Is the Bible a Myth?

Is the Bible a Myth?

Is the Bible a Myth?Many skeptics claim that the Bible is just a myth, a nice story.  I’ve heard too many times the remark that, “Someone probably just made up the Bible.  It’s just a nice story, like the tooth fairy.”

This statement, of course, is never well thought out and definitely not researched.  Ironically, people who assert this haven’t even read or studied the Bible.  They claim “someone invented the Bible” and yet don’t realize that the Bible was written over a period of a thousand years by over 40 different authors.  So, someone could not have just made it up.  This is just silly.  What follows is a typical conversation I’ve had:

Skeptic:  I don’t believe the Bible.

Me: Why not?

Skeptic: Because somebody probably just made it up.

Me:  Who?

Skeptic: What?

Me: Who?  You said somebody made it up, so who was this person and when did he or she invent it?

Skeptic:  I don’t know; someone a long time ago.

Me:  It doesn’t sound like you know much or anything about this topic.  So, how can you even begin to assert something you know absolutely nothing about?  However, I can tell you, as a matter of historical fact, that the Bible was not just invented by someone.  In fact, it was written over a period of a thousand years by more than 40 different authors, and I could tell you who these authors are and when they wrote, thus disproving your statement.  It’s all there in the historical record.  So, it is not possible that someone just made this story up.  That is a myth.

Skeptic:  Alright, you got me there, the Bible wasn’t just made up.

 At this point, another objection usually arises:

Skeptic:  But I have a hard time accepting the Bible because it is full of contradictions.

Me:  Like what?

Skeptic?  Huh? 

Me:  You said the Bible is full of contradictions, can you name some?

Skeptic:  Umm… well… no, I can’t really think of any right now off the top of my head.

Me:  Please inform me when you do, and we can talk about these supposed contradictions.

See, most people who condemn the Bible have not even read it.  So how do they know what’s even in there except through hearsay?  Again, how can they speak knowledgeably about something they know nothing about?  And, people who do attempt to go through it, often read it like a fiction book. 

Me (continuing to the skeptic):  You need to know that the Bible is a library.  You can’t just read through it like The Hunger Games, for it has many different genres under its cover.  Each book of the Bible has a different literary genre that needs to be properly understood and correctly interpreted.  This is why people fail to understand Scripture properly.  For example, some books of the Bible are history, others are law, and still others are poetry, prophecy, exhortation, apocalyptic literature, and the like.  There are also different literary devices to understand; such as, mythic stories, prophetic texts, rabbinic hyperbole, etc.  To properly understand these Scriptures, you need to grasp what the literary genre is first, then what the author is trying to communicate. You also need to understand the worldview the author is speaking within, the full context of the passage, and how it relates to history and to the rest of Scripture.  Some people reject the Bible because they think Adam and Eve got duped by a talking snake.  No informed Christian believes that the devil was a talking snake.  That was an artist’s rendition of the story, and artwork is only that, artwork.  Moreover, they misunderstand the genre of the first 11 chapters of Genesis and how to interpret it.  I can guarantee you that there was no such thing as a talking snake tempting them.

Skeptic:  Hmmm, that makes a bit of sense.  I’ll have to look into it a bit more.

If I received a dollar for every time I’ve had this conversation, I would be rich.  If Atheists or skeptics assert that the story of Jesus is merely invented, like Hamlet, then who made it up?  When?  Why?  What was their motive?  People do this sort of thing for a reason, so what was it?  Names, dates, and facts need to be cited if anyone is going to begin to even take this seriously in the least.

Is the bible a Myth?

Some atheists have better arguments.  The one that follows was a real conversation:

Atheist: I’m atheist, and I certainly don’t believe in the Bible.  I think it’s all a big lie.

Me:   Why?

Atheist: Well, because I don’t think there is any proof for it.

Me: Proof for what?

Atheist: For the Bible. I think it’s wrong.

Me:  Where?

Atheist:  Well, archeologists can find no evidence whatsoever for the Israelites being in Egypt.  Also, there is no evidence that the census actually happened.

Me:  So, you reject the whole Bible as false because archeologists haven’t been able to find evidence for two events yet?   Keep in mind, that archeologists have found thousands of discoveries which confirm the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, over and over again.  So, how can you say there is “no proof?”

Atheist: Well, maybe that’s all true, but there is absolutely no evidence for the Israelites being in Egypt or of a census.

Me: Well, not yet there isn’t, but keep in mind how many times critics have claimed there was no proof for something in the Bible, only to have the evidence turn up at a later time.  There have been a great many people and events that archeologists found and had to reverse their position on.  For example, archeology claimed that Pontius Pilate did not exist, nor did Lysanius the Tetrarch, Herod the Great,[1] the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and many, many other things.  Then, lo and behold, they found evidence for all of them. Thousands of discoveries have confirmed the Bible time and time again.  So, to say there is no evidence for these two events doesn’t prove anything, accept that nothing has been found to date.  Keep in mind too, that these people and the events happened thousands of years ago, and history is still being uncovered daily.

Me (continued):  The Bible is not like the Book of Mormon, where the two most prestigious historical societies have officially stated that there is absolutely no proof for the Book of Mormon.[2] The book, The Case for Christ sums up the archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon; “In other words, no Book of Mormon cities have ever been located, no Book of Mormon person, place, nation, or name has ever been found, no Book of Mormon artifacts, no Book of Mormon Scriptures, no Book of Mormon inscriptions, nothing which demonstrates the Book of Mormon is anything other than myth or invention has ever been found.[3]  Now, contrast this with the thousands of discoveries which authenticate the Bible and anyone can see that the Bible is not just “made up,” but is based on true history of true people, places and events.
Atheist: Ok, that makes some sense.

We may note too that the Bible is not the only historical source on Jesus or Christianity.  There are other historical sources that confirm the existence of Jesus and the Christian religion.  In Jesus’ day, there were prominent Jewish and Roman historians (Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Tactius, and others) who mention Jesus in their histories.  Jesus and Christianity are also mentioned in the writings of the Jewish Talmud too.  Thus, the Bible is not the only source we have regarding these things.

So, is the Bible a myth?  No, there is abundant evidence which demonstrates the authenticity of the Bible and no good reason to reject it.

This theme will continue over the next couple of posts.

[2] http://lifeafter.org/smithsonian/ (The statements can be found on their sites too).
[3] Strobel, Lee, The Case For Christ, Pg. 107.

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About Bryan Mercier

Bryan Mercier is a thirty-eight year old speaker and retreat leader. He has spoken to adults and teens for the last fifteen years on a wide variety of topics; ranging from catechetics and faith formation, to morality, spirituality, and apologetics. He has spoken at youth and adult retreats, workshops, seminars, Catholic schools, parish missions, local, regional and national conferences. He has spoken in front of crowds ranging from thirty to three-thousand and has been aired on both TV and radio in different states. Bryan also runs the R.O.C.K. (Revival Of Catholic Kids) Ministry Team that puts on all-day retreats for teens. He is going for his Masters in theology and working on writing numerous books and tracts.
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