The Bible's Inspiration and Time

Very few people in this world really consider the Bible to be inspired, and the militant campaign of atheists, skeptics, agnostics, and secular humanists to discredit the Bible has gotten so large that there is a publishing company (Prometheus Press) that devotes a high percentage of their products to the goal of destroying religion. The major thrust of most of the attacks on the Bible are discrepancies in historical data. Some examples are:

  1. How long were the Israelites in Egypt and in Canaan? 450, 430, 400? Exodus 12:40 Galatians 3:17 Acts 13:20 Genesis 15:13
  2. Where did Aaron die? Deuteronomy 10:6 vs. Numbers 20:28 ; 33:38
  3. At what age did the Levites enter service in the sanctuary? 30 ( Numbers 4:3) 25 ( Numbers 8:24) or 20 ( Ezra 3:8)
  4. How many stalls did Solomon build for his calvary? 4,000 ( 2 Chronicles 9:25) or 40,000 ( 1 Kings 4:26)
  5. How many did Jashobeam kill? 300 ( 1 Chronicles 11:11) or 800 ( 2 Samuel 23:8)

There are explanations for these types of claims, and whole volumes have been compiled. The fact of the matter is that historical documents are easy to alter, fabricate, inflate, or misinterpret. In recent years, there have even been those who have attempted to deny or at least mollify the holocaust of World War II. God has not struck dead any person who mistranslated, doctored, miscopied, or deliberately altered the content of the Bible. There have seemed to be a providentially constant flow of manuscripts and archaeological finds to correct these man-made modifications of biblical cannon, but the variations in modern Bibles show how patient God is in this matter.

Over the years, we have devoted a great deal of space in this journal to the demonstration of cases where scientific statements are shown in the Bible that were totally beyond the knowledge of the day in which they were written. Some examples are:

  1. The use of shanyhim in Genesis 1:1 for the word "heaven." This word literally means "heaved up things" and is in total accord with modern understanding of the expanding universe.
  2. The teaching of Leviticus 17:11 that blood is essential for life when most cultures of the day in which Leviticus was written practiced blood letting due to contrary beliefs.
  3. The practices of quarantine in Leviticus 13-15 to avoid the spread of disease.
  4. The sequence in which life forms appear on the earth both in the fossil record and in biological succession today--both in accordance with Genesis 1.
  5. The recognition of lightning as a natural phenomenon, not a supernatural act of angry gods ( Jeremiah 10:13, 51:16).

The standard response of skeptics to claims of this kind about the Bible is to attribute them to luck or genius on the part of the author. Take a look at modern predictions by reputable, intelligent, scientifically literate people which are all less than 200 years old.

  1. "The [flying] machine will eventually be fast; they will be used in sport, but they are not to be thought of as commercial carriers." --Octave Chanute, aviation pioneer, 1904.
  2. "The ordinary 'horseless carriage' is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never come into as common use as the bicycle." --The Literary Digest, 1889.
  3. "[It] is, of course, altogether valueless.... Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality." --Lt. Joseph D. Ives, Corps of Topographical Engineers, 1861, on the Grand Canyon.
  4. "Landing and moving around on the moon offer so many serious problems for human beings that it may take science another 200 years to lick them." --Science Digest, August, 1948.
  5. "X rays are a hoax." "Aircraft flight is impossible." "Radio has no future." --Physicist and mathematician Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)
  6. "Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H Duell, Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899.
  7. "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in denying his request to invest in radio, 1920.
  8. "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, Chairman, IBM, 1943.
  9. "The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives." --Adm. William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Energy Project, 1945.
  10. "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, 1949.
  11. "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca Recording Co., in rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
  12. "There is no reason for any individuals to have a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
  13. "This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communications. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

The point is not that these brilliant people were wrong, but that they were typical. For the Bible to address the needs of people living in 1500 BC and also in the year 2,000 and do it without the kind of mistakes we see mankind typically making is incredible.

Do not focus on a few negatives when you examine the credibility of the Bible, but realize the preponderance of wisdom, facts, and practical advice it gives--totally beyond the normal writing of uninspired men.

                            --John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, May/Jun97