Undergroundnetwork


“But it says so in the bible” by underground

This post is of a reply I wrote to another blogger’s post. Having some objections with the argument put forward, I considered a counter-argument. Hoping that my disagreements would encourage some debate, I sent the comment to her. Unfortunately she did not address my concerns. I am interested in creating healthy debate, so I’m posting both her initial post and my response. As her opinions are commonly held, I would like to know how a theist would address my response.

Is it unethical to copy paste someones blog? Perhaps it is okay if you attribute it sufficiently. I’ve had several posts end up elsewhere attributed to all sorts. One was apparently written by the Guardian, until you clicked on the article and it took you to my blog. Unfortunately I do not yet work for the Guardian, perhaps one day!The hyperlinks will take you to her site.

Why we can trust the Bible

by Marcus Dupont

I have often heard the following statement when chatting with a Muslim friend: “You can’t trust the Bible because it’s been changed over the centuries!” If true, it’s a very serious charge. However, I’ve never heard anyone explain to me when and how these apparent changes were made. In this short article, I’d like to present some evidence which argues the contrary — that the Bible can be trusted as the divine revelation that it claims to be. This evidence is divided into three categories: internal, external and personal.

Internal Evidence

This stream of evidence comes from within the pages of the Bible.

1. First of all, the Bible itself claims many times to be true. Perhaps the clearest statement is this: “All Scripture is God-breathed (inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus explained that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (ie. the Old Testament) and that “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:1 8) . Any book, however, could make such claims. There needs to be more evidence … and there is.

2. The Bible shows amazing unity in spite of incredible diversity. Consider some of these facts about this unique book. It was written over a span of 1500 years (i.e. about 40 generations) on three different continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) by over 40 different authors (ranging from kings to fishermen to scholars) in many different settings (ranging from palaces to prisons to deserts) and expressing different moods (ranging from joy to despair). Yet in spite of all this diversity which should have resulted in a very disjointed account, we have a common, unified theme describing how God provided a way for His fallen human creation to be reconciled again to Himself.

3. The Bible is full of Old Testament prophecies which were exactly fulfilled several centuries later in the New Testament. Some concern the nation of Israel but most (over 300) relate to the promised Messiah, Jesus. Some were prophecies of His birth (e.g. born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem) and about 30 concerned details of the last day of His life, the day He was crucified (e.g. betrayed by a friend, humiliated, pierced but no bones broken, given vinegar to drink, and even that lots would be cast for His clothing). Every prophetic detail came true in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Many people have been impacted by reading the prophet Isaiah’s description (Isaiah chapter 53) of how the Messiah would suffer and they see its striking fulfillment in Jesus’ death on the cross.

4. The Bible’s message is very unflattering to man’s pride. In other words, men would not have wanted to write such a book even if they had been able. It tells in honest (and sometimes even sordid) detail how man has sinfully strayed from God’s will and way. What a contrast to the plethora of human books which boast of man’s ability to solve his own problems by looking within himself.

External Evidence

A second stream of evidence comes from outside the Bible. 1. The Bible is the world’s best-selling (and most widely-read) book by far. It has been translated and published into more languages than any other book. It was the first major book printed on the world’s first printing press by Johann Gutenburg. Around the world today, thousands of missionaries in missions such as Wycliffe Bible Translators are continuing to translate it into many more languages and dialects. Millions of copies and portions are distributed every year by Christians and missionary agencies throughout the world.

2. The Bible is also the world’s best survivor. From Roman emperors to modern-day Communists, this book has been burned and banned by its enemies for many centuries… but without success. Emperor Diocletian issued an edict in 303 AD that the Christian Scriptures should be destroyed. Less than three decades later, Emperor Constantine became a Christian himself and ordered 50 copies to be produced at government expense. The famous French skeptic Voltaire predicted that Christianity would be extinct within one century. Voltaire became extinct in 1778 and 50 years later the Geneva Bible Society bought his home and press to print Bibles.

3. The Bible has been confirmed many times by archaeology. Critics have often claimed that places and peoples referred to in this book either never existed or were inaccurately described. They argued that the Hittites did not exist until clay tablets were uncovered in Assyria and Egypt. They claimed the Gospel writer Luke mistakenly referred to Quirinius as governor of Syria too early until records were found showing he had been governor twice. The most convincing archaeological find in recent times was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. Dating from before 100 BC, they show how carefully the Old Testament scrolls had been copied when compared to similar documents many centuries later. The same care was used in copying the New Testament books of which we have thousands of documents, some dating within a few decades of the originals.

4. The Bible’s essential message has also been confirmed by early, non-Christian writers. First century Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote in his Annals that “Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also.” Similarly, first century Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote in his Antiquities that “there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure… and the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.”

Personal Evidence

Besides the internal and external evidence for the Bible’s veracity, there is personal evidence. If this book is of divine origin, then it would be reasonable to conclude that its message would have a profound impact on those who believe its message. There are many thousands of stories or testimonies of believers throughout the centuries whose lives were radically changed for the better after believing the Bible’s message. One such person was Mel Trotter. He was a derelict and alcoholic who cared only about himself and his addiction. Instead of buying medicine for his sick child, Trotter bought liquor and his child died. Incredibly, he even stole the shoes from within his child’s casket in order to buy more drink. One day, he stumbled into a city mission where he heard the Bible’s message expressed in word and song. He took the message to heart and put his trust in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and his personal Savior. A dramatic change took place in his life. With God’s help and power, he not only conquered his addiction but he dedicated the rest of his life to establishing city missions throughout America to reach out to others like him with God’s truth and God’s love. Not every testimony is, of course, this dramatic but each one is real and, for me, the most convincing evidence that the Bible was inspired by God.

In conclusion, I encourage you to consider the streams of evidence above and to honestly ask God in prayer to show you the true origins of this unique and extraordinary Book we call the Bible. As one professor put it, “If you are an intelligent person, you will read the one book that has drawn more attention than any other, if you are searching for the truth.”

Marcus Dupont is a pastor, as well as a missionary with a global agency. He is also a good friend and mentor. René

Needless to say I was less than impressed by her less than convincing argument. Here is my response. I have made a few alterations from the intial response, but the core of my objection is there.

Hi René,Your post is interesting, but I must disagree with probably all of it.

Duponts arguments are unsound, and require assumptions and giant leaps of faith. Here are my objections:

How can internal evidence be credible? Just because the book says it is true, does not make it so, no matter how many times it says it. That is some perverted logic!
Other books speak of mans frailties (including those from other religions) and this does not mean they are the work of god. Again, this is a ridiculous conclusion to reach. All too often Christians attempt to prove their point by citing gospel, but without proving the gospel, their argument has no credibility. Imagine if a scholar cited a book that wasn’t respected as credible? Their work would be dismissed.

As for the external evidence, I am also unimpressed. The fact the book has survived all these years does not make it divine. The ideas of Greek theorists predate the bible, and still exist. Support for the bible from other sources merely backs up many of the occurrences in the bible, but only the historical events, not the supernatural claims.

Finally the personal evidence, which I find particularly weak. Sure Christians claim the bible to have ‘profound impact’ on their lives, but Muslims will make the same claim of the Koran. Hell, I could make the same claim for many books I’ve read, but they certainly are not divine! Many people have heard a song, read a book, or spoke to someone irreligious who has changed their life. Citing personal experience is not evidence of the divine.

For example, a Christian friend of mine (in case you thought I was anti-Christian, I’m not, and we do both respect and enjoy discussing each other’s beliefs) witnessed a man at her church have a spiritual experience. Basically, under the claim of being possessed, he wriggled around on the ground, screaming in tongues! She was somewhat impressed by the performance. I reminded her that many cultures have similar trance-like rituals and as a student who had sat social anthropology papers, she was aware that this is the case. Under the right circumstances a person can be hyped into a state of trance, and their mind wanders away, applying religious symbolism to everything when in this state. This is very similar to near death experiences where people’s experiences differ depending on their perceived belief of the afterlife. So in the case of the trances, either all are psychological constructions, or all are religious. So monotheism certainly does not get support from personal experience, but polytheism can! People who appreciate this for other religions, but not surprisingly see their religion as the exception.

Hardly what I would call streams of evidence. Compared to the evidence for evolution, it is not difficult to rationally side with evolution as the more plausible.

Why is it when some people quote one book, you dismiss the book outright, and then refer to another book as though it were the gospel? And the bible is also just a book, written many years after the occurrences it describes and written by fallible men too.

I do not mean to come across arrogant; I honestly respect your right to believe in what you choose. I also respect your good nature and the lack of name-calling. It’s good to keep the discussion healthy and the debate civil!

cheers,
Paul

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3 Comments so far
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Hello Paul, The most convincing truth that you believe can be undercut by the same logic that you use to undercut the Bible. The reason? Interpretation. Your beliefs are so significantly biased by your interpretation (your own filter) that you cannot possibly get “out” of the box of your own brain enough to see Truth. This is a very REAL fact of the human condition. Plato whines about it for 100’s of pages! *grin*
Instead of arguing & debating truth with people of whom you differ greatly, try getting to know what they BELIEVE and then share what you BELIEVE. Argument makes you feel superior and other inferior. Ideas are wands and swords, just as much as any other tools of strife.
Stop striving and start embracing….

Comment by corwinevangelin

Hello,
I do not wish to make myself feel superior or others inferior. Perhaps you may have misinterpreted my use of the word argument. It is not so much that I wish to argue or deconvert anyone, I just think it is healthy to challenge ideas that are contrary to yours and to have your own ideas challenged. Otherwise we all become intellectually stagnant. The author of the initial post was attempting to support her beliefs with what I deem to be faulty logic. I wished to illustrate why I considered it to be an unsound argument, inviting her to reevaluate her thoughts.

It is the sharing of ideas that make blogs brilliant. I think most bloggers would agree that is why they post blogs, to share their ideas. I will never says that my posts are the objective truth, they are merely my opinions. And everyone is entitled to opinions. But is unhealthy not to have beliefs and opinions challenged. Either someone will say something you can easily dismiss, therefore strengthening your beliefs, or they will say something so profound you will have to reevaluate your beliefs. Win/win situation. That is why I found myself at the original post. I was interested in what kind of argument could be used to prove the bible as reliable or credible. Contrary to the belief that people should not discuss politics and religion, I believe we MUST discuss these issues, as they are the most important issues to people, and we should not let ourselves become intellectually stagnant. Otherwise you get fundamentalists and extremists

Thank you for commenting on my post.

Paul

Comment by undergroundnetwork

[…] atheists to justify themselves, it almost takes more than a “but it says so in the bible” style argument. Hence in blog debates, atheist comments tend to be longer and cite more sources, […]

Pingback by The Ethics of an Atheist « Undergroundnetwork




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