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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bible Contradiction - Where Did Jesus Drive the Demons into Pigs?

I have been conversing with Jonathan Pearce over the past week who maintains that the Bible can't be reliable because it contains "numerous contradictions". Although he was reluctant at first to back up that conclusion and discuss those passages that he thinks conflict with one another, he did provide the following example.

I will humour you.

Mark 5:1-2
They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,

Matt 8:
When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.
Luke 8:
Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons;

Now the standard reply is that they are two towns in the same general region so there is no contradiction. However, this is silly. The contradiction is plain. All accounts use the time connective 'when' which implies in all cases immediacy. When this happened, this happened. Thus, no traveling can be done. Looking at any map, the use of Gerasa is nonsensical (at least 12 miles from Gadara - ie further from the lake) - it is inland and too far for the sense to be made. Here is the hilariously bad bad harmonisation from Barne's noted on the bible:

"Country of the Gergesenes - Mark Mar 5:1 says that he came into the country of the "Gadarenes." This difference is only apparent.

"Gadara" was a city not far from the Lake Gennesareth, one of the ten cities that were called "Decapolis." See the notes at Matthew 4:25. "Gergesa" was a city about 12 miles to the southeast of Gadara, and about 20 miles to the east of the Jordan. There is no contradiction, therefore, in the evangelists. He came into the region in which the two cities were situated, and one evangelist mentioned one, and the other another. It shows that the writers had not agreed to impose on the world; for if they had, they would have mentioned the same city; and it shows. also, they were familiar with the country. No men would have written in this manner but those who were acquainted with the facts. Impostors do not mention places or homes if they can avoid it."

So bad it's funny.

Then there is the problem that Matthew clearly states two demons, not one.

You will have an answer, no doubt. It's just that to think it is plausible takes some wild gerrymandering.

Yes, indeed there are answers that don't require punting to the conclusion that the Bible is contradicting itself. Pearce recognizes that the passages are referring to two cities: Gerasa and Gadara. What I don't get why he think Mark and Luke think Jesus went to one city and that Matthew says that he went to the other? The texts do not say that it. They say that he went to the region containing those cities. The miracle that happened did not occur in a city or town. Pigs weren't kept in towns, as far as I can tell. The pigs are also an important point because it shows that the area was primarily populated by Gentiles - which is what Archaeology and extra Biblical sources tells us. Had the people been Jews, they would have neither cared about loosing a heard of pigs nor owned pigs.

As for the number of men Jesus met and healed. Mark and Luke definitely says that there was one one guy while Matthew says there were two.  The thing is how is this a contradiction? A contradiction would be if Mark and Luke had said that there was only one man. They don't. Each of the Gospel contains details that are not in the others. But none of those details contradicts the details in the others. If I tell you that Jack and Jill went to the mall and bought a DVD, but I tell another person that Jill went to Walmart and bought a DVD, did I contradict myself? Nope. I just didn't give the same detail. A contradiction would be if the mall did not have a Walmart. You don't have such a thing in this case. We know that Jesus went to an area containing two cities, Gerasa and Gadara, and while he was there he cast demons out of two men that met Him as he came ashore and they knew who Jesus is. The demons drove some pigs mad and they drove themselves off a cliff into the Lake and drowned. No need to bring up phantom contradictions.  If Pearce or anyone disagrees, I'd love to know what is so bad or false about understanding the text this way.

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30 comments:

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

This is where you show yourself to fall into exactly the fallacy I was talking about - possibiliter ergo probabiliter. In fact, I don't even think it is possible.

"The texts do not say that it. They say that he went to the region containing those cities."

No they don't. What you claim would be something like this: When they got to the other side of the Solent, they got to the country of Hampshire.

That would sort of make sense.

However, what they say is this:

When they crossed the Solent they got to the country of Portsmouth

and

When they crossed the Solent they got to the country of Petersfield.

The problem here is that you would never say that. One area can't be two areas. You seem to misunderstand that they do not mention a region containing these two towns. This is the common theistic misunderstanding. They mention two town areas. A place cannot be in two town areas.

Furthermore, if you look at the map, only Gadara qualifies as making any sense with the accounts. You cannot sail to the Gesarenes country.

Just like Petersfield sits 12 miles inland from the Solent, and sits behind Portsmouth, you could never alight in Petersfield, as analogised by your claim. Not only is that nonsensical with the Geography of the water area, but the fact it is BEHIND Portsmouth would mean that that area could never be seen as the country of Petersfield. In the same way, Geresa was only a village and one would never refer to that area as the area of a small village 12 miles behind the larger Gadara.

Some use different reasons than you, which itself show s the ad hoc nature of these harmonisations. People come up with anything (they can't all be true) in the hope that they appear to work. So another defence is that it happened in Geresa (Gergesa) but being smaller, some of the evangelists, writing for more distant readers, referred it to the larger town area of Gadara. However, this is clearly not what the gospels say since there is an immediacy of the time connective and positioning. It is clear Jesus does this miracle upon alighting from the boat, rather than spending at least half a day walking to Gergesa. Thus that defence fails.

Simply put, your defence fails too.

Your added problem is that you set the probability of a contradiction as impossible in the circular way I set out. This means that where this simple contradiction (that doesn't really mean much in itself, it's just funny watching Christians come up with different rationalisations - I've seen at least 3 for this one) is clearly more probable as a contradiction, rather than the incredibly ad hoc and nonsensical harmonisation you give, you still find the ad hoc rationalisation more plausible.

Which is why I originally refused to discuss stuff like this, because this is what I predicted. You think you have a clear harmonisation, I think you are being completely irrational and are refusing to take the more probable option due to a circular presupposition.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

"As for the number of men Jesus met and healed. Mark and Luke definitely says that there was one one guy while Matthew says there were two. The thing is how is this a contradiction? A contradiction would be if Mark and Luke had said that there was only one man. They don't. Each of the Gospel contains details that are not in the others. But none of those details contradicts the details in the others."

This is the funniest defence I have seen. This was the JP Holding defence I warned you not to use. This is ridiculous because no two claimed numbers that are different can ever be a contradiction because one number is always smaller than the other, and is thus claimed to be a subset of another.

If I said i played football against a team of 10 men the other day (when there should be eleven), you would claim, "that's OK, you obviously meant 11 men since 11 men includes 10 men. Just because you said 10 doesn't mean there weren't 11!"

Ridiculous, silly. You would only see this from someone who can't bear for the accounts to differ. This is so ad hoc and improbable as to literally be laughed at. I laughed at this.

So, as mentioned, you reasons are incredibly improbable and would require redefining language into being used in ways it is not.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

Your Jack and Jill analogy is simply a false analogy. it is not numerical.

If I say yesterday in a news report "1 person was shot at a bank robbery" that does not leave the possibility that I could mean "2 people were shot yesterday in a bank robbery".

I would simply be wrong in my first claim.

Ryan Anderson said...

A contradiction would be if Mark and Luke had said that there was only one man.

Marcus, do you really feel ok about this? Jonathan's comments are right on, but I want to know how a functional adult human can say/think the above with a straight face.

Marcus McElhaney said...

I was hoping that neither of you would be smart enough to just realize that you are wrong.

Furthermore, if you look at the map, only Gadara qualifies as making any sense with the accounts. You cannot sail to the Gesarenes country.

"The district of the Gerasenes probably included that of the Gadarenes; so that the demoniac of Gergesa belonged to the country of the Gadarenes and also to that of the Gerasenes, as the same person may, with equal truth, be said to live in the city or the state, or in the United States. For those near by the local name would be used; but in writing to a distant people, as the Greeks and Romans, the more comprehensive and general name would be given." http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionaries/dict_meaning.php?
source=3&wid=S8128


Gerasa and Gadara ARE not referring to two different places. It's your misunderstanding. Vallejo, CA is 30 miles from San Francisco, CA yet it's still part of the same area as San Francisco (much to our dismay). If you are truly interested in arguing that there really is a contradiction and want to discuss maps, then I will suggest you read: http://christianthinktank.com/giddygaddy.html

If I say yesterday in a news report "1 person was shot at a bank robbery" that does not leave the possibility that I could mean "2 people were shot yesterday in a bank robbery"

Not a good analogy at all. The Gospels are not news reports. And I am told that there was one robber does not mean there was not two. It means I was only told about one. Sometimes even today details are not made public for various reasons. Mark and Luke give more details than Matthew does. There is nothing wrong or strange about this. It's just like my Jack and Jill analogy

It's not like what Pearce said:

If I said i played football against a team of 10 men the other day (when there should be eleven), you would claim, "that's OK, you obviously meant 11 men since 11 men includes 10 men. Just because you said 10 doesn't mean there weren't 11!"

I would have said the football team must be 11. You don't know how many men Jesus met unlike you know how many people there should be on a football team. You have to go on what the text says. Again they don't conflict because neither tells you there was only one man. Just because Mark and Luke does not tell us about both of them does not mean they didn't know about him. You have not at all shown that there is a contradiction - a lack of understanding of 1st Century Geography of Palestine is what I see in your response.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...
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Jonathan MS Pearce said...

You simply don't understand that you cannot imply a larger town or a smaller town area by mentioning one town area. One of them must be wrong. It is not an encompassing region they are mentioning but discrete township areas. I can't believe you don't get this. It is such a common theistic mistake.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

Wow. I can't believe you really believe your own shit. You were unable to rebut my football analogy. In order for you to claim you understanding you would have to qualify. This is absolutely empirically true. If you claim what you do in all seriousness (I honestly don't think you really believe that) you would have to, and I now expect you to, when told any number in any context, ask the commentator to qualify themselves.

Jim: Hey Marcus, I just ate 2 donuts.
Marcus: That's great Jim, but i was having this argument about inerrancy and now I have to ask you whether by 2, you mean 3...or 4... or 5... or 5001...

Jane: Hey Marcus. I just stayed in Vancouver for 6 nights.
Marcus: That's lovely. but by 6 nights, did you actually mean 7... 8... 9... 2546...

Marcus' mum: Marcus, can you go and buy me 2 chairs?
Marcus: Sure.... Here you are.
Mum: Why have you bought me 56 chairs?
Marcus: Well, 56 includes 2 right? So I am technically not wrong.
Mum: Marcus, did I teach you to be such an idiot?

Etc Etc

As for Geographical understanding, see my blog post. I know perfectly well. It is you who doesn't seem to know his arse from his elbow.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/biblical-contradictions-and-christian.html

Marcus McElhaney said...

You simply don't understand that you cannot imply a larger town or a smaller town area by mentioning one town area. One of them must be wrong. It is not an encompassing region they are mentioning but discrete township areas. I can't believe you don't get this. It is such a common theistic mistake.

Why can't Matthew, Mark, and Luke be referring to the same region? You have not been able to demonstrate a single reason for why they can't other than you wouldn't.

One source talking about two men and the other two talking about man possessed by demons shouldn't be that difficult. One might ask why but that doesn't make a contradiction. All three are true if any one of them is true.

You sure like to bring up mom a lot. Here is something she taught me for free: People use profanity when they don't have anything important or intelligent to say.

Also you demonstrate that God exists! God's mercy and love is the only explanation for someone as mentally stunted as you can still remember to breathe. Best thank Him.

I still think http://christianthinktank.com/giddygaddy.html explains the geography much better than you.

Ryan Anderson said...

You sure like to bring up mom a lot. Here is something she taught me for free: People use profanity when they don't have anything important or intelligent to say.

Your mom taught you incorrectly. What he said there was actually both intelligent and important. By your standard, there is no such thing as a numerical contradiction.

Answer this, if there were two daemon possessed men, why did Luke and Mark only mention the one? What was their motive for not mentioning the other daemon possessed man?

Also, how do you sleep at night???

Marcus McElhaney said...

Profanity only cheapens an argument and Is really unprofessional.

I am not arguing against numerical contradiction. I am arguing that Matthew chose to include then number of the demon possessed men Jesus healed on this occasion and Mark and Luke only talks about one of them, I don't know why but this not the only occasion that the gospels differ in details. Different details do not equal a contradiction. I know people like you will disagree but this makes sense. Of the three, which one would be most likely be an eyewitness of the event? Matthew. Notice he was one of the twelve and most likely would have been present and seen the two men with his own eyes. Mark and Luke were not eyewitness to the event and they only spotlighted

Marcus McElhaney said...
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Marcus McElhaney said...

Mark and Luke only spotlight One of the men. I sleep extremely well at night because I have peace with God. I am forgiven for all my sin and His righteousness has been imputed to me.Your sin is ever before you. You are going to be judged by a holy God in light of what you have done and said and written. A better question is how well do you sleep now without denying the debt you owe that you can never repay?

Ryan Anderson said...

I am not arguing against numerical contradiction.

No one said you were.

Different details do not equal a contradiction.

They certainly can equal that...

which one would be most likely be an eyewitness of the event? Matthew.

No, he wasn't. He wasn't "Matthew" either.

Mark and Luke were not eyewitness to the event and they only spotlighted

What else did they get wrong? What did John get wrong? What the heck is spotlighted???

Ryan Anderson said...

Profanity only cheapens an argument

Can you explain how the inclusion of a swear word would change the actual argument?

Marcus McElhaney said...

Different details do not make a contradiction if those details do not contradidict. Omitting one man form the account is not a coNtadiction because neither Mark or Luke says that there was only one man there. Don 't like it? Too bad.

Prove that the apostle named Matthew is not the author of the Gospel that bears his name. I dare you.

I am not saying Mark or Luke got anything wrong. You are and nothing to show for it.

Profanity does not falsify an argument. Only cheapens it and makes it unprofessional. It is tacky.

Marcus McElhaney said...

His arguments are wrong on it's own merits. Or lack of.

Ryan Anderson said...

His arguments are wrong on it's own merits.

You'll need to demonstrate this. You've not done that.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Sure I have. One more time for the mentally impaired:

1. Country of the Gerasenes and the country of the Gadarenes refer to the same region.
2. Neither Mark or Luke tells us that there was only one demon-possessed men, and so there is no contradiction with Matthew that says that there were two. Mark and Luke did not mention the other man...so what? So nothing.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

Apologies for profanity. But I STILL can't believe you believe that stuff. I think you are merely paying lip service to your own cognitive dissonance.

Your numerical defence is so shoddy it makes me laugh.

If , in a court of law, I claimed I was assaulted by 3 men, and then the defence claimed, or a witness claimed, there were two men who assaulted me, this would be a contradiction that called into question at least one of the accounts. They would NOT SAY "well, three includes the number 2!"

When skeptics deny AGW (sadly misrepresenting science), they use different numbers than the climate scientists. This is to contradict the scientists. You DON'T hear people claiming "well the larger number includes the smaller number!"

I could go on with these analogies which you have failed to defend.

THEY ARE NOT DIFFERENT DETAILS such that one claimed he was wearing sandals and another witness claimed he had blonde hair such that the two pieces of information could be pieced together. There are two claims of the same subject - the numerical value of the demoniacs. If you don't get this, and keep making your rather embarrassing defences, then there is no hope for you.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

Oh dear. You are drowning here in vapid attempts to rationalise the irreconcilable.

"1. Country of the Gerasenes and the country of the Gadarenes refer to the same region.
2. Neither Mark or Luke tells us that there was only one demon-possessed men, and so there is no contradiction with Matthew that says that there were two. Mark and Luke did not mention the other man...so what? So nothing."

1 - you have NOT even attempted to refute my point. Even Origen admitted this was ridiculous - and he went there!

2 - you need to give me concrete examples where people writing history say one thing but mean another, numerically speaking. Tell me where a quote when someone says "the army was 10,000 strong" actually meant something like "the army was 150,000 strong" because 10,000 is a subset of 150,000! You are utterly bastardising the English language. I have illustrated this with many analogies which you have simply ignored.

You are using understanding of the language that is not only not used, but highly improbable, and you don't even have the gall to admit it.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

As another poster commented:

"""because neither Mark or Luke says that there was only one man there"

isn't it kind of ridiculous for the authour of mark to say,

immediately only one man from the tombs with only one unclean spirit met him

?

i thought the word AN does the job in informing readers how many there were and there was only one.

Mark 5:1-2They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,""

Marcus McElhaney said...

If , in a court of law, I claimed I was assaulted by 3 men, and then the defence claimed, or a witness claimed, there were two men who assaulted me, this would be a contradiction that called into question at least one of the accounts. They would NOT SAY "well, three includes the number 2!"

Neither would a court of law conclude that no assault happened or that either witness is a liar. This is the kind of thing you would expect from eyewitness testimony. Of the three accounts Matthew gives less information about the even than the others - Mark and Luke. The only detail given in Matthew that isn't in Mark or Luke was that there was a second man who was healed. The man who is detailed in Mark and Luke is quite busy in the story and maybe he was only mentioned because he wanted to go with Jesus and the other man didn't ask to go with Jesus. Here is an important point that might help you

"In any case, no contradiction exists. A contradiction occurs only if one statement makes the other impossible and there is absolutely no way for them to be reconciled. For example, let's say we put two apples on a table. Statement 1: There are two apples on the table. Statement 2: There is only one apple on the table. These two statements contradict each other. Now read these two statements: Statement 1: There are two apples on the table. Statement 2: There is an apple on the table. These two statements do not contradict each other. In the same way, the biblical accounts do not represent a contradiction. All three accounts describe demon possession and the power that Jesus has over the spirit world. All three tell us that He made a point to cross the sea to save someone from the demons. All three affirm that there was at least one man who was plagued by demons. The fact that the three accounts differ in some minor details only proves that they were written by three different authors, each of whom chose to focus on a different aspect of the account."

http://www.gotquestions.org/one-two-demoniacs.html

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

Neither would a court of law conclude that no assault happened or that either witness is a liar. This is the kind of thing you would expect from eyewitness testimony. Of the three accounts Matthew gives less information about the even than the others - Mark and Luke. The only detail given in Matthew that isn't in Mark or Luke was that there was a second man who was healed. The man who is detailed in Mark and Luke is quite busy in the story and maybe he was only mentioned because he wanted to go with Jesus and the other man didn't ask to go with Jesus. Here is an important point that might help you

Look how you change the frame of the conversation here. I am NOT denying the event happened. I am claiming that one account contradicts the other. In the court case, this would be hugely important, because in one case (3) we have one more person than the other case (2) such that if we believed the 2, and 3 was true, there would be a guilty person walking free. If we believed the 3, and 2 was true, then we would have incarcerated an innocent person.

The point about the biblical accounts is to get someone like you to admit that some of the details might be wrong. They may or may not be important details (this one isn't). But if one can show that unimportant details could be wrong, how can we be sure that important ones are correct?

You are literally defining an ad hoc hypothesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hoc_hypothesis) and you don't seem to understand this.

The problem is, and your next point clearly proves this, is that you depend on the fallacy of equivocation in order to sustain your argument. Your are conflating "immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him" with meaning "at least one". If he meant that, he would have said that. I have shown rather conclusively that by utilising that logic, you would not be able to have sensible conversations normally. I have clearly shown above where equivocation gets you.

You elucidate a pragmatic contradiction similar to a zen koan.

Taken with a traditional and sensible understanding of the words used, it is contradictory. Your attempts to get yourself out of this position is fairly amusing, but it doesn't cut the mustard.

Do you ever, in you everyday life, use this understanding of language? Because you could never have a sensible conversation involving numbers, and you certainly couldn't do maths.

But if it makes you happy that to think this allows you to still hold that Mark 5 and Matthew8 don't contradict each other, then go for it. You are only deluding yourself.

Marcus McElhaney said...

I don;t think you understand what a contradiction is.

A contradiction occurs only when one statement makes the other impossible. If Mark or Luke said that only one demoniac came to Jesus while Matthew says that two came out, that would be a contradiction. If there are two demoniacs, there is certainly at least one; therefore, there is no contradiction.

As for how this plays out in how we talk to one another today. We don't. But for centuries, this was not a problem. Because in that culture it would not have been looked at the way we see it today. The bottom line neither Matthew, Luke, or Mark tells us anything about the event that makes either account false.

The point about the biblical accounts is to get someone like you to admit that some of the details might be wrong. They may or may not be important details (this one isn't). But if one can show that unimportant details could be wrong, how can we be sure that important ones are correct?

You haven't shown that either Matthew, Mark, or Luke are wrong. All you have managed to prove is that they tell the story with different details. The details do not conflict, but taken together you get a complete picture about what happened. What part of Matthew saying that there were two men, make anything that Mark or Luke said impossible to have happened? Nothing. Ont top of that for there to be something wrong in either account you would have to show that Mark and Luke did not know about the second man. You can't. Sorry, but going against the Word of God invites failure.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

"As for how this plays out in how we talk to one another today. We don't. But for centuries, this was not a problem. Because in that culture it would not have been looked at the way we see it today. "

What a load of ad hoc BS. Please provide evidence of this.


By the way, I ran a little experiment the other day. I heard, in conversation, numbers used about 47 times throughout the day. Of them, not a single conversation would have made sense with your understanding of the language.

Not 1.

0%.

I have never before seen such flagrant flailing. It's dishonest, to be honest.

I actually used this thread in teaching someone about logical fallacies. I copied and pasted the replies. He sent me back emails saying how much he laughed at your answers. That they define ad hoc.

Dude, you are so far out on this, it's not funny. You have 0% evidence that people use language like this and then try to assert they do.

Maths depends on numbers having different and discrete numerical value.

Language depends on it.

You don't realise that in order to claim that a number is a subset of another number, you HAVE to talk about the set to begin with.

eg:

15 hooligans were hanging around the football ground. One of the hooligans

or

a hooligan

walked up tot he policeman. The second option is still stretching it. YOU CANNOT without any context at all simply say:

A hooligan walked up to the policeman...

When another account says:

2 hooligans walked up to the policeman...


and expect people not to see a contradiction. This is how language works. You are SPECIAL PLEADING your case for a use of language for which you are providing no proof of it being probable (or even possible without equivocation).

Marcus McElhaney said...

You don' seem to know what "Contradiction" means.

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

great comeback.

You don't seem to know how to use an indefinite article which you empirically equivocate on.

Marcus McElhaney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcus McElhaney said...

Yup, you have no idea what a contradiction is.

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