How do we know the Bible is God’s Word?
It’s a question almost everyone asks: how do we know the Bible is God’s Word? Dr. Jason Lisle, AiG–US, tackles this complex issue.
I’ll first note that I don’t know everything there is to know about Christianity.
I was raised as a Christian, but lately have been doubting what my family and church have taught me for many years.
The editors of this site seem to be very intelligent people. That said, can nobody see how much faith people put onto one book? Now I’m not saying that most Christian morals are not well taught, but it’s just one document that we can only assume was -really- written by God.
So basically, how on earth do we know that the Bible is really what we are told it is? And is any Christian theory/fact applicaple without resorting to a book we don’t know anything about?
With no disrespect,
—M. B., US
Although we have faith that the Bible really is the Word of God, it is not a “blind” faith or a mere assumption. It is something we can know for certain.1 We can know this by the impossibility of the contrary. That is, if the Bible were not the Word of God, we couldn’t really know anything at all! Let me explain:
First, the Bible itself claims to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). For some reason, many people seem to dismiss this as if such internal evidence doesn’t count.2 But this is a double standard that they would not apply to most other books. Consider my book Taking Back Astronomy. This book claims to have been written by me, and most people would accept that it really is written by me simply because it says so. So, why do some people arbitrarily reject the Bible’s internal claim? This is the fallacy of special pleading and may indicate an anti-God bias that is part of our fallen nature.
HOW ELSE WOULD WE KNOW THAT THE BIBLE IS WRITTEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD UNLESS IT SAID SO?
Granted, the fact that the Bible claims to be the Word of God does not by itself prove that it is. But for any other document, the internal claim of authorship is usually accepted on its own merit. So, the Bible’s self-authenticating claim should not be simply dismissed. After all, how else would we know that the Bible is written by inspiration of God unless it said so?
I suppose God could have attached a yellow sticky note to the Bible that said, “This really is my Word—God.” But then we’d have to ask the question, “How do we know for sure that the sticky note was really written by God?” And then I suppose God could attach another sticky note to the first sticky note that says, “The first sticky note was really written by Me—God.” But then we’d have to ask how we know for certain that the second sticky note was really written by God, and . . . well, you see where this is going.
Ultimately, the Bible must be self-attesting—and it is. It claims to be the Word of God, and a person must either accept or reject that claim. And that choice will have consequences. It is these consequences that allow us to know for certain that the Bible’s claim about itself is true. And this brings me to my second point:
Rejecting the claim that the Bible really is God’s Word will inevitably lead to the absurd consequence that knowledge would be impossible. Any alternative to the Bible is “sinking sand” and will not support a rational worldview (Matthew 7:24–27). This is because only the biblical worldview can account for those things necessary for knowledge. These are things most people take for granted, like laws of logic (as shown in Atheism: An Irrational Worldview), the ability of the human mind to be rational, and the basic reliability of our sensory perceptions.
These things all make sense if God created and sustains everything as the Bible teaches but cannot be rationally explained in a non-biblical worldview. In a random-chance, evolutionary universe, why would we expect the mind to be rational or our senses to be reliable? If the Bible were wrong about God creating the universe, then why would we expect the universe to be orderly and comprehensible? Science depends upon the regular operation of the universe in order to be successful. Yet, only the Bible can account for this.
For example, God has promised a certain degree of uniformity in the future—in terms of the cycles of nature (Genesis 8:22). Such consistency of natural law throughout time is what makes science possible. It’s one of the things required for knowledge as shown here: Evolution: The Anti-Science. But only God is in a position to tell us on His own authority about the future because He alone is beyond time. None of us has experienced the future. And so, it is only on the basis of God’s revelation in the Bible that scientific knowledge has an objective, rational foundation. Apart from the biblical worldview, there would be no good reason to believe in the methods of science.3
All reasoning rests upon a type of faith.4 But faith in any ultimate standard other than the biblical God cannot account for those things we take for granted. So, faith in the Bible is not merely a blind assumption. The Bible must be what it claims to be because any alternative cannot account for those things necessary for genuine knowledge. Knowledge is possible; thus, the Bible really is the true Word of God.
Dr. Jason Lisle