The fallacies you see below are a brief list I have compiled over the course of several years. They are based upon common statements that are made within Christianity; whether in the context of a sermon, book, theologian, or conversation. This list is not exhaustive and will be updated periodically. The fallacies are based upon at least of the following criteria:
- Wording of the statement
- Meaning of the statement
- Logic of the statement
Fallacy 1: The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
The most common definition as asserted by the Chicago Council on Biblical Inerrancy defines inerrancy: The Bible, in its original autographs, is entirely true and never false in everything it affirms.
Let’s look at the different pieces of this statement. The first part that stands out is “original autographs”. I will be honest; I am not sure why this part is in the statement. 98% of the Bible is accurate to its original autographs. Although we don’t have the actual papyrus, we do have the actual content. Moreover, why the actual papyrus is necessary as opposed to the content is puzzling.
It’s this second part that most get wrong: “…true in everything it affirms”. What this does NOT mean is “true in everything it says”. What it does mean is “true in everything that it says is true”. These are two different ideas. However, most define it in the former instead of the later sense.
There is an ambiguity about this though. For example, it could be argued that the ideas the Bible affirms as true are not necessarily historical (accurate dates, etc), but in the broader sense are simply the general ideas the Bible presents. For example, the Law would be considered an idea that the Bible affirms as true.
If, indeed the Bible is the Word of God, then I would agree that it would also have to be inerrant. However, please read my article: “The Bible is NOT the Word of God” to see why this is not the case.
Fallacy 2: The Bible is inspired, therefore it is also inerrant.
This is only necessarily true if God penned the Bible himself. The Bible can be inspired without needing to be inerrant. Inspiration simply refers to the creative process of writing, whereas inerrancy refers to the nature of the writing itself.
Fallacy 3: Truth (or the Bible) has to be absolute (AKA Biblical Truth cannot be subjective).
I am still surprised how often I hear this. I would like to think that this argument is most often recited by lay-people. Unfortunately it’s just as common among scholars. Regardless, this statement is fallacious.
Those who make this claim fail to make an important ontological distinction between the object and the subject and the relationship they have to truth. They also fail to appreciate the roles communication (more broadly) and language (more specifically) plays in the understanding of what is true.
First, the only way to obtain absolute truth is to be the source of that truth. Moreover, if God is absolute truth, then as both subject and object of that truth; he is the only one who has the ability to perceive that truth. Any attempt at ascertaining that truth outside of His sphere always results in something less than its source.
In fact, I would argue that all absolutists are really closet subjectivists. I say this because the majority of people do accept subjective truth as normative by practicing it every day.
For example, is not one’s interpretation of the Bible an act of subjectivity?
Truth has to be understood in the relationship it has both to its source as well as its perception from the subject hoping to ascertain it.
Fallacy 4: If the Bible is not completely reliable, then we cannot trust anything it says (AKA If any part of scripture is false, then it can’t be true.)
Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. First and foremost this question is a contradiction. Something cannot be both “complete” and “reliable” at the same time. For example, something can be false/lie/untrue and still be reliable. Reliability only requires a majority for it to obtain. In essence the question is saying that the Bible must be only reliable, but also completely true.
If this is in reference to the stricter sense, then see Fallacy #5.
Fallacy 5: There are no contradictions in scripture.
It’s not entirely clear if this statement is referring to the form or function of scripture.
If it’s related to the form and/or any type of contradiction, then this statement would be untrue as there are innumerable contradictions in the Bible. Just to name a couple compare Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23 and ask yourself the question, who is Joseph’s father? Also look at Acts 1:18 and Matthew 27:5-7 and ask yourself the question, how did Judas die?
You will find countless irrational explanations for every apparent contradiction; and although some might be justifiable, the majority of them are weak attempts at justifying an irrational doctrine.
Fallacy 6: The Bible is the sole moral standard for living.
A very common argument for the inerrant moral standard of the Bible is that without the Bible’s absolute standard, morality would be solely dictated by the individual. This is oftentimes referred to as “moral relativism”. The idea is that humans have no way to determine what is right or wrong (apart from the aid of some absolute standard)
This argument is completely incoherent. First, this assumes that no one could do “good” before the Bible was written, or in places where the Bible was not present. Second, the Bible is not exhaustive in its teaching of morality. Third, the purpose of the Bible is not to be a treatise on morality, but to reveal God through the testimony of man. That is not to say that there are not moral teachings; instead, that is not the Bible’s primary purpose.