In the previous blogs, I have provided a very small snippet of the evidence that the Bible is the most reliable historical document we have in the world today. No other piece of ancient literature is more validated, more collaboratively supported, and more historically preserved in its original form than the Bible. I encourage you NOT to just take my word for this. Read the literature, much of it is available online; study textual criticism; examine the evidence, and you will come away with the same conclusion: There is no book in history that has been more reliably preserved and translated than the Bible.
This does not say anything about its source or accuracy; only that the text of the scripture is what the original authors wrote. So now let’s ask about the source and the content. Are these words that the God Who Is There revealed to several men over a couple thousand years, or is it just some fantasy musings of some hermits? Did Noah really come out of the Ark with just his wife and three sons and their wives to restart the human race that God had destroyed in a Great Flood? (Genesis 8) Did Moses’ face really glow after meeting with Yahweh in the Tent of Meeting? (Exodus 34) And what about Jesus walking on water or multiplying bread and fish to feed 5000 men (not including the women and children who were there and ate, also)? (John 6) Did He really raise several people from the dead and open blind eyes? (Matthew 11:5)
A conceited idea of this current generation is that we are somehow wiser and less likely to be deceived by charlatans and tricks than previous “primitive” people of ancient times. Yet this idea flies in the face of all the evidence that human nature has always been suspicious of anything without proof. Think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. If for a moment you assume the story to be true, does it not show our own human skepticism to want to know more than we have natural access to know, to doubt what we have been told, but for which we have no proof?
In the story, Adam and Eve had everything good that God had created. But with the seed of doubt that the serpent planted, “Did God really say. . . .?,” they wanted some proof. Maybe there was something more that He was holding out on them. Their skepticism must have gone right into their DNA because every person born since wants that same proof! So when a “primitive” man or woman is told that a “god” made the earth shake in an earthquake, why would human nature suddenly revert to accepting a preposterous claim at face value unless there was some evidence? In the same way, when Moses’ stories of the Exodus were relayed, would not those hearing the stories wanted some kind of proof?
You see, Moses’ stories were not just his, but a whole nation’s. The events told by the Old Testament writers were not secret rites or activities hidden from public view. Noah and his children reported what they had seen and heard to their children and it was clearly a true account (see The Reliability of the Bible [Part 1], posted May 17, 2015). When Yahweh turned the water of the Nile to blood, thousands of people saw it happen, as with the other signs He did through Moses. The parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh’s army were not stories made up by one man in a cave and then reported to Israel. They were there! Part of the story!! It happened to them, so the miracles were not second-hand, but in their faces. They could only report what they had seen and heard.
For those of us for whom these are second-hand miracles, because we were not there, we may begin with a reasonable doubt that some of the stories have become inflated or distorted over the generations since they occurred. However, we must go back to the reliability of the Bible’s text as established by textual criticism (The Reliability of the Bible [Part 2], posted on May 31). If any of the stories were bogus, they would have been refuted at the outset, because none of them were done in a corner (Acts 26:26; 2 Peter 1:19-20). Furthermore, no single piece of evidence has ever been uncovered that refutes a single narrative of the Bible! Every find by archeologists, every fact established by science, every philosophical argument, if any of these involve issues of the Bible, the Bible has been validated, and never once refuted.
Contrast this to the Book of Mormon, revealed to a single man on a mountain, hidden away from any collaborative witness, and the difficulties Joseph Smith had in establishing a following. Because of human nature, the outrageous stories of Mormonism remain at the margin of mainstream American thought, and to this day are kept in secret because its history and events will not stand up to the light of open examination. This same secrecy applies to the Church of Scientology, recently founded in America by a science fiction author, as well as other religions whose leader received unique “revelations” to which only he had access. Whenever ANYONE says, “Here is the truth, revealed in secret only to one or two chosen few,” be very skeptical! What is true about God and His creation is available for anyone and everyone to examine (Romans 1:19-20).
And this is God’s nature: to reveal Himself through creation, through prophets and finally through Jesus, the Christ . So we can conclude that most of the stories of the Old Testament are true because 1) they were collaborated by many witnesses, and 2) they were challenged for authenticity by the people to whom the stories were told so anyone with a brain could figure out if it was true or not. What further evidence is there that the source of the Bible is the God Who Is There? Let’s visit that next Sunday, June 21, 2015.