"Why can we trust scripture?" That question was put recently by a reader in a comment made on a blog post written by an acquaintance of mine. What an important question! Eternity hangs in the balance. I answered from my own testimony, and feel compelled to share it here as well. My response follows, and after that are some additional links to bolster the case that the track-record of scripture is one of truth and reliability.
Why believe scripture? I’m going to get personal here and just answer for myself. First though, think a bit about moon-landing deniers. They exist. There are people who deny the moon landings. Keep that in the back of your mind for a moment.
The question is not why do I believe, but why do I continue to believe. Why did I first begin to believe the Bible? Because my parents taught me it was true. Think about it. That’s really the way it is with anything. We learn from our parents. Then as we grow up we must decide whether to keep on believing what we have learned.
My son learned of the moon landings from me. I told him so. I told him we went to the moon. As he grew up and went to school, he eventually was exposed to the deniers. Why did he keep the faith? It ultimately comes down to what was probably an unconscious decision on his part that my story about the moon landings was a good fit for the evidence he is encountering as he moves through life.
It is the same way for me with scripture. I first believed because my mother taught me. I continue to believe because the facts on the ground fit what I read in the Bible. I have been exposed to deniers, and what they say doesn’t gel with the evidence that I see. I read my son’s high-school textbook sections on origins. The case presented in those sections is weak and not explanatory of the world I see around me. Scripture on the other hand is powerful in its explanatory ability, bearing the ring of truth and fitting the scientific and historical facts on the ground today.
Many of us wish we could do the equivalent of mixing two chemicals together in a test-tube and prove the truth of the Bible. We can’t. Even scripture itself recognizes that point when in Romans chapter 10 we read these words: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
We don’t come to believe in God by doing science and working our way back to him. (Well, perhaps some people have in fact done it that way). We begin with God and the proof is in the working out of that belief in our lives.
Acknowledging the assumptions is the key. They are why both sides argue so much. We argue over our differing interpretations that grow out of our differing assumptions. And it gets worse! Regardless of what side of the issue one is on, to begin to think that one’s assumptions are incorrect is to face the reality of making major life changes. If the Big Bang and subsequent evolution are correct, then I need to change my ways and discard values such as honesty and integrity and focus more on getting whatever I can get while the getting is good, because it’s all over once I die. Conversely, someone on the other side of the issue is confronted with the possibility of having to acknowledge and submit to a creator. Hence the resistance to switching sides, and the preference to always make new evidence fit into the worldview one currently holds.
My answer above is my own testimony. Now I'd like to bolster that testimony with some factual evidence for you to consider. Christian faith is not blind, after all. Scripture is confirmed by findings in archaeology, in history, and in many fields of science such as geology and biology.
First I offer a video refuting the Telephone Game analogy. It is a common assertion that scripture has been translated and retranslated, passed from one generation to the next in an error-prone manner similar to the common, childhood game. Such is not the case!
Now that we've put paid to Telephone Game attack, let's look at some other fields. The science of archaeology has a strong track record of confirming the scriptural account. Here are just a few articles that you can read for some specific examples:
- Does Archaeology Support the Bible? -- This article is chock full of corroboration. If you read only one of these three, read this one.
- Archaeologist confirms creation and the Bible -- Recounts an interview with Dr. Clifford Wilson, an experienced archaeologist who recounts some personal experience of scripture being affirmed in archaeology.
- Camels and the Bible -- Speaks to a recent attack on the veracity of Genesis that is built around a supposed lack of camels in the Canaan area prior to King David's reign.
We also have good evidence from history of how the various books of the Bible have been carefully guarded, preserved, and handed down:
- Should we trust the Bible? -- Places special emphasis on defending the New Testament, which in turn confirms the Old.
- Dead Sea Scrolls -- Timeless Treasures -- The Dead Sea Scrolls provide stunning confirmation of how carefully and accurately God's word has been preserved.
- Gospel Dates and Reliability -- Defends our knowledge of when the New Testament books were written.
Scripture begins with God's account of creating Earth about 6000 years ago. Despite the protestations of many, scientific evidence from a number of fields supports God's account as He gave it. (Also see this article). Confirmation of God's account is to be expected, because His account is an eye-witness account. God's word is true, and we can rely upon it to guide our lives.