Just curious what others think about his explanation:


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Yes, James, I agree with you. This is a problem for those even within Christianity when dealing with Christians who would rather rely on subjective feelings over scripture.

Yep, nothing more to be said. I'm just trying to find a smoking gun that can disprove the faith claims of Christianity. The problem is that, given the "reasoned inerrancy" slant of the article I posted, I'm having trouble finding one, e.g., point-blank biblical contradictions.

On a different note, are you aware of any scholarly material that you would recommend that would more palatable to an evangelical Christian?

I guess you didn't see my last reply to you, or you were just frustrated with my line of argumentation, which is understandable. I'm just trying to argue things from a conservative evangelical Christian perspective as I think through things. To that end, are there any books in particular that you would recommend for someone of that persuasion?

The struggle I have in confronting their arguments is that they have an answer for every contradiction in the Bible, and then fall back on circular reasoning I can't break through that defends their holy book as being the only correct one.

Thanks a lot for your time and help!

Yossarian, as Nelson said, having an answer is not the same thing as making sense. 

It reminds me of a professor I knew who worked in Papua New Guinea as a translator and missionary for Pioneer Bible Translators.   Now people in that area had been educated at the local school.  Yet the natural human tendency is to try to make the system you already believe fit with the data you already know.

For instance when they saw shooting stars, they would say it was a sign that someone was going to die.  When he asked them "didn't you learn in school what they are?" they would say "yeah we were taught that they were rocks burning up as they were coming in from space, but rocks can't burn".  Later someone in a village nearby was reported having died, as happened often...  They took it as confirmation.

Another instance occurred when someone came down with Malaria.  They decided to hold a tribal gathering to discover who cursed the person with malaria.  He asked them don't you know where malaria comes from?  They said "We know it comes from a mosquito, everyone knows that, the question is who sent for the mosquito?".  The question that an honest person must ask is "How do I make sure I am not assimilating when I shouldn't be"?

The use of mental gymnastics only indicate to a person that instead of accepting new information that invalidates former systems of thought, that the people are assimilating that information into the original system of thought.  But the question is, is that an honest, or dishonest pursuit of truth?

Something that I learned from Christianity and will take with me everywhere I go, is a love of truth. Every action we take needs to be an honest embrace of truth. If Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life" and Colossians says "he is the image of the invisible God the firstborn of all creation" it is talking about Jesus being that which creation can relate to about God. Those passages aren't talking about Jesus of Nazareth, but rather Christ preexistent who incarnates into Jesus of Nazareth. This is also Justin Martyr's explanation of it before 160 CE. All of the universe exists with order and structure, and logic is simply the name we give to that structure. The greek word logos, means the underlying reason, so in John when you see it say in the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God and the logos was God, it is really saying "In the beginning was the first principles".

If there is a God, logic would be the ultimate good, because logic is the way all things harmonize in creation. It is the name we have given to measure and make sure that one thing is connected and related perfectly to another. Logic is an appeal to harmony. Sin, then is the opposite of that perfection in creation and thus violates divine commands.

For example, Athanasius said "Evil is that which is not" Therefore sin is the opposite of logic as it is the opposite of perfect harmony. To embrace logic could never be a rejection of Christ if Christ exists. The problem is that the gospels do not match that obvious reality.  Instead people are chastised for using logic instead of faith.

But if one is embracing Christ due to not wanting to follow logic, that person is rejecting what ought to be the very principle of goodness in all creation in order to hold onto a creator. Furthermore that person is rejecting the Logos from which Christ is supposed to have come in order to hold onto Chrst.

Either way, you need to use good logic.  As far as bible contradictions go, there is a very big discrepancy between what cities were conquered in Joshua, and which ones were conquered in Judges.

Because in ancient times in the absence of bulldozers, they simply had no choice but to bury the old city before rebuilding, the cities became larger hills over times called tels/tells.  Sometimes materials were reused, but it is pretty obvious when they do that.  Palestine has been thoroughly excavated.  The destruction levels do not correspond to match everything that is in the Joshua account.  Especially the kind of destruction described in the book of Joshua.  They don't disappear either.  They are buried.

Not only this, but Jericho wasn't even inhabited at either of the proposed times for Joshua.  This was even challenged, but the challenge was proved wrong.  You can read about it on Wikipedia if you like.  Sometimes wiki is bad for info, other times it has spot on stuff.  It is hit and miss.  But I studied this in grad school.

Just because someone has an answer, does not mean it is the best or most reasonable answer. 

Here is the problem.  The validity of the Bible is believed on the basis of inductive reasoning.

If you begin to chip away at those bases, even if you provide an explanation for each and every one of them, the more you call each piece on which the mountain of inductive reasoning is formed into question, the less solid that mountain begins to seem.  Just providing counter-arguments does not prove the position is reasonable to hold.  Counter-arguments can be easy for any belief system to form because humans are good at assimilating and often incorporate the psychological phenomenon of "belief perseverance" into their thought process.  Before long, you realize that there are too many cracked eggs in one basket.  It may be possible, but the probability begins to decrease with each and every thing that gets explained away.

John and Nelson,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to dialogue with me about this. The cracked eggs in the basket is where I'm at, personally. I've exposed myself to enough that now I'm in a pickle. The mountain is tottering, but at the same time I find my mind reflexively countering with every "possible" counter argument, no matter how absurd, which is mentally exhausting.


He's standing on his head not to do so, but he just dropped out of the "The Bible is literally true" camp. He'll have few friends in the Christian community.

People often forget that (a) what is in The Bible is the result of a committee many centuries ago and that (b) we are imprisoned by the fact that we are reading a translation from ancient Greek, which itself was a translation from early Middle Eastern languages.

Okay, so you need a basis for why it is inspired in the first place.  The bible may have largely been in use since the 2nd century, but many books were far from settled until the 5th century.  Revelation, Hebrews, 2, 3 John...  The canonization process at Hippo and Carthage seem pretty human and pretty close to what we now know as Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

The author says "The Autographs are inspired" yet does not seriously consider major textual corruption as possible.

The counter-argument is that if corruption of the Church could occur, there is no reason to doubt the possibility of corruption of the text.

Second, we have been scientifically analyzing the structure of the NT since the time of Wescott and Hort to demonstrate through textual criticism what texts are the oldest and most reliable.  This has shown us that interpolation did indeed occur.  The critical text has been very refined, and the process for discovering the oldest texts is pretty systematic and tight.

We have also gotten very good at other types of higher criticism and are able to spot interpolations.  It is obvious to many that the NT books as they stand today are using borrowed material, and thus not first source material.  Perhaps the autographs are inspired, but given that the synoptic gospels all borrow from the same source, as they share identical core material, yet include other passages that supplement that core material that differs in style and are obviously from another author.

The gospel of John clearly had more than one author, as it ends a page before it is finished, and the book can neatly be seperated with the seven signs of the gospel of John as the original text, which makes that early ending make sense.  This is where the majority of biblical scholars stand with Raymond Brown on this issue of Johnannine literature.

We can verify the Pauline authorship of a number of texts, and sadly most of the reasons why people don't like Paul is because of texts that we have analyzed and concluded are works of later authors and attributed to Paul, such as 1 and 2 Timothy.   The Pauline texts seem to be fairly close to the originals.

As others have said this is not a novel position.  That the bible is addressing the spiritual truth of the matter whereas the facts involved don't matter is a position that many take in light of the need to assimilate the obvious.

However, the question of canonization needs to be taken seriously.  How do we know this text was inspired in the first place?

john, had i read this post entirely, i would not have been so stubborn in my reply to your response!

good job explaining this!

   Nothing new here.  Christian apologists have long been using this tortuous tactic to deflect criticism based on easily disproved nonsense in the scriptures.  It's nothing more than a pathetic attempt at rescuing the Bible from any rational criticism.  "interpreted correctly" simply means twisting the words to mean something other than what they clearly say, because what they say is so patently preposterous.  Orr's "reasoned inerrancy" apparently refers to HIS reason - certainly not MINE.  God must have had a lot of faith in our reasoning powers, I guess, to be able to discern what He REALLY meant from the WORDS He used.  But it surely would have helped those of us without Orr's interpretive powers if He had simply said what He meant.  

well stated Dale..

for thousands of years, believers have been trusting that the men they follow are actually hearing from the god they want to serve, unfortunately, many are not worthy of that trust. like a bad multi-level marketing scam, the leaders have way too much to lose to NOT make shit up! believers today have theology upon theology and we have a church in practicality that in no way resembles a cohesive unit. though the claim of unity is heard, many sects are at war with each other to PROVE their interpretation is the ONLY TRUE one!

IF this god they claim to serve was all-knowing, he would have written his 'word of life' manual with directions as to how to use it and how to read it rather than letting 'flawed' man fill that role. we see many people using the bible as their only authority for their life and we see that the bible over and over again is wrong on moral issues as well as historical and scientific issues. that being said, apologists for centuries have been devising new clever schemes and mental gymnastics which seem to convince the 'sheep' that their truth is correct, and then have the nerve to say we atheists are all demonic and satan worshippers when we question their theology based on what the book actually says!

that, mr orr, is why this topic is seen as such a critical issue IN the church today and why there is a battle going on from both sides of this debate. IF the bible is 100% correct, then there are a lot of things that must be explained by man's reasoning to justify the horrible god found in the bible <i don't differentiate the old and new as jesus clearly states "i and the father are one" so if that is even remotely true, then jesus IS yahweh, not just metaphorically, but in essence> which man has been doing since Paul unleashed his hate on the 1st and second century cultures.

That is a point.  Any book we make called a "Bible" such as "the boatbuilders bible" or something like that contains precise and detailed instructions.

The bible on the other hand is vague, and addresses most problems indirectly. 

I would disagree with you though about Paul.  For his time, he was incredibly progressive.  When you remove the pseudo-pauline works from the bible, you get a much different image of Paul.


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