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

The Bible is the inerrant Word of God

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/17/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 804 times Debate No: 35650
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




At issue will be whether the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.

Five rounds. 1st round is acceptance, 2nd round is opening arguments (no rebuttal), third and fourth rounds will be rebuttals and cross-examination, fifth round is closing arguments.

The Bible is defined as the 66 books that make up the standard current canon. We will use the English Standard Version, though I am open to an alternate version if preferred by my opponent.

"inerrant" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "free from error." For our purposes, that means that there are no factual errors or irreconcilable conflicts within the Bible.

For our purposes, you needn't prove affirmatively that God was the author. You need only make a compelling case that the Bible is without error or irreconcilable conflict.

I thank my opponent in advance for taking this debate. I am hopeful that it will be an interesting and enjoyable experience for both of us, as well as the audience.


I accept and look forward to this debate.

I am ok with using the ESV primarily but reserve the right to use Hebrew and Greek original texts as well, and the NIV. I agree, as far as English translations, to only use ESV and NIV unless agreed upon to use another during debate by both parties in the comments section.

I agree on the 66 book standard canon.

I agree to the definition of inerrant as well.

The burden of proof would have to be on both. 1. since I am arguing that there are no errors, it is upon my oppenent to point one out for discussion.

Looking forward to this!
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank davidtaylorjr for accepting this debate. Hopefully it is interesting and enjoyable for both of us.

I agree that references to Hebrew, Greek and NIV, are acceptable. I don’t read Hebrew or Greek, but am familiar with (and have access to) concordances. Since I am the instigator, you are welcome to start your rebuttals in the second round.

I acknowledge that the burden is on me to show at least one instance where the Bible is inaccurate, inconsistent, or altered in such a way that it cannot be considered “inerrant.”

I think there are three fronts where the inerrancy of the Bible is most questionable:

1) Origination: Original authorship of many canonical books is highly disputed among scholars, and a variety of books were considered canonical before landing on the final 27 New Testament books [17] in the 4th century CE. I think that issue is a compelling argument against inerrancy, but the research is subject to interpretation. However, there is little dispute that as oral traditions were written down and as written traditions were manually transcribed into fresh versions or different languages, some alterations occurred [1]. An optimistic assessment would be that New Testament transcriptions were about 95% accurate. I would assert that this in itself is evidence enough that the Bible is not inerrant, after all, inerrant does not mean “very minor errors” or “very few errors”, it means “error free”. Completely. Even the most conservative scholars acknowledge that there have been alterations over time. To rebut this, I believe you need to show scholarship that asserts that there has never been an error in transcription, or else show that “very minor errors” / “few errors” is somehow equal to “error free.”

2) Dubious science: This is an area that draws much attention, and rightfully so. There is no shortage of highly implausible scenarios in the Bible. The sun and moon “standing still” for a day in Joshua 10 [2]. The flood of Noah in Genesis 7-8 [3], and all of the many practical problems with that scenario [4]. So forth. These complaints are oft-recited, and this section could get quite long, but this isn’t where I want to put my stake in the ground. Don’t bother rebutting the Joshua or Noah stories for now. But I would be interested in seeing your rebuttal to Genesis 1:3-5 and 14-19 [5]. In 1:3-5, it states that God created light, separated it from darkness, and there was evening and morning the first day. In 1:14-19, God creates the sun, moon and stars on the 4th day. It begs three questions:

a) It seems to me that implied in the Genesis story is the premise that the planet Earth preceded the creation of anything else. Is that your belief? If not, where in the Genesis account do you propose it relates the formation of planet Earth?

b) What do you propose was meant by “light” and how would this relate to the creation of the universe? What was the source of light for the first three days. If earth pre-existed the account, it can’t be the "Big Bang".

c) For argument’s sake, let’s say God did create light without a source (and separate it from darkness, no less). What does it mean for there to be “evening” and “morning” for the first three “days” if there are no light sources in the sky (remember the sun, moon and stars have not yet been created)?

3) Irreconcilable discrepancies: This area is often overlooked. Even Christians who know the Bible quite well often overlook these issues without noticing them. As with the two sections above, this could be quite long, but I’ll try to keep it to a few of the more obvious ones. I would, however, like each of the things I’m about the mention individually rebutted.

a) What did God say when Jesus was baptized. According to Mark and Luke (most scholars think Mark was the primary source for Luke) [7], “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” According to Matthew [8], “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” The book of John is more nebulous. John the Baptist “gives an account” where “he who sent me” said “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” No words are spoken from heaven after the baptism. These are each historical accounts, complete with quotations; yet three of the four are different. How can each be inerrant?

b) Following the same story, Jesus goes into the wilderness according to Mark, “immediately” [9]. Both Luke [10] and Matthew’s [11] provide similar accounts. But not John. Jesus never goes into the wilderness according to John. One could say he simply skipped the story, except that he accounts for the time following the baptism with different stories in John 1:35-45 [12]. “The next day” (after his baptism), Jesus sees John again and picks up two of his disciples. Jesus talks to them, and then, “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee.” The story is very much in a time and place. It doesn’t appear to leave room for the wilderness temptation to just be left out. How do you account for this discrepancy between John and the other three gospels?

c) Moving to the big finale of Jesus’s ministry: which resurrection story is correct? In Matthew, there is an earthquake witnessed by the two Mary’s who watch one angel descend and roll the stone away with guards fainting [13] (oddly Jesus has already risen and is not in the tomb anymore). Jesus meets them as they are running away and tells them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. In Mark, the two Mary’s find the tombstone already rolled aside and find a “young man” (angel?) sitting there. The angel tells them that Jesus will meet the disciples in Galilee [14]. Not surprisingly, Luke is similar to Mark except that in Luke’s account there are “two men.” Two? As in Mark, it is they who tell the women that Jesus will meet the disciples in Galilee. As is often the case, John’s account is quite different. The women find the tombstone rolled away and no one there. They say, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him,” suggesting they believe the body was stolen, not resurrected. The women return to the tomb with Peter and “the other disciple”. They inspect the area (and believe he was risen), then the disciples “return to their homes.” Mary stays behind and sees “two angels” in the tomb. In John’s account, there is no mention of Galilee and the story never leaves Jerusalem. There are a slew of dissimilarities to sort through in these accounts, but how would you account for them in a way that supports the inerrancy of each version?




















davidtaylorjr forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


David, I look forward to your response. Extend arguments...


davidtaylorjr forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Extend all arguments


davidtaylorjr forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Extend all arguments.


davidtaylorjr forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
I suspect that may be true, Mikal. I know a lot of fundamentalists who believe the Bible to be inerrant. I was raised to be one. And my doubt may be misplaced. I would like to hear the arguments against its inerrancy refuted.

Luisthebraziliancowboy was accurate in his assessment of advantages my opponent would have, so I thought maybe he'd volunteer, but no luck so far...
Posted by Mikal 3 years ago
i do not think you will ever get anybody to take the pro side lol
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
Quite the opposite. I changed the Debate criterion after your suggestion. It was a good suggestion. Thanks again.
Posted by David.McIntosh 3 years ago
Nevermind, I take that back, you mentioned ESV, I didn't see that. I thought you'd just not said/defined which one! Sorry lol :)
Posted by dj21 3 years ago
Thanks for the clarification suggestion, David.
Posted by David.McIntosh 3 years ago
What bible are you talking about? There are many bibles, please define which one.
Posted by Luisthebraziliancowboy 3 years ago
This could easily be derailed by a figurative rather than literal approach to the Bible. Also, the burden of proof is on you, as you are making the claim that it does have errors. The pro will not have to show that everything in the Bible is true, he'll only have to show that the points you bring up as false are true.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by calculatedr1sk 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: A shame. There are Christians on this site who I think would have been able to come up with an effective rebuttal, and I would have really liked to have seen it. Con did an excellent job presenting his case and backing up his argument with sources.