How do you KNOW the Bible is the inspired word of God?
The creation of the universe out of nothing, the global flood of Noah, the Tower of Babel, Daniel and the lion’s den, the virgin birth, resurrection and return of Christ… these are all things true Christians believe in. Why? Because the Bible tells us about these things (and certainly many others as well). That, however, leads to a very important question… “How do we know the Bible is the inspired word of God?” Interestingly, I meet a lot of Christians who have never really spent any significant time thinking about this question. The skeptic, on the other hand, has thought about it and is not shy when demanding an answer. Unfortunately, most Christians are at a loss to come up with a reasonable response.
Before directly addressing this question, I would ask the skeptic, “What would you accept as evidence that God is the ultimate author of the Bible?” The response I typically receive is, “I don’t know.” If they don’t know, how do they know they haven’t already seen the evidence? How will they decide whether to accept or reject future evidence if they don’t have any tangible criteria with which to make this decision?
I don’t have time to develop this fully in this brief article, but theoretically there’s no way to technically “prove” that God is the ultimate author of the Bible (or any book, for that matter). Therefore, it is unreasonable for anyone to make this demand. However, we should be able to convey powerful evidence that makes this belief very reasonable. On an interesting side note, I have had some skeptics tell me what would convince them of the Divine inspiration of the Bible. It usually sounds something like this… “Well, if God appeared to me right now, grabbed a Bible and said, ‘Yes, this is the book I wrote,’ then I would believe it.” The problem with this scenario is that it still wouldn’t be absolute proof. For instance, how would the skeptic know that it was God that appeared to him? Maybe it was an illusion or a trick. Maybe it was actually Satan pretending to be God. Maybe it was an alien playing the role of God. And even if it was God, how would the skeptic know he wasn’t lying to him? Somewhat of a silly scenario, but it helps to illustrate the point.
Getting back on track and addressing this question more directly… how should we respond when someone asks us how we actually know the Bible is the inspired word of God? The following is a brief description of how I personally respond and it has been very effective.
I begin by telling the skeptic that if God truly did author a particular book (whether it would be the Bible, the Book of Mormon or any other religious document), I would expect to see certain characteristics or attributes associated with that source. For example, I would expect to see “internal consistency”, meaning that there shouldn’t be any contradictions within its pages. If I find them (true contradictions and not just alleged contradictions), that would be good evidence that God is not the ultimate author of that book, because He would not contradict Himself.
Another characteristic is that the book should be 100% historically accurate. If we find proven historical errors, that would be a good indication that God was not the author, because He would know history, since He knows everything.
A third attribute would be scientific accuracy. If whatever source we are considering to be authored by God makes scientific statements, we would expect them to be 100% accurate. Therefore, if it contains statements that have clearly been demonstrated to be false, that would also be a good indicator that God was not truly the author, because He would know science, since He is all-knowing. (We have to be cautious here, because secular scientists often claim that science has shown the Bible to be in error, when in reality it’s not really science that is in conflict with the Bible… just the scientist’s presuppositions and biases.) One other very important point related to this particular category is that the Bible contains many statements (written a few thousand years ago – long before the invention of telescopes and microscopes) that modern science has confirmed to be true! The question arises… “How did these guys (i.e. the men who physically penned the original words) get all of this scientifically correct if they were just writing from their own supposedly ‘primitive’ wisdom?” You can read more about science and the Bible in other articles I’ve written:
- Isn't evolution based on science and creation just a religious belief?
- How do you respond to people who say the Bible is not a science textbook?
- Is there any scientific evidence for creation?
A fourth characteristic regarding evidence for God’s authorship is prophetic accuracy. If the source you are considering contains predictions about the future that have been proven false, that is also strong evidence that God is not the author. Conversely, if it is shown to be 100% accurate regarding future events, you have to ask yourself, “How is that possible, if it was just written by human beings?” People make predictions all the time and once-in-a-while they are correct, but no one is right all the time. Also, most people’s predictions are about things that they believe will happen relatively soon and often aren’t really all that surprising. The Bible, on the other hand, make many predications hundreds of years in advance, depicting highly unlikely or seemingly impossible events, sometimes even naming people who aren’t even alive yet! A perfect track record associated with these types of details could only be attributed to the supernatural. The Bible, in fact, is 27% prophetic in nature, meaning that over one quarter of its contents deals with predicting the future! You will not find its equal… not even close!
Summing up this brief article, it’s not about “proving” the Bible is inspired by God, it’s about showing multiple lines of solid evidence strongly supportive of this view. If you would like to learn specific examples from each of these areas (internal consistency, historical accuracy, scientific accuracy and prophetic accuracy), I highly recommend any of the following resources:
Book: Let There Be Light (available in paperback & eBook) Booklet: How do you know the Bible the Inspired Word of God? DVD: Is the Bible the Inspired Word of God?
As with all of our other articles, much more could be said about this, but if you have any questions at about this article or any other issues, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time. We'd love to hear from you! You can even arrange a FREE ENGAGEMENT at your church, school, conference or camp.
Jay Seegert (Co-Founder & Principal Lecturer, Creation Education Center)