We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.That's not some fringe ultra-conservative quote. No, it's from the official Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, endorsed by a large number of evangelical churches representing millions of Americans.
There are many defenses of the Bible's inerrancy, but the most amazing one – and I'm not making this up – is the "slippery slope" argument. It goes like this:
- There are appear to be lots of errors in the Bible, God is a jerk sometimes, and lots of good people get killed for dumb reasons.
- If we admit that there is even a single flaw in the Bible, then we must admit there could be two errors, or three, or...
- Therefore, we can't admit that there is even one error in the Bible.
- Which proves that there are no conflicts in the Bible, only things we can't understand.
This is the single most important "invention" in the history of the world: We must be open to the truth, and let the evidence speak for itself. Without this philosophy, we'd still be in the middle ages. There would be no medicine, no cell phones, computers or televisions, farmers would be growing just a fraction of what they do today, and 50% of our children would still be dying of diseases before they reached adulthood.
The problem with the theory of Biblical inerrancy is that the evidence flatly contradicts it. The Bible has many internal inconsistencies, geographical errors, astronomical errors, and historical errors. To a scientist, it's simple: The evidence contradicts the hypothesis, so the hypothesis must be wrong.
Unfortunately, those who believe in Biblical inerrancy flip this on its head: They claim that if the evidence contradicts the Bible, then the evidence must be wrong. That is the antithesis of progress and enlightenment.
Most of us believe in and practice tolerance and respect for each other's beliefs. But what do you do when faced with beliefs that just plainly and obviously wrong? And what do you do when they're justified by circular, illogical arguments like the "slippery slope" test?
There are limits to my respect and tolerance, and I have no patience for Biblical Inerrancy.