In the next issue of The Skeptical Review, editor Farrell Till and Lindell Mitchell, a Church-of-Christ preacher from Livingston, Texas, will begin a written debate. Till will affirm that the Israelite destruction of the Amalekite nation (as recorded in the Bible) constituted moral atrocity; Mitchell will deny that it was a moral atrocity.
As indicated in Clarence Lavender's article "Was It Morally Right for God to Order the Killing of the Canaanites?" (TSR, Winter 1993, pp. 6-7), biblical inerrantists argue that the massacre of civilian populations, including even children and babies, in time of war was morally right, if God so decreed it. They must take this position, because the Bible clearly attributes such actions to the Hebrew god Yahweh, who inerrantists believe was the omniscient, omnipotent deity who inspired the writing of the Bible. To say that Yahweh erred morally would be the death knell for the inerrancy doctrine, so inerrantists must defend baby killing while usually condemning abortion.
Lindell Mitchell refused to defend the massacre of the Amalekites, but he did agree to deny that it was an atrocity. The debate will continue through the Spring 1994 issue.
In addition to The Skeptical Review, Skepticism, Inc., publishes other materials that might be useful to those wishing to hone their skills on the subject of Bible inerrancy. The following booklets are available at $2.50 each, postage paid.
The Laws-Till Debate, a 56-page unfinished debate with James Laws, Jr., a professor of apologetics at Tennessee Bible College. Although Laws challenged, he quit after only three manuscript exchanges and has since refused to accept mail from Till. Correspondence is reproduced in the booklet. Jackson-Till Debate, a 64-page debate on the issue of Bible inerrancy with a Church-of-Christ preacher. Prophecies: Imaginary and Unfulfilled, an in-depth examination of the most commonly claimed examples of prophecy fulfillment. Recently revised to expand its scope.
BACK ISSUES of The Skeptical Review from winter 1990 to the current edition (16 in all) are available at $1 per copy.
The myth of Bible inerrancy can be easily exposed by two or more writers. Quite often, the telling of the same story a second or third time resulted in noticeable discrepancies. An example of glaring inconsistency can be found in the two accounts of the death of Saul, the first king of Israel, as told by the writers of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles . Both writers claimed that Yahweh engineered Saul's death because of his disobedience, but the two versions of his disobedience differ significantly. This is how the Chronicle writer summarized Saul's ignominious death:
So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against Yahweh, because he did not keep the word of Yahweh, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of Yahweh; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse (1 Chron. 10:13-15 ).
The statement is too direct to be misunderstood. Saul consulted a medium for guidance but did not inquire of Yahweh; therefore, Yahweh killed him. The Chronicle writer did not record Saul's experience with the medium who is commonly called "the Witch of Endor," but the event was recorded in 1 Samuel 28 in a way that clearly contradicts the statement in 1 Chronicles :
Then the Philistines gathered together and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of Yahweh, Yahweh did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.
Then Saul said to his servants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor" (vv:4-7 ). The rest of the chapter records the actual seance in which the witch at Endor conjured up the spirit of Samuel the prophet, who told Saul that the next day his army would be defeated by the Philistines and that he and his sons would be killed.
The significant thing to notice in this story is not the absurdity of the writer's apparent belief that a medium actually conducted a seance in which she conjured up the spirit of a dead man but his obvious disagreement with the Chronicle writer's version of Saul's death. The latter said that Saul consulted a medium but did not inquire of Yahweh, and so Yahweh killed him. The writer of 1 Samuel , however, said that Saul did not consult the medium until after he had inquired of Yahweh and had received no answer. Both versions of this story cannot both be right. The discrepancy is obvious, yet in the face of such glaring inconsistency as this, inerrantists will stubbornly argue that the Bible is a perfectly harmonious book from cover to cover. Go figure.
With the change in our format, we will be publishing more materials.
If you have an idea for an article, we would be interested in
reading it. All articles should address specific points of
discrepancy, contradiction, or logical absurdity that illustrate
fallacies in the Bible inerrancy doctrine. Our style is thoroughness,
so we will expect in-depth discussion of major points. Unsupported
assertions and generalizations that characterize most fundamentalist
papers should be avoided. We will also consider pro-inerrancy
articles with the understanding that if we accept them, they will
be published simultaneously with our rebuttals.