Errors, Inconsistencies and Contradictions in the Bible
While debating Christians, I have often heard many Christians make the ‘chest thumping’ claim that the Bible is a perfect book - a book so perfect that it is absolutely free of errors or contradictions. Christians often claim that because of the Bible’s inerrancy they are convinced that the Bible is the true word of “(The) God” and what it preaches is indeed “The Truth” and the only truth.
Yet, when we look closely at the Bible we find that the claim is far from the truth and the Bible is full of contradictions and factual or scientific errors. When these errors or contradictions are pointed out, Christians are quick to defend it using one or some of the following assertions
1. The statement or verse is used in a poetic or metaphorical sense and should not to be taken literally.
2. It is a translation error from Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic etc.
3. The social customs and cultural values were different when the Bible was written.
4. The verse has been taken out of context (my favorite !!)
5. It’s not a reasonable question to ask. You are missing the point (dismissing the point completely)
However, if the Christian belongs to “Taliban” inspired extreme religious right, the person may shift into an offensive mode and start ad-hominem attacks/ name-calling and spewing other insults. And, consider yourself lucky if you are not physically assaulted, mishandled or pummeled into something incorporeal.
Here’s why we should not accept these reasons as valid explanations
1. Hiding under the protective umbrella of “metaphorical” meaning of verses or discovering symbolic meaning in simple statements is a favorite strategy of apologists/evangelists of any religion. It is an extremely convenient ploy since it gives apologists the freedom to interpret and claim anything from their holy book that does not agree with common sense interpretations, contemporary social sensibilities or contradicts modern scientific knowledge etc. With a little bit of creativity – anything ( yes, I repeat. Anything !! ) can be given a metaphorical meaning and interpreted according to one’s wish ( e.g. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, the movie Matrix )
So next time someone uses this deceptive gimmick to interpret an obvious verse ask him/her – ” How do you know that this verse is to be interpreted metaphorically and not literally?”. Then watch how he/she tries to wiggle out of it with words like ”clear” ,”intuitive”,”subtle” etc or launches into a yawn-evoking discussion about why a ”literal reading of the Bible misses the deeper, truer meaning of the text.” Yes, that’s right, Jesus was a metaphorical character too.
2. The claim of ‘errors in translation’ has been refuted here ( the site also has a small list of contradictions and errors in the Bible)
If one is prepared to allow for the possibility of translator or transcriber errors, then the claim of Biblical inerrancy is completely undermined since no originals exist to serve as a benchmark against which to identify the errors. Left only with our error-prone copies of the originals, the claim of infallibility becomes completely vacuous. Pandora’s Box would truly be open: You could have the Bible say whatever you want it to say by simply claiming that words to the contrary are the result of copying or translation/interpretation errors, and nothing could prove you wrong.
3. The believers never leave any opportunity to teach us that their holy books were written for the ages and contain divine instructions that transcend time. The teachings of the bible are ‘eternal truths’ and they apply to mordern society just as much they applied to ancient ones. So let’s read the following verses from 1 Corinthians 11: 4-10 (emphasis is mine)
Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
Ignoring the fact that God finds its worthy of his time to involve himself in such petty matters as a woman’s head-dress, if you find the above sentences extremely prejudiced and sexist, let me assure you they are. But, don’t worry. The Christian apologists will convince you that these verses were based on ideas or customs followed during the time it was written and does not apply to modern society in general or women in particular . But when pressed with questions such as - if parts of the Bible doesn’t apply to modern society, how can we claim that the rest of it has ‘eternal truths’ meant to guide every generation ? Why would God mention something that applies only to a certain age? Watch patiently as how Christians use their creative brains to distort meanings, invent interpretations, manufacture symbolism and use all the excuses pointed here – metaphorical meanings, translation differences or out of context verses – to justify that there is nothing prejudiced or sexist in these verses and the Bible indeed contain eternal truths.
4. As for taking texts out of context, the only thing that will probably satisfy the Christians is if you recite the entire Bible. I wonder if even that would qualify as something within context. Here are some interesting examples.
5. If biblical interpretations of Atheists do not match interpretations of Christians, we are *always* “missing the point”. How are Christians so sure that their point is the correct or valid point? Ah ! it’s because of the “experts”. I always find it amusing when believers call theologians and biblical/Koranic scholars - “experts”. Have you ever noticed this trait in believers – if someone agrees with their point of view he/she is an “expert” but if they don’t he/she is an ”ignorant scumbag”.
Next time you are debating Christians about the Bible and they try to use these devious tricks to explain the inaccuracies, call them on their bluff. And, if you need a comprehensive list of Bible absurdities, atrocities, inconsistencies and vulgarities, an excellent resource can be found here ( A good resource of such sites with several links is here). If you are looking for scientific errors in the bible, they can be found here, here and here.
Mention these and count how many times they resort to the excuses above.