Apparent Discrepancies in the Bible

Question:
If one is to take the words in the Bible literally, how do we explain this?

Genesis 4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the East of Eden.

Genesis 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; -- -- --.

This seems to imply that there were OTHER humans in existence, other than Adam and Eve and their children! That seems to challenge the notion of Adam and Eve being the "first" people!

My Answer:
God just didn't see the need to bother with including a lot of details like that, because, until this past hundred years or so, people were just never concerned about the technical logic of a thousand such things in the Bible. I do not claim that He provided us with all the information to provide conclusive answers to all the millions of questions we can collectively come up with! But I DO claim that He created a Universe where "logical" answers are possible for such questions. It appears that none of us are yet smart enough to figure out the logic behind most of them!

My suspicion is that, on our Welcome into Heaven, in the event that we still have all those sorts of questions, when the answers will be provided, we will probably think "Wow! That's obvious!" even though we don't have a clue on most of them now!

If you consider the "scientific" side of the concept, the answer is certainly obvious. But I agree that something seems illogical in those Scriptures. I don't have the slightest doubt in the Scriptures (especially as they were ORIGINALLY written). That means to me that there MUST be a logical explanation that exists. Obviously, there is some factor that we do not understand. It could be a hundred things.

What if, when God Created Adam and Eve, they were the first "humans" with SOULS. Maybe He had earlier let the "scientific" thing proceed with the animals and such, and maybe some beings eventually came to exist that would appear identical to us, except without Souls. As far as God was concerned, maybe they would just be "animals." Maybe THAT is the "unspecified fact" that exists as a background. In that case, Nod could have had lots of such "critters", and they looked like us. But, without Souls, well ... , not a lot of good might have proceeded in that direction.

These comments are my speculation, and a hundred equally "logical" scenarios might have occurred instead. You might be able to think of various other "logical" possibilities. We humans are pretty arrogant sometimes, and we want to believe that we know EVERYTHING! There seems like a pretty good chance that there are many things that are, and forever will be, beyond our collective intellect! Maybe we're just are not as smart as we often think we are!

Question:
In trying to match up Genesis 1 with scientific findings, Light comes first in both, and people came last in both. Actually, virtually ALL events seem to match up amazingly well. Only the reference to birds in Genesis is one step earlier than science believes they appeared. How could the SEQUENCE of Genesis 1 (composed 3300 years ago) be so amazingly identical to what modern science has discovered during the recent hundred years? A related page here shows that there are over 87,000,000,000 different sequences were possible for that early composer of Genesis 1 (called 14 factorial, regarding the 14 apparent events mentioned in Genesis 1).


My Answer:
The ONLY explanation which seems possible to me is that God HAD TO HAVE EXISTED, as He was the Only Being that knew what the correct sequence actually was. Seems to me that this provides a Scientific, Stastical PROOF that God certainly Existed!

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The birds discrepancy could actually be due to a copyists error regarding the Scripture. As I said, the ORIGINAL was certainly true and accurate, but there are many documented cases where a Scribe had miscopied letters or even words in making his copy of Scripture. The reference to the birds and the crawlies and the bigger creatures are all VERY close together in the Bible, and, for other than nit-pickers like me, the details of the sequence might have seemed of minimal importance to a Scribe. What if the birds reference was originally several words later in the original text? And somehow got accidentally moved forward a few words to its present location?

On the other hand, science is always considered to be a work-in-progress, where future discoveries WILL certainly refine current conclusions.

So, the "discrepancy" could have its cause from either or both sides! I mean, tomorrow, a REALLY old fossil of a bird might be found, and science would then have to figure out how they developed, before dinosaurs and such! OR, someone might find an especially old Bible Manuscript which has slightly different wording!


Each person must decide for himself/herself regarding a variety of religious subjects. Churches and religions and "experts" can give opinions, but that is really what they are, opinions.

It seems to me that it is reasonable to ask several logical questions in the pursuit of Truth.

The first is, does God exist?
If your answer is no, then the subject is pretty much closed!

If your answer is yes, He exists, then a follow-up question seems logical:

Does God have Principles, Ethics, Morals?
If your answer is no, then we are all in a horrible situation, where God could choose to be irrational, unfair, capricious. There are people who believe this. But I look at the history of everything that is known. As far as is known, the Sun has risen at the proper time each day, gravity has worked consistently, no buildings or fields or cities just disappear or reappear illogically. Based on this rather massive evidence of all history and all experience, I am tempted to think that the Universe appears to be consistent and logical. That suggests that God does not apply irrational actions or motives. I take that to suggest that He has at least several positive characteristics. If we grant Him "several" admirable traits, I am willing to accept that He has additional admirable traits which we cannot confirm or deny.

So, if your answer is yes, that He is ethical and moral, then a follow-up question seems logical:

Did He participate in the composition of the Bible?
If your answer is no, then you need to explain the specific sequence of events listed in Genesis 1. It has only been in the past hundred years or so that science has begun to establish just when those several events occurred. Even skeptics agree that the Bible has said that Light came first, for at least 3300 years! That statement must have seemed odd to many people. Why Light first? Why not Man, to witness everything? Why not the Earth, to stand on? But Genesis 1 said that Light was first. It is only in the past hundred years that science has discovered that stars are older than anything else we know, and therefore that their light existed before anything else. Prior to a hundred years ago, how could anyone have known that? Or even guessed it? So, if God was NOT involved in composing Genesis 1, how could any ancient human have known to write down that Light came first?

So, if your answer is yes, God is ethical and moral and He participated in the composition of the Bible, then a follow-up question seems logical:

Would such an ethical, moral, honorable God have either intentionally put falsehoods or misleading statements in His Book or even permitted the human authors to do such?
This represents the INTERESTING part! Given these seemingly logical questions and conclusions, it would seem that He would have assured that the (Original) Manuscripts of the Bible would have been precisely accurate and Truthful.

This seems to imply that, for an absolute fact, the Flood occurred, David slew Goliath, Moses received the Ten Commandments, and all the rest, EXACTLY as it was presented in those Original Manuscripts.

Now, it is well established that Scribes, in copying the roughly three million characters of the text of the Bible, have occasionally made minor errors (which are now known and have been corrected, through a comparison of thousands of early Manuscripts). Amazingly, that (ongoing) research has also discovered that several Scribes had (in the first few centuries after Christ) even added some text that was intended as clarifying statements, and those modifications, too, have been largely recognized and corrected.

But the point is, all of the central Teachings of the Bible have NOT been altered or mis-copied. That means that, even without ANY (current) scientific documentation, we can confidently say that the Flood of Noah actually occurred. More than that: If God told us that He took Six Days to create the Universe, that statement MUST be the Truth. Otherwise, He was either intentionally telling us a falsehood, or He made an error, or He permitted a central error to exist in the Bible.


Now, none of this actually PROVES anything. It will always come down to a person's personal choice as to what to believe, a matter of Faith. These questions and discussion are only meant to suggest a way to look at the situation, to think through it. My conclusion from this is that God exists, He is Good, He guided the composition of the Bible and He made sure it was all Correct and Truthful. So, when many modern Christians see seemingly illogical stories in the Bible, especially things that modern science seems to challenge, I find it sad (and inappropriate) when they then begin to pick through the Bible's contents to decide which parts they want to believe and which they choose to disbelieve. In a word, Hogwash!

As a person who was educated as a serious scientist (my College Degree was in Nuclear Physics), I am familiar with logic and the value in analytical thought and all it has accomplished within the realm of science. I have little question regarding that, and accept nearly all of what science has so far figured out. But at the same time, using the same scientific analytical approach, those questions above lead me to totally believe in the Bible.

The fact that the two perspectives seem to sometimes be in disagreement, THAT is where it all gets interesting! I see it that both MUST be true (for different reasons) and therefore, that there must be some "Larger Truth" that somehow includes both views as being separately correct.

In an exploration of such matters, I have done extensive study during my life. I have written an essay that presents those efforts, at Christianity and Science are Amazingly Compatible.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in August 2000.

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