Conservapedia talk:Is the Bible Inerrant?

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Question on the "wise men"

The counter-objection to "Who visited Jesus in his crib?" says, "Ah, no - sorry! Merely 'where the young child was'!".

Is this meant as a retraction? If not, perhaps it means that you've missed the point of the objection. The point is that the magi didn't visit Jesus in the manger/crib/inn, despite all those nativity scenes showing otherwise.

Firstly, the text says that they visited him "in the house". Secondly, they presumably saw the star when he was born, but spent some time travelling to Bethlehem via Jerusalem, with Herod asking them about when they saw the star. Thirdly, presumably on the basis of their answer, Herod had all the boys up to two years old. Taken together, all these clues indicate that whilst the shepherds visited the new-born Jesus, the magi visited the toddler Jesus up to two years later.

Ergo, no contradiction.

By the way, it's good to see you remove a couple of "contradictions". Keep doing that and you'll eventually have to admit that there are none! :-)

Philip J. Rayment 06:31, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

Keep going yourself, and you'll hang yourself eventually! ;0) --Petrus 06:35, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Why do we even have this list? It's all context switching!--bill m 12:07, 29 March 2007 (EDT) 12:46, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
I don't understand what you mean by "context switching".
I'm sure from Petrus' point of view, this article (which he created as "Bible Contradictions") is intended to show that the Bible has mistakes, so cannot be infallible.
From my point of view, this article is/can-be useful to show (a) that many of the common bibliosceptic attacks on the Bible are just silly, and (b) the more legitimate criticisms do have answers.
Philip J. Rayment 22:31, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Not sure about the 'context-switching'. Personally, I'm not referring to 'contexts', but merely listing texts that appear to contradict each other. If others insist on bringing in 'contexts' to justify their objections (which usually means 'interpretations'), good luck to them - but it will merely weaken their case. --Petrus 06:33, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
You miss the beauty of exegesis, Petre, one can make the bible say virtually anything. NousEpirrhytos 14:18, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
As certain people, with their constant recourse to exegetical twisters, should have realised by now! ;) --Petrus 05:35, 31 March 2007 (EDT)
No doubt. But I wonder if they've realised that in the process they've made the Bible say virtually nothing -- it all becomes a maddening din of pseudo-hosannahs, the rumblings of a schizophrenic god and apoplectic apocalypses. NousEpirrhytos 06:07, 31 March 2007 (EDT)
Especially as Hosanna means, not 'Hooray', but 'Save us now' - so they can't have shouted Hosanna to... anyone! ;) --Petrus 11:31, 31 March 2007 (EDT)


Why is there discussion going on in the article? Rob PommerTALK 12:48, 29 March 2007 (EDT)

The only reason one may need to resolve possible contradictions of the Bible is to shore-up the belief that it needs to be taken literally, whenever possible.
If one allows for errors in the Bible then the whole makes more than the sum of the parts. Rob PommerTALK 12:52, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Yes, why have an "article" which is a debate? The debate (if we really need one) should be here and later put to the article.--bill m 12:07, 29 March 2007 (EDT) 12:55, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
It's a moot point. The article was never designed to be a discussion - merely a listing of points pro and con, which is perfectly legitimate IMO. Call it an 'interactive article' if you like - but I don't see why an article shouldn't be interactive in a 'live' encyclopedia. Rather that than the uneditable, monolithic, ex cathedra pronouncements elsewhere in Conservapedia!... --Petrus 06:44, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Rob Pommer: Answering alleged contradictions is not to shore up belief, but to refute bibliosceptical attacks on the Bible: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God..." (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV). I don't follow the logic of your second point about the sum of the parts.
Rob Pommer and bill m: I'm not comfortable with the format. I think it should be in the form of the criticism (the alleged contradiction) and an objection to it. To have an objection to the objection, and an objection to the objection to the objection , does get rather silly.
Philip J. Rayment 22:40, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
Yes, that's true. Let's try and keep it down to an objection and a possible counter-objection wherever possible. Leave the reader to decide on the merits of that. In any case, keep it brief, and don't drag in all kinds of external commentators to try and argue the case by flattening the opposition, other than by footnote-reference. You may have noticed that my sole references are to the texts themselves. --Petrus 06:44, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
You used the actual texts? How quaint. NousEpirrhytos 14:19, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

Poor Bible exegesis offered at this

I believe there is very poor Bible exegesis offered at this article. I put some sources at the beginning of the article in order to give readers an alternative.

Specifically, I offered these web resources:

Conservative 20:04, 29 March 2007 (EDT)conservative

Conservative, perhaps you missed that two of those sites were already used in some of the objections. But thanks for adding the other two. Philip J. Rayment 22:43, 29 March 2007 (EDT)
But in that case shouldn't some skeptical sources be linked, too? In its original format, the article didn't cite any critical sources - for either side. In fact, in my view, that is much the best idea. Originally it didn't have anything to do with exegesis - merely with what the texts actually say. Citing exterior sources (other than the texts themselves) merely drags in a whole 'war of the commentators' that can only lead to just as much confusion and uncertainty as before. --Petrus 06:50, 30 March 2007 (EDT)
Yes indeedy they should.
Still missing the beauty of exigesis, though eh? I mean, think of all the really neat things Nostradamus never said but really did per the use of a non-biblical form of exegesis. Think of all of the UFO mysteries that are cleared up in the same fashion. NousEpirrhytos 14:28, 30 March 2007 (EDT)

Not to be nit-picky but...

The portion: *Can the Sun and Moon ever appear together in the sky at the same time?

Psalm 136:8-9 No. God created "The sun to rule by day...The moon and stars to rule by night." Genesis 1:16: No. God created "two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night..."

Objection 2: The passages in Psalms and Genesis should be taken figuratively rather than literally and thus do not mean that the Moon is always visible at night, nor that it is never visible during the day.

I'd advise caution here unless it is your intent TO bring up the "when do we know we're supposed to take the Bible literally and when to take it figuratively" argument. Not really a point, just an observation.-- Crackertalk 09:47, 2 April 2007 (EDT)

I suppose the real issue here is that one cannot claim infallibility when one ceases to be literal. Once one wanders of into the realm of allegory and uses figurative devices "truth" becomes subjective. In other words, the Bible is either the literal truth or it's allegory, but once you allow for the latter you can lay no claim to the former. NousEpirrhytos 06:02, 3 April 2007 (EDT)
So are you suggesting that if someone you were talking to on the telephone said that "it's raining cats and dogs here", you would have no idea whether or not that was literally true? Is it not the case that metaphor, parable, analogy, etc. can be recognised by the context and/or the language, and that it is therefore possible to take literally the parts that are meant to be taken literally whilst acknowledging the existence of non-literal parts? Philip J. Rayment 06:24, 3 April 2007 (EDT)
Most people I know don't claim to be infallible. Myk 02:39, 4 April 2007 (EDT)
Philip, your argument falls apart for several reasons. Myk has pointed out one of them: if no claim of infallibility is made or implied, there is no reason to assume same. Another is that as many literalists purport that every word of the bible is the infallible word of God, they simply can't turn around and say, "oh, that part? that's just a story". NousEpirrhytos 05:43, 4 April 2007 (EDT)
I couldn't actually see the point of Myk's comment. Claiming or not claiming infallibility says nothing about whether or not something is metaphor, parable, etc.
I think you've got the wrong idea about infallibility. Christians believe that the entire Bible is inspired by God and is therefore infallible, but that means that it infallibly records people doing the wrong thing, infallibly records the lies that people told, etc. It does not mean that every word is literally true and that literary devices such as metaphor and parable are not used.
Philip J. Rayment 06:49, 4 April 2007 (EDT)
Clarity in language is important. If something is claimed to be infallible, it best be awfully clear in its language. Go up to someone who has just learned how to speak English and tell them it's raining cats and dogs, see what kind of reaction you get. Further, in biblical times a rain of cats and dogs doesn't seem that implausible (see: Plague of Frogs).
Literal truth of the bible means just that. Literal, not metaphorical. Myk 12:52, 4 April 2007 (EDT)

What's this article trying to achieve?

Actually, I think the answer to that question, as far as the original editor is concerned, is obvious. It's to discredit the Bible as the infallible Word of God. My reason for having it (as I added to it) is to demonstrate that the alleged contradictions are not in fact contradictions.


Is it the intention to list every "contradiction" ever claimed? Because if it is, there is no way to achieve that without making the page ridiculously large. Perhaps it is to just show a few samples? But so far there's been no discussion about what sorts of alleged contradictions should be included.

And frankly, many of the allegations are plain silly. In fact I quoted someone saying that about one of the alleged contradictions, and Petrus removed the comment. Fair enough, it was supposed to be an answer to the allegation, not a commentary on the allegation, so I didn't restore it. But it needs to be said somewhere. Let's look at this one a bit closer, because it epitomises the problems with the list.

Two sayings (aka proverbs) that most would be familiar with are:

  • Many hands make light work.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Are these two sayings contradictory? Taken literally, then yes they are. But does anyone object to them on those grounds? Of course not. Despite them probably being coined by different people at different times, the validity of both is accepted, because neither claims to be always true and both have their place. Sometimes, more helpers ease the burden on others, but at other times too many people result in them getting in each other's way.

So what are we to make of a proverb in the Bible that says, 'Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes."? Is this seriously a contradiction, or like the saying above, are both sentences true in some cases?

To claim that they are contradictory, one must:

  • Ignore the fact that they are sayings, not truth-claims that have no exceptions, and read the text literally. Bibliosceptics love to criticise Creationists and fundamentalists for reading the Bible literally, despite them repeatedly saying that they only do this where it was meant literally, whilst still recognising metaphors, parables, etc. Yet here we have a bibliosceptic reading the text literally in order to make a claim of a contradiction.
  • Presume that the original author was so incompetent that he would write two consecutive sentences contradicting each other, apparently without realising it.
  • Further presume that many others who included the book of Proverbs in the canon, or who copied it over and over, or who write commentaries on it, are also so incompetent that they never noticed the "contradiction".
  • Reject these sorts of explanations and maintain that it is a contradiction, with the astounding observation that the text doesn't say "this", meaning the answer given. Well the sayings above don't say that they are both true in different circumstances either, but that is something people are simply expected to understand.

Then we have the case of the number of stables that Solomon had. Christians who believe that the Bible is infallible do not believe that all human translations and copies are infallible, but that the original autographs were (although they do believe that the copies are very accurate copies). So if they occasionally answer that an apparent contradiction is a copyist error (as in the case of the number of stables), it does not follow that the Bible is therefore not infallible, except in the mind of the bibliosceptic who is doing his best to find all the contradictions he can, perhaps to bolster his own faith. Keep in mind that the answer to that "contradiction" included a link (and remember that Petrus doesn't want to include links) that explained all that. Neither does he want the sort of long explanations that including all that in the article would entail.

I'm not saying that all claimed contradictions are silly. Some claims of contradictions are fair enough, in that they really do appear to be contradictions, and deserve to be answered. The number of stables one is an example, but the article should state the apparent contradiction, provide the answer, and leave it at that.

In summary, many claimed contradictions in the Bible are nothing more than bibliosceptics grasping at straws and applying criteria that they wouldn't apply in any other situation, in order to try and prove their viewpoint that the Bible is fallible. I don't believe that this article should waste its time on those sorts of "contradictions".

Philip J. Rayment 06:30, 3 April 2007 (EDT)

Hmmm....shall I take the time to point out all of the fallacies of the above? Part of me would like to write a long refutation, but the wiser part knows this to be fruitless. So, I'll just give one example:
* Many hands make light work. * Too many cooks spoil the broth. You're assuming that the statements are equal but there is a quantitative difference: yes, many hands may make the work easier but at a certain point, the people begin tripping over each other and thus, as they actually impede the work, there is a point, the ne plus ultra, that tips the balance from a comfy many to a disastrous too many. No contradiction. NousEpirrhytos 05:50, 4 April 2007 (EDT)
Thank you for supporting my point! To quote Petrus' counter-objection to the very "contradiction" I was discussing here, "But the text does not actually say this."
I figured it would probably be fruitless to convince you blokes too, but I tried anyway.
Philip J. Rayment 06:47, 4 April 2007 (EDT)