Is the Bible Imperfect, or Was God Unable to Create it Perfect?

Dave, an atheist on Twitter, was arguing with Man-E, a Christian who blogs here.  The subjects were many, but one thread had to do with inspiration.  Dave poses this seemingly unanswerable question:

This is what we in the business call a “false dichotomy.”  The reason?  A serious misunderstanding of divine inspiration.

God is not a suit-and-tie executive and the 40+ authors of Scripture weren’t beleaguered secretaries trying to take dictation.  It was, unfortunately, a little less precise.

It was more like God gave an author an idea, and left that author to write his own expression of that idea.  So the essence of what the Scripture reports is perfect, but the method of that expression is fallible since it was man who committed it to writing.

To complicate matters, we have copies of copies of copies.  While these have proven very reliable as we uncover older and older copies, some variants have creeped in and that hampers us.  Further complicating it is the cultural gap that exists between the ancient Israelites of the second millennium BC or the early Christians of 2000 years ago, and the average 21st century citizen.

So what we have is that God is capable of creating a perfect Bible.  However, the task of writing the law was given to man and the task of preserving and teaching the Word of the Lord also to man.  The textual variants, the cultural gaps, and all of the other barriers to understanding that Word are man-made, but not insurmountable.

To overcome it, you either need to roll up your sleeves and study ancient culture and customs.  Or crack open a good Bible commentary.  I personally have a concise commentary and a Bible dictionary, both of which help me understand things in the Bible that aren’t immediately clear.  There’s even an online Bible, the NET Bible, which helps with translating the ancient languages (in case that question ever pops up; but unless you blog on apologetics it rarely will).

If you’re not the solitary, bookworm type, there are people that have studied ancient culture and customs and own those resources I mentioned.  They might even have better ones than I do!  The Bible, in fact, mentions that not everyone is called to be a pastor or teacher (see 1 Cor 12, esp vv. 27-31) — and it is only through using all of our spiritual gifts as a body that we can grow and prosper.

To me, Dave is neither making an argument, nor a very good point within the context of a larger argument.  All Dave is doing is whining that God expects him to work to understand things.  And who wants that?

I think J.P. Holding is on to something here:

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on February 21, 2014, in Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. If Dave truly wanted to know God and be honest with His evidences, Dave would be willing to do the work. The problem is that Dave is an unregernerate sinner who wants to put God and His truths on trial. The hoops people like this want God to jump through cannot be cleared by anyone because they refute their own criteria. I know, because I was a Dave. If the Bible WAS perfect, he’d merely complain it was too perfect, collusion is obvious, and it should be rejected.

    • I’ve talked to Dave before on Twitter. He is one of the many atheists that have a total double standard when it comes to God; namely, that “sufficient proof” is fine for everything except God — for God, you need bulletproof, unassailable, ironclad, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence or God doesn’t exist.

      I’ve concluded the same as you: People like that just don’t want to believe God exists.

      Posts like this aren’t for the Daves of the world. Posts like this are for the bystanders who are open-minded but have the same questions. People who want the answers. Dave is asking the question to show how smart he is, not because he’s actually interested in the answer.

  2. *unregenerate. Sorry, on a smart phone. Lol

  3. I believe the biggest problem people have about the Bible (believers and atheists alike) is that the bring to it their preconceptions of what the Bible should be. Some fundamentalist believers have their entire faith wrapped up in a Bible that must not contain a single error in history, science, or anything else. Some atheists seem to use a similar standard to pronounce the Bible flawed. For years I have employed a more simple and for me satisfying approach. I go to the Bible and accept what I find there without “telling God” how He must write it. Make no mistake, this approach is challenging, but for me it continues to be satisfying.

    • You’re right — reading what is actually THERE and not what you want it to say, need it to say, or think it should say is the biggest challenge. I think I see a lot of this from both atheists and believers.

      Atheists think it should say X if it was written by a perfect God. But it says Y. So the Bible is wrong and God doesn’t exist!

      Believers think the Bible should say A isn’t a sin. But the Bible says A is a sin. So they disregard that passage or try to make it say something else by jumping through hoops so they can continue to do A. Unbelieving onlookers scoff and think all Christians are hypocrites.

      I probably struggle with this, too. Yours is the most difficult approach, but it yields results that are most pleasing to God. And that’s really what we’re after — pleasing God.

  4. Why doesn’t God just come down from heaven and make us all know 100% for certain that he exists? That would be a better way than having imperfect man write it down. Why does he want us to struggle so much if he exists?

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