Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bible Stories and inerrancy

More on Project: The King and I:

The good-natured back-and-forth between believer and non-believer is heart-warming.

Given that @Bruce's purpose was simply to read the Bible
I'm not totally sure where this project will go once it starts but, I want to at least get people to actually read the Bible.
- it seems like a debate on matters not strictly in the reading are not out of bounds - unless @Bruce says they are. So, tossing in the occasional reference to Jesus, while not strictly in context, seems fair enough. Likewise, making a preemptive "what about that don't you understand" is within bounds, as long as the rebuttals are civil. What gets me is the amount of nonsense creeping in. Any of us may or may not believe in unicorns or space aliens, but, as a courtesy to everyone, have your evidence ready and your arguments clearly defined. The preemptive "how can you explain that?" is not evidence.

For non-believers, the existence of god is hypothetical. I, for example, can sincerely hypothesize that god exists. I can conceive of him in 2 ways, off the top of my head. First - god created the universe - and the big bang was evidence of his handiwork. Where is god now? I don't know - haven't seen him, don't have evidence. Second - god exists, and we are within him. How do I know? I don't - he and nature are indistinguishable - and he doesn't appear to interact with the world except in natural ways. The absence of flying cars is a clear indication of his unwillingness to interact with the little people :-D

More seriously, there is no credible evidence of a god sighting in recorded history.

That doesn't mean he doesn't exist, but there is no evidence that he does. The bible tells stories of god, what he did, what he expects of us and of people who talked with god, but there's no independent corroboration that such events occurred. If we're rational, we say "I need some evidence". As Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said of UFO believers: "bring me an ashtray".

Arguing that the Bible must be accepted as the authority on biology, cosmogony, morality or law is baseless. It is not resolved that god exists (no evidence has ever been given). Arguing about words in a book that refer to this apparently non-existent entity as the authority for the words is pointless. Spending hours talking in circles about topics that the bible is clearly unfamiliar with (biology, cosmogony), as a way of establishing its authority, is equally pointless.

If the god of the bible were real, and if he or she were adamant that certain rules for living be followed in order to attain everlasting life, and if he or she was somewhat competent, the bible would have been written in clear, concise, language in a media that was eternal and unalterable so that all who read it would know it was real and what it means.

No such media, and no such words exist.

What we have is a compilation of stories that are sometimes fascinating and sometimes thought-provoking, and always debate-inspiring. It's just not the inerrant word of god.


  1. Some great points. I think the final editors of the OT certainly didn't intend for it to be read as inerrant. They were extremely inclusive, did not try to smooth over difficulties, and preserved plenty of diametrically opposed ideas so that it would be a thought-provoking and debate-inspiring record. We get arguments that monarchy is good, monarchy is bad, covenant is conditional, covenant is unconditional, suffering is punishment for breaking covenant (Deuteronomist), suffering comes to the wicked and righteous alike (Job), etc.

    That "bring me an ashtray" statement is one of my favorite Neil DeGrasse Tyson moments ever. Didn't he say something like, ten years ago if I whipped out my iphone I'd be burned as a witch, so anything you steal from a ship that can travel between stars will certainly be way beyond anything we've ever seen?

  2. Hey @BHitt!
    Sorry for the really late response ... don't expect commenters here. Yes, I think you're right about the "witch" quote. I think I saw that in a YouTube video ... I'll have to find it.