Does the Bible need to be reliable?
The Bible is more than just a history book. It is the word of God! It is how God communicates with us and tells us everything we need to know to understand history, the future, and most importantly, how to know we are going to heaven. It was divinely inspired and written by one author over hundreds of years (God!).
Therefore, to believe it, we need to trust it. The Bible never contradicts itself or describes anything inaccurately, but skeptics spend their time trying to find errors to try and discredit the Bible.
However, we will show in this article that not only can the Bible never be disproven, but also its reliability and accuracy is repeatedly shown as it makes claims which are repeatedly proven right.
In this article we will cover the scientific and historical reliability of the Bible. Although it is not the purpose of the Bible to reveal these truths to us, the evidence it contains helps to support the Bible’s divine accuracy.
Is the Bible scientifically reliable?
The Bible has never been found to contradict anything that science can prove. Skeptics are often quick to argue that we either have to choose to follow the Bible or science, but this is not true.
They can work easily in harmony and support each other. Clearly the Bible does not teach evolution or the big bang theory, but science cannot prove it either so that is just another belief system, rather than being supported by evidence as science should be.
One important thing to consider is that the Bible is not written to be a science book. God has infinite knowledge of every detail of the universe, but this is not the purpose of the Bible. Every detail the Bible gives is scientifically accurate, but it is not scientifically exhaustive – it does not claim to explain all natural processes to us.
Critics often take this to say that the authors of the Bible had no understanding, and therefore the Bible was not divinely inspired. If God knew about DNA, why didn’t he tell the Biblical authors so they could record it in the Bible? However, the Bible was written with a different purpose, to inform man of the plan of the universe, the coming judgement and how to be saved from it.
The Bible actually does contain many scientific truths that are both supported by evidence today and are cohesive with findings of science. Even before science realised it, the Bible knew it, which is huge evidence that the Bible was not written by man, but rather by inspiration of God.
- We now know that blood clotting peaks on a newborn’s eighth day, which is when God told them to circumcise (Leviticus 12:3).
- Blood is necessary for survival, but doctors used to think that draining someone’s blood would help them recover from an illness until the 19th century. Leviticus 17:11 tell us “the life of the flesh is in the blood”.
- Psalm 8:8 tells us of “the paths of the seas”. These verses led Matthew Fontaine Maury to discover ocean currents.
- Wind circuits go south and return north continually, Ecclesiastes 1:6 says, “The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.”
- In 1845, doctors would examine dead bodies and then examine pregnant women, causing a post-birth death rate of 30%. When hand washing was introduced this dropped to 2% immediately. Until recently, doctors washed their hands in stagnant water, but the Bible always said to wash with running water (Leviticus 15:13 “…wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean.”)
- Luke 17:34-36 says the coming of Jesus Christ will happen while some sleep at night and some are working in the day. This is showing different time zones, before enough of the earth was explored for us to discover this scientifically.
- During the Black Death in the 1300s, patients who were sick or dead were kept next to their living family. Leviticus 13 commands us to isolate the ill through quarantining to prevent contamination.
- Early cultures thought that the earth must stand upon something to hold it in place. Some thought this was a man, elephant, turtle or catfish. The Bible stood apart from this belief, as Job 26:7 reads, “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”
- The water cycle in described in Ecclesiastes 1:7, “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”
- In Job 38:31-32, God describes the stars and says, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?” We now know that the stars that make up the constellation Pleiades are bound together by a gravitational attraction. Orion is made of a ‘belt’ formed by three stars which are not bound together but are actually moving in different directions – it is “loosed”. Furthermore, Arcturus was believed to be a single star, but in 1971 astronomers found that it actually consisted of 53 stars (“his sons”) which are travelling together at such a high and uncontrollable velocity that the constellation is called a ‘runaway’. The Bible told of intricate unknowable details of three different constellations.
These are just a few examples of findings or advances in science that were already given in the Bible thousands of years before. These details have always been there, but it is not until science catches up that we can begin to understand what the Bible is describing.
Is the Bible historically reliable?
There are many examples of details in the Bible that have been authenticated with historic, literary and archeological finds.
If the events in the Bible really occurred, we could expect to see evidence of this. For example, by digging up ancient artifacts or through historical records written outside of the Bible.
In fact, we have many instances of this that validate and support the accounts given in the Bible. Many of these examples also involve historians doubting the reliability of the Bible until evidence is found to support it.
- The Hittites were a group of people mentioned nearly 50 times in the Bible, but for years there was no archeological evidence found to say that they ever existed. Critics therefore said that the Bible was wrong, but since 1876 there have been many discoveries such as thousands of tablets and records that describe the Hittites as a powerful nation living in the 16th-15th century BC, and therefore supporting the record given in the Bible.
- Similarly, Belshazzar king of Babylon is named in the book of Daniel, but critics believed that Nabonidus was the last king of Babylon until they found tablets saying that Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ son and the king of Babylon.
- The book of Nehemiah describes the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. Skeptics did not believe that this was true, but in November 2007, an excavation found remnants of the wall in Jerusalem.
- Historians did not always agree that the Philistines existed as the Bible describes, until they discovered a fitting description of the Philistines on the Temple of Rameses III in Egypt.
- Sargon king of Assyria is named in Isaiah 20, but was not found in any other records outside of the Bible until archeologists discovered Sargon’s palace in Iraq, where it also recorded on the walls the account of Sargon capturing Ashdod as the Bible described.
- There are many other examples of records being found which corroborate Biblical accounts, for example the captivity of Samaria is detailed on the palace walls of Sargon II, Moab rebelling against Israel is recorded on the Misha inscription, Sennacherib’s assassination is recorded in the chronicles of his son Esar-haddon, the fall of Babylon is recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder, etc.
- Archeologists claim to have found the sites where Sodom and Gomorrah once were, showing evidence of destruction by fire.
- Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian in the first century, and wrote about Jesus’ life. He wrote in ‘Jewish Antiquities’; “Jesus was a wise man who did surprising feats, taught many, won over followers from among Jews and Greeks, was believed to be the Messiah, was accused by the Jewish leaders, was condemned to be crucified by Pilate, and was considered to be resurrected.” This corroborates the accounts given in the Bible.
- Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman first century historian wrote about how the early Christians suffered under the rule of the Roman Emperor Nero, and how Jesus himself was killed during the rule of Pontius Pilate.
- Historians Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and Thallus also wrote about early Christian persecution that is consistent with the records within the Bible. These add external support to the accounts recorded in the New Testament, as they were not Christian historians.
Archeological and historical finds are always growing. The Bible contains numerous accounts of nations, events and cultures, and historians are finding increasingly more evidence to show that the Bible’s account of these is both reliable and accurate, and has infinitely more knowledge than we could ever expect to be preserved unless God protected it himself.
Is the Bible prophetically reliable?
Another way to determine whether the Bible can be trusted is to examine whether the claims it makes about future events are trustworthy.
If the Bible consistently predicts future events that are all then fulfilled, this is huge evidence for the accuracy of the Bible. No other book on this earth has claimed to know the future and has been correct in doing so.
Some other religious texts contain prophecies about future events, but we know these are not divine because they have not been fulfilled.
Here are just a few examples of prophecies in the Bible that have been fulfilled:
- In Isaiah 11:11-12 and Ezekiel 37, the Bible prophesied that Israel would be brought back together as a nation, after being scattered. After 70 A.D., the nation of Israel did not exist, until they became a nation again in 1948.
- The book of Daniel specifically described the rise and fall of four successive world empires – Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Each detail was then systematically fulfilled.
- Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, over three hundred prophecies were written, describing the details of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus fulfilled every single one of these, down to the smallest detail.
- Fifty years before it happened, the prophet Jeremiah wrote that Israel would be in captivity to the Babylonian empire for seventy years. In 609 B.C., Babylon captured the nation of Israel and destroyed Jerusalem. This captivity then ended in 539 B.C., seventy years later.
In summary, the Bible contains a vast wealth of information that has been shown repeatedly throughout the centuries to be reliable. This provides an objective basis to believe the Bible as trustworthy and accurate. Furthermore, to call the Bible unreliable historically, archeologically, scientifically or prophetically would be deny an enormous amount of evidence.
Another testament to the divine nature of the Bible is that many of the claims it makes could not be verified until thousands of years later. For example, scientific truths shown in the early books of the Bible were not realised by secular scientists even until the 20th century in some instances.
It is impossible that the Bible was written by men, given that it is accurate in every sense, hundreds of years before the information could have been known. The Bible is constantly shown to be trustworthy, infallible, and dependable. Therefore, we should whole-heartedly trust every claim the Bible makes, including what is says of our sinful condition and the means of salvation.