Do we have enough evidence to trust the Bible?
Published: 9 June 2016 (GMT+10)
People today must judge between two contradictory worldviews: the biblical worldview and the evolutionary worldview.
I’m a lawyer, so I think about this like a legal case. Juries have to judge between opposing litigants, like we have to judge between worldviews. Juries do it by weighing the evidence. Let me give an example from a case I worked on.
The power of an eyewitness account
The case turned on whether the plaintiff’s wind turbine functioned properly on a certain date years earlier. The wind turbine no longer existed, so we couldn’t run tests to establish whether it worked. Therefore, this dispute couldn’t be solved by operational science, which involves questions that may be answered by repeatable and observable tests. It was similar to historical science, which involves using information currently available in attempting to figure out something that happened in the past.
Each side had a well-qualified expert witness testifying on its behalf. The experts gave exactly the opposite testimony: one said the turbine worked on that critical date; one said it didn’t. I think both believed their testimony. So what led to the different opinions?
They had different views of the case. One expert viewed the case through the lens of the plaintiff, while one viewed it through the lens of the defendant. That influenced their conclusion.
Surprise evidence emerged two weeks before trial—a personal journal kept by a man who helped build the wind turbine. The journal suggested that the turbine wasn’t operating perfectly on the critical date.
The journal was powerful evidence because it claimed to be an eyewitness account. While it’s possible someone would make up such evidence, the journal included lots of irrelevant, personal information that gave it a ring of authenticity. The journal’s eyewitness account swayed the jury to decide the turbine had not worked on that critical date.
The Bible claims to be an eyewitness account
What does this lawsuit have in common with the question of biblical creation versus evolution? Quite a bit:
- A question of historical science rather than operational science. We can’t run any tests to conclusively establish whether apes evolved into humans or dinosaurs evolved into birds. We decide this historical question based on the facts available to us today.
- Each side has expert witnesses—scientists in the relevant fields. Each side’s experts interpret the same raw facts to support their view: fossils, canyons, DNA, distant starlight, etc.
- Each side’s experts interpret the data through their respective worldview: a biblical worldview versus an evolutionary worldview.
But, like my litigation, one side has key evidence that the other does not. The Bible claims to record God’s eyewitness account of creation. The evolutionary worldview, by its very (atheistic) nature, can offer no such account.
Imagine you’re the jury deciding whether the Bible is the eyewitness account it claims to be. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it. You are the jury. Except that you don’t judge the word of God. The word of God judges you. John 12:48.
Is the Bible an eyewitness to creation?
The Bible claims to be the Word of God. What evidence do we have supporting that view? I will briefly discuss just a few types of evidence.
Internal consistency. The Bible was written over 1,500 years by more than 40 diverse authors—from fishermen to kings. Yet the Bible’s 66 books present a consistent ‘big picture’ from start to finish.
God created the heavens and the earth (Exodus 20:11; Acts 17:24; Revelation 4:11). God is the sovereign ruler (Deuteronomy 4:39; Psalm 135:6; 1 Timothy 6:15), yet tender and merciful (Exodus 34:6–7; Psalm 86:15; Luke 1:78). Man’s ways lead him ever-further away from God (Genesis 3:17–19; Proverbs 19:3; Romans 1:18–32). Man can’t reconcile himself to God through his works (Leviticus 16:34; Hebrews 7:19; Ephesians 2:8–9). God provides the means of reconciliation—through faith in Christ (Genesis 15:6; Psalm 32:1; Romans 3:21–25). God created us to walk with Him (Genesis 3:8). And those who believe the Bible’s eyewitness account will (Revelation 21:3–4)!
The Bible’s improbable message lends it credibility because it isn’t something men are likely to concoct. Mankind shares an innate desire to be our own god, and we therefore tend to make gods in our image. But what of the God of the Bible?
When He visited His creation, He “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Did the authors somehow use this message to lord it over people? If that was their goal, they probably wouldn’t have attributed these words to Jesus: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11).
History says that nearly all the apostles died for the gospel. People often say it would make no sense for the apostles to die for a lie. How much less sense to die for a lie that called for them—the earthly leaders of the faith—to be the servant of all?
Historically verifiable. More than any other ancient document, the Bible has proven accurate in describing historical events. I will list just a couple examples here.
Archaeology has uncovered evidence of a large group of Semitic slaves in Egypt, consistent with the Bible’s description of Israel’s enslavement prior to their exodus under Moses. The evidence suggests that these slaves abandoned their homes suddenly, leaving behind many possessions, just as Exodus describes. Consistent with the Biblical account of Pharaoh murdering Hebrew baby boys to limit the Hebrew population, archaeologists found the bodies of babies buried in unusual circumstances under many slave houses.
Jericho is another example. The Bible says Israel destroyed Jericho after its imposing walls miraculously came tumbling down at the Israelites’ shouts. Excavations have uncovered these fallen walls, which formed ramped entryways for the invading Israelites. The Bible also says Israel burned the city, obeying God’s instruction to devote Jericho to destruction. Consistent with the Bible, archaeologists found a meter-thick layer of ash in the city, including many storage jars full of grain. This would be unusual because grain was a valuable commodity that would normally be taken as plunder—except that the Bible says God told the Israelites not to take plunder.
Fulfilled prophecy. Scripture has accurately predicted hundreds, if not thousands, of future events, including many verifiable through secular history. Here are a couple.
Decades before the Babylonians destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, Isaiah prophesied that a man named Cyrus would give the order to rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44:24–28). Further still, Isaiah prophesied that God would subdue nations before Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1–3). This came to pass about 150 years later, when God delivered the Babylonian empire into the hand of the Medo-Persian empire, and a king named Cyrus decreed that the temple be rebuilt (Ezra 1:1–4).
The book of Daniel also repeatedly anticipates the history books. For example, Daniel foresaw Greece defeating the Medo-Persian empire, which Daniel prophesied even before the Medo-Persian empire had itself conquered the Neo-Babylonian empire. Daniel’s vision came true more than 200 years later, when Alexander the Great established a great kingdom, including his defeat of the Persian empire around 331 B.C. Daniel’s prophecy went further, however, accurately recording that the Greek king (Alexander) would die shortly after his rise to power, and that his kingdom would be divided into four parts. Alexander died in his early 30s, after which his kingdom divided into four lesser kingdoms headed by four of his generals.1
Moral excellence. The Bible’s moral teaching is unequaled. The Bible teaches, “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14). It teaches, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Just compare the prosperity and relative justice of countries that adhere closest to biblical morals to those that practice an atheist worldview. Even some atheists recognize that widespread Christian belief lowers crime, particularly sex crime. They likewise recognize the counterpoint that the evolutionary worldview has dire consequences for society.
Why? First, the Gospel is not merely a moral code, but a path to reconciliation with God. The regeneration that occurs when someone accepts Jesus Christ as Lord comes with the grace to love our neighbor (Romans 6:15–18; 1 Corinthians 15:10). Second, God’s moral principles are not random; they are for our good. When a society follows them, it is better off, including many who don’t know Jesus as Lord.
Evolutionary theory can’t offer a moral code, much less peace with God. When a society consistently applies the evolutionary worldview, human life is not valued because it is merely a random accident. Such societies eventually move from passively devaluing life to proactively ridding themselves of unwanted life: through abortion, euthanasia, and, gradually, even more drastic means to eliminate disfavored groups.
The success of the biblical worldview lends strong evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be: Scripture “breathed out by God” that is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Our judgment on the competing worldviews bears eternal consequences
The dispute between the Biblical worldview versus the evolutionary worldview extends beyond creation—all the way to the question Jesus asked: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).
We render a judgment: will we believe the Bible that Jesus is Lord (that is, YHWH), or believe the world that He is merely a prophet, a teacher, a storybook character, or anything less than the uncreated Creator? Our judgment doesn’t decide whether the Word is condemned. It decides whether we are condemned. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:17–18).
References and notes
- http://www.gotquestions.org/Greek-empire.html. Return to text.