Biblical contradictions #1

This is the first of a multi-part series of essays highlighting the numerous contradictions that the Bible possesses, the first one is going to focus on the contradiction in creation accounts between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

In Genesis 1, the creation myth goes as this: Over an undefined period of time, the cosmos, all the animals, and everything is created before humans are, and when humans are created, the two sexes of humanity are created at the same time. Contrast that with the creation myth presented in Genesis 2:

Over a period of seven days, the universe is created, and then Man is created, the beasts are created after Man is, to show Man’s dominance unto nature, and then Man gets lonely, so Woman is created from Man’s Ribs.

In the first myth, animals are created before humans, and females and males are created at the same time; in the second myth, humans are created before the animals, and woman are created after men.

This presents a problem for Biblical literalists. Clearly both cannot be true at the same time, for that would be a paradox, which is true? If only one of them is true, then that shows that the Bible cannot be infallible, for some parts of the Bible are obviously false, being not true. If both of them are true, then that creates a logical paradox for Biblical literalists, rendering them both false.

In reality, it’s blatantly obvious that the authors of Genesis compiled two separate creation myths into one half-assed whole, with poor editing, or else we wouldn’t notice the inherent contradictions in the Bible now, would we?

What Occam’s Razor is, and what it isn’t.

Many people misuse and misunderstand what Occam’s Razor really is, and what it is not. A common misconception, based off of a gross misunderstanding of Occam’s Razor, is that the Razor favors “the simplest of arguments over others”, when in reality that is not the case. The Razor is a heuristic used in science and critical thought to weed out the least parsimonious of explanations, in other words, an explanation or argument that has too many unnecessary assumptions in order to make it work is less parsimonious than the explanation or argument that has fewer assumptions to make it work.

And, as explained in a previous entry, Occam’s Razor does indeed have its limits, sometimes the least parsimonious explanation actually turns out to be the correct explanation, and so one must be willing to test one’s assumptions in order to fully uncover the truth in order to improve our understanding.

Occam’s Razor is ultimately why the Ptolemaic system of geocentric astronomy was thrown out in favor of Copernican heliocentrism, because in order to work Ptolemaic geocentrism required too many cumbersome assumptions in order for it to explain the heavens, and when Copernicus introduced his revolutionary model of heliocentrism, which had far fewer assumptions needed in order for his model to accurately explain the heavens versus Ptolemy’s model, the paradigm shifted in favor of Copernicus over Ptolemy.

The Limits of Rationality

In combating fallacious arguments and fighting the ever growing tide of bullshit flowing in onto reason’s shores, one has a set of parameters used to comb out the shit from the treasure, these sets of parameters are what is known as a heuristic, and in a specific set of circumstances one’s heuristics are more than sufficient for discovering the validity of an argument, but sometimes it is not enough.

Sometimes rationality itself is not enough to discover the truth of something, one must be willing to test one’s assertions and assumptions. Take evolution, for example, if one were to use Occam’s Razor, then creationism would seem to be the more parsimonious explanation for existence than science itself, requiring only one assumption, that is, “Goddidit”, versus the several assumptions required for science to be true, that is, that the laws of nature we observe today have remained uniform throughout the past, and that a statement has to be testable to be shown to be true, if you can’t falsify it, then it ain’t truth.

But an observation of reality shows us that the exact opposite is true of creationism, “Goddidit” isn’t an explanation, it’s an excuse, a cop-out. If you don’t know how something works, just say “Goddidit” and the problem solves itself. It’s intellectually lazy, one of the biggest sins one can commit in my eyes. Absolutely everything once said to be of supernatural origination turned out to have natural causes.

People once said that diseases were caused by demons, now we know that they are caused by pathogens, and other natural causes. In some cases, what is seemingly more parsimonious than its competitors, requiring only a few assumptions versus the many of its competitors, isn’t necessarily true, and that is the reason why we must test our assumptions, even if the result defies common sense and understanding.

 

The Million Dollar Question

This is an important one, and is directed towards religious moderates, specifically Christian moderates, who tend to not be Biblical literalists. This question concerns perhaps the most damning question one can think of towards Christian moderates, and needs no introduction. I think it fit to introduce the Million Dollar Question down below, ready? Here we go:

 

How does one determine whether or not a particular passage in the Bible is literally true, or only allegorically true?

This is a question that few theists dare answer, I have received responses that, are in effect, non-answers. Such a non-answer is usually along the lines of “What’s true in the Bible is true for different people,”. That’s fine and dandy, but I`m talking about truth, not interpretation, there’s a big difference.

The truth is what can be shown to be literally true, a la if evidence can be shown to support the veracity of a particular statement. An interpretation is one’s reaction to a statement, so while people do interpret the Bible differently, it still doesn’t answer my question, and doesn’t affect whether a particular passage in the Bible is literally true, or only allegorically true.

Any takers?