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12/27/09

The “Skeptic’s Annotated Bible” as a Heuristic Device

Considering that, generally but reliably speaking, those who label themselves as “skeptics” are anything but, it is not surprising that the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible is saturated with atheist talking points along with the obligatory common, and some uncommon, misconceptions and lack of scholarship.

Having conducted a study of the relevant biblical texts relating to the doctrine of the Trinity it seemed relevant to consider the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible webpage entitled, How many gods are there?

The page seeks to demonstrate biblical contradictions by referencing texts that affirm that “There is only one god” and those that conclude that “There are several gods.” I will reproduce it in its entirety below but let us first note just how simple it is to reconcile these two.
Actually, “reconcile” is giving the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible far too much credit as the problem is that they are, in truly pseudo-skeptical form, merely quoting texts while not musing upon that which the texts are stating.
Since they are not truly skeptic they are not interested in understanding the texts and connecting the dots but are merely interested in presenting the appearance of contradiction. In fact, the webpage offers no commentary at all They mere present two columns with two titles and, apparently, think that this is supposed to mean something.

The list “There is only one god” is straight forward enough: God affirms that He is the one and only God and that there is no other. The list reads as follows:

Deuteronomy 4:35
Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.
Deuteronomy 4:39
The LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
Deuteronomy 32:39
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me.
1 Kings 18:39
The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
Isaiah 43:10
I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
Isaiah 44:8
Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Isaiah 45:5-6
I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.
Isaiah 46:9
I am God, and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like me.
Mark 12:29
The Lord our God is one Lord.
Mark 12:32
There is one God; and there is none other but he.
John 17:3
That they might know thee the only true God.
1 Corinthians 8:6
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him.

For some odd reason, perhaps simply an innocent overlooking of the relevant texts, the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible neglected to quote a very, very relevant text in their “There are several gods” list. They somehow missed quoting,
Now concerning things offered to idols…we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God (1st Corinthians 8:1, 5-6).

Thus, yes—and this is key—“there are so-called gods” and these so-called gods are “many” yet, “there is no other God but one.” In fact, note that just above, in the “There is only one god” list they quote the monotheistic affirmation from in 1st Corinthians 8:6a but they did not bother providing the context, which would have done away with their whole webpage, when listing “There are several gods.”
Thus, there you have it: since there are many so-called gods who are not gods then references to “gods” and for that matter “goddesses” are references to demons or simply fictitious characters that are worshiped as idols.
Below we will note that Exodus 12:12 is quoted as, “And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.” Indeed, and it was in executing these judgments that God demonstrated that these so-called gods were not gods but impotent idols.

Also, below we will note that Psalm 82:6a is quoted as “I have said, Ye are gods” and also John 10:33-34 in which Jesus references that Psalm:
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

Perhaps, the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible thought that we would take them on authority or by “faith” yet, when we practice the true and honest skepticism enjoined upon us by the Bible[1] we look up the citation, read for context and note that the Psalm reads:
God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods.How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? SelahDefend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy.Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked.
They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable. I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.

The term for “gods” here, as in most places of plurality, is the Hebrew elohim and means “mighty ones” which was used in reference to the judges. Even though God called the judges mighty ones they are His creation and will die like any other person. El, Eloah, Elohim or Eloheinu are titles generically used to mean God, god, gods, goddess, judges, great, mighty, angels or power [im being plural for a masculine Hebrew word, ot being plural for feminine words].

They also do not seem to consider that since God is a Triune being plural references to the one
God are not mistaken or contradictory. In fact, below they quote 1st John 5:7 to which no one making a scholarly theological case for the Trinity would refer as it is known to be a late dated accretion and reads thusly,
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

But do not miss the point: even in the face of a text which makes reference to the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost as being “one” they include it in a list prefaced as “There are several gods.” But how are there “several gods” in view when they are said to be “one.” The answer is twofold: 1) the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible know not what they do and 2) the doctrine of the Trinity affirms one God, one being, in three co-equal, co-eternal, distinct persons.

I designed this illustration of the Trinity and you can purchase this design on a t-shirt or sticker at my online Cafepress shop:


These few facts are quite enough to dispel whatever negative implication the following references were meant to convey:
Genesis 1:26
And God said, let us make man in our image.
Genesis 3:22
And the Lord God said, Behold, then man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.
Genesis 11:7
Let us go down, and there confound their language.
Exodus 12:12
And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.
Exodus 15:11
Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?
Exodus 18:11
Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods.
Exodus 20:3, 5
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. ... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
Exodus 22:20
He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
Exodus 22:28
Thou shalt not revile the gods.
Exodus 23:13
Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.
Exodus 23:24
Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.
Exodus 23:32
Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.
Exodus 34:14
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Numbers 33:4
Upon their gods also theLORD executed judgments.
Deuteronomy 3:24
What God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works?
Deuteronomy 6:14-15
Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you)
Deuteronomy 10:17
For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords.
Deuteronomy 28:14
Thou shalt not ... go after other gods to serve them.
Joshua 24:2
They served other gods.
Joshua 24:14
Fear the Lord ... and put away the gods which your fathers served.
Judges 11:24
Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess?
1 Samuel 6:5
Ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods.
1 Samuel 28:13
And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
1 Chronicles 16:25
The Lord ... is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 82:1
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty, he judgeth among the gods.
Psalm 82:6
I have said, Ye are gods.
Psalm 86:8
Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord.
Psalm 96:4
For the Lord ... is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 97:7
Worship him, all ye gods.
Psalm 135:5
Our Lord is above all gods.
Psalm 136:2
O give thanks unto the God of gods.
Jeremiah 1:16
I will utter my judgments against them ... who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods.
Jeremiah 10:11
The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
Jeremiah 25:6
And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.
Jeremiah 46:25
I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods.
Zephaniah 2:11
The Lord will be terrible to them: for he will famish all the gods of the earth.
John 10:33-34
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

[1] “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18), in the New Testament the Bereans are considered more noble (or more “fair minded”) for double checking everything that Paul told them (Acts 17:11), Thomas asked for the evidence which the others had seen and had merely retold to him (John 20:24-30), Jesus stated, “Love the Lord your God with all your…mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38), etc., etc., etc.

This essay is copyrighted by Mariano of the “Atheism is Dead” blog at http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com.
It may be republished in part or in its entirety on websites, blogs, or any print media for whatever purpose—in agreement or in order to criticize it—only as long as the following conditions are met:
1) Give credit to “Mariano of the ‘Atheism is Dead’ blog at http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com”
2) Inform me as to which essay is being reproduced and where it is being reproduced via the comments section
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