While reading a book on religion, the thought popped into my head that there are some very simple critiques of the Bible that most believers in the Bible don’t seem to realize. I’m sure there are probably gazillions of websites fighting over these issues, but the four that popped into my head as I was reading the book are as follows:
- The Bible is internally contradictory. I have two favorite examples for this. The first is the contradictory lineages of Jesus from Abraham in Matthew 1 and Luke 3:
|Matthew 1||Luke 3|
- My second favorite example of Biblical inconsistency is the assertion that Moses wrote the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and some how managed to write about his own death in Deuteronomy 34. Both of these arguments could basically be considered to fall into the realm of “internal validity” – does the book itself provide support for its claims? Internal contradictions would indicate that it does not. This is also the primary basis of criticism of Thomas Paine’s early works on the Bible.
- The second argument that pops into my head when arguing against the Bible is another scientific concern: external validity. Is there evidence external to the Bible that supports the claims of the Bible? I have not seen any. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but in my relatively cursory examinations of such evidence there isn’t any. Additionally, I’m reminded of David Hume’s argument, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In order for me to consider the miracles in the Bible to be actual events I would need extraordinary evidence. This, too, is an argument for external validity as it would require non-partisan outsiders to verify the claims of the Bible. No such non-partisan witnesses exist.
- The third argument I would present against the Bible is that it is morally repugnant. The Bible suggests death for homosexuality among various other immoral acts (raping of women, slaughtering of innocents, etc.). Even if those were the moral codes of people who lived 3,000 years ago that doesn’t mean I should hold them as a god’s word. If I were to use them for anything, it would be to illustrate how far humans have come morally in the intervening 3,000 years (well, not all humans).
- The fourth and final argument I would give against the authenticity of the Bible is its origins. The books included in the Bible were included based on a vote. I’m a fan of democracy, but it doesn’t make much sense when you’re considering what should or should not be the infallible word of a god.
By no means am I Biblical scholar, but these are the thoughts that pop into my head whenever I think about the Bible. Do you have any others? Is my thinking wrong on these?