Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. (Proverbs 4:10-11, NKJV)
We started this by talking about how lots of people want to claim that the Bible is made up. This has huge implications, in both ways. That is, if it is made up, then there are millions of people who are investing their time, their money, their entire lives – in a piece of fiction.
On the other hand, if it wasn’t simply made up then that leaves only one other option. We can’t pick and choose pieces of the Bible and say, “Well, those are true, but those aren’t.” Because of what it claims to be, then we are limited to only two options – either it is made up, or it is the truth. If only parts of it are truth, then it’s man-made and no different from any other man-made book. And if that’s true, then we are all free to respond to it how we please and treat it however we feel is best. What difference does it make?
Now, some people already treat the Bible like that. They have an ironically God-given right to do so, but it says nothing of whether or not they should. So, are they right in doing so? Should we just abandon the Bible as a piece of man-made fiction? Or is there evidence that it is not actually made up?
The point of this series of posts is going to be to show that it is a common sense conclusion to determine that the Bible is actually not made up. And rest assured that if someone had conclusive proof that the Bible was all made up, they would have brought it up before now and made their living off disproving it.
Our first consideration was to describe what we feel God would be like if we were deciding the ideal terms and characteristics. What sort of traits would God have? What actions would He do if we were dictating?
If you haven’t read that first post or decided that, go back and take a quick glance, come up with your answer, and then come back here. We’ll be waiting patiently!
OK, ready? Now I want you to keep your personal ideals in mind as we go further. Let’s start with Genesis.
Now, there’s nothing particular about the creation event that would be cause for alarm. The number of days of creation and the age of the earth are hotly debated topics that I’m not going to get into right now. I will, however, say that there are people who read the creation account as a literal 6 days of creation and say the earth is under 10,000 years old and then there are people who read the Bible differently and manage to fit millions of years in there. I say that because the Bible cannot be discredited automatically for the age of the universe regardless of how old or young someone thinks it is. For my purposes right now, we’re questioning whether or not the Bible is a work of fiction, not whether the universe is old or young and that really has very little impact on my overall argument.
Adam and Eve
So, moving right along, we get to the account of Adam and Eve. Even hardcore atheists are, I’m sure, very familiar with the account of Adam and Eve’s original sin. The forbidden fruit, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the fig leaves… Now, the gist of the story is that God says to Adam and Eve that they can eat of every tree except the one. If they eat of that one tree, they’ll die. The serpent comes in and convinces Eve that no, she won’t die, instead she’ll become like God! So, Eve bites and gives to her husband, Adam who takes a bite also. Soon thereafter, their eyes are open and they realize they are naked and they hide from God. Now, read this next part:
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:8-19, NASB)
Take a look at that curse! Now, let’s go back and think about this for a moment. Let’s stop and think about our own ideals. Lots of people say things like, “If there is an all-good, all-loving God, then why does He allow evil?” Well, let’s pose this question instead – why did He allow the first sin that paved the way for all the rest? Why didn’t He just swish His hand and poof their sin away? If this is merely a story, then why didn’t someone write it differently? If someone wrote this in order to persuade people to follow their lead, their example, or put them in power – why not appeal to the desire of the people? Why wasn’t it written to say “And God said, I’ll let you off the hook this time, but don’t do it again, OK?” Or, “And God said, Because you disobeyed, you’ll have to do hard labor for a year so you learn your lesson.” If this is just a writing of fiction, then why is God’s curse so extreme? Why is the punishment for all the people all throughout history? Most of all, why did God tell them not to eat off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to begin with? Since man always wants to be his (or her!) own god, why wasn’t this written that Adam and Eve should have eaten off the tree? Why wasn’t the serpent right?
Now, if this is just a fictional tale, then how did the author manage to throw in a bit of prophecy from over a thousand years prior to Jesus walking the earth? We must keep in mind that the Bible is a collection of books to create one big book. But the individual books were written in many different centuries and by many different authors. So it’s not possible that Moses is also the author of the New Testament, but the New Testament authors were also not the author(s) of the Old Testament.
Cain and Abel
As we keep going in Genesis, we encounter the same thing with Cain and Abel. Again, the gist of the story is that Cain is jealous of Abel, murders him, and tries to hide his sin from God. God calls him on it, and puts a curse on him but also sets a seal on him to keep others from killing him.
He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him. (Genesis 4:10-15, NASB)
Now, let’s go back to our ideals. Why didn’t God just wipe him off the face of the earth as punishment? Or why didn’t God come down and stop him from killing Abel? Or why didn’t God just raise Abel from the dead right then and there and tell Cain, “Don’t do that again…” ? Or why didn’t He relocate Cain and tell him, “I am moving you over here so that you can’t do that again”? If this is just a fictional, man-made tale, then why wouldn’t God have done something that would have been more appealing to human nature? More appealing to man’s sense of justice? Why would He have A) cursed him and B) shown mercy to him at the same time?
Now what about Noah’s flood? God told Noah to build and ark and take animals onto the ark to preserve them because He was going to flood the world because it was overrun with evil and He was grieved. Now, let me ask this – if this was a fictional tale, why didn’t it start here? I’m not saying that it’s impossible, I’m saying it’d be pointless. Why would anyone write about creating the entire world only to then follow up with how it was all messed up and it had to be washed away? What purpose would it serve? This can’t be a threat story to invoke fear because it ends with God promising never to do it again and providing the rainbow as proof of His promise. It doesn’t add anything particular to the story if it’s a piece of literature, so why is it in there if this is a piece of fiction?
Canaan, Nimrod, Babel…
Now, Noah is one of God’s “superheroes” of the faith, right? So then, how come his sons become some of the most notoriously awful nations? “Canaanites” covers a lot of different groups of people, but the Canaanite people became one of the most notorious groups in the whole Bible. Why wasn’t there another group that came onto the scene? If this is just fiction, especially to try to persuade people for the sake of acquiring power and prestige, then why would the son of someone notable become the beginning of such a terrible nation of people? Same goes for Nimrod and the entire fiasco with the tower of Babel.
Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9, NASB)
In man’s perspective, having all one language and being able to work together is great, so what sort of author would incorporate something like this? What sort of author would want to say, “This is bad, we are going to have to work this out of our story”?
Sodom and Gomorrah
If there is any part that humans should have no problem with, it’s Sodom and Gomorrah. Why would the author have God be against Sodom and Gomorrah, instead of appealing to human desire? If this is about power, what difference does the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah make to the author? Given how human nature is, given the fleshly lusts and desires most all people have, then why isn’t this written that people should give in to their desires maybe, say, as long as it doesn’t seem to hurt anyone else?
Abram (Abraham) and Circumcision
There is a lot more that could be written (especially since Genesis is so long with so many events), but I’ll end on this one. Why would anyone decide to circumcise someone and then mandate that for others? God tells Abram to circumcise himself as a means of keeping the covenant, but why would any human author have instituted such a decree? Why would any man want to do that to himself or others? And if it is argued that the author is actually female, there are many other questions to be asked.
The final consideration for today is just to go back over the events listed above and view them from a purely human perspective. Check out some of the other events in Genesis and view those from a purely human perspective as well. After thinking about these events from a personal, human standpoint, think about how you would write it if you were writing the story. Would your human nature have driven you to follow the same? Or would you prefer that God be more lenient? More understanding?
Our God is exactly what we need Him to be most – merciful. Our merciful God saw the failures of His first humans and provided an animal sacrifice and skin to cover their shame. The first son murdered his brother, and God provided mercy to him by protecting him from possible vengeance. The whole world became corrupt but God did not punish those that were still willing to listen to Him. Sodom and Gomorrah were completely perverted but God promised that He would not destroy the city if even as few as ten righteous were found.
In our evil, warped, fleshly selves, we want God to give us a pass on all the awful things we may want to do. We want to pervert justice, pervert good, pervert holiness and get a pass. We don’t want to be subjected to consequences for doing what we want to do. What we really need most is a just God who is also merciful and forgiving of our persistent evils, and that is exactly the God we have.