Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays on religion.
The Bible is valid and true for today, and many sources prove that. First of all, the Bible says it is true, for it says, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.II Timothy 3:16
This is a silly and circular argument. The Book of Mormon and the Qur’an make similar claims. Any con man can claim to be speaking the truth. That is no argument that he is indeed doing so.
Second, extra-Biblical writings confirm the Bible’s truth.
Nobody claims the Bible is a modern forgery. There is plenty of evidence for its genuine antiquity. Of course it should get many facts right about ancient daily life. These mundane facts are not at issue. What is as issue is:
Such stupendous events should have impressed everyone, Christian and heathen alike. Oddly though, these events are mentioned only in Christian literature.
Third, archaeological discoveries agree with the Bible’s history. All of these sources end in the same message when looked at properly: The Bible is valid and true for today.
Even the earliest writings can confirm the Bible’s history. They still contain some truth, although distorted. Here is an excerpt of an extra-Biblical writing called When on High. It is an ancient Babylonian creation story. Our earliest copy is from 12th century B.C., but it was likely based on earlier undocumented text. "When on high the heaven had not been named, Firm ground below had not been called by name,…Their waters commingling as a single body; No reed hut had been matted, no marsh land had appeared." This is similar to Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.Genesis 1:2 This example shows that even a pagan legend has a similarity to the Biblical truth. The best explanation of this similarity was that the empty world described really existed, and that both the legend and the Bible recorded the void.
To me that parallel just shows the Bible is merely myth just like the Babylonian creation story. If it were truth, it would jibe with modern astronomical observation. Whoever made that story up had not a clue how the universe was really created. Presumably God would remember how he hid it, so it seems highly unlikely that God was the author of the Biblical account.
Other extra-Biblical confirmation can be found in the book of Enoch. It was probably written around the first and second centuries B.C. It refers to Noah being told of the Deluge when he was 500 years old. This also confirms what the Bible tells us in Genesis 5:32 and Genesis 6:13 After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth.So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth."
Also, Josephus, who lived from A.D. 37-100+, writes of many rulers that are mentioned in the New Testament, like Agrippa, Tiberius, Herod the Tetrarch, and Pilate, the procurator of Judea. These rulers are mentioned in the New Testament. If the Bible were just a book of tales, fantasy rulers would be used, such as King Alcinous in Homer’s Odyssey. The confirmation of these figures’ actual existence suggests that their actions as recorded in the Bible are just not made up by men.
Archaeological discoveries also support Scripture. For example, an 800 B.C. pottery shard was unearthed that contains a donation receipt for Solomon’s Temple. Called the House of Yahweh Ostracon, it is the earliest extra-Biblical mention of Solomon’s Temple. Also, in 1994, a stone pillar inscription was found in the city of Dan, which mentions the House of David. This archaeological find, called the House of David Inscription, is the earliest extra-Biblical mention of David, which dates about 250 years after his reign.
Here is a quote from Tacitus’s Annals. "Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea…. but even in Rome" This confirms the rapid spread of Christianity as recorded in Acts 2:41 and Acts 4:4 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
A historian has also recorded the very earthquake that started when Jesus died. Thallus wrote in 52 A.D. "On the whole world, there pressed a most fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down." This shows extra-Biblical evidence that the earthquake would have been able to rip the temple curtain, as recorded in Luke 23:45: for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Governmental edicts recorded in the Bible have also been found in other ancient writings. Suetonius recorded that the Jews were removed from Rome during the reign of Claudius, as was also written in Acts 18:2 :There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them.
Archaeological discoveries also support Scripture. For example, a stone slab was found in Nazareth dating anywhere from 41—54 A.D. It declares that any who tamper with a grave’s contents must die. Since it dates so close to the resurrection, it was likely brought on by the rumor mentioned in Matthew 28:13-15 telling them, You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
Also, workers building a water park in Israel discovered an ancient burial cave containing a skeleton of a 60-year-old man, with the name Joseph, son of Caiaphas inscribed. The carved ossuary was certainly fit for the high priest mentioned in Luke 3:2 and elsewhere in the gospels. The confirmation of this man’s actual existence suggests that his actions as recorded in the Bible were not just made up by men.
Crucifixion also has archeological examples. One body, in particular, though, was especially confirming of the crucifixion practice as described in the New Testament. A seven-inch nail was driven through both of his feet, and nails were pounded through both lower forearms. The man’s legs were broken just below the knee, which is which the Romans would of done to Christ had he not been already dead. This shows how Christ was treated during his hours before death.
Modern scholarship points out that crucifixion was not done on a cross at all, but on a simple pole. The Bible got even that crucial detail wrong.
Furthermore, many Biblical cities have been excavated, and some still exist. Examples of these are Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome. What’s more, the straight street mentioned in Acts 9:12 still exists today. In the city of Damascus, one long, straight street runs east and west, which is a distinct contrast to the city’s many winding roads. This is very significant, because the actual Biblical events could have never taken place if the setting was nonexistent. Instead, the very cities in which Biblical events took place have been found. How can what someone did long ago be disproved when there is not only convincing evidence that the person existed, but also the very place where the action happened is still in existence today? It can’t. Even more compelling is the fact that many of the writers of Scripture were eyewitnesses to these events. Those that did not have that privilege, like Luke, instead carefully researched what had occurred.
The extra-Biblical information shows evidence that the Bible is true, yet that is not enough. All archaeological evidence that exists either does not contradict the Bible’s history, or fits well with it. Also, many extra-Biblical writers agree with the Bible’s teaching. This may seem like all that is needed to prove that the Bible is true, but more than that is necessary; it must be known to still be valid today. To know that it is still valid requires one more proof: That the Bible itself explains its Divine origin. Yet that crucial proof exists too: For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.II Peter 1:21 For God never changes his Word, as shown in Numbers 23:19.
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. It can be concluded that everything that God inspired must be true, since God would not lie or change his mind.
Now there must be proof that the Bible was inspired. There are no contradictions throughout the entire Old and New Testament, which were written over a period of at least 1500 years.
Don’t be ridiculous. There are hundreds of inconsistencies. There are hundreds of false-to-fact statements as well, and hundreds of outright silly statements. Duplicitous Christians will twist and twist the words to slime their way out of some of them, but they can’t possibly wriggle their way out of all of them. For a start, there is no blinking way you can reconcile Leviticus with the Sermon on the Mount. They are diametrically opposed life philosophies.
Not only has it not been disproved, but also there is much extra-Biblical evidence supporting it. Also, all Biblical books share the common theme of salvation through Christ’s death.
Besides, what else could be trusted in? The Bible has been shown to be more accurate than any other religious text.
In terms of clashes with scientific and historic understanding the Qur’an is more accurate than the Bible. For example, it suprisingly predicted that the moon’s light a reflection of the sun’s. It has a more accurate picture of how semen creates a new being. In terms of dealing with the subatomic nature of the universe, the Buddhist sutras are more accurate than either the Bible or the Qur’an. But why not go straight for the truth, rather than filtering it through the minds of slave-owning bigots who died millenia ago. Surely we can come up with more compassionate thinking than that. Have you actually read the venal thinking in Leviticus that to this day poisons the world? Jesus himself I think would have ripped it to shreds if he thought he could have got away with it.
Even trusting in oneself is a major mistake. Unlike the Bible, humans are not truthful, and human ideas of what is true and valid can change or shift in many directions. Even Paul admits this in Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Eventually, everyone dies, and any made-up idea of truth dies with anyone who believes his or her own fantasy. Instead, the Bible may be believed, which has been shown through use of archaeological discoveries, extra-Biblical writers, and its own testimony to still be true and valid today.
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