Why do you believe the bible is true? This question was put to a number of evangelical teenagers in a recent survey and the vast majority of them were unable to adequately answer it. Most of the answers were variants on a theme: “it’s what I’ve always been taught.”
Despite the fact that numerous evidential reasons as to why anyone should believe the bible have been well documented, most Christians in general seem to be at a loss as to how to explain why they believe it. Such a situation is an obvious dilemma when it comes to offering an apologetic in this pluralistic culture as a pre-cursor to evangelism and/or having the ability to defend one’s faith not only to others but to oneself!
Furthermore, while evidential reasons for belief have served a catalytic function for some in terms of salvation, and while these same reasons have served to strengthen the faith of many, there are three simple reasons to believe the bible is true that are even more effective than evidence.
First, the bible provides the only suitable precondition for intelligibility. In other words, as we look at our reasoning, our experience, our dignity, our purpose, and our morality, the biblical worldview is the only worldview that enables us to make sense out of those things. It is the only worldview that justifies our ability to reason, the nature of our experience, the essential dignity of human beings, purpose in life, and moral standards. Our reality does not make sense apart from a Christian worldview.
The most widely embraced worldview in our culture is naturalism. To have such a worldview is to espouse the notion that all that exists is what we can see, taste, touch, hear, or feel. There is nothing beyond the physical world: there is no metaphysical reality. We as human beings are simply matter in motion; a cosmic accident; the product of an evolutionary process. Of course, evolution is grounded in a naturalistic worldview. The question is this: can one justify our reason, experience, dignity, purpose, and morality on such a worldview?
1) In terms of reason, we would affirm that there are, for example, laws of logic. These laws are universal and unchanging. They are the same for all people of all times. Some of those laws might include a) the law of identity which says that A is not non-A; b) the law of non-contradiction which says it is not possible that something be true and not true at the same time; c) the law of the excluded middle which says that every statement is either true or false and there is nothing in between; and d) the law of rational inference which says that inferences can be made from what is known to what is unknown.
Now, the naturalist/evolutionist does in fact affirm laws of logic. The problem is that he cannot justify laws of logic on his worldview. Laws of logic are not physical but metaphysical. Because they are not physical, they cannot exist in a naturalist framework. One must presuppose a Christian worldview in order to appeal to logic at all. We have the ability to reason logically. The only way to make sense of that ability is to affirm a biblical worldview because that worldview allows for something metaphysical whereas a naturalistic worldview does not.
2) In terms of experience, we look at the universe and observe order. We observe uniformity in nature. The sun has risen every day for thousands of years and we have every expectation that it will do so tomorrow (apart from the coming of the Lord). The scientific method is grounded in natural law. Order and uniformity are seen in things like gravity, inertia, physics, etc.
The major problem for the naturalist/evolutionist is that again, he cannot justify his experience on his worldview. He proposes a random chance universe. However, he observes order and uniformity in that universe. His entire existence, outlook, and pursuits are predicated on order and uniformity. But, he cannot justify his existence, outlook, and pursuits on his worldview. He cannot justify his experience on his worldview.
As noted, the naturalist/evolutionist asserts that we are the product of time plus random chance. He asserts that before there was a universe there was nothing. To say there was nothing means that there was not even time and space. The naturalist then asserts that a quantum fluctuation occurred and everything that we now see came from that. This is the essence of the big bang theory. As one young man put it, “there was nothing and then it exploded.”
Now think about the concept of “nothing” a bit further. There was no empty space, there was no darkness, there was no light, and there was no time. There was nothing. In order for evolution to be true, one must posit that something came from nothing, that order came from chaos, and that life came from non-life. The concept of time only exists in an extant universe. The concept of empty space exists only in an extant universe. A quantum fluctuation or an explosion cannot occur out of nothing.
Ultimately, something from nothing cannot be justified on a naturalist worldview that says there is nothing beyond the physical. Nothing cannot serve as a catalytic agent for something, and, on a naturalistic worldview, everything has a cause. There can actually be no first cause on a naturalistic worldview.
Of course, the biblical worldview suffers from no such philosophical dilemma. The bible affirms two things about God that are of tremendous significance in this area: He exists outside of time and space and He is eternal. God exists in a completely different dimension or reality. He is not part of the universe or the physical. He is outside of it. He is not bound by time or space. Further, God is the cause of all things and He Himself needs no cause because He is eternal. It is interesting that the bible called Him eternal long before the current debate between evolutionists and Christians came to be.
3) In terms of essential dignity, the consistent naturalist/evolutionist gives no more value to a human being as he does to a rat or a cockroach. Those naturalists who try to give humans some dignity or value above the animals cannot do so on their worldview. If we are but one species on the evolutionary scale, then humans have no more rights, worth, or value than any other creature. It would make no sense for a naturalist to pass a dead skunk on the side of the road and then stop for a person on the side of the road, whether dead or alive. But, no doubt, most would. And yet, in that instance, they contradict their own worldview. In other words, their reality, their feelings, and their opinions in that instance cannot be justified on their own worldview.
The bible affirms however, that human beings are the special creation of God and that as such we are created in His image. What that dynamic means, among other things, is that we have the capacity to have a relationship with Him. By virtue of being created in His image, we have essential dignity, worth, and value. To help someone in need or to bury the dead in an attempt to preserve their dignity can be justified on a biblical worldview alone.
4) In terms of purpose, if we are but the product of random chance, an accident as it were, then we have no reason to be here nor do we have any real purpose in life. When we die, it’s over. There is nothing else. And yet, most evolutionists attempt to inject some meaning into life itself and indeed their own lives. They speak of doing good to others or making a contribution to the human race. But these dynamics cannot be justified on a naturalistic worldview. To inject any kind of meaning into life would contradict an evolutionary worldview. The attempts to rationalize the injection of meaning into life are manifold but all fall short of intelligibility on that worldview. One cannot get around the fact that life can have no real meaning if we are but some sort of cosmic accident.
On the other hand, the bible is clear that God created us. Further, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. There is life after physical death and for those in Christ, it will be a life filled with joy in Him. As the apostle Paul said, if there is no resurrection, then we might as well eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Paul was saying that if there is no resurrection, if there is no God, then we are nothing but matter in motion. If we are nothing but matter in motion, then nothing we do here means anything. The best course of action in such a case is to make oneself as comfortable as possible until the end. Of course, this same thought has driven others to suicide. If life has no real meaning, then why not simply end it now? But, thanks be to God we have purpose in Christ Jesus our Lord.
5) In terms of morality or ethics, even naturalists have some sort of moral compass. Once again however, any morality at all cannot be justified on such a worldview. It’s survival of the fittest. If there is no moral consequence when a lion kills a gazelle, why is there a moral consequence when one human being kills another human being? There can be no moral consequence on a naturalistic worldview. One must appeal to the bible to affirm moral and ethical considerations and consequences.
Moral and ethical considerations and consequences can only be justified on a biblical worldview because there is a Creator who has set forth a moral standard that is universal. The fact that every culture in history has had some notion of right and wrong is evidence of that reality. Perhaps more importantly, morality makes sense on a biblical worldview and it makes no sense on a naturalist worldview.
Why do I believe the bible? I believe the bible because it makes sense out of my reality. My ability to reason, my experience, the fact that I have essential dignity, the fact that I see purpose in life, and the fact that I believe in a difference between right and wrong makes sense from a biblical perspective. I can justify these things whereas the naturalist cannot.
[Part II to Follow]
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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