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First Criticisms - Ben Brown

As I mentioned in my opening argument, I have three basic methods of showing why it is irrational to think that the Bible is inerrant. However, you have mentioned a few things in your opening arguments that I would like to address. First of all, you use the Bible itself to defend this view. You quote 2nd Timothy and 2nd Peter as evidence for the Bible's inerrancy. Now this is perhaps the most ridiculous defense of inerrancy there is. Suppose you come upon a book, and the book says it was written by God. So (as you do), you determine that the book must be true because God is the author of it. That also means that the passage in the book saying that God is the author is true. Well, I could write a book, and in the book, write that it is the word of God. And using this logic, we'd have to conclude that the book is inerrant etc. This is just ridiculous.

You continue on to make the point that since it is the word of God, there should exist no errors in the original writings. Well, it only takes a little bit of insight to realize that if God is going to go to the trouble to inspire (or write) a book, then he'd do what he can (which, supposedly, is everything) to keep it from being miscopied. If he didn't do everything to keep it from being miscopied, then he is being unfair to people who are born many centuries after Christ. This unfairness is that people closer to the time of Christ had a more accurate document to learn from, and thus a greater chance of, say, getting into heaven. So if God inspired a book, it would only make sense that all copies of it are as accurate as the originals.

Next you talk about how accurate the Bible has been in telling the names of kings. As I said, I'm not sure about this. I would like a quote of the resource you used for this information, though. Although, even if it is true, the Bible should be a lot more accurate than writings by an Alexandrian librarian. Keep in mind that the archeological community has dated the Bible's authorship from 70ad - 400ad. This is 270 - 600 years later that the Alexandrian writings you refer to. Also, there were many authors, so it would seem logical that the Bible be more accurate on matters of these sorts. As for your reference to William Albright, I could find you references that say quite the contrary by other famous archeologists, but instead, I prefer to think, and not quote those who I think think.

You also mention that certain parts of the Bible are intended differently. For instance, one should not look for factual problems in poetry. This is a point to be taken. For how do we know what is meant to be poetry and what is meant to be factual? The answer that I have most commonly seen is that if it isn't factually true, then it's poetry. Well, that is incorrect. For instance when the Bible says that the earth is motionless (I'm not sure of the exact passage), that's something that can be taken literally. It shows the exact perception of the universe of the time. The earth was the center and the stars, sun and everything else were in motion. These aren't poets writing the Bible, these are fairly uneducated men. If there's anything we can learn from our present educational system, it is that education makes poets. There's simply no reason to think that the author was meaning anything other than the 'unmoving earth.'

There is one more thing in your opening argument that I must address before I make my criticisms. You said:

"If one claims there are errors in the Bible, conclusive proof is required. Clear and irreconcilable contradiction or error must be shown in order to demonstrate error in the Scriptures. Even a plausible explanation of an alleged contradiction makes the claim of error invalid. This is simply asking that the reliability of the Bible be tested by the same criteria as any other historical document. "

Well, that's just wrong. There is a real story of what happened, and we don't know it. A somewhat plausible explanation of what is most likely an incorrect documentation of history does not make the Bible inerrant. The bottom line is that we do not know what happened back then, we do not know if the Bible is correct, and just because the Bible cannot unquestionably be proven wrong, that does not make it correct. That does not make it inerrant. Now, I feel that it takes very little to prove, unquestionably, that the Bible has errors. Of course you think that it takes very little to prove that the Alexandrian document you mention is errant. Well, as for those kings it mentions, that does not show the document's errancy. It simply shows that we haven't located those kings, yet. Yes, this is supposed to be humorous, but it does demonstrate a very real point -that asserted inerrancy isn't as hard to come by as it might first seem. One more thing: that last line I quoted. Historical documents are held up to probabilistic evidence as well. For instance those Alexandrian writings. They aren't necessarily errant, but from a probabilistic standpoint, it is irrational to think that they are not. It is this way with the Bible, as well.

Let me start out by talking a little about what the Bible is -especially the New Testament. The New Testament was written (supposedly) by the people who were around Jesus. So, even if this is true, the Bible is about what these men *thought* Jesus was, not who he actually was. However, it is very unlikely that the authors of these books are the actual people who the books are named after. In fact, I've seen a couple of recently published Bibles that say that Matthew was probably not written by Matthew. That's the first book, even. And the same has been asserted of other books of the New Testament. Some books, such as the Gospel of Thomas, were rejected as lies by the Catholic church when compiling the Bible. That's right -the Gospel of Thomas. If Thomas was lying about Jesus, what gives us any reason to think that the others were telling the truth?

Let me start out with what appears to be a contradiction in the Bible. Mat 12:40 NRSV says "For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth." Now it is common Christian belief that Jesus went to hell for those days immediately following his crucifixion. There are other passages to support this view. However, there is a passage saying Jesus went to paradise. Luke 23:42-43 NRSV. Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." But Jesus wasn't going to paradise. Jesus was going to hell to confront Satan. So (literally interpreted), unless the heart of the earth and paradise are the same place, we've got a contradiction.

Peter is real bad about contradicting the other disciples, Jesus, and even himself. The author of Acts (whoever that may be) quotes Peter in verse 10:36 "The words which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ." But Jesus was not preaching peace. Matthew (or whoever the author of Matthew was) quotes Jesus saying "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). The author of Matthew is (supposedly) quoting Jesus, and Jesus is making a distinction between peace and a sword. Also, Jesus says that he is not coming to send peace. This is a contradiction.

Now there are tons of these types of contradictions in the Bible. They've been argued, probably, for centuries. Now, let's take a step back for a minute. If God wanted to, couldn't he make a book that would obviously be true? Couldn't he make a book that is undeniably true? If he is an allpowerful god, then the only suitable answer is 'yes.' However, if the answer is yes, then why didn't he? Some will say that he didn't want to make his truth obvious to us, or he is trying to test us, or something to that extent. But the central point cannot be dismissed. If he made an attempt to tell humanity about him and his son and the prophets, and this attempt is the Bible, he *could* have done a better job. Furthermore, if he is the god described in the Bible, he *would* have done a better job. This little paragraph can be applied to all contradictions and errors. If it is even deniable, then God could have done a better job of telling us, and since he inspired the thing (if he did), then he would have done better.

But what about all the prophecies in the Bible? Well, many of them aren't prophecies at all. For instance Jesus rising on the third day. That the resurrection of Jesus on the third day was prophesied in the scriptures was claimed by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15:3. In this verse he says "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." In Luke 24:46, Jesus also talks about this prophecy. He says "Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day." This is a nice prophecy fulfilled, but the only problem is that no matter how hard biblical scholars search, there is no prophecy in the Old Testament that says that Jesus must rise on the third day. It was not written. This is a lie by Jesus and Paul, or rather the author of 1st Corinthians and the author of Luke.

Matthew was quite adept at citing nonexistent prophecies. When Joseph took his family to Nazareth, Matthew (or the author of Matthew 2:23) said that Joseph did so "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene." Biblical scholars, however, have been unable to find a statement that any prophet ever made in the Old Testament that this could be a reference to. The words Nazareth and Nazarene were never even mentioned in the Old Testament. Run a search. So how could Jesus's residency in Nazareth have been prophesied by the prophets? Matthew has given us a lie.

Now, I was going to start applying philosophy to some of the passages and seeing if the concept of God developed in the Bible holds any ground, but that will have to wait until next time. This is late as it is, and I've got to get back to packing up for going to college.