The Incredible Accuracy of the Bible: An Argument for Inspiration
By way of glaring contrast, the holy writers of the biblical records never nodded. Their works are characterized by a razor-sharp accuracy that defies explanation save on the ground they were controlled by the Spirit of God. Consider the following factors.
The first two chapters of the Bible contain the divine record of the commencement of the universe, including the Earth and its inhabitants. Though it was penned thirty-five centuries ago, there is not a syllable in this account that is at variance with any demonstrable fact of science. Any book on astronomy or earth science penned fifty years ago is already obsolete. And yet Genesis, simple and sublime, is factually flawless.
The Mosaic narrative asserts that the universe had a “beginning” (1:1), which is perfectly consistent with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Contrast this with the Babylonian creation record known as Enuma Elish, which asserts the eternality of matter (Pfeiffer 1966, 226).
The Genesis record affirms that creation activity was concluded by the end of the sixth day (2:1-3). Science says, as per the First Law of Thermodynamics, that nothing is being created today.
No less than ten times Genesis 1 affirms that biological organisms replicate “after [their] kind.” In passing we must note that modern pseudo-science (i.e., the theory of evolution) is dependent upon the notion that in the past organisms have reproduced after their non-kind! The biblical account, however, is in perfect harmony with the known laws of genetics.
The medical knowledge revealed in the Bible is truly astounding. It is well known, for instance, that medicine in the antique world was based upon myth and superstition. This was true in Babylon and Egypt.
For example the Papyrus Ebers (from the sixteenth century B.C.), edited by George M. Ebers in 1874, offered some very strange remedies for various illnesses. Here is a prescription for folks who are losing their hair:
When it falls out, one remedy is to apply a mixture of six fats, namely those of the horse, the hippopotamus, the crocodile, the cat, the snake, and the ibex. To strengthen it, anoint with the tooth of a donkey crushed in honey (quoted by McMillen 1963, 11).
Even the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, one of the more sophisticated examples of Egyptian medical “science,” contains a spell for “transforming an old man into a youth of twenty.”
In spite of the fact that Moses was reared in an Egyptian environment and “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22), not one time did the great law-giver incorporate any of this magical mumbo-jumbo into the Scriptures. On the contrary, Moses was far ahead of his time in terms of medicine and sanitation. A careful study of Leviticus 13, with reference to certain skin diseases, reveals some rather modern techniques (e.g., the diagnosis of certain symptoms), treatment to lessen spread (e.g., disinfection), and quarantine. No other law code in the whole of ancient history came anywhere near rivaling these health regulations.
Consider, for instance, the fact that the “leper” was required to “cover his upper lip” (Leviticus 13:45). Dr. J. S. Morton has noted: “Since the leprosy bacilli are transmitted from nasal drippings and saliva, this practice of having lepers cover their upper lips was a good hygienic policy” (1978, 255).
Concerning Moses’ procedures for quarantining, Dr. William Vis has written:
To show how far Moses was ahead of modern society we need only to remind ourselves that the word quarantine originated in the fourteenth century when the Italian ports of Venice and Genoa first refused admission to immigrants who might be harboring plague and required them to stay on board for forty days—hence the word quarantine. Even in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries leprosy spread over southern Europe until the principles of Moses were re-enacted successfully (1950, 244).
When the Encyclopedia Britannica was first published, it had so many mistakes relative to American geography and topography that the publishers of the New American Cyclopedia issued a special pamphlet correcting the blunders of its British rival.
J. W. McGarvey once noted that when Tacitus wrote his celebrated work, Germania, which dealt with the geography, manners, customs, and tribes of Germany, it contained so many errors that many were inclined to doubt that this well-known Roman historian could have produced such a flawed volume (1956, 26-27). The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that “the geography is its weak point” (1958, 736).
The biblical writings contain literally hundreds of references to geography and topography relating to those lands which the prophets and apostles traversed. We are quite casual in our topographical allusions. Usually we speak of going “up” north and “down” south. For example, you might say you are going to travel from Atlanta up to Chicago, though Chicago is almost five hundred feet lower than Atlanta.
However the biblical writers, are always precise when recording elevation references. One travels from Jerusalem (in the south) “down” to Antioch, some one hundred fify miles to the north (Acts 15:1-2). Not once is there a geographical or topographical blunder in the sacred volume, in spite of the fact that the ancients did not possess the sophisticated instruments we have today.
Here is an amazing fact. In the book of Acts, the historian Luke mentions thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine of the Mediterranean islands (Metzger 1965, p. 171). There is not the slightest mistake in any of his references. Luke has been criticized over the centuries to be sure; his influence has increased, however, while his critics’ credibility has decreased.
Over a span of many centuries, hostile critics of the Bible have charged the sacred writers with nodding. Time after time, however, when the true facts have come to light, the Scriptures have been vindicated. Reflect upon a few examples.
The Genesis record declares that while he was in Egypt, Pharaoh presented Abraham with some camels (12:16). Liberal writers disputed this. T. K. Cheyne wrote: “The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded” (1899, 634). Professor Kenneth Kitchen has shown, however, that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domestic camel was known [in Egypt] by 3,000 B.C.”—long before Abraham’s time (1980, 228).
On several occasions in the book of Genesis, it is recorded that Abraham and Isaac had associations with the Philistines (cf. Genesis 21 and 26). Liberal scholars consider these references to be anachronistic (details from a later age inappropriately inserted into the patriarchal account). H.T. Frank characterizes the allusions as “an historical inaccuracy” (1964, 323).
It has been shown, however, that “Philistine” was a rather generic term and that there is no valid reason to doubt that these groups were in Canaan before the arrival of the main body in the early twelfth century B.C. (Unger 1954, 91; Archer 1964, 266; Harrison 1963, 32). Harrison says that the archaeological evidence “suggests that it is a mistake to regard the mention of the Philistines in the patriarchal narratives as an anachronism” (1983, 362).
Elsewhere, this writer has catalogued no less than twenty major slips, with which the biblical writers have been charged (Jackson 1982). Each of these has evaporated with the passing of time and the exhumation of evidence.
Yes, even the noble Homer may nod; those guided by the Spirit of God, however, never did. You can trust the Bible! And here is a crucial point: if the Bible proves to be reliable in hundreds of matters that are verifiable, why should it not be trusted in issues in the spiritual realm that, from the very nature of the case, are beyond human verification, e.g., issues pertaining to redemption from sin?
The author acknowledges his indebtedness to the lamented B.C. Goodpasture for the idea from which this article sprang, and for a few of the examples that illustrate the concept developed (1970, 322,325).