Don't know how to respond


I’m in a conversation with an atheist and this was a reply among many he gave me:

“Many events in Genesis were first recorded by the Sumerians, long before the Israelites, long before the Greeks, the Hittites, the Babylonians. They were told 7 is the holy number because Earth is the 7th planet, which is only true if you start counting planetoids from the outer edge of the solar system. God, and Adam, and many other words were plural terms, and much of what they recorded was translated as subsequent cultures conquered and assimilated each other. Concordantly, it’s difficult to ascertain the true origins of these tales.”

I’m wondering how I should respond to this but I don’t have a clear idea.


What documents does the atheist have to confirm his claims?
Why are the Sumerians to be considered more reliable sources than the Israelites?

Who made this claim and why is it relevant? Does the atheist claim the Israelites believed Earth was the seventh planet?

And? In English we speak of a pair of pants. That does not mean every man wears two garments at once to cover his lower body.
We speak of a pair of scissors. That does not mean that when I cut a piece of paper I use two separate tools at once.
Your atheist friend is pointing at idioms in an ancient language. They don’t prove anything.


It’s very encouraging that your friend has taken so much care in research. He obviously has doubts about his lack of belief.

After Genesis will you need to debate exodus? And work your way through the whole Bible?

Personally my belief is built on the Truth of Christ, His life, His words, His resurrection. Jesus existed, it’s a fact, He allowed Himself to be killed horribly nd as He had demonstrated twice before He could have escaped that end.

I realise that this possibly won’t help in responding to your friend but I honestly believe if someone wants to counter atheism it should be done with reference to Christ.


In scripture seven is taken to be a sacred number representing eternity possibly amongst other things. That’s why Jesus told us to forgive seven times seventy, endlessly for perpetuity.


He concludes this only because Sumerian records have survived longer than others. This doesn’t mean there were no older records it just means that other records did not survive to our times, only later copies survived.


Sometimes, I think it’s a good idea to see the origins of Judaism as a ‘Reformation’, the point at which understanding God became a matter of addressing that which is beyond comprehension.

So, divinities like the sky-god An and the queen of heaven and earth (Inanna/Ishtar/Ashtoreth) stopped being immediate ‘do this and it’ll rain’ (or whatever) and were transformed into an understanding of being human in relation to the ‘almighty’, a kind of philosophical revolution.


when you consider they all shared the same story…

everyone descended from adam and eve
so there will be similar stories
who was the first: doesn’t matter

who was divinely inspired: does.


The stories in Genesis long predate the writing of the book. They were handed down as spoken tradition from the times when the events happened. The pagans cultures retained remnants of historical truth which are recorded in Genesis through spoken tradition, just as did the Hebrews.

Listen to this talk by Fr. Philip Wolfe.


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