Is the Bible the Most Logical Book Ever Written?
Conservapedia, the website boasting “500+ million views,” describes itself as “A conservative approach to education… a way to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers, this resource has grown into a marvelous source of information for students, adults and teachers alike.” A voice for American conservatism, Conservapedia subtitles itself “the trustworthy encyclopedia” while declaring that:
- “All verifiable evidence indicates that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old.” (link) (refutation)
- On global warming: “The overall temperature has been flat for about 16 years.” (link) (refutation)
- “The fossil record does not support the theory of evolution and is one of the flaws in the theory of evolution.” (link) (refutation)
Conservapedia also declares repeatedly that “The most logical book ever written is the Bible,” and that “The Bible is a collection of the most logical books and letters ever written.” In a bit of recursion, Conservapedia writes that “Atheists claim that all truths can be derived via reason and deny the efficacy of revelation, yet deny that the Bible is the most logical book ever written,” and refers to this as a logical contradiction in atheism. Conservapedia even features a multiple-choice test on the Bible with the following question:
10. Which of these adjectives can be applied to the Bible?
The correct answer in this multiple choice question is supposed to be “b. logical.”
In short, Conservapedia invests a fair amount of energy and space into promoting the notion that the Bible is the most logical book ever written. Conservapedia isn’t alone in promoting this notion; see the same claim here and here and here and here and here and… you get the idea. The supposedly supreme logic of the Christian Bible is a consistent theme of the American conservative movement.
Is the Bible really the most logical book ever written? Well, logic is a process by which a series of premises are declared that lead, through the application of rules of reasoning, to a conclusion. This kind of process is what a logical book should exhibit — and not just in a passage or two. After all, Conservapedia does not just claim that the Bible is a book that has some logic in it. Conservapedia does not just claim that the Bible is a book that with more logic in it than some other books. Conservapedia declares, repeatedly, that “the Bible is the most logical book ever written.” Given the existence of books like The Nuts and Bolts of Proofs, the entire subject matter of which involves the cumulation of understanding through the application of formal logic, all a person must do to prove Conservapedia wrong is to find one passage of the Bible that is not logical.
Here’s a biblical passage for you. Psalm 14:
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.
There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous.
Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the Lord is his refuge.
Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
Let’s list out the premises of Psalm 14, and then let’s list the logical arguments of Psalm 14.
P1: The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God (this means, possibly, that people who say there is no God are fools)
P2: They are corrupt
P3: They have done abominable works
P4: There is none that doeth good
P5: The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men
P6: They are all gone aside
P7: They are filthy
P8: The workers of iniquity have no knowledge
P9: The workers of iniquity eat up the people of God as if they were bread
P10: The workers of iniquity do not call upon the Lord
P11: The workers of inquity were in great fear
P12: God is in the generation of the righteous
P13: You have shamed the counsel of the poor
P14: The Lord is the refuge of the poor
P15: It would be nice if the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion
P16: If the Lord brings back the people of Israel from captivity, Jacob shall rejoice
P17: If the Lord brings back the people of Israel from captivity, Israel shall be glad
And here are the arguments of Psalm 14:
A: P12, therefore P11
A: P14, therefore P13
You may think Psalm 14 is beautiful. You may think it is poetic. Whatever Psalm 14 is, it’s not logical. The statements of Psalm 14 are not brought together with a series of rules of argumentation to convincingly demonstrate that some conclusion is valid. As you can see, they’re not brought together at all; the Psalm is a series of declarations vaguely centered around a theme of humanity’s insufficiency. The statements of Psalm 14 aren’t even really clear in the statement of their premises: for instance, who are these “they,” exactly? That’s a matter for implicit interpretation, not for explicit consideration. The poor are simultaneously referred to as singular and plural, and so are the fools who declare that there is no God. Some of the statements contradict one another, if I understand them correctly. At once, for instance, the fool declares in his heart that there is no God and is afraid of God because God is in the generation of the righteous.
You might be thinking right now that I’m not treating Psalm 14 fairly, that I should read it in a more sympathetic light. In an allegorical sense, or a mythological sense, or a poetic sense. If that’s what you’re thinking right now, I agree with you. But Conservapedia wants us all to revere the Bible in the logical sense — and that makes no sense.