An argument 'against' biblical inspiration

So I’m back, it’s been some time. I still identify as a theist, but am now increasingly finding it harder to identify as a Christian, or with any other religious grouping. I consider myself an outsider ‘friendly’ to Christianity.

I’ve been having some twitter interactions with atheist blogger Secular Outpost, who blogs at Patheos. Though he is an atheist, he makes an interesting concession to theism in this blog post, concluding that ultimately, consciousness is intrinsically more probable under theism than naturalism. Since theism presupposes that a conscious being (God) must exist, as opposed to naturalism, which does not.

So far so good, but it got me thinking, could the same logic be used against the very idea of biblical inspiration? After all, non-inspiration presupposes that errors/inaccuracies in the Bible exist, since the Bible claims to be God-breathed, which a non-inspirationist view will deny. In contrast, the Christian view contains no such supposition.

In other words, the non-christian will intrinsically have an easier time dealing with biblical problems than the Christian, so the argument goes.

What do you think of it? Any responses?

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There is a common error: the assumption that the compound Koine Greek word “god-breathed” can be defined by its two root words.

A butterfly is not a fly made of butter.

Contrary to the roots of the compound words, we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway.

And understand does not mean to take an upright posture below something.

2 Timothy 3 is about the holy scriptures that Timothy had known from his youth, the Septuagint, and it is not about the entire Bible we have today.

Nothing in the compound word often translated “inspiration” implies inerrancy.

Christians that understand that don’t have a problem with the minor errors in the Bible.


Hi Reggie! Good to see you here again. Long story short, you’re confusing inspiration with inerrancy. A Christian doesn’t have to presuppose that one includes the other. It’s possible to believe the Bible is inspired yet contains inaccuracies or errors of fact. The decision whether the Scripture is inspired or non-inspired doesn’t hinge on whether it is inerrant, in the strictest sense of the term. That’s the same mistake that YEC literalists make when they have a crisis of faith.

The Christian who claims the Bible is literal history and without error will have a hard time dealing with things like the ancient science he/she finds in it. The rest of us Christians don’t find much difficulty with it.


Hi, I think we’ve been interacting on twitter. I think your missing my point. The point is not that Christians cannot believe in biblical errancy, but rather that non-christians will ‘always’ have an easier time explaining the existence of biblical errors, precisely because their worldview necessitates that at least one error (that of divine inspiration) must exist, in contrast, there is nothing in the Christian worldview which necessitates this. It doesn’t disprove inspiration outright, but definitely it is ‘less surprising’ under an anti-inspirationist view.


@Reggie_O_Donoghue, hi Reggie. He’s wrong. Speciously so as all such apologetics are, just look at William Lane Craig. Assuming God exists, which I’m desperate to do, what does He have to do with the trivial, deterministic cosmic emergence of consciousness beyond grounding being for eternity?

The entirely unknown men (and possibly one woman) who wrote the Books over a thousand years from sources several times that older were no more inspired than you or I EXCEPT for the ineffable yearning of the Spirit and having been in a short chain of eyewitnesses to the origins of the incredibly influential Jesus story. What is inspired about the Heresy of Peor? Where are there any prophecies about Jesus or anything else?

And no, the same ‘logic’ can’t be used.

His argument was that theism necessitates a conscious/sentient/intellectual being, whilst naturalism does not. Therefore, the existence of consciousness should be less surprising under theism. I don’t really see why it’s so controversial.

So, if God exists then He can create in a way that produces consciousness and that is less surprising than if He doesn’t it arises anyway?

Is there an index of surprise?

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Well, under theism there has to be consciousness, there doesn’t have to be under naturalism. So the fact that consciousness does exist points ever so slightly towards theism, since it is infinitely more probable.

Probability doesn’t enter in to it. There is no probabilistic need whatsoever to invoke God, the ultimate consciousness in which all lesser autonomous consciousness and all else would be grounded. There is no statistical trace of God, no hidden transcendent variable, nothing explanatorily absent in the eternal natural, physical. As I said, it’s specious, in the same not even vacuous ball park as Kalam.

And I don’t understand how infinitely more probable is slight.

2 Peter 1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along ( drove) by the Holy Spirit". Read how the Spirit came on King Saul and drove him to prophecy, so much so that the people said “is Saul also among the prophets?” Prophecy is not the word of man but of God. Prophecy and fulfilled prophecy is a sure foundation. Christ came according to the word of prophecy. Those who don’t put their trust in that have no sure foundation.

Biblicism doesn’t validate prophecy. Only one thing can do that.

Fulfilled oprophecy validates prophecy.

Exactly. It would if there were any.

Your lack of knowledge and trust in who the Father and the Son reveal themselves to be will be your demise. A person who trusts in their own reasoning over the Father and the Son’s, is void of the Spirit’s understanding and wisdom.

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Yes we have, you uncultured Philistine. (Don’t worry, mods. It’s an inside joke from Twitter.) I just meant good to see you posting here. No character limits, though some undoubtedly wish there were.

Yes, I mistook your point, but I think what I said still applies.

Paraphrasing, inspiration necessitates an error-free Bible, while non-inspiration does not. Therefore, the existence of errors in the Bible should be less surprising under non-inspiration.

Biblical inspiration doesn’t necessitate an error-free Bible, at least to the majority of Christians, so the analogy to the theism::consciousness argument doesn’t hold. In effect, it’s like saying: Inspiration doesn’t necessitate an error-free Bible, and non-inspiration expects it. Therefore, the existence of errors in the Bible should be surprising to no one.

I don’t think that conclusion is controversial (with some notable exceptions).

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So that’s a no then?

Isaiah 53, Micah 5: 1-5

What about them?

The first from Deutero-Isaiah c. 540 BCE is typical of ‘prophecy’ in that it doesn’t prophesy. That Jesus’ followers saw Him in it and He Himself certainly did but with no comment to that effect apart from His first sermon that defined the gospel. As I say, they were right for the wrong reasons. Their reasoning was unavoidably, inevitably, inextricably faulty. Erroneous. Ignorant. Cognitively biased. Human. There is nothing statistically significant in the texts, no smoking gun, they demonstrate let alone prove nothing supernatural at all. It’s all read back in to it in hindsight, making Cinderella’s shoe procrusteanly fit the ugly sisters’ feet.

Micah 5:1-2 Bethlehem and ‘to me’? Is that it?

Forcing something to be so doesn’t make it so. And it isn’t faithful. Just fearfully ignorant.

How else do you understand fulfilled prophecy, O thou who are exempt from confirmation bias? :grin:

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Not all hindsight is rational. None is with regard to Biblical prophecy. None. As in none. At all. Rome and its successors comes closest.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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