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In Dr. Gastrich's 2002 debate with Dan Barker, Dan raised 30 questions. Here are answers to those questions. Unfortunately, after Dan read Dr. Gastrich's book (The Skeptic's Annotated Bible: Corrected and Explained), he refused to have a rematch. This book gives nearly 4,000 answers to the tough questions about the Bible.
If you'd like to hear these questions answered, click here and you can order Dr. Gastrich's debate with Dan Barker and they're included for free.
1. What is sin?
- Sin is disobeying one of God's laws. When you sin, you do the opposite of God's will. You contradict His character and His very nature.
2. Is it a sin to do work on the Sabbath?
- No. In the Old Testament, God told the ancient Israelites that they couldn't do work on the Sabbath. It's a great guideline for modern Christians, however we don't see this command repeated and told to us in the New Testament. In fact, we see Jesus and the disciples interpreting this issue correctly.
3. There is no verse in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not commit abortion."
- That's correct. However, there are ample scriptures that show us that it is wrong. Here are some of them. See http://abortion.jcsm.org.
4. Psalm 137:9, "The followers of God should be happy to take the infidel children and dash them against the rocks."
- Dan has taken the very last verse from chapter 137 and he has taken it out of context. Let's read the last three verses in that chapter, so we can get the appropriate context. They read, "Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom, The day of Jerusalem, Who said, 'Raze it, raze it, To its very foundation!' 8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! 9 Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!"
First, we have to understand that the Psalms were written by David and a few others. They consist of songs, sayings, prophecies, historical narratives, etc.
This verse is affirming the destruction of the sons of Edom; who were some pagans. They had hated God and sinned against Him. They had also hated and killed the Israelites. Therefore, the scriptures are saying that they will be repaid and that their little ones would be killed as well.
Incidentally, this word that was translated "Happy" can also be translated "Blessed." God would ultimately be the one dishing out the judgment against these pagans. The Psalmist was saying, "Blessed be God who will judge you and your children with your lives."
5. "You can save the young virgin girls for yourselves." (Numbers) "They called it war booty."
Here are the scriptures in Numbers 31:15-18 that Dan was talking about. They read, "And Moses said to them: 'Have you kept all the women alive? 16Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. 18But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.'"
The ancient Israelites didn't have a rehabilitation program for widows. There weren't community service programs that would take care of them. These women would have to be stranded in the desert. Therefore, God told them that they should be put to death instead of having to die an even worse death like starving to death, dying from heatstroke, being eaten by animals, etc.
There is no mention of rape or torture in these verses.
The word "booty" that was used in verse 32 is a general word that referred to sheep, cattle, donkey, and the women that were undefiled. This verse still doesn't imply rape or mistreatment. On the contrary, these women were taken with the Israelites and they were fed and protected from roving animals, scorching heat, starvation, etc.
6. "Are you telling me this with a straight face?" (about the Nephilim)
- Yes. Genesis 6 tells us that the fallen angels went into the women and had children. Directly afterwards, the scriptures tell us that God was upset and decided to destroy the world with a flood. These two acts are directly related.
7. "Do you actually believe this?"
- Yes. Every verifiable claim in the Bible is true. Therefore, I have informed faith and believe that unverifiable claims as well.
8. "Your argument amounts to racism." (regarding Jesus' lineage)
- Racism? Racism is discrimination. It is one human deciding that his race or another race is better than the others.
Since the fall, God began implementing His plan of redemption. This plan started with Adam and Eve and was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. All throughout history, before Christ came, God told the world about the coming Messiah; His lineage, where He would be born, what they would call Him, etc. God ordained Jesus Christ to come through the Israelites. This wasn't racism.
Jesus' lineage isn't racism. Jesus was the person God used to save humankind. He came through Mary and Joseph, who were Jewish. This isn't racism.
9. "When has that been proven or confirmed?" (regarding demons, supernatural miracles, and the spirit world)
- I'm not a scientist, so I haven't scientifically proven these things. I don't know any scientists, either. However, I do have proof from my experience and from the experiences of others. This proof is not anecdotal. In fact, this kind of proof is admissible even in a courtroom. It's called a testimony.
I've done miracles in Jesus' name. I've healed a man from epilepsy. I healed my own eyes when I needed to wear glasses. Now, I don't even wear them.
People I trust have told me about miracles they have done and seen in Jesus' name. Pastors have told me about their experiences in casting demons out of people.
10. "Why do you need faith? When you use the word faith, you are admitting that your assertions cannot be accepted on their own merit."
- You need faith because you cannot see God the Father. He has told us in His Word, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God."
11. "Why is Genesis 17:3 a prophecy? What was the prophecy?"
- There are several prophetic verses in Genesis 17. Here are verses 6 and 7. Genesis 17:6 and 7 reads, "I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you."
These verses are a prophecy because they refer to a future event. These were later fulfilled, too. The "everlasting covenant" refers to the covenant between Jesus Christ and humankind. This is the promise of salvation that was given through Him.
12. "Were the gospel writers exempt from making mistakes? How do you know they didn't make an error when they wrote the scriptures? Are you attributing super-human abilities to these authors?"
- Yes. When the gospel writers wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they could not make an error. We read about this here: 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 reads, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." If there were errors, then the scriptures obviously wouldn't be profitable.
I've studied the very best, alleged errors and I've found reasonable answers to all of them. In my book called, "The Skeptic's Annotated Bible: Corrected and Explained," I offer nearly 4,000 answers and a full rebuttal to the atheist commentary called The Skeptic's Annotated Bible.
13. Acts 9:7 - "Did Paul hear a voice?"
- The SAB: Acts 9:7 - This verse claims that the men who accompanied Paul didn't hear the voice. But later in Acts 22:9 Paul says that the men with him did hear the voice.
The SAB: Corrected and Explained - This Greek word for "hear" is also used to convey the word "understand." The people with Paul heard the voice, but they did not understand what it was saying to him. When the scriptures say the men did not hear the voice, they are actually telling us that they did not understand the voice. When Paul is telling us that they did hear the voice, he is telling us that they did hear it; although they did not understand it. Consequently, these scriptures are congruent and telling us the same thing; even though the Greek word could have been better translated in Acts 9:7.
14. "Why do you think a priori that all of the alleged Bible discrepancies are false? Are you going into it with an open mind?"
- Even though I've had a long-term relationship with the biblical God, I can still think with an open mind as I analyze the scriptures. In hindsight, I found nearly 4,000 answers to the tough questions about the Bible! Now, I can say the Bible is a book without error.
15. "Do I have to like or respect God? What's wrong with me saying such a thing?"
- No. You have to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. You need to worship Him and trust Him.
What's wrong with you saying such a thing? Well, what's wrong is that you are ignoring your Creator and not giving Him the credit or praise that He deserves. That's what's wrong.
16. "Who is to say that God could not use evolution to bring about things? Why is evolution a problem when millions of Bible-believing Christians believe it?"
- I'm a firm believer in every kind of evolution that we have observed. However, I do not necessarily believe in the kinds of evolution that nobody has observed. Why do you, Dan? Why should I trade my faith for your faith?
The evolution of species contradicts Genesis. God created all things in six days. If you say that it took billions of years for things to evolve, then we have suffering, disease, and death before the first sin and this contradicts God's plan of redemption. It undermines the scriptures.
17. "Who drew the arbitrary line between the species that cannot evolve?"
- The better question is this: "Where is the line between what can and cannot evolve?" I believe the line is what we have observed. Evolutionists like Dan think that if we give things enough time, non-life can turn into life! They believe that single-celled organisms can eventually evolve into humans. Christians believe that non-life can only turn into life with a Creator's command. Nobody has ever observed non-life turning into life by itself and no scientist has been able to perform this feat, but Dan believes it happened billions of years ago all by itself.
18. "What is the problem with the theory of the evolution of species?"
- There are countless problems. Where should I begin? First, it assumes that all things have decayed at a constant rate and we know that isn't true. Whenever a theory is built on an assumption, you already have serious problems.
The creation account teaches that there was a worldwide flood with cataclysmic events that accompanied it. These things would throw off the billions of years that evolutionists sometimes get with their dating methods.
There is an extreme lack of transitional fossils. If the evolution of species were to be true, there would need to be some fossil evidence, but there is not. In fact, we find just the opposite in the fossil record. Besides some extinct animals, we find no meaningful transitional fossils; certainly nothing on the level that would be needed for Darwin's theory to be true.
19. "If Genesis is true, then where is the scientific confirmation of Genesis?"
- Answers in Genesis is a fantastic, scientific organization. I'm not a scientist, so I direct scientific questions to them. They produce a journal called the Technical Journal and it is peer-reviewed even by secular universities in Australia. Go to their web site at http://answersingenesis.org and they can answer your science questions. I also host a science site called Young Earth Creation Science and you can find hundreds of answers there as well. See http://yecs.org.
20. "Where is the scientific journal that shows that secular dating methods are not reliable? Where is the scientific community saying that these dates are unreliable?"
- Start with Answers in Genesis' Technical Journal. It's called the TJ or Technical Journal. However, unless you're a scientist (and I know Dan Barker is not), I'm not sure why he is asking about a scientific journal. I'm sure he doesn't read them or intend on reading them.
21. "Are you saying it's wrong that science students are controlled and influenced to believe evolution in public schools, but it's okay that kids are controlled in churches to believe?"
- I'm saying that my tax dollars shouldn't go toward an educational system where kids are only taught the evolution of species. I'm saying they should be taught intelligent design as well and that the Genesis account of creation should be given equal time.
People voluntarily go to church. However, kids have to go to public school. There is a big difference between the forced influence of secularism and humanism through evolutionism and kids that voluntarily go to Sunday school and learn about God.
22. "Why are there contradictory creation accounts in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2?"
- These are not contradictory accounts. Genesis 1 is the entire creation week and Genesis 2 is an introspective look at the 6th day of creation.
23. "I have no evidence that the weeks in Daniel 9 refer to years. Why don't they use the words years? Where does it say in Daniel 9 that Jesus would enter Jerusalem and be Messiah? Is this prophesying that Jesus' disciples would destroy Jerusalem?"
- Weeks of years is a Hebrew idiom. A week of years was a common phrase and you can verify this if you study the Hebrew language.
We have a web page on the fulfillment of Daniel 9. You can see it here: http://daniel9.jcsm.org.
Here are Daniel 9:24-26. "Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined."
These verses are talking about Jerusalem when they say "your holy city." They are also talking about Jesus when they say, ". . . restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince."
No, Jesus' disciples wouldn't destroy Jerusalem. In verse 26, it says that the Messiah will be cut off (which is a known, Hebrew idiom for death) "and the people of the prince to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." This was fulfilled in 70 A.D.
24. "Why all this fuzziness? Why doesn't it say the title 'Son of God'? He didn't say Jesus, Messiah, or years."
- There isn't any fuzziness. Daniel 9 is very easy to understand if you spend a few minutes looking at it.
The title used in this passage is Meshiach Negid and it can be translated either Messiah the Prince or Messiah the King. This is obviously referring to Jesus Christ.
25. "What do you mean by spiritual? What does that word mean?"
- Spiritual means of the spirit. Spiritual describes a person who wants and has the qualities of God's Holy Spirit. These qualities are intangible and include love, patience, peace, mercy, kindness, self-control, meekness, humility, etc.
26. "What is the definition of the word spirit? What is the Holy Spirit? What do we know about the Spirit?"
- The word spirit means a being without a body. The Holy Spirit is part of the triune Godhead. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is the third person in the trinity; yes "He" and not it.
We know a lot about the Spirit from the Bible. The Holy Spirit intercedes between humans and God. He teaches us the Word of God. He convicts us of sin.
27. "What if I say, 'I don't trust the Bible'?"
- Then I say, "Why not?" The only reason you couldn't trust the Bible is because you don't understand it or God.
You can only trust God as much as you know Him. If you know Him only a little, then you can only trust Him a little. You say that you used to know God and trust Him. However, I'm convinced that you either began misunderstanding Him and the scriptures and/or you kept wanting things from Him that He would not give you. Ultimately, you decided to reject God.
28. "How do you know that you're not equally deceived as others about God talking to you? How do you know it's God's voice?"
- Whenever God speaks to me, I compare it against His Word. He will never tell me to do something that contradicts the scriptures or His revealed will. I've had a long-term relationship with the biblical God, so I can discern His voice easier than I could before. Now, I can tell when it isn't His voice.
29. "Which parts of the Bible do you use to confirm that God is talking to you?"
- The New Testament gives us a great number of details about God. These scriptures teach about the characteristics of God and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We can learn about God's being and will by reading the scriptures and after we know God and His will, then we can determine whether or not influences are from Him or not.
30. "How does God know that He knows more than me?"
- This was Dan Barker's final question to me. I suppose it is rhetorical (and arrogant). Perhaps Dan should read Job 38-40 for my answer to this question.
"1Then the LORD answered Job out of the
whirlwind, and said:
2 “Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
9 When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11 When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
27 To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
28 Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
41 Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?
1 “Do you know the time when the wild mountain goats bear young?
Or can you mark when the deer gives birth?
2 Can you number the months that they fulfill?
Or do you know the time when they bear young?
3 They bow down,
They bring forth their young,
They deliver their offspring.
4 Their young ones are healthy,
They grow strong with grain;
They depart and do not return to them.
5 “Who set the wild donkey free?
Who loosed the bonds of the onager,
6 Whose home I have made the wilderness,
And the barren land his dwelling?
7 He scorns the tumult of the city;
He does not heed the shouts of the driver.
8 The range of the mountains is his pasture,
And he searches after every green thing.
9 “Will the wild ox be willing to serve you?
Will he bed by your manger?
10 Can you bind the wild ox in the furrow with ropes?
Or will he plow the valleys behind you?
11 Will you trust him because his strength is great?
Or will you leave your labor to him?
12 Will you trust him to bring home your grain,
And gather it to your threshing floor?
13 “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
But are her wings and pinions like the kindly stork’s?
14 For she leaves her eggs on the ground,
And warms them in the dust;
15 She forgets that a foot may crush them,
Or that a wild beast may break them.
16 She treats her young harshly, as though they were not hers;
Her labor is in vain, without concern,
17 Because God deprived her of wisdom,
And did not endow her with understanding.
18 When she lifts herself on high,
She scorns the horse and its rider.
19 “Have you given the horse strength?
Have you clothed his neck with £thunder?
20 Can you frighten him like a locust?
His majestic snorting strikes terror.
21 He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength;
He gallops into the clash of arms.
22 He mocks at fear, and is not frightened;
Nor does he turn back from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against him,
The glittering spear and javelin.
24 He devours the distance with fierceness and rage;
Nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded.
25 At the blast of the trumpet he says, ‘Aha!’
He smells the battle from afar,
The thunder of captains and shouting.
26 “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom,
And spread its wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle mount up at your command,
And make its nest on high?
28 On the rock it dwells and resides,
On the crag of the rock and the stronghold.
29 From there it spies out the prey;
Its eyes observe from afar.
30 Its young ones suck up blood;
And where the slain are, there it is.”
1Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said:
2 “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”
3Then Job answered the LORD and said:
4 “Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”
6Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
7 “Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:
8 “Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
9 Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
10 Then adorn yourself with majesty and splendor,
And array yourself with glory and beauty.
11 Disperse the rage of your wrath;
Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him.
12 Look on everyone who is proud, and bring him low;
Tread down the wicked in their place.
13 Hide them in the dust together,
Bind their faces in hidden darkness.
14 Then I will also confess to you
That your own right hand can save you.
15 “Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you;
He eats grass like an ox.
16 See now, his strength is in his hips,
And his power is in his stomach muscles.
17 He moves his tail like a cedar;
The sinews of his thighs are tightly knit.
18 His bones are like beams of bronze,
His ribs like bars of iron.
19 He is the first of the ways of God;
Only He who made him can bring near His sword.
20 Surely the mountains yield food for him,
And all the beasts of the field play there.
21 He lies under the lotus trees,
In a covert of reeds and marsh.
22 The lotus trees cover him with their shade;
The willows by the brook surround him.
23 Indeed the river may rage,
Yet he is not disturbed;
He is confident, though the Jordan gushes into his mouth,
24 Though he takes it in his eyes,
Or one pierces his nose with a snare.