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by Daniel Carrington
At the start, let's be clear. I do not believe the Bible contains errors. However, I have heard enough stories about people who have lost their faith because they "found out" that the Bible has errors or contradictions that I felt it would be good to address this.
While I do not believe that the Bible contains errors or contradictions, let us for the sake of argument grant that it does. The most important question anyone can ask in light of this, before they lost their faith, is: What follows from that?
In my opinion, this question should be asked a good deal more often than it actually is. Not only with respect to scriptural inerrancy, but with claims or challenges against Christianity in general. Really, this question should be asked of any question that pertains to one's world view.
So, what if the Bible contains errors? What follows from that? Does that necessarily mean that God doesn't exist? If you think about that for more than 5 nanoseconds, it seems obvious that this would be an example of a classic non-sequitor. The conclusion simply does not follow.In fact, if the Bible were to contain errors, it doesn't even follow that it is wholly unreliable! Much of what we know of ancient history is from documents that are not
inerrant. That does not make them unreliable. It simply makes them less than perfectly accurate about every single thing that they might report.
"But," you say, "if the Bible makes a mistake in one area, that casts doubt on the whole thing! If there's a mistake in one place, how do you know there aren't errors elsewhere? How do you know which parts are wrong and which are right?"
These are certainly legitimate questions. However, they are usually asked rhetorically...as if there isn't a legitimate answer to them. Yet, there certainly is a legitimate response. As I have already mentioned, we have volumes of information about ancient history from old documents and archaeological discoveries that inform us about a great deal of what took place in the distant past. There are historians, textual critics, archaeologists, etc. who are highly trained to sift through the data and identify what is most probably the truth of the matter.
If we take the Bible as merely a human document, rather than a divine one, it still passes every single test of ancient historical reliability better than any other ancient document ever discovered! As a strictly historical document, the Bible is, by far, the best attested historical record ever kept about ancient times…