Responding to Supposed Errors and Contradictions in the Bible

You may have seen the poster from The Reason Project that lists 439 supposed contradictions in the Bible. The poster gives a short sentence fragment or question about the alleged contradiction, then lists the Scripture references that are supposedly contradictory.

Whenever someone presents me with this poster, I ask them to select the five contradictions they think are the most powerful so that I can address them individually.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that no one has selected even one. I suspect it’s because they have not even looked at any of the “contradictions” for themselves.

Rather than let this poster pollute the Internet unanswered, I had my computer randomly select five of the alleged contradictions: 384, 350, 303, 222, and 193.

Alleged Contradiction #384: How Did Jesus Cure The Blind Man? (Mark 8:22-25; John 9:1-6)

Rebuttal: There was no “the blind man.” There were two! It is obvious and transparent from a cursory reading of the two passages that they are two different accounts of two different events. Even the Scriptures indicate the events happened in two separate places (Bethsaida vs. somewhere near the Mount of Olives)

Alleged Contradiction #350: Did Sarah Have Faith That She Would Conceive? (Hebrews 11:11; Genesis 18:10-15)

Rebuttal: If you read the passages together, you may wonder where the contradiction is. Clearly, Sarah was incredulous about the Lord’s promise that she would conceive in her old age. But yet, she still had faith despite her initial surprise. There is no more a contradiction here than there would be if you said, “At first I was surprised, then I wasn’t.”

**Alleged Contradiction #303: **How Many Overseers Did Solomon Have? (1 Kings 5:16; 2 Chronicles 2:18)

Rebuttal: This imaginary contradiction is the result of not reading both passages carefully. Both passages give an account of King Solomon’s work in building the Lord’s temple. But 1 Kings 5:16 says:

Beside the chief of Solomon’s officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.

while 2 Chronicles 2:18 says:

He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills, with 3,600 foremen over them to keep the people working. The first passage makes it explicitly clear that the 3,300 number excludes some people. Obviously, there’s no contradiction here.

Alleged Contradiction #222: How Many Were In Jacob’s Family When They Came Into Egypt? (Genesis 46:27; Acts 7:14)

Rebuttal: This one is downright disingenuous because it excludes the very verse which make it obvious that there is no contradiction. That verse is Genesis 46:26:

All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six (66)

Genesis 46:27 continues:

And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten (70)

Acts 7:14 later recounts Jacob’s journey to Egypt:

Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. (75)

These three verses describe three overlapping groups:

  • Jacob’s direct descendents: 66

  • Jacob’s descendents and their spouses: 70

  • Jacob’s entire family: 75

Like a miracle, the contradiction has disappeared! Oh, wait, atheists don’t believe in miracles. Like transitional fossils, the contradiction has disappeared!

Alleged Contradiction #193: Should We Follow Our Own Hearts? (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Numbers 15:39)

Rebuttal: These passages do not contradict each other. In fact, they say the same thing, just in a slightly different way. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon sarcastically says

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes…

Then he follows it up with a stern warning:

but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment

Numbers 15:39b gives the same advice, sans sarcasm:

seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring

It makes one wonder whether the people who came up with these imaginary contradictions ever use sarcasm themselves.