Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Bible Has Been Scientifically Tested

As I mentioned a few days ago, in a recent twitter conversation a Christian claimed that the bible has been "scientifically tested for authenticity". I asked for a source and I'm happy to say that she provided a couple. One of them was the In His Steps Ministries page on evidence. There are a number of pages there that seem worth looking at, but it's a bit much for one blog post. The page that seemed the most relevant to our conversation is the page on the validity of scripture.

They don't get off to the best of starts, it starts off by noting that many people wonder why there isn't more historical evidence and says
Here is something to consider. There is no need for more evidence because the Holy Bible itself is historical evidence.
Starting the page dedicated to the evidence that the Bible is accurate by claiming no evidence is needed is really not the way to put your best foot forward. We should do our best to not let this cloud our judgment too much though.
There are over 24,600 manuscripts of the New Testament and over 24,000 original manuscripts of portions of the New Testament.
pic source
I would need to see them substantiate this claim. I have heard many people cite the fact that there are no original manuscripts remaining, and this does include plenty of Christians, not just atheists. I guess it also is important what "portions of the New Testament" means. But even if this were true, even if we have a good number of original manuscripts, it doesn't mean the events within really happened.
Some will argue that you can't trust the Bible because it was written by those who believed in God or Jesus. They will say that the authors were bias, so they did not write accurate information. If you were to use this argument regarding autobiographies, biographies, and history books (this is what the Bible is like), you would like to remove all these books off the library selves.
Many biographies are written by people who loved the person they are writing about, but we do not question their validity. Yes, we may see some prejudices or favoritism in a biography, but we can overall trust most biographies, because if they were inaccurate there would be an uproar from others. So, why toss out portions of scripture that are biographical? Unless we have proof they are inaccurate, we need to give them the same trust we would a modern day biography. 
I agree with this 100%. We should give the bible the same trust we would give any other book that claims a man walked on water, turned water into wine, and caused a zombie uprising when he died. We trust things based on how reasonable the claim is that is being made. If a someone writes a biography about his business partner and talks about how he was a nice guy, I am probably going to believe it. If the guy has a reputation of being an asshole I would probably guess that he was always nice around the author, or that the author has no empathy for the "lower people" around them and it didn't register when "the peasants" were treated poorly. If that same biography says the dude can fly it loses all credibility unless there is some pretty convincing proof apart from what is in the book.
There is something that is unique about the Bible compared to any autobiography, biography, or history book - the Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God. This means it was God breathed. The authors of the Bible wrote what God had them to write.
That's just another claim, I thought we were here to talk about evidence. Simply asserting that it is God breathed really doesn't do anything for me. This statement needs justification.
One of the ways to prove the Bible is accurate is to explore the concept of prophecy.
I'm not completely versed in prophecy from the Bible, but every time I've looked into it very deeply at all it all turns out to be very vague and Jesus is often shoehorned in.
So significant is Jesus in man's history that the Encyclopedia Britannica has 20,000 words in describing Jesus. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed or Napoleon Bonaparte. Why would there be so much material on a man who was never born?
Jesus is recorded as a fact, as is His death, burial and missing body in the Reader's Digest Book of Facts, 1989.
Case closed, I guess we are done here! Seriously though, the Encyclopedia Britannica talks a lot about Jesus so he must have been real? People believe in him so he's a significant figure, whether he was real or not. That's why he's in there. And Reader's Digest? Are you kidding me?

So the only real evidence given here is that we have a lot of original copies of the New Testament. Even if that were true it doesn't substantiate the claim that Jesus performed those miracles. "Early copies exist" is a far cry from "the bible has been scientifically tested". If anyone out there thinks that I've missed the point, there is evidence I'm just looking in the wrong place, please let me know. I'd love to look into it, just please give me something with a little more teeth than this.


  1. Unfortunately, this kind of approach has been used by other Christian apologists. However, verifying the age of the texts and verifying the events described therein are two different things, as you observed.

    1. That's a great point. My understanding is that we don't have reliable dating, but even if we did it wouldn't prove what is in there is true. I think we have pretty reliable dating on when the Book of Mormon was written, and we certainly know precisely when Dianetics was written. This doesn't say what is in the pages is true.

  2. I have no doubt Jesus lived and was a very charismatic man who was inspired by the intolerable Jews and Romans of his day to preach about a more peaceful way of life incorporating his inherited Religion's God.

    All the Jews at the time were expecting the "promised" Messiah and apparently to a lot of folks, especially after he "disappeared," Jesus fit that bill. To the Jewish leaders of his day...he did not and they played a part in having him crucified.

    His legacy was passed down from generation to generation until the Christians were organized into a mighty powerful influence and began to rule with swords and force. Not exactly what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of peace. The rest is history according to whoever decided to write the "scriptures" that were adopted by the ancient Popes to be the absolute "word of God." And that is pure fantasy created by ancient rulers in order to rule humanity. Of course that's just my "heathen" opinion. :D

    1. I think it's possible Jesus was real and as you describe. I also think it's possible that the legend of Jesus is some amalgam of several such people. I've also heard some say that the idea of Jesus was completely made up (that one doesn't seem very likely to me, but it certainly seems like a possibility).

      In any case, the legacy was passed down through the generations and I'm completely with you on the rest of what you wrote.

    2. Jesus being an "amalgam" of several "prophets" is certainly a possibility since I believe the farther away in time from his disappearance it got, the more "divine" attributes were awarded him. I think it was the discovery of the "Dead Sea Scrolls" that convinced me he really lived and preached. He obviously kissed Mary Magdalene a lot also which makes me think he was very human. :)

    3. That's interesting. I must admit, I know very little about the dead sea scrolls. I know the people in my church growing up got very excited about them. I remember them saying that they were virtually identical to modern bibles, but then I later heard that this is nonsense. I never really looked into it myself.

  3. I ran into someone years ago who made the same kind of claims, that the Bible is completely historically accurate. I asked how they knew and they said "God wouldn't lie to me". Ultimately, that's what all of this comes down to, you cannot start with only the historical evidence and construct the Bible, you have to start with the Bible and only look for the evidence that supports it, and then assume that any parts which are unsupported (the majority) must still be true.

    It's absurd.

    1. That type of mentality is hard to break free from, I think it just comes down to repetition. Honestly, I would hope that a Christian would hear that enough that they would think "screw those atheists, I'm going to go find that proof and shove it in their faces". Then a legitimate search will ensue and they will find the evidence is flimsy at best.

      (Seriously though, any Christians reading this, please find some evidence and do this to me. It could be fun)

  4. I know am lot of people that read the Koran. And there are old Koran portion around. Wonder if this theist has ever compared the evidence for the Koran against the same evidence that is presented for the Bible that you detailed here.

    I guess even though both documents have the same amount of proof that the only difference is that God made the Bible true.

    1. Yeah, that pretty much seems to be what they say. In my experience, when I ask about alternate holy books they just say something very dismissive. They will just declare there is no evidence for the Koran and tons of evidence for the bible, I'm sure that in virtually every case they haven't looked into the Koran at all.

    2. The Koran is written so much like the Bible with Abraham being the "father" of the religion and it declaring Moses and Jesus to be great prophets, that I think Mohammed just copied his own version of the ancient Jewish scriptures in order to have a "holy guide" to form his own hard line religion since the Jews and Christians of his day did not accept "his people" as being worthy to belong to theirs.

    3. I've heard that they Koran and Bible are very similar, although I haven't really looked at the Koran much at all. That puts me on equal footing with most Christians :)


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