The Instigator
Hirakula
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
the_arbiter
Con (against)
Losing
13 Points

Is the Bible fictional?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
Hirakula
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,907 times Debate No: 38226
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (34)
Votes (7)

 

Hirakula

Pro

To begin, I'd like to make clear that I am an atheist, and I believe strongly that the Bible is, to be blunt, nonsense. I am taking the Pro position, meaning that I will be attempting to argue against claims that the Bible is true and accurate.

Rules

Forfeit results in an automatic loss.
Semantics should be kept to a minimum.
Standard conduct applies.
Please refrain from discussing the positive impact that the Bible may have had on yourself or any others, as it has no relevence to the potential validity of the Bible.


First round is NOT for acceptance. I will set the stage, so to speak, for the Contender, here, and I will expect a full argument in response.

I will not be arguing the case that the Bible is fictional. Instead, I will merely be attempting to disprove or rebuke any argument(s) made for the validity of the Bible. The Burden of Proof is certainly on one who attempts to convey that the Bible is true and accurate, as it is not my duty to provide any evidence that the Bible is not true; instead, I should judge whether evidence for the Bible's validity can be considered persuasive or convincing, and, in this case, I will argue against this evidence, argument, or claim.

Also, please do not respond unless you are willing to debate the topic. Don't answer just to say that you agree with me.
Also, please use proper grammar and spelling, and please make paragraphs as I have. It's unpleasant to read 15 lines with no breaks.
the_arbiter

Con

This is easy. In order to show that the Bible is non-fiction, one simply needs to cite a dictionary.

http://www.merriam-webster.com...

By definition, in order for a work to be one of fiction, it is necessary for the stories to have been fabricated by the author. The stories in the Bible were most likely not fabricated. Many of the stories had been passed down orally before being written down. (http://books.google.com...) How could the authors fabricate something that no one created? The authors likely believed these stories to be true, as the stories are presented as true and there has been no evidence presented suggesting the authors were deceitful. Therefore, the Bible is classified as non-fiction.

Perhaps the original question hinges upon an ignorant understanding of the word "fictional" as "false"? Even under this interpretation, the Bible is "non-fictional," for it makes references to historic events and places corroborated by non-biblical sources. If the Bible were false, then its content would be false. This is false since Palestine, at least, is a real place.
Debate Round No. 1
Hirakula

Pro

My intended definition of the word fictional was that the Bible is "something that is not true," which can be found in the very citation my opponent offered:
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

I feel my opponent is aware of this, and is simply being antagonistic to my choice of words; to his credit, perhaps I should have been more clear. The purpose of my argument is to state that the events depicted in the Bible, concerning the Creation of Earth and the life of Jesus Christ are fictional, or, if my opponent prefers, false. Under this definition, contrary to my opponent's claims, the Bible should, unless my opponent can provide evidence for its validity, be classified as fictional.

My opponent claims that because some events and places mentioned in the Bible are historically real, the Bible is not fictional. I think that it is plain to see that this is ludicrous. Most books and films that you may read or view will give readers or viewers information regarding the place or time in which the events depicted take place - despite making no claim to be real, or non-fictional. For example, in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the magical castle Hogwarts is said to be in Scotland:

http://harrypotter.wikia.com...

By my opponent's logic, we can conclude that Hogwarts is a real place because Scotland is a real place, and so the Harry Potter series must be deemed 'non-fictional'. This is certainly not the case, as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels are, rightfully, classified as fictional.
I feel we can still accept that the Bible is fictitious, as no evidence for its validity has been given.
the_arbiter

Con

The Bible cannot be assumed false unless it is demonstrated to be false. To assume the Bible is false because it has not been proven to be true is an argument from ignorance. The rational position is to conclude that it is unknown whether the Bible is true, until someone presents an argument either way.

As for the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling herself has presented the works as being fictional. The author does not believe the events are true, which is why the books are classified as nonfictional. The authors of the Bible, on the other hand, are all deceased. However, based on the circumstances under which the Bible was written, it is safe to assume that the authors believed in what they wrote. The Bible is therefore non-fiction under the technical meaning.

As for the Bible being false, many of the events, such as the creation of the earth and the flood, are irrefutable and not scientific. There is no way to successfully argue either for or against the events. So in order to avoid an argument from ignorance, it must be concluded that the truth of the alleged events is unknown.
Debate Round No. 2
Hirakula

Pro

My opponent argues, if I may summarize, that because the author(s) may have believed the events to be true, and nobody has created an argument against it's validity, we should classify the Bible as non-fictional. He claims that to call it fictional is an argument from ignorance.

I find that an erroneous and egregious claim. This book, with no supporting evidence, makes innumerable ridiculous claims which have no business in logic, history, or science. Many Biblical claims have already been proven false, including the spontaneous creation of man (though I should remind my opponent that, in order to be classified as non-fiction, the Bible must demonstrate reliability in facts, which it has failed to do. To be called non-fiction, the Bible should provide evidence that it is NOT "something that is not true," or, to reword it, provide evidence that it IS true).

In conclusion, the Bible makes many extreme, and often laughable, claims. Stories are to be considered false/fictional unless proven true, especially in the case of something so far-gone from the reality that we see and live in, as the Bible is. No evidence has been given to suggest that any events of the Bible (with the exception of the inclusion of some real, widely-known locations, people, etc.) are true, i.e. non-fictional, so it is more than safe to assume that the Bible is fictional.

the_arbiter

Con

The truth of a story is to be cosidered unknown in absence of an argument. That's the neutral position, the position one should take until a sound (Keyword: sound. The argument must be both true and valid.) argument is presented. To conclude that the Bible is false because it has not been proven true (or to conlude that it's true because it has not been proven false) is a fallacy. (1)

Many of the supernatural events in the Bible are not falsifiable, yet to dismiss them because they are nonsensical on a subjective level is, again, a fallacy. (2) The truth of a claim is not contigent upon how silly it appears, as the Bible itself asserts. (3)


1. http://www.skepdic.com...
2. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com...
3. http://www.biblegateway.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Hirakula

Pro

The issue with my opponent's argument is that he once again claims that because the Bible has not been proven false, it shall be concluded to be true.

The argument to ignorance is a logical fallacy of irrelevance occurring when one claims that something is true only because it hasn't been proved false, or that something is false only because it has not been proved true." [1]

Unfalsifiable claims are generally considered outside of science, and so, obserable reality [2] [3]. To claim to be non-fictional, the Bible must provide supporting evidence. While it is true that to assume the Bible is false due to lack of evidence is a fallacy, the opposite is also true - to assume that it is true (non-fictional) without supporting evidence is a horrid and egregious fallacy. [1]

Allow me to solidify my argument with an example coming from Carl Sagan [4]. I will summarize, though I recommend that my opponent and any readers also read the source:
I claim that there is a dragon in my garage. She is invisible, incorporeal, silent, hovers, gives off no heat, etc. This is quite a tall tale, though not nearly as tall as those of the Bible. However, the claim that there is a dragon in my garage is unfalsifiable, since I have an excuse for every method of detection, and so cannot be proven false. However, my opponent's argument displays the belief that this claim should be considered non-fictional due to it's unfalsifiability.

[1] http://www.skepdic.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.conservapedia.com...
[4] http://www.godlessgeeks.com...
the_arbiter

Con

I didn't say the Bible should be considered true. I said its truth should be considered unknown. I'm aware that the fallacy goes two ways.

As with the dragon, many of the Bible's claims are not falsifiable. If the claim can be neither confirmed nor denied, then in order to avoid a fallacy, the only acceptable conclusion is "I don't know." If someone were to make the dragon claim, a listener could only respond with. "Okay, but there's no way to know whether you're right. Your claim is not testable. I'm reserving my neutrality until a falsifiable argument is presented."

While certain Biblical claims can be falsified, others cannot. For example, the claim "The earth if 6000 years old" is easily falsifiable. The claim "God created the earth" is not. Certain interpretations of the Bible can be considered false, but the book as a whole, because no one can agree on one interpretation, is neither true nor false.
Debate Round No. 4
Hirakula

Pro

The original point I had intended to support was that there is so much wrong with the Bible that it can be reliable named fictional. Whenever it has been tested, it has either failed miserably, or failed to convince.
Take, for example, the first few falsifiable points from the Bible that I can think of:

-The Earth was created instantaneously/over six days.
-The Earth is less than 10,000 years old.
-Jesus created miracles regularly, in front of large groups of people.
-All people are descended from two common ancestors (Adam and Eve).

Each have been either disproved (falsified) by scientific and historical studies (1,2,4) or have provided considerably less supporting evidence than would be expected (2).

Also, logically, little of the Bible could be considered sensible. Take the Genesis story, the first piece of the book alone.
God created everything from nothing. He gave only one being a soul (Adam) and left the rest to be mindless (or so the book would like to believe). Then, even though He can created everything from nothing, He decided to cut Adam open, take out a rib, and create a woman out of the rib. This was so Adam wouldn't be lonely (despite being surrounded by everything living thing ever). Then, He allowed a talking snake (...) to trick Adam and Eve into eating forbidden fruit (even though He easily could have stopped it, and probably shouldn't have put a tree with forbidden fruit right next to these two beings, which He apparently gave a strong desire to eat forbidden fruit), and then punished them, and every living thing ever, for being tricked by the snake (who was probably Satan, master of deception). These two creatures then populated everybody (despite almost certainly being white, and, of course, evolution doesn't exist), though they only had three children - all boys. And one killed another. Also, all men forever get one less rib because Adam lost one - which makes no sense - say I lost my arm; if I had two children, one male and one female, would the boy be born with one less arm, but not the girl?

That was the first little bit alone. The book should be classified as fictional, because it makes no sense, fails to provide any evidence, and fails any test it is put to. Even though my opponent may argue for neutrality, that really isn't an option (as seen by library classifications).

Vote PRO to make clear that this book has failed to give evidence for the validity of its claims.
the_arbiter

Con

WHOA! Wait! You're using the "library" definition now? Earlier, in round 2, you admitted to using the informal definition of "fiction" as "false": "My intended definition of the word fictional was that the Bible is "something that is not true," which can be found in the very citation my opponent offered."

According to the formal definition, also contained in my original citation, whether a work is fictional is contingent upon the author's perspective, not whether the author is right. (1)(2)(3) By that definition, no religious book is fiction. They're all classified as non-fiction because the author has asserted the work as true. (But don't take my word for it. If you need further proof, go into a library. Fiction books are organized by the last name of the author. Non-fiction is organized by subject matter. Religious books can be found in the non-fiction section.)

Now, according to the informal definition, whether the Bible is false is unknown. The reasons in support of your claim are not convincing for two reasons.

One, you're mixing interpretations of a book with the book itself. Falsifying an interpretation is not equivalent to
falsifying the work. For example, the Bible makes no claim on the age of the earth. Demonstrating that the earth is 4.5 billions years old only refutes the interpretation, not the book. Jesus is claimed to have done several miracles in front of people. So what? The Bible claims that people are descended from two common ancestors, but it doesn't say Adam and Eve were the only humans. It is implied that there were other people. When Seth left home, the Bible mentions that he later found a wife among different people.

Disproving the assertions in question is just that: disproving interpretations. The truth of the book is still in question.

Two, it doesn't matter whether the Bible seems false due to its irrationality. The Bible does not present itself as a book of reason (4)(5). In fact, the Apostle Paul explicitly says the Bible is nonsense (6). By conceding that the Bible is nonsense, you're unintentionally lending credence to the book.

1. http://classroom.synonym.com...
2. http://www.hooverlibrary.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. John 3
5. Hebrews 11
6. I Corinthians 1-3
Debate Round No. 5
34 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Actually it is wise to steal or limit Con's sources if the aim is to help him lose the debate, since I cannot vote on this site, their Identity Verification fails me every time and contacting the site management has not helped. My best tactic is to strip Con of sources and educate others against Con's position.
It's almost as good as voting.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Actually, if you browse the Non-Fiction section of any library, you will find that around 80% of the books are actually fiction.
They are there because they were not written as deliberate fiction, but, in fact they have been proven as fiction by science and general knowledge.
Such as books written by the Flat Earth Society, which is definitely fiction, still exist in the Non-Fiction section.
Books about how to get good luck from your birth gemstones, is definitely fiction.
Books about reading tea leaf predictions.
Books about reading your partner's mind using Astrology.
Books by Biblical arm chair Archaeologists, that have been proven by real Archaeologists to be fictional.
Yes, piles of fiction in the non-fiction section of your library.
If they were really determined to only put non-fiction into this section, they would have to almost double the size of their fiction section.
:-D8
Posted by Hirakula 3 years ago
Hirakula
You're just begging the question. You gave NO example of your idea, so NONE of what you said is in any way meaningful.
Posted by DarthMarvolo 3 years ago
DarthMarvolo
From what I can tell, there are a lot of documentaries and historical books that are considered non-fiction even though they have been disproven. Overall, possibly due to all the different writers and books within the Bible, it seems as though it contains non-fiction, historical fiction, mythology, and philosophy and is unable to be grouped into only one genre. Many of the events that it reports are true, however there is no way that the dialogue between people is word for word, so much of it is most likely fabricated. The stories that illustrate events or explain why certain things happen by using a spiritual deity (like the story of Adam and Eve) that even many biblical scholars say are not to be taken literally fall under the category of Mythology. Also, books such as Proverbs and Psalms contain poems and other writings by people that present a philosophy that the writer believed in. So if you are asking if the Bible contains fiction, then yes it does. However, we do not consider theories like "The world is flat" to be fiction so the creation of the world story is not fiction either. Same with Proverbs and Psalms, these philosphical writings would not be considered fiction because they are a true belief. So, I don't think that the Bible could be called fiction as a whole, even if most of the stories are.
Posted by Hirakula 3 years ago
Hirakula
Once again, I JUSTIFIED that the Burden of Proof was on one who claimed the Bible was valid, non-fictional, true, etc.
Posted by the_arbiter 3 years ago
the_arbiter
The burden of proof rested upon you. You claimed that the Bible is fictional. But rather than present a case, you assumed the truth of your position and then waited for a challenger.
Posted by Hirakula 3 years ago
Hirakula
In response to some votes: BoP was absolutely on Con, which I clearly justified in the debate.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
As a reminder to some people who may or may not have been dropped on the head too many times as a baby: Con has to try to prove the bible is not fiction, costing him sources and/or conduct for mentioning the bible when doing so, is going full retard.
Posted by Sagey 3 years ago
Sagey
Not So: " Fiction: literature that tells stories which are imagined by the writer. If the writer believes the story to be true, then it is not fiction"
"Fiction" is anything that cannot be regarded as truth, whether the person telling it, believes it to be true or not.
It may not be fiction if it was from the person originating it, who believed it to be true, it is not fiction to them, but once it has been tested and found be untrue, it becomes fiction.
For instance, Abraham's hallucinations may not be fiction to Abraham, but once it is passed on by Rote, it becomes Fictitious.
Abraham's original "Garden Of Eden" may not have had a talking snake, but, the talking snake may have been added by those passing the story on as Rote is like Chinese Whispers, continually changed by every person in the Rote chain.
So, by the time it was written, even though those writing it may believe it to be true, it is no longer true, because it has already become fictitious.
It is no longer the originators license of truth being applied, but alterations have occurred that destroy that license.
Thus, by the time Genesis and the Bible was written, it had already become Fiction..
Posted by Gaben11 3 years ago
Gaben11
To add to my last comment, the definition of fiction he was intending was

"something that is not true"

and not

"written stories about people and events that are not real : literature that tells stories which are imagined by the writer"

based on his starting post.

http://www.merriam-webster.com...
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 3 years ago
Ameliamk1
Hirakulathe_arbiterTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: BOP on Con as clearly delegated, failed to meet that standard
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Hirakulathe_arbiterTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: CONDUCT (tied): Pro hurt himself in this area with his claims that con was being antagonistic by providing a respectable definition (but not the one con was supposed to guess pro wanted?). Not quite enough to tip the point for me, but something best avoided in future arguments. ARGUMENT (con): Both sides did a great job pointing out fallacies by the other side. Something of an odd setup with Con having the BoP; however BoP is highly over rated anyway (it is however generally a bad idea to give the person with BoP the last word...). The comparison to Harry Potter was very weak, pretty much losing the rebuttal section for pro; finished up with the changing definitions con expertly exploited. Overall since the claim is that it's fiction, putting evidence that it's neither fiction nor non-fiction left it in pro's hands to refute; to which he failed. The final round saw pro's conclusion shift to accidentally concede con's R1 points. SOURCES (tied): Both did a very good job in this area.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
funwiththoughts
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Reasons for voting decision: Con relied almost entirely on hiding behind BOP, even though BOP had been delegated to Con in R1.
Vote Placed by countzander 3 years ago
countzander
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct goes to Con. Pro, despite being the instigator, in round 1, tried to force the burden of proof onto Con. Furthermore, as mentioned in the debate, there are several meanings to "fictional," but Pro seems to have switched among them during the debate. Con was consistent with the library definition. Spelling and grammar were tied. Con's arguments were more convincing. In particular, he argued that if the Bible were fictional, it would be classified as fiction according to library science. Con challenged Pro to visit a library to see for himself. Pro never responded to this point. Sources were mostly the same. But Pro cited more Wikis, including the infamous Conservapedia. In general, Wikis are not good sources because they can be edited by anyone.
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 3 years ago
KeytarHero
Hirakulathe_arbiterTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate was doomed from the start and is a train-wreck. The person making the claim has the burden of proof, so conduct to Con for Pro shifting that burden. It's just lazy to institute a debate and not do the work of arguing for your position. Plus, "untrue" is a faulty definition of "fictional." Considering that the Bible is 66 (or more if you're Catholic) books of different genres, including history, prophecy, poetry, etc., you can't say the whole thing is just one genre.
Vote Placed by johnnyvbassist 3 years ago
johnnyvbassist
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Con accurately rebuttled all of Pro's arguments. Though I believe the debate was weak on both sides, Pro failed to meet the burden of proof.
Vote Placed by Weiler 3 years ago
Weiler
Hirakulathe_arbiterTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: At first, being a catholic, I thought I would agree with Con, however I stand corrected that in a "library" definition you would have to classify the bible as fiction. The truth of the bible is a matter of faith not scientifically verifiable. Furthermore, Con's arguments were weak and often unsupported by the very sources he cited. I found the consistent accusation that Pro was arguing from a place of ignorance rather insulting and therefore gave Pro the conduct points.