This exchange took place in the combox of my article, The Last Words of Jesus: Biblical “Contradictions”? (4-8-21). The words of JohnMC (atheist?) will be in blue.
I think it is fair to point out that it is not unreasonable to expect texts that are considered holy and revealed to show consistency. Even minor inconsistencies invite skepticism because of the rigorous claims made about the meaning of the texts.
I wholeheartedly agree, which is why I have devoted much of my writing and research over the past two-three years to addressing precisely these objections (as well as establishing positive scriptural support from of archaeology, which will be the subject of my next “officially published book”. A full listing of these efforts can be found in my collection, “Armstrong’s Refutations of Alleged Biblical ‘Contradictions'”.
These efforts include dozens upon dozens of systematic responses to atheists who specialize in attempting to attack the Bible and its so-called massive contradictions. Some never Answer to my counter-responses to their assertions (Bob Seidensticker, Dr. David Madison, John Loftus, Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, etc.). Others To do once in a while (and kudos to them for doing it), but (frankly) not very Good when they do (Jonathan MS Pearce).
let me ask you (since you ask me so many questions): if these atheists’ arguments are so convincing, why don’t they prove it and blow up my counter-answers? But they don’t. They almost always prefer to ignore them. They say it’s because I’m ignorant, a fool and an idiot (always easy to say). I say it’s because they have a bad business and they are intellectual cowards.
I hope that this treatment of “contradictions” will be the subject of my next book (if a publisher wants it), after the publication of my next one on archeology.
Applying standard reasoning and principles of reliability to historical records suits me
Yeah me too.
but they are applied to documents which are claimed to have divine sanction.
We apply reason and intelligence to biblical interpretation, just as we do to any other subject or extended body of writings like the Bible. That’s what apologetics (my field) is: applying reason to theology.
Why do we even need to apply human reasoning to their understanding, and why could a simple claimed misinterpretation lead someone to misinterpret the divine order?
Because we have to reason to fully understand theological documents that are all 1920 years or older, written in different languages (including hundreds of non-literal idioms and metaphors, etc.) and produced by a culture very different from the our. a present. It’s not even debatable. It’s obvious.
The problem with routine lists of “contradictions” from atheists or skeptics is that they are so terribly weak, pathetic, and 90% of the time (or more!) clearly not even contradictions in the first place. It’s not as long as the Bible is difficult to understand (even though rooms certainly are(particularly parts of Paul’s letters), but that skeptics who approach the Bible as a butcher approaches a pig are so 1) abominably ignorant of the content and interpretation of the Bible, and 2) never seem to be familiar with classical logic or a logic textbook. [in case you are wondering, I did take logic in college]
Some inconsistencies may not be contradictions but represent ambivalences that cannot be eliminated.
Well, since all those big atheists/big names almost always ignore my answers, maybe you show the courage of your convictions and take up some of them? We agree on the premises (that it is worth having these discussions). You seem to be able. Have it! I gave you the list of all my defenses.
You see how I answered you here, as I always do if a request has substance. You didn’t immediately insult my honesty like C Nault did [“Your response is the standard playing with what the Bible actually says and twisting it to suit your personal interpretation”: in the same combox]. So I answered quite differently and at length.
Then there are full-fledged contradictions, ambiguities and obscurities. And then we see the self-referential legitimizing arguments. A biblical statement of belief e.g. the Trinity does [not] becomes true because it repeats itself.
Of course not (like anything else). The Trinity comes from revelation and cannot be understood from a logical/rationalistic point of view. It is an extremely subtle doctrine and requires faith. No Christian has ever denied this. What I focus on is proving that the Bible taught first (many atheists deny this), and why Christians believe the Bible does.
Proof of the consistency of a belief is not proof of the truth of a belief.
Strictly speaking, no. This is proof of a lack of contradiction, which is the bare minimum. But a consistent demonstration from the Bible that the alleged contradictions are in fact do not so (which I myself have done, and many other apologists have done), Is, by cumulative effect, tend to support the notion of biblical inspiration. Consistency is not to prove biblical inspiration (which is also a matter of faith), but it is consistent with that; while actually proven massive contradictions are inconsistent with inspiration.
That’s why I think it’s important to deal with these kinds of accusations, because it’s important to defend inspiration (indirectly) from reason. We have to “defeat the defeated” and show how very weak they are.
Few things strengthen my Christian faith more than dealing with so-called “contradictions”: because the arguments are so abominable and laughable that we consider the Christian faith to be much more rational and sensible. Observing (as I present my own arguments) that the Bible is able to withstand all attacks is incredibly and joyfully faith-boosting. This is the unique blessing that we apologists receive for our efforts.
Statements of miraculous events are unproven as there are many. If outlandish claims are made for the absolute value of Scripture, why is it so easy to wonder if the texts don’t in fact simply show the predictable irregularity of human texts?
I say they can stand up to any accusations thrown at them and prove it by my own work. If you disagree, as I said, start sending me counter-replies to my counter-replies, since virtually everyone I’ve replied to refuses to do so ( most with rank insults were also sent to me).
Thank you for the serious and non-insulting interaction and have a nice day.
[if JohnMC replies, I will add his words to this paper with my further replies]
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Summary: Good discussion on the nature of alleged biblical “contradictions” in which I explain why I have recently spent so much time and energy resolving them.