It's amazing how people will take very seriously a book about whether or not the world exists, and then turn around and treat the Bible as though it's hilariously inaccurate.

An example (although not the direct inspiration for this post): in one of my classes last semester we were reading Rene Descartes, in whose books are often found apparent contradictions. The teacher pointed out two possible interpretive methods: either (1) assume that Descartes didn't know he was contradicting himself, or (2) assume that he did it on purpose in order to make a point. Since Descartes is usually considered one of humanity's greatest philosophers, the class generally operated on the latter assumption: he knew what he was doing, and if you interpret him a little differently, he might not actually be contradicting himself at all.

That seems like a fair criterion to me: give great thinkers the benefit of the doubt, and see if you can't figure out why they might have intentionally made the "mistakes" they seem to have made. It's a very deep, and often quite rewarding, way of reading important texts.

Why, then, do these same people read the Bible with such carelessness? An apparent contradiction in the scriptures is seldom a real problem when considered attentively and carefully, giving the text that same "benefit of the doubt" that is usually given to other important texts.

I guess people would rather assume that the Biblical authors were idiots than take the time to figure out why so many well-educated people throughout the last two millennia have taken such an "obviously self-contradictory" text to be the inerrant word of an always-truthful God.

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