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Errors, Inconsistencies and Contradictions in the Bible

February 4, 2009

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.

Courtesy: bigpond.com

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.

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Courtesy: thefullers.smugmug.com

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.

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2009 10:29 am

    Well written, and I see it’s almost like a follow up reply to the debate you were having in your earlier post.

    The first cartoon fits well and sums it up.

  2. April 12, 2009 2:10 pm

    CONTRADICTIONS IN THE QURAN :)

    • Humanity triumphs permalink
      April 7, 2012 12:44 am

      Go to 1000mistakes.com to know them.
      :-D

  3. June 23, 2009 12:08 am

    Takes a lot of courage to pick just religion to write about, considering how most of us in this country, take it too personally…but I agree being agnostic is the best option especially when we humans really, and I mean really, dont know shit about anything

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      June 24, 2009 6:59 am

      Thanks Cilla. We humans may not enough, but we don’t use whatever we know to look at anything critically either.

  4. September 21, 2009 12:04 am

    they are right.. you are an idiot..

    you cannot see nor understand because your ignorance overwhelms your ability to be able to distinguish, translate and its meaning and yes, of course a lot of the things are taken out of context – just like with any book, duh..! there is obviously more to that – like perhaps the story before that..? the bible was not written randomly in different times and then put together.. it obviously follows from the previous..!?! if it does jump from past to future etc.. it would tell you..! prophets see visions of the future in their dreams.. they dont come out of toasted breads..

    the bible is meant to be studied – that is why it is specifically written like that to separate those who live their lives according to god from those who just picked up the book the last minute and read it because theyve realised that judgement day has come and they want to be saved.. just like those who have been studying for weeks for an exam while other people partied.. then the last day before the exams, those who partied read their text books and then pass..? how unfair, pointless and stupid that would be..? that is a VERY VERY simple concept a person like you cant even comprehend..!!! how do you expect to understand the rest of the bible and its interpretation..??? and im not even a bible scholar..

    most problems with agnostics and atheists is that just because they are so called “free & independent thinkers” or have their “own” beliefs and dont follow any religion or sect, that automatically makes them a genius, smarter than the rest.. LOL.. when fact is it just means you try to be cool because you cant understand anything well enough to stick by it.

    knowledge is different to wisdom. dont get ahead of yourself there mate.

    • adamnjoy@live.com permalink
      May 13, 2012 12:24 pm

      That is so funny, it is just like the author said. Kris starts right out with the ad-hominem attack.

  5. September 23, 2009 5:22 am

    Just to be clear: Are you saying that the five reasons you give are never adequate harmonisations, or just that they aren’t always adequate harmonisations? “Here’s why we should not accept these reasons as valid explanations…” makes it sound like the latter, but the idea that no claim of error rest on over-literal readings, or translation errors, or lack of contextualisation, etc., is far too strong. Instead of writing off any harmonisation that refers to these issues, shouldn’t we assess harmonisations case-by-case?

  6. October 12, 2009 12:44 pm

    Interesante pero requiere de una mejor traduccion. Tambien al referirse a versiculos espècificos de la Biblia o el Nuevo Testamento, deberia mencionarse exactamente el numero del versiculo y fuente de origen. Gracias

  7. Eupraxsophy permalink
    November 10, 2009 4:54 am

    I remember a question that my Christian sister in-law once asked me. She wanted to know what I thought the Bible is in which I replyed “It’s a religious book.” She then went on about how it’s the Word of God and the Truth. I grabbed a dictionary and looked up Bible and read to her A sacred book of Christianity…, “See! It’s a book!” She still went on about how it’s the Word of God and the Truth. So seeing that she asked me an innocent question and I gave her an honest answer I decided to ask her an innocent question and wonder if she could give me an honest answer. I simply asked her, “How do you KNOW it’s the Word of God and the Truth? She could not answer my question because she doesn’t know what it is but rather believes what it is.

    I told her that the integrity of the wise is to be found in truth, so where shall it be found that of the fool? Knowledge and wisdom are the subjects to the nobility of truth, so if thy caution thyself not to be the fool and thy have a boastful tongue let it be that which rest upon thy head the Crown of Truth.

    She then looked puzzled and I showed her where it says Old Testiment and asked her, “Do you know what a testiment is?” She said, “Yes it’s a statement that a witness gives to an event or incident that has occured.” I then showed her Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth.” I then asked her who is your WITNESS? Who was there to witness God creating Heaven and Earth? The Bible starts out as being deceptive. And deception is not truth.

    This is a prime example of one basing their truths on beliefs as oppose to one basing their beliefs on truth.

    • Question permalink
      April 15, 2010 7:34 am

      just a quick question…you said that the story of Creation cannot be true because there was no one there to witness it…so tell me who witnessed the Big Bang????

      • rehan permalink
        December 16, 2010 9:00 am

        SCIENCE DID PROVE IT!!!
        YOU GOT BRAINS??? YES. DID U SEE IT?? NO!
        SCIENCE PROVED IT?? YES!!

    • Britt Linder permalink
      May 12, 2010 8:35 am

      I think some of you guys miss the whole point of Christianity & the Bible. In your efforts to disprove the Bible & the contents within you miss the beauty of the message. The Bible is written specifically for each & every one of us. God, in his wisdom, has given us his message as a road map for a better life & salvation.

      As a christian we rely on faith. Faith cannot be defined. It is felt. Honestly, if I am wrong & God does not exist what is the harm. I have lived a great moral life, had a great wife & kids, surrounded by great friends. If we as Chrisitans are right, and I beleive we are, I get to spend eternity with the Master & his Son, my Jesus.

      I don’t see where your options are better. Please explain where believing in nothing gives you hope past this life?

      • ahmed muhd permalink
        December 10, 2011 11:09 am

        on this point i will side with nitwitnastik, ive been reading the bible for some time and it really a wonderful book, to shape and change ones life if that person believes without questioning his beliefs. but the day u will start questioning your beliefs is the day u realise u have been living a lie.
        i respect people who believe by facts/logic/truth as oppose to those who just believe without using their minds.

    • Tommy permalink
      January 25, 2012 2:37 pm

      All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for reproof, for correction, and for instruction. Who was there in the beginning? God. HIs son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the Word was God.
      Now, my question to you is, who was there to prove the Biig Bang theory???? No body!!!!. At least we have recorded evidence of Creation by God, but The Big Bang thoery is nothing more than that, a Theory because not one scientist was there.

  8. November 19, 2009 6:07 pm

    The most comprehensive source for New Testament Bible contradictions is The Atheist’s Bible Companion to the New Testament. Online at atheistsbiblecompanion.com or you can get the book from amazon.com. It’s the only Bible commentary for atheists and other skeptics. Contains many contradictions, inaccuracies, misinterpretations and more.

  9. Aaron permalink
    April 28, 2010 4:17 pm

    I would be really interested to hear of a seeming “contradiction” that you have seen in the Bible…I didn’t see any listed here, only a list of tactics that Christians use to defend the Bible.

    • Steve permalink
      August 3, 2010 7:43 am

      Check Genesis 6 and 7. Noah is told to bring one pair of every animal in Gen 6, and 1 pair of some and 7 pairs of others in Gen 7. If one applies Occam’s Razor to the text here–the simplest answer is usually the right one—and if one respects the Bible enough to accept that it means what it says in most cases–then the right answer is that the text contradicts itself. I am looking at the KJV, by the way, where the differences are even more obvious than in some modern versions.

      Now, a very satisfactory understanding of what that means can be arrived at by examining the two texts side-by-side, with a view toward what makes the second one different. What concept, in other words, has been added to the second that isn’t in the first? In my experience, if to “explain” an inconsistency means to explain it AWAY, then the light will not be able to dawn.

      Does respecting the text enough to see the inconsistencies that are on the page in front of you mean that the Bible is not “true?” In my opinion it does not.

      • ahmed muhd permalink
        December 10, 2011 11:20 am

        steve, i respect ur opinion bt hw can u explain cases where verses are totally removed from the bible. we can also ask whoever is in charge or bible editing and preservation to produce the original manuscript which wld save us alot of time and burden in solving the “translation error”

  10. Shakes22 permalink
    May 18, 2010 4:11 am

    Nicely put and well done. Maybe you can make another post showing how Christians use the “you are not seeing the picture because you are arrogant and your ignorance is preventing you from seeing the truth” response to counter such eye opening points. Thanks for this lovely post. I enjoyed it a lot.

  11. June 25, 2010 12:44 pm

    Interesting article but the passage you give as an example is laughable. Yes, I am going to use your favorite arguement and say it is out of context (because that’s the truth). 1 Corinthians 11:3 (which you conviently omit) says that the head of every man is Christ and the head of every woman is man. Therefore these verses are talking a woman’s respect for her husband (who is the “head” of the household). A woman who dishonors her head is a woman who dishonors her husband. A man who dishonor’s his head is a man who dishonors Christ.
    You can’t quote a passage without identifying the context that it is in.

  12. johneverclark permalink
    July 3, 2011 9:07 pm

    how can you accept all of the bible? you’re dealing with what could be classified as a post-modern text, due to the nature of it’s chroniclers. we don’t know who wrote what sections, but certain psychological and philosophical elements may be derived from some, where others are simply bigoted assholes.
    the authenticity of the author is as much in question as it is with the texts of alain robbe-grillet, where you cannot be sure that any event has truly occurred. the bible was not written by jesus, and the old testament was not written by god, but by humans (mostly males, due to the oppression of women), who are flawed and fallible. however in conjunction with the works of people like c. jung and freud, or when read from a buddhist point of view or a taoist point of view, you find certain similarities between mental concepts.

    fuck all that objective crap, it’s subjective mofucka.

  13. July 14, 2011 11:54 pm

    The Bible is accurate maybe u havent read it completely.JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS when will u realise this.

    • Coinach permalink
      October 21, 2011 3:20 pm

      The bible is accurate? where!? It’s a story. The bible is about as factual as the Jungle Book.

    • ahmed muhd permalink
      December 10, 2011 11:23 am

      cl, if i may pose a simple question; if ur dad commited a crime, are u supposed to be held responsible for it?

  14. February 10, 2012 6:26 pm

    I am Christian and my wife does wear the Bible commanded head covering. Only the wordly groups have abandoned it and excuse it away.

  15. June 16, 2012 7:18 pm

    Thanx for your beautiful post! Plz ignore the living piles of bricks in this comment section who persist to force their lack of objectivity, logic and overall common sense on us who respectfully disagree with the nonsense.
    ;-), some people study but they will never learn…
    Adam n Eve’s children commited INCEST, Kane killed his brother abel then married his sister. God sent moses to free the israelites while @ the same time he hardened pharoah’s heart to keep them enslaved. Then again, Isaiah 45:7 says GOD created EVIL so I guess the bible is his word if u count all the wickedness he commands. Peace!

  16. analyst permalink
    November 22, 2012 6:12 am

    The biblical myths were already existed in various pagan traditions. No doubt , bible is a collection of out-dated tales. sometimes I wonder if people start worshiping Harry potter after few centuries..!!

Trackbacks

  1. Literary Aspects of the Bible « Kreitsauce’s Musings
  2. The Bible: Lost in Transmission? « Kreitsauce’s Musings
  3. Eternal Truths or Cultural Command? « Kreitsauce’s Musings
  4. A few more serious problems with literal Bible interpretation

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