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Michael Abrahams | The Bible is not inerrant. Please stop saying it is

Published:Monday | December 30, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The Holy Bible is hailed by Christians as the greatest book in the world, with many believing it to be the inerrant word of God. In other words, they are convinced that the Bible is not only God’s word but is incapable of being wrong; that it contains no errors. This belief has been drummed into the heads of Christians, and those targeted for conversion, for centuries. Indeed, I was one of those whose heads were percussed.

We can neither prove nor disprove that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God. However, we ought to be honest and admit that the Bible contains errors, contradictions and inconsistencies. After all, the books contained within the Bible were written by man, who is fallible and therefore prone to error. Bearing this in mind, it is disingenuous to know that all the chapters in the Bible were written by human hands and insist that the documentations are perfect.

Moses and David, whose writings are found within the scriptures, were men whose flaws were well documented. Moses disobeyed God by striking a rock instead of speaking to it, as he was commanded to do, and David arranged for a man to be killed in battle so he could get with his wife, who he was lusting after. Both men were punished by God for their transgressions. How then, can we swear by what these men wrote? If God allows a man to arrange the death of another so he can fulfil his sexual fantasies with his wife, it is illogical to assume that He would police his writings and prevent him for erring there as well.

We must also remember that when these men wrote the stories they did, their intention was not for them to be part of a monolithic text. It was long after Jesus’ death that these writings, indifferent languages, were gathered, assembled and bound together as the Bible. We do not know all the writers of the books of the Bible. Similarly, we do not know their intentions or agendas when they put pen to paper. It is a fact that the Bible has contradictions, and the list is so long that the word limit for my column prohibits me from listing them all here. However, I will share a few.

For example, according to Genesis 1, God made man and woman after the animals. But Genesis 2 gives a different order of creation, claiming that man was created before the animals, and woman after. In Exodus 33:11 God spoke to Moses face to face “as one speaks to a friend”. However, nine verses later,God said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live”. II Samuel 24:1 stated that the Lord had “incited” David to take a census, but I Chronicles 21:1 claimed that it was Satan who “incited” the census.

And the contradictions continue into the New Testament. Matthew and Luke give conflicting reports of Jesus Christ’s genealogy and the movements of Joseph and Mary after his birth, and there are multiple disparities in the gospels regarding what took place at Jesus’ tomb. For example, regarding the actions of those who visited the tomb, four different accounts are given:

Matthew 28:8 The women go and tell the disciples

Mark 16:8 The women were trembling and bewildered and told no one because they were afraid

Luke 24:9 The women tell “the eleven and to all the rest”

John 20:10-11 Mary stays and cries while the two disciples returned home

Concerning the death of Judas, the accounts differ too. Matthew 27:5 states he took the money he had received for betraying Jesus, threw it down in the temple, and “went and hanged himself”, while Acts 1:18 claims Judas used the money to purchase a field and “falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.”

If the Bible really were the inerrant product of God, these discrepancies would not exist. Christian apologists will see the evidence and perform convoluted mental masturbatory gymnastics to defend these glaring contradictions, citing “context” and “translation”. But the truth is clear to all who view this through an objective lens: if two versions of a story exist, at least one of them must be wrong.Therefore, the Bible is clearly not inerrant.

Why do I care about this anyway? I care because acceptance of the concept of Biblical inerrancy has caused much harm. The Bible has been used to indoctrinate children and other vulnerable individuals, and laws, rules and codes of conduct have been based on Biblical writings, all under the assumption that the pages of the book contain the inerrant word of God. As a result, people have been sent on unnecessary guilt trips, denied life-saving medical interventions, disowned by their families, marginalised by societies, unjustly punished, imprisoned and even executed based on material in the Bible thought to be edicts issued directly from God.

Church folk ought to understand that observations such as these are not necessarily an assault on their holy book or their religion but are merely a component of an objective search for the truth. Errors in the Bible do not mean that God does not exist, or that people should abandon Christianity.However, by acknowledging that these discrepancies exist, believers should be mindful of using their beliefs to dictate the lives of others.

 

- Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michabe_1999@hotmail.com, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.