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Countering the Assault on Eyewitnesses

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Published: 10 November 2020 (GMT+10)
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One of my main goals as a CMI writer is to inform the readership on all the most pressing and relevant issues that repeatedly come up in debates, arguments and discussions surrounding creation and evolution. This is so they can give effective answers when engaging in apologetics and evangelism (1 Peter 3:15). In my experience, one such topic that routinely rears itself is the reliability of eyewitness testimony. At first glance, this might seem tangential at best—but if that were so, then we might be puzzled as to why the topic keeps coming up. The answer, of course, has to do with the nature of the debate itself. Understanding the relevance may require a brief explanation.

The biggest clash between creationists and evolutionists really has little to do with the evidence we possess. It has to do with how we interpret that evidence. This ultimately leads to a discussion of epistemology: how we know what we (claim to) know. Without getting tangled up in some of the hairsplitting details and in-house debates, what we can say very simply is that creationists base their knowledge and worldview on Scripture first and above all. Evolutionists work within a naturalistic worldview (the presumption that supernatural events can be disregarded or assumed not to occur).

There are many avenues this disagreement ultimately takes, but one of them is often a debate about the reliability of eyewitness testimony. Secularists and evolutionists want to tell you a story about the past that nobody was there to witness or record. There are no civilizations on our planet with any written historical records of human evolution. All available ancient history agrees on this point: mankind did not evolve from apes, but has always been fully human.1 Evolutionists naturally disagree, and so would like you to believe that their interpretations trump all available historical documentation (including eyewitness reports). This often brings us to a debate about the reliability of eyewitness testimony in general.

A self-refuting evolutionary attack on human minds

The modern consensus is to distrust eyewitness testimony altogether and prefer “forensic evidence” instead (physical clues which are open to interpretation). Take this quote as a representative example of how most modern sources approach this topic:

“The claim that eyewitness testimony is reliable and accurate is testable, and the research is clear that eyewitness identification is vulnerable to distortion without the witness’s awareness. More specifically, the assumption that memory provides an accurate recording of experience, much like a video camera, is incorrect. Memory evolved to give us a personal sense of identity and to guide our actions. We are biased to notice and exaggerate some experiences and to minimize or overlook others. Memory is malleable.”2 [Emphasis added.]

Notice the evolutionary slant taken here: since we allegedly evolved, we mustn’t take human sense perception and memory as objectively accurate. They only serve to help us survive! The reductio ad absurdum should be jumping right off the page. This is a classic example of the double-edged sword that cuts anyone trying to wield it. What about the Judge or jury who listen to evidence in court and then have to provide a verdict? What about the scientists who are witnessing and recording the results of their experiments? Are their memories not biased and malleable as well? Nearly all we do in society, and in our daily lives, depends upon the assumption that our sense perception and our ability to recall the past is substantially accurate. Certainly, the enterprise of science, conducted exclusively by human scientists, depends upon this assumption! New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham, looking at eyewitness testimony in the Bible pointed out that:

“An irreducible feature of testimony as a form of human utterance is that it asks to be trusted …. It is also a rather neglected fact that all history, like all knowledge, relies on testimony …. We need to recognize that, historically speaking, testimony is a unique and uniquely valuable means of access to historical reality”.3

Interestingly, it is a biblical worldview which gives proper grounding here. Because God created us, and God intends us to understand the world around us (and to properly remember the past and learn from it), we can use this assumption to guide us in most cases. Conversely, if we are merely the result of unguided “natural selection”, we have no proper grounding for these assumptions. This is Darwin’s Doubt.

Defending the reliability of eyewitness testimony

A team of researchers published a paper rebutting the popular anti-eyewitness view in 2018 (Wixted et al). Their summation of how we arrived at this place ran as follows:

“At least until the 1970s, and to some extent still today, the legal system operated as if the testimony of a credible and confident eyewitness was essentially infallible. Experimental psychologists in general (and Elizabeth Loftus in particular) awakened the legal system to the fact that eyewitness memory is malleable and is therefore not immune to contamination. It was a groundbreaking development that inspired new recommendations about forensic interviews and eyewitness identification procedures … Despite these positive developments, we submit that the once surprising revelation about the malleability of eyewitness memory has led to a severe overcorrection such that the field now regards eyewitness memory not only as potentially unreliable but also as inherently unreliable. In our view, the evidence does not support this idea and instead clearly refutes it.”4

As it turns out, the majority of the focus for the many articles and papers documenting the alleged unreliability of eyewitness testimony is on cherry-picked examples where the witnesses have been tampered with and/or memories have been contaminated. When these factors are removed, it turns out that (unsurprisingly) eyewitness testimony tends to be reliable:

“In federal trials involving eyewitness-identification evidence, should juries be told that eyewitness memory is inherently unreliable even if the DOJ guidelines were followed? That seems inappropriate to us. Instead, just as is true of trials involving DNA evidence, the jury should hear arguments about whether proper testing protocols were adhered to so the jury can make an independent judgment about the reliability of the evidence. When memory is not contaminated and proper testing procedures are followed, eyewitness memory is clearly reliable. In our opinion, the cause of justice is not served by suggesting otherwise.”4

I would take it a step further and suggest that truthful, confident and unadulterated eyewitness testimony (direct evidence) is a more reliable form of evidence, since circumstantial evidence (including forensic evidence) must necessarily be interpreted by people who didn’t actually witness what they are claiming occurred—a process that inevitably introduces bias. An eyewitness has a mental picture of what happened that they saw firsthand. As long as this mental picture is transmitted honestly and without contamination, it really is somewhat akin to having a video of the event—albeit transmitted to us imperfectly through language, rather than being able to view the video ourselves. This, including being able to convey the emotions felt at the time of the event, is still much more powerful than any speculation or inference could ever be. People may also be surprised to know that everything presented in a court relies on people’s testimony, from the collection, storage, and handling of material or forensic evidence, to the arrest, interview and charging a suspect.5

The Bible’s eyewitnesses

The easiest example in the Bible of eyewitness accounts is in the New Testament. For example, Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16). So not only do we have Peter’s own letters, but we also have Peter’s gospel, or his eyewitness testimony of the life of Jesus Christ, which was written down for us by Peter’s interpreter Mark (the “Gospel of Mark”).6 This is particularly interesting to us, because according to Peter, Jesus taught a young earth and special creation! Mark 10:6 quotes Jesus, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” Despite many attempts to obfuscate by Christians promoting compromise views, this verse clearly contradicts both evolution and an old earth. Since as Peter held, Jesus is God, then Jesus’ words clearly take precedence over any human claims to the contrary.

What about the Old Testament? Does Genesis represent an eyewitness account of things like Creation, the Flood and the Tower of Babel? Indirectly, we have strong reason to accept this history regardless, since Jesus affirmed them. Speaking independently of that, however, we can say there is still some internal evidence to suggest that ancient eyewitness reports were preserved in Genesis. Naturally, Moses could not have been an eyewitness to any of these things himself, but in the case of Genesis, there is good reason to believe Moses was an editor, not the sole author, of Genesis. There are internal clues that suggest Moses was drawing upon much more ancient source materials (which are lost to us today). For example, Moses made editorial comments in places like Genesis 26:33. Genesis 10:19 reads as if it were written by someone living at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.7 For reasons like this, we have evidence that Genesis does preserve some very ancient accounts of the early history of our planet, even though Moses himself was not there to witness it.

Don’t eyewitnesses often contradict each other?

B_eyewitnesses

Skeptics routinely bring up alleged contradictions in the eyewitness accounts (both in general, and in the case of the New Testament particularly), as proof that such testimony is unreliable. However, it’s actually the opposite: if all the witnesses to an event give an identical testimony, there is reason to suspect collusion. Apparent contradictions are an indicator of honest independent testimony, as detective J. Warner Wallace writes:

“If there’s one thing my experience as a detective has revealed, however, it’s that witnesses often make conflicting and inconsistent statements when describing what they saw at a crime scene … The more witnesses involved in a case, the more likely there will be points of disagreement … The apparent contradictions are usually easy to explain once I learn something about the witnesses and their perspectives (both visually and personally) at the time of the crime.”8

Imagine the gospels were all indistinguishable with no apparent contradictions or differences of any kind. Would the skeptics not then take that as an opportunity to claim collusion, or to claim that a single author manufactured them all, rather than them being independent testimonies? Tails we lose, heads they win. Don’t play that game! Of course, it is important to highlight that any of the alleged contradictions are resolvable with a closer look at the text, and that they in fact provide an incredible coherence on the events observed.

Strictly speaking, Christians do not have to depend upon a defense of the reliability of human eyewitness testimony in order to uphold the Bible. We believe the Bible is supernaturally inspired by God and is therefore inerrant. Given supernatural inspiration, the reliability of natural human eyewitnesses becomes technically irrelevant. However, this is not a belief shared by many of our evolutionist opponents (including many people claiming to be Christians, unfortunately). For this reason, it is still helpful for us as apologists to consider and address this topic effectively without solely depending on an appeal to inspiration and inerrancy.

References and notes

  1. Of course, I acknowledge the fact that evolutionists have a ready explanation for this: that human evolution happened too gradually to witness, and the transition occurred prior to the invention of language, writing, etc. So, the lack of an eyewitness report of human evolution is no refutation of the idea per se; but the fact remains that all available history of which I’m aware contradicts the evolutionary account. In particular, the Bible’s history cannot be reconciled with it. Therefore, to accept evolution requires that we disregard not only the eyewitness testimonies we have in Scripture, but essentially all historical notions of the origin of mankind. Return to text.
  2. Chew, S., Myth: Eyewitness Testimony is the Best Kind of Evidence, 20 August 2018. psychologicalscience.org/teaching/myth-eyewitness-testimony-is-the-best-kind-of-evidence.html. Return to text.
  3. Bauckham, R., Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2006, pg. 5. Return to text.
  4. Wixted, J., Mickes, L., and Fisher, R. Rethinking the Reliability of Eyewitness Memory, Perspectives on Psychological Science 13(3):324-335, 2018. doi.org/10.1177/1745691617734878. Return to text.
  5. Think about a drunk driving case. Although the breath, blood or urine may show that the person is over the limit, it is the eyewitness testimony of the police, or other witness, that is required to place them in the vehicle at the time of offence. Without this the alcohol reading alone would not be sufficient for a conviction. Return to text.
  6. Wallace, J., Cold Case Christianity, David C Cook, Colorado Springs, 2013, pp 91-95. See also: coldcasechristianity.com/writings/is-marks-gospel-an-early-memoir-of-the-apostle-peter. Return to text.
  7. Sarfati, J., The Genesis Account, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, 2015, pg. 11. Return to text.
  8. Ref. 4, pp. 74-75. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Rock Solid Answers
by Michael J Oard, John K Reed
US $20.00
Soft Cover
Evolution's Achilles' Heels
by Nine Ph.D. scientists
US $17.00
Soft Cover

Readers’ comments

Laurence B.
Paul Price: I see I made a typo, what I meant to say was "You must be aware that every letter in your bible is a NUMBER" But my goodness now you are calling Chuck Missler's site heretical! I sent those links for you personally to check out as I have no other way to respond to your reply to my comment. Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” is quoting Joel 2:32 And everyone who calls on the name of YeHoVaH will be saved- The Jews of the different sects of Judaism call on YeHoVaH all the time?
Paul Price
No, again, that is severe heresy. Calling upon the name of the Father while rejecting the Son is not going to save anybody. That's what non-messianic (non-Christian) Jews do.

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." John 3:36

"No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." 1 John 2:23

Look what Peter (the apostle to the Jews) had to say about being called a Christian:

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." 1 Peter 4:16
Laurence B.
Dear Paul Price: The cult group I got it from are called the Jews. You will see when the Ark of the Covenant comes out from under the temple mount the Torah scroll in the side of it will match today's without more than 9 variants like color vs colour just like the Masoretic version matches the Dead Sea scrolls and the Samaritan version (less the 200 or so purposeful corruptions about Jerusalem/Mount Gerizim). Certainly you don't know your bible codes or bible numbers very well to be disputing their existence, saying "existed" and "would certainly be lost" like they don't exist, then how do I know so many of them and teach them? You must be aware that every letter in your bible is a letter? [link deleted per feedback rules] I believe your response was a bit insulting saying I got it from a cult group to be posted on social media with my name, but I am happy to teach anyone that wants to learn: [link deleted per feedback rules] Bless your efforts to seek out and share biblical truths. [link deleted per feedback rules] [link deleted per feedback rules]
Paul Price
Laurence,

Just because some idea gets labeled "Jewish" doesn't make it Scriptural, and only those who submit to Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of God (the Bible) are true "Spiritual Jews". You won't be permitted to use this comments section to spread links to heretical sites like you have attempted to do here. Judaism without Jesus cannot save and is an apostate form of God's true faith.
Laurence B.
God (pre-incarnate Jesus) dictated the Torah to Moses one letter at a time, sometimes He said make that letter extra small, or extra big, sometimes He said "mis-spell that word", these things were done to imbed hidden secrets for kings to discover. If God did not dictate each letter to Moses and it is an edited compilation of other "Q" documents then it is even more amazing that all the hidden secrets and Bible codes and equal distance letter skips work. But this is what makes Torah the blue print of the universe: everything that ever was or shall be is encoded in the Holy Torah- the only direct revelation from God (every other writing was by inspiration of the Holy Spirit).
Paul Price
No sir, the Torah was not given by dictation any more than the New Testament, excepting those parts that are specifically stated to have been given in that way. I don't know where you're getting this doctrine, but it sounds like its coming from a cult group. Since we by no means possess Moses' original manuscripts, any of these hidden meanings you're claiming existed based on the sizes of letters, etc., would certainly now be lost. Claims about 'bible codes' are normally dubious, see: Hidden Messages in Scripture?

The Torah is not "more inspired" or "more holy" than any other part of Scripture. I suggest you consult How Did We Get Our Bible.
Tracy M.
People have to realize that to present court room examples on the unreliability of eyewitness accounts of a crime scene are not fair comparisons to the eyewitnesses of scriptural accounts because court room witness memories are often formed when there is the heat of the moment and the memory has been formed based on split second analysis or a car accident scene completed in 3 seconds where as biblical accounts have been formed based on minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years of observation. If you display a video of a car accident scene once and ask everyone viewing to repeat what they saw, you would think some were watching a different video.
Marcia M.
Some years ago I read "Testimony of the Evangelists" by Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) -- and after that I had no reason to question the testimonies of people who gave their lives rather than recant any of it. That alone, was good enough for me.
Christopher W.
Picking up on the "dictation theory" debate above, people mis-understand how the bible was written. The 66 books we have are but a "tiny slice" of what once existed. eg I Chr 4:33. It is obvious that the author of the book we have was able to reference written records maintained by the clans. There are many other examples. The same is true for Matthew and Luke geologies of Jesus, they referenced written Temple records (which is also proof that they were written pre the Roman sacking of the temple). Luke tells us "there were many accounts", Luke 1:1-4. The bible is not just a record of fireside tales from old men 30 or 40 years after these events happened, they are carefully researched histories. They Cross-ref'ed everything.The same is true for Genesis. It was not written by Moses at all, rather he compiled it from earlier written records. In fact the flood account is probably eye-witness testimony written down by Noah, so on and so forth. But is it true? What of the multiple witness requirement. As it happens we have non-Jewish written records of the flood. We have non-Jewish written records of the Tower of Babel, its destruction and the confusion of language, which are or great interest because the details far exceed the biblical accounts detail, so the "they were copied from the bible by monks theory" is jettisoned.

An overlooked aspect of the Holy Spirit's inspiration of the Bible is the parallel act of the HS in preserving these records, allowing our modern world to rediscover these ancient texts and decipher them. They exactly match the biblical record giving 100% confidence in its accuracy as a book that recorded historical events as they happened, right down to the emotional context. I even have non-biblical eye witness testimony for the resurrection.
Robin B.
Your claim 'Peter held, Jesus is God' and insinuation that in his humanity, Jesus was an eyewitness to the Genesis narrative is up for debate. He would obviously have been schooled in the Genesis narrative as recorded/edited by Moses, so therefore what is recorded in Mark 10v6 makes sense, but this does not mean Jesus taught Young Earth Creationism. The context of this verse in Mark' gospel account is that Jesus cites it to make a point about divorce and marriage. You then conclude that 'Jesus words clearly take precedence over any human claims to the contrary'.

Matthew's gospel has Peter stating that Jesus was 'The Christ, the Son of the Living God' Matt 16:16

In his sermon to the Jews at Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter states 'Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God' v22; 'This man was handed over to you by God' v23; 'But God raised him from the dead' v24, and concludes 'God made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ' v 36. There was a process of transition, from Jesus the man, to Jesus the risen Christ. The writer of Hebrews tells us 'He learned obedience'.

In 1 Peter 3v21 Peter writes 'Jesus Christ who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand', and II Peter refers to Jesus as 'Lord and Saviour' 1v11, 3v2 and 3v18. This is the glorified Jesus Peter is referring to, not the finite human who began as a zygote in his mother's womb.

II Peter 1v17 'For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying "This is my Son, whom I love:with him I am well pleased".

You have made the assumption that the human Jesus had intimate first hand knowledge of Creation. I beg to differ. The resurrected Jesus would now have such knowledge, but that would have been revealed to him by the Father and Spirit
Paul Price
If I understand you correctly, you're promoting a seriously wrong understanding of the kenosis, to the point of being heretical. Jesus did not cease to be God upon His incarnation. Nor was Jesus promoted to godhood upon his resurrection. Jesus did take on human limitations while he was on earth, but Jesus continued in a perfect relationship with the Father and the Father gave Him all he was to speak (John 12:49). Therefore when Jesus said that God made Adam and Eve "from the beginning of Creation", we can know for sure Jesus was not mistaken. I suggest you follow the link I provided in the article on that topic if you need further explanation of how this verse requires a young earth.
Robert N.
In 2012 the USA Supreme Court rejected an attempt to curb the reliability of eyewitness testimony 8 to 1, basically because it was common sense to trust eyewitness testimony. So the highest Court in the US recognises this principle, yet so called "Biblical expert critics" reject it? I think we can trust the eyewitness testimony of the writers of the Old and New Testaments', their integrity, and above all the even higher testimony of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, declaring their faith and reliability!
The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, are referred to in Hebrews 12:1 as a "great cloud of witnesses".
Paul Price
These are great points, thank you!
CHRIS T.
While I agree with the overall thrust of this argument, there are a couple of "evolunist" statements that are in fact quite correct, but dismissed in the article.

As a trial lawyer of some 40 years experience, I can assure you that NO person's recall of a particular event is beyond question. Most eye witnesses have varying degrees of recall and it is quite accurate to claim, as one of the quoted articles does, that each person's recall of any event is influenced by their mental models of reality which mediate the focus of their attention, on their sense of time, and on the importance, to them, of the event being recalled. Surely the Lord had this in mind when he required 2 or 3 witnesses to establish a fact. I can assure readers that the vast majority of Courts will be very reluctant to acquit or convict on the testimony of one witness unless it is supported by other evidence.

It is also the case that when I am involved in a legal matter of any kind and looking for evidence, if I have 2 or 3 witnesses whose evidence is exactly the same, I become very sceptical about the evidence - it is most likely arranged/agreed/cooked up. Sometimes witnesses may even contradict one another on minor points but be entirely credible on the major issues. So the fact of minor differences in the Bible account is rather an assurance to me than a question of honesty or accuracy.

I don't have any questions about the overall accuracy of the Bible account, but I do believe that at the same time, the realities of the fallibility and even malleability, of human memory can safely be acknowledged because to deny them simply, and unnecessarily, presents a further opportunity to label Bible believers as science deniers
Paul Price
I don't think you're giving my article enough credit; I certainly didn't claim that eyewitnesses are infallible, as you seem to have taken it. And I certainly agree with the Biblical principle that 2 or more witnesses are preferable to one. This article is arguing that eyewitness testimony is not inherently unreliable, and that it is in fact preferable to forensic evidence, all other things being equal. I wholeheartedly endorse the procedures that courts use to assess the reliability of witnesses (at least to the extent that I'm familiar with them).
Catherine S.
Thank you for this very helpful article!
How much easier it is, though, to be like a child and simply believe. For the Word of God is no ordinary book of testimonies, but is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. Ref Hebrews 4:12 And if and when a skeptic finally concedes intellectually because of the mountain of evidence I produce, when is their faith birthed?
Paul Price
Yes, be sure to read my upcoming article, "Apologetics, a steppingstone not a crutch"
John Z.
Rather, my view is contrary to your interpretation of Scripture. There's nothing stopping an infinite God from inspiring Paul or David or Moses to write a certain way. Your view reduces the Bible to any old historical book, not really setting it apart. Actually, the Bible is a spiritual book, as CMI surely knows, and we are to compare spiritual things with spiritual to come to truth (I Corinthians 2:13).

Now, I'm not sure how we're to compare spiritual things with spiritual if God mostly just "superintended" the writing of the Bible, making sure that the various penmen included certain facts and figures, but otherwise allowed them to write as they pleased.

I agree that verses like II Timothy 4:13 can be tricky, but I am also reminded of the principle that we should trust God's wisdom above the wisdom of man. The various theories of Biblical inspiration arise from human thinking. The mentions of inspiration in the Bible, such as in Jeremiah 36, contradict these ideas. One can always suppose that God used a different method of inspiration if one chooses, of course.

As for the canonization of the Bible, God is clearly able to work in the hearts of people to accomplish His aims. I think that putting together sixty-six books is much different than assembling coherent spiritual truth over many centuries, though.

I also wish you wouldn't confuse questions for hostility. I enjoy reading CMI articles. I just disagree with some of your theology. I absolutely love your tearing down of evolution.

Take care,
John
Paul Price
John,

Thanks for engaging. II Tim 4:13 isn't merely "tricky"; it's absolutely fatal to dictation theory. As far as I know, no respected bible scholars, including the conservative inerrantist ones, would agree with your position on this. The wise thing to do is to accept correction rather than digging in your heels. Your view turns out to be far too simplistic. God works in many ways, and dictating the words of Scripture to us word-for-word is only a tiny fraction of this. If you're willing to grant that God worked "in the hearts of people to accomplish His aims" when it comes to the canonization of Scripture, then for the life of me I can't understand why you are not willing to believe He worked the same way in inspiring it to begin with. You are creating a strawman when you suggest that the verbal plenary view of inspiration (i.e. the one I'm advocating here) somehow reduces the Bible being 'just another historical book'. That is not the view I am proposing whatsoever. If you enjoy reading CMI articles as you say, please read this one: How did we get our Bible? (and accompanying booklet).
John Z.
I'm not sure how you can conclude otherwise when you read Jeremiah 36:2: Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.

If true for Jeremiah 36, and the principle laid down in II Peter 1:21 (your "being carried along by the Holy Spirit" phrase is ambiguous and could mean anything).

Drawing on previous material means that the Bible is based on the knowledge of Moses or other humans. Is it even trustworthy if Moses had to do research??

It's your belief that God didn't dictate the Bible word for word. We'll have to agree to disagree, but you run into the problem described in the article: How did Moses know what happened at Babel? At the Flood? Etc. The Bible is only completely trustworthy when one believes God to be the Author, and not a bunch of fallible humans.

Thanks,
John
Paul Price
I already said that there are special circumstances mentioned where God did dictate things. That doesn't mean God dictated Paul's letters, too! Did God dictate for Paul to ask for his cloak and parchments in 2 Timothy 4:13? Obviously not. That was Paul asking for those things, not God. Yet Paul's letters, along with the rest of the Bible, are inspired by the Holy Spirit to exist free from error, and to communicate all the truth God intends them to. Why do you seem to think God is powerful enough to dictate words, but not powerful enough to inspire truth through more subtle means, allowing the agency of the human authors to also play a role?

Can God inspire words, but yet be unable to inspire research? What about the canonization of the Bible? Did God inspire that, despite the fact that we don't have a dictated, word-for-word explanation in Scripture of which books should be included? Your view is anti-intellectual and unscriptural.
John Z.
If you think that the Bible is "supernaturally inspired by God," then you shouldn't think that Moses had to draw upon much more ancient source materials to pen Genesis. Genesis was written by God, and not at all dependent on the knowledge or research ability of Moses or any other person.

II Peter 1:21 and Jeremiah 36 indicate how God wrote the Bible. Every word was from His mind.
Paul Price
You're describing the dictation theory of divine inspiration and we reject that. God used human authors and inspired them to write His truth without error in their own words. Except in special cases where the Bible clearly indicates, God did not dictate the Bible word-for-word. 2 Peter 1:21 doesn't say what you're implying. Men of God spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. In many cases, this does include drawing on previous material (which itself may or may not have been inspired).

Please note what I said in the closing paragraph. We do not need to depend upon unaided human testimony as Christians, but nonetheless we have a very powerful case that stands on its own with or without an appeal to God's inspiration. Somebody who does not yet accept the doctrine of inspiration can still find powerful evidence for God (and for the Bible's history) in the testimonies preserved in Scripture.
Nigel B.
Richard G.'s plan would be better if he had a coffee with one non-believer a week. 100 people letterbox dropped is not 'reached'. No way! Engaging people in a positive friendly relationship is how people are 'reached'. Even better if you have a discussion with them, rather than recite a statement.
Reed M.
"The biggest clash between creationists and evolutionists really has little to do with the evidence we possess. It has to do with how we interpret that evidence. "


Going beyond the idea that our differences are based upon HOW we interpret the evidence, another very significant difference is based on IF we bother to interpret the evidence. Evolutionists refuse to interpret - at least publicly - evidence that clearly speaks of a younger timetable, like fossilized trees penetrating multiple seams of coal, or large coal seams that divide into different smaller seams, accumulated minerals in the ocean, et cetera. And they refuse to factor such evidence into their theorizing, which is exactly the opposite of what true science demands. This refusal to take clues to their logical conclusion has the effect of turning you into a far less rigorous thinker than befits a true scientist, no?
Michael B.
We also have eyewitness testimony of those who passed through the flood who had the long lives of antediluvian peoples. Abraham was around 58 when Noah died and Jacob around 50 when Shem died. This is not to say they necessarily met but that the accounts of the events did not have to be passed down through as many generations as some would have you believe.
And then there is one of my favorite scenes... Exodus 33:11 "So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."
It doesn't get any more first hand account than that.
Your Brother in Christ,
Michael

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding." Job 38:4
Tim L.
I will point out the importance of having multiple independent lines of testimony. You touch on it briefly at the end, but I just want to emphasize that having just one eyewitness with no other lines of testimony is not sufficient to be able to conclude we know the truth. This is why Scripture tells us that "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Cor. 13:1, cf. Deut. 17:6, 19:15, Matt. 18:16, etc.). Now, with modern technology, those lines of testimony can take the form of DNA evidence or fingerprints, or something like that (as you point out), but having multiple independent and consistent lines of testimony is extremely important. Thanks for a great article. I'll be saving a PDF of it with other articles I've found that make arguments I think are especially powerful. :)
Richard G.
Bro Paul uses his extensive knowledge and ability and sincerity fully. How blest honest unbelievers are to have his expertise. How many print out and use these wonderful arguments?. How many understand them and how many are saved through them? Many intellectuals don't want the hope-producing gospel. Many cling to their chosen refuted arguments as an excuse for selfish living. Our arguments are lost on most. It's all very good to spend energy time and love on hard-nut intellectuals but I say that most people are very shallow indeed and very ignorant. Let's spend most of our effort in spreading the Bible's truth widely and simply,concentrating mostly on people who may listen to the Bible. God already has many built-in proofs of the Bible being the Word of God as it claims 2,800 times. The Bible being the world's best seller proves much. A man's conscience helps him to believe. The fear of death and of judgment and of suffering are legitimate. Jesus taught in John 7:17 that, unless we are willing to obey the truth we'll never know whether the Bible is 100% true or not, no matter how convincing the arguments may be. If CMI has 100,000 readers, and each put gospel tracts in only 100 letterboxes a week, that would reach 10 million. We would have the whole world reached every 14 years!! The tiny few unbelieving intellectuals would be overwhelmed. And an intellectual saved is wonderful but doesn't guarantee he'll be a fiery gospel proclaimer. Jesus (deliberately) chose 12 ordinary disciples to start world evangelism. I love tangential,epistemology and reductio. I toy with perspicacity & perspicuity but 60 years of church-planting in Japan has reinforced to me the fact that "God chose the weak ..to put to shame the wise and the strong." The 'weak' means you and me!
Paul Price
Thanks, and God bless. Keep up your strong testimony and your powerful work.
Mark E.
Curiously, evolutionists typically fawn over hieroglyphs, cave drawings, and all kinds of written records left by ancient peoples, in the hope of understanding their culture, beliefs, etc. It is as if these artifacts are sacred texts recounting their evolutionary history. Given the premise that eyewitness accounts are inherently unreliable, we should discard everything we've learnt, ignore our obviously unreliable understanding of the past. Alas, those who forget their history, are doomed to repeat the failings of the past.

However, if there really is an all powerful, all knowing, all wise creator God of the universe and of human kind - and this 'God' can not communicate with His creation regarding what He has done and why, then there may as well not be a God since He can't be trusted to be all powerful, all knowing and all wise. But the God of the Bible is a God who not only CAN communicate but which HAS communicated.

Despite the frailty and failings of the sinful human nature, God, being all powerful, all knowing and all wise, can and has used human agency to faithfully, reliably and honestly, record the nature and character of God, our sinful condition, our need for Him, our past present and future - with or without Him such that, when the end comes we are without excuse for not honoring and worshipping the one true Father, Creator, Saviour and Lord of all... Joshua h'Machiach...Jesus Christ.
Paul Price
Yes, how much ancient history could survive the application of this principle that "eyewitness testimony is inherently unreliable"?

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