Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
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06-12-2012, 01:02 AM
Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
I'm sure most of us have heard this before. The Bible is God's inerrant Truth, and so if we just read it with an open mind (or heart, soul, whatevah), we will know that truth for ourselves. And of course, most of us would respond by questioning (to put it mildly) the minor premise that the Bible is inerrant.

I had a bit of a realization earlier this evening, and I'm no longer inclined to respond in this manner. The next time someone throws some variation of "The Bible is inerrant truth" at me, my response will be something like, "I suspect it isn't, but either way, I really don't care."

Why not? Plato's Cave.

For those of you not familiar with Plato's cave, the philosophy basically goes like this. There are ideal objects, perfect forms. However, we cannot perceive them directly, because our perceptions of the world are limited and often flawed. Instead, it is as if we can see only the shadows of them cast on a cave wall by firelight. This tells us something of the true Platonic Form... but not much. Like most philosophy, this is actually a pretty decent truth, provided we don't take it to far.

Now let's go back to the original syllogism's major premise. Supposedly, if I read this truth, I will understand the truth. To which I say, nonsense. I've taught calculus at a university -- which isn't to say I'm smart, but is to say that I have experience with large numbers of people trying to learn truth from books. I mean, derivatives are spelled out in the text! At length! Precisely defined! Plain as day! Inerrant truth! The professor's unnecessary! The students paid a hundred bucks for the book, right? They can read, right? So what's the problem? Just let them read it for themselves with an open mind, and the truth of Calculus will be revealed to them!

.... for those of you not familiar with how mathematical learning works, this isn't it. This is very, very, very much not it.

Why then can two different people read the same text and interpret it in two different ways? Not even different translations, suppose it's the exact same printing of whichever version has the correct jots and tittles. Simply put, the major premise is entirely wrong.

For example, consider the passages of the Bible that, not even two centuries ago, were being used to justify slavery. Not just by one or two people, but by lots and lots and lots of people. And nowadays, it... isn't. This often gets used to critique the supposed inerrancy, to which there is usually a counter that those earlier individuals were just misinterpreting the text. And really, there's not much of a decisive counter to this train of thought. ANY attempt to point out inaccuracies in the Bible can be waived away with a simple "you're just not reading it right."

Which brings us to the major premise, which is the real Achilles' Heel in the argument. It doesn't matter how inerrant the Bible might be (and as I said, I suspect it is significantly errant) if we just goof it all up when we crack it open. And if we look at the history of Christianity, we see conflict after conflict, heresy after heresy, differences of interpretation on almost every single passage since before the day the Gospels were collected into one text. The claim that just because we read inerrant truth, we understand and realize it? Is completely, utterly, patently false. Is the Bible inerrant? WHO CARES? Even if it were, that doesn't do a lick of good, because human interpretation of the Bible (which, really, is all we have) is very, very, VERY prone to... divergence. If there's one true Truth in that book, it certainly isn't transferring to the vast majority of people who read it.

Imagine, as a metaphor, some magical artifact that gave us a perfectly true answer to whatever question we asked of it. However, the answer would always be presented as an extremely cryptic riddle -- so cryptic that at least 99.9% of people couldn't figure it out, with the added twist that those who can't figure it out THINK they've figured it out and are prepared to defend their interpretation of the riddle tooth and nail. This is a obviously a very useful artifact, if you've got a paper to weigh down or a door to prop open. Otherwise, not so much. Sure, I COULD try to unlock the mysteries of the universe with it... and fail utterly. Or I could ignore the stupid thing and pursue the scientific method, which, when you get down to it, has a better success rate for elucidation.

So is the Bible inerrant? I suspect it isn't, but even if it is, I wouldn't care.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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06-12-2012, 01:39 AM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
You're right.

I suppose an omniscient god could have foreseen this problem. And an omnipotent god could have written the bible so clearly that every reader would instantly discern the absolute truth with no room for interpretation.

But that didn't happen.

Why not? Is Yahweh's omniscience or omnipotence lacking in some way? No believer will ever admit to this. So the only other answer is that Yahweh wanted us to be confused by the bible. It's part of Yahweh's plan. A plan that includes having way more than 90% of all souls cast into eternal hellfire because we can't all find the right way to salvation. A plan that includes deceiving us to ensure that more than 90% of us burn for eternity - it's not good enough to watch the rats scramble around the earthly maze looking for the salvation cheese, Yahweh deliberately set up the maze to be full of lies and deception and confusion to guarantee that nearly all of us burn for eternity.

So why write the bible at all? So he can dodge the blame. While we're burning in hell, we'll all blame ourselves for not accepting Jesus and being saved. It will be our fault, because we'll know the bible told us what to do but we didn't listen. Nobody to blame for our burning flesh but ourselves. It's not true, but it will seem to be true and most of us will fall for it. So the bible is Yahweh's ultimate "not my fault" excuse.

And Yahweh knew all this before he said "Let there be light." He even knew which of us would find salvation and which of us would not. He did all of this, deliberately, knowing full well what would happen, and he's OK with it because it's all part of his grand plan.

This is the guy we're supposed to worship and revere?

Nah, I don't think so.

Me, I'm glad I don't and can't believe in this schmuck. Even if it somehow turns out to all be true and I burn for eternity, well, that was going to happen anyway but I'll at least know whose fault it was.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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06-12-2012, 10:59 AM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
nice argument, never thought about it like that, I'll use it muehehehehe Evil_monster

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06-12-2012, 11:08 AM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
Despite popular belief, the Bible never claims anywhere that it is inerrant.

Jesus, God, John, Paul, etc... no one ever claims this.

It is an un-Biblical teaching that is being taught in churches.

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06-12-2012, 11:15 AM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
"Inerrancy" is simply a product of Fundamentalism's ignorance of ancient literature.
There are countless contradictions and "errors".
There are a few remarkable insights, but mostly political bullshit.
It's human literature. That's all it is. Human culture attempts to make "ultimate" claims about it.
The real question is "Why do the *need* to do that ?" It's about Psychology, not Theology.
"Inerrant" bullshit is still just bullshit.

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Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (KJV)

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06-12-2012, 11:17 AM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
(06-12-2012 11:15 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  "Inerrancy" is simply a product of Fundamentalism's ignorance of ancient literature.
Aye, yep.

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06-12-2012, 11:45 AM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
Good OP!

I'm often amazed at how someone could state the bible "as inerrant and infallible". I recently researched how the biblical Canon came to be [from the research of various fields of study], something I had never known when I was a christian [and suspect most christians are equally uninformed], and am now quite aware how absurd of a belief it actually is.
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06-12-2012, 02:43 PM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
(06-12-2012 11:15 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  "Inerrant" bullshit is still just bullshit.
THAT is truth! It is what it is.

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06-12-2012, 06:43 PM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
The idea of inerrancy is easy to destroy, because of certain passages that contradict one another and cannot be interpreted in a way in which they do not. For example, the OT contradicts itself in Genesis (as soon as you open the book - contradiction!), first declaring that plants were made before man, and then declaring that man was made from dirt upon a barren earth, and plants were created after him. If contradictions exist that cannot be reconciled, one or both of the passages must be wrong. There is no way someone can argue that both are correct - that is simply impossible.

If something can be destroyed by the truth, it might be worth destroying.

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06-12-2012, 10:20 PM
RE: Why Biblical inerrancy wouldn't matter
(06-12-2012 06:43 PM)Elesjei Wrote:  The idea of inerrancy is easy to destroy, because of certain passages that contradict one another and cannot be interpreted in a way in which they do not. For example, the OT contradicts itself in Genesis (as soon as you open the book - contradiction!), first declaring that plants were made before man, and then declaring that man was made from dirt upon a barren earth, and plants were created after him. If contradictions exist that cannot be reconciled, one or both of the passages must be wrong. There is no way someone can argue that both are correct - that is simply impossible.
Not at all! For example, we can interpret it as God having brought forth plants in MOST places, but leaving the area around Eden barren until the final step, because he planned to use the dust to form humans, and only then finished cultivating the plants there. Thus the barren earth referred to in Genesis chapter 2 would only be a particular patch of Earth, one still-barren field, rather than an entire barren Earth.

.... which isn't to say I think that. I don't. But I never, ever, ever want to make the mistake of assuming a Biblical literalist can't rationalize away the inconsistencies. It's some weird, savant combination of deliberate blindness and genius.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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