What to do when contradiction happens?

We all know that the bible is not a science textbook. And yet, many things in the bible are contradicted by science. How do you resolve these contradictions?

Science does not study the supernatural, so there is no contradiction there. The scriptures are records of testimony and not presented as perfect history, and it is redacted. There are a mix of writing categories such as poetry and prose.


That’s kinda like saying “we all know that an automobile manual is not a cookbook; yet, many things in auto manuals are not in concert with cookbooks – how do we resolve this contradiction?”

We resolve it, simply, by saying “apples and oranges”. The two aren’t meant to be speaking about the same topics, so deal with them in the contexts in which they’re meant to be encountered.

(p.s., did I tell you about the amazing peach cobbler I baked on my radiator? My auto manual gave this wonderful recipe!) :rofl:


(Snort!) :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

The best liquor has been passed thru a car radiator for flavoring!

Seriously, IMHO Gorgias’ answer is a good one.

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But many claims in the bible deal with the natural world. That is where the contradiction happens.

There are many things in the bible, which deal with physical history, and which are flatly contradicted by science. The bible says “this” and science says “that” - for the same proposition. Which one do you accept and on what grounds?

Reality has only one context.

Perhaps reality in itself, but we know things by composing and dividing concepts and not by immediate knowledge of things in themselves, and furthermore the scientific method itself does not capture all there is to reality. And I’m not even including the supernatural in that. The ways we know and study reality do have different contexts.

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The sun rises in the East and sets in the West, no?

Many times what is written in the Scriptures is what the culture saw and understood at the time. They were merely reporting what they saw and tried to explain it. They were not stupid, they just didn’t know. Sometimes, what they understood is not what the reality is. However, one cannot condemn them for not being correct.

By the way, the sun does NOT rise in the East and set in the West. The earth rotates in its axis and the sun APPEARS to rise and set. However, we do not call out someone who says this.


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How do you find out what reality “in itself” might be, except by observation, and the mathematical models we build? Remember the problem of the Matrix.

The revealed truth, which may be expressed through literal meaning, metaphor, or analogy.

I agree that’s how we learn about reality. In fact a principle stated by Aristotle and affirmed by Thomas Aquinas is that whatever is in knowledge must first have been in the senses (I probably stated that poorly). But our knowledge of reality isn’t immediate or even reality in itself.

That’s not to say I don’t think we get real knowledge about reality (I am not an “idealist”, I think our knowledge does conform to things, at least formally). We do. But reality as it is in itself isn’t absolutely identical to reality as it is in the mind. What’s in the mind is worked on, composed and divided.

Though I do think I am getting a little away from the main point. As far as our knowledge of reality, how we relate to it or speak of it, etc… there are different contexts.

Would you please give us some specific examples of these contradictions, by quoting the biblical verse?

Literature has many. :wink:

What’s that – that Keanu isn’t a good actor? :thinking: :rofl:

And specifically, where the Bible is attempting to assert a scientific proposition, please!

This is where the term poetic license comes in.

The Bible has allegory, it has poetry, it has historical narration, what it doesn’t have is a scientific treatise. It never claimed to be a scientific book.

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In terms of what?

The scientific context? I suggest you take a course in Philosophy 101.

There are many methods of inquiry besides the scientific method.

Sorry, the value determining the circumference of a circle from the value of the radius is NOT poetic.

Sure. There is the deductive method which deals with axiomatic systems. There is the inductive method which deals with the objective, external reality (this is the scientific method). And there are subjective propositions, which have no objective truth value associated with them.

Should the Bible describe an event that “could not happen naturally” - say, the immediate curing of leprosy, one may conclude a miracle was performed. Are miracles in contradiction with science? Yes, by definition. Is that a problem? I guess it is for atheists.

Leaving aside the ‘supernatural’ then, what is an example of a part of reality that cannot be subjected to the scientific method?

Miracles are not a problem for us atheists. If you can demonstrate a ‘miracle’, that is something that could not possibly have a natural cause, in a controlled environment that excludes the possibility of fraud or error, then we atheists will happily say something 'super’natural has occurred. It’s just that this never happens. And of course the existence of 'super’natural phenomena does not demonstrate the existence of a god(s). Just something supernatural.

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can you please provide an example

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