Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. He’s been working in full-time apologetics ministry specializing in the defense of Genesis. He’s written numerous articles and books, including his well-known book, ‘The Ultimate Proof of Creation’. Dr. Lisle wrote and directed the popular planetarium shows at the Creation Museum including, ‘The Created Cosmos’.
Dr. Lisle described the interesting way he determined the subject matter for his book, ‘Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason’. He combed the Internet looking for accusations of contradictions from the Bible. One list in particular had compiled over 400 of these alleged contradictions. That list is the basis for the book.
After analyzing all of them, what did Dr. Lisle find? He discovered that not a single one is a legitimate contradiction when you read the biblical text carefully. For him, what the contradictions list reveals is a deficit in critical thinking skills and that’s what he sought to expose. This way Christians would be encouraged by the fact that these accusations against Christianity are not well thought out and researched. So instead of being a list of over 400 Bible contradictions, the list that inspired his book is actually a list of over 400 errors that the critics make when they argue against the Christians worldview.
So what is a contradiction? Dr. Lisle began by noting that a difference is not necessarily a contradiction. Someone may witness a car accident and say the car was red. Another person may say the car was fast. This is a difference but it’s not a contradiction. Each person reported different information, yet those two things are compatible. The car can be both fast and red.
A contradiction is where you have ‘A’ and ‘Not A’ at the same time and in the same sense or relationship. You can usually make a contradiction by adding ‘It is not the case that…’ in front of it. So if you say that it’s raining outside, the contradiction would be, ‘It is not the case that it is raining outside.’ Those two things cannot be both true at the same time and in the same sense.
Another way to look at this is the idea of marriage. A person could be married in one sense and not married in a different sense. So Dr. Lisle might say he’s not married in the sense that he doesn’t have a wife but he is married to his work. That’s a different sense of the term.
What this points to is that when it comes to contradictions, often times it’s just a compatible difference. That accounts for many errors that critics make when they allege that the Bible has many contradictions. In fact, Dr. Lisle enjoyed researching the alleged contradictions in the gospels for that reason, because when you flesh them out you see that there’s a reason why God presented that historical information from four different viewpoints. It gives readers a much richer and fuller picture than we would get if we just had one point of view.
Another problem comes into play when our minds/imaginations fill in certain details that aren’t part of the text. Then we read a different account and it doesn’t contradict the text, it contradicts those details that our imagination has supplied. At that point we need to go back to that first account and find out what the text really said and figure out what we may have imported into it.
This is a fascinating program that moves along to educate listeners regarding a number of factors that cause critics of the Bible to stumble. They include the bifurcation fallacy, the subset fallacy, quantitative differences, the argument from silence, the semantic anachronism fallacy, and more.