Enjoy the podcast. This one is long:
“The Bible is a wonderful book. It is the truth about the Truth. It is not the Truth. A sermon taken from the Bible can be a wonderful thing to hear. It is the truth about the truth about the Truth. But it is not the Truth. There have been many books written about the things contained in the Bible. I have written some myself. They can be quite wonderful to read. They are the truth about the truth about truth about the Truth. But they are NOT the Truth. Only Jesus Christ is the Truth. Sometimes the Truth can be drowned in a multitude of words.” Richard Wurmbrand
This would be the base of my understanding and case. Now to expand on this there are a few extensions we could expect to see if this was true. If God is the Truth we should expect Him to make true statements. True to life, true to history, and true to the governing mechanisms of the universe (the laws of Nature).
True to life: God chose a family, made it a nation, set standards for that nation to live by, all things that set them apart from other nations. First the Law took care of God’s people. It set up a quarantine system nearly 3 thousand years before the Black Plague.(Lev. 13:2 to Lev 14:8) It set up a charitable system so people would be allowed to gather food to survive(Lev. 22:23). It prescribed a diet so that people could avoid diseased foods(Lev. 11.) It gave people inalienable rights that no one should take away(Exo. 20.)
True to history: Atheist archaeologist Sir William Ramsay had expressed his intent to disprove the gospel. Starting with Paul’s travels he went on an expedition to Asia Minor and Palestine. After 15 years of study he wrote a book St. Paul the traveler and Roman citizen. After 20 years of more study and many more books Ramsay had become a believer and wrote: “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians.”
Christians have good reason to believe the biblical sources are reliable. As time has gone on and we have learned more on the subject, the Bible has been proven to be more reliable than first expected. There was a time where we believed none of the gospels were written before 200 years after Christ died now thanks to archeological discoveries, and critical analysis of the text: we can argue that no gospel was written after AD 70. And that Mathew, Mark, and Luke were written before AD55 only 25 years after Christ’s death.
Now if God is the truth then we must believe in objective truth. There are true facts that regardless of opinion or bias remain true. We must also believe that this universe would adhere to reasonable rules. These rules would be discoverable and appear to be programmed. So that these truths would lead us to understanding more about God.
When we look at mathematics and DNA, we have both described as a language in complexity, and thus, they both point towards a designer. Or as astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle put it:
“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”
Without God being true we have some fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves. Why is it our universe adheres to simple discoverable laws? Why is it we have a universe at all? Why is it we have life? Why is it we are such creatures that can discover truth? What makes one person’s rights equal to my own? Where do we get a sense of morality?
And that’s the view from the seeker.
C. J. Morgan
The Truth About Truth (Skeptic’s View)
C.J. starts out by reporting that the bible is a wonderful book. Already, I disagree. The bible is a hideous book that should be rated unsuitable for children and young teens. His next line in the piece just seems like sophistry of the sort that just leaves me scratching my head. He says that the bible is not the Truth, but the truth about the Truth. A sermon is the truth about the truth about the Truth. And at one point, we get four truths deep.
If you follow his capitalizations, you will discover the clue that C.J. finally pays off. The truth with a capital T is none other than Jesus. Lately, Christian apologists have shifted from stating that Jesus is the central figure in the bible to stating that he is the only thing in the bible that matters. They often take the additional move that the resurrection of Jesus is the only truth that has to be proven.
I believe this is an attempt to free themselves of the baggage that is most of the bible. No Christian wants to have to deal with the obscene acts of god writ large throughout the vast majority of the book. So by refocusing on Jesus, they only have to deal with the parts that are relevant to them. I call shenanigans.
First, the Christian would not have to deal with the Old Testament at all if they hadn’t stolen it from the Jews. Remember that the vast majority of the bible is the Hebrew scriptures. Not a single orthodox Jew would agree with the claim that Jesus is the central figure. He plays no part in those scriptures, not even in prophecy. So for Christians to claim that the Old Testament is all about Jesus is a theft and misappropriation of intellectual property. The Jews should sue.
Second, the Christian claim is largely about Jesus. But it is not entirely about Jesus. One still needs the bible to support the corpus of the Christian creed. It is cute to say the bible is not the truth. But it is factually incorrect to imply that you can come up with the Christian god, the Christian Jesus, the Christian plan of salvation, and the Christian religion separate and apart from the bible. If the bible is not true in all its parts, then Christianity is not true in all its parts.
C.J. goes on to the heart of his case. So I will aim my dagger there. He believes that he can prove the bible is true because it bears certain markers of truth. He makes the following statement:
If God is the Truth we should expect Him to make true statements. True to life, true to history, and true to the governing mechanisms of the universe (the laws of Nature)
This is bad epistemology. He suggests the bible must be true because it makes true statements about life, history, and physics. He goes on to give examples of each. I could spend the balance of this article disputing his points. But it wouldn’t matter. I can grant them all for the sake of time. The bible says some true things about life, history, and physics. So what?
By way of contrast, I say many true things about life, history, and physics. That does not make me the essence of truth. It does not even mean I make mostly true statements. And it certainly would not stand as proof for any untestable truth claim that I happen to make. Just because I tell the truth about gravity does not mean I am telling the truth about universe-creating pixies.
One of the best examples of this is Sir Isaac Newton. It is an under-reported fact that Newton was an alchemist. In fact, is laws of motion came from his alchemy work. Most of his work was deemed unsuitable for publication. So while we owe much thanks to the father of modern physics, he was something of an unreliable nutter in other matters.
The last way that C. J. attempts to prove truth is through the appeal of ignorance. He ends by asking a litany of questions he thinks are currently beyond the reach of modern physics. Again, I could engage with those questions to no avail, or simply point out that my lack of knowledge on a subject does not make a god any more probable than universe-creating pixies.
With my remaining space, I will give some positive reasons why the bible is an unreliable conveyance of truth:
- Creation story – C. J. is a young earth creationist (YEC). I happen to agree with his assessment that this is the bible’s position as well. On this point alone, I can dismiss the bible as having nothing worthwhile to say about how the universe actually works.
- Morality play – Almost everything god does in the bible is something I would consider immoral. Look no further than the 10th plague, or the command too Abraham to kill his child. The bible can be dismissed on these points as well.
- Sketchy history – The bible plays fast and loose with the details. In one book, Luke places the ascension of Jesus one day after he rose. In another, it was 40 days. There are too many examples like this to recount in this space.
In conclusion, C. J. offers no good reasons to trust the bible’s extraordinary claims. And I have provided three reasons not to trust them.
And that’s the view from the skeptic.