Monday, September 15, 2008

Answering the Objections - The Bible part 2

Objection 2: “The Bible says the earth is 6 to 10,000 years old.”
What is this argument trying to prove? It is trying to prove that the Bible is scientifically wrong. What’s funny about this argument is it is probably spoken by those who think religion and science should be kept separate. So what does it matter if the Bible “says” the earth is so old.
First let’s establish one thing. Nowhere does the Bible state how old the earth is. Yes, there have been people who have gone through the Bible looking through the genealogies, adding numbers and so forth, and many have come to the conclusion that the earth can only be so old. This is an argument for a young earth and it should not be used against the Bible. It is a false premise.
Second, if an argument based on scientific accuracy is what is being used against the Bible then one needs to take a second look at Scripture. There is much scientific accuracy in between the covers of the Bible.
This is remarkable when you realize that scientific knowledge at the time of penning was actually very limited. The fact that the Bible has much scientific accuracy is only a testament to it being inspired by God.
Scientific Accuracies of the Bible:
1. Genesis tells us that the whole human race descended from one man and one woman. Does this conflict with science? Actually it does not. There has been much scientific study done concerning the ancestry of humans and believe it or not some scientists believe they have discovered the origin of human beings. Guess what they say? All humans have a common female ancestor and a common male ancestor (Y-chromosomal Adam and Mitochondrial Eve). There is debate about this but it is interesting that some scientists believe they made a discovery that somewhat correlates with Scripture.
2. Genesis 10:25 talks about a man named Peleg whose name means “division” because “…in his days the earth was divided.” Peleg was actually born after the flood and was grandson to Shem who was Noah’s son. This might correlate with the scientific idea that all the continents were one huge continent at one time. Some scientists believe that it took millions of years for the continents to separate, but could they have separated much more quickly as the result of a catastrophic event? Namely the flood!
3. There is evidence that the Bible writers were aware of dinosaurs. In Job (which many scholars believe to be the oldest book of the Bible) there is reference to both the behemoth and the leviathan. Both are given descriptions that parallel what we know about dinosaurs.
4. We have learned in history that the concept of a spherical earth is a relatively resent concept that has been proven to be true. In Isaiah 40:22 we find this description “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth.”
5. Job 38:16 speaks of springs in the sea. We know now that there are indeed springs in the sea. It also speaks of paths (Psalm 8:8). Matthew Maury took this passage of Scripture at face value and set out to find these paths. Maury is credited with discovering the warm and cold continental currents.
6. The Bible is surprisingly conscious of sanitation. In the Old Testament scriptures where God has given laws there are a wide variety of “rules” that reveal the knowledge that unsanitary conditions promote infections and disease. Once again, this is big evidence that an all knowing God had to have given his people the Israelites these rules concerning sanitation for such knowledge wasn’t made available until the advent of science (yes, some observation could have led to these laws but the fact that there is so much in Scripture leads one to believe God was behind them).
7. The Old Testament prohibits the consumption of blood describing it as “the life blood.” We now know that the blood is essential to the life of the body. Without it we could not survive.
Click here for a great website outlining these and other scientific accuracies in Scripture.

Objection 3: “The Bible has gone through many changes and revisions. How can you truly trust it?”

This is what the Europeans call “Chinese Whispers” which is very similar to the game we call “telephone.” Basically a simple message is relayed in some way. As it goes through different channels the message gets changed and even embellished to the point where the new message hardly resembles the initial message.
There are myths and tales where an original source cannot be identified and the sources we do have disagree with one another. Take, for example, the story of King Arthur. I thought there was only one source for the stories of King Arthur but I have since found out that there are many stories from different sources. An original source cannot be identified making it extremely hard to ascertain the true story of King Arthur. Over the centuries the true story has been added to and embellished making it a virtual impossibility to determine the truth.
Is the Bible in the same predicament as the stories of King Arthur? The answer is no. The mythology of King Arthur serves to gives us characteristics by which we can judge if the Bible is indeed a book that has gone through changes and revisions over its long history.
There are actually three characteristics of a “Chinese Whisper” that we can compare the Bible to.
1. A Chinese Whisper must have a beginning that is simple when compared to its later versions.
2. A Chinese Whisper must have a beginning that is significantly different to its later versions.
3. Any Chinese Whisper should have identifiable intermediary forms.
So how does the Bible compare to these characteristics? Let me say this. The Jewish people have been known for their careful treatment of Scripture which they view as being the very word of God. Scribes were very careful in their copying from old manuscripts to new ones. They had developed a system of checking their work and if a mistake was made they would through the new manuscript away and start over.
How do we know that such a tradition continued through the ages? Before 1947 we only had manuscripts of the Old Testament that dated back to somewhere in the 800s BC. After a discovery made in 1947 by a Bedouin Shepherd boy, scrolls dating back to the 200s AD was added to our current collection. There was approximately a 1000 years between the oldest we had and the newly discovered ones. Guess what they found? There was relatively no change found between the one’s dating from the 2nd century AD and those from the 9th century BC. As far as the Old Testament is concerned, we can be sure that what we have today is what they had over 2000 years ago!!
What about the New Testament? All of the New Testament books and letters were written no later then 70 BC. The reason for this dating is seen in the fact that none of the authors mention the destruction of Jerusalem. So the stories of Jesus were quite established by 100 BC. We must note that between the time of his death and the penning of the last letter there would have been enough people familiar with the story of Jesus who would have disputed any inaccuracies. Discrepancies didn’t actually arise until the 2nd century with writing of the Gnostic gospels. So for 200 years the story of Jesus remained very accurate and wasn’t embellished. We can actually see the differences between the earlier and much simpler accounts and the later more embellished accounts.
That’s not even the best evidence we have of no change though. The best evidence we have is within the New Testament manuscripts themselves. We now have manuscripts dating from the 3rd century and possibly one that dates to within 50 years of the original. The manuscript is very great and spans many, many years.
What does this tell us, there is absolutely no way that the Bible has been slowly changed and embellished over its history. Great care was taken to keep it in its original form with the vast number of manuscripts testifying to this.

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