Biblical claims of divine honesty

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Christians, particularly Creationists and presuppositionalists, have a strong tendency to claim that God does not lie. The Bible makes this claim explicitly in various passages; one can examine the idea because many biblical literalists claim that the Bible, as the word of God who cannot lie, disproves evolution and other scientific theories ipso facto. Examples of people using such claims appear in the way that Answers in Genesis advocates (for example) challenge evidences that are not eyewitness testimony while trying to keep their own hearsay as valid. Of course, all of this is complete and utter bullshit.

The claims[edit]

The Bible suggests that God is invariably truthful in the following passages (all quotes are from the King James Version):

  • Titus 1:1-2 "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
  • Hebrews 6:18 "That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:"

Counter examples[edit]

In Genesis 2:17, God warns Adam and Eve that they shall die on the day they eat from the knowledge of good and evil. They eat from the tree, but don’t die that day.

In Exodus 3:7-8, God mentions that He wants to take the Israelites out of Egypt permanently, but in Exodus 5:3, God tells Moses and Aaron to tell the Pharaoh that the Israelites only want to take a three day journey to make a sacrifice to Him.

From 1 Kings 22:20-23:

20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

From 2 Chronicles 18:19-22:

19 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 20 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. 21 “‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’

22 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”

From 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12:

11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

From Ezekiel 14:9:

9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

From Jeremiah 4:10:

10 Then I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! How completely you have deceived this people and Jerusalem by saying, ‘You will have peace,’ when the sword is at our throats!”

From Jeremiah 20:7:

7: You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed.

From Isaiah 6:8-10

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

This gets repeated in Matthew 13:13 and Mark 4:12.

In 1 Samuel 16:1-3, God tells Samuel to mislead Saul by saying he's going to make a sacrifice and conveniently omit the part where he’s going to anoint a new king.

In John 7:6-10, Jesus tells his followers that He won’t go to a festival, only to go there in secret.

In Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” It’s a pretty safe bet that the people who were standing there some two millennia ago have died since then, and to all appearances, it doesn’t look like Jesus has come back yet.

Philosophical and moral consequences[edit]

Arbitrary tests of faith[edit]

Creationists in particular have a tendency to frame the scientific evidence that contradicts scripture as "tests of faith", especially before they have a semi-coherent way of reinterpreting the evidence to fit their presuppositions. Examples of this include the hypothesis that God created starlight in transit to Earth as one possible solution to the starlight problem.[1].

The problem with that is best summed up in another section of the same scripture:

Romans 1:20
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Saint Paul in the epistle said that the nature of God can be known from the things that he created. What morally and philosophically would result from a God who is willing to plant false evidence as a test of faith is open to interpretation.

An additional problem with such deception is why God would need craploads of faith-testing props lying around everywhere. Remember, God created everything, including whoever planted those faith-testing props, so God is ultimately responsible for the existence of these in one way or another.

Breaking the infinite regress[edit]

See also: Transcendental argument for God

In presuppositional apologetics, God is the solution to the infinite regress the apologist created in epistemology. Basically, the question "How do you know <statement> is true?" can be applied to the explanation of something ad infinitum in order to create an infinite regress, and the proposed solution is that God reveals part of the explanation down the chain to break the infinite regress. As a result, it is a necessary condition that their version of God lacks the ability to deceive in order for epistemology to be possible under presuppositional apologetics. The following is an example from Sye Ten Bruggencate:

See also Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18.20 which basically make it clear that if someone comes saying they have a revelation from God that the way to test the truth of this is whether or not it agrees with what has already been revealed - if it contradicts the revealed Word of God in the Bible then that revelation is not from God.- Sye Ten Bruggencate

The problem with such a position is clear: What do you use to check the first piece of information revealed to you (which is the Bible in most cases)? The morton's fork is applied in this case:

  • The choice not to test the first revelation when it is first revealed to you implies said revelation is indistinguishable between authentic revelation and faith-testing trickery.
  • The choice of having something to test the first revelation against would, by the fact itself, imply neither the first revelation nor the reference to test things against can possibly be from God.
  • The third choice of testing the first piece of revelation with another revelation means either the argument becomes circular or the chain of infinite regress does not end there.

When stuff just don't agree with each other[edit]

Main article: Biblical contradictions

When you have two versions of the creation story told in the same book in sequential chapters, one must wonder which one of the two versions, given the author lacks the ability to lie, is true. Other things that are up for debate includes having multiple paternal lineages of Jesus while all the time insisting Jesus is born out of a virgin.

See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Proof God is Always Right.


  1. For the record, both Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International at some point started discouraging people from using this argument when they noticed the flaws therein.