Hard Evidence for a Supernatural Book, Part 1: On Being Reasoned About a Crazy Claim


As a conservative Christian, I talk a lot about what the Bible says. Sometimes I even try to settle arguments with it (graciously, of course ????).

There’s a reason for that: conservatives believe that the Bible is the Word of God—that the words in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments are the very words that God spoke through the human authors, through a process called inspiration. In fact, the very first line of the doctrinal statement for the college where I teach is “I believe in the inspiration of the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments.”

Now, that’s an extraordinary claim—to many minds, extraordinary to the point of ridiculousness, and thus ridicule. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone who hears that claim to respond, “So, you got any evidence for that?” I mean, really. There are Scriptures all over the place. Within the broader Christian tradition, there are the writings of Ellen G. White, and Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and the Book of Mormon, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In the broader religious world, there’s the Qu’ran, the writings of Baha’u’llah, the Sutras, the Vedas, the writings of Haile Selassie, Dianetics, the writings of Swedenborg, and the Divine Principle. And we’re just getting started.

So why should we elevate one, the Bible, over all the others? For that matter, why should we elevate any of them? Can’t we just appreciate them for what they obviously are, the musings of various cultures, ancient and modern, that give us insights into their thinking and even life principles from which we can benefit? Do we have to get all exclusive and mythological and … freakish about it?

That’s not only a legitimate question; it’s one that we must ask. If you think you’re hearing the voice of God, and you aren’t, you’re deeply deluded, perhaps even to the point of psychopathy. And you might even be a danger to society.

But not only should we ask the question; we should demand an answer. It’s not enough to just shrug and say, “Well, that’s just what I’ve always believed.” What laziness. What irresponsibility. What nonsense.

So let’s get serious. Is there evidence—objective, observable, testable, verifiable evidence—that the Bible is extraordinary, and not like other books? And specifically, evidence that calls for alleging a supernatural origin? That’s a tough standard, but it’s a reasonable and even necessary one.

I’m not one to submit to an ancient writing unless there are compelling evidences that I’d be a fool not to. I’d like to spend a few posts sharing how my thinking along these lines has proceeded. My plan is to lay out the next few posts as follows:

  1. What the Bible says about itself—not that that’s proof of anything, but we need to start by determining accurately what is actually being claimed.
  2. Evidence #1 that that claim is worth considering seriously.
  3. An excursus on a matter that evidence #1 raises.
  4. Evidence #2. There’s a lot to discuss here, so this one may take 2 or even 3 posts.

Since my choice of life authority has depended on this issue, I’ve tried to think it through as objectively as possible. I’m going to try to communicate that objectivity as I share these thoughts with you.

I invite you to join me for the investigation. See you in the next post.

Reposted with permission from Danolinger.com.

Dan Olinger Bio

Dr. Dan Olinger has taught at Bob Jones University since 2000, following 19 years as a writer, editor, and supervisor at BJU Press. He teaches courses in theology, New Testament, and Old Testament, with special interests in ecclesiology and the Pauline Epistles.