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As you read atheist challenges to the existence of God, one of the things that stands out is that they tend to avoid any primary evidence for God's existence. The cosmological evidence is brushed aside by deferring to Stephen Hawking or discussions about what “nothing” is. The teleological evidence is dismissed as being a product of ignorance of the mechanisms of evolution. The ontological evidence is viewed as a “god of the gaps” view of the human brain — and thus ignored. The philosophical evidence is dismissed as being theological in nature and thus biased and not worth discussing. What atheists tend to harp on is the Bible. They try to use it as a proof that faith is a creation of uneducated humans dependent on ancient writings that are mythological and full of contradictions and mistakes. In the past, we have dealt with these claims in this journal (see July/August 2009, page 13). What we would like to encourage our readers to do is to look at the positives — what the Bible is and what it shows us — rather than deal with the claims of people who have not researched the Bible thoroughly.
If it can be shown that the Bible contains facts and knowledge beyond the reach of the human authors at the time in which it was written, then the source of that information has to be non-human in nature. You would not necessarily have to attribute it to God. You could claim that aliens gave the information. That would imply that all knowledge contained in the Bible stopped at its most recent book and that none of its actions or information would be relevant beyond the date of that last book. Any factual statement beyond that date would have to be from something other than an alien earth visit some 2,000 years ago. Scholars have excellent proof that the 27 books that make up the New Testament are the most recent books in the Bible, and that they were universally accepted by the church 1,600 years ago. This is supported by archeologists, historians, and anthropologists. We also know what science knew about the earth in those days, so we have a benchmark by which we can examine the Bible to ascertain its credibility. In this article we wish to suggest six evidences that the Bible is not of human origin, and that it shows not only that God exists, but that the God who exists is the God who gave us the Bible.
THE BIBLE CONTAINS MEDICAL FACTS
BEYOND HUMAN KNOWLEDGE AT THE TIME IT WAS WRITTEN.
The medical practices of every culture are well understood. In some cultures the medical procedures were quite advanced. For example, there is excellent evidence that the Incas actually did brain surgery to relieve cranial pressure. Many primitive tribes around the world have materials from plants and animals that were used to relieve pain and bring healing to the infirm of their day. Even monkeys have been shown to use certain plants to address physical distress. It is easy to believe that much of this is a trial and error discovery that accidentally was connected to their pain.
At the same time, there were treatments which were horrendous. The Papyrus Ebers was a medical journal from Egypt which details treatments which we know today were highly destructive. Medical and hygienic practices in Europe in the middle ages are well known, and today we understand that these practices contributed to the plagues that ravaged people during that time period.
Even a superficial reading of the medical and hygienic laws for Israel has to impress a modern day reader with their wisdom. Leviticus 17:11 – 14 spoke of the essential nature of blood to a culture whose neighbors were practicing bleeding as a medical tool. Why humans should not drink animal blood is stated in Leviticus 17:12 and 14 to people who lived among cultures that used raw blood as a beverage. Leviticus 11 gave food restrictions including not eating pork or scavengers which, with their poor cooking facilities would have been hazardous to do.
Today no one questions the use of quarantine in cases where contagious diseases are involved. The book of Leviticus 13 – 15 spelled out valid medical quarantine procedures. In the recent problems with Ebola in Africa these practices were used. Deuteronomy 23:12 – 14 prescribed the burying of human waste, but in the Dark Ages people were throwing their sewage into the street, which contributed to the Black Plague. Numbers 19:5 – 22 gave a series of hygienic rules which included washing one's self and burning one's clothes after having contact with a corpse. Today no medically trained person would question the wisdom of these rules. Virtually every public restroom in America displays signs telling users to wash their hands.
It is important to point out that these are not cases where we take a scripture and twist it to fit what we know to be true. These are cases where a practice was instituted that is still being carried on today, and which can be verified to have been prescribed in ancient times. All of this is unique to the biblical manuscripts, and the only source of its message is what Moses and the other inspired writers gave to the people of their day.
THE BIBLE SPEAKS ACCURATELY IN DESCRIBING THE
PHYSICAL MAKE-UP AND GEOGRAPHY OF PLANET EARTH.
It is interesting to read what ancient people understood about how the earth is connected to celestial objects, what the surface of the earth is like, and how people can move on the earth. In Natural History magazine (January 1970, pages 30) Franklyn Branley of Princeton University wrote an interesting article illustrated by Helmut Wimmer on what ancient cultures believed about how the earth was suspended in space. Wimmer's work has been reproduced in many planetariums around the world because it beautifully portrays how humans struggled to understand our place in space. He shows the Babylonian concept of the earth being in a large sphere with stars and planets hanging from the sphere and a giant beetle pushing the Sun across the sky every day. He shows Egyptian pictures of the sun god Ra driving the chariot of fire across the sky. Hinduism is shown with the earth being held on the back of an elephant that is standing on a giant turtle swimming in a sea of milk. Japanese cultures are shown with their view of the earth being suspended on the back of a giant catfish. The Greek concept of the earth being on the shoulders of Atlas is part of the article. Nowhere is there a picture of the biblical concept of what supports the earth. The reason is that the Bible does not present earth as being on an animal or suspended in any way. The only reference to this topic in the Bible is in a poetic passage in Job 26:7 where we are told that God “hangs the earth on nothing.”
It is easy to overwork this concept and force a meaning that is inconsistent with the passage, but there are a multiplicity of passages that are so clear that such a charge cannot be leveled at them. The fact that the earth is round is conveyed in Bible passages such as Isaiah 40:22 and Proverbs 8:27. In Luke 17:30 – 36 a sudden event is described as happening when both daytime and nighttime are taking place. When the Bible mentions directions or distances, they always turn out to be correct as in Luke 10:30 and 24:13. Archeologists have used biblical references for the location of things for centuries. Ultimately those references turn out to be correct.
THE BIBLE IS UNIQUE IN TEACHING THE ONENESS AND EQUALITY OF ALL HUMANS.
Our planet is being decimated by religious warfare. Atheists are claiming that the only solution to war is to eliminate religion. Some atheists have even suggested force must be used to do that. Slavery was justified by maintaining that people who were of a different color or ethnicity were inferior and perhaps not even human. Hitler's belief in the superior race is a logical output of evolution and the guiding principle “survival of the fittest.” The mixing of politics and religion has been the goal of many religions with the Islamic State (ISIS) being the most recent of these. We have to add here that people who claimed to be Christians have been guilty of this as well, beginning with the Crusades, the Catholic/Protestant conflicts, and the Ku Klux Klan. None of these actions is consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ, but in the Koran we see Mohammed ordering an Islamic state (see Suras 8:37 – 41; 9:4 – 7; 9:122 – 125; 47:3 – 5).
In the Bible we see Jesus teaching us to be at peace and serve others (Matthew 5 – 7). We also see statements like, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Jesus not only taught that all people were of value and equal in God's sight, but he lived it. In John 13:4 – 17 Christ sets the example before his disciples by washing their feet and telling them to do likewise. In John 4:1 – 42 we read about Jesus violating one of the racial rules of his culture by not only talking to a Samaritan but talking to a woman and staying in a Samaritan town. Imagine what the world would be like if every human valued every other human as Jesus taught in the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 – 7.
THE BIBLE PRESENTS USEFUL PSYCHOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES
LEADING TO GOOD MENTAL HEALTH.
Christianity is a guilt-relieving religion. Any student of psychology knows the role of forgiveness. The admonition to have unlimited and unconditional forgiveness for others is a sure cure for feelings of guilt and conflict (see Matthew 6:12, the Lord's Prayer, and 18:21 – 35.) The wisdom of marriage and the role of husbands and wives in every part of the marriage relationship as described in the Bible works on a practical level. The notion that all humans have value because of their common creation in the image of God is very important. This is especially true in a society that has bought into the “survival of the fittest” watchword producing enormous self-image problems for people who are told that they are “less fit.” The help that the Bible has in dealing with the issues of sex, death, disease, and family turmoil is beyond what human minds have been able to achieve throughout history.
The mental health issues that are producing widespread problems in the world today are rooted in human resistance to God's instructions. All kinds of abuse, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, addiction, suicide, racial conflict, and crime in general are the product of not living as God has told us to live. It is interesting to see many “new” psychological treatment programs taking their recovery plans from biblical principles. Religion is frequently part of the cause of human mental illness, but that is caused by a dependency on man-made religious practice and not by what Jesus taught. Christ spoke eloquently about this in Matthew 15:8 – 9, “This people draws near to me with their mouth and honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
THE SCIENCE REVEALED IN THE BIBLE IS ACCURATE AND
NOT A PRODUCT OF THE TIME IN WHICH IT WAS WRITTEN.
When you study what ancient people believed and their understanding of the world around them, you begin to understand why they were confused about their own existence. Atheists have long contended that “god” was invented by humans to explain what they did not understand. In the case of most ancient religious systems that is true. The religious views of the distant past explained lightning by a god who threw bolts in anger and thunder was explained as his voice. Rain, hail, snow, and volcanoes all had their own gods or goddesses who caused the weather. In the midst of all of these created deities, we find the Bible presenting God as a monotheistic deity, outside of space/time and creating with purpose and intelligence.
There are countless examples of apparent scientific knowledge in the authors of the biblical manuscripts that was far beyond the day in which they were written. Some examples are Herbert Spencer's scientific principles which are formulated in the Genesis account; the water cycle being clearly shown in Ecclesiastes 1:7 and Job 36:27 – 28; and the fact that animals can be managed to select certain characteristics in Genesis 30:29 – 43. It is difficult to write these instances off as coincidence or to suggest the writings were simply by gifted individuals. For a list of these examples go to our website doesgodexist.org/PDF-Files/Appendix_A.pdf, or send us $1.00 for postage and we will mail it to you.
Perhaps the best example of accuracy that cannot be written off is the integrity of the Genesis 1 account. If that account is taken literally (not in a way that distorts it to fit denominational tradition or state something it is not addressing), the basic sequence of events given is too accurate to be assigned to luck or the knowledge of the author. After a creation event that is undated and untimed (and therefore outside of space/time), a series of events are given that have only been confirmed in recent times.
Changes in the hydrology of the earth so that the lithosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere all have water are mentioned in verses 6 – 7. The separation of the land masses and water basins are detailed in verses 9 – 10. The first life is mentioned as being plants in verse 11, and there is a sequence of plants given in these verses ending with flowering plants. The first animal life is mentioned as being in the oceans in verse 20, and the first warm-blooded creatures are mentioned later in that verse to have been birds. This is followed by mammals and ends with humans as the last form of life to appear.
There is an economy of language in these verses, which is typical of the Hebrew tongue, but the sequence is correct. You can argue about time if you are so inclined, and debate whether the days were continuous or separated by periods of time. You can argue about how long the days were if you like. There are many details that can be debated, but the sequence is correct and in opposition to just about every writing from the time period in which the Bible was written. For a detailed treatment of this discussion read God's Revelation in His Rocks and His Word at doesgodexist.org/INDEX-Folders/Booklets.html, or send us $1.00 for postage and we will mail it to you.
THE FINAL EVIDENCE FOR GOD'S AUTHORSHIP OF THE BIBLE IS ITS INFLUENCE.
Jesus said it best and frequently, “By their fruits you shall know them.” What would be the result of someone reading the teachings of Jesus Christ, and following them exclusively and completely? What has been the result when that has been done? When people do something in the name of Christ that is destructive and harmful, they are not using the Bible as the guide and are only wearing the name “Christian” for show or financial gain. Most soldiers serving in so called “Christian” wars were mercenaries who had no relationship with Christ at all, and did not follow the Bible.
In 2001 Alvin Schmidt wrote a book titled Under the Influence (Zondervan Publishing) in which he examined the Bible's influence on the day-to-day life of people who choose to follow it. Women's rights, the elimination of slavery, the increase in education, the development of schools in poverty-stricken areas, and the care of orphans and homeless people are all documented. Who is it that operates food kitchens where you live or has a homeless shelter for those who are out in the elements in bad weather? How many hospitals in your area were initiated by people who built the hospital because they felt it was what Jesus called them to do? How many of these things have been constructed, funded, and maintained by atheists? Who were the health workers in Africa that were on the front lines in battling Ebola? Who has successfully battled alcohol, drugs, prostitution, child abuse, and the like? It is easy to find someone who wears the name Christian for selfish, monetary purposes. To hold that person up as what Christians believe and do is not only irresponsible — it is ethically wrong. The track record of Christianity, when the teachings of Jesus have been followed, far overshadows the few but highly publicized charlatans who found the name “Christian” to be politically useful.
If the Bible speaks to us as a book that did not come from human intelligence and wisdom, then it must have come from an intelligence far beyond humans. Inspiration demands there be an “Inspirer,” and we would suggest to you that all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for refuting error, for giving guidance, for moral discipline and education in righteousness so that the man or woman of God may be complete (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17). God was and is revealed in his Holy Word.
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