About the Contradictions

Contradictions seem to be the only things that believers are concerned about. God can tell Jehu to collect 70 heads in two baskets, and believers are okay with that, since the Bible is consistent on that topic. But did God kill 23,000 or 24,000 for committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab? Now that's a real problem to a believer. Not that God would kill so many people for so silly a reason. Who cares about that? No, it's the number that's important, because the Bible must not disagree with itself.

I've never seen a contradiction that believers can't resolve, at least to their own satisfaction. It could have been this way, it could have been that. That's what it says, but that's not what it means. It was a copyist's error. Whatever.

Contradictions are, in my opinion, the least of the Bible's problems. I include them for just one purpose: it shows that the Bible, whatever else it may be, is not inerrant.

How do I define inerrant? Well, I'd say something is inerrant if it has no errors.

I should tell you, though, that I don't believe there are any inerrant books, although many come very close. My old Physical Chemistry book, for example. Written by Peter Atkins and published in 1982, that book and I spent a lot of time together when I was taking P-Chem. And though I loved the book and know of no errors in it, I don't think it's inerrant. I'll bet there are a few spelling or grammatical errors and maybe a typo or two. And in its 1000+ pages there is probably an important mistake in an equation somewhere -- maybe an exponent left off, a decimal misplaced, or something. And since it's been 30 years, it could use some revising to get it caught up with recent advances in Chemistry. And, of course, as with any book, there are probably some errors in structure, presentation, and style.

But if you want to call Atkins' book inerrant, I won't argue about it. And I promise not to write a Skeptic's Annotated P Chem book or anything like that. But if I did, I wouldn't have anything to highlight and nothing to say. Atkins need not worry about my snide remarks.

There are a lot of books that come close to inerrancy, but the Bible is not one of them. And its errors are not confined to missing exponents or poor choice of words. Of all the books that I know of, the Bible is the most errant. It is by far the worst book I've ever read (with the possible exceptions of the Quran and the Book of Mormon). I know of no other book, for example, that commands you to kill homosexuals, Sabbath breakers, nonbelievers, rape victims who don't cry out loud enough, relatives if they believe differently than you, etc. These are serious errors; they should be taken seriously, especially since two billion people believe the Bible to be the inerrant word God.