I would like to do two things with this particular blog post. The first is to take the challenge, and respond to Doug's eight statements. I do not have the capability to record myself speaking these eight statements, so a blog post will have to suffice. It may not be what Doug is hoping for, but it is the best I can do. Some of the statements I agree with, and some I do not agree with. I will explain why I do not agree with those I disagree with in my responses to those particular statements. After responding to Doug's eight statements, I would like to comment on the overall premise of Doug's eight statements, as well as some other things I noticed on his YouTube channel page.
To be clear, there are three videos involved here. The first is Doug's initial video, “A Challenge To Christians” (which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=holR0bo97_k, then there is Dr. White's response to this video, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7bGNRNCTDQ, and then a third video of Doug responding to and critiquing Dr. Whites response, and it can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tiXQTcyzqk&feature=youtu.be. Although I was sent the third video, I have also watched the initial challenge video as well. In the initial video, Doug sets forth the premise of his challenge, which is to state aloud a set of 8 statements written by Doug.
The “Eight Statements” which Doug apparently thinks reflect biblical Christian beliefs are as follows:
1. I believe a snake/serpent talked (Genesis 3:1)
2. I believe a man lived in the belly of a great fish for 3 days (Jonah 1:17)
3. I believe that Jesus ordered the stoning of rebellious children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
4. I believe Jesus said that the Israelites could “take” virgin women for themselves and give 32 virgin women to Jesus (Numbers 31:31-40)
5. I believe that Jesus sanctioned abortion (killing of the unborn) if an unfaithful wife was pregnant (Numbers 5:19-21)
6. I believe that many dead people came out of the graves when Jesus died (Matthew 27:53)
7. I believe that Jesus ordered that a husband should be the first one to throw a stone at his wife if she leads him away from belief (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)
8. I believe that Jesus stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, but didn't stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter (Genesis 22:1-19, Judges 11:30-39)
Here are my responses:
Challenge Question #1. I believe a snake/serpent talked (Genesis 3:1)
Yes, I believe this. Doug obviously does not because as an atheist he naturally does not accept anything supernatural. However, since – as I believe – God exists (and I believe there is no valid reason to disbelieve in God), then it is always within the realm of possibility that the omnipotent Creator God could enable the snake/serpent to speak. So the question to Doug is, IF the omnipotent Creator God of the Bible exists (and again, there is no valid reason to believe He does not), could He enable a snake/serpent to speak? The obvious answer is yes – an answer Doug would be reluctant to give.
Challenge Question #2. I believe a man lived in the belly of a great fish for 3 days (Jonah 1:17)
And again, yes, I do believe this to be true, and for the same reasons given for number one. Again, the question I pose to Doug is, IF the God of the Bible exists, could He create a fish large enough to swallow a man whole, and enable Jonah to survive three days in the belly of that huge fish? Again, the obvious answer is yes. For Doug to deny this, he would have to provide evidence that the God of the Bible does not exist. I am open to hearing his evidence.
Challenge Question #3. I believe that Jesus ordered the stoning of rebellious children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
No, I do not believe this because it is not in Scripture. At least not the way Doug presents it. The wording of Doug's statement implies a small child, probably no older than 12 or 13, thus making this a leading statement. Deuteronomy 21:18-21, however, refers to an older son, perhaps 18-25, who is living with his parents, and who is seriously rebelling against the authority of his parents. In that time and culture, the father was the head of the house, and therefore responsible for what happens in his house. To have a son such as described in this passage would certainly be cause for serious concern.
Let's look at the description of the son in question. Scripture states this son is stubborn, rebellious, a glutton, a drunkard, and evil. The Hebrew words translated stubborn, rebellious, glutton, drunkard and evil are, respectively: marah, sarar, zalal, sobe, and ra'. Understanding the meaning of these words gives a better understanding of the situation described in Deuteronomy 21:18-21. To say the son was marah, is to say he was contentious. He argued against everything his parents believed and stood for – including obedience to God. To say he was sarar, is to say he was stubbornly rebellious. The word describes not simply rebelling against his parents (as is common in many youth), but more to the point the son had morally turned away from everything he parents stood for and believed, again, including God. The son had willfully moved into apostasy against God. To say the son was zalal and sobe is to say he was a vile glutton and a drunk, both being sinful habits; and to say the son was ra', is to say he was morally evil, wicked, wretched, and bringing calamity and adversity upon not only himself, but upon those with whom he lived – namely his parents and the whole of Israel.
To allow such a person to exist within the parents home, and by extension the Israelites as a whole would be catastrophic. Rebellion breeds rebellion, evil breeds evil. Before too long all of Israel would have turned their back on the Lord thus incurring His justified punishment against them; not to mention the vulnerability such chaos would have created thus preventing Israel from protecting itself from its warring neighbor tribes. In order to prevent all of this calamity and adversity, the Triune God (not just Jesus as Doug thinks) established this law, protecting the whole at the expense of the one who deliberately and purposely chooses to violate that law with full knowledge of the penalty that will be imposed by such an action.
While Doug's “Challenge” question is phrased in such a way as to present God as some sort of malevolent deity, the opposite is true. God sought to preserve Israel through this law and others (sometimes known as the Holiness Code); and it is the son who bears the full responsibility for his actions.
Furthermore, based on his question, it seems clear that Doug wants to impose his morality on God, and on ancient Israel. This is common among atheists. But what objective immutable standard does Doug base his morality on? Certainly not on the objective immutable moral standard of God (since Doug doesn't believe in the God he says is impossible to know if He exists – the “agnostic atheist” position he holds to). Therefore, Doug is actually basing his judgment on his own personal subjective moral preferences. The problem in doing this, however, is that Doug is then elevating himself to a position above God, or, in other words, make himself god. Another practice common among atheists.
Challenge Question #4. I believe Jesus said that the Israelites could “take” virgin women for themselves and give 32 virgin women to Jesus (Numbers 31:31-40)
Again, no, I do not believe this because it is not in Scripture, at least not the way Doug presents it. To begin with, Doug presents this question in such a way as to again make God appear to be wicked in some way. His use of scare quotes around the word “take” seems to imply some sort immorality. His comments in the video (“that's kind of creepy”) would seem to support this. So let me set the record straight here both for Doug's sorely needed edification, as well as for any who read this who might have a similar misunderstanding of the passage. The Midianite virgins were not taken captive to be sex-slaves, there was and is no divine decree to rape them, and they were not taken captive in order to become human sacrifices. Atheists have been leveling these outlandish and nonsensical accusations for years, and doing so without any knowledge or understanding of what actually happened; and doing so all in the name of hating the God they do not believe in.
To further explain the situation, the Midianites had acted treacherously against Israel, causing many Israelites to abandon God (which is what atheists constantly try to get Christians to do – some things never change), and as a result God – the Triune God, Father AND Son, AND Holy Spirit, not just the Son – punished the Israelites. After the punishment of the Israelites, God punished the Midianites for their horrendous treachery against Israel. That punishment involved the death of every single Midianite man, as well as every single Midianite woman who was not a virgin. Midian was laid waste. There was nothing left. If the Midianite virgins had been left in the land, those who did not die a long slow death by starvation would have been taken as sex slaves by other warring tribes. In short, God, through Israel, spared the Midianite virgins, and did not punish them for the actions of the Midianite men and non-virginal women.
The virgins who were taken captive, were assimilated into Israel (with whom they were related) and became wives and servants. The 32 Midianite virgins Doug says were given to Jesus, became temple servants dedicated to serving God (cf. Exodus 38:8; 1 Samuel 2:22). They were not sacrificed, they did not become sex-slaves nor anything of the sort. As you can see, the reality of what happened to them is a far cry from the picture Doug tried to paint.
I found it interesting that when Dr. White explained that the taking of these women into captivity was a merciful act (as opposed to leaving them to die of exposure and starvation after having been conquered by the Israelites), Doug chimed in and said it would have been merciful to simply not kill their husbands, fathers, and providers. This is something atheists will invariably do – they will second guess God, the Creator of the universe, and attempt to impose their flawed logic and morality on Him. It fails each and every time. What Doug (and the vast majority of atheists) fails to understand is the seriousness of the situation the Israelites found themselves in. The only two choices they actually had were attack and conquer and take the women into captivity, or, be attacked and conquered and have the Israelite women taken into captivity. That was how things worked back then.
According to Doug's flawed logic it would have been merciful for the Israelites to allow themselves to be slaughtered and enslaved, and have their children sacrificed alive to pagan gods, and have their women become slaves, sex slaves and prostitutes; rather than attack and conquer and take captive the enemy women and care for them. According to Doug's little comment, this is exactly what he believes, and exactly what he would do with his own wife and children – after he allowed himself to be killed.
Challenge Question #5. I believe that Jesus sanctioned abortion (killing of the unborn) if an unfaithful wife was pregnant (Numbers 5:19-21)
No, I do not believe this because it is not true. Numbers 5:19-21 is not about abortion, and doesn't even mention abortion. It says nothing about the killing of the unborn, and, in fact, there is nothing in the passage to indicate anyone is even pregnant. It is statements such as this that reveal the dishonesty of those who make them, and Doug is being completely dishonest in his misrepresentation of Number 5:19-21. But do not take my word for it, when you can read it for yourself:
“19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband's authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, 21 then’ (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) ‘the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your thigh fall away and your body swell.” – Numbers 5:19-21 (ESV)
Now, can someone please show me in this passage of Scripture where it indicates someone is pregnant? Can someone please show me where abortion or the killing of the unborn is mentioned? I didn't think so. To be fair, however, there is one translation that uses the word “miscarry”. Possibly this is where Doug came up with this. Who knows? That one translation that uses the word “miscarry” is the New International Version, or NIV. But not just any NIV, but only the 2011 third revision edition. That is the singular translation that comes close to what Doug is talking about. More than 1700 translations over the years with thousands of translators, and only one has the word “miscarry.” And, it is important to note that the word “miscarry” does not appear in the in the original 1978 NIV translation, nor the 1984 NIV revision, nor the 2005 NIV revision. Only the 2011 revision. And more importantly, the Hebrew text does not use the word, nor any word, that would imply abortion or miscarriage. Why do you suppose that is?
In 2009 the International Bible Society (now Biblica) announced another revision of the NIV was in the works. It was released in March of 2011. The 2011 NIV was really nothing more than a minor revision of the 2005 inclusive NIV revision. Under political and financial pressure Biblica designed the 2011 NIV revision to be more liberal, more progressive in its reading, doing away with references to the patriarchal system, any hints of gender exclusivity, avoiding offending modern sensibilities, and generally making it as politically correct as possible.
It is not an actual word for word translation, but more of a thought for thought translation that has been first fed through the politically correct thought processes of the translators who had no qualms about substituting their progressive thoughts for the thoughts of God.
In short, the passage does not speak of abortion or miscarriage or pregnancy. It speaks about an accusation of adultery. If the woman was found guilty, then she was put to death (Leviticus 20:10), not forced to have an abortion. If she was found innocent, then she would be “cleared of guilt” and “able to have children” (Numbers 5:28).
Context is everything Doug.
Challenge Question #6. I believe that many dead people came out of the graves when Jesus died (Matthew 27:53)
Yes, I absolutely believe this, and for the same basic reason given in #1 and #2 above. The obvious question for Doug is, IF the God of the Bible exists, could He cause such a resurrection? If you say no, then please explain how you arrived at your conclusion that an omnipotent Creator God would be unable to do this.
Challenge Question #7. I believe that Jesus ordered that a husband should be the first one to throw a stone at his wife if she leads him away from belief (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)
No, I do not believe this because it is not in Scripture, at least not the way Doug presents it. If Doug had read the passage, he would no doubt have noticed that the passage deals with anyone (brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend) who entices an Israelite to abandon God AND go and serve false gods (which would include engaging with temple prostitutes and human sacrifices of ones own children), then the person being enticed would be obligated to stone the one enticing him to death. I suspect Doug framed his statement in the manner he did, for the express purpose of painting Jesus in the worst possible light.
Again, just to be clear, we are talking about the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and not simply Jesus alone who made this law as Doug implies. In his written description for his initial “challenge” video, Doug writes, “Please don't let the use of "Jesus" instead of "God" or "Yahweh" distract. If you don't feel comfortable using Jesus' name in those verses, then please don't (but then ask yourself why you're not comfortable).” He then goes on to actually say in the video that there is only one God, so Jesus and Yahweh and etc., are just different names for the same thing. This is not a Christian belief. In fact, this is what is known as Sabellianism (in the Eastern church or Patripassianism in the Western church), or Modalism. The belief that God appears in three modes or manifestations, either the Father, OR Jesus, OR the Holy Spirit. One God, three manifestations. Again, this is a heretical belief, and not a Christian belief. Christians believe in a Triune God, one God in three persons: the Father AND the Son AND the Holy Spirit. Each person co-equal, co-eternal, and con-substantial.
Doug's insistence on using the name of Jesus only also seems to imply a personal vendetta against Jesus. Why he might possess such a vendetta is anyone's guess, unless he was a modalist from the beginning (and thus not a Christian), and he simply hates the God whose existence he believes is unknowable, but whom he disbelieves in regardless. Who knows?
The point is, however, God (the Triune God) has made this law, and it is binding on every single Israelite. They are aware of this law, they know this law; so if one of the Israelites made the conscious decision to abandon God, and engage with temple prostitutes of a false god, and sacrifice his children alive; and then also attempts to entice other Israelites to join him, all while being fully aware of the law and punishment for breaking that law, then his guilt is upon him and no one else – certainly not on God.
When I see atheists use this type of argumentation against what they see as the unfairness of their Creator; I always wonder if they employ the same line of argumentation when they stand before a judge for violating any of the laws of the land?
Challenge Question #8. I believe that Jesus stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, but didn't stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter (Genesis 22:1-19, Judges 11:30-39)
Again, no, I do not believe this because it is not in Scripture, at least not the way Doug presents it; or, to be more accurate, the way Doug misrepresents it.
In the case of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), it was God who told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, not the other way around. Abraham did not tell God that he planned to sacrifice Isaac and then wait for God to stop him. No, God told Abraham, and then, because of Abraham's faith, as shown by his obedience, God stopped the sacrifice.
In the case of Jephthah (Judges 11:30-39), however, we have an entirely different situation. God did not tell Jephthah to sacrifice anything or anyone. It was Jephthah who made the rash unthinking vow to offer the first thing out of his door as a burnt sacrifice to the Lord. There is no comparison between Abraham and Jephthah. It's apples and oranges. That being said, if Doug had actually read and understood Judges 11:30-39 (and it actually goes through verse 40), he would not have made such an inaccurate statement as saying God didn't stop Jephthah from sacrificing his daughter.
Jephthah's vow was legally binding according to the law (Leviticus 27), and he was obligated to go through with it. However, God provided an exemption in this case, and allowed Jephthah to abstain from offering his daughter as a burnt sacrifice. The reasons for this are, I think, obvious. To begin with, human sacrifices are detestable to the Lord (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10), and He would never have allowed such a thing to take place. Additionally, as He is omniscient, God already knew Jephthah's daughter was going to be the first thing out his house to meet him. God knew Jephthah was making a rash unthinking vow, one that although obligated to keep, he could not do so.
But God did not let Jephthah off the hook completely. As a result of his vow, Jephthah's daughter was dedicated to the Lord, to serve Him and remain a virgin for the rest of her natural life. No doubt Jephthah was grieved by his rash vow, and was reminded of it every time he saw his daughter. So yes, God did step in a spare the life of Jephthah's daughter, contrary to Doug's claim. This would have all been clear to someone who had been a Christian for 30+ years as Doug claims he was.
According to Pinecreek Doug's YouTube channel about me page, he says, “Do you want to learn how to have better conversations with people of other religions or with atheists? Pinecreek Doug, a former fundamentalist Christian of 30+ years, now an agnostic atheist, conducts cordial interviews with believers, as well as critiques your favorite pastors/apologists from the unbelievers' perspective. Pinecreek Doug's motto is that doubt is a virtue, that can lead to humility and compassion whereas certainty can lead to arrogance and violence. If you would like to join Doug for a livestream interview, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Based on God's Word, Doug was not a Christian for those “30+ years.” He may have thought he was, and he may have believed he was, but the fact that he has renounced God demonstrates that he was never saved in the first place, and therefore would (and does) not have a valid understanding of what the Scripture actually says, and incapable of understanding the spiritual aspects of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible and Christianity. This conclusion is supported by his cherry picked “gotcha” verses, his reluctance to read them in their proper context, his misrepresentation of what Christians actually believe, and his annoyance at Dr. White for actually explaining what the verses mean and what Christians believe.
I believe this is further supported by Doug's modalistic view of God (see my response to question #7 above). One cannot worship a false god (the modalistic god) and be a follower of the One True God of the Bible (the Triune God), and still be a Christian. At the risk of being redundant, it is necessary to ensure a proper understanding of who God is, in order to understand just how wrong Doug is. Therefore, the Triune God which Christians believe in (which Doug claims he believed in for 30+ years) is comprised of three distinct and separate persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. While each are the One True God, the Father is neither the Son nor the Spirit, the Son is neither Father nor the Spirit, and Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. So, unless you are talking about a Christophany in the Old Testament (an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ), then you are likely talking about the Trinity, the Triune God – Father AND Son AND Holy Spirit. Again, his explanation of just different names for the same thing is known as Modalism, and is a recognized heresy denounced by Christians.
If Doug's view of God was modalistic for the 30+ years he claims he was a Christian, then he was worshiping a god other than the God of the Bible for those three-plus decades.
Second, he claims he is an “agnostic atheist.” How is that even possible? The term is a contradiction. By making the statement that he is an “agnostic atheist,” Doug is saying that he believes one cannot know of the existence or nonexistence of God (agnostic), and that he holds to a belief in the nonexistence of God (atheist). How can he both not know whether God exists or not, and know that God does not exist, simultaneously? Obviously he cannot. While there really is such a thing as an “agnostic atheist” (at least according to the All About Philosophy.org website), the very concept of an “agnostic atheist” is a logical contradiction, and therefore untrue. One cannot be both an agnostic and an atheist, any more than one can be a unicorn and not a unicorn at the same time. This type of semantic gymnastics is something I have come to expect from atheists intent (regardless of how vain their attempts may be) on disproving God, and Jesus, the Bible and Christianity. Doug does not disappoint in this regard.
In his original Challenge to Christians video, Doug states, “Here's an opportunity for Christians to state what they believe publicly, by recording and posting it here (as a YouTube video in the comment section). Please don't let the use of "Jesus" instead of "God" or "Yahweh" distract. If you don't feel comfortable using Jesus' name in those verses, then please don't (but then ask yourself why you're not comfortable). If you don't believe any of the statements listed in this video, I would be interested in why ... and how do you decide which verses you believe, as factual history, and which you don't.”
I believe the reason Dr. White has done this is because Doug's statements are, by and large, misrepresentations of what Christians actually believe. They are misrepresentations of what Scripture actually states. They are an attempt to lead the viewer who responds into saying something they normally would not say. This is not unlike the school yard prank of getting someone to say aloud they are looking for “Amanda Holt.” As the person sets forth making this announcement, they will invariably say, “I'm looking for Amanda Holt” which always comes out, “I'm looking for a man to hold” and the uncontrollable school yard giggling ensures.
Providing the rote recitation Doug requires would result in essentially the same thing, and serve no useful purpose other than to provide yet another atheist with something to chuckle about, i.e. “Look what I made the poor dumb Christian say, ha ha ha.” I believe Dr. White saw that, and not only refused to be led by the nose into saying something absurd, but he framed his answers in such a way as to expose Doug's woeful lack of understanding of Scripture, rather than give Doug his giggles.
Based on the leading and misrepresentative nature of Doug's eight statements, as well as his commentary on Dr. White's response to his challenge; it seems clear that Doug is not interested in what the Scriptures actually state, nor in what Christians believe, nor even why they believe them. He simply wants to get Christians to say something unbiblical so he can use that against them, and against all Christians. He simply wants to trip up Christians, and he wants Christians to help him do it.
Doug's “Challenge For A Christian” statements are nothing more than the same old, long refuted, so-called “gotcha” statements/questions tossed out by atheists for years. The same old misrepresentations of Scripture, the same old straw man arguments, the same old same old. You would think by now they would get some new material; but then, as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9); and with atheists, this could not be more true.