Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is the Bible the Words of Men or God?

I was thinking the other day, just how significant it is for Christians to be able to demonstrate that the Bible is divine, rather than merely human in origin. More and more versions and translations of the Bible are out but few and fewer people are able to demonstrate that these are the words of God and not the words of men.

An article in USA Today on October 19, 2009 caught my attention. It’s about Robert Crumb, who is Underground Comic’s hero. He created his very own version of the Genesis in pen and ink for the very first time. This had a big spread in USA Today, and he is interviewed and said, “To take this as a sacred text, or the word of God or something to live by, is kind of crazy.”[1]

So here’s a guy who spent four years translating the book of Genesis, 50 chapters into comic book style, illustrated with pictures. When he gets all done with the process, he says; “I don’t believe a word of it. I don't believe it's the Word of God. I believe it's the words of men,” and by the way he also says; “So much of it makes no sense.”[2]

Now the problem is not with Robert Crumb saying what he said. The problem is that Christians have not been adept at demonstrating that the Bible demonstrates itself to be divine as opposed to merely human in origin.

I’ve written about this in various forums such as The Legacy Study Bible and Doctrines Flip Chart and for the cliff notes version you can go to The Complete Bible Answer Book. I’ve given them to you in such a way that you can memorize the information. All these resources give you what we believe and why we believe it.

Now one of things we believe is that these are the words of God, not because we have blind faith, but rather because we have faith in evidence. In other words, we can demonstrate this to be the case. So the Christian faith is never irrational. It’s based on revelation, but it’s not irrational. We say not that there is a victory of reason in Christianity, but rather a victory of revelation which informs reason.

If all you have is reason, you’re like a man with perfect 20/20 eyesight sitting in a dark room. Your eyesight is laser sharp, but if you’re in a room pervaded by darkness, no matter how good your eyesight is, you can’t see. Revelation informs reason and God has givens us revelation not only through nature but also through sixty-six books of knowledge. In others words the Bible, the first of which is the book of Genesis.

The problem is that if you’re illustrating the book of Genesis, and you start with the wrong presupposition instead of that God is condescending to speak to us in language that we can attain to you might very well get the wrong impression. Why would God say to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” If God knows everything, He would know where they are. Now if you don’t understand that the language of the Bible condescends to our corrupt fallen nature and speaks to us in language that we can attain to, then you’re going to get the wrong impression of what Genesis is communicating.

You have to know the art and science of Biblical interpretation. Again, these principles are available in various forums such as The Complete Bible Answer Book or Doctrines Flip Chart. Wherever you get the information, if you’re a believer make it your passion to reach not repel a Robert Crumb. Don’t say, “What a terrible guy he is, how could he say such things.” Pagans are going to exercise their job description in not believing the truth of God. A Christian’s job description is to be a well informed ambassador for Christ.


[1] Illustrator R. Crumb is Drawn to God with his latest Project” by David Cotton, USA Today, 10/19/09 (

[2] Ibid.


Lilorfnannie said...

I'm trying to wrap my head around the concept of an R. Crumb-illustrated version of Genesis. I've read his comics from the 60's (I wasn't always a Christian)- it seems to me like having Ron Jeremy make a film version of Genesis. No, I can't wrap my head around that one.

Siarlys Jenkins said...



The words in the Bible derive from divine inspiration. They have been received and recorded by men. They have been translated by men, always inducing error and misunderstanding.

It is better to have the translation than nothing, it is better to get closer to the original if possible, the basic moral principals are pathetically obvious, and the arcane theologies that men have built up around hair-splitting theological intepretation are an abomination unto the Lord.

Boris said...

It would take more than divine inspiration for the authors of the books of the Bible to have recorded all the dialog in the Bible. How did the authors come up with all the word for word conversations in the Bible? That would be divine dictation not just divine inspiration. Narratives containing dialog are not historical narratives they are fictive. No history writer has ever written in the style the stories in the Bible are written in. Only fiction writers write in that style. There are no exceptions to this rule. When we hold the Bible up to literary criticism it fails every test there is for historicity and passes all the tests for fiction with flying colors. Wake up people. THINK about what you are reading. It isn't supposed to be taken as history.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Boris, I'm beginning to doubt that you are a Jew at all. Surely you would have heard that the Torah was "words and music by the Creator of the Universe," but the rest of what Christians call "The Old Testament" consist of the Writings, which are chronologies, not divine dictation, although they do mention God's intervention, and the Nevi'im, loosely translated into western European languages as "prophets" which are an inspired mortal's best rendition of the incomparably frightening experience of seeing or hearing from the deity.

No, its not history, it wasn't meant to be history, although you seem to be making out a case that it is history when you mention all the conversations. For myself, I think that the first five books contain a mix of divine dictation, which is easy to pick out by such introductions as "Thus saith the Lord..." as distinct from "Then Aaron asked Moses..." That's not hard to work with. You don't have to believe any of it is divine, but don't think that such banal word games is going to convince anyone else. Some of us, like Albert Einstein, have direct experience that "The Lord God is subtle, but malicious he is not," even if we haven't had the truly frightening experience Yishayahu wrote about. (If you really are Jewish, you know who I mean).

Boris said...

The Torah is a bunch of retarded nonsense written in 164 BCE. The dialog and conversations contained in them prove they are fiction. When we read word for word conversations in ancient literature we are reading fiction. There are no exceptions.

Anonymous said...

“There is a sort of transcendental ventriloquy through which men can be made to believe that something which was said on earth came from heaven.” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

“We’ve had this book [the Bible] analyzed and it reads like the ramblings of a drugged horse. The question tonight – is God confused like his prating truth pimps, or is he dead?” – Chris Morris

“The essence of Christianity is told to us in the Garden of Eden story. The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out what was going on. You could be in the garden of Eden if you had just kept your bleeping mouth shut and hadn’t asked any questions… ‘Get smart and I’ll bleep you over,’ sayeth the Lord. Is this not an absolutely anti-intellectual religion?” – Frank Zappa

“The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western civilization.” – Robert Anton Wilson

“It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” – Mark Twain

“More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the text that authorized them remains.” – Mark Twain

“If the evidence supports the historical accuracy of the gospels, where is the need for faith? And if the historical reliability of the gospels is so obvious, why have so many scholars failed to appreciate the incontestable nature of the evidence?” – Robert W. Funk

“The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them.” Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989), German New Testament scholar.

“The Bible is a mine rich in the ore of cognitive dissonance.” – Delos B. Mckown

Siarlys Jenkins said...

When Boris treats us to a long string of quotations, he is writing fiction. There are no exceptions.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

The Bible is neither a history text book nor a science text book. Christians who try to endow it with the characteristics of either are fools. Those who pretend to be scientists, by denigrating the Bible for being neither one, are idiots. Science does a very good job of studying, classifying, interpreting, and understanding the material world. It has no means whatsoever to determine whether the metaphysical exists or not. Science does have some gaps which MAY define the limits of the material and point to the influence of the non-material, but some of those gaps will be filled in due time. The rest, we all have to take on faith, including those who have faith that there is nothing that science cannot reach, therefore, axiomatically, anything science does not prove must not exist at all. The rest of us beg to differ, for a wide variety of reasons, none subject to scientific test.

IF you must persist in considering evolutionary biology some sort of evidence that there is no God or that the Bible is unreliable, you might consider the observations of Simon Morris Conway, who points out that the pattern of convergence in evolution offers much more compelling evidence of conscious intent than the clumsy mechanics of "Intelligent Design." For example, the octopus has an eye very similar to the human eye, but the closest common ancestor of humans and octopi had no eyes at all. So, the same eye evolved independently, and has in fact evolved independently eight different times, at least. There seems to be a pattern here. (If you have time to read a book, google Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe. I think he's wrong about the lonely universe. I'm a fan of Mark Twain's Excerpt From Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven, in which Stormfield identifies his home world as "the one the Savior saved," only to be told reverently "The number of worlds he has saved is like to the gates of heaven, none can count them."