Is the Bible Full of Contradictions?
Some of you may have found this article by googling "does the Bible have contradictions?" To you, I say welcome; I'm glad you're here. Others of you may be regular PJ Media readers who saw my name attached to the article and wondered if I have reversed course and am no longer a conservative evangelical Christian. Let me assure you that I remain a conservative evangelical Christian. But to the point at hand, and as someone who affirms the inerrancy and Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, I must admit, yes, the Bible contains contradictions.
Actually, the qualifier "apparent" needs to be added. As in, the Bible contains apparent contradictions. And therein lies the rub to basically the whole argument. Because, you see, contradictions are not refutations in and of themselves. Contradictions are problems to be solved.
Readers have to ask themselves if they are going to read the Bible honestly, allowing for nuance and literary styles that clash with 21st-century definitions of reporting and writing. Or are they going to read the Bible dishonestly, applying a level of critique and quick dismissal that they generally do not apply to other books? Automatically assuming that the presence of apparent contradictions is reason enough to dismiss the Bible makes for a lazy literary analysis.
I daresay that most people who so cavalierly dismiss the Bible because of the book's apparent contradictions do not hold the discipline of physics to the same strict criteria.
In physics, the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics are an apparent contradiction. They both propose seemingly incompatible descriptions of reality. Have physicists abandoned one or both? No, of course not. Instead, they operate under the assumption that they’re missing something and so physicists have dug in and are searching for a solution, a unifying theory.
When confronted with apparent contradictions in their field, physicists assume that they are the problem; they don't have enough data or are failing to account for all the perspectives of the known variables. Likewise, honest readers of the Bible should begin with the presupposition that the apparent contradictions they see are problems to be solved; that maybe they haven't done the hard work of attempting to uncover the book's literary (and theological) riches. I submit that when readers approach the Bible with the desire to treat the book fairly, they will discover, with some work and research, that all of the Bible's apparent contradictions have plausible solutions.
At this point, I'm going to transition into looking at a couple of the Bible's apparent contradictions while providing a solution. Obviously, there is no way that a short article can tackle every apparent contradiction in the Bible. I'm going to start with one of the easier apparent contradictions to deal with, but one that, I think, provides a good example of how the Bible isn't treated fairly by many people.