When is a biblical mistake nontrivial?

This blog has been lying vacant for a while, however some recent exchanges on twitter have prompted me to resurrect it.

The subject has been the claims by certain Theists of the Abrahamic bent, that the holy books on which they base their world view are either inerrant or that any inaccuracies are trivial.

I will concede that the majority of the mistakes and contradictions in the Bible/Koran do not affect their message in any way. However for those people who like to have a valid reason for their beliefs there are many left which should give cause for concern.

I shall give three examples that have arisen in conversations recently for which I can discern no mitigating circumstances that would lead any fair observer to have anything but doubt as to the veracity of the claims surrounding the passage in which they occur.

1. The zombie apocalypse in Matthew.

Matthew 27:45-54

New International Version (NIV)

45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.

46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[d]

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split

52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[a] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Jerusalem was not a sleepy backwater in the Roman Empire, it was one of the most important cities and as such there would have been a strong Roman presence both military and financial. To imagine that an event where..

A. there was an earthquake which damaged it’s premier building.

B. During an unrecorded solar eclipse the Sun stopped in the sky for hours ( A feat which would require an enormous amount of energy and depending on which way it was done would lead to disaster for the Earth or the Solar system)..

C. hundreds of graves opened and their denizens strode around town talking to many of the citizens.

..would not be recorded by any contemporary Roman or Jewish Historian is to put it mildly unbelievable.

Yet this was derided by some Christians as something that could be ignored as it doesn’t impact on the central claim of the chapter that Jesus rose from the dead! Which indecently is a “FACT” agreed by every Biblical scholar and Historian who has ever lived. If you were to believe the typical amateur Christian apologist, or even the professional ones.

2. The place where the Sun sets.

Muhsin Khan

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu’l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

The second claimants assert that “God cannot lie” and cite the Koran as the “Perfect word of God” But in the Koran it states that the Sun sets in a muddy puddle. Now the cunning linguists of the Islamic persuasion scream they they can change those words to mean whatever they choose it to mean, ignoring all of the millennia of translations and interpretations that have gone before. However when you ask an honest scholar you find that indeed God did show Mohammed PBUH the puddle or swamp where the Sun set. So we have a true dichotomy, if we accept the assertion that the Koran is the perfect word of God. Either God is a liar, or an imbecile.

3. Last but not least. God can’t count to six!

  1. Leviticus 11:20
    “‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you.
  2. Leviticus 11:21
    There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground.
  3. Leviticus 11:23
    But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean.

These are the instructions given to Moses by a supposedly omniscient and omnipresent deity, to pass on to humanity. As Christians, Jews and Muslims claim that their God is incapable of lying we can only conclude that their God is either.

A. a grade A moron.

B. does not exist, and the people who made him up were grade A morons who couldn’t count to six.

I have read all the apologetics I can find to explain these anomalies in the holy texts, but none of them come close to giving any sort of satisfactory answer to these problems. If anybody thinks they can provide a solution please feel free to reply or contact me via twitter @TheTomtomPiper.

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