A photo of an ancient, weathered Bible surrounded by stacks of historical texts and archaeological findings, symbolizing the uncertainty and inconsistencies in biblical accounts.

Why The Bible Is Unreliable

The Bible is considered by many to be the infallible word of God, but a closer examination reveals multiple reasons to question its reliability. This 3000 word article will provide a comprehensive overview of the evidence against biblical inerrancy.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible contains many inconsistencies, contradictions, factual errors, and passages that promote violence and intolerance, suggesting that it is not a perfect or divine text.

We will examine the Bible’s numerous inconsistencies, its promotion of outdated morals, the lack of evidence for many of its stories, the political motivations behind its creation, and more. With over 40 different authors across thousands of years, the Bible lacks the cohesion and factual accuracy that would be expected of a divine text.

Inconsistencies and Contradictions

When closely examining the Bible, it becomes clear there are many internal inconsistencies and contradictions throughout the text that raise doubts about its reliability as a historical document.

Discrepancies Within the Same Story

There are several examples where the details of the same story differ significantly between books of the Bible. For instance, Matthew 28 states that Mary Magdalene and the “other Mary” discovered Jesus’s empty tomb.

But Mark 16 says Mary Magdalene went to the tomb with Mary the mother of James and Salome. These discrepancies make it hard to know which account is accurate.

Conflicting Historical Details

There are cases where the Bible presents contradictory historical details that make it an unreliable record. For example, 2 Samuel 24 claims King David took a census when Joab was the commander of his army. But 1 Chronicles 21 states the census happened when Joab was no longer in that role.

Both cannot be true.

Scientific Inaccuracies

Given when the Bible was written, it is not surprising it contains descriptions of the natural world that contradict modern science. However, for those asserting the Bible’s complete accuracy, passages claiming the Earth is fixed and unmoving (1 Chronicles 16:30) conflict with astronomy and physics showing the planets revolve around the sun.

Mathematical Errors

A few numerical contradictions in the Bible also undermine its reliability. One example is the reported ages of Jehoiachin when he started and ended his reign differ by 8 years between 2 Kings 24:8 and 2 Chronicles 36:9. This seems to be a mathematical mistake rather than a simple copyist error.

Promotion of Outdated Ethics

Violence and Cruelty

The Bible contains numerous stories and commandments that promote violence and cruelty. For example, God commands the genocide of the Canaanites, instructing the Israelites to show no mercy in killing men, women, children, and even animals (Deuteronomy 20:16-18).

The horrific Passover story involves God killing all firstborn sons in Egypt (Exodus 11:4-6). God also sends bears to maul 42 children for mocking Elisha’s bald head (2 Kings 2:23-24). These gruesome tales normalize violence and portray God as vengeful and bloodthirsty.


The Bible condones slavery, treating people as property. Rules are given for buying, owning, and beating slaves (Exodus 21:2-11, 20-21; Leviticus 25:44-46). Nowhere does the Bible condemn slavery or advocate abolition.

Prominent Christians used Bible passages to justify slavery in America, a brutal system that kept millions in bondage. Though we have progressed, the Bible’s stance on slavery reflects outdated, immoral views.

Misogyny and Homophobia

Many Bible verses promote the degradation and subjugation of women. Women are portrayed as inferior to men (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-15). A man’s monetary worth is valued higher than a woman’s life (Leviticus 27:1-7).

Rapists can pay a bride price and marry the victim (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). The Bible also condemns same-sex relations as “detestable” (Leviticus 18:22), reflecting ancient prejudices against homosexuality that we rightly reject today.

Harsh Punishments

Old Testament law prescribes excessively harsh punishments like stoning people for adultery (Leviticus 20:10), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14-15), or even disobedient children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

The God of the Bible also directly kills people for seemingly minor offenses like looking into the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 6:19) or complaining about their life (Numbers 11:1-3). These draconian punishments violate modern sensibilities of justice and human rights.

Lack of Historical and Scientific Evidence

No Evidence for Major Biblical Events

Many major events described in the Bible lack clear archaeological or historical evidence to support that they actually occurred (Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, King David’s empire, etc.). While absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, one would expect some corroborating evidence for such monumental events involving large groups of people, but there is little to none.

For example, there is no evidence found (as of 2024) of a mass exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt or a sudden conquest of Canaan under Joshua. Based on current archaeological findings, there was no rapid emergence of a unified monarchy under Saul, David, and Solomon in the 10th century BCE.

Rather, experts believe ancient Israel slowly formed over centuries with various tribal groups migrating there at different times.

Biblical Miracles Contradict Science

Many miraculous events described in the Bible clearly go against established scientific facts and principles in physics, biology, astronomy, etc. While faith is a personal matter, to claim such events as factual history puts scripture in direct conflict with empirical evidence collected through extensive scientific investigation over centuries.

For instance, the Bible depicts events like the sun standing still for a day (Joshua 10:12-13), people being raised from the dead, the entire earth flooded, and more which break several known physical laws.

There are no non-Biblical accounts in other ancient cultures to corroborate these spectacular claims actually took place. They resemble mythological stories common to religions all over the world.

So in many cases, people must choose to either fully accept Biblical miracle stories based on faith alone despite scientific knowledge, or conclude that while scripture may contain wisdom, it is not always historically or scientifically reliable.

Political Motivations Behind the Bible’s Creation

Bible Assembled to Consolidate Power

The Bible as we know it today was assembled by religious authorities in the 4th century CE. Selecting and compiling certain texts while excluding others helped early Church leaders consolidate power and influence politics at the time (1).

By elevating texts aligned with their theological positions and suppressing dissenting views, they shaped the Bible into an instrument to serve their political agenda.

Gospels Promoted Roman Interests

Analysis of the canonical Gospels suggests they were written to promote values serving Roman imperial interests. For instance, “render unto Caesar” in Mark 12 presumably encouraged Jewish readers to accept Roman rule.

The Gospels blame Jewish authorities, not Romans, for Jesus’s crucifixion, although Romans executed him. Such elements suggest political motivations behind the Gospels’ accounts.

Paul’s Letters Shaped Early Church

The apostle Paul wrote letters crucial in shaping the early Christian church. However, analysis shows discrepancies between Paul’s theology and Jesus’s teachings that raise questions. Paul never quotes Jesus directly and shows little interest in his life or teachings.

His letters promoted ideas serving his missionary goals over accurately portraying Jesus’s views (2). The elevated position given Paul’s letters in the New Testament shows ideological concerns trumped historical accuracy in its construction.

Authorship and Lack of Consistency

Multiple Authors Over Different Times

The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by over 40 authors from diverse backgrounds over a period of 1500 years. Though many Christians believe the Bible was divinely inspired, the human authorship is apparent when examining the texts closely. Here are some key points on the Bible’s authorship:

  • The 39 books of the Old Testament were written between approximately 1500 BC and 400 BC. Major contributors include Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets.
  • The 27 books of the New Testament were written between approximately 40 AD and 90 AD. Major contributors include Matthew, John, Paul, Peter, and other early church leaders.
  • The authors came from different social classes and occupations – kings, peasants, philosophers, poets, fishermen, tax collectors, and religious leaders.
  • The books were written in three languages – Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek – and span historical, poetic, prophetic, and instructional styles.
  • Many books reflect oral traditions that predate the written texts by hundreds of years.

Given the diverse authorship over 1500 years, it’s not surprising the Bible lacks consistency in themes, styles, concepts of God, and moral teachings. This strongly suggests the texts were authored by humans based on their views and contexts, rather than divinely revealed or guided by God.

Lack of Thematic and Stylistic Consistency

A close examination of the Bible reveals a clear lack of consistency in themes, messaging, and writing styles across the 66 books. Some examples:

  • There are differing perspectives on key topics like the origins of evil, the afterlife, rituals, social values, and even the nature of God. The God of the Old Testament is often portrayed as wrathful and violent, while the God of the New Testament is portrayed as loving and peaceful.
  • Books contain contradictions on history, science, geography and social customs. For instance, Genesis has two conflicting stories about the creation of man and woman.
  • The literary styles vary extensively based on the genres, ranging from poetry to genealogies to prophetic writings. The books do not have a cohesive writing style.
  • The tone and messaging shifts, based on the target audience. Some books were aimed at the Hebrews, others at broader audiences across the Middle East.

These inconsistencies indicate the texts were written independently by authors based on their own views, knowledge, and agendas – not guided by an all-knowing God. The lack of thematic and stylistic consistency across 66 books written over 1500 years strongly suggests flawed human authorship rather than divine inspiration.

As a collection of human literary works, the Bible contains insights but cannot be considered the authoritative, inerrant word of God.


In conclusion, while the Bible offers valuable moral lessons, poetry, and insights into ancient cultures, its myriad of contradictions, inaccuracies, unethical themes, lack of evidence, and politically motivated compilation undermine its reliability as the flawless word of God.

With a dispassionate analysis, one can recognize both the beauty and wisdom alongside the very human imperfections contained within the Bible’s pages.

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