The Instigator
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
Renascor
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Bible contains error.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+4
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
popculturepooka
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/21/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,161 times Debate No: 19410
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (37)
Votes (2)

 

popculturepooka

Pro

I thank Renascor for agreeing to debate this with me.

I shall be arguing that it is highly unlikely the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is true. Being that this is an intramural debate between Christians (Renascor and I) certain things like God's existence and the Bible being God's Word are being taken for granted in this debate.

I propose some definitions of terms in order to make things absolutely clear:

God - "the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe" [1]
Biblical inerrancy - "is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact."" [2] The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy perhaps gives the most sophisticated statement of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. [3]

The first round should be used for acceptance of debate and for taking care of any definitional or terminological issues.
Rounds 2 - 4 will be used for argument about the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.spurgeon.org...
Renascor

Con

I thank you for this challenge, and I will gladly accept on the terms that you re-word your initial opening statements to fit the exact meaning of your debate title for the sake of voting and for clarity of purpose.

I await your argument and thank you for the opportunity to defend my faith.
Debate Round No. 1
popculturepooka

Pro

Now I will present my argument against the inerrancy of the Bible.

The argument goes as follows:

1) God exists and is morally perfect.
2) So God would not command one nation to exterminate the people of another unless He had morally sufficient reasons for doing so.
3) According to various OT texts, God sometimes commanded the Israelites to exterminate the people of other nations.
4) God did not have a morally sufficient reason for issuing these alleged commands.
5) So everything every book of the OT says about God is not true. [1, modifications mine]

1)

Has been granted in this debate.

2)

Seems to follow from the very notion of a perfectly good being. Obviously, a perfectly good being would have to have MSRs (morally sufficient reasons) to command what looks like - on the face of it at least - horrible moral atrocities.

3)

Is obvious to anyone who's read the Bible. But let's refresh our memories:

"1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you" 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. " [Deut 7:1-2]

In case the message isn't clear:

"16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] "the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites"as the LORD your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the LORD your God. " [Deut 20:16-18]

Of course, there are other instances as well. [Josh 6:21, 1 Sam 27:8-9]

4)

This is the crux of the argument. What can be said for it? The most obvious answer would seem to be since commanding genocide is incompatible with the nature of God he did not have morally sufficient reasons because he simply didn't command it. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be a satisfactory answer to at least some people (mainly inerrantists).

I can't answer every single MSR that a defender of inerrancy will likely offer (which I think are all grossly inadequate) so instead of trying to pre-empt Con I will just offer positive reasons for thinking that God would not - even could not - command genocide. I draw a lot of inspiration from Randal Rauser [2] and (again) Wes Morriston [3] here.

The first reason would be:

I think any normal, adult can just see that genocide is always wrong. Given that we think that God is a) perfectly loving and b) perfectly good it's hard to see how he could ever order genocide on some of his loved ones. For even if some members of that community deserve death it hardly follows that one should kill (or attempt to kill) all members of that community. And this becomes even more problematic when we think of why children would have to be murdered. They are not yet at the "age of accountability" whatever that is and it's rightly considered morally repugnant to systematically murder children who had no part in the sins of their elders. Is anyone in doubt that when the Hutus, for instance, deliberately targeted Tutsi and "sympathizer" Hutu children for extermination that is about one of the most evil things you can imagine?

The second reason would be:

Even granting how bad it is for the victims of the genocide the problem gets worse. Even if it is somehow okay to try to exterminate whole groups of people it'd be even more distressing to command other humans to do the deed as God allegedly did. Is it in doubt that war is horrible and it does horrible things to the people who do the killing as well? Not only can it horribly damage the psyche (I'm sure we're all aware of tragic stories about military veterans with severe cases of PTSD) and traumatize them for life but it can also transform a normal person into a person who can and will do horribly evil things in war. Imagine the the damage it would do to someone's moral character to have to, under supposed divine sanction no less, kill men, women, and children indiscriminately. It seems that a God who is perfectly good would not order something that is so results in so much manifest evil.

The third reason would be a so called prudential reason:

If we accept the typical reasons for accepting the genocide texts as inerrant what exactly would prevent someone from having good reasons to distinguish false divine commands from true ones? Imagine I said that I heard God and he told me that killing all scientologists would be an excellent idea. What if I wrote this command down? Would that change the fact that I just either a) went off the deep end or b) attempting to justify my deep hatred for scientologists? Why would Christians reject my claim to a divine command? I maintain the reason would be a moral one. Other Christians would rightly recognize that such an evil claim is incompatible with the nature of a perfectly good God and take it to mean that I did not receive a true divine command to exterminate the scientologists. Of course, if one does not accept that these genocide texts are being erroneously attributed to God then what reason has another Christian to reject my "divine" command?

5)

The conclusion follows from the premises.

I agree with William Lane Craig (himself no sympathizer with biblical errancy and quite a staunch defender of biblical inerrantism) when he says,"If we Christians can't find a good answer to the question before us and are, moreover, persuaded that such a command is inconsistent with God's nature, then we'll have to give up biblical inerrancy." [4] I propose it's time to take Craig's suggestion seriously. Note that I am not merely claiming that we fail to see how commanding genocide (a great moral evil - perhaps one of the greatest) is compatible with the nature of a God who is perfectly good I am claiming that we see how commanding genocide can't be compatible with the nature of a God of who is perfectly good. Given that God's existence has been granted in this debate the proper conclusion to draw would be that God did not command genocide contrary to what the text says and that, in this case at least, the Bible contains very serious error. In short, why shouldn't a Christian not answer this challenge to inerrancy as C.S Lewis did?

"Yes. On my view one must apply something of the same sort of explanation to, say, the atrocities (and treacheries) of Joshua. I see the grave danger we run by doing so; but the dangers of believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him 'good' and worshiping Him, is still greater danger. The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible. To this some will reply 'ah, but we are fallen and don't recognize good when we see it.' But God Himself does not say that we are as fallen at all that. He constantly, in Scripture, appeals to our conscience: 'Why do ye not of yourselves judge what is right?' -- 'What fault hath my people found in me?'" [5]

Sources

[1] http://www.colorado.edu...
[2] http://randalrauser.com...
[3] http://spot.colorado.edu...
[4] http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
[5] http://www.davidbergan.com...
Renascor

Con

I thank my opponent for providing a very organized and systematic argument. I feel it necessary to make the following statement before I go any further: I am no Biblical scholar, and I am not a Bible expert. However, I do believe there are some simple answers to the many attacks on the Bible's authenticity.

Due to the structure of my opponents argument, It seems that In order form me to win this debate (And to prove the Bible to be inerrant) is to properly refute my opponents arguments by answering his questions.

My opponents argument can be summarized as the following:

"1) God exists and is morally perfect.
2) So God would not command one nation to exterminate the people of another unless He had morally sufficient reasons for doing so.
3) According to various OT texts, God sometimes commanded the Israelites to exterminate the people of other nations.
4) God did not have a morally sufficient reason for issuing these alleged commands.
5) So everything every book of the OT says about God is not true. [1, modifications mine]"

After this argument is presented my opponent goes into great detail expanding on each point as to demonstrate the authenticity of his statements. I must thank my opponent for not allowing his quotes to become his arguments and for giving his own opinion and insight into the matter at hand. However, my opponent has done something I find to be rather interesting. Whether it be direct or indirect, I do not know, but my opponent has allowed me to peek inside his mind, giving me the opportunity to understand my opponents motivation behind his beliefs. My observation is as follows:

My opponent believes that the Bible is errant due to the conflict between the nature of God and God's actions. (This idea is presented throughout my opponents statements and is an occurring trend) I shall present a small particle that has helped to guide me to this conclusion:

"This is the crux of the argument. What can be said for it? The most obvious answer would seem to be since commanding genocide is incompatible with the nature of God he did not have morally sufficient reasons because he simply didn't command it. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be a satisfactory answer to at least some people (mainly inerrantists)."

I thank my opponent for the opportunity to analyze this statement.

Notice the importance of this phrase. My opponent says that "This is the crux of the argument." This argument that is so important is the (4)th premise (AKA Premise Z 'PZ'): "God did not have a morally sufficient reason for issuing these alleged commands." My opponent has made it clear that this is the main and most important part of the argument. As we continue throughout this piece of organized thought, we can see that my opponent makes the next phrase "the most obvious answer" my opponent is now making it clear that he admits there are other answers to this question of "Premise X". My opponent then takes it a step further to identify his reasoning as "most obvious" therefore, there must exist a less obvious answer. I will call this less obvious answer "Answer Z or AZ". As we continue through this "crux of the argument" we can see my opponent make a final statement: "commanding genocide is incompatible with commanding genocide is incompatible with the nature of God". My opponent goes on to say that some will dismiss this claim by saying that God didn't command it. I will not take the easy way out as I believe God did command this. Now take into consideration that the mysterious "AZ" must answer the question of why God would make such an outrageous command. As this final comedy (To be taken in the 16th century sense) comes to a close we begin to see the cross hairs focus on the final crux of my point. If you haven't already figured this out, it is the most obscure part of my opponents statement: "the nature of God". My opponent has done well to define the Nature of God as: "An all Good and Morally Perfect Being". Now I could become the pointless philosopher at this moment and charge my opponent with defining the terms "Good" and "Moral", but I shall save my opponent the stress of defining such powerful words. Instead, I will point out that there is another attribute to God that has not been accounted for. This "Missing Part shall be called Nature Y or NY". This "NY" is that along with being Good and Morally Perfect, God is also "Just". While I hate to use anything modern to define something archaic, I will have to allow the use of the good old Merriam Webster dictionary which defines "Just" as: "having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason or acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good" When we take this into consideration, the answer lies in the subject matter. Because my opponent is also a Christian, My opponent must definitely know the context of the verses he has provided. For those reading that aren't quite so sure, the context is that God commanded the destruction of those tribes because they had sinned in such a way. God commanded His people to rid the world of those races because (1) They sinned against God and (2) Because God wanted His people to not fall to those evil sinners.
If we add "NY" or "Just" into the equation, we find a perfectly obligating reason as to why God had to command the destruction of those tribes. God must conform to reason and conform to what is morally right. Now let me establish this final point. This final point or "A-Z" is my conclusion. My conclusion is "It is/was morally right for God to command the extermination of the tribes because the tribes had sinned and all sin requires a punishment. Therefore, God was morally obligated to punish those who had sinned". Now the only points my opponent could challenge this ideas is (1) On the basis of if punishment is necessary and (2) If punishment is actually a moral quality. I believe that to make any of these claims, my opponent would have to really take a step downhill. If my opponent chose to take option (1), he would have to argue that Sin (I assume my opponent 'being Christian' knows the definition of sin) does not require punishment (An idea contrary to Christian belief); if my opponent chose option (2), he would have to argue that it is morally wrong to administer punishment. I would like to see my opponent choose option (2) if he must choose an option at all so that I could provide my very intriguing argument. So if you take all of these into consideration, you will see that there is no contradiction. *And you will cleverly notice my "A-Z" "Beginning to Endness of God"*.

While I believe the argument provided by my opponent to be indirectly irrelevant compared to the ideas I assumed my opponent would produce, I have properly addressed them nonetheless.

I therefore urge my opponent to provide an argument concerning either the scientific, historical, prophetical, or internal evidence within the Bible rather than an argument concerning the Nature of God.

I thank my opponent again for this inspiring opportunity to provide an argument in the defense of my faith.

I wish my opponent the best of luck!
Debate Round No. 2
popculturepooka

Pro

I thank Rensacor for his argument.

Con says that if I identify a "most obvious" answer that must mean there are less obvious answers. I agree. There are less obvious answers to this problem. I also think they are all bad. Alas, I also do not think Con has successfully identified MSR (morally sufficient reasons) as to why God would order genocide.

Before I get to that I'd first like to say that Con has not dealt with my positive arguments at all for proposition that God would not order genocide.

Now, Con presents two potential MSR for God commanding genocide:

(1) Divine Punishment
(2) Corruption Prevention

I have Thom Stark to thank for his strong arguments against potential MSR for justifying the alleged genocidal commands. [1]

(1) Divine Punishment

(1) fails as an MSR. (Side note: I strongly urge readers to take a look at all the verses I mention in order to confirm what I'm saying is true. I don't have the space to quote them in their length.) "In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." (Gen 15:16) Here God is talking about the promised land and how the Israelites will receive it once their sin has reached it's capacity, so to speak.

So...if God knew that the sin of the Canaanites would reach a level at which the only action to take is order genocide, why, exactly did he not do something about it before they reached that level? No one can say there is any biblical precedent for allowing great sinners chances to repent before drastic measures are taken; the examples are replete. God tells Jonah "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." (Jonah 1:2) He was planning to destroy the city if they did not repent. The sin was so bad that children thee couldn't tell "their right and from their left hand". (Jonah 4:11) If anyone knows the ending of the story we know that all of Nineveh's inhabitants ended up repenting of their sins due to Jonah's preaching. Why, then, exactly, could God not have sent a prophet to the Canaanites before their sins reach the pinnacle and thus avoiding commanding genocide?!

Another problem is that this,again, brings up the problem of children being sentenced to die for the sins of their elders. This is very clearly morally wrong. Bringing in the concept of "original sin"[2] doesn't help at all either. Because if the children were already depraved enough to deserve death the moment they entered the world then, why, exactly, did God have to wait for the Canaanites' sins to reach "full measure" (Gen 15:16)?

Yet another problem presents itself: take a look at Deut 20:10-18. "When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.... 16 However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes..." God makes a clear distinction between how those Canaanites who are in Israel's land are to be treated as opposed to those who are not on Israel's land. If imposing this genocide on the Canaanites is really a form of divine punishment it seems mighty convenient that the Canaanites on Israel's' land are just wicked enough to endorse killing en masse yet the ones outside of the promised land are suitable to be taken as the spoils of war.

(1) is hardly a good MSR.

(2) Corruption Prevention

By "Because God wanted His people to not fall to those evil sinners" I assume Con means that God did not want his people to be influenced or corrupted by the Canaanites who undoubtedly did some pretty bad things. For instance, child sacrifice and idolatry. Of course, one has to question the train of thought that leads one to the following conversation: "Child sacrifice is morally abhorrent. As a matter of fact, we are going to show you how abhorrent it is by murdering your children which is, btw, God approved," says the Israelite to the Canaanite. In Deut 7:1-6 God says, "...3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods,..." Of course, one still wonders how genocide is the best option here. Even if the Israelites killed the parents why, exactly, could they not take in the orphaned children and bring them up in a culture where God worship is prevalent? Would that not be a much better option?

A more serious problem is this: if concern about corruption was really the motivation for God ordering genocide how does Con explain Num 31:7-18? "...17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. " Basically these women were being saved either to be made wives or concubines. Wait, what happened to the command by God for the Israelites not to intermarry with the Canaanites? The Midianites, would have, just like the other Canaanites been practicing idol worship/other god worshipping/sexual immorality (Num 25:1-9) and child sacrifice. The case against Con's proposed MSR of "corruption prevention" gets even worse when you look at Num 31:25-32: "25 The LORD said to Moses, 26 "You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. 27 Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community...." Here the women that were captured and kept were given to the soldiers as wives/concubines. Again, what happened to the claim that Israelites shouldn't intermarry because of the Canaanites would influence the Israelites in their sinful practices?

Another problem is similar to the one with divine punishment again we run into a very, very convenient rationale. Take a look again at the portion of Deut 20:10-18 that I quoted earlier. Again, God says that it's okay for the Israelites to intermarry with at least some Canaanite women. These Canaanite women happen to be outside of Israel's promised land. Are we supposed to believe that the Canaanites inside of Israel's land were all evil sinners that couldn't be comingled with but the ones just outside the border weren't? They all had similar cultural practices. Again, this looks like a rather flimsy justification for genocide.

Both proposed MSR (1) and (2) fail. They are not even close to morally sufficient. They do not come even close to justifying genocide (due to the flimsy moral justification and, at times, even contradictory biblical reasons given for them) and so I maintain that premise (4) in my argument still stands. Remember it was: "God did not have a morally sufficient reason for issuing these alleged commands." And, clearly, if a Just God (as con grants that God is Just) doesn't have MSR to do x he won't do x. Indeed, we still have good reason to affirm what Craig said, "If we Christians can't find a good answer to the question before us and are, moreover, persuaded that such a command is inconsistent with God's nature, then we'll have to give up biblical inerrancy."

My opponent asks that I present a (different) argument concerning biblical inerrancy because he feels that this has argument has more to do with the nature of God. But, my argument is very clearly relevant to the question of biblical inerrancy. If the Bible says something that is not true of God (i.e. that he ordered genocide) then, clearly, there is error contained within the Bible.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[1] Stark, Thom. "The human faces of God: what scripture reveals when it gets God wrong (and why inerrancy tries to hide it)" pgs 100-109
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Renascor

Con

I did not want to argue with Stark. I wanted to debate with you. I apologize for not posting an argument but I am having some issues.
Debate Round No. 3
popculturepooka

Pro

Extend my arguments. Thanks to Con for what he did post in this debate.
Renascor

Con

Renascor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ChrisL 2 years ago
ChrisL
Continuation...

So on the same basis that Popculturepooka rejects the gennocide accounts as not being commanded by God, he would have reject the notion that the world we live in was not created by the God he is seeking to defend. Of course that would be an absurdity, which points to the fact that his theology is inconsistent and therefore incorrect.
Posted by ChrisL 2 years ago
ChrisL
According to Popculturepooka, God is too good to bring judgment on sinners in his own timing, for his own purposes. He (popculturepooka) seems to start with the assumption that God must give mercy to everyone in order to be 'all loving'. This is brought out clearly in something he said in his rebuttal.

"So...if God knew that the sin of the Canaanites would reach a level at which the only action to take is order genocide, why, exactly did he not do something about it before they reached that level?"

My quick response would be, why does he have to? Why could God not decree, at the time of creation, that he would carry out judgment on the Canaanites when their sin reaches a particular point for his own purposes? Why is God obligated to have mercy on everyone and to show His love for everyone in the exact same way? This appears to be a fundamental presupposition on pro's part.

But there is another problem I see with pro's position. Because of his lack of recognition for God's sovereignty and more spacifically, God's sovereign decree, he ends up being inconsistent in holding to belief in the God he is seeking to defend. On the same basis that he rejects the accounts of commanded Genocide, he would have to reject the God he believes in. Let me explain.

Popculturepooka seems to believe that man is acting autonomusly apart from God's will. That the sins that the Canaanites committed, were not what God had intended. Ultimately, he believes that all evil acts that are commited by man and God only has knowledge of them, but did not decree them. So in essence, God knew that the world would be full of purposeless evil. He knew that people would be murdered, babies would be raped, ext., but he decided to create the world anyway. It seems that, even if you set aside the commands of genocide, Popculturepooka is left having to deal with a God who created a world where heinous acts would be commited without any "morally sufficient reasons".
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
I have given it a lot of thought; the I hold to a Barthian theory of inspiration which doesn't require nor demand that the bible be inerrant to be the "word of God".
Posted by brett.winstead 3 years ago
brett.winstead
You both have it wrong. While popculture is correct that there is no way (pardon the pun) under God's green Earth that a moral god commands the genocide of babies and children, you still believe the Bible's God is the real God. Your opponent tries (as most Christians do) to justify God's horrible actions of killing people who are totally innocent. Many Christians actually say God can do no wrong because there it is in the Bible - God killing babies and who are we to judge god, right?

There is another option and it makes all of this so much simpler and I challenge you to give it some thought; the Bible is not the word of any god.
Posted by popculturepooka 5 years ago
popculturepooka
How could you possibly think that was a moral act, Gil?

Do you want to debate this?
Posted by Gileandos 5 years ago
Gileandos
Awww, Pop.
How could you deny that the commands to eliminate the bloodline and innocents of the evil people was not a moral act?

I am saddened your opponent was taken away and not able to tackle this line of argumentation.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
What kind of self-deprecating, rhetorically-suicidal human would accept such a debate?
There are thousands of contradictions, inaccuracies, and immoral/illogical/unsubstantiated claims and admonitions.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Thanks. It will be quite interesting to read......:)
Posted by popculturepooka 5 years ago
popculturepooka
Sure. I'll check with him about it.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
Popculturepooka, it would be very interested if you debated ReformedArsenal on the errors/contradictions of the Bible..........
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
popculturepookaRenascorTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit by Con Pro used sources Conduct point goes to Pro
Vote Placed by tvellalott 5 years ago
tvellalott
popculturepookaRenascorTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments, sources and conduct to Pro; I thought Con's response to Pro's opening arguments was inadequete. Pro provided sources which strongly supported his arguments. Con also forfeited. Great debate guys, it's a shame it wasn't completed.