Skip to main content

Does the Bible Prove Itself?

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

A few weeks ago I was visited by two young men representing the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I invited them in and we chatted because I love to talk about religion. I have described this encounter in some detail in an earlier post on titled “Still Learning.”

As they were leaving, one of the men said, “We believe the Bible proves itself.” As they were already halfway out the door, I didn’t get to ask for more info on this remarkable claim. However, I have thought about this frequently since this episode, wondering just what he meant by his statement.

Finally, it dawned on me that I could probably get a pretty good idea about what he meant by simply googling the question,” Does the Bible Prove itself?” Most of the sources Google turned up dealt with the question of whether and how we can know that the Bible is the word of god. There were many, many answers, some claiming it is the word of god and we can know it, and some claiming it just ain’t so.

Of those which answered in the affirmative, I found two sources especially interesting. One was titled “Authority of the Bible,” by Pat Zukeran of Prime Ministries, which I may write on later, and the other was “How Do We Know that the Bible is True?” by Dr. Jason Lisle at Answers in Genesis. This later essay was quite amusing and peculiar in the way the author began with a cogent, very reasonable argument and then . . . well, you’ll see.

Dr. Lisle begins his essay with an intelligent overview of failed attempts to answer the question. We can’t just take it on faith that the Bible is the word of god, he says, nor can we rely on the fact that the Bible itself says it’s all true, and the fact that it changes lives is beside the point. He also says that while archeology seems to have proven some of the Bible’s claims, it hasn’t proved all of them. Similarly, many claims of the Bible appear to agree with what we take as scientific fact, but science itself is a tool of man, and so is fallible.

So far, so good. This guy has done an excellent job of pointing out many of the errors of standard Christian approaches to proving the truth of the Bible.

So, Lisle’s answer? He writes, “If we are to know for certain that the Bible is true, we will need a different kind of argument - one that is absolutely conclusive and irrefutable.” Wow! This got my attention!

He explains, “[The] Laws of logic thus represent a standard by which we can judge certain truth claims. Moreover, all people seem to “know” laws like the law of non-contradiction. We all assume that such laws are the same everywhere and apply at all times without exception. But why is this? How do we know such things? If we consider the biblical worldview, we find that we can make sense of the laws of logic. The Bible tells us that God’s mind is the standard for all knowledge (Colossians 2:3). Since God upholds the entire universe and since He is beyond time, we would expect that laws of logic apply everywhere in the universe and at all times. There can never be an exception to a law of logic because God’s mind is sovereign over all truth. We can know laws of logic because we are made in God’s image and are thus able to think in a way that is consistent with His nature (Genesis 1:27). So, when we take the Bible as our worldview, we find that laws of logic make sense.”

So, he claims, we can know that the laws of logic always work because of what the Bible says about god. Do I sense the beginning of a circular argument here? And, sure enough, Dr. Lisle’s conclusion drives logic right off the rails. “The Bible claims to be the Word of God, and it demonstrates this claim by making knowledge possible. It is the standard of standards. The proof of the Bible is that unless its truth is presupposed, we couldn’t prove anything at all.” (Um, so, maybe we can’t prove anything at all?)

What if we don’t accept his presupposition that the Bible is true?Did you get that? He says that what proves the Bible is true is the fact that if it isn’t true, then we can never prove anything. So, if the Bible is true, then we get to know some things for certain, but is that reason enough to believe the Bible is true? Because it would give us something we wish to be true? Isn’t that what we call wishful thinking? Don’t we have some pretty sloppy thinking here? Has he made any case at all for the Bible being true – other than that is what he wishes?

And, in the end, isn’t he just saying that the only way to know that the Bible is true is to assume it’s true (since to “presuppose” means to assume)?

So, do you suppose he ever considered the alternative? What if we don’t accept his presupposition that the Bible is true? Where does that leave us? Well, according to Dr. Lisle, then we can never be sure of anything. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t such a huge problem for me. Science has pretty much shown us that we can never be absolutely sure of anything – except by definition. Scientific theories are constantly refined by further knowledge, but look at all we have done with that imperfect knowledge! How certain we can be of anything is always a matter of a sliding scale of probabilities. So what?

But, why would anyone “presuppose” the Bible is the word of god anyway when it has clear and obvious contradictions. There are many, of course, but my favorite is the two different creation stories in Genesis. In one, man is created before the animals, and in the other, man is created after the animals. I’m pretty sure that those two stories can’t both be true. Even if, as Dr. Lisle says, we can’t be certain of anything unless we presuppose the truth of the Bible, I think we can be sure enough in this case to make a pretty secure judgment.

Dr. Lisle’s is the most creative approach to “proving” the truth of the Bible that I have yet come across, but I doubt it’s the one which convinced those two young men. As this skeptic sees it, his argument depends entirely on a false and rather foolish assumption, mere wishful thinking, and it leaves me seriously hungry for some common sense.


Popular posts from this blog

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo

On Living Virtuously

By Webmdave ~  A s a Christian, living virtuously meant living in a manner that pleased God. Pleasing god (or living virtuously) was explained as: Praying for forgiveness for sins  Accepting Christ as Savior  Frequently reading the Bible  Memorizing Bible verses Being baptized (subject to church rules)  Attending church services  Partaking of the Lord’s Supper  Tithing  Resisting temptations to lie, steal, smoke, drink, party, have lustful thoughts, have sex (outside of marriage) masturbate, etc.  Boldly sharing the Gospel of Salvation with unbelievers The list of virtuous values and expectations grew over time. Once the initial foundational values were safely under the belt, “more virtues'' were introduced. Newer introductions included (among others) harsh condemnation of “worldly” music, homosexuality and abortion Eventually the list of values grew ponderous, and these ideals were not just personal for us Christians. These virtues were used to condemn and disrespect fro

I can fix ignorance; I can't fix stupid!

By Bob O ~ I 'm an atheist and a 52-year veteran of public education. I need not tell anyone the problems associated with having to "duck" the "Which church do you belong to?" with my students and their parents. Once told by a parent that they would rather have a queer for their sons' teacher than an atheist! Spent HOURS going to the restroom right when prayers were performed: before assemblies, sports banquets, "Christmas Programs", awards assemblies, etc... Told everyone that I had a bladder problem. And "yes" it was a copout to many of you, but the old adage (yes, it's religious) accept what you can't change, change that which you can and accept the strength to know the difference! No need arguing that which you will never change. Enough of that. What I'd like to impart is my simple family chemistry. My wife is a Baptist - raised in a Baptist Orphanage (whole stories there) and is a believer. She did not know my religi