Q is a hypothetical that regardless of its actual state of existence explains the nature of the Synoptic Gospels better than a inspirational or infallibility position and harmonization. Higher Criticism has never listened to opinionated claims of those who would twist the normal concepts of history into a pretzel to create a pure absurdity of apologetics, The priority of Mark and Q explain the contradictions and variations in supporting redaction criticism (editing history) as their explanation in contrast to the implausible absurdities of harmonization in order to maintain a belief that is simply an outworn tradition about the canon that is not supported by its nature or fact.
I came to my atheistic position from a belief in scripture not from my present paganism. A fair treatment of the scripture will at least save one from the heresy of orthodoxy. It is the hard core studying of them with an objective and unbiasly fair analysis rather than an a priori apologetic stance and its conclusion that the scripture is inerrant, infallible and/or inspired that allowed me to see the probable and plausible nature of the texts. The ideas of inspiration and infallibility present an improbable and implausible dogmatic position that requires the gymnastics of fantasy and fanciful harmonizations that cause the character Jesus to pop up like a windup jack in the box in repeated scenarios or a redundancy speech and absurdity bordering on Dadaism and surrealism. It is this position that is not a normative understanding of history, reality and science that has been a fragmentation from the real world view to some fantastic world view where the characters in the narrative are no longer function within context but are transported from the meaning of the scriptures to the doctrine of medieval superstition, dogma and absurdity (did I say pure 24 karat unmitigated asininity?).
Matthew and Luke reproduce 94% or Mark’s text. The high degree of exact word for word correspondence of Matthew with Mark, Luke with Mark but not Matthew with Luke in these areas indicate plagiarism of Mark at least by contemporary high school or college standards. When we look at what Matthew and Luke have in common but not found in Mark we see non-contextually sayings that are placed in the body of Mark in different places by Matthew and Luke sometimes to the alteration of Mark’s original meaning or text. We call this common material Q. I discovered this by placing Mark in the center of a three foot poster board with Matthew to the left and Luke to the right. I then drew lines of the corresponding pericopae (passages of self contained stories) . Where Matthew and Luke followed Mark the lines connecting them were straight. Where the saying were added jumped around and crisscrossed widely.
Next in my study I found that the variations of the stories made more sense if Mark was indeed earliest and plagiarized by the other gospels. For Mark consistently presented with the more primitive reading or such that the theology was more primitive than the other two. Matthew for example exaggerates the miraculous and heightens the Christological flavor of the story lacking and in Mark. He does so in such a consistent manner that the stories are sometimes butchered as compared to Mark and the dynamics of the stories left awkward. Mark starts off a very worldly account with Matthew, Luke and then John becoming more and more sensational and supernatural with Jesus becoming divine.