April 15, 2009
My Responses to Becky LuElla Miller on Why The Bible Is (Not) True
Over at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, Becky LuElla Miller has two posts up on “How Do We Know The Bible Is True?” In part 1, Becky argues that internal fulfilled prophecies prove that the Bible is true; in part 2, she suggests that external archaeological corroboration of some Biblical events means that “it is logical to accept as true the Bible’s record of events not yet corroborated independently.” I responded on Ms. Miller’s blog but will repeat those responses here:
A. With respect to internal fulfilled prophecies (part 1), these sorts of “proofs” are not really convincing to nonbelievers. Let me give you an example. At the beginning of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus is told that he is fated to kill his father and marry his mother. And lo and behold, by the end of the play, Oedipus fulfills that prophecy to the letter. Does that mean that Oedipus Rex (and Hamlet, and the movie Star Wars, and any other literary work to employ foreshadowing) is also divinely inspired? No: it means that the authors had access to the beginning when writing the end.
I sincerely don’t mean this to come off the wrong way, but that’s all internally fulfilled Biblical prophecies can ever “prove” — that the last part of the story was written in such a way as to complete the first part of the story.
To clarify: my argument is not that Jesus went on to deliberately do the things in the Bible to fulfill the OT prophecies. My argument is that Jesus is a character in a book, so we shouldn’t be surprised when people wrote stuff about Jesus that matched up with the stuff people wrote earlier in the book.
This argument is compounded by the fact that “Consistent Message” was one of the earliest criteria for canonicity used by people like Athanasius and at the various councils debating which books to include in the Bible and which to leave out.
B. With respect to archaeological evidence (part two), the argument is also unconvincing. Let me try another analogy:
1. The Iliad mentions a famous battle between Greeks and Trojans that took place at the city of Troy.
2. For centuries, people doubted that Troy existed.
3. But, beginning in 1871, archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann actually dug up the city of Troy that was previously thought to have been mythical, including treasures described only in the Iliad (viz. the Mask of Agamemnon).
4. Therefore, “it is logical to accept as true the Iliad‘s record of events not yet corroborated independently.”
Obviously, (4) does not flow logically from (1) through (3). That’s because the Iliad, like the Bible, falls under the genre of what we would now call “historical fiction.” To be sure, there are some valid historical references in each — but then there’s a whole bunch of crazy stuff that doesn’t seem likely to be true. So what we do is believe the stuff that’s confirmed and remain skeptical about the stuff that seems preposterous. I simply propose that we do the same with the Bible.