Biblical Errancy:
Does It Even Matter?
Ronald Ferguson

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Ronald Ferguson"
Subject: Re: PA-via_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2001 11:57 PM

If you know of another individual or group using "Positive Atheism" as the title of a website, let me know and I'll get right on it. "Positive Atheism" is our legally registered service mark.

We try to steer clear of biblical errancy material because I am not much into Bible contradictions, as the only issue where Bible contradictions even comes to play is the claims of inerrancy. With such a claim I need only find a single error (and perhaps a back-up or two), and I've dispensed with that discussion. So I limit myself to the Fig Tree Enigma, and deal almost exclusively with it. I've been challenging Evangelicals with this one for many years, now.

I also deal with the contradictions in the creation stories (when dealing with creationists) and the contradictions between both the first and second tables of stone and between the Hebrew, Roman Catholic, and Protestant versions of the Ten Commandments (when dealing with the "Hang Ten" movement). Besides that, I don't have much to say in the way of Bible contradictions and never have.

C. Dennis McKinsey is the foremost writer on biblical errancy. Although I am not impressed with everything he says, and disagree with him that errancy activism is important (I think it is not), McKinsey is really the only one doing biblical errancy work. So, when I need something in addition to the Fig Tree bit, I'll sort through McKinsey's work and will eventually find something strong enough for my tastes.

I do have a few letters, most notably the one with Cameron Schulz, where I urge avoiding this discussion altogether. I think displaying the Bible's sense of morality is much more important than answering claims to its inerrancy (an extreme minority view, dominant only in the United States, and even then, not as popular as some would have us think). Despite this view, I have indulged in a few rants, including the above-mentioned one about the creation myths, and the one on mathematical errors, wherein I discovered just how patently dishonest the New International Version's "translation" team really was.

It's the scary stuff that (obviously) bothers me -- the stuff you will not hear even from most Fundamentalist pulpits. Our (rough) list of scary Bible quotations is linked from our "National Bible Week" Poster, along with what few Bible-related lists we have. I have, since then, started working on the Bible section of our Scary Quotes list, but again, this is the scary stuff, not the contradictions.
 

I really don't care if someone thinks the Bible is inerrant. What is most dangerous to society is that many believers (and others) have not investigated what the Bible does and does not say, having heard only a handful of selected passages read from the pulpit or printed onto a greeting card, etc.

But such people still urge that children be taught biblical morality. To me, biblical morality is not something to be emulated or honored.

What few commendable things the Bible does say are neither unique nor original to the Bible, but are self-evident truths that one would expect to find in a message from an advanced human, benevolent space aliens, or a supernatural entity -- which is why these truths are found in almost all writings alleged to be Scripture.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
    people with no reason to believe

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