Have you ever had shepherd's pie?
I have never trusted shepherd's pie, not even as a hungry teenage male who generally ate anything that moved. I just could not muster enough confidence to partake. When I first saw that type of chow, I was an 18-year-old college student. Something about it bothered me. Maybe because it seemed to me, based on its presentation, that the cooks just threw in whatever they were trying to get rid of.
Maybe you have had that feeling of uncertainty about a meal that was prepared for you. You were just not sure who made it. Not sure what got cut up and put into it or who cooked it. And these questions have prevented you from trusting it.
Many people feel this very same way about the Bible. Who created the Bible? What got "cut up and put into it?" And the ultimate question is, of course, "Can the Bible be taken as reliable?" These are legitimate questions.
In Timothy Keller's New York Times best-seller, "The Reason for God," he delineates several reasons why the trustworthiness of the Bible is brought into question. Let's start with one today: "The Bible is scientifically impossible."
Many believe that science disproves the Bible. For example, the sentiment exists in our culture that the biblical accounts can't be reliable because they contain descriptions of miracles. Van Harvey, author of "The Historian and Believer," declared that miraculous events can never be taken seriously by the critical historian because such thinking violates "what we now call the common-sense view of the world." Is Van Harvey right, along with other critical scholars who consider the Bible filled with dubious historical claims?
We have all been influenced, and in many ways for the good, by the Enlightenment, an age that experts say began between 1650-1700. This intellectual movement was a departure from faith-based to reason-based truth, which brought about the development of the scientific method. In order for something to be declared true, evidence for it must be gathered by empirical and measurable testing. For something to be seen as valid, proof must be observable and repeatable.
The scientific method invalidates supernatural happenings of any kind. Supernatural happenings or miracles in the Bible are times where God has intervened into the natural order to achieve his purposes -- for example, the parting of the Red Sea in the Exodus to deliver the Israelites; the Incarnation where God demonstrated his compassion for humanity by "dwelling among us;" and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ when the foundational truth of God's victory over death and sin are revealed. These and all other miraculous events displayed in the Bible are seen as unreliable because they are not verified through scientific means.
Can the scientific method prove every belief or theory that science holds? For example, what about the Big Bang Theory? Where did all the stuff come from that formed the Big Bang and what prompted it to happen? Is it a repeatable event? I know there is also the theory of an infinite universe, but how would one know for sure?
What about the dogma of macroevolution? When or where has it been observed that all varieties of life forms emanated from a single cell or "common ancestor?" When has a new species been documented coming to reality through natural selection and mutation?
How is it explained empirically by science when individuals pray and another who had terminal cancer is completely healed?
Science cannot explain everything.
Keller makes this excellent observation: "It is one thing to say science is only equipped to test natural causes and cannot speak to others. It is quite another to insist that science proves no other causes are possible." It seems to me that when there is a cause that cannot be explained by science, it is reasonable to at least consider that other causes are possible.
Is it objective to presuppose or assume something that cannot be proved? When someone posits, "Miracles cannot happen," they seem to be saying, "There can't be a God who does miracles." But is that provable? In order for it to be proven, you would have to be certain beyond a doubt that God doesn't exist. Otherwise, this presupposition or assumption is nothing more than an article of faith.
In Matthew 28:17, when the disciples see the resurrected Jesus, they faced the same issue you and I face today: "They worshipped him but some doubted." So, how can you move forward in your understanding?
Do you remember the "Pepsi Challenge" back in the late '70s? It was basically a taste test to determine if consumers preferred Pepsi or Coca-Cola. Well, how about a Bible taste test? I encourage you to try it. Perhaps start with one of the Gospels or check out the wisdom of Proverbs. Taste and see for yourself!