Tag Archives: biblical inerrancy

The Skeptics Guide to Christian Apologetics: Biblical Inerrancy

A few years ago, I had the idea to write a sort of pocket-sized survival guide for navigating the convoluted crapforest that is Christian apologetics.  After a many months of rousing from my typical torpidity long enough to bang out a few words on a keyboard, I finally had a finished manuscript. Unfortunately, my excitement at writing a book quickly gave way to the realization that I had written an awful book. All the information was there, but it was written so poorly that I didn’t even want to read it.  Since then, the work has been languishing on my hard drive, taking up precious memory that could otherwise be used to store more tentacle porn.

Imagine this, but with more boobs.

Imagine this, but with more boobs.

Thus, I am faced with a dilemma. Even though the writing is terrible, I produce so little that it seems wrong to destroy it. It would be like stepping on an endangered slug. The world might not really miss it, but I’d still feel bad about it. On the other hand, attempting a rewrite seems like a lot of work.  Thus, in the spirit of compromise (the laziest form of decision making), I have decided to do the rewrites one essay at a time and post them here. Thus, I can continue to blog without actually having to come up with original content. Hooray!

Biblical Inerrancy

Form:

The Bible is a perfect document containing no factual errors.

Ancient humans would not have been capable of producing a factually accurate document of the size and scope of the Bible.

Therefore, God wrote the Bible.

Exposition:

Biblical literalists believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God, the universe and everything in it was formed in six days, and that gay couples are somehow worse for the institution of marriage than divorce. Based on the enormous assumption that God would be disinclined to lie to his creation, they believe every word of the Bible to be true.  An objective reading of the Bible, however, is sufficient to uncover myriad factual errors, ranging in degree from “Wikipedia entry” to “not even remotely fucking possible”. While I can’t be bothered to list every error in the text, the items on the following list provide a representative sample. All examples are from the most popular version of the Bible, the 1611 King James translation.

Objections:

1) The order of creation illustrated in Genesis ch. 1 reads as such: heaven and earth, light, night and day, a “firmament” that separates water in the sky from water on the earth, dry land, grasses and herbs and fruit trees, stars, the sun and moon, sea animals and birds, land animals, man and woman. Of course, people have mentioned this bit before, but it’s such an obvious cock-up that it bears repeating. I’m still scratching my head over how day and night existed before the Sun was created, but I suppose that’s all part of the infinite mystery (or some other such nonsense). It’s also not clear what exactly happened to the firmament or why the space shuttle doesn’t bounce off of it. Oh, and lets not forget that this feat of prestidigitation was supposedly accomplished in six days, after which our omnipotent creator needed a little lie-down. Because apparently he was unclear on what the word “omnipotent” means.

Not pictured: reality.

Lo, the scampi of temptation.

2) Leviticus ch. 11 lists the many dietary and sanitary restrictions placed on the Hebrew people. Besides banning such obviously delicious things as shrimp and bacon, the taxonomy presented in this chapter is vague and, in several cases, incorrect. The passage erroneously classifies bats as a type of bird and rabbits as a ruminant species. The same inaccuracies are repeated in Deuteronomy 14. Lev. 11 also states, “All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.” I am unaware of any four-legged bird species in existence, now or ever. If you know of any, please get back on your meds. Your parents are very worried.

3) 1 Kings 7 describes a bath constructed in the temple of Solomon. It states that the bath was circular, having a diameter of ten cubits and a circumference of thirty cubits. From basic geometry, we know that these numbers cannot be correct, as thirty divided by ten does not equal pi. As other, smarter, funnier writers have noted it’s odd that you never hear fundamentalists demanding that public schools “teach the controversy” in math class.

4) 1 Chronicles 29 describes offerings that the leaders of Israel made to Solomon’s temple. All told, the reported offerings amounted to approximately 182 tons of gold, 363 tons of silver, 654 tons of brass, and 3,630 tons of iron. That’s more bling than Liberace at Mardi Gras. For the sake of reference, that’s enough weight to load 26 Boeing 747’s and enough precious metals to buy nineteen of them. I shouldn’t have to point out that Bronze Age desert tribesmen weren’t that fucking rich.

I think this might be shopped.

5) The book of Job contains numerous references to aspects of the Earth’s topography consistent with the Mesopotamian model of the Earth (ie. the Earth is a flat disk that lies atop four supporting pillars). Though humans as a species have known that the Earth is round for about 2,500 years,  some organizations used these and other verses to support the idea of a flat Earth well into the 21st century.

6) In Matthew 4, Satan takes Jesus to a hill so tall that he can view every kingdom on Earth. Obviously, this would only be possible if the Earth were flat. It doesn’t make a shit how tall the hill is, if you’re looking down at Jerusalem, you can’t see Panama. One hemisphere at a time is all you get.

7) In Romans 10, Paul claims that the prophets had reached, “…all the Earth… unto the end of the world.” Of course, Paul was unaware of the existence of Native Americans, East Asians, Southern Africans, Pacific Islanders, and many other people around the globe. Hell, he didn’t even know it was a globe.

Great salesman... not big on geography.

Exposure:

The Creation Museum is arguably the world’s largest and most expensive display of biblical literalism, ie. the highest ratio of dollars to stupid outside of the Defense Department. Located on one and a half acres in northern Kentucky, the museum opened its doors in May of 2007. Within its walls, one can find talking serpents, a saddled triceratops, a scale model of Noah’s ark, and animatronic cavemen living in harmony with carnivorous dinosaurs. The museum promotes these exhibits as factual representations of human history, contrary to the best scientific evidence available and the consensus of the scientific community at large.

The Flinstones: Not a documentary.

If you are planning a vacation to Kentucky, you may want to swing by and see the sights, but bring your wallet. Despite the museum’s purported evangelistic purpose, admission is $19.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids ages five to twelve. For my money, I still prefer the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. It is larger, more fun, more accurate, and still free.

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