Is the bible really inerrant? Or is that just what fundies say? I’m just curious.
If you ask a fundie, they’ll say that yes, it is inerrant. Ask a non-fundie, and they’ll say that that’s just what the fundies say.
Do you mean “Is it infallible?” Because it is. The argument goes like this:
We know that the Bible is true because it is the word of God. We know that it is the word of God because it says so in the Bible and the Bible is true. We know that the Bible is true because…
Okay, name that logical fallacy!
circular reasoning! do I win a prize?
A good resource for contradictions, errors, and just plain silliness in the Bible can be found in the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.
The Bible is only infallible when you choose to ignore anything that is incorrect or contradictory as being a misinterpretation on the part of the reader. Which seems to be a practice that the Fundies are quite fond of.
Interestingly, as noted some months ago by the indefatigable Duck Duck Goose, the term as it was used by the original “Fundamentalists” – those who stood for what they termed "the fundamentals of the Christian faith – was that the Holy Spirit would preserve the text of the Bible in such a way that it could never be used to prove doctrinal error – it was “inerrant” only in that sense.
From what I understand, the view of the Catholic church is that the books in the Bible were divinely inspired.
The problem comes in knowing which ones are inspired, and which ones are not. While much in the Bible is, at the very least, great literature, and ‘sounds’ inspired, quite a bit of it reads like military statistics (and in some cases is just military statistics). One can easily find more inspiring works in secular writings.
So how can we determine what is inspired by God? Well, in order to do that, we must use some reason. Let us approach the New testament, specifically the Gospels, as a history. From what we read in the gospels of Jesus, we can safely say that either he was what he said he was, the Son of God, or he was crazy. By examining not just what he said but the actions of his disciples, we can safely omit the latter.
Now, Christ said he would found a Church. Both the Bible (still taken as merely a historical book, not yet as an inspired one) and extra-biblical sources note that Christ established a Church with the rudiments of what we see in the Catholic Church today—papacy, hierarchy, priesthood, sacraments, teaching authority, and, as a consequence of the last, infallibility. Christ’s Church, in order to fulfill the mission he gave it, had to have the character of doctrinal infallibility.
From this, we have proved, by strictly material means, that Christ created a Church which is divinely protected from doctrinal error. Now we are at the last premise of the argument. This Church tells us the Bible is inspired, and we can take the Church’s word for it precisely because the Church is infallible. It is only after we have been told by a properly constituted authority, established by God to assure us of the truth concerning matters of faith, that the Bible is inspired can we reasonably begin to use it as an inspired book.
A more thorough argument is located below:
The argument is expanded on here:
The view that the Bible is the infallible word of God is known as “Sola Scriptura”.
There are a lot of issues with the texts, though - not least a lot of the numbers in the Old Testament have been messed up through the process of copying.
If anyone’s looking for the early Christian books that were left out of the Bible then there’s a big list of them here.
Actually, sola scriptura refers to the use of the Bible as the sole determinant of doctrine (hence the phrase, Latin for “Scripture alone”) in Christian faith. It was first used by nascent Protestants to distinguish their faith from that of the Roman Catholic church, in which the pronouncements of the Pope and other church authorities carried doctrinal weight.
(Of course, even early Protestants’ church authorities interpretations of the Bible carried doctrinal weight. But these authorities argued that these interpretations were led by scripture and not man.)
Only my love.
A note on the actual truthfulness of Scripture - There’s a lot of interesting archeological work being done to try and figure out how much of the Bible came from actual events. From what I can tell, at least some of the Bible is from real events that got retold and retold until they reached a sort of mythical status. There used to be documentaries on A&E about it on weekends - they might still be there or they might be on the History channel now.