The Instigator
TheINTP
Con (against)
Winning
40 Points
The Contender
RationalMadman
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Is the Bible a Reliable Historical Document?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
TheINTP
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/2/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,187 times Debate No: 25410
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (6)

 

TheINTP

Con

Resolution: The Bible is a trustworthy source of historical information.

Position: I will be arguing that the bible is not a reliable, accurate historical source.

Format:
+Round 1: Acceptance
+Round 2: Arguments
+Round 3: Rebuttal
+Round 4: Closing Statements

Rules:
+New Arguments in Last Round Will Not Be Counted

Burden of Proof: There is a shared burden of proof. I must prove that the bible is not historically accurate and reliable, my opponent must prove that the bible is historically accurate and reliable.

Definitions:
+Reliable: Without internal inconsistencies or unreasonable corruption over time(ie something that changes a central doctrinal issue or historical fact).
+Historically Accurate: Aligns with current historical knowledge.
+The Bible: The 66 books that constitute the scripture of the Christian religion. Pro may decide if Apocrypha is part of the bible or not.

I thank my opponent for their acceptance and hope that this will be a spirited and informative debate. My opponent may revise the definitions in round 1 if necessary.
RationalMadman

Pro

I will accept but want to make this clear: If one of the 66 is inaccurate doesn't mean entire bible is inaccurate. Ok.
Debate Round No. 1
TheINTP

Con

First, I would like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate and express my hope that this will be an educational experience for us both.

Second as a matter of clarification, I will address my opponents statement in R1. He say "If one of the 66 is inaccurate doesn't mean entire bible is inaccurate". This is very true. Just because one part may contain inaccuracy, it doesn't necessarily follow that everything in the remainder of the document is false. However, this debate is not over whether there is some truth in the Bible, but rather if the bible is a trustworthy source of historical information. An example of a trustworthy source of historical information is Josephus, the prominent Historian of Judaism. His work has been corroborated from multiple outside sources, and is now used as a standard by which other documents are compared to check their historical accuracy. If the Bible contains historical errors and internal inconsistencies, then, while there is undeniably still some accurate information in the book, it is no longer a trustworthy source of historical information. Also it is important to note that this is not a debate about one book of the bible over the other, but rather the bible as a whole. Therefore, if one book contains inaccuracy, then the Bible contains an inaccuracy.

My argument will be in the following form:
1.If a document is internally inconsistent and does not align with historical fact, then it is not a trustworthy source of historical information.
2.The Bible is internally inconsistent and does not align with historical fact.
3.Therefore, the bible is not a trustworthy source of historical information.

My first premise states that if a certain document, in this case the Bible, contains internal inconsistencies and does not align with historical fact, then it is not a trustworthy source of historical information. What is an internal inconsistency? Merriam-Webster defines inconsistency as "the quality or state of being inconsistent" and defines inconsistent as "not compatible with another fact or claim". If a document contains information that is internally inconsistent, that is, a fact not compatible with another fact contained within it, then the document necessarily contains some non-truth. If a document contains non-truth that is purported as fact, then it becomes unreliable. If something cannot maintain accuracy within itself, how can it be trusted to be accurate about external matters? This does not mean that there is nothing true within the document, only that the document is not reliable as a source in and of itself. Similarly, if a document contains historical claims that are not supported by external evidence and run counter to accepted historical fact, the odds of that information being accurate greatly decrease, making the document unreliable, and not trustworthy as a source of historical information.

My second premise states that the bible is internally inconsistent and does not align with historical fact. There are numerous examples of biblical inconsistency, only a few of which I will be able to present here. First is the issue of Jesus' genealogy. Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke contain genealogies of Jesus, Matthew's beginning with Abraham and working down to Joseph, Luke's beginning with Joseph and working all the way back to Adam. The problem is that the genealogies are entirely different. This is as clear an example of biblical inconsistency as is possible. This is not a novel realization, and Christian scholars have responded by claiming that, in a move of bewildering unorthodoxy, Luke was not referring to Joseph, Mary's husband, but rather was referring to Joseph, Mary's father. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries claim, "…Most Bible scholars believe that Luke gives the genealogy of Mary (who was also of the royal Davidic line), while Matthew traces the family of Joseph. Thus by both His mother and His earthly father, Jesus had a right to the throne of Israel."[1] While this explanation might seem compelling, it is completely baseless. There is absolutely no evidence that Luke was referring to Mary's father. Joseph, Mary's husband, was clearly referred to multiple times in the preceding chapters as Joseph, and there is no mention of Mary's father anywhere; it therefore stands to reason that, unless Luke was an inept writer, the passage is referring to the same Joseph, Mary's husband. The assumption that Luke was referring to Mary's father is one spurred on by the erroneous stance that the Bible must be true. Indeed even some biblical scholars, such as Robert H. Gundry (Ph.D. Manchester University), are beginning to make claims such as "[Luke] treats us to history mixed with elements that cannot be called historical in a modern sense."[2] The combination of fact and fiction that is displayed in Luke illustrates the archetypal inconsistency that ruins the Bibles credibility for being a trustworthy source of historical information. Another example of Biblical inconsistency can be found in the contradicting actions of god. Genesis 4:4-5 reads:" 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell."(KJV) Take notice of the word respect. Later in 2 Chronicles 19:7, it says "7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." This is yet another brazen discrepancy between different sections of the bible; precisely the type of internal error that brings the reliability of a document into question. More damning than internal inconsistency, at least when considering historical reliability, are historical inaccuracies. One such historical inaccuracy, which doubles as an inconsistency, can be found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, once again. The Gospel of Matthew clearly indicates that Jesus was born in the time of Herod the Great, who died around 4 BCE. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was born during a census, which required the citizens to return to their homelands, under Quirinius, "Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria."(Luke 2:1-2, NASB) The first century historian Josephus corroborates the fact that a census did happen, but in 6/7 CE, 9 years after the death of Herod the Great [3]. Furthermore, there is no evidence of Roman people being required to return to their homeland, and many critics doubt the possibility that such a thing could happen[4]. This is a glaring historical inaccuracy that casts serious doubt on the trustworthiness of the Bible as a historical document.

In premise one, I have shown that a document that contains internal errors and historical inaccuracies cannot be considered trustworthy. In premise two, I gave evidence of both historical inaccuracies and inconsistency within the Bible. Based on the truth of these two premises, it follows necessarily that the Bible is not a trustworthy source of historical information. It is now up to my opponent to establish his case before rebuttals begin in R3.

Sources:
[1]: http://carm.org...
[2]: Gundry, Robert Horton (1982). Matthew, a commentary on his literary and theological art. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 623. ISBN 0-8028-3549-X.
[3]: H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-674-39731-2,
[4]: Brown, R.E. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Doubleday, NY. 1993. Page 549
RationalMadman

Pro

The remarkable evidence of fulfilled prophecy is just one case in point. Hundreds of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled, specifically and meticulously, often long after the prophetic writer had passed away.

For example, Daniel the prophet predicted in about 538 BC (Daniel 9:24-27) that Christ would come as Israel's promised Savior and Prince483 years after the Persian emperor would give the Jews authority to rebuild Jerusalem, which was then in ruins. This was clearly and definitely fulfilled, hundreds of years later.

There are extensive prophecies dealing with individual nations and cities and with the course of history in general, all of which have been literally fulfilled. More than 300 prophecies were fulfilled by Christ Himself at His first coming. Other prophecies deal with the spread of Christianity, as well as various false religions, and many other subjects.

There is no other book, ancient or modern, like this. The vague, and usually erroneous, prophecies of people like Jeanne Dixon,Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and others like them are not in the same category at all, and neither are other religious books such as the Koran, the Confucian Analects, and similar religious writings. Only the Bible manifests this remarkable prophetic evidence, and it does so on such a tremendous scale as to render completely absurd any explanation other than divine revelation.

Unique Historical Accuracy

Ebla Tablet. Courtesy of Associates for Biblical Research.
Learn more aboutArchaeology and the Bible

The historical accuracy of the Scriptures is likewise in a class by itself, far superior to the written records of Egypt, Assyria, and other early nations. Archeological confirmations of the Biblical record have been almost innumerable in the last century. Dr. Nelson Glueck, probably the greatest modern authority on Israeli archeology, has said:

"No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries."

Scientific Accuracy

Another striking evidence of divine inspiration is found in the fact that many of the principles of modern science were recorded as facts of nature in the Bible long before scientist confirmed them experimentally. A sampling of these would include:

  • Roundness of the earth (Isaiah 40:22)
  • Almost infinite extent of the sidereal universe (Isaiah 55:9)
  • Law of conservation of mass and energy (II Peter 3:7)
  • Hydrologic cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7)
  • Vast number of stars (Jeremiah 33:22)
  • Law of increasing entropy (Psalm 102:25-27)
  • Paramount importance of blood in life processes (Leviticus 17:11)
  • Atmospheric circulation (Ecclesiastes 1:6)
  • Gravitational field (Job 26:7)
  • and many others.

These are not stated in the technical jargon of modern science, of course, but in terms of the basic world of man's everyday experience; nevertheless, they are completely in accord with the most modern scientific facts.

It is significant also that no real mistake has ever been demonstrated in the Bible—in science, in history, or in any other subject. Many have been claimed, of course, but conservative Bible scholars have always been able to work out reasonable solutions to all such problems.

Unique Structure

The remarkable structure of the Bible should also be stressed. Although it is a collection of 66 books, written by 40 or more different men over a period of 2,000 years, it is clearly one Book, with perfect unity and consistency throughout.

The individual writers, at the time of writing, had no idea that their message was eventually to be incorporated into such a Book, but each nevertheless fits perfectly into place and serves its own unique purpose as a component of the whole. Anyone who diligently studies the Bible will continually find remarkable structural and mathematical patterns woven throughout its fabric, with an intricacy and symmetry incapable of explanation by chance or collusion.

The one consistent theme of the Bible, developing in grandeur from Genesis to Revelation, is God's great work in the creation andredemption of all things, through His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Source:
[1] http://christiananswers.net...;

Debate Round No. 2
TheINTP

Con

First and foremost I must express my sincere disappointment with my opponents post. Although he at least had the courtesy to site his source, his entire post is a copy and paste from another website. This does not make his arguments invalid, just extremely unoriginal and lacking in the spirit that I hoped this debate to have.

I will begin with his first argument, which I will rephrase as "Fulfilled Prophecy indicates that the bible is true". It is important to notice that I said "indicates the bible is true" and not "indicates that the bible is a trustworthy source of historical information". This is not a straw-man of his position, but rather a logical extrapolation from the fact that the title of article which he so kindly pasted into our debate is "How Do We Know the Bible is True". This argument errs away from the historicity of the Bible and enters more into the question of whether the Bible was divinely inspired. Regardless I will do my best to address it in a relevant way. The central problem my opponent's argument has is that the truth of his premise, that there are fulfilled prophecies, is reliant upon the fact that the bible is a reliable source of historical information. This can be seen in his example from Daniel. He states, "For example, Daniel the prophet predicted in about 538 BC (Daniel 9:24-27) that Christ would come as Israel's promised Savior and Prince483 years after the Persian emperor would give the Jews authority to rebuild Jerusalem, which was then in ruins. This was clearly and definitely fulfilled, hundreds of years later." However, it is only clear and definite that this prophecy was fulfilled if the bible, in this case the gospels, is a trustworthy source of historical information. This is simply circular reasoning. The bible is trustworthy because it contains claims that are later verified in the bible, which is trustworthy because it contains claims that are later verified in the bible, which is trustworthy...etc. It is true that there are predictions in the bible that are validated by outside historical sources. These however are much fewer in number than the alleged 300 that my opponent has stated exist. These "lucky guesses" are offset by other failed prophecies. Ezekiel 30:10-11, for example, claims "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his army�€"the most ruthless of nations�€" will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. (NIV)" Egypt, however, has never been destroyed, and Nebuchadnezzar was actually defeated in his attempt to invade Egypt by Amasis[1]. It is clear that Biblical Prophecy is something of a hit or miss event, except for those prophecies whose fulfillment are only verified by the bible. This argument, therefore, fails to give the bible credibility as a trustworthy source of historical information.

My opponents second argument is that the bible is historically accurate. To prove that the bible is historically accurate he asserts that archaeological confirmations of the bible are abounding and quotes Dr. Nelson Glueck as saying "No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries." To the attentive viewer, it is clear that my opponents argument fails completely. He makes an assertion, that there are innumerable archaeological confirmations of the bible, but provides no warrant for that assertion aside from an appeal to authority, which is a well known fallacy[2]. Given that my opponent has offered none of the supposedly numerous archaeological evidences of the bible, I believe that his argument is thoroughly unsuccessful.

Next my opponent claims that the scientific accuracy of the bible gives it credibility, and he provides numerous examples of this, two of which I will discuss. One of his examples is Jeremiahs supporting of the fact that there is a "vast number of stars". I do not find this to be evidence of any kind for the accuracy of the bible, save that it shows the author of Jeremiah was not a lunatic. It can be clearly observed by anyone that there are multiple stars in the sky, and the acceptance of that fact does not make the remainder of what the bible has to say any more accurate. Another example of the scientific accuracy of the bible is the claim that the bible predicts the law of increasing entropy. Entropy is defined as "a thermodynamic quantity representing the amount of energy in a system that is no longer available for doing mechanical work; "entropy increases as matter and energy in the universe degrade to an ultimate state of inert uniformity"[3] Psalm 102:25-27, on the other hand, reads, "Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. Even they will perish, but you endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing you will change them and they will be changed." My opponent seems to believe that the mere mention of things decaying over time(something every person observes in every day life) implies that the author of Jeremiah had advanced knowledge of modern physics. There is no reason to believe that the author of Jeremiah is referring to anything other than typical decay, such as rust on iron or moths eating cloth. The supposed scientific accuracies pointed out by my opponents arguments are nothing more than common everyday observations haphazardly cobbled together with advanced modern scientific concepts. The bible does however, make specific claims about the nature of the universe that have been demonstrated by science to be false. Genesis 1 claims that the earth and the universe were created in 7 days, while science has demonstrated that the universe was created in an inflationary process called the big bang, with the earth being formed roughly 4.5 billion years ago[4]. Also, the bible advocates spontaneous generation of species, that is to say that all species of life were created at one time, which runs counter to modern evolutionary theory, which is described by the National Academy of Sciences as being "a scientific fact."[5] My opponent once again has failed to provide an argument that can give the bible trustworthiness as a historical source, and has actually shown that, contrary to his stance, science damages the credibility of the bible.

My opponents final argument is that the bible has no contradictions. This statement is clearly rebutted by my arguments in R2, so I will not discuss it here.

As can be seen, my opponent's arguments all fail to establish the bible as a trustworthy source of historical information, while there are good reasons to believe that the bible is not a trustworthy source of historical information. Unless my opponent can invalidate the contradictions and inaccuracies I have shown, I believe that Con has the more reasonable stance.

Sources:
[1]Alan B. Lloyd, 'The Late Period' in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (ed. Ian Shaw), Oxford Univ. Press 2002 paperback, pp.381-82
[2]http://www.logicalfallacies.info...
[3]wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
[4]
RationalMadman

Pro

OK! YOU WIN!
Debate Round No. 3
TheINTP

Con

In summary, I have stated that if the bible contains internal inconsistencies and is historically inaccurate, then it cannot be considered a trustworthy source of historical information. I then provided multiple examples, such as discrepancies between Luke and Matthews genealogies of Jesus and the inaccuracy of the birth narrative, of biblical inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Based on these premises, I believe there is a good case for the stance that the bible is not a trustworthy source of historical information. My opponent has failed to provide any solid arguments for the trustworthiness of the bible, and has left my arguments uncontested. I thank my opponent again for the opportunity to debate and wish him luck in his future dialogues.
RationalMadman

Pro

This guy knows too much about bible. lol.
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Jacob_Apologist 4 years ago
Jacob_Apologist
INTP, I will debate you on the topic "Is the NT historically reliable"?
I will instigate and challenge you on the topic. It will be perhaps 3 or 4 round debate. Tell me is you want to clarify on certain criteria and aspect of the debate.
Posted by Mathaelthedestroyer 4 years ago
Mathaelthedestroyer
RationalMadman is back to his usual copy and paste technique, I see..
Posted by TheINTP 4 years ago
TheINTP
Im afraid I got overly excited and forgot to conclude my sources list, which I will now do here.
[4]http://www.talkorigins.org...
[5]http://www.nationalacademies.org...
Posted by stubs 4 years ago
stubs
Maybe after this debate we could find a good time that works for both of us and we could set up this debate between us.
Posted by TheINTP 4 years ago
TheINTP
By all means, school comes before online debating. If you accept and must later forfeit due to class load I will understand, no harm no foul. If you do not accept I will also understand, no harm no foul. You've got to do what you've got to do.
Posted by stubs 4 years ago
stubs
With the new definitions I would love to take this but I would feel horrible if I had to forfeit and ruin such a good debate due to school.
Posted by stubs 4 years ago
stubs
I did not know that. Thanks for the information
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Essentially, if someone makes a resolution which is impossible to lose, then it is impossible for them to win, is common debating procedure.
Posted by stubs 4 years ago
stubs
I know it probably seems like im knit picking, but I'm really not trying to haha. This is why I like talking more about these things in the forums because definitions don't mean as much .
Posted by TheINTP 4 years ago
TheINTP
When I used the word corrupted, the intent was in the same spirit as when you used corrupted in your first comment to me. I suppose it would be better if I said "Unreasonably corrupted". Some level of corruption is inevitable as a document passes through the generations, as you have wisely pointed out, and to ask for a completely uncorrupted document is unreasonable. So I will amend myself by defining corruption as change in the currently used documents from earlier manuscripts that alters critical doctrine of the text. Once again I thank you for your desire for clarity and your interest in the topic.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by Clash 4 years ago
Clash
TheINTPRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded.
Vote Placed by famer 4 years ago
famer
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded.
Vote Placed by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
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Reasons for voting decision: Conceded.
Vote Placed by Mathaelthedestroyer 4 years ago
Mathaelthedestroyer
TheINTPRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: "OK! YOU WIN!"
Vote Placed by alex1094 4 years ago
alex1094
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded his argument, heavily plagiarised and used only a single source.
Vote Placed by KuriouserNKuriouser 4 years ago
KuriouserNKuriouser
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct- plagiarism by Pro. Arguments- conceded by Pro. Sources- Con supported his arguments with strong sources, Pro merely used christiananswers.net