Sunday, 23 October 2011

How Dan Destroys The Bible

First, a word from Thomas Paine:

Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies. The story of Eve and the serpent, and of Noah and his ark, drops to a level with the Arabian tales, without the merit of being entertaining; and the accounts of men living to eight or nine hundred years becomes as fabulous as the immortality of the giants of the Mythology.

Thomas Paine - The Age Of Reason

And, self-evidently, Thomas Paine is right.

So, what is the evidence?

A few facts, all from the Bible itself:

And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

Clearly, this could only have been written after there was a place named Dan, just as an account of someone going to, say, New Hampshire, could only have been written during or after 1629 when New Hampshire was first named.

And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came to Laish, to a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lies by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelled therein. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.

So now we can place the writing of Genesis after the events described in Judges 18 since before then, the place was called Laish.

All this takes place after the death of Samson, as related in Judges 16. Samson is reputed to have died some 330 years after Moses died and certainly after Joshua who succeeded Moses and died reputedly aged 110 (Joshua 24:29).

So, whoever wrote Genesis must have written it long after Moses died and probably at least 330 years after. Therefore Moses could not have written Genesis. So, as Thomas Paine points out, Genesis is just "an anonymous book of stories, fables, absurdities and downright lies". Moreover, the author was also clearly ignorant of the history of the place about which he/she was writing stories, not realising that Dan was not so named in those times, hence this is not even reliable history even if we ignore the poor chronology. It is as made up as Harry Potter or Peter Pan.

Genesis was clearly written long after the establishment of the ancient Israel and is at best merely folklore and at worst made up. As the Bible itself shows, the entire foundation of the Abrahamic religions as the word of God as related to Moses, has no basis in fact.

There is no basis whatever for the idea of God, of Creation, of Heaven and Hell, of Satan, Of Angels, of the "Fall of Man", of Original Sin, of the need for forgiveness and redemption including the need to 'accept Jesus' or for his supposed sacrifice, or for all the absurdities in the story of Noah, the flood and the ark, or indeed any of the basic tenets of any of the three major monotheist religions.

They are based on nothing more than "stories, fables, absurdities and downright lies".

And all this can be readily discovered by reading the Bible itself.

Can anyone suggest a reason why no preacher, Bible thumper, Pope, priest, Sunday-school teacher or neatly coiffured televangelist claiming to be a Bible scholar has ever pointed to this childishly simple biblical refutation of everything they preach as biblical truth?

Obviously, a desire to preach and teach truth can have played no part in it.

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  1. Excellent! I'll be linking to this from my blog

  2. In no sense is an argument a valid one if it is built upon the accuracy of what it is arguing is inaccurate.

    If the bible is false, then those entries are false, and cannot, therefore be used as part of your argument to show that the bible is false. You've created a loop.

    If those entries are true, then the bible is true, therefore your argument is false.

    You don't need to use the bible to attack the bible. You only need to be rational.

    1. In either case "anonymous" you still lose, if in fact your true intent is to defend religion.

      If the bible is false, and we can't use the bible to prove it is a lie, then the bible is false, and no more valid than the works of Homer in turning a myth into a faith. So the bible is a lie.

      if the bible is true, then we can use evidence from it to discern its authenticity. If the inconsistencies and historical inaccuracies confirm it's false (which, as it happens, it does), The bible is a lie.

      There's no paradox here. Either way, the bible is still a lie. You only need to be rational.

      If all you're doing here is playing devil's advocate, you still lose.

    2. "If the bible is false, ... [it] cannot, therefore be used ... to show that the bible is false."

      What? What?!

    3. Nullifidian

      Yep! Apparently that's one of William Lane Craig's killer arguments and has them cheering the roof off when he deploys it to his credulous audiences.

      Amazing, isn't it.

  3. Anonymous.

    Okay! The Bible is false, so that means it's true.

    There is probably a name for this form of reasoning. Oh yes... it's called 'faith'.

    Saves joining up the dots.

  4. Anonymous:

    An indirect proof begins with the (tentative) assumption that what one wishes to prove is false and then deriving a contradiction from it. Rosa used the bible to show that it is inconsistent to claim that the bible is accurate.

  5. Pvblivs.

    Don't spoil it with logic. I was hoping to see more of this compartmentalised thinking whereby two mutually exclusive ideas have to be believed simultaneously in order to overcome cognitive dissonance. :-)

  6. Another silly post. Have you bothered to read any explanations that Christians offer? Why don't you post what the other side says and then try to argue that it is false?

    "(Clearly, this could only have been written after there was a place named Dan, just as an account of someone going to, say, New Hampshire, could only have been written during or after 1629 when New Hampshire was first named.)"

    Well, that's only if we believe the originals had "Dan" in it. This can easily be explained by saying: this was modified to aid the understanding of later readers.

    For example:
    In Josephus ANTIQUITIES Book 1, Chapter 9, Josephus writes "when the Assyrians had the dominion over Asia." The term "Asia" came from the Greeks who called the east "asu" and was not used at the time of Assyrians.

    No contradiction.

    1. Atheists first of all lack wisdom. Those are two different places called Dan. At least, you know thers a place called London in USA.
      Common sense.

    2. That's great.

      All you have to do now is to substantiate your claim with a map of ancient Judea showing both Dan's to convince people you're not just making it up and committing the sin of bearing false witness, and you're home and dry.

      Will that take long?

    3. Not back then there wasn't:

      Wisdom, you mean xocmàh/soppia the she-god?, one of the children of j·hveh. You must be a gnostic.

    4. Note: Different anonymous

      Rosa - since your argument asserts that the two are a single place, the burden of proof is on you, not David.

      Alysdexia - Since the bible never claims to be an exhaustive source of knowledge regarding geography, you will have to come up with something better than an argument from silence supported by a biblical concordance.

      Not saying I agree or disagree with David (I honestly have not studied it enough to speak to the content) but the arguments you two are putting up do not hold water.

    5. Nope. Sorry. If David is claiming that there were two places called Dan, he is the one making the positive assertion and he carries the burden of proving it.

      Facts don't pop into existence just because someone says they are real.

      If there were two places called Dan at the time of the events described in Genesis then it should be possible to prove it. If not, there is no reason to believe it.

    6. Wrong. The burden of proof is on the one making the assertion. This is YOU because your entire argument hinges on the fact that the location referred to as Dan in Genesis and the Dan referred to in Judges are the same place. That is the point of your argument being questioned, and which YOU need to support. See also:

    7. I can quite understand why you would want to divest yourself of the burden of proving something you know can't be proved.

      I don't respect your dishonesty though. Was I expected to?

    8. Rosa is quite correct the burden of proof is on the person making the claim that there were two cities of Dan. Furthermore if these passages were interpolations by later scribes to clarify later readers as SquareCircle supposes that only further complicates the issues of original authorship and original words. It would beg the question, what else is interpolation and for what reason would scribes alter or add to the original work.

  7. Since Moses is dated around 1350 BCE, and Hebrew written language was not begun until hundreds of years later, written commandments from the hand of god would not have been very useful.

  8. Herk.

    Does anyone other than Omar Khayyam seriously suggest that a god ever wrote anything?

    1. On multiple occasions i've had Believers say this to me, and I used to believe it myself back when i was a christian, the bible was allegedly written by god, using men. He would open their eyes and channel his knowledge through people and instill within them the need to write it down. Akin to how inspiration and creativity actually work. Only it's divine inspiration that makes them write down the word of God perfect in a way that will remain true and applicable to all people of all times for ever and ever. Yet we can't take any of it literally. It must be 'interpreted' by other special people whom god has chosen to spread his gifts to the world. Sometimes in return for a reasonable donation.

      On this side of the veil, it's plainly a very lucrative and ancient scam operation. However, it's very compelling to believers, who are instilled with a complicated set of psychological behavioral conditioning that makes it very tricky to overcome. It's plausible this is why it's so easy for some people to fall prey to things like the Moonies or Heaven's Gate or Jim Jones' or David Koresh: anyone born & raised in a community tarnished by one or more abrahamic belief structures is already susceptible to this behavioral conditioning. In the wrong hands it can be VERY dangerous.

      But a believer believes the Word of God is what it is. No amount of rational evidence can persuade them w/o them experiencing fear for their mortal soul. Which also doesn't exist but you can't easily convince them of that.

    2. Don't you mean immortal soul?

      The mortal one does:

  9. SquareCircle.

    You are of course free to explain where you think the Bible got all that wrong.

    But perhaps it's more rewarding for you just to be abusive.

  10. "You are of course free to explain where you think the Bible got all that wrong."

    I already did. Didn't you read my comment?

    The Bible didn't "get all that wrong."

    "But perhaps it's more rewarding for you just to be abusive."

    Saying the post is silly is abusive? Perhaps you should take another look at the way you wrote the post.

  11. SquareCircle.

    So basically then, your argument is that we should believe the stories in the Bible because the author of the Bible got them wrong.


    I expect that makes sense to a theologian.

  12. I suppose one could argue that there were two cities called Dan. However, archaeological evidence has shown that the Israelites were a much smaller tribe than would have been expected from descriptions in the Bible. So why didn't the renamers know about the city of Dan in Genesis and its importance in Israelite history? Surely that should have stopped them renaming Laish? Anyway, God must have known of the importance of Dan in Genesis so why didn't he intervene and stop the city of Laish from being renamed Dan? Or isn't God as infallible as we are expected to believe?

    1. Knowing that there was a city named Dan wouldn't have been a deterent to naming another city Dan.

      Do you know how many cities were named Alexandria by Alexander the great?

      Or how many Lexingtons there are in the U.S.?

    2. If you consult an atlas you might notice a difference in size between ancient Judea and the USA or the Alexandrian Empire.

      Also, your case could be improved considerably if you could find some evidence that there were two places called Dan, or even two places with the same name in ancient Judea.

  13. RoHart

    Yes, one could argue that, except that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that there was more than one Dan.

    1. The fact that the timeline doesn't match up is itself evidence for two cities named Dan. On the other hand, I see no evidence that they are the same city, aside from the fact that they have the same name, which could quite easily be coincedence

      There are some major problems with the bible, but this really isn't one of them

  14. I think the name of the argument that Anonymous used is 'The Taxi Cab Fallacy'. It is a favorite argument of William Lane Craig. (See

    You might also enjoy a good podcast about Thomas Paine at

  15. Exactly. Can't think of any other possible loopholes at the moment. Your excellent dissection still stands, no matter what arguments are levelled against it.

  16. Plasma Engineer.

    Thanks. It looks like just another case of special pleading, though a rather too obvious one. Basically he/she is arguing that somehow the Bible demands special protection so even if it's demonstrably wrong as in this case, we're not allowed to used that fact to show the Bible is wrong.

    In other words, we can only use instances where the Bible is correct to show it's the inerrant word of an omniscient god.

    This looks very much like theology to me. I wonder if any scientist has ever successfully used a similar argument to get an error-strewn paper past the peer review process.

  17. Bless their little hearts for trying: If the bible is false, then those entries are false, and cannot, therefore be used as part of your argument to show that the bible is false. You've created a loop.

    Translation: You cannot use facts against a false statement to show the statement is indeed false.

    Tragic failure of the educational system.

  18. @Anonymous Theres a green book lying on my desk. I opened the book and written in bold letters "The bible is rubbish. A bunch of fairy tales and fables. Harry potter is more convincing :P "

    If the green book lying on my desk is false then the statement in it is also false, so you cant use it against the green book.

    If the statement in it is true then the green book is true.

    Now proove that the green book on my desk is false.
    This type of arguments are pointless. Face the truth. Proove that the entries in the bible are true instead of using silly arguments.

  19. Have you guys ever read the new testament? Regardless of where you stand on "god" or theism in general, it's pretty cool. You're just reminded constantly to love your brother like yourself. Nothing about hating gays, or shunning nonbelievers, or anything. It's lame that politicians or televangelists or card-carriers represent bible stuff poorly, but seriously, give it a read, they've been bullshitting you. Jesus is all about love and charity, and he fulfilled the old, scary laws so nobody else had to. At least, according to the new testament.

    Jon, lover of homos and sympathizer with skeptics

    1. "I guys" is not a pronoun.

      You read it. Go on a biblical search engine and under NT enter hate, slay, worms, dogs, vipers, worm, sword, cut, fire, judge, cast.

      He did not fulfil the old; Isa 53 fails in 6 terms, two most importantly it calls for a stoning death, not suffocation/crucifixion, and for a ridder with children, not some virgin who was against families and marriage.

  20. Jon

    >Have you guys ever read the new testament?<

    Well I have. Which of the different Jesuses described in it is your favourite?

    But, back to the point of the blog: what about how The Old Testament destroys it's own credibility and shows all that stuff about original sin, the need for salvation and indeed the entire rational of Christianity, was made up to serve the needs of a Hebrew political elite?

    I can understand your embarrassment but I'd be grateful if you didn't try to divert the conversation away from the topic, please.

  21. Sorry to go off-topic. Neat blog

  22. "there is no evidence whatsoever to support the idea that there was more than one Dan."
    What evidence is there to refute this? It's the first thing that came to mind when I read this, and I can't come up with a clear response to it. Surely if there are two references to a place called 'Dan', and one is 'established' many years after the other, then surely that IS evidence to support the idea that there is more than one Dan...

    1. I don't suppose it would have occurred to them to give places different name so that they knew where they were talking about.

    2. "if there a two references to a place called 'Dan', and one is 'established' many years after the other, then surely that IS evidence to support the idea there is more than on Dan"
      No, things written in the bible aren't 'evidence' for the bible. That's absurd.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Let's face it, the Levant is not that big of an area. If there had been two cities named Dan, the author of Judges would have known of it; and the supposed founders of the second city would not have named it after their father, Dan. Having two towns named Dan in the Levant would be similar to having two towns named Dan in the greater Miami area.

      The problem caused by Dan in Genesis is but one small, albeit fatal, problem though. Combined with the discussion of Moses's burial, anachronistic armor & camels, and the lack of external references (controls, in a historian's terms) to any of the Torah, what we have is a collection of nationalistic myths for the Hebrew culture, and little more than that.

  24. I keep finding these posts that I haven't seen before and end up with late comments.
    You will never show the bible to be false in the minds of believers, even when their defences make no sense.
    SquareCircle, in other posts, shows all the signs of having studied apologetics rather than theology. His idea of proof is based on formal logic and not on evidence.
    Saying that a town's name could have been altered by later copyists is perfectly valid. Such things happened frequently with ancient and not so ancient manuscripts.
    The question then is, what else has been altered?
    Only faith can answer that nothing of consequence has been changed but faith is not evidence.

  25. "All this takes place after the death of Samson, as related in Judges 16. Samson is reputed to have died some 330 years after Moses died and certainly after Joshua who succeeded Moses and died reputedly aged 110 (Joshua 23:29)."

    Where does this 330 year figure come from? I've been scouring biblical chronology sites for hours and have yet to find a coherent answer that doesn't include a lot of hand-waving to massage the problem of 1 Kings 6:1 (480 years after Exodus).

    1. According to Thomas Paine, English Bibles had a date in the margin against major events. I assume that's where he got it from.

    2. On further reflection, it seems to me the exact length of time is irrelevant. So long as the text itself can show that Dan was renamed after Moses died, and the events of Genesis 14:14 are supposedly written before Moses even lived, then whether he lived to be 40, 80 or 1000 is of no consequence.

  26. Every time I try to debate with theists I somehow walk away with a head ache, a drop in IQ and crossed eyed!

  27. We have a new swedish translation of the bible (from 2000). It's translated from some of the oldest copies so it's not a copy from a copy from a copy like the old one. It's also translated into modern swedish so you can understand what they wrote. The bible stories are still silly!! :-) I'm not sure who fundede the translation work, we swedes are not especially religious. ~15 % non athesits.

    1. Amazing how many different versions of the 'Book of Truth' there are.


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