And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”(Luke 4:12) ESV
We presented atheist science trolls (ASTs) with a way to get the proof of God that they demand. We put it in terms of a testable hypothesis for the existence of God. It’s Hypothesis 11, based on Malachi 3:10.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.(Malachi 3:10) ESV
As a way to pivot away from the rather stark reality of the proposition one of the ASTs immediately brought up another passage of scripture that, they claim, is a contradiction to Malachi 3:10, in this case, Luke 4:12.
There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.(2 Peter 3:16b) ESV
It’s fascinating to see the convoluted way that ASTs interact with the Bible. They will happily use it whenever it suits them, particularly when it appears to be a demonstration that their knowledge of it is greater than that of a believer. Whether they know it or not, any time an atheist quotes the Bible it undermines the premise of atheism.
Atheism isn’t Intellectually Viable: 1
- Why is the Bible suddenly authoritative,
- now that you want to use it to accuse God of lying?
- If God doesn’t exist, why are you accusing him of lying?
- your argument depends on the existence of God.
- If the Bible isn’t true then God didn’t lie,
- your argument exposes a critical flaw in your logic.
The other common theme is the application of superficiality in their understanding of context and nuance. There are significant differences in the application of the concept of testing God between Malachi 3:10 and Luke 4:12, but these will be conveniently ignored because it suits their momentary and fleeting purpose of posting a triumphant sounding tweet. For example: In Malachi 3:10 The phrase and prove me is the Hebrew word bachan – וּבְחָנ֤וּנִי
And prove me: וּבְחָנ֤וּנִי – bachan
- Examine, prove, tempt, try trial
- A primitive root;
- to test (especially metals);
- generally and figuratively, to investigate — examine, prove, tempt, try (trial).
The context here is that the fruit of obedience (tithing) will be a blessing from God that will confirm the goodness of His character. The metaphor is of assaying Gold or other precious metals to see how pure it is. God is promising to reward conduct that demonstrates faith in His character.
On the other hand, the context of Luke 4:12 is very different. The word tempt is the Greek word ekpeiraseis – ἐκπειράσεις.
Tempt: ἐκπειράσεις – ekpeiraseis
- ekpeirázō (from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 3985 /peirázō, “tempt”)
- properly, test out, i.e. with the outcome of testing to an extreme (unwarranted) degree;
- “hyper-test,” going to improper measures which exceed appropriate boundaries and pushing the one tested beyond reasonable (proper) limits.
The context here is that Satan has taken Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and challenged him to throw himself off the top of the building in order to have God intervene to prevent any injury or death. This is clearly going to extreme measures in order to provoke a response from God, which is not going to produce the desired result.
The difference between these two verses of scripture isn’t even so subtle a difference as to be nuanced.
- The former describes the rewards of faithful service,
- the latter is a warning against dangerous or self-destructive behavior.
Of course, if you did kill yourself in an attempt to provoke God you would get all the proof you need when you wake up in hell. Sadly, even though this is a testable hypothesis it is not repeatable, so it’s not scientific. The fact is you can have proof of God if you want it, and you don’t have to kill yourself to get it.
There are three predictive testable hypotheses for the existence of God.