Amazingly, the view that the Bible is somehow inerrant, or the perfect word of God, still has widespread subscription. Anyone who’s made an effort to read it with any sort of objectivity finds the claim laughable. Yet it persists. Almost invariably, objections to the infallibility claim that point to conflicting passages, omissions, contradictions, errors, or God’s sociopathic behavior are met with blanket appeals to “context.” If only we can understand the context, it is said, then we can understand why it was actually morally just for God to command genocide, or for God to sanction the forcible abduction and rape of virgin girls by the Israelites, or the New Testament restrictions on the actions of women. What follows is a series of textual gymnastics designed to make the horrible or the contradictory less so.
For those who would still insist on the infallibility or perfection of the Bible, consider a simple, and glaring deception in the very titles of the books. The four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have been presented and widely understood as the words of the four disciples of the same names. But it is now widely acknowledged, by even the most conservative scholars, that those four books were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Little to nothing is known about their authors except that they were not eye witnesses, they were not the apostles, and they were writing down stories that were retellings of retellings of retellings. They were given those names to foster the illusion of legitimacy and authenticity and the deception was propagated for centuries.
In a flimsy attempt to explain away this lie with “context” the believer may argue that Matthew wasn’t written by Matthew, but nevertheless, that gospel still tells the story of the apostle Matthew as it was later relayed to the author. But in fact, Matthew was cribbed for the most part, from the Gospel of Mark, so this attempt to explain away the glaring error in the perfect, error free text collapses too.
Far from being some sort of divinely guarded perfect record, the Bible is full of serious mistakes and deceptions. Not even the titles of the books can be trusted. It couldn't pass the rules concerning accuracy and plagiarism for a Freshman Composition class.
Thursday, February 19, 2009