The Instigator
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7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The Bible Contains Scientific Errors

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/17/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,214 times Debate No: 26287
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (24)
Votes (1)




Will any sensible person take this?

Full Resolution:

The Bible contains scientific errors.


The Bible: The Catholic Bible.

Contains: Has inside.

Scientific Errors: Statements that contradict science facts or accepted theories (for example evolution).


1. The first round is for acceptance.
2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
3. No semantics, trolling, or lawyering.
4. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed from all moments after the debate has been formalized.

Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure:

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (examples of errors) by pro, rebuttals by con
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments (no new arguments)
Round 4: More refutation and defense


I accept the debate. I am not to post some grand defense for Christianity; rather, my stance will be a general approach to hermeneutics in general, as I feel like debates over any religious texts, ranging from the Bible to the Qu'ran to the Upanishads, are often severely mishandled.

I look forward to this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Volk23 for accepting this debate. I will only point out 7 errors in this round.

I. Backwards Progression

In Genesis, God first creates the Heavens and the Earth, then light, then plants, then light producing objects. However, this contradicts accepted science. It goes the heavens (space), light producing objects, light, the Earth, plants.

"In Genesis 1:1, the earth and "heaven" are created together "in the beginning," whereas according to current estimates, the earth and universe are about 4.6 and 13.7 billion years old, respectively."[1.1]

"According to the Genesis creation myth, the Earth was formed before the Sun. Aside from bio-mechanical problems, this flatly contradicts the nebular hypothesis of stellar formation, in which planets form in the accretion disk created by a young star."[2]

"The Bible says in Genesis, Ch. No.1, Verse No. 11 to 13 - vegetation, the herbs the shrubs, the trees - they were created on the 3rd day And the Sun, Genesis, Ch. No. 1, Verses. 14 to 19, was created on the 4th day. How can the vegetation come into existence without sunlight, and how can they survive without sunlight ?"[3]

"In Genesis, the earth is created (1:1) before light (1:3), sun and stars (1:16); birds and whales (1:21) before reptiles and insects (1:24); and flowering plants (1:11) before any animals (1:20). The order of events known from science is in each case just the opposite."[1.1]

As shown, the creation of the world is flawed in the Bible.

II. Light

There are many fallicies regarding light.

First, Genesis 1:3-5, 14-19 claims that light came before light objects. However, there is of course that how can there be light before light producing objects? "God creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day. Yet he didn't make the light producing objects (the sun and the stars) until the fourth day."[1.1]

Then, Genesis 1:16 claims that the moon a "light" even though it is just a reflector. "In Genesis, the moon is referred to as a "light" ("lesser light" actually). The moon is merely a reflector of the sun's light, and produces no visible light."[2]

Finally, Genesis 1:17 asserts that the stars are set "to give light to the Earth". However, we can only see a few thousand of the quadrillions and quadrillions of stars made. They clearly weren't all for us. "Then why is only a tiny fraction of stars visible from earth? Under the best conditions, no more than a few thousand stars are visible with the unaided eye, yet there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy and a hundred billion or so galaxies. Were they all created "to give light upon the earth"?"[1]

There are many fallicies regarding just light.

III. Noah's Ark

There are many errors with Noah's Ark.

One, it's too small. "The ark is too small because there is not enough room for all the animals. It has been estimated that there are 4,5000 species of mammals; 6,000 species of reptiles; 8,600 species of birds; and 3,000 species of amphibians! In all, scientists have estimated that there are anywhere from 5 to 100 million species yet only 2 million have been identified!"[4] Not to mention all the food for 40 days for all those animals. What about the fish? They need water. Plants? They need sun.

And it's too big! "Noah's ark is 450 feet long. The largest wooden ships ever built were just over 300 feet, and they required diagonal iron strapping for support. Even so, they leaked so badly that they had to be pumped constantly. Are we to believe that Noah, with no shipbuilding knowledge, was able to construct a wooden ship longer than any that has been built since?"[1.2]

Then, there is the error of mere possibility. " (7:19-20) "The flood covered the highest mountain tops (Mount Everest?) with fifteen cubits to spare. Where did all the water come from? Where did it all go? Why is there no evidence of such a massive flood in the geological record?"[1.2]

There is a lot more evidence, but I will move on.

IV. Pi

The Bible miscalculates Pi.

"The mathematical number π is the ratio of a circle's diameter to its circumference. The value of π truncated at 10 digits is 3.141592653. The bible itself gives us a different value of π in 1 Kings 7:23:

Then he made the molten sea; it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high. A line of thirty cubits would encircle it completely.

A circle with a diameter of 10 units should have a circumference of about 31.4159265358979(") units (10"π) and not 30. Alternatively, if we used these numbers to calculate π (circumference " diameter) we would get a result of precisely 3."[2]

Pi can't change.

V. Rabbits

Leviticus 11:5-6 misrepresents coneys and hares.

"The bible says that hares and coneys are unclean because they "chew the cud" but do not part the hoof. But hares and coneys are not ruminants and they do not "chew the cud."[1.3]

This is incorrect.

VI. Insects and Birds

The Bible claims that insects have four legs, when they have six.

"[Leviticus 11] 20 All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you.
21 There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground.
22 Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.
23 But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.[1]
"Is this an error -- since insects have six legs, not four, and since "fowl" have two legs, not four."[2]

VII. Leprosy

Leprosy cannot be cured this way:

"In the field of medicine, the Bible says in the book of Leveticus, Ch. No.14, Verse No.49 to 53 - it gives a novel way for disinfecting a house from plague of leprosy"" disinfecting a house from plague of leprosy. It says that" "Take two birds, kill one bird, take wood, scale it - and the other living bird, dip it in water" and under running water - later on sprinkle the house 7 times with it."Sprinkle the house with blood to disinfect against plague of leprosy? You know blood is a good media of germs, bacteria, as well as toxin."[3]

The Bible indeed contains scientific errors.

Sources (Note: Voters, please count all three links with souce 1 as one source):

All Bible verses from here,, ESV
[1.2]: (and Genesis 6)


My argument is simple, and in effect it debunks all of the presuppositions behind the PRO's first argument. As such, there won't be any direct refutation, just my argument which contains the preferable framework for reading the Bible. In effect, this reads something like a debate "kritik" or "K," so I'll signpost it as such.

My thesis and sole contention is that the PRO's reading of the scripture is scientific literalist, which is a poor way of reading the scriptures. Thus the concern about whether or not the Bible has scientific errors is irrelevant.


The presupposition behind PRO's entire first speech is that the Bible is to be read at-face; that is, when it says in Genesis that God created the world in seven days, it means seven literal rotations of the Earth around its orbit. However, as our friend the Philosoraptor wisely pointed out once, if a day is determined by the rotation of the Earth, how is it that God knew what a day was prior to the world being created? This doesn't seem to make sense.

But that's because the Bible isn't meant to be read this way. Throughout most of its existence, it wasn't read this way. Not until we get scientific rationalism during the Enlightenment does the Bible become, in the eyes of some Christians, a literal account of how the world was created. As John Gray points out in his book The Immortalization Commission,

Contrary to the cartoon history of ideas that prevails today, Darwinism's threat to religion did not come principally from challenging the biblical account of creation. Until a few centuries ago the Genesis story was known to be a myth--a poetic way of rendering truths that would otherwise be inaccessible. At the beginning of the Christian religion, Augustine warned against the dangers of literalism. The Jewish scholars who preceded him always viewed the Genesis story as a metaphor for truths that could not be accessed in any other way. It was only with the rise of modern science that the Genesis myth came to be misunderstood as an explanatory theory. (21)

Ironically enough, for all the fighting Christians do against the New Atheists, they think in strikingly similar ways, especially on this issue. To think that creation could be neatly summarized by anyone, Christian or atheist alike, is ridiculous. There's always a mystical element to these things, and the PRO's reading of scripture entirely ignores this. Much of the Bible is mythical text; I don't think, for instance, one has to read Jonah as a literal recounting of a man being swallowed by a giant fish, nor do I think that the Ark is a centimeter-for-centimeter exact measuring of how such an Ark might have been built.


The PRO's reading of scripture leads to two harms that I think hold back genuine scriptural discussion.

1. It flattens the Biblical text, making the false philosophical presupposition that any text aiming at being a divine explanation of how the world works must read out like a literal history book. It removes the mystique and mystery from our lives.
2. The harm of anachronism is present, especially in the "errors" IV-VII. Of course they weren't aware of things like Pi, the taxonomy of rabbits, and the cure for leprosy; to hold that as a burden to the Biblical narrative is absurd, since it ignores the historical progression of science. Even though our contemporary scientific record may hold up different findings today, the fact they believed different things in Biblical times isn't an "error" in the sense that it harms the Bible's verisimilitude or authenticity; in fact, it's more authentic for these beliefs. One doesn't read contemporary notions of science into a text that had different understandings.

From this I'm still meeting the burden of the resolution, insofar as I'm proving that using language like "error" doesn't make sense in the way the PRO wants it to, the conclusion being that there are no errors of this type in the Bible.


I suggest a nuanced reading of scripture, one that recognizes metaphorical and mythical language, rather than the reductive scientism of the PRO's case.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Volk23 for presenting his arguments.

Genesis Creation

A look at the Bible can show that the Genesis creation story is meant to be taken literally.

" *We must not change or teach differently from God's word.

Matthew 15:9,13 - We must not teach man-made doctrine.
Galatians 1:8,9 - We must not teach differently from the gospel of Christ.
1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 - We should hold fast the pattern of sound words and teach no other doctrine.

*Jesus rebuked people who do not believe Moses' writings.

John 5:46,47 - Believing Moses leads us to believe Jesus and His word. If we don't believe Moses' writings, we will not believe Jesus' words!
Luke 24:25-27 - Failure to believe Moses' writings leads to failure to accept the truth of Jesus and His teachings.

God has changed His commandments from the Old Testament to the New, but records of history do not change. In order to confirm the New Testament, we must accept Old Testament prophecy and history, especially miracles such as creation. Rejecting the accuracy of Moses' writings will lead us to reject New Testament truths!"[1]

Still, believers might have to accept a figurative story. However:

" *True believers must accept Bible records of miracles as literal, historic fact.

The power of miracles as evidence rests entirely on their validity as historic fact. Unless they are contrary to natural law but nevertheless occurred as true, historic fact, then they prove nothing about God or His will.

So to deny the literal, historic Bible descriptions of miracles - to claim that some supernatural aspects are legendary or symbolic - is to deny the accuracy of the Bible and to belittle the force of the miracle. This encourages rejection of the evidence for God, the Bible, and Jesus. And the more fundamental a miracle is to our faith, the greater are the consequences if we deny its historic validity."[1]

If that weren't enough, there's even more proof of the literal story:

" *In particular, true believers must never compromise the supernatural time element in a miracle.
~The importance of the time element

The time element is one supernatural aspect that demonstrates an event to be a true miracle. The length of time it takes is often stated as one reason to believe God must have done it. Specifically, many accounts of miracles specify that they happened suddenly. Given a much longer time period, one might suspect that the event could have occurred by nature. But the shortness of the time demonstrates that God must have done it.

It follows that we must recognize the Biblical record of the time element of a miracle to be historic fact. To claim it is symbolic, figurative, or less than historic fact is to compromise the Bible account and defeat the purpose of the miracle as evidence."[1]

So, the Genesis story is supposed to be taken literally.

Noah's Lineage

A look at Jesus's genealogy can decipher this:

Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,"the son of Matthat,..., the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.[Luke 3:23-38][2](A study on Noah's genealogy; please see figure 1 near the bottom.)

So are the sons of Adam and the ancestors of Jesus just ficticious characters? I think not, or the whole Bible is completely fake and Christianity is a baseless religion.

Noah is meant to be taken literally.

But what about the ark? The story itself is also meant to be taken literally because all the characters are real. That is most certainly literal.

Want Biblical proof: "Biblical consistency is easy to find. Jesus and Peter both understood the Flood to be literal and historical and there are no passages in Scripture which even remotely suggest that the Ark was not a literal ship."[3]

The Other Stories

Points IV-VI aren't stories - they are just passages that are meant to be taken literally as the word of God. They were calculated, deduced, or observed. These aren't ficticious.

"Not only can we take the Bible literally, but we must take the Bible literally. This is the only way to determine what God really is trying to communicate to us. When we read any piece of literature, but especially the Bible, we must determine what the author intended to communicate. Many today will read a verse or passage of Scripture and then give their own definitions to the words, phrases, or paragraphs, ignoring the context and author"s intent. But this is not what God intended, which is why God tells us to correctly handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)."[4]

These stories aren't supposed to be taken with a grain of salt.

Point VII might be a figurative story and I'll drop it to save time and space. Still, look above.


A few questions.

First, This begs the question - Who is to decide what is figurative and what is literal? Obviously the whole Bible can't be fiction in Christianity's eyes or even stories. Certain passages have to be taken literally.

Second, even if they are figurative, they are still errors. Nothing can eliminate the fact that the errors I mentioned last round are there; its interpretation has no bearing or weight in this. Star Wars is figurative (fake) AND contains scientific errors.

Third, how can an omnipotent God's word be taken by its believers to be figurative anyway? That basically undermines the point of religion. This is impossible.

So, figurative or not, the Bible does contain scientific errors.


All Bible verses from here except where quoted from another source: Version ESV.


Volk23 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Arguments extended.

Things readers can take away from this debate:

*Most of the Bible is literal, especially the New Testament, which states that the Pentateuch should be taken literally, and at the very least, the Genesis Creation story and Noah's Ark.
*Christians must accept supernatural and unexplainable causes for certain events.
*To claim it is symbolic, figurative, or less than historic fact is to compromise the Bible account and defeat the purpose of the miracle as evidence.
*Therefore, the Bible is to be taken literally.
*Even so, figurative or literal, the Bible contains scientific errors.

The resolution is affirmed.


My apologies on missing the round. I'm really only going to say one thing to round out my case, since it's pretty glaringly obvious from my opponent's second case:

Nowhere in the Bible does it say you have to read it "literally," that is, "word-for-word true." He equivocates truth with historical happenings, which is false. He's totally non-responsive to the Gray analysis in my first case; for the longest times in history, no one read Genesis as a word-for-word recounting of creation. That's a modern, lazy way of reading the text in hopes of responding to radical Darwinists, who themselves give a weak reading of history. This means that most of, if not all, the major church fathers, including the Apostles, didn't read Genesis as a historical recounting. It doesn't have to be: the fallacy in my opponent's case is that "If the events in the Bible didn't happen in the historico-literal sense, then they aren't true," but this is nonsense.

All the analysis in his case about "well if it didn't happen literally, then it isn't a miracle," is nonsense as well. It presupposes a nature/miracle binary that's simplistic. I agree that creation is a miracle, and part of that miracle is that it is indescribable.

When he says,

*Christians must accept supernatural and unexplainable causes for certain events.
*To claim it is symbolic, figurative, or less than historic fact is to compromise the Bible account and defeat the purpose of the miracle as evidence.

The first one is right, but the second one is deeply flawed. The presupposition behind this statement is that the only valid truth is literal, historical truth, which is unwarranted in his case and I'd say is false even if he did try to warrant it. Part of miracles is that they are indescribable; does anyone really have the hubris to claim that a human could understand ex nihilo creation just as much as he could understand the Civil War? Surely this view is nonsensical. In fact, his first point here contradicts his second, since he assumes creation must be explainable. How to get something from nothing isn't a "closed" question; it's in fact quite open, and eminently mysterious. I believe God created the world, which is the whole point of the Genesis story, but I don't believe that in order for God to be the one to have created the world it must have happened in the exact literal way as the text describes. That's a jump he never proves in his case.

Look to the verses he cites. I'll re-quote all of them:

Matthew 15:9,13 - We must not teach man-made doctrine. [This says nothing about reading the Bible literally. Reading the Bible literally is, in fact, man-made doctrine, since the Bible never says that. The 1 Timothy verse that says "all scripture is God-breathed..." doesn't even say it, because it doesn't tell you how to read the Bible, it merely says that the Bible is useful (not the only source, like the faulty doctrine of Sola Scriptura holds) for teaching.]
Galatians 1:8,9 - We must not teach differently from the gospel of Christ. [Again, this says nothing about literal v. metaphorical readings. One has to read this into the text to get that analysis off the ground.]
1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 - We should hold fast the pattern of sound words and teach no other doctrine. [Again, non-responsive.]
John 5:46,47 - Believing Moses leads us to believe Jesus and His word. If we don't believe Moses' writings, we will not believe Jesus' words! [Once again, this requires a reading-into the text to get the literalist account off the ground. My opponent presupposes "believing=literal recounting," which isn't found in the text. One can believe in the Moses story and not believe that every single event literally happened.]
Luke 24:25-27 - Failure to believe Moses' writings leads to failure to accept the truth of Jesus and His teachings. [See above. This is yet again non-responsive.]

So I apologize for missing the last round, it was a busy week to say the least. But I think it's pretty evident that my opponent's case never responded to my initial argument in the first place; he merely repeated verses with unwarranted presuppositions. Thus, you vote CON for the following reasons:

1. The PRO upholds a myopic reading of Scripture that is ahistorical and textually flattening.
2. The PRO's reading of scripture does not itself come from scripture, which is what he seems to think is crucial in his reading of the text.
3. The PRO's case upholds multiple erroneous, unwarranted assumptions:

A. Metaphor and figurative language are always false; historical accounts are the only things that are true.
B. Literal readings are the only readings that produce truth.
C. Truth is reducible to historical, "actual" happenings.

4. If you uphold the CON side, you're upholding a multifaceted view of scripture that recognizes its metaphorical and historical significance; both of these things, keep in mind, are true.

Thus, the question of whether or not the Bible has scientific errors proves to be a pointless one to begin with, and you vote CON. I think the fact my opponent went for my framework (i.e. whether or not we should prefer nuanced metaphorical readings of the Bible) instead of whether or not his errors were actually errors proves this point.

I thank my opponent for his remarks.

(Again, my apologies on missing the last round. I imagine I'll likely get voted down for it; it is what it is, I guess, but I think my argument still stands.)
Debate Round No. 4
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Muted 5 years ago
@LBabcock, technically, if there was a global flood, which I believe there was, the whole landscape would be drastically changed, i.e. the current two mentioned rivers are not the same as those before the flood, but were named after those.
Posted by Nidhogg 5 years ago
@ Ron-Paul Generally regarded to be true is not a scientific fact. An example would be the theory of the sun as the centre of the universe. Just because something is all the rage in the scientific community does not make it true. This being said, creationism is also a theory, and only happens to be the one I choose to believe. Just wished to say that to clear things up. Best of luck to all.
Posted by Ron-Paul 5 years ago

Fact: "Something that actually exists; reality; truth"

Theory: "A coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena"
Posted by truthseeker613 5 years ago
What determines if something is fact or theory?
Posted by Volk23 5 years ago
Evolution is a theory, but that doesn't mean it's false. Rather, it's a broad principle that holds true in most observable cases. Of course it's not perfect; the many gaps in the fossil record and the tenuous nature of punctuated equilibrium aren't solved questions by any means. But the fact that it's a theory doesn't make it bad or wrong. Gravity is a theory too.
Posted by Ron-Paul 5 years ago
@LBabcock: Want to debate this?
Posted by Ron-Paul 5 years ago

>>>Evolution is not a fact its theory.

That "theory" remark is always made by creationists. Almost all scientists and basically all knowledgeable scientists accept evolution as fact.

>>>And Noah's flood for first. The Tigris and Euphrates valley had been totally submerged in water proven by sceintests.

Before I refute this whole thing, two questions. One, reliable proof? And two, since when did the water go up by 15000 feet? That's impossible. Where did it all come from? Where did it all go?
Posted by LBabcock 5 years ago
And Noah's flood for first. The Tigris and Euphrates valley had been totally submerged in water proven by sceintests.
Posted by LBabcock 5 years ago
Evolution is not a fact its theory.
Posted by Ron-Paul 5 years ago
>>>It's a good thing you told me now. I was just about to post on the flood.

Thanks, but it's pretty common knowledge here.

>>>There is an option to not have comments.

That's voter comments when the voting period for this debate starts. Regulat comments to a debate can never be closed.

>>>If you don't opt for that it is assumed that you seek truth and don't mind, but if you do I'll stop.

See above.

>>>If you send me a challenge I'll accept.

Great. When this debate finishes, I will (I don't like debating the same subject simultaneously unless I really love debating it.

>>>Out of curiosity, if your willing to debate me, why do you care if I post here?

You are helping my opponent out. It's general policy on this website.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Muted 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: FF, besides, win is obvious