And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5
This article is written in story form and was originally published as a small
tract by Aaron Swanson.
OF GOD OR WORD OF MAN
What’s behind the Bible?
It was a cool
fall morning at the local university campus as students were bustling to their
early classes. To most, the small
flyer left on the sidewalk from over the weekend went unnoticed. But to one student, it caught his eye, and he picked it up
from the ground.
A casual glance at it revealed it to be some sort of religious tract.
"I've got some spare time before my first class," thought Tom,
"I may as well read this thing for a good laugh..."
It seemed to be a standard, banal, religious promotion.
The one thing that caught his attention, though, was their reasoning in
why others should adhere to their strange ideas.
They made the claim that the Bible was the literal "word of
God." That one made him snort.
Being well versed in both biochemistry and physics, Tom acknowledged that
there certainly must be something more than what we perceive to account for the
incredible complexity and order in the universe.
But he was vehemently agnostic- believing that no religion or philosophy
can truly reveal what is "out there."
Especially not a religion based upon some crusty old book.
Tom paused for a moment while sitting on the bench.
"I may as well do some research on this, it should be an easy claim
to prove wrong,” he thought to himself. "Then
perhaps I'll publish an article in the campus paper showing my research.
That should dispel these silly notions and help keep these beliefs from
being propagated any longer." He
made a mental note of going to the library after classes to begin his studies on
Tom decided that his first course of study would be to see if the claim
of being divinely inspired by God was actually within the writings of the Bible.
If this concept was just a theory brought out by over-zealous Christians
later on in history, that would end the debate right there...
Indeed he found that this idea was not made up later, but the very first
Christians, and even Jesus himself, believed in it. One
thing that caught his eye was where Jesus used the terms "word of God"
and "Scripture" interchangeably:
Jesus answered them, "Is
it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'?
If He called them gods, to whom the
word of God came (and Scripture
cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent
into the world. 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?’
John 10:34-38 (emphasis, underline added)
And as Paul
All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God…
2 Tim 3:16a
researched the original Greek language for the phrase "given by inspiration
of God" (the word "theopneustos")
and found that it literally means "God-breathed."
Also in various other spots a similar belief is expressed--
...knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private
interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God
spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:20,21
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the
fathers by the prophets…
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit
states: “Today, if you will hear His voice,…”
how in the above passage the author quotes a passage from Psalm 95 and
attributes it to the Holy Spirit, not just a human author, which is very
From a distance this seemed adequate, but to probe it one step further
Tom researched whether or not the New Testament writings were considered
inspired, to see if he could find a loophole in their logic.
But that search turned out to be of no avail.
Similar statements were there as well.
These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but
which the Holy Spirit teaches.
1 Corinthians 2:13a
If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the
Lord. But if anyone is ignorant,
let him be ignorant.
1 Corinthians 14:37,38
...when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you
welcomed it not as
the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God…
1 Thessalonians 2:13
“…and consider that
the longsuffering of our Lord is
salvation – as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given
to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of
these things, in which some things are hard to understand, which untaught and
unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”
2 Peter 3:15,16 (und. mine)
3:15,16 was found to be of significance. In
this passage Peter rather nonchalantly refers to Paul's epistles as being
Scripture. And it is no little
thing for a Jew to list these writings at the same level with the well-respected
Old Testament Scriptures!
"Ok, so the first Christians' belief in this phenomenon has been
established." Tom thought to himself.
"The author of that flyer was at least consistent, because if you
don't believe what the Bible says on inspiration, you may as well not believe
what it says about the resurrection or any other event.
But whether or not this is a supportable belief has yet to be proven.”
The next day
Tom decided to delve into another area of study to see if the Bible would
"preach against itself." He
decided to go through the various prophecies and see if he could find one which
turned out to be either completely false, or at least partly so.
One such prophecy he looked into was the destruction of the city Tyre as
predicted by God's prophet Ezekiel.
The Bible's claim went as such:
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, would attack the city (26:7-12).
nations would come up against it (26:3).
city would be leveled and scraped clean as a rock (26:4).
stones, timbers, and soil would be cast into the sea (26:12).
area would become a place for spreading fishermen's nets (26:5).
6.> And the
city would never be rebuilt (26:14).
Tom checked the historical records to see if this had actually happened.
To his dismay, it was incredibly accurate. Nebuchadnezzar besieged the mainland city in 586 B.C. (1 yr.
after Ezekiel's prophecy), and was able to inhabit it in 573 B.C. (14 yrs. after
prophecy). However, the people of
Tyre had left the mainland city and moved into the island 3/4 of a mile
offshore. Then, in 332 B.C. (255
yrs. after prophecy), Alexander the Great conquered Tyre, but not easily.
To reach the island part of Tyre, he literally had to have his army
scrape clean the inland city of debris, and then use those materials (stones,
timbers, & soil) to build a causeway to the island.
Alexander inflicted great damage on Tyre, but the city still remained
until 1291 A.D., when the Moslems thoroughly destroyed it (1878 yrs. after
prophecy). To this day it is a barren place where fishermen spread their
This indeed was profound information!
Namely because humans on their own, whether they think they are special
or not, cannot accurately predict the future.
(For example, in a study of the top 10 New Age psychics named The
Shattered Crystal Ball, an analysis of their prophecies from the year 1976
to 1979 revealed they were wrong 98% of the time. 6 of the 10 psychics were wrong 100% of the time.)
So how did Ezekiel foresee this series of future events, leading almost
2000 years past his time? The
evidence would seem to support what Scripture states:
word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest..."
Another area where Tom also tried to find contradiction was in the
prophecies of the Messiah. Of the
300 or so predictions about the Messiah (or Christ) in the Old Testament, he
figured that at least a couple would be contradicted by some statement in the
New Testament, thus providing a blow to the claim of the Bible's cohesion.
A veritable web of interlocking prophecy and fulfillment was found,
however, between the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
While researching that subject he ran across a study done by
mathematician Peter W. Stoner. He
selected just 8 of the O.T. prophecies concerning Christ, and estimated that the
probability of just those 8 being fulfilled accidentally would be 1 out of
comparable to laying enough silver dollars on the face of Texas to cover it 2
ft. deep, with one of them painted red, stirring the whole mass thoroughly, and
being able to pick out the red one on your first try while blindfolded!
"Alright," he thought, "so the prophecy challenge comes
out squeaky clean. But there are
still other avenues to pursue. I'm
not convinced yet. If I can find it
to be archaeologically inaccurate, that would tarnish its image."
As the author J.W. McGarvey, in his book, Lands
of the Bible, wrote: "A
fictitious narrative, located in a country with which the writer is not
personally familiar, must either avoid local allusions or be found frequently in
conflict with the peculiarities of place and of manners and customs.
By this conflict the fictitious character of the narrative is
With that in mind, Tom proceeded to scrutinize the Scriptures.
Is Egypt truly "down" from Jericho (Joshua 7:2)? Is the way from Jerusalem to Gaza really "south" of
Samaria (Acts 8:26)? Is Bethel
"west" of Ai (Genesis 12:8)?
The research of the scholar Sir William Ramsay did not prove helpful.
Ramsay, being skeptical of Acts' authenticity, went on an archaeological
expedition to Asia Minor to prove the inaccuracy of the book of Acts.
After years of digging, Ramsay had no choice but to conclude that Acts
(which mentions 32 countries, 54 cities, 9 islands, and 95 people) was
Also, the Hittite civilization (Ex. 23:28, Josh. 1:4, etc.) was once
considered fraudulent, since the only information on it was within the pages of
Scripture. However, when Hugh Winckler excavated Boghazkoy, Turkey in
1906 he discovered the ancient Hittite capital on that very site.
As J.W. McGarvey stated in his book, "in not a single instance of
this kind has any of the Bible writers been found at fault."
And later asks, "How could they have done what learned and careful
men of their own age and of subsequent ages have failed to do, unless they were
guided, as they claim to have been, by wisdom from on high?"
With much of
his previous attempts at disproving the Bible's claim of divine inspiration
having been destroyed, Tom was feeling exhausted, but by no means defeated.
He still intended to go after one other aspect in full force:
To find a scientific flaw. Just
one verse saying, "And the flat earth, which doth sitteth upon the giant
turtle..." was all he needed. After
digging for a good part of a week, Tom again discovered the opposite of what he
had set out to find. He found case
after case of knowledge which was far ahead of its time.
First, in the field of biology he found advanced knowledge--
In the O.T., infants were to be circumcised on the 8th day (Genesis
The 8th day after birth is the only time in a person's life (under normal
conditions) in which the amount of prothrombin (which prevents hemorrhaging) is
elevated above 100% of normal. Also, in Leviticus 17:11-14 it is revealed that
“the life of the flesh is
in the blood.”
was not known (or at least not put into practice!) in George Washington’s day.
He died as a result of the common medical practice of “bloodletting.”
Approximately 700 yrs before Christ, the prophet Isaiah revealed the
earth to be a circular shape. The
Hebrew word, “khug”, even denotes a spherical shape!
is He who sits above the circle of the earth..." (Isaiah 40:22) The Bible also plainly states, “He
hangs the earth on nothing."
-Far more advanced knowledge than thinking the, earth was on the back of
a giant elephant, as the pagans taught!
The Bible coincides perfectly with the first and second laws of
thermodynamics (which have been scientifically observed).
The universe is a completed creation (Genesis 2:1), the first law of
thermodynamics. And also that the
universe is wearing out (Psalm 102:26, Isaiah 51:6), the second law of
thermodynamics, entropy (“all things tend toward disorder“).
The theory of evolution, however, contradicts both.
The "springs of the sea" were not discovered until recent
times, yet the Bible mentions them (Have you entered into the springs of the sea? Or
have you walked in search of the depths? - Job 38:16). And
also, more than 2,000 yrs. prior to the works of Pierre Perrault, Edme Meriotte,
and Edmund Halley, the Bible speaks of a complete water cycle on the earth
the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is
not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.
- Ecclesiastes 1:7
He that builds his layers in the sky, and has founded His strata in the
earth; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the face of
the earth: The LORD is His name.
from his unfruitful month-long assault on the Bible, he sat to think for a time,
and meditate on what he had discovered. It
was apparent now that it could not be the product of mere men.
Because a collection of writings which were written by 40 different
authors (from different cultural and educational backgrounds), and over a time
span of some 1,600 yrs, could not possibly have produced the incredible unity we
see in the Bible without supernatural guidance.
The advanced scientific knowledge couldn't possibly be just "lucky
guesses" on part of the authors. And
the fulfilled prophecies are a veritable stamp of God upon the book.
What is there left to say? All
the evidence points in that direction. The
critics, though numerous (and confident), couldn't substantiate their claims.
"So indeed I have found myself to be wrong," he thought to
himself. "It is not as though
it has never happened before. I
have now found the book that reveals the Truth to mankind, and the far greater
goal is now before me... To seek
the will of God... and do it."
The Scripture quotations in this section are taken from the New King James
Version. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All