Are the Bible's Foundational Claims True?
The Bible makes the claim to be the holy word of God, and it describes itself as perfect, inerrant, and absolutely moral. The Bible itself makes these extraordinary claims, and I agree with the late Hitchens when he said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Not all claims are equal and so the Bible should have an impressive mountain of available evidence for us to prove these claims.
Genesis is an extremely vital and important book for both theological and historical reasons. Genesis in just the first few chapters establishes the reason for a savior, history of death and pain, and the origins of man. Being a foundation for modern doctrines of Christianity, it should hold incredibly well under intense scrutiny and criticism. However, I believe we will see that when met with opposition the Bible's foundations become exposed for what they are, rocky and unstable at best.
Genesis 1 details creation of everything, the cosmos, the earth, and the animals. When we look deeper into the timeline of creation, things get very messy. The creation account of the Bible is directly opposite of what we have observed through the scientific method. In Genesis, we have plants before the sun, earth before the sun and stars, and land animals before whales. While, in the fossil record we see the exact opposite as pictured in Genesis, so this seems to pose a problem for the Bible's foundation.
Now, some say that Genesis is a metaphor and not literal history. Feasibly this is true, I suppose the original intent of the author may never be fully known. But, it seems the other authors considered it as literal history. Paul, Jesus, and writers of the Gospel seem to believe that Genesis 1 was real history, not a metaphor. If we are looking at the Bible as a perfect book then I think we should let it interpret itself.
However, maybe you don't believe the Bible we have to be perfect, but just a copy of what was originally perfect or something to that effect. In that case, how do we decide what is a mistake? There was a time not long ago where there was no evolutionary theory, and so Genesis 1 was not nearly as contested as it is now. In that case, is the Bible only literally true until met with evidence to the contrary? That seems like a poor way of determining the words of God.
Continuing with that thought the Bible teaches there was no death before sin. Today we understand that lots of death had to occur for the mutations to occur to bring about the biodiversity we see. Romans 5:12 states “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” So, how can we point towards the Bible as the words of God if it seems to contradict all evidence?
The Bible has a man from dust, no death before sin, and creation all out-of-order. All of these claims are demonstrably false. However, the Bible is more than just a book of errant history, it is also a book that imposes a “perfect” moral code. The morality present in the Bible is nothing short of evil and if followed to the letter would lead to the destruction of modern society.
Slavery has been a thorn in the history of America. It paints a gruesome picture of us, and we praise those who fought to abolish such a horrible practice. So, if we as mere humans with limited capabilities can see the harm and pain slavery can cause, God should have no issue perceiving it the same. But despite that in the Bible we see the explicit and unequivocal support of slavery.
To quote the Bible on the subject (Leviticus 25:44-46 ESV)” As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land and they may be your property.You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.”
God clearly supported slavery. He went as far to explicitly mention they are their property forever. The word property or possession in the Hebrew is “achuzzah” which means, shows possession by inheritance, especially of land. This to say, God ordered people could own other people forever as if that was analogous to owning some property. That is clear and direct support of slavery in the Bible.
Some may point to this being an Old Testament passage. At the outset, God is unchanging(Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 13:8), so if He says this is moral now what would have changed? Secondly, even if by some stretch of interpretation the Old Testament is only relevant as history, God's morality still falls flat. If he supported slavery at all then, at some point it was moral to God. In conclusion, the New Testament never revises this view or corrects it. In fact, it reaffirms the Old Testament by saying this (Ephesians 6:5 NIV) “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” The Bible's morality is definitely more than rocky, it's immoral.
In these few examples I see many red flags and reasons to doubt the Bible's foundational claims. The Bible doesn't read as the words of God but of fallible men. With God's inspiration one would think that slavery, historical errors, and scientific errors wouldn't exist. In the perfect book however, we find these in abundance. One might subsequently say that the Bible rest on rocky foundations and ultimately would appear to be untrue, and I would be inclined to agree.