I've been on a bit of a binge lately with blog entries on faith and religion, perhaps because there's so much fun analysis that can be performed on them. My latest subject is contradictions in dogma and why fundamentalist thinking is incompatible with reality. In fact, I below present a proof that the Bible implies that unicorns exist.
I will use only the strictest first-order logic to form my deductive chain, which is modeled on the proof that "P and ~P implies Q". First, the source material from which I take my axioms:
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" -- Numbers 23:19 (KJV)
Interpreted literally, we can state that "God can not change his mind." Let this be Axiom A.
"And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." -- Exodus 32:14 (KJV)
Interpreted literally, we can state that "God can change his mind." Let this be Axiom B.
Update: Before we go any further, I'd like to address some potential points of contention. The KJV is a horrible, horrible translation -- as Jon notes below, when properly translated, the first quote I mention doesn't lead to Axiom A. But there are plenty of places in the Bible that lead to contradiction, either directly or indirectly. I'm just using this particular pair of quotes as an example -- I'm sure somehow more well-versed in the Old and New Testaments could find a much better pair. [more?]
- Introduce Axiom A: God can not change his mind.
- Introduce Axiom B: God can change his mind.
Enter hypothetical on the base of "Unicorns do not exist."
- First line of hypothetical: Unicorns do not exist.
- By statement 1: God can not change his mind.
- Contrapositive of statement 3: If it is not true that God can not change his mind, then it is not true that unicorns do not exist.
- Cancel double negative: If God can change his mind, then it is not true that unicorns do not exist.
- Cancel double negative: If God can change his mind, then unicorns exist.
- By statements 2 and 6: Unicorns exist.
The result is that in any system where the statements "God can change his mind" and "God can not change his mind" are both true, unicorns must exist. (Incidentally, the same logic can be used to prove that unicorns do not exist. Slippery beasts, eh?) In fact, any statement of fact can be used instead of "Unicorns (do not) exist", including "1 equals 2" or "Tim is God" or "Thou shalt kill" -- that is the power of direct contradiction. Thus it is shown that if you believe the Bible (or Quran or Torah) word-for-word, you'll believe anything.