10 Skeptical Principles for Evaluating the Bible

10 Skeptical Principles for Evaluating the Bible March 14, 2019

I recently analyzed “Ten Principles When Considering Alleged Bible Contradictions” (here) from Christian blogger Jim Wallace. I didn’t think much of them.

I’d like to offer my own version. Here are ten skeptical principles for evaluating the Bible that I think are more honest than Wallace’s.

1. Don’t confuse genres

Wallace is a murder investigator, and he tries to find parallels between the analysis done by the legal system and the study of evidence in the Bible. He finds this parallel with Bible contradictions:

It’s my job, as the investigator, to determine why the eyewitnesses appear to contradict one another, even though there is no doubt the event occurred and the witnesses were telling the truth.

A murder that you’re sure happened because you’ve read the coroner’s report and seen the body at the crime scene is quite different from a resurrection that is only a poorly evidenced story told 2000 years ago within a credulous prescientific culture.

In the case of the Bible, we don’t begin our study certain that a single word is true. It might be no more factual than the story of Gilgamesh. We have stories far removed from whatever actual events triggered them, while in a murder investigation we start with the fact of the dead body.

2. Never begin with the assumption that the Bible must be right

Making sense of the Bible isn’t easy—there are 45,000 denominations of Christianity based on different interpretations of God’s plan. The hypothesis that the Bible is wrong at a particular place needs to be one of the candidates since it sometimes makes the most sense of the evidence.

For example, consider the simplicity of the Documentary Hypothesis (that the early books of the Bible are an amalgam from four primary sources). Many facts are explained by few assumptions, the mark of a good theory.

If your religion demands that you begin with the conclusion that the Bible is right, you’re no longer following the evidence.

3. Science wins

For learning about reality, science has an excellent track record, while Christianity has taught us nothing. Science isn’t perfect, but it’s the best that we’ve got, and when the Bible says something that contradicts the science, what can we do but go with the discipline that delivers?

Apologists like William Lane Craig admit the value of science when he cites the Big Bang. He wants a beginning to the universe, and the Big Bang gives him that. It has the backing of famous scientists that he can quote (he likes quotes from famous scientists). Unfortunately, evolution steps on his theological toes, so he rejects it.

This nonscientist imagines himself the Judge of All Science, able to sift out the good stuff (Big Bang) from the nonsense (evolution), but with this ridiculous and ill-informed position, he has lost any standing as a commenter of science.

Laypeople like Craig and me have no option but to accept the scientific consensus where it exists. It’s not perfect, but we have nothing better.

Apologists often praise science where they can but fall back on handwaving when the evidence is inconvenient. Beware.

4. Be consistent: use the same standard to evaluate all truth claims.

Whenever you reject a pseudoscientific claim like astrology or a supernatural worldview like Islam, check to see if your reasoning would also reject Christianity. And whenever you accept a Christian claim (the Resurrection, a Jesus miracle, the Bible’s creation story), see if your criteria would also accept similar stories from other religions. Don’t demand tough standards for the other guy but give your cherished beliefs a pass.

Prophecy is a good example. Don’t laugh at people impressed by Nostradamus or who find clues in the Bible Code or who got caught up on Harold Camping’s hysteria about the end of the world if you apply the same poor thinking to the Bible’s claims of prophecy. We all know what a good prophecy is, but Christians seem to forget that when it’s their own claims in the spotlight.

(I’ve explored prophecy claims in Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, the virgin birth, and Daniel.)

5. Don’t judge competing interpretations based on your agenda. Let the Bible speak for itself.

What if the Bible seems to contradict itself? For example,

  • The Bible says that faith alone is required for salvation (Romans 3:28) but also that works are sufficient to earn eternal life (Matthew 25:31–46).
  • Jesus had a physical body after the resurrection (Luke 24:37–43). Or did he (Luke 24:31, 36)?
  • The Bible’s six-day creation story conflicts with the Garden of Eden story.

The context should be the whole Bible.

Apologists pick their way through the minefield of verses, highlighting the ones that make their case and ignoring those that don’t. I suppose they depend on their readers’ ignorance (or complicity).

Don’t make the Bible into a sock puppet that says whatever you need it to. If the Bible says contradictory things, let it speak for itself. Don’t apologize for it.

Maybe (remember rule 2) the Bible is simply wrong.

To be concluded in part 2.

A god unexamined is a god not worth believing in.
A god examined is a god not possible to believe in.
— commenter MNb

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/12/15.)

Image credit: Olga Berrios, flickr, CC
.

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  • Cozmo the Magician

    “It might be no more factual than the story of Gilgamesh” hey! Gilgamesh is totes reals. He bought me a beer a few weeks ago. Oh wait, that guy’s name was George. {;

    • Gilgamesh actually was a real guy, if I recall correctly. Of course it doesn’t mean the Epic about him is all true.

      • Michael Murray

        I didn’t realise that but it seems so. Somewhere around 2500 – 2800 BCE probably/

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilgamesh

        I keep thinking: “Gilgalmesh was an Elvin King, of him the harpers sadly sing”. Some sort of Tolkien brainworm I’ve got stuck with.

        • Greg G.

          The first time I read The Hobbit and LOTR, I was so into the adventure that I skipped over the songs. The second time I started doing that again until I read one, then I had to start over on page one.

        • Otto

          OCD kicked in.

        • Greg G.

          I have CDO. It’s like OCD but the letters are alphabetical, as they should be.

        • I didn’t know he was at first either.

          Heh. Who’s the original king there in the song?

        • Michael Murray

          Gil Galad – historical character who forms part of the extensive back story to then Lord of the Rings. One of the leaders in the historical battle that defeated Sauron and led to loss of the One Ring prior to Gollum finding it. Died in Mordor in that same battle.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil-galad

          EDIT: Got story slight wrong -10 geek points.

        • I see, thanks.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    1 John 4:8 “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
    1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

    You got that? God is love. John is very clear about that in his first letter.

    Also, we have the favorite verse from every wedding, like, ever
    1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud”

    Love is not jealous. Are we clear?

    Just to summarize, for those not paying attention, the bible has told us clearly that
    1) God is love, and
    2) Love is not jealous

    Meanwhile, we have this
    Exodus 34:14 “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.”

    God is jealous, oh yes. Heck, his VERY NAME is Jealous! So the bible tells us

    1) God is love
    2) God is jealous
    3) Love is not jealous

    Is that enough of the “whole bible” context for you?

    • They’d tell you John is right because he was a true Jesus’ follower™, whereas the OT has surely been written by misguided men (and Jews, on the top of that!) who misinterpreted God’s sublime message because of their fallenness – or something like that.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        But hey, 10 commandments and Do Not Lie with a Man as you Would a Woman, those parts of the OT are ok because, you know, we hate gay people and it’s important to shove our religion on everyone.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          🙁

      • The Fundies I know of mix everything, up to claiming that to fear God is to love Him, or something alike. They sprout verses without caring for consistence or just retain whatever best suits them.

        • They can’t say they haven’t a wide range of quotes to choose from, can they?

        • Yeah, it’s a mess. The only things more or less consistent are contempt for non-believers and threats of Hell for them.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Responses I’ve heard to the contradiction I posted above (rare – most of the time, there is no response) are usually that those uses of love refer to different things, and they are not the same kind of love and it’s a translation issue. To which, I’ve looked at Strong’s concordance and, sure enough, the words used for love are the same in both.

          Ultimately, the final retort is that God is not bound by logic, which is the convenient way to define away the concept of contradictions. “There cannot be any contradictions in the bible because God is not bound by logic”

    • wtfwjtd

      One of my favorites about Bible contradictions, from the excellent Non-StampCollector:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk

      “Both are correct, somehow or another…” Lol!

  • Rule #4, indeed: since the start of Christianity, apologists have had no qualms with making fun of competing mythologies and religions – if only they could have taken the extra step applying the same lenses to their “truth”…

    • Michael Neville

      A week or two ago I had an online debate with a Christian about why the Bible is true and the other “holy” books aren’t. It was really frustrating explaining over and over again that “because I say so” isn’t a good reason.

      • Jim Jones

        Religious faith is wishful thinking.

      • Damian Byrne

        Link to the debate please?

        • Michael Neville

          Sorry, I can’t find it.

    • Arpit KUMAR GAHLOT

      Many religions with superior ethics and far less bigotry existed prior
      to Christianity. Even some Christian sects that came later such as
      Cathars(vegans) were good but they were brutally killed after being
      demonized as heretics.

  • On both Big Bang and evolution, we’ve pretty much overwhelming evidence that supports them. Theirs is just one collection of texts that hardly are the original ones, coming from the Bronze Age era and where there’s nothing that modern science has revealed us. Like it or not.

  • NS Alito

    A tangent on “what a good prophecy is”:

    James Randi’s 1993 book The Mask of Nostradamus: The Prophecies of the World’s Most Famous Seer is a deep dive into Nostradamus’ background. Randi went to France (“Zut alors!”) to investigate the political context in which Nostradamus lived, and noted that many of the predictions seemed to make more sense when applied to local and near-term political events than something happening centuries later. (The book then covers the many later times in history when it was a fad to compare N’s prophecies to contemporaneous events.)

    • eric

      It’s also worth remembering that back then, you could get jailed, tortured, or killed for insulting powerful people. So fiction, vague prophesies, etc. were often seen as a somewhat safe way to do criticism of local current politics. Dante did the same thing, putting references to contemporary politicians in his various circles of hell as a way of telling his readers who he thought was corrupt. Of course, even the ‘just a fiction’ treatment didn’t always keep the author safe. Galileo’s Simplicio character didn’t keep him safe.

  • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

    If we burned all the Bibles, would God help us rewrite them? If God can help us rewrite them whatever did we need Bibles for? Catch 22

    • Jennny

      If we did burn all the bibles, some x-tian grifter/huckster would soon be trying to sell us a page, or a part of scripture he’d managed to save!! Like those 1950-60s ‘brave’ x-tians who defied their communist countries’ laws and secretly passed portions to fellow believers and loved the bible so much they were prepared to be imprisoned or tortured for possession of it.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        ‘Fahrenheit 451’ for xtians…

      • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

        It was a thought experiment where there are no scraps saved, but you make a good point if we interpret your comment a little differently. If there were no Bible left, hucksters could just make up something a little different and pass it off as if it was just the same as the original. After all, we would have no Bible of the previous stock to check it against. Say we did hold one Bible back in secret for just such an occurrence. I think there’s a pretty good chance the huckster would just convince people the older Bible is a fake. As with conspiracy theorists, there may not be a reasoned way up the rabbit hole or at least not an easy one after the hole has become so deep.

    • Paul Smith

      Would a rewritten Bible look the same? As which version? God couldn’t even get the Ten Commandments written the same way twice over the space of a few days.

  • Kevin K

    FYI and FWIW: It’s my understanding that the Big Bang doesn’t necessarily mark the beginning of “the universe”, but may only represent a boundary condition. The “universe” could have been in existence on the other side of that boundary condition. The BB only marks the start of this particular arrow of time.

    Of course, that’s firmly in the “we don’t really know” territory where theists like to sneak in their certain knowledge of the existence of Queztalcoatl (et al).

    • Greg G.

      Krauss described how the superclusters of galaxies are accelerating away from one another. Eventually, they will be traveling faster than light speed so they will be invisible to each other. A bubble universe could pop into existence anywhere in it at any time but most likely that will happen when the other superclusters are invisible to that part of space.

      • carbonUnit

        It is space that will be expanding FTL, carrying the galaxies along with it.

    • sandy

      For all we know the universe has always existed and just reboots itself every 20 or 30 billion years.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yes, I find it’s best to view TBB as a transition phase. Amusingly, despite their best efforts, this encompasses theistic descriptions as well. God is only useful if TBB is *not* a finite origin…. yet another complete failure on their part.

    • smrnda

      A problem is that precise words from science don’t really map onto everyday words like ‘beginning’ or ‘the universe’ either.

  • zenmite

    “Unfortunately, evolution steps on his theological toes, so he rejects it.”

    I read the link you gave. It seems Dr. Craig has no problem with evolution itself, but does not think the mechanisms of evolution (natural selection, etc.) are correct. Basically, he sounds like he is advocating some type of divine intervention and guidance along the lines of Intelligent Design. I was curious how he could accept an age of the universe that was in line with cosmology while rejecting evolution. I have also read that Craig has explicitly said that he rejects young earth creationism.

    • skl

      I was curious how he could accept an age
      of the universe that was in line with cosmology while rejecting evolution.

      The answer must be that he believes god, not nature,
      performed trillions of miracles over billions of years to get the universe and
      life where they are today.

      • Kuno

        You must have a strange definition of “miracle”…

        • WCB

          Check out the Catholic orientated website Strange Notions. The current essay for discussion is about immanence.

          “But, metaphysical science proves that God not only creates the cosmos at
          its beginning, but also continuously sustains its existence lest it
          fall back into nothingness. For, proper causes are simultaneous with their effects,”

          Everything that exists exists because god is sustaining its existence. Everything is in essence, a miracle. Not a new idea by any means.
          Uhmmm, now what about the existence of moral evil? John Calvin also argued for such a thing in an odd little essay on “The Secret Providence of God”. A strange little essay for sure.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Pardon me, but dafuq??!!

        • Otto

          All those words are perfectly rational…it is just when they are put together in that order that they become nonsense.

          BTW who was the last winner of the Nobel Prize for Metaphysical Science? It has slipped my mind.

      • Otto

        Please explain how something that happens trillions of times can be defined as miraculous…?

        • skl

          “Miracles” as in things we’ve never witnessed and don’t
          understand. Like the formation of the first stars.

        • Otto

          So if and when the cosmology of first star formation is fully understood it stops being miraculous. Ya know, like a long time ago when lightning was considered miraculous. You could have just answered zenmite with ‘It’s the god of the gaps’.

    • Matthew Farabaugh

      I agree with your assessment of this link: Craig is not rejecting evolution outright, but pointing to some prominent scientists’s (Lynn Margulis and Franciso Ayala) challenges to neo-Darwinianism as a complete explanatory mechanism of evolution. Craig also mentions how even Ayala, a former neo-Darwinian, believes that without understanding the mechanism of evolution, it is premature to claim that we can soundly reconstruct evolutionary history. However, Craig does not, at least in this link, posit divine intervention, nor anything else, as the explanatory principle missing from neo-Darwinianism. Thus, Craig’s criticism of evolution is not based solely on the disagreement between evolution and theology, as Seidensticker claims in this article. It’s a poorly veiled straw man argument.

      • Damien Priestly

        “neo-Darwinianism” ??

        We could equally say neo-Einsteinism or neo-Shrodingerism ….all ridiculous ways to disparage fully accepted and conclusive descriptions of reality. Terms like that are what creationists that flat-earthers resort to when they want to cover their BS or theistic nonsense.

        • Matthew Farabaugh

          The evolutionary biologists themselves use this term

        • Greg G.

          Not “neo-Darwinianism”.

        • Matthew Farabaugh

          You are correct. Typo notwithstanding, the argument holds.

    • I’m pretty sure that the old-earth Creationism group is much larger than the young-earth Creationism group.

      Since most Christians are OK with evolution (admittedly, a divinely guided evolution), I wonder that evangelicals in the US can’t get with the program. They’ve realized that the young-earth view is laughable, and yet they cling to Creationism/ID. I know I’ve had this question answered repeatedly for me, but it never makes sense enough to remember: why do they think that evolution is such an attack on their religion?

      • Some not in US (but also not in countries as Nigeria and the like, even if the sheeps come from countries where the educational level is similar), keep peddling the same BS of both evolution and the BB being far less believable than God forming Eve from one of Adam’s ribs and the Sun turning off when Jesus died respectively.And let’s not mention the same PRATTs repeated again and again about the evolution, the Flood, etc.

      • Chuck Johnson

        I know I’ve had this question answered repeatedly for me, but it never makes sense enough to remember: why do they think that evolution is such an attack on their religion?
        -Bob

        Because it makes God-The-Creator-Of-The-Universe unneeded.
        Darwin’s theory was immediately scandalous when he published it.

        Science shows us that our natural universe, by means of natural chemical reactions, can create life.
        Also, we are shown that life can evolve to produce intelligent beings like ourselves.
        All of these processes are natural.
        All of these processes can happen with no intelligent being to guide them.

        In the Christian view, life and intelligence are so amazing and special that they can only be created by a very special and powerful intelligence that they call God.
        When we ask them “who or what created God?” they have no stories to explain that.
        If such a creation-of-God story would be found in the Bible, they would cite that story.

        So that’s the science vs superstition conflict.

        Science shows us that unintelligent matter and energy came first and these things evolved into intelligent matter and energy such as people.

        Intelligent Design declares that no intelligent human beings or other kind of intelligence can exist without that intelligence having been created by an even more intelligent being: God.

        If God-The-Intelligent-Creator fails to be true, then God-The-Intelligent-And-Moral-Guiding-Force-In-My-Life will not be credible, either.

        And these Christians need to believe that all human morality comes from a magical God of infinite genius and impeccable morality.

        Thus their affinity for authoritarian politics.

        • Helpful, thanks.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Because it makes God-The-Creator-Of-The-Universe unneeded.

          But then, so did Newton’s discovery of the diffraction of white light into the rainbow. The bible said the rainbow was put in the sky by God as a promise that he would never destroy the world again.

          Newton showed that the rainbow is in the sky because white light of the sun is diffracted by raindrops. God is not needed to explain the rainbow.

          So Bob’s question comes down moreso to, why does this gap being filled get considered such an attack on their religion while other ones don’t?

        • Chuck Johnson

          So Bob’s question comes down moreso to, why does this gap being filled get considered such an attack on their religion while other ones don’t ?

          The Bible stories tell the faithful who we are, how we got here and who we need to be obedient to.

          Evolutionary biology tell us that we need not be grateful to any God for our existence. It also tells us that in our search for what is right and what is wrong (morality) we need to figure that out for ourselves.

          To figure out morality, we take into account what humans have said and done, and we take into account what the universe has to tell us about life on Earth by means of scientific investigation.

          The faithful are asked by science to be grateful to mindless chemical reactions for their existence, rather than God.

          This is a very different source of life on Earth than the source that they were raised to believe in.

          To make matters worse, the morality of biological evolution puts the responsibility of inventing and imposing moral principles upon all people, including the religious believers. Everyone has the opportunity and responsibility to help guide the moral present and future of the human race.

          And the faithful thought that all they had to do was to listen to stories about what is right and then be obedient. – – – The implications of biology-based morality are just too much for some of the religious folks to even consider.

          They would prefer to have their moral beliefs handed to them by religious leaders and by educated moral experts.

      • Otto

        From what I have seen they are concerned with the slippery slope; once you rationalize a part of the Bible as being myth or metaphor where does it stop? Realistically they have a point.

        • Yes, that’s a good point, though I keep being surprised when supposed fundamentalists seem quick to fall back on “Well, that was just a story.”

          I’d say that I need to find more serious fundamentalists to read, but I’m not sure I’m man enough for that.

        • Otto

          The view is a spectrum. Even the staunchest literalists don’t take everything as completely literal even if they say otherwise imo. But if they mostly take everything as literal they feel they are taking ‘the opinions of man’ out of the interpretation, which is clearly not the case. There was one guy on here a few weeks ago that stated as much, I then pointed out he was still deferring to the opinions of men because men wrote, edited and compiled the Bible…and so he was doing that which he was railing against. He literally did not answer the question and disappeared.

      • Robert Conner

        In all fairness, a clear majority of evangelicals think God has installed Donald Trump in the White House. Just based on that I believe we can safely dismiss what evangelicals “think.”

        • Greg G.

          IIRC, it was 80% of the white evangelicals.

        • Robert Conner

          Didn’t want to hijack the thread, but I’ve had more to say about evangelicals and Trump.

          https://new.exchristian.net/2019/01/the-second-cyrus-and-his-court-eunuchs.html

        • Greg G.

          Excellent piece!

          After a “revelation” that Cyrus is mentioned in Isaiah 45 and that Donald Trump is also the forty-fifth president, Doctor Wellnau, inspired by this piece of infantile numerology, proclaimed Trump to be the Latter-day Cyrus and the designation stuck.

          That reminds me of the Christian who was deeply in debt and decided the best way to resolve the problem would be to pray to God to show him what to do in the Bible. Then he closed his eyes, opened the Bible, put his finger in the middle of the page. When he opened his eyes and looked under his finger, the answer was right there… CHAPTER 11!

    • WCB

      Guided evolution. As also advocated by Francis Collins. evolution is true but God guides it with various nudges to achieve his goal of creating humans.

      From Wikipedia:
      The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief is a bestselling book by Francis Collins in which he advocates theistic evolution.

      Collins in his book dumps on standard creationism and ID. There is an organization, BioLogos online that peddles these sorts of ideas. Worth looking into if ypu want to see a way today’s “sophisticated” Christians handle the science vs religion issue.

      • al kimeea

        kinda like how doG nudges the cosmos

      • Otto

        It is kinda like the fine tuning argument…why would an all-powerful God need to fine tune anything? He could make it any way he wanted.

        Same with evolution…why would God need to ‘nudge’ anything? He could just make it that way.

        To me this is an argument against an all-powerful god.

        • WCB

          The problem is, evolution happened. The proof is overwhelming. There are only so many ways for theists to deal with this. Deny the evidence, and there are several ways the standard fundy creationists do that. Or try an alternative work around to deal with the evidence. ID, which is also not very good. Or as an alternative, pretend that a God out there guided the creation of the world and evolution. It’s the best the theists have got. As far as the not very straight forward way it seems their sophisticated theology has to deal with, God is inscrutable, incomprehensible and his ways are mysterious. In the end, we are back to a bastard sort of God of the gaps, God hiding in a cloud of mystery. This is all about saving appearances, rationalizations, in face of stubborn facts that won’t go away. “Atheist, can you prove God did not choose to do things this way for some mysterious but very good reason?”. It is very much a philosophical salvage operation.

        • Otto

          As far as the not very straight forward way it seems their sophisticated theology has to deal with, God is inscrutable, incomprehensible and his ways are mysterious.

          And yet go anywhere and we will hear people scrutinize, ‘comprehend’ and explain God over and over.

        • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

          I can only say that no God claims to have done anything for any reason.

        • TheNuszAbides

          It is very much a philosophical salvage operation chaff dispenser.

          fixed

  • Nice job here! I’m looking forward to the other five. Then I’ll link to them, I’m sure!

  • WCB

    Kind of hard to answer until part 2 but here goes.

    #3 Science Wins. Likewise, archaeology wins. And much of the OT turns out to be anything else but history thanks to careful work by modern Near East archaeologists. No march to Canaan to commit massacres and genocides, as commanded on the mount by God. My latest mantra on all of this is that the Bible lies about what any possible real existent God supposedly did or commanded. And that obviously, no real God gave mankind a trustworthy revelation that was any sort of real history of the world and religion. Which as far as I can see, when considering religion makes modern day archaeology far more destructive to the pretensions of religion that the scientific discovery of evolution or the true age of the Earth. Should archaeology be considered a sort of science, based on careful study of real facts using the best techniques and logic? If God did not bother to give mankind a real revelation containing real history, what does that tell us about the nature of God? This is a rather momentous question when you think about it. Yet today that whole subject seems to be not taken advantage of by atheists to ask these rather pointed questions. It seems to me that if there was a God, the Bible is a slander on God, accusing God of actions and commands that any possible existing God did not make or do. This whole question not only takes out the fundies and evangelicals, but also should cause less literalist allegoricalizing Christianity on notice. We all may have to rethink the whole religion question in light of truth and facts.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    A murder that you’re sure happened because you’ve read the coroner’s report and seen the body at the crime scene is quite different from a resurrection that is only a poorly evidenced story told 2000 years ago within a credulous prescientific culture.

    Excellent point. I’ve always intuited the flaws with Wallace’s approach, but this is a beautifully precise summation.

    IMO, this is an implied “if” from your previous post. If the Bible is true, there is nothing noteworthy or unusual about contradictions in varying descriptions of the events.

    Well, sure, but how does the banality of conflicting witness reports help support the if? Because if it can’t, it’s a non sequitur that would apply to any story, regardless of how outlandish it is.

    • “If the Bible is true, any ‘contradiction’ is only apparent, not real.”

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Did I glance past this in your article? 🙂

        • I’m like the doll that says stuff when you pull her string–I only have a finite number of things I say and often repeat myself.

      • Paul Smith

        If the bible was true, there could be no contradictions. No god worth his salt would permit it. Of course he would also write it on indestructible tablets, not stone and if he had to rewrite it he wouldn’t forget what he wrote the first time nor would he permit his ‘son’ to rewrite them a third time.

        • And yet Christians eagerly apologize for this inept and nonexistent god.

  • Grimlock

    Here are ten skeptical principles for evaluating the Bible

    Wouldn’t it be more accurate to describe these principles as sensible and common-sense, rather than explicitly skeptical? I mean, based on the first five, it’s not that they are particularly skeptical, but that not applying them would be downright naive?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Maybe there are degrees of skepticism?

    • I’ll think about that, thanks.