisees came to him [Jesus], and asked him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?’ tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ And they said, ‘Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation “God made them male and female [Genesis 1:27]. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh [Genesis 2:24].” What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.’” (Mark 10:2–12, KJV)
Now, some might argue that in the New Testament Jesus set things right and that one should read the entire Bible. Perhaps it is the case here but ….
I am afraid though, one cannot even buy that argument because the New Testament, for example, never condemns slavery as being wrong; yet nowadays, after the American civil war, practically everybody agrees it is wrong. The abolition of slavery might have been recommended in early Christianity but never actually condemned as being evil in biblical texts: showing that morality is time-dependent and not absolute. It took a civil war, not the Bible, to make it wrong.
Paul’s opinion was that there should be no race, gender, or class distinction among Christians. In his authentic Galatians (written in the early 50s CE, NAB p. 283), he writes,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond [slave (NAB)] nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, KJV, emphasis mine)
Consequently, in the early 60s CE (NAB, p. 335), he asks his friend Philemon to free his slave Onesimus, who had escaped from his master and become a Christian.
“For perhaps he [Onesimus] therefore departed for a season [a while], that thou [Philemon] shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a servant [slave (NAB)], but above a servant [slave (NAB)], a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.” (Philemon 1:15-17, KJV)
So far, so good, the Bible measures up, to some extent.
But then, after the 80s CE (NAB, pp. 293, 308), pseudo-Paul comes along and writes in the Letter to the Colossians,
“Servants [Slaves (NAB)], obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.” (Colossians 3:22, KJV)
And later in the same letter, he also writes,
“Masters, give unto your servants [slaves (NAB)] that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1, KJV)
These last two quotes are biblical texts too: one cannot just close an eye to them.
I do not know where people ever got the idea that the Bible is God’s word or that it sets high moral standards, as Jehovah’s Witnesses (as well as most Christian denominations) contend (pp. 168–70). Possibly because they are biased and only focus on the uplifting sections in the Bible, or they never read it in its entirety.
Now that I have basically torn the Bible apart with its own contradicting accounts, what should we do with it? I hope you agree, by now, that we cannot consider it infallible any longer because of these numerous contradictions; besides (as I show in my book Is the Bible Infallible?) failed prophecies, myths, historical inaccuracies, and fabricated accounts, not to mention scientific errors. When first I realized this, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was shocked to discover that the Bible was not infallible (something I had believed for fifty-odd years), but on the other hand, it was a real liberation in my life: I did not have to believe blindly everything that the Bible (or the Catholic Church) said any longer, and I did not have to try to reconcile its blatant contradictions. Most important of all, I was so relieved that I did not have to believe in the Christian hell any longer! The source of the Christian hell, as I show in my article on “Hell,” is misinterpreted metaphorical quotes from the Gospels.
In fact, in his book Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman confirms this; he writes,
“There is not literally a place of eternal torment where God, or the demons doing his will, will torture poor souls for 30 trillion years (as just the beginning) [eternally] for sins they committed for thirty years. What kind of never-dying eternal divine Nazi would a God like that be?” (p. 276).
So now, as far as our faith is concerned, how do we determine what is true in the Bible, especially in the Gospels? Do we pick and choose the verses we like and leave out those verses we do not like? This sounds like a dangerous proposition. Again, in the same book Ehrman explains and advises us,
“It is important to recall the historical view that the biblical authors were all living in a different world from ours and reflected the assumptions and beliefs of people in their world. … Some people may think that it is a dangerous attitude to take towards the Bible, to pick and choose what you want to accept and throw everything else out. … In my opinion, people need to use their intelligence to evaluate what they find to be true and untrue in the Bible. This is how we need to live life generally. Everything we hear and see we need to evaluate.” (pp. 280–81)
In other words, the biblical authors could not possibly think outside their ‘box’: we need to re-evaluate what they once wrote for ourselves. Unfortunately, this is all we have—this is our legacy!
For the reader who would prefer to see a biblical quote to this effect, I believe that also Deuteronomy gives us the proper answer to this question: it portrays God saying to the Hebrews—and us by inference,
“This commandment which I [God] command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14, KJV)
God’s word (i.e., morality: good and evil, right and wrong) is imprinted deep within us (like God’s signature on our being): we can, therefore, sort out biblical texts intelligently, using reason and our conscience, provided we are honest with ourselves and, if possible, take the time to study the scriptures (and religion) carefully. Even atheists agree with religious people, in most moral cases, as to what is right and what is wrong. However, major differences do seem to creep in over time: in decades or centuries; but the golden rule, to love one’s neighbor as oneself, never changes.
Many of the biblical passages are inspirational: they are conducive to our living a harmonious life together. I suggest we assume any particular biblical verse to be true unless we have positive proof of its falsity: namely, there are other verses that contradict it elsewhere or, most importantly, provided nothing deep down inside us tells us that something is wrong with what we are reading. In other words, believe the Bible critically not blindly: something like we treat a nation’s wisdom—the sayings or proverbs. Everyone believes or assumes there is a lot of wisdom in the sayings of a nation, but nobody takes them as infallible: yet, we still use them somehow. I suggest we treat the Bible the same way. I believe there is no other way of reading (or rather studying) the Bible: otherwise, we might as well throw the Bible away, but would you dispose of a nation’s sayings?
The reader, I am sure, will now appreciate that the fact that the Bible, including the Gospels, is not reliable enough has colossal ramifications for us Christians. We cannot quote it any more as a source of divine wisdom or revelation to prove something or to give us insight about God, Jesus, heaven and hell, the resurrection, the soul, original sin, morality, and so on. We are basically at the same level as the atheists, with perhaps a slight advantage over them, or possibly even at a disadvantage at times. So, we need to build mutual respect with the atheists: if nothing else, they keep our feet on the ground, preventing us from being carried away by superstitious and, perhaps, dangerous beliefs and actions resulting from blind faith. Of course, a similar argument applies when dealing with people of other religions.
Here, I would like to make one last important point. In his authentic Second Letter to the Corinthians, written around 57 CE (NAB, p. 266), Paul (to whom God “revealed” his Son, and who also saw and talked to the resurrected Jesus) describes Jesus as “Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4: 4, KJV) Therefore, I believe God conceived Jesus for three reasons:
(1) To tell us what the Father is really like,
(2) To show us, through a living example, the best way to the Father, and
(3) To set Holy Scripture straight.
The Old Testament, for example, portrays God as a neurotic ogre while, in actual fact, he is the greatest gentleman. God is our “Father” according to Jesus; and “God is love” itself—the personification of love—says the First Letter of John (4:8).
So, Jesus’s authentic words (as opposed to the evangelists’) and actions are paramount in finding the truth: that is, deciding whether a particular concept represents God’s word or not. (If someone writes a story about Jesus, and puts words in Jesus’s mouth, it doesn’t mean he actually said them.)
Notice my emphasis on the word ‘authentic.’ I realize it is not easy to determine which of Jesus’s sayings or actions are authentic: a lot of research is required. Frankly, I don’t know exactly where to draw the line; but then, I also believe God has a preference for variety rather than clones: we only have to look at nature around us to perceive this. He has no problem having an intimate relationship with all kinds of people. In other words, we don’t have to get things right all the time, he would still love us anyway: as long as we show interest rather than apathy, he doesn’t mind our conclusions. (But, please, don’t try to fool yourself with preconceived notions.) We are his children, and his love for us is always unconditional!
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