Is The Bible Historical or Merely Mythical? (pt.1)

I would like to address this question directly, but because there are so many side-issues involved, I must start somewhere else.

IMG_1799BThis question the historical reality of the Bible is often asked by adherents of an evolutionary hypothesis, some of whom are agnostics and atheists. Let me begin with the concept of evolution because that is normally the direction of the question. Let’s look at three words.

HYPOTHESIS: an assumption; an unverified idea; something assumed to be true for the sake of argument or investigation. Hypotheses are starting points.

THEORY: a speculative or conjectural viewpoint; a plausible but unproven concept; a potentially reasonable hypothesis with some substantiation.

FACT: a proven theory; knowledge based on reality; proven or demonstrated to exist or have existed; an actual, verified event.

The basic concept of evolution – the universe originating from a bang, and organic life evolving from rocks – is an hypothesis, which is called a theory, and taught as fact; andIMG_1797 that is not science. In every other scientific endeavor, a concept must be proven to be called a fact. But if you study the evolutionary hypothesis critically, it falls light-years short of explaining how humanity and the cosmos originated.

Remember: matter (atoms, energy, mountains, water, air, whatever) can be neither created nor destroyed. That is a well-established scientific principle, and that negates a big-bang hypothesis. Matter can change form, shape, or nature (ice to water, water to vapor, etc.), but it cannot be destroyed or annihilated.

I am aware of the anti-matter concept, but it is merely hypothetical.

Now: since matter can be neither created nor destroyed, yet the universe does exist, we add the phrase “except by a force outside time and space.” That supports both the science aspect and Biblical creation; therefore, it introduces the supernatural.

Treating hypotheses as facts and arguing over them is waste of time. Without proof, call it what it is: an hypothesis. Then teach and debate it as such. Don’t mock true science and don’t deny the reality of a Creator. Since it is impossible for stuff to magically appear out of nowhere, let’s admit that someone had to create it.

Actually, it takes faith to believe either way: Biblical creation, or in the evolutionary origin of the cosmos. But it takes an unsubstantiated faith – almost blind faith – to believe in a spontaneous, self-materialized cosmos where rocks morph into organic life. Why? Listen carefully now.

In the spontaneous, self-materialized cosmos, nothing or no one created everything out of nothing. (Read that again.) However, Biblical faith rests on the acceptance of a self-existing Creator. He is the first cause outside of time and space who designed and created the invisible stuff out of which everything was created. (Read THAT again.)

You’ve probably heard that there are over 6,000,000 parts to a Boeing 747-100, with over Boeing 747-4003,000,000 of them being rivets, screws, bolts, etc. Each rivet, window, cable, seat, etc. has a position to fill in order to complete the 747. Can there be variations in placement of parts? Yes. Seats are interchangeable. Rivets can exchange places with like rivets. And so on. Every part has a place it must fill; but when like parts are shuffled, the plane does not change.

There are also four complete computer systems in the plane. The primary computer system runs the plane, with three complete in-line backup systems. We have proof that every individual part of the plane was intelligently designed and purposely placed in their strategic locations. I know because I helped build them.

But you probably know that the Boeing 747 cannot self-assemble no matter how many billions of years the pre-fabricated plastic, aluminum, steel, wiring, etc. parts are tumbled together.

Now, let’s get really simple: DNA is needed in order to create RNA, and RNA is needed in order to create DNA; therefore, neither one can self-generate or evolve. Not only that, I read that there are over eighty-one billion trillion possible combinations in the human genetic code, and each sub-microscopic piece of the strand has its own individual place it must fill. Chance? More like a miracle.

This introduces God into the equation, but that invalidates modern evolutionary synthesis, natural selection, cosmic evolution, population genetics, and all the rest.

DSCN7715If you read this article critically, you find that spontaneous self-materialization is impossible. Rocks cannot become organic. An intelligent designer-creator is mandatory. There must be a first cause and that first cause, by nature, will not be bound by time and space. This first cause will be intelligent because design and order do not result from time plus chance.  Chaos is the product of time plus chance. Ask any farmer or botanist.

Now, since inanimate material cannot think (that sounds silly, but follow the thought), stuff cannot modify itself. It takes a person – one who can rationalize, understand consequences, set goals. It takes One who is outside time and space; One Who is not affected by any process or lack of process. And One Who is not affected by whether or not someone believes in Him. Since God, Jehovah, our Creator, fills that status, we revert to the Bible because that is where we learn about God.

And let’s get real: since creation – in any way you want to consider it – requires a creator, stop making up fantastic hypotheses to rationalize God out of the picture. Our Creator has already made Himself known to us. He is what the Bible is all about.

Next time we’ll look at the other side of this story: history.

Life After Death

Joe asked, “Stephen Hawking made the statement that there is no life after death. Wouldn’t that mean that Jesus is still dead? How might Scripture respond to his comment?”

The following is a quote from No Heaven? Why Stephen Hawking’s Comment Doesn’t Matter by Stephanie Pappas on May 16, 2011. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” Hawking said in The Guardian. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

I appreciated Joe’s question, but here is an eye-opener: Hawking’s statement is nothingIMG_1085B less than a statement of faith. Why? Because believing that there is no God is a religious conviction. Hawking was a dedicated scientist with a background in mathematics, physics, and cosmology; not religion or theology. Also Hawking had Lou Gehrig’s disease, was a quadriplegic, was confined to a wheelchair, and had no use for a god who wouldn’t heal him. His humanistic faith was based on the fact that he could not see God and couldn’t prove that there is a God.

Going one step further, Mr. Hawking placed his faith in science. In reality, that made science his god.

This is indeed a shaky foundation, because many scientists throughout history were and are devout followers of Jesus Christ and Jehovah God. Their scientific endeavors have verified to them that there IS a God.

I am continually surprised by the number of people who put faith in famous actors, theologians, scientists, and philosophers who disavow faith in Almighty God. We need to wake up. Fame doesn’t grant access to sources of spiritual knowledge that are inaccessible to the rest of mankind.

Some say that we Christians and Jews cannot prove there is a God, and they are correct. By the help of the Holy Spirit and through Scripture we can know Jesus, but we cannot prove to others He is alive or that He is God. Believing in someone or something we Atheist Symbolcannot prove is, by definition, faith.

But hold on now: NOT believing in someone or something without proof is also, by definition, faith. Hawking did not believe in life after death because that includes heaven and hell; which, in turn, requires a belief in a Creator: God. Mr. Hawking had a very strong faith that declared there is no god.

Psalm 14:1-3 describes the condition of those who refuse to believe in God. Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 say that whoever does not believe in God is foolish. I didn’t say that; Scripture did. Also, Proverbs 18:2 informs us that whoever is not interested in gaining [spiritual] understanding is foolish, for they are interested only in expressing their own opinions.

There is no scientific proof for or against life after death; either way it is a matter of faith. And believing that God is either real or a myth are both matters of faith. But there is more to faith in God and Jesus Christ than mere believing.

In the Bible and throughout history many people have spoken of their interaction with God. People have experienced, in powerful, personal ways, strong affirmations of God’s healing, presence, and provision in this world as well as His promises concerning life in the next (Luke 23:43; John 14:1-6; Rev. 21-22). Untold millions of people have studied Biblical claims and extra-Biblical claims; some have returned after dying and have a dynamically different conclusion from Hawking’s. Scripture teaches us about life after death which is called eternal life. Scripture alone is proof for us, but we cannot, in turn, prove it to anyone else. It’s a matter of faith.

Billy Graham could not speak authoritatively on science or the universe, but he was aSatellite Dish giant in the kingdom of God. In like manner, Mr. Hawking has credibility in cosmology and physics because of his work in the field (although I don’t agree with him on several scientific issues); but he has no credibility in the realm of Scripture or spiritual matters.

We all have faith, but the Bible leaves it up to each individual regarding where we will place our faith. Nevertheless, the historical declaration in Scripture is: Jesus Is Alive! There is life after death.

The darkness to which Hawking refers is reserved only for those who reject God. And that statement refers to God as found in the Holy Bible – not some other god. Therefore, examine Scripture, seek the truth, and choose life.

BibLe cOdeS?

You might think the Bible Code fad had faded into oblivion, but that isn’t the case. When IMG_1799BI was asked about it, I found it is alive, and it’s been thriving for millennia. I don’t believe in hidden messages in so-called Bible Codes, but it is interesting.

     From the Gnostics in Jesus’ time who prided themselves for possessing hidden knowledge, to the Rosicrucian’s who held to “esoteric truths of the ancient past concealed from the average man”, to Sir Isaac Newton who predicted that the world would NOT end before 2060, to Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code”, the concept of hidden knowledge in the Bible has attracted world-wide interest. The original Bible Code was known as the Torah Code.

     There is a Jewish tradition about “hidden text” in the Pentateuch (the Torah, first five Books in the Bible), consisting of words or phrases expressed in the form of Equidistant Letter Sequences (ELS’s); that is, selecting sequences of equally spaced letters in the text. Since this tradition was passed on orally, not much is really understood of the early legends. Rabbi H.M.D. Weissmandel was the first modern scholar to try to show the possibility of such a “hidden text” in 1958 by finding patterns consisting of ELS’s. This concept has been described as “a method by which specific letters from the text can be selected to reveal an otherwise obscured message.”

     Using the ELS system, I’ve been told every 50th letter of the Book of Genesis (in Hebrew) starting with the first taw (“T”), the Hebrew word “torah” is spelled out. The same may happen in the Book of Exodus. Computers have been used to search for similar patterns and more complex variants. Bible code proponents usually use a Hebrew Bible, and most Jewish proponents use only the Pentateuch. The Jewish group Aish-HaTorah uses Bible Codes in their Discovery Seminars to persuade secular Jews of the divinity of the Torah, and to encourage them to trust in its traditional Orthodox teachings.

     The general public learned of Bible codes due to Michael Drosnin’s book titled “The Bible Code.” Instead of reading the words of a text normally, hidden words are found by picking every 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, (etc.) letters, skipping over the letters in between. This can become very complex, and a skip pattern can be over 8,000 letters. Using pre-programmed spacing, computers are used to look for matches for selected names or words, and the skip spacing is adjusted until the programmer “discovers” what he/she wants. This produces self-fulfilled predictions. Not good, but interesting.

     Dr. Dave Thomas, physicist and mathematician, wrote in 1997, “Hidden messages can be found anywhere, provided you’re willing to invest time and effort to harvest the vast field of probability. All you need is the power of chance combined with the brute force of computers.” And he proved it by applying code programming to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” finding many words, names, and predictions “imbedded” therein.

     The theologian Grant Jeffrey said, “Hebrew codes do not contain any hidden theological or doctrinal messages. There are no secret sentences, detailed messages, or sentences about theology in the [supposedly] encoded words. God’s message of salvation and His commandments for holy living to humankind are found only in the open words of the Scriptures.” And I say, “Amen!”

     Those who favor Bible codes ask, “How could words and “messages” be a product of random chance?” But I ask, “With a computer, imagination, and innumerable attempts, how can we NOT find them?”

     As mentioned above, I do not believe in so-called “Bible Codes” because we also find numerous negative concepts. If “Bible Codes” are really inspired by God, then how do we account for the following “codes” which have all been found in the Torah?  ‘Jesus is Satan”; “Please drive out Jesus”; “God is not YHWH”; “There is no God”; “Jehovah is a liar”; and many others. 

     We must get back to what the Bible is, and its purpose. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

     And Jesus said in John 14:26, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” Jesus does not want anything to be hidden.

     Let’s invest our limited time in studying the revealed word of God, not in self-generated revelations.

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