Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is the Bible Really the Word of God?

Is the Holy Bible the inspired word of God or isn’t it? Let’s look at the evidence on both sides of that question.

First, what is the evidence that the bible is, indeed, the actual word of God? Well, the bible itself says it’s the word of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” from 2 Timothy 3:16-17. So if the bible says it is the word of God then it must be the word of God, right?

Well, no, not necessarily. Believing that would be like going into a coffee shop in New York that has a sign hanging in the window proclaiming that it sells the “world’s best coffee” and congratulating the owner for his great accomplishment (from the movie Elf). It is a classic case of begging the question, or circular logic.

So what evidence is there that the bible is the word of God, other than the bible itself? The answer to that question is a resounding, nothing whatsoever, nada, zilch, nary a smidgen of evidence.

Oh, there are sources that claim that a plenitude of evidence exists. But they are either lying or mistaken. There isn’t any.

The Christian apologetic site GotQuestions.org claims there is plenty of evidence, both internally and externally, that proves the bible is God’s word. It says, “One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction.”

Really? Did the author of this statement have a straight face when he or she wrote it or was the tongue planted firmly within the cheek? The bible is, today, a canon published as a single book, but those 66 separate writings it contains are about as disjointed thematically, grammatically, and rhetorically as a compilation that might include the works of Dr. Seuss and Karl Marx. Even God Himself is not consistent within the pages of the bible, at once destructive and vile while also being described as loving and just. And the number of errors and contradictions, some of them irreconcilable, number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The article continues, “Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages.” Well, there are two types of fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament: The kind that almost any knowledgeable person could make based on the political climate of the day. A modern example might be the lady who told presidential adviser David Axelrod that Barack Obama could be the first black president years before he entered the presidential race. The other kind of fulfilled prophecy is the self-fulfilling kind. All the writers of the New Testament had access to the prophecies of the Old Testament. It would be child’s play to write a gospel that made it appear as though the prophecies were fulfilled, because nothing in the New Testament can be historically verified as actually having taken place. There is no record of Jesus’ crucifixion let alone his resurrection. There is no corroborating evidence of anything at all, not even Jesus’ birth.

GotQuestions.org also claims that the bible must be the word of God because it has so many historically-accurate verifications: “Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true.” This is just a false statement, plain and simple. There are some factual accounts of various cities and events in the bible. The Jews probably were taken captive by the Babylonians and Jesus probably was born, somewhere. But almost none of the “facts” stated in the bible can be historically verified. From the Exodus of the Jews to the Resurrection of Jesus, from Noah’s Ark to the Woman at the Well, nothing has been independently corroborated through archeology or through independent historical accounts. It just isn’t there. The claims made in GotAnswers.org are bogus. The author makes no attempt at all to document the claims. They are simply pronounced as being true.

So is there any evidence against the bible being the word of God? Yes, and plenty of it.

First of all, even IF the original manuscripts were written by God’s dictation, it doesn’t matter; we don’t have the originals. We don’t even have copies of the originals. We don’t even have third-hand copies of the originals. The best we can do is to translate century-old copies of copies of copies into our language and hope for the best. And there are mountains of evidence that none of our copies is even close to what the originals might have said. There are historical accounts of scribes complaining about the inaccuracies of the copies they were copying, because the scribes had multiple copies and none of them matched each other. So which one was the most accurate?

There are also surviving copies of works written by authors of antiquity complaining about the poor quality of copied works. There were no printing presses back then, and the bible is a big book, not to mention that it was not even a book in the days it was first being copies; it was just a collection of manuscripts from various authors.

Scribes even added their own verses in an attempt to make the original fit with their own theology or to perhaps replace what they think may have been lost. A good example of this is the story of Jesus telling the Pharisees that whoever is without sin should cast the first stone. This story, probably the most famous New-Testament story of Jesus’ ministry, was not in the original manuscripts. How do we know if we don’t have the originals? The story was not in the earliest Greek manuscripts we have, which are the ones that had been copied the least and, therefore, most like the originals. That story was added sometime later when the Greek manuscripts were being translated into Latin. And it was the Latin translation that was eventually translated into English, (Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus).

Logically, it seems odd that the creator of the universe would choose a backward time in history, a time when people were gullible and believed in superstitions, to reveal himself. It also seems unlikely that an all-knowing entity would find it so hard to convince everyone of his existence. It’s like the aliens who seem to only abduct and rape hillbilly rednecks in the swamp instead of showing themselves to the masses in the middle of Manhattan in broad daylight.

My conclusion: The bible is not the word of God but the word of man, from beginning to end.

It can certainly still be used for inspiration, if you’re in need of being spiritually inspired, and that’s what most modern Christians use it for. They know that almost all the stories in both the Old and New Testaments are apocryphal. Noah didn’t really build a big boat; Jonah wasn’t regurgitated from the belly of a fish, and Jesus was not really resurrected from the dead. It never happened.

For documented details of how the bible as we know it is not accurate and is, therefore, not the word of God, read: Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, Why I Became an Atheist by John Loftus.

7 comments:

Beth said...

Nicely done.

One thing I've found over the years, when discussing this with people who say they're Christians, is that they simply ignore any suggestion that the Bible is not the word of God, no matter how much evidence or logic you provide. They simply claim that it is so, it's a matter of faith, it just IS. It's the ultimate in denial.

meyerprints said...

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John said...

Okay I don't see hard evidence here to the contrary so ill keep reading my Bible. All the straw men set up here I have seen before. Pretty cohesive texts to me. U have to dive in to really get it. Most people out here are just scratching around.

John said...

Okay I don't see hard evidence here to the contrary so ill keep reading my Bible. All the straw men set up here I have seen before. Pretty cohesive texts to me. U have to dive in to really get it. Most people out here are just scratching around.

Jerry Wilson said...

I see no strawman. You're asking me for evidence when all you have is blind faith in an ancient myth.

PJay said...

The bible IS the word of God, it CANNOT BE DISPROVED, contrary to popular belief. It stood the test of time, and it still changes lives today. They tried for millennia to destroy, disprove and discredit it, but to no avail.

Gods eternal word WILL STAND for ever!

Jerry, stop fighting God, you're fighting a losing battle.

Jerry Wilson said...

@PJay: It is not up to skeptics to disprove anything. Believers are making the claim that the god of the bible exists; so it's up to them to prove it.

I can't fight against God since he does not exist. But I will continue to fight against irrational beliefs of humans.