A. I am always flabbergasted by the utter confusion surrounding the question of proving the Bible to be true. Many prominent theologians, creation scientists, evolutionists, famous scientists, agnostics, and atheists have fallen flat on their faces trying to either prove or disprove the Bible to be true.
The real answer to the question is that the Bible cannot be proved to be true. But then, that same answer must be given to the question, Is science true? Both the Bible and science are based on unprovable axioms. Both must be believed on faith (trust or belief) alone.
There are, however, a very few theologians and unbelieving scientists who understand the answer. It is interesting to see how these people, although they are on opposite sides of the universe as far as their beliefs, do agree on this point.
Notice the agreement in the two quoted paragraphs below. The first is from W. Gary Crampton, a Christian ThD:
First, it is important to understand that all philosophies (or worldviews) necessarily begin with an indemonstrable first principle or starting point, i.e., an axiom from which all else is deduced…. If one could prove the proposition that the Bible is the Word of God, then the proposition would not be the starting point…. All of the traditional ‘proofs’ for God’s existence are invalid; they are logical fallacies…. One cannot prove the God of Scripture by means of natural theology. Neither can one prove Scripture to be the Word of God. For the Scripturalist, the Word of God is the axiomatic starting point. It is indemonstrable; it is self-authenticating and self-evident. Augustine’s dictum, ‘I believe in order to understand,’ must also be our own.”
(“Scripturalism: A Christian Worldview“).
Now I will quote Robert G. Brown, a non-Christian professor at Duke University who specializes in theoretical condensed matter physics:
The damnedest thing is, of course, that I can no more prove my axioms than they [Bible-believers] can prove theirs, and hence both our conclusions are in some deep sense equally irrational…. We thus run up against the good old Pit, once again. Any question or proposition, pushed up against its axioms, becomes unanswerable, unprovable, doubtable. The inevitable conclusion of this (or any other) reasoning chain about the Universe is that no question can be answered save conditionally. Conditional conclusions can only be based on belief in the truth of the premises, where that belief cannot be validated, ever. We thus see that far from mocking religion as being ‘less rational’ than science, that both science and religion are based on faith – the faith that your prime axioms, however unprovable, are reasonably consistent (where consistency at least can be explored by pure reason) and correct, where correctness is beyond proof. Belief is belief, whether it is belief in the Laws of Physics or the Book of Genesis…. This leads us to ask the following, very important question. We now can see that we cannot use reason to decide between competing axiomatic descriptions. All arguments devolve to ‘Is so!’ ‘Is not’ ‘Is so’ ‘Is not’, where there [sic] opinion tie is fundamentally unable to be broken as things stand.
“Religion versus Science: Axiom Wars“
He is right. So many debates between Christian apologists and scientists really boil down to “Is so!” “Is not!” This is because believing the Bible and believing science are equally valid since they are equally founded on faith in unprovable axioms.
What this means is that even if all of the archaeological evidence in the world supported the events in the Bible, it would still not prove the Bible to be true. It means that no quantity or quality of creation science evidence will prove the Bible to be true. It means that all of those myriads of books, DVDs, CDs, and seminars by Christian apologists that say they prove the Bible to be true are wrong. They may move a believer to awe and they may even cause a non-believer to examine a Bible, but they do not attain to their goal of proving the Bible. That the Bible is the Word of God and therefore true is an unprovable axiom of Christianity.
Then again, no amount of evidence from any discipline will ever prove science to be true, either. Certainly, science has had a practical value in our world. So has Christianity. So have other religions. But practical value is no proof of truth.
You might wonder what the unprovable axioms of science are. I don’t know that there is a consensus of agreement, but a poster on the forum at thegreatideas.org (the forum seems to have since been removed) has taken a good stab at them:
1-The universe is intelligible
2-The ultimate constituents of reality are material (composed of mass-energy)
3-There exist rational explanations for all observable events
4-There are objective phenomena
5-What is true in specific is true in general (no point in dropping weights off the tower of Piza [sic] if you didn’t believe that something true about those weights was true of all massy objects in general)
6-Experience is an ultimately trustworthy way to gain knowledge about the material world
Only Christianity is founded on an axiom believed by a faith that is outside of the natural mind and is, therefore, not relativistic and is objective and absolute. Of course, non-believers call this foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). This is because “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Jesus said essentially the same thing when He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It is this world’s wisdom that is foolish: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (I Corinthians 3:19).
Naturally, the scientist can accuse us of judging him by a standard that he cannot scientifically test. This is the very reason he scoffs. He expects us to use his system for testing truth. But, because, as I have said, all belief systems, including science, are ultimately based on unprovable axioms, there is no system of testing for truth that, objectively speaking, stands above all others as the superior system.
So, although some people may be saddened by this answer, we cannot prove the Bible to be true. Why, then, do Christians believe the Bible? Because God has given us the gift of faith.
Copyright © 2011 Peter Ditzel. Permissions Statement.