Summary: This sermon is basically a defense of God's holy word. Our faith is not blind because we have a love letter from God explaining in great detail who He is and what kind of relationship we are to have with our Creator.
IS OUR FAITH BLIND – PART I
Atheists Question: Isn’t faith in God blind? After all, what evidence is there that a God you cannot touch or see actually exists?
You might begin speaking to atheists by mentioning the fact that the Bible is a personal love letter from God in which our history, intimate details of how God created the world and our relation to Him; is described in great detail. In response the sceptic will often question the veracity of the Bible by asking what they think are unanswerable questions:
1. There are contradictions in the Bible so how can it represent truth when it contradicts itself?
2. Since there are no original manuscripts then how can one be certain the word of God accurately represents the events it describes?
3. Since the Bible was written by humans who were sinners how can one be certain their sin did not taint the revelation from God?
4. The Bible has been translated so many times over the centuries how can one know with certainty it has not been altered to fit modern times?
To answer the critics lets put the Bible to the test by 1) determining if there are multiple voices and textual agreement of the sources of the Bible and 2) close proximity of time in which these sources are written to the actual events, and 3) the predictability of events.
When we receive a document claiming to know what happened in the past it must first pass rigorous tests to prove its claim for authenticity. Often we view history as being the exact representation of an event written down to be forever preserved in time. This certainly is not the case. Ever have two people experience the exact same event and come out with completely different details? Or have an event occur but only parts are remembered? Ever hear someone falsify details of an event for their own selfish reasons? Unless we can time travel back in time and see the entire event for ourselves then how can we know for certain any historical document is true?
History, truthfully is merely the reconstruction of an event based on those details that have the highest probability of occurrence.
1. The probabilities are increased when the evidence is collected from more than one reliable source. When multiple sources give the exact same details this increases the probability that they in fact occurred.
2. Also, those sources that were written closest to the event are deemed more credible because the longer times goes on before one writes the more that is forgotten.
These two criteria: agreement between multiple sources and proximity of time that the event occurred and when it was written; is the criteria historians use to prove a manuscript authentic or a fake.
1. Papyri. Manufactured in Egypt as far back as the 4th century BC took the papyri plant and made sheets to write on. Egyptians took the inner pith and overlapped it, then soaked and pounded the plant material into sheets. The sheets are then pressured dried. Paper was not invented until about 100 BC and not in wide circulation until much later. The oldest source comes from writing done on the Papyri plant in the 2nd Century. We have 86 pieces of Papryi plant with either a single or multiple verses written on them. As you can see, one of the negative things about this form of writing is that the plant material degrades over time making it very hard to read something written almost 2000 years ago.
2. Leather. Obviously taken from animal skins and was called Uncials. It is much easier to read these documents because they tend to stand the test of time better. We have approximately 274 of these sources.
3. Minuscules. Were written in cursive or long hand writing. They are called minuscule because they only contain a very small part of the overall text of the body in which they represent. For instance, the above minuscule is from the book of James but is a single verse 4:15. We have 2795 of these.
4. Lectionaries. These were worship guides that contained passages of Scripture. We have 2209 of these.
5. Full Manuscripts. Full manuscript of the New Testament. The Vaticanus was written in the 4th Century. There were two others: the Sinaiticus written in the 4th century as well and the Alexadrinus written in the 5th century.
According to the authors of God’s Not Dead that are over 20,000 manuscripts that make up the base of the Bible. Substantial evidence but is it enough to say it is reliable? Ancient historical books such as Plato, Caesar, Pliny, Euripes, Tacitus, Herodutus have 20 copies or less! Only Sophocles has 193 and Aristotle has 49. In other words, the evidence from a source perspective is OVERWHELMING!