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I find it interesting that multitudes of Christians say the Bible is literally true to the smallest detail because the Bible’s writers were “inspired by God”. What does that even mean? According to my dictionary, inspired means “to fill someone with confidence and desire to do something”, or in other words, to motivate someone toward a goal.

But, wasn’t the Buddha also inspired by a god? Wasn’t the prophet Muhammad, and Lao Tzu, and Joseph Smith inspired by their gods? I think we are all inspired by some god, even if it’s Mother Nature. Where is the proof that the writers of Christian scripture were more inspired than anyone else?

I recently read a transcript of an online lesson that intended to prove the Bible writers were channeling God. And I was absolutely amazed by how weak and misleading the arguments were. If you’ve read some of my other posts you might know that I am not an academically trained historian or theologian, but even I could poke holes through this writer’s “proof”. And that writer was responsible for teaching other Christians.

I won’t mention the article or the author because I instead want to focus on the “proofs” he discusses. Here are the six claims he makes to prove the Bible is inspired by God and is therefore worthy of being called “the Word of God”.

1. The Bible is inspired because it says it is

To believe that statement, you’d already have to believe that the Bible is the literal “Word of God”, so that’s circular reasoning and therefore meaningless.

He trots out certain verses to prove his point. Most Christians refer to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to prove that the Bible is infallible truth. It reads, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

First, I don’t see those verses saying that every statement in the Bible should be taken literally. Second, since the eighteenth century, biblical scholars have been admitting that they don’t know who wrote those verses. The consensus now is that it was probably one of Paul’s apostles. I also notice that it doesn’t say anything about women being thoroughly equipped for every good work. Interesting.

A through analysis of those verses by Frank Nelte shows why they aren’t trustworthy. This is indeed an involved study of that text and demonstrates just how difficult it is to translate and interpret scripture that was written in a different culture, language, and historical era.

2. The Bible is supernatural in origin

The author of the post seems to be saying that the Bible is supernatural because it has survived so long despite many attempts to destroy it. His conclusion is that God has protected it.

He said it survived the Roman era unscathed. Granted, at the time Christian scripture was written the Romans still worshipped pagan gods and occasionally persecuted Christians. Because of that the author must have assumed they also tried to destroy the Bible. In all the research I did for my book, In Search of Christian Origins: A Timeline of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, I’ve never ran across that idea before.

To begin with, in the first three centuries of the common era (AD times) there was no agreed-upon canon of Christian scripture. There were hundreds of Christian writings, but only some were chosen to be part of the New Testament. Secondly, the New Testament wasn’t presented to the world until about three generations after Constantine I made Christianity legal again. It was at the time of Emperor Theodosius I, who criminalized all religions except for Christianity.

Were some of those early, extra-biblical, Christian writings also considered inspired by God and supernatural because they lasted until the present time? Take the Gospel of Thomas. We still have that one today. Does that make it supernatural? When the bishops who attended the AD 393 Council of Hippo decided which books to include in the New Testament, how did they discern natural writings from supernatural ones?

Thirdly, there are other writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Egyptian pyramid texts that were written before the books of the Bible. Because they are so old, does that make them supernatural also?

3. The Bible is unique

The author says the Bible is unique in its depths of insight and beauty.  Well, let me add a few other things it’s unique in. How about depravity and horror? It describes the genocide of the Canaanite tribes and a horrendous flood that killed the entire human population of the world along with almost all its plants and animals.

The Bible is supposedly also unique because it tells one consistent story without contradiction or confusion, almost as if one person wrote the Bible. What Bible is he talking about? It can’t be the Christian Bible which is so confusing and contradictory that not even Christian Bible scholars can agree on the meanings of many verses. That’s why there are over 33,000 Christian denominations. There’s not much they can agree on.

One of my favorite examples that demonstrates the contradictions found in the Bible is Sic et Non, meaning “Yes and No”. French theologian and philosopher Peter Abelard wrote it almost a thousand years ago. He was a very dedicated church scholar who was honestly searching for the truth. Then he stumbled over contradictory Bible verses that he was unable to harmonize. The Church reprimanded him for pointing them out.

The author says the next proof of uniqueness is that no other book had as many readers in as many languages over so long a time. That’s got to be right. But let’s also realize that no other religion forced so many people in so many nations to convert or die. When Christianity controlled the literature of Europe for a thousand years, it was occasionally a capital crime just to possess non-Christian literature.

4. Christianity makes people happy and peaceful

The next proof that the Bible is inspired is that it leads to “happy and peaceful lives”. The author said that was obvious when comparing the US to other nations. Again, after what I’ve learned from experts, I have to disagree. There are happiness indexes that various organizations have devised. The most Christianized country in the industrial world, the United States, rarely scores in the top twenty. Usually it’s the least Christian countries of northern Europe that have the highest happiness scores.

Does this Christian happiness outweigh the shame and guilt that many denominations place on their members? How about other mental health problems caused by trying to live up to the standards that some clergymen say God requires? There’s the fear of Hell, the burden of judging the behavior of others, feeling pressure to evangelize, read the Bible, attend church, and pray enough. There is anxiety about end-times, finding the right soul mate, sending kids to secular schools, and many other issues.

Then there’s the part about living peaceful lives. Some Christians are the opposite. They worship the Old Testament God of vengeance and have invented the concept of “just war” in order to carry out their agenda. Here, I really wish the author of the post was right because I grew up believing that Christianity was a peaceful religion.

5. The Bible is historically correct

The next way we know the writers were inspired by God is that the Bible is “historically accurate”. Supposedly, archeology supports the historical accuracy of the Bible and it seems everything they dig up is harmonious with what’s in the Bible. The author also says that if historians discover anything that contradicts the Bible, they haven’t look hard enough. Wow, how does someone respond to that in a concise way?

The Bible abounds with historical inaccuracies. For instance, there is no geological proof of a worldwide flood. There is no archaeological evidence of a large number of people living on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt for many years as the Book of Exodus states. There is no evidence of a massacre of the Canaanites in Palestine, and no proof that any Old Testament character before David existed at all. This is not secret knowledge. It’s widely known among Christian historians.

6. The Bible is loaded with fulfilled prophesies

Prophesies are predictions of future events. In order for someone to predict the future, some supernatural power must be at work. God must be involved in the process. But what if there is no proof of fulfilled prophesies in the Bible? I’ve read that there are 191 prophesies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by Jesus. The theory is that those prophets wouldn’t have known Jesus was coming in the future if God hadn’t told them.

Well, as it turns out, many modern Bible scholars don’t believe any of those prophesies were predictions of Jesus. One of the early Christian pastimes seemed to be scouring the Old Testament for anything that looked like it could be a prophesy of Jesus. Then, especially with the author of Gospel of Matthew, he would write the story to make it seem like Jesus fulfilled prophesies.

Summary

Any one of these “proofs” makes for a good discussion. The jury is still out on whether any of them can be taken seriously by anyone who is unbiased. If the belief is that a god inspired all humans because that god made us able to think creatively and use language, I can buy that. But why believe that an almighty god favored one group of humans over all others? That sound a lot like ancient tribal religion.

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