Biblical inerrancy and infallibility
What is the impact of biblical
authority, etc. on
North American culture?
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Jews' and Christians' view of the
Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. Old and New Testaments) on the culture in the U.S. and Canada. It is of paramount importance in determining their religious beliefs and
in motivating their personal activities. Ultimately, because about 75% of North Americans
identify themselves as either
Christians or Jews, it strongly influences the type of society in which we
Two radically opposing viewpoints are:
||Traditional/historical viewpoint: The Bible is the "Word of God:"|
||The Holy Spirit inspired the biblical authors
The Bible is inerrant -- it is without
error in its original autograph form.
The Bible is authoritative -- it defines what we are to believe and
how we are to act.
The Bible is infallible -- it is trustworthy and does not deceive
||The Bible is internally consistent -- it tells the same message from
cover to cover.
||Today's moral and ethical decisions should be primarily based on Scriptures
and religious tradition.
|Historical/skeptical viewpoint: The Bible is the product of
individual human efforts to promote their own faith tradition and explain their concepts of the supernatural:
||The Bible is a human document and thus limited by the pre-scientific
and often tribal culture in which its authors lived.
||The Bible was profoundly influenced by ideas adsorbed from
ancient Canaanite, Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and other Pagan
||The Bible is internally inconsistent and displays the gradual
evolution of religious beliefs within ancient Hebrew and Christian cultures.
It is partly unreliable. Many of its statements on
origins and the cosmos have been proven to be wrong by modern science. Many of its instructions for living are regarded as profoundly immoral today by theologians and scientists.
||Moral and ethical decisions should be largely based on reason,
observation, and experience.
Some examples of the impact of different views of the Bible:
The most-frequently visited sections of this web site dealing with
controversial topics with a religious or ethical foundation are described below:
||A traditional/historical view
(perhaps one of many)
(perhaps one of many)
The Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. New Testament) and its
interpretation by early Christian theologians have led to the concept of
the human soul, which defines the difference between human life (in the
form of an ovum and spermatozoa) and a human person. From this logically
follows the belief that a human person is present from the time of
conception. Thus abortion involves murder -- the killing of a human person -- and
should be severely restricted or prohibited totally.
The concept of a human soul is a religious hypothesis
that is not supported by research on the human brain and its functions.
An embryo at an early stage of gestation is a potential human being, not
an actual human being. A woman should be free to decide whether to
continue her pregnancy to childbirth or to terminate it through abortion.
The Old Testament consistently teaches that there
only one God qho should be worshipped and that there is only one valid religion. Several passages in the New Testament say that other
religions worship Satan and his demons. The Bible contains many
instances of intolerance towards those of other religions, up to and
including mass murder and genocide.
The oldest books in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) teach that Yahweh is the God of the Hebrews but is one of many gods worldwide. This belief later evolved into monotheism: the belief that there is only one deity.
to the "World
Christian Encyclopedia there are 19 major world religions which
are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many
smaller ones. The greatest threat to peace at this time is religious
intolerance founded in an intolerant and
exclusivist view of other religions.
six passages in the Bible that condemn homosexual behavior as profoundly
sinful. 1 Corinthians 6:11 implies that, if a lesbian or gay person
saved, they will
leave this abnormal, unnatural and chosen lifestyle and become heterosexual.
These six passages in the Bible do condemn homosexual rape, same-sex sexual activity in Pagan temples, sexual abuse of children, homosexual orgies
by heterosexuals, and bestiality. But it does not comment at all about loving, committed
same-sex relationships. Homosexuality is a
normal, natural, fixed, unchosen, and relatively rare sexual orientation among adults.
God's plan, as confirmed by Jesus, is that
marriage is to be a permanent covenant between a man and a woman. Same
sex "marriage" is a major threat to the future of marriage.
When the federal government gives over 1,100 benefits to loving opposite-sex,
committed couples at marriage, while denying the same rights to same-sex,
committed couples who wish to marry is unethical. Same-sex marriage can
only strengthen the institution of marriage.
||The Hebrew Scriptures commanded the death
penalty for a wide range of criminal activities. The death penalty today
acts as a deterrent and lowers the homicide rate. A person who kills another has forfeited its
right to life.
||Human life is precious. Killing another person --
particularly premeditated killing by the state -- is immoral. It
cheapens life. It distresses the family and friends of the prisoner. It
sometimes murders an innocent person. It may actually increase the homicide
Stem cell research
||Adult stem cell research has few ethical
concerns, but embryonic stem cell research kills a human baby.
||Embryonic stem cell research removes undifferentiated
cells from a surplus pre-embryo that would never have had the opportunity to develop into a
||Only God can give a life; only God can
take a life. Physician assisted suicide is murder.
||Suicide is often a permanent solution to a
temporary problem. But some terminally ill people suffer greatly, physically and/or emotionally.
Helping them, upon request, to commit suicide can be a humane gift.
Ten Commandments as stated in Exodus 20
||This is the core message of the Bible.
Since the U.S. and Canada are Christian nations, they should be posted
in schools, courthouses and government offices.
||Commandments 1 to 4 are religious instructions for
Jews and have no place in a religiously diverse society.
The tenth commandment condones human slavery and treats women as
property. They are not suitable for posting in government facilities.
||God's word commands, mainly in Proverbs,
that parents have a duty to discipline their children through the use of
loving corporal punishment.
||Studies show that children who are spanked and
whipped are more violent towards their peers. As adults they have a
greater incidence of alcoholism, depression, anxiety and drug abuse. Spanking is
less effective than other methods of discipline.
The environment 1
A continuing theme in the Bible is God's
love and protection of his followers. God will not allow a worldwide
catastrophe brought on by climate change. Daniel and Revelation describe
Armageddon, and don't mention global warming.
|Atmospheric scientists have reached an almost complete
consensus that climate change is a reality. It has already altered climate
patterns and will cause great suffering and loss of life if we do not take
stringent actions quickly to reduce greenhouse gas
Related essay in this web site:
Actually, our section dealing with global warming and other
environmental concerns is not among our most
visited topics. But we feel that it should be. The tenth most visited section is
end of the world scenarios.
Copyright © 2007 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Author: B.A. Robinson
Original posting: 2007-APR-29
Latest update: 2012-JAN-29