Point: Sometimes what is found in the skeptics’ list of Bible contradictions are not contradictions but are what appears to be contradictions because the skeptic hasn’t account for the fact that words can have more than one meaning. How should one respond when a skeptic’s retort back is that this is a cop-out or they throw the objection that it is too hard to find out the true meaning of a word is in the Bible?
Picture: My counter question would be: Aren’t there examples where words can mean more than one thing even in the natural realm in which we can find out what the usage of the word means? Of course there is. Think of the case of whoppers.
- I looked it up in the dictionary; whoppers can mean multiple big lies. That’s one meaning.
- Or Whoppers can mean this two or more of a kind of burger the fast food restaurant Burger King sells. See the picture above.
- Still, whoppers can mean a certain brand of candy.
There’s three possible meaning when someone say “whoppers.” How does one know what meaning is being used? Of course, the meaning would be determined by the context it is being used! Someone caught in a lie in a conversation might hear the word “whoppers” and it sure isn’t about food! Whoppers mentioned in a conversation about Halloween and Trick or Treating probably isn’t talking about burgers for every child who comes by. Finally Whoppers mentioned by a customer in Burger King probably isn’t referring to politician’s credibility (or lack of credibility).
POSSIBLE SCENARIO FOR EMPLOYING THIS ILLUSTRATION DURING APOLOGETIC EVANGELISM
NON-CHRISTIAN: I don’t believe in the Bible because there are Bible contradictions!
CHRISTIAN: Can you give me your best example?
NON-CHRISTIAN: Sure look at this one <Insert claim of Contradiction>
CHRISTIAN: Interesting. There is not a Bible contradiction here. The words have different sense and meaning. You can’t make an equivocation fallacy.
NON-CHRISTIAN: That’s a cop-out. How does one even know what the words mean anyway in these instances? It’s too difficult.
CHRISTIAN: Meaning is always determined by its context. And while sometimes it is hard to find out the meaning, one shouldn’t think it’s altogether futile or impossible. Let me ask you: Do you what whoppers are?
NON-CHRISTIAN: Uh, yes…I think so.
CHRISTIAN: Tell me about it.
NON-CHRISTIAN: They are candies.
CHRISTIAN: Or burgers. Or big lies. There’s at least three possible meanings.
CHRISTIAN: If someone says to you “Hey it’s lunch time, pleasepick up two order of Whoppers for me,” do you know what he means?
NON-CHRISTIAN: Yes. He means burgers.
CHRISTIAN: How about some kids that knock on your door at night and say “Trick O Treat! I want some whoppers!”?
NON-CHRISTIAN: The kids want candies!
CHRISTIAN: Exactly! Notice here, that finding out meaning for words with multiple meanings isn’t totally impossible. Nor would it be rational to say that just because words have different meanings therefore its a contradiction. Do you see the problem with your arguments?