I was just reading someone who's moved to the left theologically. He used to be more conservative. Now he rejects inerrancy. He used differences between one canonical Gospel and another to prove his point.
There are different ways of responding to this objection. For now one content myself with one observation that ought to be obvious, but is routinely overlooked. He fails to consider the obvious fact that there really is more than one way to report the same event. Historical events have more than one aspect.
As a practical matter, human beings are used to screening out a lot of extraneous information, such as background noise. We disregard the density and complexity of experience.
Suppose I told a painter to paint a tree. The same tree. What would he paint?
Well, there are many variables. The time of day affects the lighting. If he paints in the morning or afternoon, the tree will present a different aspect.
It is clear, partly cloudy, or overcast? Sunny, rainy, misty, or snowy?
He can position himself closer to the tree or farther away. That will affect the appearance of the tree.
He can take up a wide range of different positions along the 360º perimeter of the tree. That will affect the appearance of the tree.
Maybe he can paint the tree from a hill, looking down–or paint the tree from below, looking up.
Whether he paints the tree in spring, summer, fall, or winter will affect the appearance of the tree.
He has to decide how much foreground and background to include in his painting.
Does the sky have clouds? What about the grass? Weeds and wildflowers? Squirrels? Birds?
He could produce hundreds of different paintings of the same tree i n just one year.
And even then he's only capturing the visual aspect of the tree. What it looks like on the outside. He's not even showing us what it looks like on the inside.
Moreover, his painting doesn't capture other sensory properties of the tree. The texture of the tree. What the bark fees like. Or the leaves. And the leaves feel different in spring or autumn.
What the tree sounds like when the wind blows. The fluttering leaves. The creaking boughs.
Or the fragrance of the tree. Or the fragrance of the meadow in which the tree is planted.
Or other ambient sounds which are part of the painter's experience. The sound of birds, cars, airplanes, radios, cellphones–in the background.
Or what the grass feels like under his feet. Or the air temperature.
Much of this we register at a subconscious level.
What if, instead of one painter, you asked two painters to paint the same tree.
In addition to all the variables I just mentioned, different painters have different styles.
They also find different aspects of the tree interesting to paint. Focus on different details. Amplify some details while ignoring others.
Are these contradictory depictions of the same tree? Are they erroneous?