So there’s a website called bibviz.com, a popular website among atheists that gets displayed by people such as Sam Harris in some of their talks that provides an interactive display of some 492 biblical contradictions (and a few scientific and moral crimes on the side). Of course, I’ve viewed this resource and it seems to be a joke among theist circles due to the high frequency of mistakes it makes. I’ve been increasingly looking at this website and I think I can provide the most accurate summary to date on the problems in the methodology of bibviz. The only proposition I’m setting forth here is that it makes so many errors so that the mere citation of this resource must be invalid in any serious conversation on the Bible itself. Here’s the summary I’ve produced of why this resource is indefensible. I expect to update this page in the future.
1. Bibviz verses all display the KJV Bible translation from the year 1611. Assuming that the people who created bibviz aren’t KJV onlyists, it’s strange to display the verses of the KJV instead of another translation of the Bible that isn’t hundreds of years old, based on faulty manuscripts and an inferior knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew languages (the KJV was translated before Koine Greek, the dialect of the NT was even discovered in the late 19th century — scholars used to think the New Testament was written in “Holy Ghost Greek”). See here for an article by Daniel B. Wallace, one of the leading textual critics of the Bible, on the problems with the KJV translation. The reason why bibviz doesn’t display alternative translations is because this would compromise a number of its contradictions, like whether God repents (contradiction 363). The verses that say God does repent are translated very differently in more modern, scholarly translations — the original Hebrew word translated as repent is נָחַם, which has a variety of meanings, such as being pitied, sorrowed, consoling oneself, having compassion, feeling sorry, or repenting. Better translations like the NIV and NRSV don’t translate the text to say God repented at all, calling into question the existence of this contradiction. The same is with the contradiction on God creating evil (154), better translations simply use more accurate translations like God creates, not evil, but ‘destruction’. Unless you’re a KJV onlyist, relax.
2. The list is mostly the product of the bibviz authors defunct understanding of the biblical text. The vast majority of these contradictions are sheerly misrepresentations of what the text says, ignorance of context, ignorance of a whole slew of scenarios where the two verses can be correct at the same time (since a contradiction is merely when two things cannot be true at the same time). One obvious is example is the contradiction on how many sons Absalom had (9), one verse saying three, the other having Absalom decrying the fact that he will die with no sons to carry his name. And yet, it could easily be the case that Absalom’s children simply all died, a flat obvious possibility in an age of extremely high child mortality, disease, violence, etc. A second example, which simply makes no sense, is this one on whether or not Haman is an Agagite (17). One verse says yes. The other verse says absolutely nothing about Haman or Agagites and simply says the Amalekites were ordered to be killed. What this has to do with Haman or the Agagites (an unknown group never mentioned outside of their association with Haman in Esther 3:1) is anyones guess. It even bungles up on killing, claiming that God commands against generically killing in the Bible, when in fact the commandment is about murder. In an academic article, scholar Don Garlington writes “Originally and literally, the sixth commandment forbade the unlawful taking of human life, as conﬁrmed by the Hebrew and Greek of these parent texts, לא תרצח and οὐ ϕονεύσεις, both of which denote homicide rather than the generic taking of life” (“”You Fool!” Matthew 5: 22.” Bulletin for Biblical Research (2010): 63).
3. Literal vs. non-literal texts are another big chunk. One supposed contradiction is whether or not man (221) was created before or after animals based on Genesis 1 and 2. But scholars have known for a long time now that Genesis 1-11, the primeval history is (despite how uncomfortable it might make you feel) an allegorical, archetypal account that portrays Israel’s understandings of God, man and sin, and this is true regardless of anyones personal feelings on whether or not they’re literal, Christian or otherwise. Hence, this supposed contradiction, and all others that require any material from Genesis 1-11 (which make up a number of them) are irrelevant. To this, we can add virtually any contradiction adduced from the books of Job and Revelation, the two other metaphorical biblical books (in fact, Revelation is so bluntly the most metaphorical text in the entire Bible yet bibviz is enough of a dolt to think the mention of dragons in Revelation is literal). Indeed, the author simply seems to be flat unaware that these aren’t literal texts. To this, we can add all allegorical verses outside of Genesis 1-11, Job and Revelation also counted as contradictory.
4. Playing off of the previous point a little, I just want to mention how many people have already shattered so many of the supposed contradictions of bibviz. One great example is contradictingbiblecontradictions.com. If anyone gives you a link to bibviz, just post a link to this website in response. I don’t agree with all the refutations it makes, but it literally contains a rebuttal to all 492 supposed contradictions and for the majority of them, they get taken down. Amusingly enough, many of the contradictions on the bibviz website are actually taken down in their own comment sections (make sure to give the comments a check on any of the bibviz contradictions to see if someone has already refuted it there).
5. The last criticism I’ll point out is that some of these contradictions actually come from texts that aren’t in the Bible at all, only the Apocrypha, such as how Antiochus died (33) based on verses from 1 and 2 Maccabees, which I certainly wouldn’t recognize in the canon. Maybe a Catholic would, since the Catholic canon has an additional six apocryphal books, though this quickly becomes irrelevant for someone whose, say, a Protestant, Evangelical or just plain non-denominational (who now make up 1 in 6 Americans) like myself where books like these aren’t part of the canon of the Bible at all.