The latest issue (March/April) was filled with interesting things, and I read it from cover to cover immediately. It continues to amaze me that apologists like Roger Hutchinson never seem to get the point or understand any discussion. So far, it's still amusing as well.
I'm sure you've discovered the unfortunate glitch on page 10. However, I had no problem at all in discovering how the text had to be read (from last line of middle column at the top to last line of the middle column at the bottom, then to the 3rd column at the top).
(Dr. E. Otha Wingo, 126 Camellia Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO 63703-5722; e-mail email@example.com)
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure others have noticed this glitch too. It resulted from a last minute correction to page 10, which I completed without proofreading the corrected page. I didn't notice that the third column of the second article on the page was somehow pulled up an extra line. This resulted in a 3rd-column line from the article above it being put in the wrong place, as Dr. Wingo pointed out. Those who may not have figured it out can follow Dr. Wingo's instructions and see what the line sequence should have been. No matter how much I proofread, occasional errors somehow creep by, but this is the first formatting mistake that I can recall. If any of my former composition students ever hear of this mistake, they will probably ask me why I didn't take my own advice, which I so often gave them, and proofread more carefully.
I can't really add anything to Dr. Wingo's comment about Roger Hutchinson. It does seem as if diehard inerrantists are unable to see the silliness of their speculative "solutions" to biblical discrepancies. Hutchinson must also have a streak of masochism in him, because, as readers have probably noticed, he is back for more in this issue. As you will see directly below, he has even taken up a crusade to answer letters that appear in this column.
The pleasures of being in God's care?
In response to a letter from Hugh Harris (TSR, January/February 2000), Farrell Till reflected on separation from God. On the prospect of spending eternity in hell, Till asked what could be so bad about not being with a God whom he perceives as barbaric and brutal. Perception is everything. The historical events that Till has read in the Bible in which God has commanded the destruction of this or that people are examples to us of the certainty with which we also can expect to be punished by God for our sins. It would not be so bad if the punishment were not so bad, not so barbaric, not so brutal. Is it any wonder that so many skeptics think that punishing people for sin is barbaric and brutal? Interestingly, Mr. Harris views punishment for sin as a welcome relief and great reward; hardly barbaric, hardly brutal. His perception may change when he finds himself actually separated from God. People like Harris and Till are bold now when times are good. They enjoy the pleasures that come with being in God's presence and under His care. It will be interesting to see if they change their minds when such things are taken away. Mr. Till clearly has an inkling of what is to come. Mr. Harris just seems naive.
(Roger Hutchinson, 11904 Lafayette Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20902; e-mail RHutchin@AOL.com)
EDITOR'S NOTE: What recourse would Christians have if they could not resort to the fallacy of the threat when they have exhausted all other attempts to persuade those who don't put stock in ancient superstitions? All through his letter, Hutchinson begged the question of biblical accuracy. How does he know that there will be an eternal punishment for people like Mr. Harris and me? He has never seen this place called hell, where this punishment will presumably take place, so how does he know that any such place exists? Well, that's an easy question to answer. The Bible tells him so. If the Bible said that the sun rises in the west, Hutchinson would believe it and no doubt lecture us endlessly about how directions like east and west are merely subjective "perceptions."
How much sleep do I lose over letters like Hutchinson's? None at all. The Qur'an warns Hutchinson and all others who reject it that punishment awaits them at the day of judgment: "Surely the righteous are in bliss, and the wicked are truly in burning fire--they will enter it on the day of judgment, and will not be absent from it. And what will make thee realize what the day of judgment is? Again, what will make thee realize what the day of judgment is? The day when no soul controls aught for another soul. And the command on that day is Allah's" (Sura 82:13-19). Hutchinson can read on into chapter 83 and see that what makes the wicked know that judgment awaits them "is written in a book" (v:9), and I doubt that the Qur'an meant that this book is the Bible. This chapter goes on to compare the bliss of the righteous with the punishment in "burning fire" that awaits the wicked.
Does any of this frighten Hutchinson? Of course, not, because he has no belief at all in the authority or divine origin of the Qur'an. He believes in an eternal punishment for the wicked, but he thinks that this will be the punishment described in the Bible and that the recipients of this punishment will be the "wicked" as determined by the Bible. He has no worry at all that he will ever suffer punishment on a day of judgment because he didn't believe in the Qur'an.
I wonder if any of this is getting through to Hutchinson? I doubt it, because people like him seem completely unable to see around the biblical blinders that have given them only a tunneled vision of the world. The Bible is the inspired word of God. That's it; end of discussion. They refuse even to consider the possibility that they are wrong, and it doesn't faze them in the least that believers in other religions think the same way about their holy books.
The obstinacy of this mindset is reflected in Hutchinson dismissal of biblical atrocities as just "examples to us of the certainty with which we also can expect to be punished by God for our sins." People like Hutchinson are completely unwilling even to consider the possibility that if these atrocities really happened, they were only examples of barbarity typical of the times, which the Israelites just thought their god wanted them to commit. No, they can never admit that. The Bible is the inspired word of God. That's it, end of the discussion, so there had to be some explanation for it. God was just punishing wicked people as examples of the certainty of the punishment we can expect if we sin too. It is a rationalization as old as the time of the apostle Paul, who after summarizing the disobedience of the Israelites in the wilderness, said, "Now these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11).
Yeah, right! Never mind that this god whom Hutchinson pants after ordered the killing of children and babies for our "admonition" (1 Sam. 15:2-3; Deut. 20:16-17; Josh. 10:15). He did it all for our benefit, so we should be obsequiously grateful for his grace and kindness. Doesn't such contrary-to-reality rhetoric like this nearly make you gag?
Hutchinson needs to go peddle this nonsense somewhere else. I doubt that he will have any success selling here his idea that people living in a tooth-and-claw, disease-ridden world that experiences one catastrophe after the other, a world in which mere survival is a constant struggle, are "enjoy[ing] the pleasures that come with being in God's presence and under his care." Hutchinson needs to remove his blinders and take a good long look at the real world.
Darius the Mede...
Michael Bradford's suggestion that Darius the Mede was installed as King of Babylon, because "somebody had to rule over Babylon" in the temporary absence of Cyrus (TSR, January/February 2000, p. 3) is so ludicrous that it surpasses laughable. It is a good example of how far Bible-believers are willing to go to make the world safe for their Bible.
Bradford didn't actually use the word "king" in reference to his hypothetical temporary reign of Darius the Mede, but I hardly imagine that governors and generals ever "reigned" at any time. Nor did the great empires measure their years according to how long some governor or general ruled! Why, every province in the empire would have run on a different calendar! No, that was a privilege given only to the king. Finally, the only person who can "receive" a defeated kingdom is the conquering monarch. The top dog gets mentioned, not some lieutenant or governor! Today's English Version uses the phrase "seized the royal power." An advancing general can only seize it for his monarch, not for himself, unless he is in rebellion.
The fact that Cyrus arrived shortly after the fall of Babylon, having led the attack against nearby cities, makes a joke out of the claim that somebody had to rule in Babylon. However, even if there had been a gap of a year or more, it would have been a simple matter for the leading general (or even a preauthorized governor) to take charge. The extreme notion of appointing a king to fill a temporary power vacuum is absurd. Even the Roman Empire, which appointed kingships and recognized associated kingdoms on occasion, did not take such decisions lightly. Such kingdoms governed themselves within certain broad limits.
Under Cyrus's new and rising kingdom, there was room for only one king. By its very nature, a kingship meant a high degree of independence and royal status on par with other kings. That would have been impossible for "Darius the Mede," because Cyrus was in complete control, and he wasn't about to declare newly conquered Babylon an independent state by giving it a king! He, Cyrus, would receive the kingdom. Officials would govern in his name.
The Bible treats Darius the Mede as a full-fledged king, a point that even Michael Bradford seems to recognize. Darius the Mede received the old Babylonian kingdom; he reigned as King of Babylon. He was listed chronologically with the other kings of Babylon. His title suggested that he was formerly the king of the Medes. He was on the same level as Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus. Only he never existed! There is no slot for him to rule as a king. The Medes were absorbed by Cyrus before Babylon fell. There is no historical record of him. He "exists" only because Hebrew prophecies said that Babylon would fall to the Medes. Thus, Darius the Mede was invented, but such human misunderstanding (or manipulation) of ancient history could never counterfeit the kinds of hard evidence that must accompany any actual king of that stature.
Thus, real historians, whose interest is in pursuing truth and not dogma, reject this nonsense about Daniel being an official in Nebuchadnezzar's court. The good name of Daniel was seized upon, and the heroic stories concocted, by a writer or writers of a later time who were trying to preserve the faith of the Jews during the dark days of Antiochus IV. Only in that context do all the pieces nicely fit together.
(Dave Matson, editor, The Oak Hill Free Press, P. O. 61274, Pasadena, CA 91116; e-mail 103514.3640@compuserve. com)
EDITOR'S NOTE: There's not anything I can add to Matson's comments about another attempt to make Darius the Mede an actual historical character who reigned as king in Babylon after its fall. Bradford's was just one more effort to defend a position that has no real evidence to support it.
A floating banner...
In reference to your banner, I am skeptical about such a "pronouncement"; "wrong" has a quite doctrinaire ring (or wring) to it. "Always," "everyone," "everywhere" are right out of "the Great Commission," and sufficient "evidence" smacks sufficiently of "evidents" (behold, I show you a more excellent way), rather like "a Nicene Creed for Freethinkers."
Your magazine is wonderful, but I do feel that a "floating banner" would be superior to the "fixed" one.
(Jack Sparks, 33821 Ponderosa Way, Paynes Creek, CA 96075-9713; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Actually, the banner is not permanent in the sense that I have always used it. For the first four years of publication, the banner was a quotation from George Santayana: "Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect, and it is shameful to surrender it too soon or to the first caller." I personally liked the thought, but some didn't. They thought that it conveyed a concept of right and wrong in connotations that were drawn from the religious notion that sexual purity is virtuous. I suspect that I would never be able to find a quotation that everyone would agree with, so it would be pointless to try.
In defense of Bradford...
You will have to excuse the lateness of these comments. I am only now seeing the November/December  issue of The Skeptical Review at infidels.org, and I have gone and read a few back issues as well. I have two things that I want to comment on. First, I read your mail about the atheist professor's brain. Reading the story, I was struck by how much it resembles the story of the atheist professor teaching evolution, as doodled by Jack Chick (http://www.chick.com/reading/ tracts/0055/0055_01.asp). This seems to be a standard style of parable for evangelizing Christians. It must be wishful thinking. You may find this version good for a laugh.
Second, in the September/October back issue I caught the debate on biblical errancy between you and Michael Bradford. As much as I hate to do this as a staunch atheist, I am going to take exception to something you said and defend Bradford's side. I am referring to where you said, "I will first show that this popular apologetic method he is using is logically flawed. Inerrantists argue that when a discrepancy is claimed in the Bible, the problem will be automatically solved if they can just show how the passage could be interpreted to remove the discrepancy, but this is a fallacious argument. If a discrepancy is claimed in a written document, there are two possibilities: (1) It is a real discrepancy. (2) It is only an apparent discrepancy that can be explained. In order to remove a claim of discrepancy, then, the inerrantist must show an absolutely undeniable solution to the problem and not just a `possible' solution, for if the biblicist shows only a possible solution, he has done no more than show a possible solution. Positing only a `possible' explanation, then, will always leave open the other possibility, which is that a real discrepancy does exist in the text. Since inerrantists almost always assert with bold certitude that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant `word of God,' they owe us more evidence than just mere possibilities, because it's possible that the Bible is every bit as errant as we have claimed in this publication."
It's clear that you are approaching this from an entirely different angle from the inerrantist one. To a biblical inerrantist, the belief that the Bible is literal truth is not a conclusion to be proved but an axiom on which their entire belief system is based. When you make the claim that the Bible is not literal truth, the fundamentalist considers that to be an extravagant claim which requires extraordinary proof, not the reverse.
So when you point out a specific contradiction in the Bible, the inerrantist is faced with two possibilities: 1) the Bible is correct and the contradiction is not really a contradiction (trivial claim); 2) the contradiction is real and the Bible is wrong (extravagant claim). Given these two states, clearly the preferable and "simpler" alternative is that the contradiction has an explanation.
It matters not at all if there are several possible explanations for the same event. The important thing is that at least one explanation may be true; then there is no need to give up on long-held beliefs.
The problem is that you are trying to prove to Christians that they are crazy by showing that they could be wrong, and this is not going to happen. I think a much better argument to use in conjunction with Biblical contradictions is this: They say that the Bible is not only literal but not open to interpretation. Yet some of the contortions that they go through to get around contradictions--Adam had 50 more kids that they didn't mention-- are very heavy examples of interpretations. If they are justified in interpreting this way in the first place, then they need to acknowledge that there are other interpretations, perhaps even nonliteral ones, that may be true as well. To do otherwise is logically inconsistent.
Additionally, it may be possible to show that no interpretation of event A is compatible with any interpretation of event B, thus showing that a contradiction remains despite the attempt to explain them away.
I have one third and final point along similar lines. In the September/October article "Probability Applied to Biblical Inerrancy," the same argument applies as in your rebuttal. Biblical inerrancy is not a premise but an axiom. Therefore, the probability of every Biblical claim is 100% unless proven otherwise (to a literalist, anyway). Thus, you cannot prove anything (again, to a literalist) by performing statistical reasoning unless you first strongly establish that there could be at least one contradiction.
Unfortunately, the article also suffers from some genuinely faulty math. Here's a quotation: "Now, I chose 0.99 to simplify the math, but if there are two or more `how-it-could-have-happened' explanations for a particular event, we might assume 100% certainty that at least one of them is correct, but the probability that one particular one (say of three choices) was correct, would have to be 33%, or 0.33. So for at least this event, we would have to multiply our series times 0.33 with drastic effect! (Mind you, the entire series wouldn't consist of 0.33 to whatever power... merely that particular event!)"
This is not at all correct. There may be three separate explanations, but the inerrantist is not claiming that all three are correct at once. He is merely claiming that at least one of the explanations is true. This is an "or" conjunction of terms, not an "and" conjunction, so different rules apply. The chances are slightly increased, not decreased, by each additional possible explanation.
As I said, I am writing this despite being a confirmed atheist. It's not because I enjoy being the "angel's advocate" as you might say, but because I think serious errors in reasoning ought to be exposed so that they may be corrected and not repeated. After all, it is the willful repetition of known fallacies that we despise so much in individuals like Morris and Gish, is it not?
(Russell Glasser, 9742 Anderson Village Drive, Austin, TX 78729; e-mail email@example.com)
EDITOR'S NOTE: I had a problem deciding whether to run Mr. Glasser's defense of Michael Bradford as an article or as a letter. Because space was unavailable in the article section of this issue, I chose to publish it as a letter, but that means that an inordinate amount of space in this issue of the mailbag will have to be devoted to answering Glasser's points. Some letters that I had wanted to publish now will have to wait.
I'll begin by noting that Mr. Glasser was forthright in his letter, so I trust that he won't object to my frankness in replying to him. I have found, unfortunately, that many atheists know very little about the Bible and even less about the issue of biblical inerrancy. Mr. Glasser's letter didn't really get into biblical matters, so I don't know how much he may or may not know about the Bible; however, he said more than enough for me to determine that he is very uninformed in what fundamentalists believe and don't believe about biblical inerrancy. He made the mistake that I have heard many uninformed skeptics make when he referred to biblical inerrantists as "literalists." I rubbed shoulders daily with biblical inerrantists when I was a preacher and foreign missionary, and I have been in constant contact with them ever since through my oral and written debates, but I have yet to meet a biblical inerrantist who believes that the Bible is literally true. I think my money would be very safe if I wagered that there is no such thing as an informed Bible believer who thinks that it is literally true. Ask even the most rabid biblical inerrantist if he thinks the Bible is "literally true," and he will tell you that he thinks that everything in the Bible is true but not necessarily literally true. Biblical inerrantists are not so stupid that they don't know that the Bible is filled with figurative and symbolic language, and they certainly don't believe that the figurative and symbolic language of the Bible is literally true. They believe only that the figurative and symbolic language in the Bible had intended meaning and that whatever that intended meaning was is inerrantly true. There is a big difference in this and the literalist view that many skeptics have wrongly attributed to biblical inerrantists, so when they refer to Christians who think that the Bible is literally true, they merely give Bible believers reason to think that skeptics are uninformed in the Bible and don't know what they are talking about. To a degree, I have to admit, regrettably, that they are right. I wish that skeptics would stop using the word literal to describe what inerrantists believe about the Bible, because it is a misrepresentation of their beliefs. To discredit the biblical inerrancy doctrine, we don't have to misrepresent what believers in this doctrine stand for. There is more than enough to attack in their belief system without wasting time fighting a straw man.
There was at least one indication in Mr. Glasser's letter that his basic knowledge of the Bible may be as flawed as his understanding of the inerrancy doctrine, and this was his comment about the "heavy examples of interpretation" that inerrantists "go through to get around contradictions." He used the example of biblicists who say that "Adam had 50 more kids" who were not mentioned [in the Bible], and by this I suppose he was referring to the reply that most inerrantists will give to the misguided question of skeptics who ask where Cain got his wife. I refer to this as a "misguided question," because in my opinion it is a question that no informed skeptic should ever use to try to establish contradiction in the Bible. I've never heard an inerrantist reply to this question by saying that Adam had 50 more kids who were not mentioned in the Bible, because certainly the Bible does not state how many "kids" Adam and Eve had besides the three (Cain, Abel, and Seth) who were mentioned by name, but Genesis 5:4 does clearly claim that Adam lived 800 years after begetting Seth and "begot sons and daughters." Where, then, is the "heavy interpretation" when an inerrantist replies to such a misguided question as this by simply pointing out that the Bible claims that Adam had sons and daughters besides the three who were mentioned by name? The solution to the problem that the skeptic thinks he sees in Cain's wife is that Cain's wife was one of his sisters, one of the daughters that Adam begot. Since Mr. Glasser used this example as a "better argument to use in conjunction with Biblical contradictions," I can only conclude that he is hardly qualified to give instructions on better arguments to us in debating biblical inerrantists. That may be a rather blunt way to put it, but Mr. Glasser himself said that "serious errors in reasoning ought to be exposed so that they may be corrected and not repeated." That's all that I am doing.
Mr. Glasser seems to think that my approach to debating biblicists is flawed because I don't realize that they think that biblical inerrancy "is not a conclusion to be proved but an axiom" on which the entire belief system of inerrantists is based, but a serious flaw in his own reasoning can be exposed by a simple reductio ad absurdum. This is just a Latin term that means "reduction to absurdity," and in logic it is a process of disproving an opponent's proposition by showing that its consequences, when carried to its logical conclusion, are either impossible or too absurd to believe. This is easy to do in the case of Mr. Glasser's claim that biblical inerrancy is an axiom to those who believe that the Bible is inerrant. An axiom is a self-evident or universally accepted truth or a principle that is accepted as truth without proof, but a principle does not become an axiom just because a vociferous minority thinks that it is true. No doubt Mormons think that the inerrancy of the Book of Mormon is axiomatic, and Muslims think that the inerrancy of the Qur'an is axiomatic, so if we are going to concede to biblicists their "axiom," consistency would require us to concede to Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, etc., etc., etc. that the inerrancy of their "scriptures" is also axiomatic, but this is a consequence of Mr. Glasser's proposition that is too absurd to accept, because it will open to religious fundamentalism of every stripe a way to prove that all of their "holy books" are inerrant. However, since the various holy books in world religions teach doctrines that are logically contradictory, it by necessity becomes logically impossible for all of them to be inerrant, but Mr. Glasser cannot accord to biblical fundamentalists the right to an "axiom" that he is unwilling to accord to all religious fundamentalists. Hence, his premise can't possibly be true. Biblical inerrancy cannot be considered an "axiom," no matter how fervently a Christian minority may believe that it is an axiom, so I am perfectly within my rights to demand of biblical fundamentalists the same standards of evidence that I demand of all other religious fundamentalists who claim that their holy books are the "real" one. Mr. Glasser brought up the subject of axioms, so I will remind him of a logical axiom that says what proves too much proves nothing at all. In other words, if an argument applied universally to all like situations would prove the truth of logically inconsistent propositions, that argument cannot be sound, but this is exactly what the universal application of Glasser's "axiom premise" would do to the various religious scriptures. It would prove that all of them, even though they contradict one another, are inerrant. Allowing biblicists to argue from the assumption that biblical inerrancy is a universally recognized principle or truth would also permit them to beg a question they are obligated to prove. Why should we even bother to debate inerrantists if we are going to concede to them the very proposition being debated?
Glasser said when a skeptic says that the Bible is not "literal truth," an inerrantist will consider this to be "an extraordinary claim [that] requires extraordinary proof, not the reverse," but a claim does not become extraordinary just because it shocks the sensibilities of those who have beliefs contrary to that claim. To say that the earth is a sphere is certainly is not an extraordinary claim, but, believe it or not, there are people today who will argue that the earth is flat, and their position is based on biblical statements that clearly indicate that the writers thought the earth was flat. I was once contacted by a member of the "Flat-Earth Society" who offered me $5,000 if I could prove that the earth was a sphere, but I wasted no more time on him than I did on a fellow in Idaho who kept sending me letters in which he claimed to be the third incarnation of the "word." (The first two were king David and Jesus.) No doubt people with bizarre beliefs like these really think that their beliefs are "axiomatic," but mere belief that a proposition is axiomatic doesn't make it axiomatic.
Disproving such beliefs doesn't require extraordinary proof either. No "extraordinary" proof at all would be necessary to prove that the earth is not flat. There must be over a hundred astronauts and cosmonauts now living who have orbited the earth in spacecrafts and have seen the earth from a distance sufficient for them to know that it is indeed a sphere. It's rather strange that none of them has ever returned to earth and said, "Well, I always thought that the earth was a sphere, but on this trip into space, I saw with my own eyes that it is actually flat." Is there anyone living in any developed nation, where there is free access to television, who has not seen live pictures of astronauts working in space with images of an obviously spherical earth in the background? Such evidence as this is far from extraordinary, but it is sufficient to establish that flat-earthers, no matter how sincere their beliefs may be, are wrong about the shape of the earth. In the same way, we don't need "extraordinary evidence" to show biblical inerrantists that they are wrong. We need only show them where the Bible says X in one place but not X in another, and this is not difficult to do. We do it in every issue of The Skeptical Review.
In explaining his better way to debate inerrantists, Mr. Glasser said that "it may be possible to show that no interpretation of event A is compatible with any interpretation of event B, thus showing that a contradiction remains despite the attempt to explain them away," but I fail to see how he would expect to accomplish this in discussions with people who consider biblical inerrancy to be an "axiom." If he is going to accord them that right, I can assure him that he will find inerrantists all over the place who, when faced with an obvious example of discrepancy, will say, "There has to be an explanation for this, and just because I can't think of one doesn't mean that there is none." If Glasser will check Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, he will find where Gleason Archer told readers who find themselves confronting such situations to be "fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not yet found it" (p. 15), so if Glasser really thinks that proving biblical inerrancy is as simple as showing that there is no interpretation of event A that is compatible with any interpretation of event B, I can only conclude that his experience in debating biblical inerrantists has been very limited.
Anyone who has spent much time at all debating inerrantists should know that there is no such thing as an "unanswerable" example of biblical discrepancy, because no matter how obvious a biblical inconsistency, contradiction, or error may be, there will always be an inerrantist who will dream up a way that it could have been or how it could have happened and then argue that because he has proposed an explanation that is "possible," he has shown that there is no discrepancy. We have come full circle, then, back to my argument that Glasser objected to, and I still see no reason to think that it is not an appropriate response to the how-it-could-have-been approach to biblical apologetics. Why would it not be true that the postulation of a how-it-could-have-been solution to a biblical discrepancy would do no more than establish that there is a "possible" explanation?
Let's suppose that after telling her family she was going for a hike in the woods, Jane Doe failed to return home, and after months of intensive searching, she was never found. Several "explanations" for her disappearance would surely emerge: while crossing a stream in the woods, she was swept away by the current and her body became lodged under rocks or water-logged tree limbs; she was killed by a rapist she encountered in the woods, who buried her body in a place not yet discovered; she was abducted in the woods by someone who is now holding her captive in an unknown place; she found a cave (yet to be discovered by the searchers), went inside, became lost in one of many branches, and could not find her way out; she encountered a bear that killed her and dragged her body to its den, which has yet to be found; her hike in the woods was just a pretense that she had used to run away from home and disappear.
Any one of these explanations for Jane Doe's disappearance would be entirely within the realm of possibility, but what reasonable person would argue that any of them had solved the mystery of her disappearance? Each hypothesis would be only a possible explanation, but the mystery would never be solved until someone produced undeniable evidence to prove exactly what had happened to Jane Doe. I contend that this is also the case with biblical discrepancies. A discrepancy is never resolved by just a how-it-could-have-been explanation but will always remain a possible discrepancy until someone establishes unequivocally that a specific how-it-could-have-been is exactly how it was. Since most how-it-could-have-been explanations of biblical discrepancies are far-fetched, an intelligent evaluation of this belief should cause a reasonable person to ask just how many unlikely explanations a mind should be expected to absorb before admitting to itself that biblical inerrancy is an indefensible belief.
I've already devoted too much space to Mr. Glasser's
letter, so I'm not going to comment on his claim of "genuine faulty
math" in Kirk Mitchell's application of probability to biblical
inerrancy. However, it does seemed to me that Mr. Glasser missed the
point. If biblicists working independently of one another propose three
or four or more "solutions" to a claim of biblical inerrancy, that
would indicate to me that this discrepancy poses a really serious
problem for the biblical inerrancy doctrine, because if the solution is
so obvious, why wouldn't all apologists who study the matter arrive at
the same "explanation"? The mere fact of their disagreement on what the
solution is would indicate that they are all grasping straws but really
have no convincing explanation to give. If Kirk Mitchell wants to
answer this part of Glasser's letter, I'll be glad to publish his reply.