Chris, the young atheist I’m following, finished his two videos, Deconversion—the Bible (part 1 & part 2) with an exchange between himself and “the professor”. It has now become clear that Chris really respects this man who seems to have become his mentor. If Chris ever asked “the professor” to prove anything he claimed, it isn’t clear from Chris’ video series. Rather, he seems to simply take whatever the professor says on its own merit—something he, by this time, no longer does concerning the Bible.
The Professor seems to be able to critique the Bible without himself being critiqued. According to the professor, Genesis is demonstrably in error regarding the order of creation and two different orders are presented (cf. Genesis 1 & 2), but “this makes little difference to those who aren’t sensibly oriented.” He ridicules the Flood simply by saying that there are over 35,000 different species of spiders, implying Noah wouldn’t have had a place to put all of them (and all the other species of animals). He went on to mock the intelligence of God for not coming up with a better way to chastise some young boys for making fun of a bald prophet (2Kings 2:23). He accused God of ignorance and implied immorality for demanding that the Israelites kill all the children of the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 20:16. Although Chris seems to imply the professor is remarkably intelligent and thorough in his understanding of the Bible, I don’t share Chris’ opinion. The professor’s criticism is elementary, unbefitting a man who is supposedly a scholar.
While I don’t have all the answers concerning the Genesis Flood, neither does the professor have insurmountable arguments against it. Noah would not have had to store 35,000 species of spiders or anywhere near that many, any more than he would have had to store all the modern breeds of dogs and cats. Two spiders, two dogs and two cats would have been sufficient for their three kinds. Horses, donkeys and zebras also would have had a common ancestor, so all three wouldn’t have had to be preserved during the Noahic flood. The bottom line is that kind in Genesis 1 doesn’t translate neatly into species according to our modern classification. What we see today in the animal kingdom could have come from much fewer kinds of animals and insects.
Concerning 2Kings 2:23 the professor shows his ignorance in two ways. First of all, if he is a linguistic expert, as he claims to be, he should have understood that the term children in this verse refers to men old enough to go to war. David is called a youth (same Hebrew word) in 1Samuel 17:33, but David claimed he had already fought a lion and a bear and killed them in defense of his father’s sheep (verse-34). Therefore, the young boys in 2Kings were not pre-teens or teenagers, but young men. Secondly, these young men were idolaters from Bethel, possibly priests. We know they were idolaters, because they were not ridiculing Elisha for being bald, but rather they mocked the miracle of God in that Elijah was reported to have gone up from the earth to the heaven (sky) when his ministry was complete (2Kings 2:1, 11). In other words, the young men were blaspheming God’s power. Blasphemy is a sin punishable by death under the covenant between God and his people. Therefore, Elisha cursed them in the name of the Lord. If Elisha cursed them for his own benefit (because they embarrassed him), the bears would not have come out of the wooded area to kill the young men, but it was because of their blasphemy that they were judged.
It is surprising even to me how much the professor wanted to **read into** Deuteronomy 20:16. Nothing about children is mentioned in this passage; children are presumed to be there by the professor. Deuteronomy 20:16-20 is speaking of walled cities. These were military outposts. Armies were kept here. While some people of surrounding villages could flee there for protection, often simple villages were not the targets of invading armies. Rome, for example, didn’t destroy every village in Galilee and Judea during the Roman/Jewish war of 70 AD. Rather they besieged walled cities like Jerusalem and military fortresses like Gamala and Masada. The Canaanites were to be driven out of the Promised Land, and only those who fought against Israel were to be slain (Deuteronomy 4:38).
In conclusion, while, as I admitted above, I don’t have all the answers neatly in a box for every question that could be asked about the text, I do have reasonable explanations for some of the problems one might see in the Bible. Chris has relied heavily upon his feeling that the Holy Spirit was guiding him to do one thing or another, but if the Holy Spirit were his guide, Chris often didn’t do what the Spirit said to do. For example, Christ left off reading the Bible from cover to cover, and tells us that he felt the Holy Spirit was guiding him to read it. If the videos are accurate in what Chris actually did do, and I have no reason to doubt Chris in this regard, they show he never did follow through with reading the text from cover to cover. Rather he relied on the books of other men who titillated his gift for the sciences, and since he is intellectually inclined, he seems to have been overly impressed with the arguments of his mentor, the professor, whom he never even once (implied in the videos) challenged to prove what he claimed. Instead, the professor’s word was accepted on its own merit, something Chris could no longer do for God.