Thursday, May 23, 2013

What is Good Evidence for Believing that the Bible is True

This is the third session in the series. I could've added the subtitle: "Testing any Religion or Writing Claimed to be Holy". Download the talk here (right-click to save). There is one pause in proceedings where I duck away to check that a fight isn't happening - lots of ruckus outside the classroom at that moment. There wasn't a fight but it was a day of many distractions and interruptions which always seems to happen when something eternally significant is about to occur... A rough outline is below:


  • Where we’ve come from (Session 1 - truth, Session 2 - evidence for the existence of God - OKLAHOMA related to natural disasters and a result of the fall - from last weeks discussion)
  • This week (Session 3 - why believe the bible or any religious text?) and how it follows on from previous (taking you through the classic apologetic process for defending the Christian faith, i.e. how to have the discussion, does God exist? Is the bible true? - the way I’m presenting it will hopefully give you tools to critique all religions and truth claims.
  • Any religion that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny isn’t worth following, including Christianity, but you can’t judge a faith group by the hypocrites who don’t follow the teachings - you have to look at the teachings to see if they are good or not.
  • Will be focusing on the bible, and the teachings from the bible, since that’s my area of expertise - I’ve explored the reasons people don’t believe the bible and have decided that they aren’t good reasons

Main - ways of critiquing any text to see if it’s true

  • Internal consistency
    • 1st, what is the bible?
      • 66 books
      • 40 authors
      • 1500 years
      • Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic
      • We have vast quantities of manuscripts in the original languages
    • Despite the diversity of author, the consistent message comes through from them all to build a cohesive whole. Cohesive = consistent
    • OBJECTION: Isn’t the bible full of contradictions?
      • Usually people who say this can’t name one
      • When we identify actual contradictions, they are usually resolved easily through a proper understanding of the context. Some are a little harder to resolve but can reasonably be cleared 
      • I’ve looked at over 100 supposed contradictions because I wanted to see what those on the other side said... Visit and search for 'bible difficulties'
    • OBJECTION: Doesn’t God change though? From commanding war and genocide in the Old Testament to becoming focused on love in the New Testament. And what about all the laws?
      • Context is important.
      • God’s plan for history has different stages and purposes for His people in those stages
      • OT deals mainly with Israel and preparing the world for the coming Saviour who was from Israel - NT is the fulfilment of those preparations
      • Progressive revelation of certain mysteries, e.g. salvation by grace through faith (and not through keeping the law), Gentiles can be saved too (not just Jews) - these things were not as clear in the OT as in the NT
      • Rules separated Israel from pagan nations
      • GENOCIDE - God also destroyed the entire world with a flood. Is it wrong for the Creator to do what he wants with His creation? The rules which apply to us don’t necessarily apply to God. The main rule is that God is the ultimate Judge and he has the power of life and death which we don’t.
  • Does the Bible truly describe reality? (External Consistency)
    • The wisdom in the Bible is extraordinary
    • Proverbs and other scriptures detailing timeless truths of cause and effect dealing with complex human nature
      • Wise vs foolish people
      • the rewards of diligence
      • that even good people can suffer
      • that even bad people can see undeserved reward (rains on the just and the unjust alike)
      • that the way to overcome evil is through love, e.g. bless your enemies so they are shamed into being good.
    • Human nature and motivations accurately described? 
      • Capacity for great works of good and astounding deeds of evil
      • Even our good is tainted (nobody is perfect also means that nothing we do is perfectly good)
    • What about miracles? (have to admit the possibility if God exists so shouldn’t be a problem)
    • What about science? (Creation vs Evolution)
      • “weight” of evidence when there are arguments in favour of each side - leans which way
      • Assumptions and presuppositions
      • Biases
    • Archaeological Evidence
      • Even secular archaeologists use the bible to help them discover new digs of the ancient world
    • Prophecy - predictions of future events
      • Psalm 22 describes the crucifiction of Christ 1000 years before Jesus was crucified
      • OBJECTION - could these prophecies been written after the events?
        • No - Hebrew OT translated into Greek during 2nd Century before Jesus
        • People watching the events didn’t even realise that prophecy was being fulfilled until later.
  • The founders of a religion can give us a lot of insight into the validity
    • compare Jesus with Muhammad and the origin of the Koran
    • Compare Jesus with Joseph Smith and the origin of the book of mormon
    • Compare Jesus with Buddah, Krishna, and whoever else you want and I think you will find someone quite different in their teaching and their life.


  • We’ve looked at some evidences that the Bible is trustworthy (restate several)
  • I believe that other religious texts don’t hold up to the same level of scrutiny, but you’re welcome to test that for yourselves.
  • I especially want to challenge you to look in the bible for yourselves, if you are truly concerned for discovering the truth (or not) of the best-selling book of all time.

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