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Bible Contradictions & Inconsistencies Overview

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Bible contradictions are a frequent topic of debate between atheists and Christians. Atheists argue that there are numerous contradictions, errors, and inconsistencies in the Bible; conservative evangelical Christians argue that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and the Word of God — therefore, it can have no contradictions, errors, or inconsistencies. The existence and nature of biblical contradictions is an important factor when evaluating the validity of Christianity itself.

Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

The Bible does indeed contradict itself; in fact, the Bible contradicts itself hundreds of times and in a myriad of different ways. It has been argued by some that there is no position on which the Bible does not contradict itself — that is to say, no matter what position you find expressed in the Bible, you can find that position contradicted somewhere else in the Bible. Thus no matter what you believe, you can find Bible verses to justify that belief. Sometimes the contradiction is direct and obvious; occasionally, the contradiction depends upon interpretation and theology.

What is a Bible Contradiction?

A contradiction occurs whenever statements, ideas, or features are in opposition to each other. Thus a Bible contradiction occurs whenever Bible verses express different ideas that are opposed to each other. Usually contradictions are clear because the ideas expressed cannot all be true; instead, they are mutually contradictory such that at most only one can possibly be true. Bible contradictions are thus an indication that a consistent set of ideas, principles, and/or beliefs did not lie behind the Bible's creation.

What is a Bible Inconsistency?

An inconsistency occurs whenever statements, ideas, or features are not in complete conformity or uniformity with each other. Inconsistencies and contradictions are often treated as synonymous, but they aren't quite equivalent. Contradictions are mutually exclusive and can't all be true; inconsistencies are not mutually exclusive and can all be true, but they do require explanation and justification. All contradictions are inconsistencies, but not all inconsistencies are contradictions.

Why Do Bible Contradictions & Inconsistencies Matter?

Contradictions and inconsistencies in the Bible matter because so many Christians insist that the Bible is: perfect, infallible, free from error, divinely authored, divinely inspired, etc. The presence of contradictions and inconsistencies means that the Bible is not perfect or error-free. The presence of contradictions and inconsistencies means that the Bible could not have been created by a perfect, omniscient god. Thus the existence of contradictions and inconsistencies matters because we need to be able to successfully argue against fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christians.

Can Bible Contradictions Be Resolved?

Believers argue that contradictions are only "alleged" and that all alleged contradictions can be resolved by harmonized. In some cases it is true that contradictions or inconsistencies can be resolved, but only at a cost that believers shouldn’t want to pay: by adding to the text, by ignoring key aspects of the text, or by developing novel, complex interpretations of a text that is supposed to be simply taken at face value rather than interpreted. A perfect, omnipotent, omniscient God should be able to cause to exist a text which doesn't require acrobatics and desperate rationalizations to makes sense of it.

Lists of Bible Contradictions & Inconsistencies

Large numbers of Bible contradictions and inconsistencies are collected here. Organized according to the individual books in the Bible, each document explains what the contradiction or inconsistency is and presents the relevant verses from the Bible so they can be compared. The King James Version of the Bible is used for copyright purposes. It's not the best translation available, but it is a popular Bible translation among those who think the Bible is perfect and error-free, so it is worth using for that reason alone.

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