By David Wilson
“It's riddled with contradictions, it's been translated so many times it’s lost all meaning, science kills it, it's basically the same as any other religious text, history disproves it”.
We've all seen memes, blogs, and YouTube documentaries that try to disprove the Bible. In a world of skepticism it can seem that there are many reasons to question and few to believe. Admittedly, we Bible-believers have a great burden of proof on our shoulders. The primary purpose of this post is to show a few reasonable and logical reasons to believe the Bible.
First off, the Bible is very unique categorically as it is not so much a “book” as it is a library (as opposed to the Koran or Book of Mormon for example). It contains 66 different books (the Catholic Bible contains 73, seven books that were considered somewhat of an appendix to the Bible were added at the Council of Trent in 15th century a.d.) in ten different categories of literature written by a few dozen authors on three different continents in three different languages over the course of well over a millenia.
When I started this blog, I planned on spending a great deal of time presenting the credibility of the Bible from an academic standpoint. I was going to overwhelm you with facts demonstrating all the times skeptics had doubted biblical facts and been proven wrong. For instance, denying the existence of the Hittites or Egyptian viceroy.
I was going to show that though there were some things disputed, both the Old and New Testaments have never contained a historic fact proven false. I was going to defend alleged contradictions like what is found in “The God Delusion” and on anti-Christian blogs and demonstrate that they are usually the result of skeptics not doing their homework. But, the reality is, if all that was holding you back was the “contradiction” of Jesus' lineage, for example, you would have done some research and discovered it is no contradiction at all. Academic viability is important, but whether or not the Bible holds up to our standards of academia matters less. What matters more is that the Bible is from God.
Perhaps the single biggest piece of evidence that the Bible is not only true but that it is from God is the verifiable prophecy (quantity and quality) it contains. If I were to predict today that “something bad was going to happen to you in the near future” and tonight you stubbed your toe, I doubt you'd be convinced that my prediction had divine inspiration; the reality is it's too vague to prove anything.
Similarly, if I were to predict who is going to be the president in 2024 and got it right, you'd likely say it was a lucky guess, anyone can look at possible candidates and take an educated guess. There's no real need for divine influence to make such a prediction. If, however, I were to predict who will be the president of the United States 200 years from now, including what city he would be born in, what family line he would be in, what kind of car he would drive, who his running mate would be, that he would be betrayed by someone close to him, how much money he would be betrayed for, what that money would be used to purchase, and how he would die, well… that would be amazing!
That is exactly the caliber of prophecy the OT prophets made about Christ and they were fulfilled to a “T”. Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 are two of the most important chapters of Biblical prophecy, I encourage you to read through them. They read (particularly Isaiah) like an eyewitness account of the crucifixion of Jesus, they speak of him hung on a tree, his hands, feet, and side being pierced, yet not a bone of his body broken.
What is perhaps most amazing about these prophecies is that they were written hundreds of years before crucifixion itself even existed!
Another intriguing example of such prophecy is found in Isaiah 45,
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut...”
This is amazing because it was written 150 years before Cyrus the Great was born, rose to power, conquered the known world, and established the Persian Empire as the greatest nation the world had ever seen. In case you missed it, a king was called by name 150 years before he was born. How could man predict such a thing?
Peter Stoner, chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College and chairman of the science division of Westmont College actually applied the science of probability to the messianic prophecies. He used just 8 of them for his study (though Jesus fulfilled many many more), two examples of his method is:
1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
The average population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present divided by the average population of the earth during the same period = 7,150/2,000,000,000 or 2.8×10^5.
2. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend and suffer wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13:6)
One man in how many, the world over, has been betrayed by a friend, resulting in wounds in his hands? Estimate: 1 in 1,000 or 1×10^3.
“Multiplying all [8 fulfilled prophecies] these probabilities together produces a number (rounded off of 1×1^28). Dividing this number by an estimate of the number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies (88 billion) produces a probability of all 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidently in the life of one person. That probability is 1 in 10^17 or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That’s one in one hundred quadrillion!” - Peter Stoner
To put some perspective on those odds, Stoner writes “Suppose that we take 10^17 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.”
I hope you'll agree with me that it is far beyond reason to think that man predicted future events to that degree of precision on his own. If you are reading this as a skeptic I'd imagine you would quickly dismiss this argument because they're dependent on much more to be true.
1) They depend on the prophecies to have actually been written when they say they were,
2) they depend on the NT to be historically accurate and not tweaked to fit in with the already existing prophecies, making Jesus seem like the Messiah, and
3) they depend on the Bible to have remained intact and constant throughout the ages; scribes and translators could have easily changed the text to create the story we have today.
A few decades ago there was not a strong rebuttal to the dating of the original text, but thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other Mediterranean cave findings we now have manuscripts dating back centuries before Jesus or the Apostles walked the earth that prove it was not altered. While we may not have a copy of Isaiah that dates back to its original estimated writing in the 8th century BCE we do have a copy dating back into the 2nd century BCE which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not changed to fit in with the life of Jesus.
The most logical rebuttal to the charge of Jesus disciples making up or altering the story is their blood. Virtually all of them were imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith. To name a few:
The Apostle John was boiled in oil, when that didn't kill him he was exiled to the island of Patmos.
Paul was stoned multiple times, spent most of his life in prison, and eventually was beheaded.
Philip and Bartholomew were crucified,
James the half brother of Jesus, who did not believe that Jesus was God prior to his resurrection (what would it take for you to be persuaded that your sibling was God?) was thrown off a building by a mob breaking both of his legs, he was then beaten to death by the mob and
Peter was sentenced to be crucified, but requested to be crucified upside down because he believed himself to be unworthy to die is the same manner as his God.
Their testimonies of course do not prove that their writings were true, but they do prove that the disciples believed what they preached, for who would endure that for what they knew to be a lie?
Charles Colson summed it up well,
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”
We know that those prophecies Jesus fulfilled were original to the text and not penned in after the fact by the Apostles or the church by proof from archeology. The Bible (specifically the NT) has been translated from Greek and Aramaic into hundreds of languages and does contain many grammatical discrepancies, however that is not surprising considering how versatile a language Greek is. For example, there are over 600 ways to write the phrase “John loves Mary” without changing the statement’s meaning. But don't take it from me. From his infamous book “Misquoting Jesus”, Professor, Scholar, and critic of Christianity Bart Ehrman writes:
“of all the hundreds of thousands of textual changes found among our manuscripts, most of them are completely insignificant, immaterial, of no real importance for anything other than showing that scribes could not spell or keep focused any better than the rest of us” (p. 207).
The fact is, scholars equally as qualified as Bart Ehrman generally agree that no more than about 1% of the New Testament is affected by significant textual variants, and the vast majority of even these represent no serious difficulty. With this being said, even if you doubt that the doctrine of Scriptural Inerrancy (the books that make up the Bible in their original form are inspired by God and without error) or even reject Christianity altogether, an honest analysis requires you to believe that the New Testament we have today is very accurate to its original form. Additionally, with the help of archeology we are continuously finding older and older biblical manuscript which only strengthens the case for Biblical accuracy and overwhelmingly proves that the Bible has not changed.
Consequently, we can conclude that none of these objections holds any significant weight. The source of these prophecies is sound, reliable, and verifiable, leaving us with the reality that the Bible authors predicted the future with immaculate precision.
We have archaeological evidence, historical evidence, and the science of probability all overwhelmingly demonstrating the reliability of the Bible. If you are reading this as an antagonist, though my hope is that I have demonstrated the logic and reason behind my belief in scriptures, I have little confidence that evidence alone will sway you towards saving faith. “If God would just reveal himself or do a miracle for me I'd believe” is the thought of many, but it is unlikely that even that evidence would sway you. Many people in Jesus day witnessed the dead being raised and still found a way to deny the truth that was right before their eyes.
Our problem when it comes to belief in God or the Bible is not primarily a lack of evidence but suppression of what is evident to us by nature.
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." - Rom 1
The Bible tells us that God is evident to us all. Similarly a three year international study by Oxford University affirmed this biblical truth when they determined that, “humans are 'predisposed' to believe in God/god's and the afterlife”.
Perhaps the reason we suppress this knowledge or predisposition is because we know that if God is real and the Bible is true, it is authoritative over us.
If God is God then we are not. If God's rules exist, there are consequences to playing by ours. If God is Sovereign our future doesn't belong to us and our destiny is not in our hands. Many of us think we are neutral towards God, but the Bible clearly destroys that myth- Jesus says, “whoever is not with me is against me”, Paul says “in Adam all die but in Christ all live”
Jesus is Lord, and you are either intentionally submitting to or resisting his lordship, there is no third option.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." -Jhn 3:36