The Athiest's book of Bible Stories (a flaw I noticed)

by outsmartthesystem 16 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • outsmartthesystem

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the book "The Athiest's Book of Bible Stories". The author has brought up multiple biblical examples that truly make you bury your head in the sand if you take them to be literal. But there are some examples with very flawed logic. I'll give an example. On pages 24 and 25 we have the example of the explosion of the Israelite population from 70 people to 1.8 million in just three generations. First and foremost....I agree that it is a ridiculous notion to think that either Kohath or Amram lived 130+ years. But IF you can get past that....the author argues the following:

    Jacob's generation (given) 12 persons

    Kohath's generation (given) 70 persons (35 of which were female)

    Amram's generation 35 x 320 = 11,200 persons (5,600 of which were female)

    Moses' generation 5,600 x 320 = 1,792,000 persons

    The author argues that to go from 70 persons (as the bible says were in Egypt) to 1.8 million....each woman would have had to have had 320 babies. I believe this argument is grossly flawed. The argument says that each generation is only capable of having one big wave of children. Take the following:

    Kohath's generation 70 (35 female). Each female has 5 children. The population of children is now 175. Half (88) are female. 20 years go by and now those 88 women all have 5 children. The population of children is now 440. Half (220) are female. 20 years go by and now those 220 have 5 children. The population of children is now 1,100. Half (550) are female. 20 years go by and now those 550 have 5 children. The population of childrent is now 2,750. Half (1,375) are female. 20 years go by and those 1,375 have 5 children. The population of children is now 6,875. Half (3,438) are female. 20 years go by and those 3,438 have 5 children. The population of children is now 17,190. Half (8,595) are female. 20 years go by and those 8,595 have 5 children. The population of children is now 42,975. Half (21,488) are female. 20 years go by and those 21,488 have 5 children. The population of children is now 107,440. Half (57,320) are female. 20 years go by and those 57,320 have 5 children. The population of children is now 268,600. Half (134,300) are female. 20 years go by and those 134,300 have 5 children. The population of children is now 671,500. Half (335,750) are female. 20 years go by and those 335,750 have 5 children. The population of children is now 1,678,750.

    In the above example....10 twenty year periods went by. A total of 200 years. Granted, it assumes that EVERY woman gave birth to at least 5 children apiece....and the infant mortality rate was 0%......but I think it shows that going from 70 people to 1,800,000 (even though I believe that number is greatly inflated as well) in 350 years is possible. Not likely, but possible. It is a far cry from the exaggerated situation described in the Athiest's Book of Bible Stories.

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    Even if you give the calculation a very generous growth rate of 4% (given that currently Africa has ~2% growth rate and more than 5 children per woman) you would still only get to 208,000 people.

    Population growth is exponential and there is also a death rate. Given that back in the day of the bible many, many women died in childbirth and even more children died of various causes you would have the average women popping out 20-30 babies to get that number or every possible time in their childbearing years they would have to get pregnant (from 12 years old to 50 years old) and then you're still only 1/5th of the way there.

    You need a growth rate of 5% to get to the low millions but the bible says they were many millions large at the exodus. The exodus alone would've left Egypt a barren wasteland and would at least have been noted by historians (which it hasn't) because that many people would make such a large economic, military and social impact.

  • Phizzy

    Could it possibly be that the Bible is not to be taken literally ?

  • outsmartthesystem

    Anony mous - I am playing devil's advocate here. I do not disagree with your logic. But from a JW mindset, with a little help from the Big J.....I think the above scenario is "reasonable". A JW could easily rationalize "well....Jehovah prevented any of the mothers from dying during birth....and he prevented any infant deaths.....and he made sure that all the mothers and fathers were fertile so that the Israelite nation would grow." A JW can swallow that logic. That's my point. If the author's point had been true......and I wish it had....... (each mother giving birth 326 times) that would have been a REALLY REALLY far fetched miracle. One so far fetched that even true "believers" would have to wonder

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    From a JW viewpoint you can rationalize everything. They rationalize child murder, they rationalize child abuse and paedophilia, an old story where the math is a little wonky is easy to rationalize to someone who hasn't finished high school because they need to piosneer. I don't think the average JW does even understand growth rates and logarithmic functions (9th grade in the US?)

    It does not make sense under normal circumstances therefore the scientific and religious and every other community but the rabid believers have rejected the bible as a historical book or even a valid moral code. It's more a set of stories on how NOT to do things.

    But going back to your example, at that point you can say anything, Jay Hoover gave them all triplets and impregnated them himself. Good old fashioned baby pushing you still have to start impregnating 12 year olds all the way up to 50 year olds with very high success rates to get to a 5% growth rate. Or if you don't want God to be a perv, let them all be Sarah's and get pregnant at 100 years old. But the fact that the bible doesn't talk about mass miraculous pregnancies (which it would've), I conclude God to be a perv that rapes 12 year olds in order to build his nation.

  • mP


    Pedophilia is not banned in the Bible, thus given they must obey gods law above mans, and given they have spent significant energies and monies to support pedos its obvious the establishment in the WTS are fine with it. The only crime is of course getting caught.

  • mP


    If Israel realy did grow from 70 to 3.5M in either 200 or 400 years, how does one explain that by the time of King David they had not exploded into a population of 1 Billion ? I the Jews can breed that successfully in slavery, they should be able to repeat the task when under Gods protection in the promised land of milk and honey. If anyhing when back in Israel i would expect at the very least twice as many births and half as many deaths.

    Given the Torah is supposed to have been written by Moses, shouldnt he remember the number of generations. At the very least after all his conversations with God you would expect him to know the facts most definitely.

  • outsmartthesystem

    MP - I've actually heard an explanation for this.....from an elder no less! It is pathetic but it goes like this:

    The big J caused the Israelites to explode in population while in slavery. He did so because their sheer size in combination with 10 plagues scared Pharoah into sending them away ( know.....when you send away 1.8 million angry slaves.....there's no way they'll continue to breed and then come back and overtake you at some point in the future, right?

    Once Pharoah sent them away.....the big J brought their reproduction back down to normal.


  • Billy the Ex-Bethelite
    Billy the Ex-Bethelite

    In doing the calculation on an Excel spreadsheet using a model based on females born (since they're the important child-bearing ones), starting with 35 women, assuming they had 18 daughters in 1728, 18 more after 2 years, etc, so that there were a total of 90 females in the second generation over 10 years. After another 10 years elapsed, the first 18 daughters would be 20 years old and had 9 daughters, after 2 years it begins ramping up slowly as more daughters came of age. So although your total numbers are correct for each successive generation, your assumption that they would have a litter of 5 as soon as they turn 20 years, isn't a good basis as we get closer to the Exodus in 1513. By then the births to that date for the last three generations would be about 135,759; 99,741; and 545.

    So by 1513, I have a generations combined total of 327,572 females. If we double that, it's only 655,144 total.

    If we assume that they lived all the way to 100 yrs, it would be 320,890 living females.

    Now for the scary part, 102,861 of those females would be under the age of 10. Nearly a third of the total is under 10. Nearly 50,000 are under 3, almost 26,000 not old enough to walk. Since this is just the girls, multiply those numbers by 2. Now imagine going camping with all those kids.

    Perhaps the biggest problem with this scenario is that doesn't fit with any recorded chronology of the Bible. This fits 10 generations into the 215 years of Egyptian captivity. However, when you look at the geneology of Jesus in Matthew, there are 10 generations from Judah, before the captivity all the way down to David in 1107 BCE. That has 10 generations spanning 600 years (Boaz musta been reallllly old!) Most of the similarly recorded geneologies show low and slow growth. And in that era, it would be a lot of work taking care of children, even if it was only 5 spaced 2 years apart. Maybe the pyramids are actually stuffed with diapers rather than being stone all the way through.

    Edit to add: Watchtower figures the Egyptian captivity from 1728 BCE to 1513, a total of 215 years. (SI p. 294)

  • jwfacts

    Anony Mous has given a great response, and using population growth rates is the most accurate scenario, particularly using the African statistics that more closely align with the conditions experienced by the Jews. Death in childbirth is an important factor. Also, though some people in Biblical times are listed as living to older ages, it would not appear that the majority did. For example, almost the entire group of Jews that left Egypt supposedly died out during the 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

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