One of these days I might learn to keep my mouth shut during conversations about politics and religion, but I don’t expect that day to come anytime soon.
This morning, during a debate about the infallibility of scripture, I presented some verses that I considered evidence of discrepancy in the Bible. This didn’t go over too well, as I was loudly informed by a coworker that I should accept on faith that the Bible is the infallible word of God. My explanation that believing the holy text is inspired but can’t always be taken literally, fell on deaf ears.
Anyway, I used the following verses from Genesis to prove my point. After spending a little more time studying different translations of them, I’ve come to the conclusion that the King James Version might have been the real culprit.
Genesis 1:25-26 (King James Version)
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 2:18-19 (King James Version)
18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
Now, clearly, the first chapter states that God made animals first, man second. The second chapter tells it in reverse. That seems to be a glaring discrepancy, but watch what happens with the same verses in a different translation.
Genesis 2:18-19 (New International Version)
18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
By changing a couple of words, this verse seems to define the creation of animals as something that had already happened, a contradiction to the KJV, but in-line with the story told in the first chapter. I’m not sure which translation is more accurate, but I’ve looked into how the NIV was compiled, and it seems like it should be very close to the original texts.
I do have one problem with the NIV – they use the word “homosexual”, even though no such word existed in Biblical times. At least according to the research that I have done.
We all interpret the Bible when we read it, and a translation is just someone’s interpretation of the original texts. Therefore I don’t see how it is possible for someone to so vehemently believe that the translation they are reading is infallible. After all, even the Bibles that are commonly used in churches across the world aren’t always in agreement.
My point is this… it doesn’t matter whether we believe the Bible is literal or not, infallible or not, whether it contains contradictions; most of us agree that it is a holy work that is inspired by God and contains an infinite amount of wisdom. That’s more than enough reason to take it seriously.