Section 2: Reasons to Trust the Bible
Throughout history, human beings, both individually and entire cultures, have based their knowledge of life on the words in the Bible.
The Bible gives details regarding the universe, the stars, our planet, the water cycle, and much, much more – things no one could have possibly known thousands of years ago when the Bible was written. But for the first time in history, human beings have now gathered enough information from the natural world around them to feel like they’re able to actually challenge the Bible’s wisdom.
However, before we start challenging the wisest book in human history, we have to truly understand that for thousands of years, the Bible was THE source of knowledge for many people, and they did very well with that knowledge.
What’s exceptional is, even today, with all the technology and research tools at our disposal, the Bible is still completely accurate. With the wealth of knowledge available in the modern world, the question we’re faced with is, “Is the Bible trustworthy?”
The Bible is strangely consistent.
The Bible is made up of 66 books written over more than 1,500 years by 40 different authors in all different locations and from every walk of life. It was written in palaces, prisons, and every setting in-between. It was written by shepherds, fishermen, physicians, tax collectors, tent makers, kings, prophets, and others. Yet they all tell different parts of the same story with amazing consistency.
Throughout history, human beings have proven to be quite good at messing things up, so if the Bible is only the work of human beings, it would have to be the most intricate and amazing piece of written work ever completed. In other words, if you can make yourself believe that the Bible is simply the work of humans, you’re putting a TON of faith in the ability of human beings to not mess things up.
When it comes to the Bible, it wasn’t as if one person wrote a part of the story and then handed it off to another person to pick it up from there. Instead, the Bible is filled with writings from people who had no relation or known connection to one another. It even has some overlapping moments where multiple writers were likely writing close to the same time in history but in completely different locations and with no knowledge of the other person’s writing.
Imagine if you wrote a book, then your great-great grandchild’s neighborhood friend wrote a book, then someone who lived at the same time as their great-great-great grandchild but lived on the other side of the state and never met them wrote a book, then that person’s great-great-great-great grandchild’s distant neighbor’s acquaintance from a different country altogether wrote a book, and so on and so forth over the course of more than 1,500 years.
Then, thousands of years later, people look back at all the books you and they wrote and see that they all tell different parts of the same exact story. They all have the same hero, and they all describe this hero in the exact same way from different points of view.
You would think that eventually, someone’s imagination would start to wander, and they’d end up with a slightly different story than the others before them. But not in these stories. Instead, they all tell different parts of one consistent story. That’s amazing to think about.
The Koran was written by Mohammed. The Analects of Confucius were written by Confucius. The writings of Buddha were written by Buddha. It makes sense that these would follow a consistent theme.
But the Bible stands alone as a group of books written by different authors at different times in history and in different places, all unified by one central theme and all describing God as the exact same person, but in different ways.
And all of this goes without mentioning the amount of influence and impact the Bible has had on both individuals and societies. It would be no exaggeration to say that the Bible is easily the most influential book of all time, and it has radically changed countless lives over the thousands of years it’s been around.
The Bible predicted Jesus’ life.
Many ancient Old Testament books in the Bible predicted almost every aspect of Jesus’ life hundreds of years before it happened.
Some might be tempted to say that the writers of the New Testament knew about the prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the Messiah, so they made up or exaggerated stories about Jesus in order to make it line up better with the prophecies. This, some might say, is a confirmation bias in action.
The problem with that is, we have secular (non-Christian) historical evidence that tells us the following:
- Jesus actually existed in the time He was said to have existed
- Jesus lived in Judea
- His followers believed He did miraculous things
- Jesus was rejected by His own people (the Jews)
- Jesus died due to crucifixion
- His disciples believed they had experienced the risen Jesus
- His disciples’ lives were transformed, and they spent their lives telling people about Him
Those are the
things we know about Jesus based on non-Christian sources, and they only
confirm what the Bible says about Jesus.
What did the Old Testament say hundreds of years before about these things that we know happened to Jesus?
Check this out:
|Prediction||When it was predicted||When it happened|
|The Messiah will come at a specific time||Daniel 9:25-26||Galatians 4:4 and Ephesians 1:10|
|The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (which is in Judea)||Micah 5:2||Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-7|
|Messiah would be rejected by his own people.||Psalm 69:8 Isaiah 53:3||John 1:11 John 7:5|
|Messiah would be crucified with criminals.||Isaiah 53:12||Matthew 27:38 Mark 15:27-28|
|Messiah would resurrect from the dead.||Psalm 16:10 Psalm 49:15||Matthew 28:2-7 Acts 2:22-32|
All of the books in the “When it was predicted” column above are books that were written hundreds of years before the ones under the “When it happened” column.
In other words, all 5 of the predictions above were written down hundreds of years before they came true, and we have documented non-Christian sources that confirm that all of these are historical facts.
The question is, how could the Old Testament
writers have predicted these facts if the Bible isn’t what it claims to be –
written word of God?
Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies from the Old Testament of the Bible, and the probability of anyone fulfilling even a small number of Old Testament prophecies is mind-bogglingly improbable.
Peter Stoner, Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College until 1953, says in his book Science Speaks[i] that the chance of Jesus accidentally fulfilling just 8 prophecies from the Old Testament is 1 in 1017 (that’s 1 with 17 zeros after it).
Here’s how he illustrates that probability:
“Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.
Now these prophecies were either given by inspiration of God or the prophets just wrote them as they thought they should be. In such a case the prophets had just one chance in 1017 of having them come true in any man, but they all came true in Christ.”
Stoner then adds that most people are very comfortable taking much riskier odds on business deals. In fact, a 9 out of 10 chance of success is usually seen as a worthwhile investment in almost any area of our lives. That’s only a 1 in 10 chance that it won’t work out. Those are odds that most anyone would take.
If that’s the case, then why are we so reluctant to trust something that is exponentially less likely to be false than 1 out of 10?
To simplify it, there’s a 99.999999999999999% chance that Jesus was who He said He was – the one who was predicted to have been sent by God to save mankind. Jesus is the surest bet you’ll ever make, yet for some reason, some still find it hard to trust Him.
Science lines up with the Bible (not the other way around).
I find it interesting how many people see a dichotomy of worldviews in their minds. On one side, they see a worldview that is based on science, and on the other side, they see a worldview that is based on the Bible. For some reason, they think they have to choose between the two.
We often end up in this “one or the other” mindset, and since science is well represented in school curricula from a very young age and the Bible is not at all, we often end up “siding” with science.
But that dichotomy is unnecessary and imaginary. Science and the Bible are not on opposing sides. Scientists experience things and write them down. Ancient Biblical writers experienced things and wrote them down. Both are evaluating the same reality, yet we disregard whichever one challenges our comfort zone.
But one thing I find particularly fascinating is the fact that science and the Bible line up very well in regard to their observations of how the universe was made.
Hugh Ross is one of the best resources for this conversation about the Biblical narrative compared to the scientific one.
Dr. Ross is an astronomer and best-selling author of books such as Improbable Planet, Navigating Genesis, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, and Why the Universe Is the Way It Is. He has a degree in physics from the University of British Columbia, a National Research Council of Canada fellowship, and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Toronto. In 2012, Hugh, together with Dr. Gerald Schroeder, received the Ide P. Trotter Prize presented by Texas A&M University in recognition of his work in demonstrating connections between science and religion. He has also spoken at hundreds of universities and churches, as well as numerous conferences around the world.
In other words, he’s very knowledgeable and credible to speak in this area.
Here’s what Dr. Ross says about how science lines up with the Bible[ii]…
The creation and expansion of the physical universe
Genesis chapter one says that God created the “heavens and the earth.”
In the Old Testament Hebrew, there is no word for “universe.” Instead, they used the phrase “heavens and earth,” which referred to all physical matter, energy, space, and time.
According to Ross, space-time theorems say that if the universe contains mass (which it does) and if general relativity reliably describes the movements of bodies in the universe (and it does), then the universe had a beginning which includes the beginning of space and time itself.
Prominent atheist Stephen Hawking wrote that “the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning.”[iii]
As it turns out, the scientific community not only proved that time was created, but they also proved that the Bible, of all the religious books in the world, got it right.
Non-biblical religions tell us that God or gods or cosmic forces create within space and time, and space and time eternally exist. But the Bible stands alone in saying that space and time did not exist until God created the universe.
Now we have scientific theorems that actually prove this is correct.
Lawrence Krauss, one of America’s most famous atheists, wrote in his book Universe from Nothing, “The apparent logical necessity of First Cause is a real issue for any universe that has a beginning. Therefore, on the basis of logic alone one cannot rule out such a deistic view of nature.”[iv]
Skeptics the world over have wrestled with this. They know that the universe must have come from somewhere, they’re just not ready to admit that it’s outside of their understanding, so they’ll come up with whatever theories they can to get around the obvious.
The bottom line is this: Because of these space-time theorems, we’re forced to conclude there must be a God beyond space and time that created the universe.
In other words, Genesis got it right thousands of years ago.
The first sentence of the Bible says that God created the heavens and the Earth. In the next sentence, the Earth already exists, and the narrative goes straight to God’s work of creation on Earth. So, it seems as if Genesis describes the creation of the entire universe in one sentence without going into detail as to how that part of creation actually happened.
The obvious question is, what was God doing between the first and second sentences of the Bible?
Genesis may not go into detail on it, but the rest of the Bible does. In fact, there are at least 11 places in the Bible where it tells us that God “stretched out” the heavens.
(Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, Isaiah 42:5, Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 45:12, Isaiah 48:13, Isaiah 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, Jeremiah 51:15, and Zechariah 12:1)
The English translations in these 11 texts have to do with stretching out the heavens, but the Hebrew word used is “natah” (except in Isaiah 48:13).
This word in Hebrew means the expansion of what’s being described.
Synonyms for this word include “extend” or “spread out.” This word is used in the Bible in reference to a tent being spread out, so that should help you visualize the meaning of the word.
Think of pitching a tent. It starts as a folded cloth of some kind, and then the cloth is spread out – you might even say it is “expanded” to its fully functional form.
What’s interesting is that scientists now believe that our universe is expanding and has been since the beginning of time.
According to Dr. Hugh Ross, no scientist had even dreamt of the idea of an expanding universe until Albert Einstein produced his theory of relativity. Then Edwin Hubble and other scientists also showed that the universe is expanding.
For thousands of years, the Bible stood alone as the only book in science, philosophy, or theology that described the universe as having been expanded.
Now we can see that it was right.
The formation of an abundant, stable water cycle
At first glance, the Bible can seem like an “unscientific” book. This is why some people think there’s a clash between science and the Bible. But if you look closely, you’ll see that the Bible is filled with explanations of how nature works.
For example, the Bible says in Genesis that God separated the waters below from the waters above. Dr. Hugh Ross says this could be a reference to the atmosphere and the water cycle.
If you go to the book of Job, in chapters 37 and 38, it talks in detail about the water cycle that God established on day 2 of creation. You’ll see that the water cycle is set up with 16 types of precipitation, and we need every one of them for life to be possible. The 6 main ones are rain, mist, dew, snow, frost, and hail. Without at least those 6, we wouldn’t be able to grow the quantity of crops necessary to sustain a high-technology civilization.
What’s interesting is, Earth needs to be massive enough that it doesn’t lose water vapor to outer space, but it also needs a thin atmosphere. So whatever God did in this stage of creation, it gave us the mass we needed, the atmosphere we needed, the ocean we needed, and the water cycle we needed.
According to Dr. Ross, the probability of any event “accidentally” giving us a water cycle and a transparent atmosphere without God designing it is less than 1 chance in a trillion trillion trillion trillion.
Statements Consistent with Astronomy
In addition to the creation narrative, there are a number of other places where science has corroborated the Bible’s accuracy.[v]
First, the Bible frequently refers to the great number of stars in the heavens. Here are two examples of the Bible comparing the number of stars to the number of grains of sand on Earth:
- Genesis 22:17 says, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore”
- Jeremiah 33:22 says, “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.”
Even today, scientists admit that they do not know exactly how many stars there are. Only about 3,000-5,000 stars can be seen with the naked eye, but there have been estimates of there being as many as 1021.[vi]
It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that the number of grains of sand on all the seashores on Earth is too much to count. (One very rough estimate puts it at around 7.5 x 1018.[vii]) It’s amazing to think that even though only a few thousand stars can be seen with the human eye, the writers of the Bible said they were as innumerable as the sands on the seashores, and now we know they were right.
The Bible also says that each star is unique. 1 Corinthians 15:41 says, “There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.”
Stars mostly look alike to the untrained and unmagnified eye. Even when seen through a telescope, they look to simply be points of light. However, analysis of their light spectra reveals that each is unique and different from all others.[viii]
The Bible describes the suspension of the Earth in space. Job 26:7 says, “He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.” How incredible is it that a person thousands of years ago can make such a bold statement with no technology or space exploration to back it up, yet still be correct? That only makes sense if that person is truly pulling from the Source and Cause of all life.
Statements Consistent with Meteorology
The Bible describes the circulation of the atmosphere. Ecclesiastes 1:6 says, “The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; The wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit.”
We now know that atmospheric circulation involves wind moving around in a “circuit,” much like descriptions in the ancient biblical text (which the author would have had no way to research). This circulation of wind helps transport energy and heat from the equator to the poles.
How would an ancient writer know these things long before the Earth had been explored and before mass communication existed? There are many educated adults today who don’t know this, yet we don’t find it incredible that an ancient writer did?
The Bible includes some principles of fluid dynamics. Job 28:25 says, “To establish a weight for the wind, and apportion the waters by measure.” The fact that air has weight was proven scientifically only about 300 years ago.[ix] The weights of air and water are needed for the efficient functioning of the world’s hydrologic cycle, which in turn sustains life on the Earth.
Statements Consistent with Biology
The Bible describes the value of blood. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of a creature is in the blood…” The blood carries water and nourishment to every cell, maintains the body’s temperature, and removes the waste material of the body’s cells. Blood also carries oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. But it wasn’t until the 17th century that William Harvey discovered how blood circulation worked, which led to the understanding of the true purpose and value of blood—confirming what the Bible revealed thousands of years earlier.
The Bible connects mental and physical health. In America today, we are beginning to learn more and more that a person’s mental and spiritual health is strongly connected to and correlated with their physical health. The Bible told us this thousands of years ago.
Proverbs 14:30 says, “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30 says, “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy.” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Statements Consistent with Hydrology
The Bible describes the hydrologic cycle.
We’ve covered it briefly already, but here are some places in the Bible that talk about the water cycle:
Psalm 135:7 says, “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”
Jeremiah 10:13 says, “When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.”
Also, Job 36:27-29 says, “For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist, which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man. Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds, the thunder from His canopy?”
In these verses, we can see an ancient description of the hydrologic cycle, which is defined as “a continuous exchange of moisture between the oceans, the atmosphere, and the land” and includes processes such as evaporation, atmospheric circulation, condensation, and precipitation, among others.[x]
The drops of water which eventually pour down as rain first become vapor and then condense into tiny liquid water droplets in the clouds. These finally coalesce into drops large enough to overcome the updrafts that suspend them in the air.
And the Bible told us all of this thousands of years ago.
The Bible describes the recirculation of water.
Ecclesiastes 1:7 says, “All the rivers run into the sea, Yet the sea is not full; To the place from which the rivers come, There they return again.”
Isaiah 55:10 says, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater […]”
The Bible refers to the surprising amount of water that can be held as condensation in clouds.
Job 26:8 says, “He binds up the water in His thick clouds, Yet the clouds are not broken under it.” According to the National Weather Service, “One inch of rain over one square mile equals 17.4 million gallons of water weighing 143 million pounds (about 72,000 tons), or the weight of a train with 40 boxcars.”[xi]
Hydrothermal vents were described in the Bible thousands of years before their discovery.
Hydrothermal vents are hot springs on the ocean floor, and the Bible talked about them a LONG time before they were discovered in the 1970s.
Genesis 7:11 says, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” Job 38:16 says, “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths?”
Statements Consistent with Geology
The Bible describes the Earth’s crust.
Jeremiah 31:37 says that heavens above can’t be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can’t be “searched out.”
As we’ve discussed already, we don’t know exactly how large the universe actually is, and we also haven’t drilled through the Earth’s crust. Earth’s core is about 4,000 miles beneath the surface, and the furthest we’ve been able to drill down is just over 7 miles.[xii] We’ve got a long way to go, and between extreme depths, heat, and pressure, we’ll be doing really good if we get past the top layer. In other words, the Bible is spot on.
The Bible described the shape of the Earth centuries before people thought that the Earth was round.
Isaiah 40:22 says, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”
The word translated “circle” here is the Hebrew word which can also be translated as “circuit,” or “compass” (depending on the context). That is, it indicates something spherical, rounded, or arched—not something that is flat or square.
The book of Isaiah was most likely written sometime between the 700s and 600s BC. This is at least 300 years before Aristotle suggested that the Earth might be a sphere in this book On the Heavens.
Statements Consistent with Scientific Discovery Regarding Water on Earth
The book of Genesis says that water used to cover the Earth.
Genesis chapter 1, verses 2-3 say:
“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
Science has now discovered that, at one point in history, the Earth was probably covered in water. Of course, no scientist or researcher can be 100 percent certain, but the idea of a cool, water covered Earth at some point in our planet’s history lines up with current scientific findings.[xiii]