In my last article, I argued that we are completely justified in believing the Bible is the historically reliable Word of God without any argumentation or evidence given to defend such a position. But such a stance only holds if there are no sound arguments or evidence against the reliability of Scripture. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that there are many attacks against the historical reliability of Scripture. So, if we are going to maintain a position of historical reliability, we must give some reason why counterarguments and evidence are unconvincing.
So where do we begin? It would take a lifetime to address every argument mounted against Scripture. There are hundreds of historical claims within Scripture; and though not every historical claim is countered by a critic, there are many claims that are.
Perhaps the best place to start is at an obvious place, yet it may not seem as obvious until further consideration. Probably one of the most popular counters to the historical reliability of Scripture is atheism. If God doesn’t exist, then the Bible clearly has problems because the Bible claims God very much exists—and is intimately involved within His creation.
Again, given our current position, we need not present positive arguments for God’s existence, we are completely rational in believing without such evidence; however, we are obligated to give a reply to arguments against the existence of God. There are really two main arguments against God’s existence: the problem of evil and divine hiddenness.
Since I have already discussed the problem of evil argument in a past article (you can see that here), I will not discuss it here. I’ll simply summarize by stating: the existence of evil does not disprove the existence of God. Though we humans may not fully understand why God allows evil, it is very likely that an all-knowing God has a reason for evil that we humans simply cannot understand.
So, on to divine hiddenness. This argument is quite easy to grasp. In fact, I dare say we’ve all dealt with this issue sometime in our lives. Oxford Philosopher Richard Swinburne describes the argument well, “If there is a God who is our loving creature, surely he ought to make himself known to all creatures with the capacity to understand what it is for there is be a God…” In other words, if God is all-powerful, He has the power to make Himself known to everyone. If God is all-knowing, He has the knowledge to make Himself known in such a way that finite humans will always rightly discern His existence. And if God is all-loving, He would want to make Himself known. After all, only an immoral father is willingly absent from his children’s lives.
So, the atheist might state: “If God exists, He would make Himself known to me in a way that is obvious!” The presumption of this argument is its greatest weakness. Why assume God must or would make Himself known to everyone in a particular way? There isn’t anything about the nature of God that would obligate Him to make His existence known in any particular way. In fact, there isn’t anything about the nature of God that obligates Him to make Himself known at all. Being that He is a holy and righteous God and we are fallen sinful people, God is completely just if He never revealed Himself. Therefore, when God does reveal Himself, it is an act of mercy and grace. It is a gift.
So the hiddenness of God problem really isn’t much of a problem. Furthermore, Christians claim that God does reveal Himself in very particular and profound ways. Perhaps it isn’t the way the atheist wants, but God isn’t beholden to the demands of humans.
So the hiddenness of God argument doesn’t disprove God’s existence. If anything, it highlights the Christian view of God.
In my next article, I’ll focus on another popular argument against the historical reliability of Scripture: the need for a Creator.