By Angeline Devlin
It’s old and often hard to read, so . . .
Why Should I Believe the Bible?
In the 18th Century the French writer, Voltaire, boasted that the Bible would be extinct by 1850. It was a foolish and slightly arrogant claim to make about the book that has been the world's bestseller for centuries and translated into more languages than any other. It is no ordinary book by anyone's standards. Written over a period of about 1500 years by kings, farmers, soldiers, legislators, fishermen, court officials, priests, prophets, and a taxman; containing history, law, poetry, parables, biographies, letters, memoirs and prophecy; with a clear message running all the way through. It has brought hope, meaning and purpose to millions of people in the world, and yet it has got to be one of the most misunderstood and maligned books in the history of mankind. Even in Ireland, where most people claim to have some sort of belief in God, the Bible is often treated with skepticism.
Why are people so reluctant to believe the Bible is true? I think there are several obstacles in their minds:
Doesn't science contradict the Bible?
Many scientists throughout history would answer a resounding "No!" to that question. Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday (a pioneer in electrical science), James Clerk Maxwell (the Scottish founder of the famous Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge), Sir John Ambrose Fleming (who worked with the Italian inventor, Marconi, paving the way for huge advances in radio and television technology) all believed the Bible to be the Word of God. Even today scientists such as Dr. Francis Collins (the director of the Human Genome Project who discovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis) see no contradiction between the Bible and their chosen career.
The Bible is not a science text book but as science studies the world that God created we should expect it to be scientifically accurate—and it is. For some people the evolutionary/creationist debate is a stumbling block, but we must remember that no matter how popular evolution theory is, that is all it remains: a theory. Science is a study of facts so surely true scientists would want to read the Bible to look at the evidence for themselves.
How do we know any of the things really happened?
The Bible describes events which took place thousands of years ago so this question is a good one.
More than 24,000 parts of manuscripts of the New Testament exist today, and it is widely accepted among historians that the originals were all written prior to 100 AD. Some of the oldest parts of manuscripts date to within 100 years of the originals. This might seem like a long time but compare this with only 10 manuscript copies of Caesar's "Gallic Wars", the oldest of which was written nearly 1000 years after the original.
The Old Testament was completed around 400 BC and before 1947 the oldest manuscripts available dated back to 900 AD. Then the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, containing parts of the Old Testament dating back to before the time of Jesus. The scrolls showed the accuracy of the newer copies. The Old Testament was also extensively quoted by both New Testament and other first century writers.
Archaeology has confirmed biblical descriptions of people and places. It cannot prove that everything the Bible says is true. but if archaeology supports the historical accuracy of the Bible, we must at least be open to the possibility that what it says about matters of faith are true as well. About 25,000 sites in the Holy Land were investigated in last century and 500,000 documents have been found, none of which have disproved the Bible's record of events. That is a lot of evidence pointing towards the truthfulness of the Bible.
So what does the Bible say about itself?
'From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation. 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.'
-- Paul's Second letter to Timothy, chapter 3 verses 15 and 16
The Bible claims to be the Word of God, God's message to the world through human agents. One writer describes it like this:
'God over-ruled the writing of the Bible so that the words were at the same time fully human and fully from God. The Bible shows that God used the gifts and writing styles of the various writers in a way that has been compared to pouring water into various shaped containers—that is, each prophet had the same divine inspiration but expressed it in their own different words.'
The Apostle Paul says that the Bible comes from God and that it is able to make us "wise for salvation." It tells us how we can get right with God and then tells us everything we need to live an effective and satisfying life with God as our King.
If the Bible is God's message to us then, like Voltaire, we would be foolish and arrogant to ignore it. Maybe the time has come to lay your skepticism aside and give the Bible a chance to speak for itself.
Read/listen to the Bible free online at: http://www.twft.com/?page=C2000
The Bible is a large book and some of it can be difficult to understand at first, but there are many resources available to help you as you read it. I would suggest that you start with the book of Genesis and then read one of the New Testament Gospels. Ultimately, the only way to find out whether the Bible is true or not is by reading it for yourself. Why not start today?
Edgar Powell (1999), On Giants' Shoulders: Studies in Christian Apologetics, Day One Publications
Article copied, with permission, from the 4you.ie web site.