God is a liar?
Feedback 13 November 2000
From Luke of Australia, who gave permission for his full name to be used. His letter is printed first in its entirety (apart from extended Bible quotes, so the passages are hyperlinked instead). His letter is printed again (including his Bible quotes), with point-by-point responses by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, Creation Ministries International–Australia, interspersed as per normal email fashion. Ellipses (…) at the end of one of Luke’s paragraphs signal that a mid-sentence comment follows, not an omission.
I’m a former young-earther. If you didn’t have the rule, ‘No … advertising other Web sites or materials’, then I would have mentioned some interesting sites that build on the Biblical theme of this piece of feedback.
Now basically I just wanted to point out that in some places in the Bible, God is said to be a deceiver or liar. This means that God mightn’t have dictated some parts of the Bible truthfully — which means that some parts of the Bible might not be the absolute truth.
Here’s the relevant passages:
Yes, we are aware of you (from previous correspondence)—the verse ‘blown here and there by every wind of doctrine’ (Ephesians 4:14) may be appropriate. Some of these winds included, it seems, fallacious evolutionary hot air about the Green River Formation that has been often refuted, as here, but some people don’t really want answers in their heart of hearts … .
As we often point out, our emphasis is on the authority of the Word of God, not believing in a young earth simply because some scientific evidence seems to support it. Those who merely believe for this reason can be swayed if someone presents more seemingly persuasive arguments for an old earth, and we’ve known them to swing back when the fallacious old-earth arguments are refuted. Of course, we believe that the evidence for a young earth is very strong—see Q&A: Young Earth Evidence.
If you didn’t have the rule, ‘No … advertising other Web sites or materials’, then I would have mentioned some interesting sites that build on the Biblical theme of this piece of feedback.
We are well aware of the bibliosceptical/atheistic websites that inhabit the darker hovels of the internet. Invariably they present very superficial analyses of the Bible, e.g.:
- ignoring the original languages
- selectively quoting areas of the KJV in which the archaic language can mislead
- lack of logic, e.g. the correct definition of a contradiction
- ignoring Jewish idioms and figures of speech
- ripping verses right out of context and juxtaposing them with other verses to try to claim a contradiction
- imposing a 21st-century high moral ground (which actually has no solid logical foundation, since those who propose it believe the notion that we are a cosmic accident, ‘star dust’. That is, what ‘ought to be’ does not derive from materialism).
- imposing modern ways of reportage and citation
- assuming that different selective reports of the same events are contradictory
We have also addressed a number of criticisms in Q&A: Countering the Critics, under Bible ‘contradictions’ and ‘errors’. One website we hyperlink is Tekton Apologetics Ministries, which deals with all the issues you raise, and other fallacious examples presented by other apostates. It also presents helpful ways of dealing with alleged contradictions in general by showing how the sceptics twist the Scriptures to their own destruction. So you broke another feedback rule by not checking out our site first.
Now basically I just wanted to point out that in some places in the Bible, God is said to be a deceiver or liar. This means that God mightn’t have dictated …
This sceptic typically sets up a straw man here in arguing that evangelicals believe that all Scripture was divinely dictated, with the human authors functioning as mere secretaries. Although some passages were indeed dictated, e.g. Ex. 20:1 ff. most were not. Rather, as the theologian Dr Ryrie states: ‘… inspiration is … God’s superintendence of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities, they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs.’ Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1972), p. 38.
… some parts of the Bible truthfully — which means that some parts of the Bible might not be the absolute truth.
What we claim is that the Bible teaches no false propositions as true. We never deny that it can report false propositions. But the passages mentioned below illustrate a common principle: God gives people rules for their benefit, but if people disobey, God often gives them just what they wish for, and lets them suffer the consequence. This is His right as sovereign Creator (Romans 9). E.g. Adam and Eve decided that they didn’t need God, so God gave them what they clearly wanted by their actions—separation from His presence (as well as keeping His word that they would now be subject to decay and death). And as the great apologist C.S. Lewis said, those who end up in hell are those who cannot stand to be in God’s Holy presence, so God says to them: ‘Thy will be done.’ The passages below are examples of those who persistently reject the truth and actively prefer lies, delusion and darkness, so God gives them just what they want (and from God’s standpoint, deserve).
Some modern bibliosceptics puff in righteous indignation at this, but why should this be a concern? Especially when they have no ultimate justification for their own moral position if we are all just rearranged pond scum as evolution teaches. The famous atheistic evolutionary propagandist Richard Dawkins agreed that evolution ‘leads to … a moral vacuum, in which their best impulses have no basis in nature’. See this exchange between Dawkins and Lanier.
Here’s [sic] the relevant passages:
And here they are quoted in full:
1 Kings 22:12–23 (2 Chronicles 18:11–22)
All the prophets agreed that Ahab should attack the Syrians at Ramoth, and they promised that the LORD would help him defeat them.
Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah whispered, ‘Micaiah, all the prophets have good news for Ahab. Now go and say the same thing.’ ‘I’ll say whatever the living LORD tells me to say,’ Micaiah replied.
Then Micaiah went to Ahab, and Ahab asked, ‘Micaiah, should I attack the Syrians at Ramoth?’
‘Yes!’ Micaiah answered. ‘The LORD will help you defeat them.’
Micaiah was being sarcastic, because Ahab had shown repeatedly that he had little regard for prophets of the true God but fell for the flattery of the prophets of Baal. Many apostates lack a sense of humour and are seldom able to recognize it when used by others! Sarcasm may upset some bibliosceptics’ sensibilities, but that is hardly the point.
‘Micaiah, I’ve told you over and over to tell me the truth!’ Ahab shouted. ‘What does the LORD really say?’
See, this shows that Ahab recognized that Micaiah was speaking sarcastically.
‘He answered, ‘In a vision I saw Israelite soldiers walking around in the hills like sheep without a shepherd to guide them. The LORD said, “This army has no leader. They should go home and not fight.”’
Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said, “I told you he would bring bad news!” Micaiah replied:
Listen to this! I also saw the LORD seated on his throne with every creature in heaven gathered around him. The LORD asked, “Who can trick Ahab and make him go to Ramoth where he will be killed?“
They talked about it for a while, then finally a spirit came forward and said to the LORD, “I can trick Ahab.” “How?” the LORD asked. “I’ll make Ahab’s prophets lie to him.” “Good!” the LORD replied. “Now go and do it.’
This is exactly what has happened, Ahab. The LORD made all your prophets lie to you, and he knows you will soon be destroyed.’
These were already prophets prepared to lie and follow the false god Baal. This is a case in point of God giving people exactly what they want—Ahab wanted news to tickle his ears; so God allowed him his desire … it’s similar to other passages like one in Ezekiel where God says he will give the Israelites bad laws to live under, and in the 2 Thes. reference, as I point out below.
Jeremiah 20:7 (out of context)
Out of context—yep, typical of these bibliosceptical sites.
‘You tricked me, LORD, and I was really fooled …’
This is not the best translation—the Hebrew word behind ‘trick’ can also mean ‘seduce’ or ‘persuade’. In the context of Jeremiah, who had to be persuaded by God to take his prophetic calling (Jer. 1:6–7), this is the correct understanding. There is also a lot of poetic irony in Jeremiah. He doesn’t give an example of being lied to, but rather he was disappointed that his own expectations weren’t met. Of course, many opponents of creation, whether churchian or openly humanistic, caricature our position as wooden literalism, and don’t bother to read what we actually teach (for a summary, see Should Genesis Be Taken Literally?).
If a prophet gives a false message, I am the one who caused that prophet to lie …
Try another translation, e.g.:
NIV: And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the LORD have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel.
NASB:But if the prophet is prevailed upon to speak a word, it is I, the LORD, who have prevailed upon that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel.
The whole context of Ezekiel 14 is about Israelites who set up idols/false gods in their hearts; that is the sort of prophet that is referred to as well in the context.
2 Thessalonians 2:9–12
When the wicked one appears, Satan will pretend to work all kinds of miracles, wonders, and signs. Lost people will be fooled by his evil deeds. They could be saved, but they will refuse to love the truth and accept it. So God will make sure that they are fooled into believing a lie. All of them will be punished, because they would rather do evil than believe the truth.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
As you can see, they already had ‘refused to love the truth’, and this is the reason God sends them a ‘powerful delusion’. And the passage goes on to explain that they deserve what they get because they ‘have delighted in wickedness’.
(Dr) Jonathan Sarfati
Research scientist, author and editorial consultant