Yay, it’s time to play fun games with Biblical Contradictions. Now, there are various sorts of Christians. One sort will see this list of contradictions and be troubled by it. Another sort will see the list and know, offhand, stock refutations for each of the listed contradictions. And then there is another kind (me) that thinks they’ve all missed the point.
First, creating such a list assumes that that there was a single author speaking with a single voice. We know this isn’t true. There were multiple authors and they had various ways of talking about things. Sometimes, when people talk about the same thing they say two different things that appear contradictory. Take, for instance, my favorite example of this: the blind men and the elephant. Now, isn’t it possible that, for many of these apparent contradictions, it is just different people giving their insight on the subject?
The second assumption that is made when such a list is created is that the Bible is simply a list of facts. Of course, this isn’t true, either. Ecclesiastes (which the list uses as a source for contradictions more than once) is one man’s struggle to find meaning when confronted with the apparent vainity (uselessness) of everything, but the contradictions quote it as perscriptive text as if it were the 10 Commandments.
Another problem with the list is that it assumes there will be no contradictions in the Christian Bible. That is simply false. Christianity was not practiced throughout the Bible. Pre-Christian practice and belief (Judaism) is absolutly different than Christian practice and belief. The “New Testament”, in some places, says “You are no longer under the law.” Since Christians aren’t living under the Jewish law, we don’t have to circumcise our boys, for instance.
Finally, assuming that God is (as I believe) the inspiration for the Bible, isn’t it a little telling that the atheists believe that God is supposed to be so simplistic that he would be transparently obvious to all the people who had a hand in creating a the Bible … that everyone would immediatly come to the same conclusions about his message? Why should they? Why shouldn’t the meaning of the Bible be as complex as a good novel?
Of course, if people wouldn’t try to sell the idea that the Bible can be easily understood if you just sit down and read it, we wouldn’t be bothered with people attempting to rebut that assertion with their own list of contradictions. Hey, it was written by a bunch of people over the course of hundreds of years. You expect to sit down, read it in a week and have a coherent understanding of the whole thing? Give me a break!
I think you could get the central meaning (God is there, he’s in control, he cares about individuals), but you’d have questions. Of course you would. The margins of the Torah are filled with commentary on the commentary. So, why not ask some others who’ve thought about the Bible’s messsage for their input when you have questions about what it says?