I appreciate your thoughtful inquiry in your response to my blog post entitled “The Bible Proven to Be God’s Word By Its Own Evidence” and your respectful demeanor. I respond to a few things below:
“The intention of Riley’s post, from what I can observe and determine, was to convince (or not?) the reader that the Bible was authored or significantly inspired by the Christian God (Yahweh).”
You’ve noticed a limitation of my blog post, that is, that it does not actually provide proof from the Scriptures for God’s authorship of them. In it I merely point to some categories of the evidence of divine authorship in the text of Scripture, and invite the reader to examine it for himself to find the evidence in the text. My belief is that these marks are self-evident in Scripture, and that the reader of Scripture will observe them without my needing to point them out specifically. However, that’s not to say that it wouldn’t be useful or helpful for someone to write a thorough introductory presentation to explore examples of these proofs in Scripture. Think of this post as finger pointing to the Bible as containing internal evidence of its authenticity and a general description of what form that evidence takes in the Bible.
“Its main arguments are unfortunately prefaced by a disclaimer which claims that the Pastor’s arguments is not necessarily believable unless:
the Spirit of God witness to his heart to persuade him that it is the very word of God.
This seems unnecessarily disparaging on the part of the Pastor, who by this admission seems to be, before even making them, suggesting that his arguments are not good enough to convince an average critical reader.”
It’s not a problem with my arguments (I don’t think) and certainly not a problem with the evidence. It’s a moral problem, that the Bible is against the self-interested bias of those who have not been reborn by the Spirit. It’s not that the evidence isn’t clear enough to be seen. It’s the tinted lenses worn by unbelievers that obscure the evidence for them. I can see why the realization that your naturally in-born anti-God bias skews your interpretation of the evidence seems “disparaging”, but I would like to emphasize that we’re all in the same boat here. I and every other Christian would be in exactly the same condition apart from a miracle of grace changing our hearts from rebellion against God to being beloved sons and daughters of His. That is to say, we’re not better than you, in and of ourselves.
“He is apparently suggesting that one should perhaps temporarily suspend one’s critical faculty and allow oneself to be overcome by what could very easily be described and even proven with the right equipment to be a delusional fantasy.”
Certainly not! I’m inviting you to use your critical faculty and examine the evidence in the text of Scripture, in my hope that God will speak to you through it and rip the blinders off. It’s not a matter of “letting yourself be overcome.” This is a secret and mysterious operation outside of our control that we only know from its effects on us after the fact. I detest hyper-sentimental mysticism.
“For his argument to hold water, the Pastor would also have to quantify in some way what the limit of human authorship is, which he seems to have made no attempt to do.”
I agree that this would be required, if the intention of my post were to “quantifiably” prove the argument it was making. But it wasn’t. These truths are self-evident in Scripture, where God speaks in a self-attesting way, grasped by the reader as much by intuition as by deduction. I’m trying to inspire the reader to examine the evidence of divine authorship in Scripture for himself.
As far as contradictions, no contradiction in Scripture has ever been proven. Your example is not a contradiction. The account in Genesis 1-2 of creation is not in strict chronological order. Genesis 2:19 recaps 1:25 for the reader’s benefit. In fact, ancient literature in general does not share the modern concept of strict historical chronology that we’re used to. The Bible must be taken as intended on its own terms and not read as if it were 21st century western literature. That’s not a defect of Scripture; it’s just its character in the form of literature in which it was given.
Your assertion of evolution as the origin of species on earth is based on your prior naturalistic assumptions, no proof of error in Scripture. There is zero empirical (testable, repeatable) evidence for evolution as the origin of species because no one but God was there to witness origins. Your clock example is pertinent. If you see the minute hand on the 4, you could surmise that twenty minutes ago the hand was on the 12. But, if I left a green sticky note on the clock indicating that I had just set the clock 10 minutes ago, that would be evidence that trumps your extrapolation. That, my friend, is what we have in Genesis 1-2. It’s an account from the Creator that trumps all human surmises, educated guesses, and extrapolations based on natural data.
“Regarding “monstrous immorality and injustice”; is the injunction to kill homosexuals, moral?”
“Is committing mass genocide in the form of Noah’s flood, moral?”
Yes. This was a judgment of God upon mankind for sin. God was bringing exactly that punishment with which He had threatened Adam and Eve in the garden, if they sinned against Him, that is death. This curse is upon all descendants of Adam from conception. (Listen to my fuller audio exposition here.) The wonder is not that God brought death upon the earth, but that He saved Noah and his family, who didn’t deserve to be saved. Wonderful grace. The flood was a microcosm of that judgment which is coming upon the whole human race for sin, every man, woman and child. Just like those in the ark, all those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in Scripture will be saved. All others will be damned forever. This is perfect justice for the damned and unmerited mercy for those who are saved in Christ.
“Indeed I need just refer the reader to the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy to find a great many things that would be considered highly immoral today.”
The moral relativism of our modern societies are largely to blame for misperceptions of the Lord’s statutes, as well as misrepresentations. But for those who diligently study and consider, the law of God in these books shows itself to be morally perfect and exemplary.
“If you really mean what you are saying here Pastor, or at least implying, that you take all your morals from the Bible and that they are ‘pure morality from God Himself’, then I really would not like to meet you.”
I’m sorry to hear that. You sound prejuidiced in this regard. It pays dividends to be more tolerant of people who think differently than you.
“You’d condemn many of my friends as inhuman and feel enjoined to kill them,”
I’m not sure if you were being serious here but I have never been enjoined to kill anyone. There are several important interpretive principles at play in understanding and applying the various categories of law in the Old Testament. It’s probably enough to say for now that capital punishment belongs only to the civil government, not to Christians individually.
“you’d approve of slavery of other human beings, and you would condone genocide in the name of God.”
Again, God has not enjoined either slavery or genocide to me or other Christians. Our weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, to the pulling down of strongholds. We are conquering the world by His word and Spirit, a blessed and loving conquest.
“I would point my rather under-qualified literary finger at the works of Shakespeare for consideration as being possibly better in many ways than the Bible.”
Shakespeare, although inspiring, insightful, and with an oratorical eloquence not found in the Bible, does not represent around 40 human authors writing sixty-six books in three languages over a period of at least 2400 years to a common scope, theme and purpose.
from my original post: No one writes about the human race the way the Bible does. The Bible presents man as completely unable to do any good thing apart from a sovereign change of his heart wrought by the power of God as a miracle upon the soul. The Bible is utterly unflattering to all humankind and exalts God alone. Its revealed way of salvation by God’s grace alone through Christ for the very people who have earned eternal punishment for themselves by their hatred of Him and their evil deeds, is something that no human being ever could or would dream of. Human literature is flattering to the human nature and character. But in the Bible, God gets all of the credit for everything that is truly good, and man gets absolutely none, which proves that God is the Author and not merely man.
“Like argument 1 this is simply a non-argument. A non-supernatural entity could have written that.”
Firstly, I’m not sure you understand the extent to which the Bible glorifies God and humbles man. Con men promoting deceitful beliefs always find ways to glorify, and do not go out of their way to denigrate, themselves, as the Bible does its human authors and protagonists. The Bible literally takes pains on every page to reserve all of the credit for God and none for any human. I’d like to see someone provide an example of any other human writing that does anything approaching that.
“The sense of right and wrong that, I should correct Pastor Riley, most of us possess (notice the ‘design’ failure in psychopaths), comes from evolution by natural selection.”
First of all your prior assumptions are being asserted as truth. Secondly, the evolutionary view of the laws of morality is entirely insufficient to account for morality. If it could evolve, it could still be evolving, which means it would not necessarily apply universally, to all people in all places. Then, it could not be applied uniformly, and it would lose all utility. Only the Triune God of Scripture adequately accounts for mankind’s abiding sense of right and wrong, since He made us in His image, reflecting His own unchanging attribute of righteousness.
“Death is painful to observe when of a close relative because a gene carrier and carer of yours is ceasing to be, and therefore can no longer reproduce or care for you.”
Very true, yet we know intuitively that it’s more than just the loss. The death itself stings.
“The Bible gives false answers to the “human problem”. Evil, for example, is not due to the sin of Adam, it is due to desire which evolved for the reason I stated.”
This isn’t a counterargument, but a mere statement of your assumptions. As I explained above, the evolutionary model is entirely inadequate to account for morality. The Bible’s account resonates and matches human experience. We have guilt due to having violated our guilty consciences. Nature itself shows that evil must be punished. In our hearts we cry out for justice against those who have wronged us, and fear retribution for what we ourselves have done. In God’s glorious plan to save a people for Himself through the sacrifice of His Son, perfect righteousness meets unspeakable mercy. It is only in Christ that, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10 In God’s plan both His justice to punish for sin and His mercy to love sinners are perfectly preserved.
“The Pastor’s first paragraph here seems to be suggesting that those who do not believe the Christian hypothesis who are aware of it choose not to do so because they are scared because they have sinned and don’t want to go to hell.”
That’s correct. The light of nature shows that there is a God who rewards good and punishes evil. That’s why all human cultures and religions have believed it in some form. And we have all done things that violated our own conscience. We all experience guilt, and know that we deserve punishment. While some go into a state of denial over it, i. e. atheists, others have embraced the only remedy, the one revealed by God Himself and not of human device.
“I can only hope that the arguments against Christianity which I have provided above and in previous posts were sufficiently articulate and well argued to undermine this assumption.”
Though well-written and displaying a degree of reason, these types of arguments from faulty presuppositions only serve to confirm man’s rebellion against His Creator of whom he knows intuitively.
“Since I don’t believe it exists,”
Ah, but that’s where I don’t believe you. You and all other sinners yet in their natural state are in a form of denial re: your Creator.
“If atheism was simply a response to fear of Hell then one would not expect to observe an statistical inverse correlation between intelligence and religiosity, which has been found to be the case in almost every study carried out on the subject.”
I fully accept that statistic, as far as averages. The intelligent among us tend to be more prideful, self-reliant, and this is an obstacle to receiving God’s revelation in Christ. Jesus said the poor and meek are blessed, not the smart and intelligent. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 explains that God prefers to choose the less esteemed among us.
‘At this point the Pastor goes back to his circular reasoning of “Like I said in the disclaimer above, you won’t believe anything I’ve written above unless the Spirit has opened your eyes to see clearly.” Again, for a confident belief, surely this kind of backing down would not be necessary.’
It’s not the evidence that is problematic but the bias of the interpreters. I can pinpoint it with a simple question: Do you believe that your reason is autonomous? If you say yes, you have already ruled out faith in God, in your thinking.
“With the proposed argument, by suggesting the only way to believe it is by a personal experience, you are ruling out the only method of truth determination known to consistently work on current data, the scientific method.”
The scientific method is not the only source of knowledge. Different categories require different proofs: courtrooms accept witness testimony, philosophy uses reason, relationships are based on trust, etc. God requires faith in Him as He has revealed Himself.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my blog post. I hope you find some benefit in my response. Even more, I hope that you will pick up the Holy Bible and read it to see for yourself.