The Bible Is the Word of God
IS IT true that, between them, science and higher criticism have ousted the Bible from its earlier status as the Word of God? One might easily think so. Even religious leaders are willing to say in print that the Bible is unscientific, and higher criticism is so respectable that it is taught in theological seminaries. But what do the facts show?
The Bible and Higher Criticism
Regarding higher criticism, the fact is that, as yet, no solid proof has ever been produced for its ideas. None of the supposed source materials of the Pentateuch or the book of Isaiah have ever been found. And ancient fragments of Daniel have been uncovered suggesting that that book was already highly esteemed just a few years after the higher critics claim that it was written!
A theology professor declares: “It cannot be proved in any particular case that Biblical books arose in a fraudulent manner as described by the critical school. It is one thing for that school to assert such a thing, it is quite another thing for them to prove it.” (Wick Broomall in Biblical Criticism) An archaeologist adds: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly that there is hardly any evidence at all in the ancient Near East for documentary or literary fabrications.” (W. F. Albright in From the Stone Age to Christianity) True, higher criticism continues to flourish. But this is because it harmonizes so well with today’s secular way of thinking, not because it has been proved.
The Bible and Science
Has science, then, in some ways disproved the Bible? Well, sometimes it has appeared to be so. For example, in the 18th century a deepening understanding of the makeup of the earth made it clear that our planet was very old. At that time, many religionists insisted that, according to the Bible, the earth was only 6,000 years old. This seemed a clear case of a Bible teaching being disproved. The fact is, though, that the Bible nowhere states how old the earth is. It was a misunderstanding on the part of those religionists that caused the problem.
The very first words of the Bible are: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) This statement, that there was a beginning, is in harmony with current scientific observations. Then, according to the Bible, there was a period when the earth was “formless and waste,” uninhabited and uninhabitable. (Genesis 1:2) Geologists who try to reconstruct the early history of the earth suggest that at one time this was indeed the case. Following that, the Bible describes how seas and landmasses were formed. Plant life appeared, then sea creatures, birds, and, eventually, land animals. Finally, man himself appeared. Overall, this is very similar to what scientists have discovered by digging through the old geological strata of the earth, even to the general order of the appearance of life.—Genesis 1:1-28.
This is not to say that the Bible is completely in harmony with what appears in scientific textbooks. But there are so many points of agreement that we have to wonder: ‘How did those early Bible writers know so much?’ Given the primitive level of scientific knowledge in those far-off days, it could only be that someone told them—strong support for the fact that the Bible really is the Word of God. Where there are disagreements between scientists’ theories and the Bible, should we take it as a matter of course that the Bible is wrong and scientists are always right? There are many precedents showing that science can get off onto a wrong track from time to time.
Of course, the theory of evolution presents a major point of disagreement with the Bible. What is noteworthy about this theory is how quickly it became popular among scientists after the publication of Darwin’s book The Origin of Species. It was accepted long before there was any time to test the book’s hypotheses or find proofs for them in the fossil record. Why? Evolutionist Hoimar v. Ditfurth makes the candid admission: “Science is by definition the attempt to see how far man and nature can be explained without recourse to miracles.” (The Origins of Life, by H. v. Ditfurth) Is it surprising, then, that scientists have eagerly seized on the evolution theory, spending much time and effort trying to prove it and very little trying to see if it can be disproved? The only alternative, creation, would be a miracle—which to them is unthinkable.
Really, though, for anyone not prejudiced against miracles, creation is a very logical way of understanding things that scientists have been unable to explain, such as the source of the life principle, consciousness, intelligence, and the moral nature of man.
A Book With Power
The Bible itself warns that there will be conflict between the received wisdom of the world and the Bible’s own teachings. (1 Corinthians 1:22, 23; 3:19) Since knowledge based on human research and philosophizing is so uncertain, this conflict should not surprise us. And we should not be disturbed if some popular theories contradict the Bible. The Bible itself directs us to look in other directions for proof of its claim that it truly is the Word of God.
For example, the Bible proves to be a book of prophecy. (2 Peter 1:19-21) Higher critics claim that these prophecies were written after the event, but in many cases this is clearly impossible. Prophecies about Jesus made centuries before his birth were fulfilled to the letter. (See, for example, Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 9:24-27.) Jesus’ own prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem were precisely fulfilled. And the prophecies that he and the apostle Paul made about the last days read like this morning’s newspapers. (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) Since humans are notoriously inaccurate when they try to foretell the future, the Bible’s prophecies are a strong argument that it comes from a higher Source.
Another powerful evidence is seen in its own words: “The word of God is alive and exerts power.” (Hebrews 4:12) That power has been demonstrated throughout history by the number of people who have suffered and died for the right to read the Bible or to share it with others. No other publication has ever had such an effect for good on people when read in a spirit of humility and reasonableness. It changes warlike people into peaceable ones and can completely alter an individual’s personality. (Micah 4:3, 4; Ephesians 4:24) As an example, consider what the Bible did for Luiz.
In the Brazilian prison to which he had been committed, Luiz was known to be extremely dangerous. Then, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, while ministering to some of Luiz’ fellow prisoners, had the opportunity to speak to Luiz. The words of the Bible had such an effect on Luiz that soon he was a different person. (Colossians 3:9, 10) Previously, no one had dared to talk back to him, but now he was treating everyone with kindness and even giving prison authorities their due respect. Five years after the Bible started working on Luiz’ personality, he began to share what he had learned with other prisoners, and he is even allowed to preach outside the prison walls.
Then consider Wayne. Wayne led a self-indulgent life in the United States, devoted mostly to immorality and the misuse of drugs. When he got married, his bad conduct finally drove his wife into immorality too. Their homelife was terrible. When they were at the point of divorce, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses had the opportunity to show Wayne what the Bible has to say about responsibility and love in the family circle. (Ephesians 4:22-24; 5:22-28) He was helped to find the root of some of his problems. (See 1 Corinthians 15:33.) And, eventually, he was able to change his way of thinking. This also helped his wife to change. Now the young family is a model of contentment—thanks to the Bible.
Finally, take the case of Elena. She was a young Argentinian who suffered from depression. When she went to a psychiatrist for help, he told her she needed to be sexually promiscuous to solve her problems. She sank into immorality, spiritism, and heavy tobacco use. Twice she had an abortion. But Jehovah’s Witnesses took an interest in Elena and were able to help her to apply the Bible in her life. Gradually, the words of the Bible enabled her to give up her bad practices and get to know the Creator, Jehovah God, and his Son, Jesus Christ. Now, speaking of these two Persons, Elena says: “I do not deserve any of the good things that I am receiving from them, and for this reason I want to talk more and more about their mercy and love for us.”
As these few examples show, the Bible can channel a highly beneficial force into our lives. Luiz, Wayne, and Elena were helped when Jehovah’s Witnesses brought them in contact with the Bible and showed them how to apply what it said. In the world today, there are more than three million of these Witnesses, many of whom have had similar experiences in the past and all of whom have allowed the Bible to make radical changes in their lives. The result?
These three million Christians constitute a community in which the major problems now threatening mankind’s future are already being solved. They are not divided by nationality or by tribal divisions. Rather, with the Bible’s help they are working hard to overcome racial and economic prejudices. And they have learned to live together in peace, which in itself is a preliminary fulfillment of one of the more remarkable prophecies of the Bible.—Isaiah 11:6-9.
The existence of such a group is powerful proof that the Bible really is the Word of God. We invite you to get to know these Christians and verify this proof for yourself. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be more than delighted to help you do so.
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There is absolutely no solid proof for the claims of higher criticism
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The Bible does not depend on modern science or philosophies to prove that it is the Word of God
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The Bible changes people