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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Resolving Biblical Contradictions

Last week while I was on my evening stroll I found a 1,500 page manuscript for an unpublished book. It had no author or contact information listed, so I took it home. I read it cover-to-cover and then read it several more times. It was the most uplifting story I had ever read. It was an autobiography and it was profound. Summary of book:
Aron Lee is a reclusive asexual with OCD. He finds love in his life by meeting a woman named Heather Smith who shows him a deep insight into himself. She tells him she wants a baby once they get married and he is filled with joy as he had always wanted a son. He never thought he would find someone who would accept him enough to have a relationship with him.

On their wedding day, they go skydiving to celebrate their nuptials. His parachute won't open, though, and he plummets to Earth and crashes into the ground. He irreparably damages his penis in collision and also has to have his testicles removed. The doctors tell him it will be impossible for them to conceive. He defies the odds, though, and regains mobility in half the time projected. On the night he first returns home, they conceive. After the baby is born, there is a tragic accident and Heather dies. While the thought of suicide overcomes him, he perseveres because he has his son.

I gave this book to one of my good friends, Brian, to show how everyone can find someone and that you should never listen when the experts say something is impossible. I stressed the fact that this is an autobiography.

After reading it Brian approached me puzzled. He asked how I could believe this is true, because first and least of all the author is unknown so its integrity is without validity. I told him that doesn't matter. It's quite a lengthy work at over 1,500 pages. You would expect such a long work to have inaccuracies and contradictions, but it is wholly self-consistent. That's considerable evidence for the veracity of its content.

Further puzzled, he opened up to the introduction where the author discusses his wife's death:
My dearest Heather contracted a virulent disease on the evening of January 2. She died in my arms on February 6.
He then flipped to the point in the text where it gives the account of her death:
The sky drew dark and she inhaled the wintery air. A horrible accident befell her that evening and she was hospitalized. She spent forty-four days in the hospital. I visited her on the forty-fifth night in the hospital. She died and I held her in my arms.
He pointed out that the introduction gives an account of 42 days between the day she contracts the disease and the day she dies. The account in the text, though, has a span of 45 days and there's no mention of a disease. In fact, it says there was an accident. He pointed to it as a clear contradiction.

I pored over the text and returned to him the next day, shaking my head.
You'll see that there is no contradiction here and the confusion is easily resolved. It's clear that the accident he refers to is one where there is a disease involved that she contracts. It's easy to come up with scenarios which fit this. She may have been in a lab and there was some disease in a vile. The accident refers to accidentally dropping a vile and releasing the air-borne disease. Or, she may have accidentally come into contact with someone's blood. It's clear that the disease came from an accident.

And there is no contradiction in the days. You see, they are just different ways of stating the same thing. It's not difficult to come up with a number of scenarios here either. The introduction clearly states that she died on the 42nd night in his arms. The text, though, does not state that she died on the 45th night. It just says that Aron visited her on the 45th night and held her in his arms again. So you see, the sequence of events was like this:

She contracted the disease in an accident on January 2. She died in his arms on February 6. We know that hospitals keep corpses for a number of days. So, he went back to the hospital on February 9 and lovingly embraced her dead body in his arms.

And thus the "contradiction" is resolved; there is no contradiction here. If you would quit trying to shoot holes in it you would realize that.

1 comment:

AIGBusted said...

This is why atheists need not bother searching for biblical contradictions. I have come to the conclusion that no matter what the bible says, apologists can find a way to harmonize it. They can interpret things figuratively, invent their own interpretation to make things fit, and more liberal Christians can chalk it up to a scribal error or an insignifigant mistake on the part of the author.

However, the best point that can be made is that Christians are constantly being confused by what their own book says. I took a speech class once and our instructor told us not to reference the bible because people often quote passages to support contradictory views (Should we support capital punishment? Should our county be dry or wet?). 1 Corinthians 14:33 deals us a delicious piece of irony: God is not the author of confusion.