The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Contradictions in the Bible are reasons to doubt its validity.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/1/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 11 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 740 times Debate No: 95790
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (17)
Votes (1)




I am on the CON side of this debate. I am looking to debate someone who agrees with the thesis topic.
I have made this debate impossible to accept. If interested, please express so in the comments, and I will choose someone myself.
The format is as follows, any failure to comply results in an automatic loss.

Rd. 1- Con: Intro/Rules
Pro: Acceptance/ Opening Arguments
Rd. 2- Con: Opening Arguments (No Rebuttals)
Pro: Rebuttals
Rd. 3- Con: Rebuttals to Rd. 1
Pro: Defense
Rd. 4- Con: Defense/ Conclusion
Rd. 4- Pro: Conclusion Only

I look forward to this debate. Best of luck to you.


I accept this challenge and welcome a debate with my opponent.


--Burden of Proof--

When a party asserts a disputable claim, the burden of proof is upon the party making the assertion to substantiate their claim (1). Therefore, since the Bible is presenting claims, the Bible must justify those claims.

The Bible puts forth claims that are extraordinary (humans living hundreds of years prior to modern medicine, resurrection, water being turned into wine, the red sea being parted, etc). These fly in the face of all scientific explanations and common sense, and require significant substantiating evidence to support them.

The internal consistency of the Bible is a clear metric by which to determine the credibility of the source material making these assertions. Many claims in the Bible are inherently suspect and require substantial evidence to justify. Not only is no external evidence provided to justify Biblical claims, but internal contradictions cast further doubt upon the source material itself.

--The Bible Purports to be the Infallible Word of God--

According to a popular Christian website, "in hundreds of passages, in both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible plainly declares to be the very Word of the living God (2)."

For example, in 2 Peter 1:20-21, it is stated that "knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (3)."

--The Bible Contains Numerous Contradictions--

This appears to be a point that is already conceded for the purpose of this debate, but just to be clear, the Bible contains dozens of internal contradictions (4).

--Argument Re: Sufficiency of Evidence--

Premise 1 - Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Premise 2 - The Bible contains extraordinary claims, and the "evidence" provided are mere assertions which are themselves internally contradictory.
Conclusion - The Bible does not provide sufficient evidence to justify its claims. (In other words, it's validity can be doubted)

--Argument Re: Biblical Inerrancy--

Premise 1 - The Bible claims to be the infallible word of God.
Premise 2 - The Bible contains numerous internal contradictions.
Conclusion - There are reasons to doubt the validity of claims of the Bible.


From both a logical perspective and based on the Bible's own declaration of infallibility, internal contradictions provide reason to doubt the validity of the Bible.




Debate Round No. 1


Before my initial arguments, I would like to remind you of what our topic actually is all about, and make sure we are on the same page: WE AREN'T DEBATING THE VALIDITY OF THE BIBLE. We are not debating whether or not the Bible is true, and there is no burden to prove. The topic is ONLY whether or not contradictions provide a solid reason for doubt. Anything unrelated to contradictions and what they mean for the Bible's validity are therefore irrelevant and have no effect on this debate.

Contradiction- ...statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another. (1)
Doubt- To be undecided or skeptical. (2)
Valid- sound; just; well-founded (3)

1- Different doesn't equal fictitious.
The biggest view from a skeptic is that a difference automatically disqualifies something from being true. This is simply illogical. Imagine you and a few friends are having lunch together. While having lunch, you all are reliving a great memory you had together. Each of you are probably going to remember things a little differently, and some of you may remember an aspect that no one else remembers. You will obviously paraphrase quotes, and because of this, everything might not line up 100%. Does this mean the story you're telling didn't happen? No. Each of you had a different aspect and therefore had slightly different accounts.

2- Slight variation supports that fact that it is true.
Besides saying that variation doesn't disprove the Bible, I want to take it even further and say that they actually support the Bible's validity. They help push the fact that real people wrote these things down. If the Bible was made up by some cult who was trying to fool everyone, it would not contain any "errors" and if any were discovered, would have been fixed immediately. As Explore God put it, "Contrived and forged works generally don"t contain such marks." (4)

3- Different authors had different purposes for writing.
It's not necessary to explain in depth the History of the Bible. Each book is a letter or historical "textbook" written by who it says it was. The Early Church compiled the ones it believed most reliable and made our holy text. Whether you believe what's in the Bible to be true, this is solid fact. (5) Each author wrote with a specific purpose and audience in mind, and chose content accordingly. Explore God: "Its authors simply reported what they experienced to the best of their abilities." (6)

4- Context is Key
Many so-called contradictions occur due to taking Scripture out of context (7)

5- Many "contradictions" aren't so. (8) As I have reached my 3,000 character limit, I ask that you give me 3 examples of contradictions that I will attempt to explain next round.



==Subject of the debate==

I understand the topic and would like to point out that both of the arguments that I put into standard form involved internal contradictions in the Bible as a premise, with the conclusion being that the validity of the Bible can be doubted. I'm unsure if you are making a general assertion to clarify things or if you believe that criticism applies to what I've written. If the latter, please be explicit in your rebuttal.

However, we *are* debating the validity of the Bible indirectly, although I understand we're restricted to only doing so through a specific line of reasoning.


I will note and accept all of the definitions which you have provided.

==Rebuttal - "Different doesn't equal fictitious"==

-If two directly conflicting statements are mutually exclusive, then they can"t both be true at the same time. So to the contrary of your assertion, "different" can indeed equate to the logical conclusion that one of two competing claims is false.

-Even in cases where contradicting statements are not mutually exclusively, it is still a reasonable criteria under which to assess credibility of a source.

-The "Rashomon effect" analogy you drew is not comparable to the discrepancies in the Bible which, as I stated in my opening, explicitly claims to be the infallible word of God and explicitly rejects the possibility that any interpretations from authors influenced the text.

==Rebuttal - Slight variation supports the fact that it is true==

-First and most importantly, you're actually conceding right here that there are inaccuracies in the Bible. The fact that you attribute this to authors is irrelevant; what matters is that *you are admitting that there are errors in the text itself*. By definition, if it's erroneous its validity can be questioned.

-Again, the Bible itself undermines the argument that contradictions are due to varying authors.

-Additionally, there are internal contradictions even within a single book of the Bible, written by a single author.

==Rebuttal - Different authors had different purposes for writing==

I fail to see how the motives of the authors have any relevance to this debate.

==Rebuttal - Context is key==

Too broad a point to argue generally, but I'm open to you attempting to demonstrate this with any specific scripture I present.

==Rebuttal - Many "contradictions" aren't so==

I'd be happy to present three examples of contradictions, as you request. To emphasize there are even contradictions within individual books, two of the examples fit this pattern. Due to character limit constraints I will need to summarize and can't include the full text of the scriptures.

John 10:30 (1) - Jesus equal to the Father.
John 14:28 (1) - The Father greater than Jesus.

1 Corinthians 2:15 (1) - Make judgments.
1 Corinthians 4:5 (1) - Judge nothing.

Matthew 27:28 (1) - Jesus wore a scarlet robe at trial.
John 19:2 (1) - Jesus wore a purple robe at trial.

Debate Round No. 2


First of all, I would like to say that I am truly enjoying this debate. You are obviously very intelligent and a skilled orator, which is what makes a debate fun.

I would also like to answer a question you asked in your rebuttal. My introduction, where I discussed the subject of the debate, was mostly a general statement to ensure that not only we, but also our readers and voters, weren't misinterpreting the topic.

Lastly, thank you for providing me with three "contradictions" as I asked. As promised, I will answer them next round in my defense points.

Now, I will give rebuttals to your opening arguments in Round 1.

-Burden of Proof
I'm not sure that this is true, since the topic isn't about whether or not something is true or exists, which is what the source you shared was talking about. (1) We are merely debating whether or not contradictions point to an invalid Bible. Nothing to prove or disprove, meaning there is no burden of proof, only who lays out the most convincing arguments. "Not all assertions we make in a debate necessarily have a burden of proof" (2)
The other two paragraphs under this header are nearly unrelated to our topic. We aren't debating if all the claims in the Bible challenge validity, only contradictions.

-Infallible Word of God
Everything in this section is true. The Bible was inspired by God through around 30 authors. They wrote based upon the convictions he placed on them as they wrote. (3)

-Numerous Contradictions
This is the topic of the debate. As the link you cited with this point says (4), "Not everyone will agree that all of the listed "contradictions" are, in fact, contradictions." That lowers the credibility of this source. The majority of my initial argument could serve as a rebuttal to this point. Many of the "contradictions" are merely the result of variation in authors' styles, misinterpretations, text out of context, or differences in translations. Since you provided me with three, I will explain them and further argue this point in the next round. Each one you gave me is a common example from a skeptic, and therefore not very hard to explain.

I feel there are a lot of holes in your opening argument. Everything was vague and when you actually discussed our topic, it was with one sentence that said "just to be clear" followed by your stance. You can't make a general statement like that and not back it up. I wish you had more supporting evidence a more elaborate outline. Besides that point, one stated accepted Christian beliefs that you didn't argue and the other was not accurate to our debate topic.

Now on to our defense rounds.

Best of luck to you.



First off, thanks for the compliments. I'm having fun with this as well so I appreciate you putting this debate forward.

Understood on making things clear and you intention to address the contradictions in your defense. Onto my defense:

==Burden of Proof==

The Bible makes assertions. The topic of this debate is whether internal contradictions are reasons to doubt the validity of the Bible. Assertions that would require significant evidence to believe are not credible when supported by internally inconsistent statements within the Bible.

I do think that the topic of the debate trespasses on the claims of the Bible overtly in relation to how contradictions in the Bible affect the credibility of said claims.

Unfortunately I believe we're at an impasse here so I'll subject myself to the arbitration of the voters on this.

==Infallible Word of God==

Thank you for acknowledging the truth value of my factual statement about what the Bible conveys on this matter.

I do believe that this is a vital point that delivers a devastating blow to any defenses of inconsistencies on the basis of varying authorship.

==Numerous Contradictions==

I appreciate you asking for three specific contradictions, as I don't think we can argue this in broad strokes without specific examples. I look forward to reading your responses to the passages I cited. I don't think there's much more to be said on this beyond those specific responses.

==Holes in Opening==

First off, I'm concede that stating that there are numerous contradictions without elaboration in the opening (although I provided a source) was less than an ideal. However, in my defense I would like to point out that you set the parameters of this debate and we have only 3,000 characters per round. This did not give me sufficient space to delve deeply and cite a number of specific contradictions. I felt that providing a source listing dozens of contradictions, while weaker than listing contradictions explicitly, was appropriately succinct within the confines of the debate structure.

As for the rest, for me this is a matter of philosophy of logic. I provided two arguments which I then converted to standard form, in which contradictions in the Bible formed whole or part of a premise, with the conclusion that the validity of the Bible should be doubted. I disagree that any of it was irrelevant to the debate topic.

I think although this has been a fun exercise there is a mismatch in some respects as to our reading of what is and isn't pertinent, how to address the topic and what logic to apply. But with that said, I do wish you the best of luck in your final round and I'm looking forward to your responses to the scripture cited.
Debate Round No. 3


You said "we are debating the validity of the Bible indirectly", which isn't true. As the person who created and worded this debate, I assure you that this debate is not over the validity of the Bible. It is only whether or not contradictions give good reason to doubt it. Anything not directly related to this is invalid in this debate.

1-If the two accounts are not identical, it doesn't mean one is fully false, but one was remembered differently. "You can apply this to almost anything: go to the beach with your friends on Sunday and by Friday you"ll all have slightly different takes on what happened. Wait another 20 years and your stories will be completely different, bar the central fact that you were physically at the beach". Given the gospels are attributed to different authors and supposedly written some 20"50 years after Jesus" death, it"s kind of impressive they agree on anything at all." (1)
You also say that the Bible says authors can"t interpret it. Also not true. It says "no prophecy of scripture" is someone"s own interpretation. That doesn't mean the style in which they each wrote and the way they remembered historical events as happening can"t have diversity.

2-I never said there are "errors" or "inaccuracies" because there are not. I said there is variation. Please don't misquote me.

3-The motives of the authors have everything to do with this debate. Their motives would influence the order they write things, the sections they emphasize, the parts they include, and the parts they leave out.

4-Context is also important. What they said near the passage as well as when they write and whom they are writing to would cause them to word things certain ways, etc. Similar to last point.

5-For the sake of not using my character limit, I will label them a, b, and c, according to the order you presented them.
a.Please read the entire article I cite. (2) It will explain in greater detail than I have room to. One of the biggest messages in Jesus' ministry is that He is God. However, he also often says that He is on Earth to do the Father's Will. He is equal to God (in the sense that they are One), yet he is under the authority of God while on Earth. In that sense, omnipotent God is greater than on-Earth Jesus.
b.Context! The "make judgments" verse means judge THINGS. He advises to judge actions they may commit, and to judge what's being taught to them. It's in the sense of evaluating right and wrong in concern to themselves. In your next verse, he tells readers to not wrongly infer or think bad of others, since we aren't perfect and hold no right. It's in concern to PEOPLE.
c.I don't think something as trivial as this is a contradiction. The colors are similar and could be described as either. Besides, the robe was likely old, used, and the color faded. Read (3).



Since this round is allotted for my conclusion only, I will abide by that and I won't make further arguments or rebuttals. Thanks for having this debate, although I think we were on different wavelengths on some points it was interesting and thought provoking to consider your arguments.

In summarizing what I've conveyed and why voters should chose me:

The Bible makes truth claims and, more, claims to be the word of God. Con's arguments in relation to contradictions being ascribable to varying authorship fails when the Bible itself purports to be divinely inspired. Some contradictions are zero sum, as in, if one assertion is true, the contradictory assertion must necessarily be false. These errors are reason to question validity.

Believers have a tendency to describe passages alternatively as literal or metaphorical, as divinely inspired or written by men, and with esoteric interpretations going against the plain meaning of words, in a way that suits them in a given context. It is incoherent to, on the one hand, describe the Bible as the infallible word of God and, on the other, attribute contradictions to the work of men with imperfect memory. This is moving the goalposts.

I do think we had some disagreements over definitions and relevancy, and these matters were not established in rules up front, so it falls to the voters to determine which of us missed the mark on points of contention.

Once again, thanks for debating, TannerJK, and have a good night.
Debate Round No. 4
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by civiero 11 months ago
For the record, I did not report the vote.
Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
>Reported vote: distraff// Mod action: NOT Removed<

3 points to Con (Argument). Reasons for voting decision: The topic clearly is about whether there are contradictions that are reasons to doubt its validity and nothing more. So when Pro tries to attack the bible by saying it doesn't have sufficient evidence this point is completely irrelevant as Con the creator of this debate topic pointed out multiple times. As for the three examples Con showed that the father is equal in that they are one and greater in that he is in the heavens, con clarified that judging was being used differently in the verses. The first was saying to judge what the truth was while the second was telling you not to judge others. The third example with the color of the robe and they are similar and this is too small to be a meaningful contradiction. Based on this Con won this debate. There was some debate about what a contradiction is but since Pro couldn't provide any good examples Con wins.

[*Reason for non-removal*] The voter justifies their decision with specific arguments from the debate made by both sides. That is sufficient to meet the voting standards, particularly with the extended reasoning in the comments.
Posted by civiero 11 months ago
Also, not to go on and on, but given the phrasing of the topic I actually initially thought that it was implicitly accepted by the con side from the outset that there were contradictions in the Bible, and that I therefore did not need to demonstrate that.

Not trying to change minds, but the play by play was just kicking around in my head a bit.
Posted by civiero 11 months ago
Hi distraff,

Thanks for that. For what it's worth I believe you made some fair criticisms and if I were to debate this topic again I would certainly approach it differently. If I had provided explicit examples in my argument, I could have then addressed his rebuttals in my defense, so not doing so was a mistake on my part. There were certain basic philosophy of logic stuff I wanted to address and I just took the contradictions as a given. Honestly I greatly underestimated Tanner, as I saw his record was full of forfeits and I didn't anticipate much resistance. I was pleasantly surprised though because this made me think and I learned from it.

Also, Tanner and I both exchanged private messages as well and we are in mutual agreement that the structure of the debate didn't really work and we both learned from this how to set things up better next time. Fully agreed there.
Posted by distraff 11 months ago
Civiero: I changed my comment so it didn't fault you for not responding. In any case I was not convinced of any contradictions as Tanner directly addressed them so I have to say Tanner still won.

You should have provided the contradictions in round 1 so there would be time for you to defend them. This debate was structured very weirdly and prevented you two from debating this topic very well. I felt like you two spent round 3 waiting until you could respond to round 2 and only did this in the last round and then you couldn't even do a defense or rebuttal.
Posted by distraff 11 months ago
This was an interesting debate to read and I did learn something about how to interpret contradictions. I do have one question about one contradiction that might exist. It has to do with the empty tomb in Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. I am fine with a few variations in the accounts but in this case they seem to be radically different.

In Matt the angel comes down making the guards faint and tells the women including Mary that Jesus is risen and to tell the apostles and they go to the disciples, and then they meet Jesus.

In Mark the women meet the angel in the tomb and angel says the same thing but this time they are afraid and saying nothing to anyone.

In Luke they go into the tomb and find two angels. They told the apostles and Peter ran back and found on linen.

In John Mary finds that the stone is removed and Jesus is gone and tells Peter and another disciple that someone stole Jesus. Peter and the other disciple ran back to the tomb to find it empty and returned to their homes. While Mary was weeping by the tomb she saw two angels in the tomb and she tells them she does not know where his body has been placed. She turns around to find Jesus. Jesus then appears to the apostles.

Can you tell me what happened in a way that doesn't grossly contradict one of the accounts?
Posted by civiero 11 months ago
While distraff's vote is reasonable and provides rationale (so I'm definitely not going to report it or anything), and I actually respect his integrity in voting for the side that he did not personally agree with, I just wanted to address something:

"Pro did not even try to respond to this"

I actually couldn't, given the format of the debate. My last round was for my conclusion only, I couldn't rebut his rebuttal or it would have resulted in an automatic loss (additionally). I'm not complaining about this as it was fair, just wanted to clarify my understanding was it would be against the rules to write anything but a summary/conclusion so I made the willful choice not to respond so that I could abide by that.

I also still think the claims of the Bible and sufficiency of evidence is relevant in the specific context of what contradictions say about internal logic of the text and, by extension, validity. It's possible that I have failed to articulate this effectively so I'll take this criticism on board for future reference.
Posted by civiero 11 months ago
Anyways, this was a learning experience, in that I would have a higher character limit for future debates as it constrained both of us at various times.

Not a criticism, as it wasn't bad and was a useful lesson that we can apply in the future.
Posted by civiero 11 months ago
Yes, to be honest I felt it would be very restrictive for you to have to post your defense and conclusion together, given the character limit. If you would like to add a bit in the comments here I have no objection to the voters considering it, since you were disadvantaged in that respect.
Posted by TannerJK 11 months ago
Due to the 3,000 character limit I wish I would have raised slightly, I did not get a chance to conclude this debate. So, I wish you the best of luck and I've truly enjoyed this debate with you. Each of us have laid out good arguments, now ON TO VOTING! Good luck and God bless!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by distraff 11 months ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: The topic clearly is about whether there are contradictions that are reasons to doubt its validity and nothing more. So when Pro tries to attack the bible by saying it doesn't have sufficient evidence this point is completely irrelevant as Con the creator of this debate topic pointed out multiple times. As for the three examples Con showed that the father is equal in that they are one and greater in that he is in the heavens, con clarified that judging was being used differently in the verses. The first was saying to judge what the truth was while the second was telling you not to judge others. The third example with the color of the robe and they are similar and this is too small to be a meaningful contradiction. Based on this Con won this debate. There was some debate about what a contradiction is but since Pro couldn't provide any good examples Con wins.