Does inerrancy of the Holy books matter?

Does it matter if the Bible or the Qur’an are originals? That they are inerrant? In short, to me, no. In fact, I think we limit ourselves in understanding God when we need them to be original and inerrant.

Scholars have identified inconsistencies with both texts in one form or another. For the bible, we don’t have the original texts at all. We have later copies from different centuries. For the bible, we have copies that differ from each other. We have copies that show misspellings, things left out, things “corrected” and things added in that scribes thought needed to be added. The bible was copied by hand by extremely varying degrees of writing and reading literacy over hundreds of years. We have copies of copies of copies of copies of the Bible without a clear lineage to the originals. The bible we have today was also canonized by a group of church leaders in the Council of Nicea in the 4th century that voted on what was included and used arguments that did not necessarily use scientific or objective means. This council was also not all on board what got canonized. As for the writers themselves, we cannot be sure if they were witnesses of Jesus’s actual teachings themselves. Luke and Paul were definitely not 1st hand witnesses, and Mark and Matthew cannot be proven to actually be part of the original 12 disciples.

The Qur’an was never really a book. It was compiled into a book after the death of the Prophet (PBUH). Though it may have been compiled by his direct followers, they had a hell of a time doing it. They did not even have all of the Qur’an in one place, nor were they all written down. Some followers had written down the revelations on various pieces of things: bone, paper, pottery, etc. Other followers had worked to memorize some of the verses for the purpose of recitation. The canonical team travelled all over the place to find these written and memorized pieces. Then they had to determine which pieces were actual revelations and which were just the Prophet’s sayings or other pieces of work. The team consisted of people close to the Prophet or who’s character was vouched for. Not only did they have to collect the pieces, they had to put them in order. They had to figure out which verses went together and in what Surah’s they belonged. They then had to determine in what order the Surahs would be placed. Though the team came to a consensus that gave us the Qur’an we have today, there is no guarantee that they had collected all the pieces or that they are in the correct order. They didn’t even order the Surahs in chronological order in which they were revealed. The Qur’an that the team had agreed upon wasn’t even the only one around. They had to go around and burn the others to ensure their copies remained dominant. Though the current canon had a strong consensus amongst the all star team of direct followers of the prophet, there is no guarantee that they had all witnessed all of the revelations. Did all of the contributors even remember their pieces correctly? And when you get a whole bunch of people together on a project, you get different personalities, different personal histories, and different opinions and beliefs that interacted and responded to the revelations in different ways. Some verses hit hard for some people while others didn’t. Some interpreted verses one way while others differed. Humans will insist upon their interpretations, how they saw the revelations.

Scholars today still argue what verses actually belong to what Surah or time period. While the Qur’an may have had a better track record of being an accurate copy of the original, written canonized Qur’an, there is no guarantee it is exactly word for word what Muhammad had uttered.

So does this all matter to faith? Does accepting the limitations of both Holy texts, that they were subject to human error, damage one’s own faith in God? Not to me, and not at all. Quite the contrary, it strengthens my faith in God. If these books were really the inerrant words of God, it means God is inaccurate, inconsistent and approves of horrible and inhumane practices: genocide, slavery, the oppression of women, the destruction of homosexuals, rape, the requirement that daughters must be married to their rapists. Scientifically proven theories like evolution, a round earth, outerspace, heliocentric model of our system versus a geocentric system flies in the face of Biblical and Quranic explanations.

Instead of being inerrant Words of God, I see these two books as humanity reaching toward God. Humanity with all its limitations, ignorance, biases and tendency to make mistakes. Humanity with all its Love, Devotion, yearning, hope and faith. Each and every writer of the Bible was trying to make sense of god. They wrote because of a devotion to God with their limited understanding. They spoke to the other writers across the years through their own writing. And they brought their own interpretations and understandings of the world. The Quranic canonical team were trying to preserve their experiences of God through their life with the Prophet. And the Prophet tried to make sense of God himself with his limited understanding but unquestionable devotion and faith.

All of these people reached with their hearts out to God. They were devoted and loving followers of God. We can share in that very human experience of Faith. Together we all share in the experience of devotion. We can correct each other, share knowledge, extend and refine our own understanding of God together. Rules and understanding of how our world works isn’t set in stone. Ew get to find out more about the world and the universe that God made together. We get to expand and improve our vision of God.

That is why it strengthens my faith. Because the God I believe in doesn't actually approve of genocide. It’s just Humans justifying it. God doesn't actually approve of slavery, oppression of women and homophobia. It’s just how humans understand the world and how they ordered it. God isn't inconsistent, only God’s follower. God’s followers are not perfect. But God is.


Love Education, Personal Finance, Politics, Health and Well-being and Religion

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Isaac S

Love Education, Personal Finance, Politics, Health and Well-being and Religion