Wednesday, January 30, 2013

People Just Stopped Listening


This is a letter from the mailbag section of The Skeptical Review, 2001 / March-April. It is a commentary on how foolish biblical inerrantist apologists look with their speculative, far-fetched, unlikely How-It-Could-Have-Been-Scenarios in their attempts at answering the Bible's myriad problems:

Letter to Hatcher...

I read your articles in The Skeptical Review. I was raised a Christian and am now an unbeliever, and wanted to share with you what I believe to be the greatest problem with the Bible.

I used to be an attorney (I now work in high tech), and I once represented a young man who was accused of stealing a lot of money from his employer. There was a lot of accusatory evidence, and for what it's worth his wife and his attorney both believed him to be guilty. For every piece of incriminating evidence he had an answer. For example, he had forged someone's signature on a number of documents; he said that person had verbally authorized him to do so. (The person had since died and was not available to either corroborate or disprove my client's statements.) He claimed to have made a trip on company business but there was no record of the trip having actually been made; he claimed that company officials had instructed him to travel incognito because of the highly sensitive nature of ongoing negotiations. And on and on it went.

At some point, the problem with his case became no one piece of evidence, but the cumulative weight of everything. And at some point it really didn't matter that he had an answer for everything; people just stopped listening.

That's the problem I have with the Bible. It contains a whole lot of what on the surface appears to be contradictions, historical inaccuracies, scientific inaccuracies, absurdities and outrages. Inerrantists such as you have an answer for every blessed one of them, your current discussion with Farrell Till about the Book of Daniel being a case in point.

But the real problem with your case, as I see it, is not whether you can answer this skeptical argument or that one; it is that there is such a multitude of problems with the text that at some point it just doesn't matter any more. The cumulative weight of contradictions, inconsistencies, historical inaccuracies and the like are just too much. I call this the "Everything Problem," and, brother, you've got it bad.
(Mel Dahl)

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