It’s been over a month since I last posted. Like a dumbass, I dropped my laptop and shattered the screen. Luckily, I found a place that could repair it, but parts were back ordered and it took forever. My online work is my primary source of income, so I’ve been unemployed for the past four weeks. This particular blog post was promised right before the tragic day my laptop almost died.
On March 15, I posted the meme on the left to the Bold Atheism Facebook page and Twitter. I thought it was both plausible and poignant, and shared it without giving it much thought. As it turns out, I should have done some basic Googling before posting, because it is wildly inaccurate.
Someone commented on the post to let me know that this chart is wrong. Only then did I make an effort to look into the claim. I criticize religious people for spreading false information but found that I was guilty of doing the same. It wasn’t done intentionally, but it was done carelessly. Posting something that can easily be proven false can cause us to lose credibility with the people we’re trying to reach.
The original post refers to the Old Testament, but I’m going to expand my search to the entire bible. I’ll be using the New International Version and conducting the search on Bible Gateway. I won’t be investigating the context of the word, just the count. For example, “kill” maybe mentioned in a positive way, such as “Thou shalt not kill”.
For starters, there are 726,109 total words in the New International Version of the Bible. Assuming the creator of this meme is using the NIV (they don’t specify), the word punishment alone would account for approximately 14% of the total word count of the bible. I know the bible is harsh, especially in the Old Testament, but that sounds implausible. Let’s dive in.
The Word “Hell”
Original word count: 0
Old Testament word count: 0
New Testament word count: 15
If we’re looking at the Old Testament only, the original was actually correct. This is because the idea of hell as a place of eternal punishment was a Christian invention. That relegates the word to the New Testament only. The Old Testament does refer to a realm of the dead known as Sheol, but it’s distinctly different from the Christian hell.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
The Word “Forgive”
Original word count: 1
Old Testament word count: 59
New Testament word count: 62
My search includes all forms of forgive; forgiven, forgiveness, forgave, etc. This word is mentioned 59 times in the Old Testament. It is usually used in the context of God forgiving Israel or individuals of their wickedness and sin. The creator of the meme could use some forgiveness for misleading us.
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
The Word “Hate”
Original word count: 90
Old Testament word count: 91
New Testament word count: 36
The numbers are so close here that a difference in translation could account for the discrepancy. The word is used in many contexts, not necessarily indicating a sinister narrative.
The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you.
The Word “Love”
Original word count: 131
Old Testament word count: 425
New Testament word count: 261
The Old Testament isn’t particularly loving, but the word does appear often. When referring to God, it’s usually a command to “love the Lord thy God”. That love is sparingly returned. The word count is generously padded by the phrase “made love to” when the NIV wants to indicate sex without using any naughty words.
There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. He married her and made love to her.
The Word “Enemy”
Original word count: 200
Old Testament word count: 112
New Testament word count: 13
This one went the other way, with the actual word count being less than purported, even after adding the New Testament to the equation. The god of the Old Testament was a war-god, helping Israel to smite her enemies. The theme is pervasive, so I have to admit I’m surprised the word is mentioned more often.
Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand,Lord, shattered the enemy.
The Word “Kill”
Original word count: 218
Old Testament word count: 339
New Testament word count: 106
The New Testament adds 106 instances of the word to the count, making the Old Testament word count 339. The meme was off by over 100. Translation issues aside, I’m starting to think the numbers on this graphic were pulled directly from his ass.
The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh
The Word “Sin”
Original word count: 336
Old Testament word count: 347
New Testament word count: 127
That’s not a big difference. It looks like we have another case of translation discrepancy. I wonder if the creator of the chart used the same translation for each word count?
Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”
The Word “God”
Original word count: 3,090
Old Testament word count: 2,678
New Testament word count: 1,317
If you add the New Testament, then the original isn’t too far off. Still, there’s enough of a difference in the actual numbers to cause concern.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The Word “Lord”
Original word count: 7,234
Old Testament word count: 6,114
New Testament word count: 635
Off by over 1,000! I really should have checked this out before posting. We haven’t even hit the biggest lie (error?) in the graphic yet.
And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.
The Word ” Punishment”
Original word count: 51,713
Old Testament word count: 145
New Testament word count: 26
This word was the main reason I shared the meme. I know that the Old Testament God is all about fire and blood and vengeance. The idea of the word “punishment” having a word count of 51,713 validated my point of view. I thought, ‘Wow! I knew the OT was bad, but this is crazy.” Turns out, it was crazy. And completely wrong. The total word count for every form of the word punish (punished, punishing, punishment, etc) is only 171. The Old Testament count is 145, making the meme’s creator off by 51,568 words! I’m embarrassed that I ever shared this thing.
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear.”
The Word “And”
In case you’re wondering, “and” is the word mentioned the most times in the bible – coming in at 28,364. The non-article, non-filler word appearing the most is “lord” – 6,749 times.
I’m trying to check my facts better from here on out. In the fast and furious world of social media, it’s easy to slip up and share something interesting, only to find out it contains factual errors. When I mess up, I investigate, admit when I’m wrong and correct the mistake.
I look forward to fact-checking more memes and articles in the future. I’ll be reviewing a mix of Christian and atheist memes. We have the truth on our side. There’s no reason for embellishment. Fabricating damaging “evidence” can only hurt us going forward. Let’s work together to share what’s true and trash the rest.