The Christian Faith Is Unscientific, Part 1


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There is a large number of Christians, and, in particular, a large number of Christian college and university students, who have abandoned their Christian faith because they came to believe that it was unscientific. They were persuaded that our fundamental convictions as Christians – that God created the world, that Adam and Eve were his special creations, that the Bible is a reliable source of information about God, man, history, and salvation, that Jesus Christ did the marvelous things he is said to have done in the Word of God, and so on – have been shown to be untrue. Now there is nothing particularly new about this. A great many of the standard objections to the Christian or biblical account of reality are very old hat. There were critics of the Christian message in the ancient world who argued that the resurrection didn’t happen and couldn’t have happened, that likewise the miracles didn’t happen, that the Bible couldn’t be trusted, and so on.

In the modern world, since the beginning of the so-called Enlightenment in the 17th century, doubts rooted in a so-called scientific view of the world are broadly of two kinds. Perhaps more than anything else, the theory of evolution has undermined Christian faith as it provides an account of the origin of the world and of human life that does not require God and that confirms the modern notion that the whole idea of religion is nothing more than a primitive effort to explain, understand, and control nature. Such a view strikes at the very root of religious belief of any kind, but directly at the Bible’s claim that the world and everything in it, including us, are the creation of the infinite/personal God and that we human beings were made in his image and likeness and so are what we are because we are made for relationship with God and with one another. If all of reality, and human nature as a part of it, are actually one remarkable accident, very little of the biblical account of reality will survive. I remember years ago reading in a missionary letter from Marc Mailloux, when he was still a missionary in France, that he despaired of many Frenchmen coming to Christ unless and until the grip of the theory of evolution on the French mind was broken. I want to deal with this objection to the Christian faith and the authority of the Bible next Lord’s Day evening.

A second area of so-called scientific attack on the Christian faith is that of the authority, the trustworthiness, and the historical integrity of the Bible itself. Can we trust its account of human history, the history of Israel, and, supremely, its account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? A large number of academic types have argued over the past several centuries that we cannot. It is this challenge to Christian faith that I want to consider this evening. It is, of course, an immense question and can be got at from a great many directions. This evening I can only give you some sense of the whole.

I told you last Lord’s Day morning that I was reading George Marsden’s “biography” of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, a book that has been immensely influential over the past half-century or so in both bringing men and women to faith in Christ – think of Charles Colson or Francis Collins – or in confirming and strengthening the faith of people already Christians – think of J.I. Packer. But what I hadn’t known and what I suspect you didn’t know is that when the radio talks were first presented during the 2nd World War on the BBC and then published in book form, there were a number of scathing reviews. And chief among the themes of those criticisms, personal attacks really, was that Lewis was presenting an impossibly old-fashioned and out-of-date view of the faith, based on a discredited view of the Bible. Even so-called Christian reviewers panned the book for being unscientific, presenting as it did an argument that ignored what “we now know” about the origin of religion and the Bible. In more than a few of the critical reviews of Lewis’ work reference was made to the fact that Lewis had contradicted “the consensus of modern scholarship.” [Marsden, 59, 62-63] As an aside, it is interesting to me and important for you to know that a great deal of what such people thought they knew about the Bible in the 1940s has largely been discredited. Even liberal biblical scholarship has moved on to a new set of arguments against the historicity and authority of the Bible. Biblical scholarship, especially of the liberal type, is as faddish and as likely of revision as any other area of human learning, though skepticism toward the Bible remains through it all.

Actually, even in the 1940s this sort of criticism was hardly new; indeed it parroted an ancient narrative. For centuries now the claim has been made that the religious view of the world and the biblical view in particular is unscientific, has been disproved in certain particulars, is unworthy of the educated mind because it can’t be held without abandoning reason and crucifying one’s intellect. And, of course, this has been for some time the majority view on American college and university campuses, so much so that a considerable number of professors on those campuses will happily acknowledge that their educational task is to disabuse their students of the teaching of the Bible, the teaching in which they were raised. And they have proved effective in that task. Accurate statistics are hard to come by and, as is usually the case, the claims that Christian kids lose their faith in college are overblown, but no one doubts that many do lose their faith during those years and that the contempt for historic Christianity on campus is an important contributing factor.

I know people who lost their faith during their college years and for whom the antagonism toward that faith on the part of their professors was a cause of their loss of confidence in the Bible. It is not easy for a college student to see through the pretensions of an impressive university professor or to be able to answer the objections he or she raises to the faith, objections that sound so learned upon first hearing and seem so unanswerable. If, for example, the entire biology faculty at your university believes that it has been proved that life evolved into its present forms by random genetic mutations, who is a 19 year old student to say that all of them are wrong? When Richard Dawkins writes that Darwin (and so the theory of evolution) enabled him to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, who is a college student, who knows almost nothing about modern bio-chemistry or paleontology, to contradict him? And when a biblical studies or ancient history professor says that the biblical narrative is mythical or this or that assertion of the Bible has been proved untrue, who is he or she to say it is not so?

But it isn’t just college students who feel the weight of the problem. Science seems so sure of itself, its authority now seems so firmly established in our culture, that many Christians – who intend to remain Christians – have thought it necessary to adjust the Christian faith to the scientific or scholarly consensus. The desire to conform our thinking to that of the world around us has always been one of the most powerful motives in human life. There is a reason why the American college and university guild is perhaps the most conformist institution in our land. Christians have been doing this, by the way, for centuries, not simply in our day. There must be a way to read the Bible in a way that does not conflict with what we are taught “science has now proved” or “science knows.” But, as history shows us repeatedly, if Christians can no longer take the Bible seriously at one point or another, it won’t be long before an ever increasing number of Christians conclude that the faith has sprung a leak and it is time to abandon ship or that the foundations are crumbling and it can’t be long before the house itself falls down. Many adult believers who started down that road of accommodating the faith to modern scholarship – sure at the time that they would and could maintain their faith – eventually gave it up. Doubts about the Bible are an acid that over time must eat away whatever is left of confidence in the Christian faith.

Now as we begin it is important to identify precisely what it is we mean when we speak of science, or some area of learning being scientific. What those who use the terms mean by them is, of course, simply true or factual. If it is scientific it conforms to reality, unlike opinions that people may hold without adequate foundation. But, obviously, it isn’t nearly so simple. What one person thinks is scientific, another equally learned person may very well think is hogwash. That is true in every area of human learning and always has been. Unbelievers reject the scientific pretensions of other unbelievers all the time, including unbelieving biblical scholars. There are definitely things we do know, things we have learned about nature and about the Bible. But surrounding that knowledge there is a vast world of opinion about a great many things and those opinions are scientific in the ordinary sense of the word only if they actually prove to be true. A great many of those opinions, once confidently held, have now been discarded. They were once touted as scientific; now we know they were simply wrong.

So, let’s begin by defining our term. What is science? You may be surprised to learn that there has been and is today a vigorous debate about what science is. There are many disagreements about what science is even among scientists. Opinions differ widely about what actually constitutes a science. Is mathematics a science or simply a tool? Scientists argue about that. SETI, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence seems very scientific to most people today, so much so that we spend many millions of tax dollars pursuing it, and many astrophysicists and evolutionary biologists are avid supporters of this expense; but other scientists, equally learned, think the whole thing a colossal waste of time and money; that the sponsors of SETI are less like scientists and more like the crackpots who claim to have seen a UFO.

More than that, biologists, physicists, and chemists often don’t think much of sociologists or anthropologists or economists as scientists, even though all of them claim to be doing science. Sociologists covet the prestige that comes with being called a scientist, but is sociology or economics really a science? That water is a molecule two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen is certainly a different sort of claim than that the Great Recession was caused by a failure of the government to regulate the banking industry. What is science to one is not to another. So the terms we often hear: “natural” science, “hard” science, “social” science or, speaking of economics, the “dismal” science. Its practitioners may call their field political science, but, as everyone knows, it is not scientific in the same way that chemistry is. This is important for our consideration because there are a lot of different sciences and sciences of different sorts that bear on questions of the reliability of the Bible and the history that it relates. Is archaeology a science?  Carbon dating is physics but what about archaeology itself? And what about linguistics, lexicography – the study of words – and, for that matter, history? And, finally, while we all agree that chemistry and biology deserve to be called sciences, people in those fields will admit that errors are legion and often go uncorrected for long periods of time.

The original meaning of the word science is simply knowledge. But no one thinks that the biologist or physicist is the only one who knows anything. Indeed, most biologists and physicists know a great deal about very little; such is the atomization and specialization of modern science. For example, Cary Frick is doing a PhD at Notre Dame in in biochemistry and is investigating the protein molecule. Well, that’s not exactly right. He’s investigating parts of the protein molecule. Well, no, that’s not exactly right either. He’s investigating little pieces of parts of a protein molecule. In fact, he’s investigating one little piece of one little part of a protein molecule that actually has millions of pieces and parts. Ask Cary about orchids or chimpanzees or carbon dating and he’s likely to give you a blank stare. What he knows is these little tiny pieces of parts of protein molecules. That’s science in the modern world. In fact, as Philip Johnson very wisely pointed out in some of his writing, the most learned scientist in his field is in fact an amateur in every other part of the scientific enterprise, and his judgment is often no more informed about those other areas than yours or mine.

Most people, and I think fairly, imagine science to be the pursuit of knowledge by observation, experimentation, research, measurement, careful thought, and so on. In that sense science is simply learning, the rigorous investigation of various subjects. Such knowledge, built up piece by piece over time eventually makes possible whole areas of knowledge and, sometimes, even an understanding of natural laws. And, of course, that sort of science has been with us for a long time. A good bit of the knowledge of the ancient world was scientific in that sense and led, as science does today, to generalizations, some that prove accurate and some that don’t. The ancients knew from careful observation and calculation, for example, that the earth was a sphere, but their calculations of its size were inaccurate. They knew something of physics and mechanics, enough to create the marvels of their engineering such as the pyramids or Roman aqueducts, achievements that are as impressive in their way as anything modern man has done.

Indeed, much of the prestige of the modern hard sciences (physics, chemistry, and biology) comes from the possibilities that it creates for engineers. It wasn’t science per se that built a refrigerator or a computer, a jet airplane or an automobile; it wasn’t a scientist that invented laparoscopic surgical techniques or put a man on the moon; engineers did that: mechanical engineers and electrical engineers did that. It isn’t scientists who invent the new drug, it is biochemical engineers. But so-called science basks in the prestige of the accomplishments of the engineers. That is, in itself, an important fact, for it reminds us that science, or learning, comes in all shapes and sizesevery one depends on every other one and has to do with all manner of knowledge and employs all manner of people doing all manner of things.

But there is something else. As you know, the history of science, because it is a human history after all, is riddled with frauds and fakes, with honest but serious mistakes, but also with personal biases that pervert sound judgment, and, as a result, with ever changing conclusions. All manner of personal factors influence scholarly judgment. This is a fascinating part of the story of biblical scholarship. At different times and places different opinions about the Bible were touted as scientific, the assured results of scholarship. These things were what we now knew, it was said! The landscape of biblical scholarship is littered with the refuse of the once “assured results” of the scholarly guild that no one accepts to be true any longer. In German biblical scholarship in the 19th century, it was taught that the Hittites, mentioned a number of times in the Bible, were an invention; they never existed. Archaeology has now provided so many Hittite documents that Hittite scholarship is its own cottage industry. One of the most famous of all German biblical scholars, and one of the most influential, maintained that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch because writing hadn’t been invented by the 14th century B.C. We have long since known that a sophisticated literary culture antedated Moses by more than a thousand years. German biblical scholarship was shaped by an evolutionary theory of human development that maintained that early society was primitive and became sophisticated over time. Much of its view of the Bible was shaped by that theory. One conclusion after another was drawn from that theory and much of it has long since been demonstrated to be wrong.

Interestingly, 19th century British biblical scholarship was much more likely to treat the history of the Bible as reliable and trustworthy. We don’t ordinarily expect that science, so-called, would come to one conclusion in Germany and another in Britain, but it has often been the case; another demonstration of how human learning is and how often has been shaped by other things than the facts themselves! So what can we say about what science, the various areas of learning that are relevant to the study of the Bible, knows or has proved about the Bible?

The first thing we should say is that the general attitude of Bible-believing Christian scholars has always been welcoming of scientific inquiry. You will sometimes hear Christians say that we shouldn’t let science dictate our understanding or interpretation of the Bible. And in one sense that is surely right. We have every reason to be skeptical when scholarship claims that we cannot believe something we read in the Bible. It has made far too many such claims that have been later discredited. What is more, if we have good reason to believe the Bible to be the Word of God, we have more reason to trust it than ever-changing human opinions about this or that. But, confident in the Bible as we are and have reason to be, we want to learn everything we can about its background, its social, political, and literary context.

Second, it is an important fact that evangelical biblical scholarship, once overshadowed by scholarship of the unbelieving type, is now as fully sophisticated and competent, and holds its own in comparison to, if it does not surpass liberal biblical scholarship. In the first half of the 20th century there were few evangelical PhDs in the biblical sciences, and still fewer with a deserved international reputation. Now there is a multitude. Some of the most authoritative historians of the ancient world, experts in biblical languages, archaeologists and so on, are believers in the historicity and authority of the Bible. It is not the case that “science knows” or “science has proved” that the Bible is in error in this respect or that. There are certainly scientists who claim the Bible to have been disproved but that is hardly the same thing.The issue, as we will see, is never that the smart people doubt the Bible and the dumb people believe it, much as unbelievers wish it were so or imagine it to be.

Third, we have learned a great deal about the Bible, our understanding of it has been wonderfully enriched, and in some cases corrected by scholarly investigations or scientific inquiry, often the inquiry of those who have no personal loyalty to the Bible. There are countless examples of this.

  1. The Bible is written in ancient languages that we understand better today than they were understood centuries ago due to the concerted effort of archaeologists, linguists, and lexicographers. Here is an example. The KJV rendered the second half of Job 36:32-33:

“With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine by the cloud that cometh betwixt. The noise thereof showeth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapor.”

What in the world does that mean? Well no one really knew. That translation of the Hebrew text was the best they could do with the knowledge they had. The ESV reads:

“He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark. Its crashing declares his presence; the cattle also declare that he rises.”

In other words, we can tell by the behavior of animals that a storm is coming. It is a statement about the hand of God in the mighty forces of nature, a presence even the dumb beasts recognize. We understand that verse now because scholars have devoted themselves to the study of classical Hebrew and related languages. That is learning, or, if you will, that is science. And there are a great many advances like that. Think of our understanding of the Song of Songs that has been transformed by the study of ancient near eastern texts. Or think of the great advance in our understanding of the biblical presentation of God’s covenants since it was discovered that they are presented in Exodus and Deuteronomy in the literary framework employed in ancient near eastern political treaties.

Or consider Psalm 93:2 and its statement, “the world is established; it shall never be moved.” At one time Christians thought that verse meant that the earth did not move through space; rather that the heavenly bodies moved around it.” We not only know that such is not the case, we realize that such was never the meaning of the statement. It wasn’t a statement about geophysical position but about the faithfulness and power of God. I could go on and on. Science has enriched and sometimes corrected our understanding of the language and literature of the Bible.

  1. Or, consider the solutions that learning – often the learned investigations of scholars who are not Christians – has provided for some vexing and long-standing problems of biblical interpretation. For example, the numbers of the regnal years of Israel’s kings never added up. The years of a king’s reign given in Kings or Chronicles were not consistent with either other information in the Bible itself or with the chronological information gathered from ancient near eastern sources. So it remained until scholarship, working both from the biblical side and the ancient near eastern history side, discovered that regnal years, as reported in official documents, regularly did not account for the overlapping reigns of both a father and his son, when, as often happened, a son began his reign while the father was still alive but in effective retirement. Now all of that is quite well understood and today we know with almost perfect accuracy when each of Israel’s kings reigned, when it began and when it ended. And along the way we have discovered that according to the conventions of political writing in that time, the biblical numbers are exactly reliable.

Or consider the impossibly large numbers one regularly finds in the historical narratives of the Old Testament, which once we took literally but now know are a feature of ancient near eastern style. Or, in certain cases they may also result from a mistranslation of the Hebrew word usually translated “thousand,” but which in military contexts may refer to a military unit of indeterminate and usually much smaller size. Learning, or science taught us that.

  1. Or consider individual discoveries that have illuminated one statement or another we find in Holy Scripture. It was long thought, for example, that the reference to the “two tables or tablets of the law” in Exodus 34:1 and Deut. 10:1 referred to the first four commandments (or sometimes the first five), those have to do with our duty directly to God, and the last six, those having to do with our behavior toward our neighbor. We referred frequently to the first table of the law and the second table of the law and meant by those terms the first four commandments and the last six. We now know from the researches of archaeologists, linguists, and historians of the ancient world that the two tablets are instead two separate copies of the summary covenant document (in this case the Ten Commandments) – one copy of which, in the ancient near eastern political treaties, was deposited in the respective sanctuaries of the two kings – but in the covenant God made with Israel both of which were deposited in the ark because God’s sanctuary was also Israel’s.

I could go on and on with examples of how science, or scholarly learning, has illuminated and enriched our understanding of the Word of God.

Egyptologists have given us a great deal of knowledge of ancient Egypt in biblical times and some of the most prominent Egyptologists have been evangelicals, such as the Liverpool professor, Kenneth Kitchen, who has written extensively on the precise accuracy of the biblical history. Alan Millard, who was Jack Collins’ dissertation advisor, was a leading Assyriologist, and so on. Archaeologists have helped us to see what Israelite life was like in ancient times. Linguists and literary scholars have helped us to notice literary features of Hebrew prose and poetry that we never noticed or appreciated before. In all these ways science, or learning, is nothing less than a gift of God!

On the other hand, one who studies the Bible, as I do day after day, hears repeatedly that the Bible cannot be believed because we now know that such and such a thing never happened, or couldn’t have happened, or that such a statement derives from ancient near eastern mythology, or some such thing. What are we to do with such claims? Should they shake our faith? Are such objections well-taken? Well let me say a few things about such questions.

  • First, there is a large body of very competent, learned men and women who have made a lifetime’s work of mastering one or more of the various disciplines of biblical scholarly endeavor, whose faith in the reliability, historicity, and truthfulness of the Bible remains unimpaired by such claims by other scholars. They know full well what objections to biblical authority or accuracy have been raised in scholarship and they remain entirely unpersuaded. Indeed, they have mounted impressive counter-arguments that the biblical account commends itself to reasonable and unbiased judgment. Conclusions in any field of learning are often the result of a scholar’s worldview more than an honest weighing of evidence. Anyone who has done a PhD knows that all too well.

I am working my way through the book of Acts in the morning, as you know. And I read commentaries that are certain that Luke has manufactured a great deal of his story, certainly all the miraculous parts. But I also read commentaries – much more persuasive in my judgment – who have collected an immense amount of evidence demonstrating that Luke is a careful, sober, and accurate historian. It is a fact of history that Luke was accused many times of an error in detail that we now know was, far from an error, an instance of his precise accuracy. It turns out, for example, Luke knew a good bit more about Greco-Roman political nomenclature than 19th and 20th century German biblical scholarship did. But, more than that, his writing bears the indelible marks of historical seriousness. Luke said he cared to get his facts right and we have no reason – apart from prejudice against the supernatural – to doubt him.

There has been a great deal of that prejudice at work in biblical scholarship over the past several centuries. As Rudolf Bultmann famously put it, as a man who lived in the age of the light bulb he could no longer believe in the Bible’s account of Jesus’ life and resurrection. What difference the invention of the light bulb should make to the evaluation of the New Testament history escapes me. Would an Egyptian historian have said, “In the age of the pyramids we cannot believe that the God of Israel is afflicting us with plagues”? The contemporary German New Testament professor Gerd Lüdemann makes no bones about his viewpoint: modern science has proved that dead men cannot rise. Modern science, of course, has proved nothing of the kind. The ancients knew very well that the dead did not rise. That was precisely why the news of Jesus’ resurrection so astonished them and why the news of it turned the world upside down. Dead men don’t rise unless the God who created men and women and gave them life in the first place should bring them back to life!

  • Second, for every specific argument against the truthfulness of the Bible, there are serious and responsible counter-arguments. The evangelical apostate New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, Professor of New Testament at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is famous for his efforts to undermine confidence in the reliability of the New Testament history. Some of his former students report that he tells his students in class that he intends to disabuse them of whatever confidence in the Bible they may still have. He speaks very confidently to his students and his rapturous audiences, usually composed of people who very much want to believe what they know he will say about the Bible, but he does little but reproduce claims not only familiar to evangelical scholarship but utterly unimpressive to them. Ehrman does very much less well in debate with evangelical scholars than you would think if you listened to him alone. What he trades in is much less the assured results of any biblical scholarship but the opinions of a modern western liberal.

He published a book, not long ago entitled Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind who changed the Bible and Why. That sensational title, meant of course to sell the book, hides the fact that the book is actually about the textual criticism of the New Testament and contains nothing that scholarship hasn’t known for centuries. But in large part because of the title, the book was for a time on the New York Times best seller list. To hear Ehrman, the hundreds of thousands of textual variants in the manuscripts of the New Testament suggest that no one can even know what it was that Jesus or any other New Testament writer actually said or wrote. But almost any New Testament scholar would point out that those several hundred thousand textual variants are spread over some 25,000 manuscripts, an average of some 16 variants per manuscript if there are 400,000 variants, some 8 variants if there are, as is more likely, 200,000. But that doesn’t sound so sensational! What is more, the vast majority of those variants are of interest only to specialists. They are minor copying mistakes (usually easily identified) or scribal alterations to the text that do not affect its sense at all. In fact, Ehrman himself knows this and virtually admits it in the book, but not so clearly that his readers, uneducated in the history of the New Testament text, would gather that we have and have for a long time had a virtually perfectly reliable text of the New Testament. What is more, all of the really significant variants are honestly represented in the footnotes of almost all modern English translations of the Bible. No one thought that there was any need to hide this information from anyone, little difference as it actually makes. But if Ehrman has to misrepresent the facts to undermine the confidence of his readers in the textual integrity of the New Testament we have in our hands – either in Greek or in English –, surely that is some evidence that his argument is considerably less serious and considerably weaker than he wants us to believe it is. Ehrman has little influence in the scholarly guild, though he is widely popular in certain segments of the once Christian world.

  • Third, a common objection to the Bible’s reporting of historical persons and events is based on a failure, often what seems to be a willful failure, to read the Bible in a natural and literarily sophisticated way. They demand that the Bible speak in the style of 21st century English academic prose or be held to the standard of modern scientific precision, and then accuse it of error when it fails to meet those standards, a standard few modern people, including scientists, meet in their ordinary conversation or writing.

I once heard a professor at the University of Aberdeen admit that the Bible had errors in it. His proof was that the dimensions of the great basin or “sea,” which Solomon built to hold the huge amounts of water necessary for sacrificial worship in the temple, the dimensions provided in 2 Chronicles 4:2, provided an incorrect value for pi. The figures given – a diameter of 10 cubits and a circumference of 30 cubits – produce a value for pi of 3, obviously not the 3.14 we know pi to be. Phooey. The Bible hardly can be required to provide numbers so precise. For that matter 3:14 is only an approximation. I felt like raising my hand and saying that I put no stock in a man’s objection who can’t give a more accurate value for pi than 3.14. It is actually 3.14159265!

If Luke mentions but one blind beggar outside of Jericho and Mark mentions one and names him, Bartimaeus, but Matthew says that there are two blind beggars, who is to attribute to any gospel writer a reporting error. If there were two, there was certainly one, the one of them who, known by name to Mark – clearly when the Gospel was written Bartimaeus was known to belong to the Christian community – understandably he figures in the account. No reader of any historical account as concise as the Gospel are and must be, has a right to insist that all the same details be reported in accounts of the same event, so long as the report is true. There are examples like this by the score and more. No wonder believing scholarship has been largely unimpressed by the efforts of other biblical scholars to bring reproach on the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible

I must conclude. Let me simply say this. In a book as full of history as the Bible is, history that constantly intersects with history also known from other sources, there is not a single instance of a statement in the Bible that has been proved false. For a book written over so long a period of time and so long ago, a book so large written by so many different men, and containing so much detail – names, dates, battles, eclipses and so on – this is surely a remarkable thing to be able to say. Of course there are many who say that such and such a statement is false. But in every case there will be others, learned people, scientists, both believers and unbelievers, who will come to the defense of the Bible.

My advice to anyone who is struggling with doubts brought on by claims that the Bible has been proved untrue or inaccurate or unreliable in this way or that, is to do at least this: consult someone who is able to give you the other side of the story. Believe me, there will be another side!