TRANSPONDER wrote: ↑Wed Oct 13, 2021 12:25 pm
otseng wrote: ↑Wed Oct 13, 2021 9:03 am
Neither of these examples you gave here I would consider "serious" errors. But, as for the flood actually occurring or not, I do consider that as an impediment for the acceptance of the Bible as authoritative for myself. And it has been a topic that I've debated the longest on.
In all your debates you never ran up against the problem of overcrowding on the Ark, which was bad even before they had to have the prehistoric animals on as well because of dinosaur tracks in the supposed 'Flood' levels? So did you argue juvenile dinos rather than dino eggs?
And yes, as I recall you don't consider Matthew saying the women saw Jesus and Luke saying they didn't a 'serious' error. I cited one clever fellow who at least tried the 'mary's split up' argument. I don't recall that you even addressed it. I can only recall you arguing about the meaning of 'ad hoc'.
Direct logical contradictions like resurrection appearances are 'serious' problems for the doctrine of inerrancy, but just thinking up a quick tier-list of potential problems I'd say that they are arguably the least significant kind, or close to it:
Errors/stylistic choices we might expect from any source
- If the stories of Jesus were orally transmitted before being written down, we'd expect
some minor discrepancies between different records, as Otseng has suggested. Similarly the allegory of the 'the fall' or the myth of a global flood are the same sort of thing we find in other cultures; proof that a literal 'fall' or actual global flood never occurred doesn't make it bad for ancient authors to have recorded those stories of their cultures, and doesn't prevent them from potentially having literary or philosophical value.
Errors genuinely undermining the reliability of that author
- Rather than being innocent repetition of divergent oral traditions, a good case can be made that some, maybe many of the gospel discrepancies are a result of the authors actively changing the story to suit their theological agenda (eg. Luke's changes to the Olivet discourse in ch21 versus Mark 13/Matt 24, particularly since Luke alone explicitly asserts the factual accuracy of his account). That's a pretty serious credibility problem... for Luke. Doesn't much affect other authors, and doesn't even make Luke entirely useless either.
Errors undermining the reliability of the bible as a whole
- Contrary to some critics' assumptions, I'm not entirely sure what this would even look like. The closest to it I can think of are those which speak to issues with the canonization process itself, the fact that Jews and Christians at times have been willing to embrace and continue to embrace even wildly, obviously false prophecies like Ezekiel or the Revelation. If stuff like that made the cut - not just innocent errors or even agenda-driven falsehoods but explicitly attributing those falsehoods to God himself
- how can any of it be worthwhile? But even then, I suppose a believer could view canonization as a useful and necessary pointer towards the books' value, even if not definitive or sufficient.
Problems undermining the perceived main purpose/s of the bible
- These are the issues which are really serious, to my mind. Is the bible meant to teach us to love one another? It endorses and in cases actively commands genocide, slavery, eternal torture and the like, in numerous different sections! Is the bible meant to promote a relationship with God? Fixation on an intermediary object as a means of communication actively impedes
any kind of 'relationship' with a deity supposedly able and eager to communicate with his followers directly. Of course they're not as cut and dried as logical contradictions or factual errors; but they're obvious enough that I'd wager anyone choosing not to acknowledge that the bible is sub-optimal if not completely incompatible with claimed purposes such as those will probably not acknowledge many (if any) of the mere factual problems either.
It's also worth noting that as a religion
Christianity not only doesn't need biblical inerrancy or biblical authority; strictly speaking it doesn't even need a resurrection or a heaven or even a God. Presumably most Christians get plenty of value out of their church community, the cultural trappings of literature, music etc., the moral framework and existential values to be found in their stories... whereas they don't actually know (whatever some might claim) whether the metaphysical claims are true at all. So even if it turned out that those supposedly core doctrinal/metaphysical claims were false (which can't be proven anyway, but hypothetically) it would be pretty close to zero value lost
from the religion - a little hope or self-assurance, I suppose - while all of that other value could potentially remain. Seems to me that critics who think they're going to 'disprove' or undermine Christianity with a few biblical contradictions aren't really understanding the actual value and role of religion as a sociological phenomenon.
I'd hazard a guess that in most cases Christians who refuse to acknowledge factual errors or logical contradictions aren't at their core doing so out of dishonesty. Rather, because many preachers and critics alike insist that this or that is an essential doctrine, they're faced with the apparent choice of either denying that there's a problem there or essentially smashing up the vast chunk of their lives and identities which have been invested in the Christian community and culture. Obviously not many folk will do the latter, so it's easier to convince themselves that there's no problem with that 'essential' doctrine to begin with. In a weird way, critics claiming that Christianity is 'false' because of alleged problems with some core doctrines - rather than a religion with some adherents believing and centralizing false or dubious things - could be putting up psychological barriers to the progress of reason.
If Christianity were false