Contradictions in the Christian Bible

Contradictions are rife in the Christian bible. Here at The Skeptical Zone we have recently discussed those surrounding how Saul died. We’ve also noted the two conflicting accounts of Judas’ death and what he did with the thirty pieces of silver. There are dozens more.

The Skeptics’ Annotated Bible and The Thinking Atheist are two of several excellent resources on biblical contradictions and absurdities. The sheer volume of contradictions, though, is best demonstrated visually as is done at BibViz:

The creators of this site started with a cross-index of topics in the bible and pulled out those that contradict each other. You can click on the links to get more detail. As a bonus, the site includes references to the sections in the bible that contain Scientific Absurdities & Historical Inaccuracies, Cruelty & Violence, Misogyny, Violence & Discrimination Against Women, and Discrimination Against Homosexuals.

Obviously most Christians aren’t foolish enough to claim their bible is inerrant. Those that do, in the words of Desi Arnaz, have “got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

61 thoughts on “Contradictions in the Christian Bible”

  1. waltowalto

    GlenDavidson:
    J-Mac,

    Show us one case where anyone thought that Isaiah 40 was contrary to the science–or even to the flat earth.

    Your history knowledge is no better than your science knowledge.

    Glen Davidson

    Well, to be fair, he IS an expert in DSM V–especially the sections on dissociative disorders. Nobody can know EVERYTHING!

  2. Allan Miller

    J-Mac,

    “22 It is He (God) who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”

    Science has confirmed flat earth, a resemblance to grasshoppers, and the tent-like nature of the cosmos?

  3. waltowalto

    FWIW, Allan, many of my relatives are very much like grasshoppers.

    Especially when they’ve had a couple.

  4. PatrickPatrick Post author

    vjtorley:
    . . .
    Contradictory accounts are not the sort of thing one would expect God to include in His holy book, but before one can deem two accounts to be contradictory, one needs to be sure that both accounts are intended to be taken literally – which is something only the Church (which has inherited this book down through the ages) can decide.
    . . . .

    Just as you give up omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence to avoid the flaws in that formulation of a god, you also give up biblical inerrancy to avoid the issues with the many clear contradictions in the bible. That’s intellectually more honest than the fundamentalist position, but your concept of god is getting farther and farther from that of the typical person in the pew in the U.S.

  5. PatrickPatrick Post author

    J-Mac:
    . . .
    I’m going to ask you this: What if the book that you think or were brained washed tobelieve is wrong,

    The only brainwashing comes from theists who indoctrinate their children before those children are capable of critical thought. The bible contains numerous, well documented, clear contradictions. That’s simply a fact.

    would contain information thousands years aheadscientists have discovered to be true…
    What would you do?

    Ask for evidence.

  6. keithskeiths

    Patrick, to vjtorley:

    Just as you give up omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence to avoid the flaws in that formulation of a god, you also give up biblical inerrancy to avoid the issues with the many clear contradictions in the bible.

    Vincent hasn’t given up Biblical innerrancy — yet. 🙂

  7. CharlieMCharlieM

    Edward R. Smith mentionss the Matthew and Luke accounts of the nativity below. From a standard Christian perspective they contradict each other in important ways. But in the way that Rudolf Steiner explains them there is no contradiction.

    Both Nativity accounts are part of the Bible, and like the larger whole, can be taken to be literally true if not interpreted as one understands our everyday prose. It clearly incorporates some historical facts, but not for the purpose of telling history. It is telling a spiritual story of the greatest magnitude to which any historical facts utilized are indentured—mere servants of a far larger purpose. The story has served so well during that time of Christendom’s infancy, childhood, youth and adolescence. But as the third millennium dawns, a greater maturity of understanding is imperative. It must be seen that allegory, metaphor, poetry, all the literary arsenal, are equally tools to be employed. The important thing in the writing is not whether its account was literally true in the vulgar mode, as mere earthly phenomena, but rather whether it was true in its ultimately more real and lasting spiritual meaning. Ideally and often it was true in both, at least sufficiently so that its earthly connection was clear. But seldom will the deepest meaning be attained through a strictly earthly understanding of the words, for the Evangelists wrote of what they saw with eyes of spirit.

  8. keithskeiths

    Charlie,

    Any two accounts of anything can be reconciled if you pull a Steiner and let your imagination run wild with metaphorical, symbolic and allegorical reinterpretations.

    Reality-based folks need something more: Reasons to think that the reinterpretations are actually correct.

  9. PatrickPatrick Post author

    CharlieM:
    Edward R. Smith mentionss the Matthew and Luke accounts of the nativity below. From a standard Christian perspective they contradict each other in important ways. But in the way that Rudolf Steiner explains them there is no contradiction.

    Both Nativity accounts are part of the Bible, and like the larger whole, can be taken to be literally true if not interpreted as one understands our everyday prose. It clearly incorporates some historical facts, but not for the purpose of telling history. It is telling a spiritual story of the greatest magnitude to which any historical facts utilized are indentured—mere servants of a far larger purpose. The story has served so well during that time of Christendom’s infancy, childhood, youth and adolescence. But as the third millennium dawns, a greater maturity of understanding is imperative. It must be seen that allegory, metaphor, poetry, all the literary arsenal, are equally tools to be employed. The important thing in the writing is not whether its account was literally true in the vulgar mode, as mere earthly phenomena, but rather whether it was true in its ultimately more real and lasting spiritual meaning. Ideally and often it was true in both, at least sufficiently so that its earthly connection was clear. But seldom will the deepest meaning be attained through a strictly earthly understanding of the words, for the Evangelists wrote of what they saw with eyes of spirit.

    That doesn’t say there is no contradiction. It’s merely more pseudo-intellectual bullshit that attempts to distract from the many clear contradictions in the bible.

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