Inerrancy of scripture and evolution

(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

I was wondering what everyone’s position on the doctrine of inerrancy is. Is it compatible with the theory of evolution?

I personally think it is, if it is acknowledged that the purpose of Genesis is not to teach science.

That being said I do not personally follow the doctrine of inerrancy, I believe that there are discrepancies in the Tanakh (The NT is pretty much a non-issue for me), such as contradictions and historical errors. Mine own view is pretty much that of William Albright, I believe the bible is mostly, though not entirely historically accurate. The notion I have heard from some skeptics such as Bart Ehrman that ‘if God inspired the Bible, why didn’t he preserve it?’ fails for the same reason the problem of evil fails, that by doing so God would be infringing on human free will.

(Wookin Panub) #2

Well, I myself, am in the camp of infallible and inerrant. Please, may I have (1) of these historical errors and (1) of the contradictions that you mentioned. As for the “problem of evil” God’s sovereignty answers that. The problem today, is that many people in the world including Christians have this distorted view of who God is, which leads to people tripping all over themselves when it pertains to discussing evil in the world.

(Evan) #3

If anyone’s interested, this website does a decent job addressing several hundred apparent Bible contradictions.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #4

These seem a little more substantial than the typical list of bible contradictions but I could be mistaken:

(Peaceful Science) #5

The doctrine of inerrancy, properly understood, is compatible with evolution.

(George Brooks) #6


I couldn’t find anything at that website about the arrival of the Philistines. The Old Testament seems to be familiar with the fact the Philistines are newcomers to Canaan. Archaeology shows that they settle into their Pentapolis sometime around 1100 BCE, and become so entrenched by 1130 BCE that the Egyptians are no longer able to travel to their frontier in northern Syria.

The Amarna texts describe the usual nature of Egyptians in Canaan… sending messengers, collecting tax and tribute, and making sure nobody threatens their ability to project military might all the way to the frontier with the Hittites. And this was a time when the Egyptians were hardly paying any attention at all to the cities of the region, including Bethshean and Jerusalem!

This pretty much means Exodus had to happen more recently than 1130 BCE. Any time before that and the Exodus settlement of Kadesh Barnea, in the middle of an unfortified desert, would not have been possible for 40 years. In fact, Exodus even explicitly states the reason the Exodus doesn’t travel along the coast is because of the risk of combat with the Philistines.

There is no archaeology, or literature, that supports the idea that the Philistines (a branch of the Sea People movement) were on the Levantine coast before there were Sea People. This also means the timeline for Abraham has to be adjusted … because it would be very difficult for Abraham to tarry with the Philistines before they even existed there. But we knew already that the Abraham timeline was wrong, right?

Why would Abraham pretend to be the “brother” of Sarah, if Sarah was already in her sixties?

(Evan) #7

According to Genesis 10, the Philistines were descendants of the Casluhites (Ge 10:14) and Caphorites (1Chr 1:12), who lived in Egypt before migrating to Canaan. So the Philistines of the time of Abraham (c. 2000 BC) were probably Egyptian in origin, explaining why we find no evidence of Aegean peoples that far back. The Aegean Philistines came later, either conquered or intermixed with the original Philistines, and then built their Pentapolis.

If you want a source for this, this article covers it in mild detail. I don’t agree with everything, but they make my point that there is no contradiction.

That, or you have your chronology mixed up. Unless the Bible is completely erroneous on its chronology, the Exodus could not have occurred any more recently than perhaps 1450 or 1500 BC (dates I personal disagree with, but I digress). If the Exodus occurred in 1130 BC, then King Saul and Moses must have been contemporaries, since Saul became King c. 1100, about a decade before Moses dies in your chronological framework.

The average lifespan for Abraham’s family at the time was about 170 years. Sarah, at 68, would have been about middle-aged, and would go on to live for another 59 years. And depending on how well you age, women can still be beautiful at 60 and 70 today.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #8

Is that not an ‘ad hoc’ explanation?

(RiderOnTheClouds) #9

Ezekiel’s false prophecy about the destruction of Tyre in Ezekiel 26.

(Evan) #10

I admit it may be, but it does fit the Biblical data and limited archaeological evidence. Deu 2:23 explicitly mentions the migration of Caphorites (descendants of Mizraim, ie. Egypt) to Canaan to conquer the Avvim, and the Caphorites are closely associated with the Philistines in Ge 10:13 and Amos 9:7. So the theory as I presented is not that far of a stretch. I’m not super dogmatic about it, however, I simply wanted to point out that the existence of Philistines at the time of Abraham can be reasonably explained.

How is this prophecy false?

(Peaceful Science) #11

If we are going to talk about inerrancy, it is important to understand what it actually is.

First, there arethese two Chicago Statements:

Then, probably more important, I’d point to the Lausanne Covenant:

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.

I often confess “I affirm that that the Bible is inerrant and infallible in all that it teaches,” echoing the language of the Lausanne Covenant. That creed was written by Christians across the globe in 1974, and I think it is a wise place of common ground.

@Reggie_O_Donoghue you read a lot, so you might also enjoy this book.

If you do not affirm inerrancy, that is fine. At least, however, engage the actual position, not an inferred strawman . I know you are not misrepresenting it intentionally, but you may benefit from understanding what is meant by it precisely. It is solidly established among important doctrins of evangelical theology.

(George Brooks) #12


There are Egyptian texts that talk about defeated Sea People living in Egypt (at least initially).

It’s all still tied to the Sea People phase of Egyptian history.

And any Exodus prior to the Sea People wars would have been summarily wiped out by Egyptians keeping their “rear echelons” tidy and danger free.

Exodus had to have happened after 1130 BCE. There’s no other time for it.

You wrote to @Reggie_O_Donoghue:

In fact, archaeologists have found the origin of the Philistines… from the heart of Anatolia… who became intermediate conquerors of some of the islands in the Med. Sea. The time frame of these notorious upsets are well known… including when Egypt was no longer able to maintain its administrative centers in Canaan… the cutoff is 1130 BCE.

(Evan) #13

So essentially what you’re saying is we can’t trust the Bible to get basic history right? Or am I misunderstanding you here? If the Exodus happened after 1130 BC, when were Saul and David kings of Israel? When were the Judges? You’ve removed several hundred years of Israel’s history from the Bible.

(George Brooks) #14


What you have added to the Bible (because of calculations of the LXX?) … I have subtracted, because of archaeology.

The whole point of my Philistine discussion is to demonstrate that, indeed, we cannot trust the Bible to get basic history right.

If the Bible read more like the Amarna texts, it would be more credible.

The Bible suggests that Abraham had to protect his life by pretending to be the brother of Sarah … because Sarah (a woman in her 60’s, if not older) was just so beautiful Abraham was afraid of being killed to acquire her. This is not credible.

The Bible says the tribe of Simeon is one of the Ten Tribes that fell away from the 2 tribes of the kingdom of Judah. But how can Simeon belong to the Northern Kingdom when it dwelled to the south of Judah?

And because of the uninterrupted continuity of Egyptian culture, the only time there could have been a global flood (assuming we ignore lots of other archaeological markers) would be before 3200/3300 BC! And clearly you have placed the Flood much later than this time frame - - putting it right in the middle of Egyptian civilization without leaving a mark on the culture! Who could reproduce Egyptian culture so perfectly? A handful of Noah’s great grand children? Hardly.

(Evan) #15

You are confusing me with @LXX_Researcher, I use the Masoretic text for chronology (albeit in a slightly unorthodox way that differs from most YECs).

Was you or someone else I explained this to? The average lifespan of Abraham’s family at the time was about 170 years. Sarah, at 68, would have been middle-aged, with a good chuck of life ahead of her (she lived to be 127). And again I point out that even today, some women can be beautiful in their 60s or 70s.

The Tribe of Simeon had no set region of land, and like the Levites were given cities among the other tribes. It is not impossible that over time they moved from the south, in Judah, to the north, in Israel, since the time between the partitioning of the land and the division of the Kingdom was several hundred years (years you have done away with).

Have you ever considered that perhaps it is archaeologists’ understanding of Egyptian chronology that is wrong, and not the Bible?


I don’t believe in the innerancy of scripture so for me evolution is no problem. I don’t really understand innerancy or why some insist it is so neccessary. For me the bible arose out of specific contexts and revelations, continued and re-told in different ways to make theological but not neccesarilty completely factual points about relationships between God and people and between people. I don’t mind if various scholars have written about the mythological content of much of the Old Testament, particularly the early chapters. Myth has its own merits and poetic truth in relationships. The gospels also contain inconsistencies in chronology too (for a start compare the passion narratives and post resurrection appearances). None of this bothers me.


I think the Bible is inerrant in matters of doctrine, but as you imply, it can’t be considered a history book. Even though a good deal of it is grounded in history, when we try to turn it into a history book we run into trouble.

(George Brooks) #18

Yes, you are right. I did start confusing you two in my head.

@EvD97, thiis makes for a good sound bite. But don’t forget that Sarah was old enough to be considered “barren”… withered… This is not something that she would have thought of herself if she actually looked young and sharp in relative terms. She accepted she was too old because she looked old.

Yeah, right. That’s not what the Book of Joshua says. Is this what you do with your free time? Just make stuff up?

And what exactly do you think the archaeologists and historians would have got wrong? That there was an Egypt at all? You can’t wipe out a whole civilization, and then have it bounce back within years of a global flood. Who would have continued to write the histories? Who would have continued to build the royal tombs? Who would have built the temples … in the same uninterrupted style?

The world Flood is the most egregiously erroneous part of the Old Testament.

(Christy Hemphill) #19

Not to bring up a bunch of girly things on this testosterone-riddled forum, but no, George, no woman rates her fertility on her appearance. Let me femmesplain this to you. When Aunt Flo stops coming to visit, no more babies. Even ancient women understood this basic fact of life.

(George Brooks) #20

So… I’m supposed to believe that Sarah accepts she is too old to menstruate, but still so ravishing that Abraham’s life is in danger? All because she lived to age 127, which is about 15% longer than, say,
women who have been known to live to 110 years of age even in this modern epoch?

No plastic surgery?
No advanced cosmetics?
No SPF 5000 to protect the face from decades of sunlight reflecting off of the empty sands?

This is the Middle East we are discussing … not the jungles of Asia.