Should You Believe the Bible?
FAITH or doubt? Reliable or unreliable? These alternatives have become a part of people’s everyday life. So many things we read and hear are unreliable. Of human wisdom, author Aldous Huxley once wrote: “Finding bad reasons for what one believes for other bad reasons—that’s philosophy.”
As for science, bookshelves in all the great national libraries are filled with scientific, scholarly works that have become outdated over the past 50 years. Small wonder that people have become skeptical about what they read.
NEGATIVE DOUBTING OR POSITIVE RESEARCH?
In a world where skepticism is often a necessary shield against deception and fraud, a person can easily fall into the habit of having doubts about everything and everyone. “Once bitten, twice shy,” is a saying often heard, and understandably so. But is it really satisfying to live in a world of doubt? Can an individual have firm convictions if he does not have some reliable source of information?
Negative doubting will get you nowhere. Sincere questioning and positive research can, on the other hand, be useful tools for the truth seeker. This is true in the field of science. In his masterwork Introduction à l’étude de la médecine expérimentale (Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine), French scientist Claude Bernard stated: “The first requirement to be met by a scientist investigating natural phenomena is to maintain complete independence of thought. . . . He who doubts is a true scientist, having doubts about himself and his own interpretation of things, but putting faith in science.”
So according to this famous French physiologist, scientific research requires both doubt and faith. A research scientist doubts if everything has yet been learned in a certain field, but in carrying out his experiments he is obliged to put faith in what is considered to be scientific truth in other fields. In other words, he does not call into question science as a whole. His doubts in one certain field are constructive, inasmuch as he hopes to further the interests of science by making a new discovery.
The same can be true in the field of religion. Without doubting the existence of God, a person can justifiably have doubts about some of the doctrines taught by churches that claim to be Christian. Sincere research can result in the rejection of religious error; it can also lead to the discovery of true worship. But on what basis can that research be carried on?
THE BIBLE—A BASIS FOR FAITH
The universally recognized basis for examining the Christian religion is the Holy Bible. Interestingly, the Bible itself does not require blind faith of its readers. Warning against credulity, it states: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Prov. 14:15) And again: “Make sure of all things; hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Thess. 5:21) That implies careful examination, sifting, the exercising of your “power of reason” and then holding on to what is found to be true.—Rom. 12:1, 2.
Such reasoning, and proving to oneself, enables a person to acquire convictions. And such convictions build up faith. As defined in the Bible, “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Heb. 11:1) Bible faith requires “demonstration,” proof. It takes knowledge to have the kind of faith recommended in the Bible. An individual is not born with such faith. It is something that grows with knowledge and experience. The Bible further states: “Faith follows the thing heard. In turn the thing heard is through the word about Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) And the only place to find the authentic “word about Christ” is in the Bible.
FAITH—A DESIRABLE QUALITY TODAY
To build up your faith, you need knowledge and the ability to use it. Such ability is what the Bible calls “wisdom.” That you can do something about acquiring such wisdom is borne out by the following Biblical advice: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him. But let him keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. . . . he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.”—Jas. 1:5-8.
In a world beset by doubts and uncertain as to its destiny, a world that has rejected time-proved moral values, is it not obvious that man needs a spiritual compass with which to guide himself? The doubter is truly “like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about,” virtually hurled hither and thither by the changing philosophies of unstable men. Such a person is sure of nothing. He has no convictions. No argument, be it ever so logical, can convince him. He cannot believe because he does not want to believe.
PUT THE BIBLE TO THE TEST
Such skeptics doubt that life has any meaning. They are content to live their life span (which is shorter than that of certain animals) and to die, with no hope of living forever. We hope that you, dear reader, are among those who feel it is illogical to conceive of man living just 70 or 80 years, only to die, with all his accumulated knowledge and experience disappearing forever. It is hoped that you are in the category of the life seekers, who are also truth seekers. Of such persons living in the first century, the Bible states: “All those who were rightly disposed for everlasting life became believers.”—Acts 13:48.
To help you believe that the Bible is able to provide life-giving knowledge, we invite you to consider the following archaeological and scientific proof of the Bible’s reliability.