Answers in Genesis: The Bible Is True

This is a strange one at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. The title is Inerrancy and the Test of Truth.

It was written by Dr. Mark Bird. The description at the end says that he “teaches theology, evangelism, and apologetics at God’s Bible School and College in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he also directs online studies.” Here’s AIG’s bio page for him. He has four degrees from various bible colleges.

It’s a long article, so we’ll have to skip around a lot. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture is one of Christianity’s most important doctrines to be defended, especially as skeptical forces increase their attack on the truthfulness of the Bible. In this article, I will define the foundational concept of truth, review the case for the utter truthfulness (or inerrancy) of Scripture, and then discuss how the Bible passes the “test of truth” even down to the details of its claims.

Very ambitious! He says:

What Is Truth? The concept of inerrancy is based on the correspondence view of truth and the law of non-contradiction. According to the correspondence view of truth, truth is a statement or idea which corresponds to reality. In other words, a statement is true if and only if it matches the way things really are. My affirmations should match reality. I can say that the earth is flat or that the sky is green — but that doesn’t make it so!

So far, we agree. After that he tells us:

Implied in the correspondence view of truth is the law of non-contradiction: something cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect. For example, “Rain is falling on my car right now” and “Rain is not falling on my car right now” cannot both be true. Truth is coherent. Anything true will be consistent with itself. If two statements absolutely contradict one another, they cannot both be true; they cannot both match reality.

We still agree. But something’s wrong here — if this guy writes for AIG, we know he has to go off the rails. Confident that it’ll happen soon, we’ll read on:

Throughout Scripture, there is an assumption of truth as correspondence to reality. It matters to the Bible writers that their truth claims match the way things really are.

Ah yes — an assumption of truth. But what about correspondence to reality? Bird continues:

Here’s the argument for inerrancy:

• Premise A: Every utterance of God is perfect and thus free from error.
• Premise B: All the truth claims of the Bible writers are the utterances of God.
• Conclusion: All the truth claims of the Bible writers are free from error.

That’s great — but only of those premises are true. Let’s see how Bird handles that:

Premise A is supported by the teaching that God cannot lie [scripture reference] and that he knows everything [scripture reference]. God cannot say anything contrary to the way things really are. He is morally perfect and will not lead anyone astray, especially since he is omniscient. … There is nothing spoken by God that is contrary to what is true.

Uh, okay. What about the other premise? We’re told:

Premise B is supported by [scripture reference], which says, “all Scripture is God-breathed” and other scriptures that refer to the words of Moses, the other prophets, and the apostles as actual words of God.

Got it! The bible is true because the bible says it’s true. Neatly done! Another excerpt:

That is the deductive argument for inerrancy. If Premise A and B are true, then the Conclusion (that all the truth claims of the Bible writers are free from error) must be true. If the Conclusion is true, then we must approach Scripture from the stance of faith, trusting that when properly interpreted no errors will be found in Scripture, no matter how small. Nothing will be stated as a fact that does not correspond to the way things really are.

After skipping quite a bit, here’s more

I think one of the biggest problems we face in biblical scholarship today is the pressure to conform to the consensus opinion of the mainstream scientific community. Many biblical scholars interpret Genesis 6–9 as teaching a local or regional flood because the scientific establishment has “proven” that the fossil record demonstrates millions of years of evolution instead of evidence of a worldwide Flood.

How does Bird handle the outrageous claims of scientists? He says things like:

Jesus never challenged the history of the Bible. Jesus accepted all the people and events of the Old Testament as actually and accurately historical. He mentions them in his teaching and sometimes the point of his reference to them rested on the historical validity of the accounts.

[…]

If we resist the pressure from the scientific establishment (the new “ultimate authority” in our society) and interpret the scientific evidence in light of Scripture rather than the other way around, we will see less conflict between the Bible and science, and have fewer alleged discrepancies to try to explain.

And now we come to the conclusion:

If the Bible is verbally inspired (God-breathed down to the very words), then there will be nothing in Scripture that is not true when properly understood, even when written by men with limited and even erroneous views of the world. I am speaking of not just the “main points” but also “minor details.” God is powerful enough to keep the Bible writers from crossing over the line from the true to the false. If everything in Scripture really is the Word of God, then that is what he did — he kept them from claiming or teaching anything contrary to the way things really are.

Well, dear reader, there you are. The bible is The Truth because it says it’s The Truth. You can’t argue with that!

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “Answers in Genesis: The Bible Is True

  1. Michael Fugate

    Wow! Circularity means I am always right!

  2. Yet, once again, it is not so much circular reasoning as more like a Mobius strip, as one follows the rhetoric one ends up upside down, or spaghetti code with loose ends.
    Is God capable of killing people without it being counted as murder? Is God capable of taking property without it being theft? Is God capable of inflicting infinite punishment for finite actions, without it being unjust? What gives us the right to say that if what God says is a lie if it does not correspond with reality?
    The example for justification for us mere humans not tellling what corresponds with reality: the Nazi asking whether there are Jews in your house. The Nazi does not have the right to expect the “truth”. Yes, so Christianity tells us that all of us are born with sin, and we have no right to expect life, property, justice … or truth.
    The famous “god-breathed” proof-text tells us that scripture is
    “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. It does not say that scripture corresponds with reality. It is “useful”. See the pragmatic definition of truth.
    1 Corinthians 7 gives us examples with Paul telling us that what he is writing is not with the authority of God.
    There are many examples where the Bible cites non-Biblical sources – not the word of God – for what is written. See Wikipedia: “Non-canncal books referenced in the Bible”.

  3. Dave Luckett

    Bird is using a peculiar and unnecessarily limited translation of 2 Tim 3:16, which is the Bible reference omitted by Our Host. The translation is tricky, but in the first place a majority of Greek scholars hold that it should read in English “All inspired scripture has its use…” not “All scripture is inspired and (may be) used…”. The arguments are technical, but the first reading would imply that there is a qualification: some scripture is not actually inspired. Is this not the case? I for one find it difficult to believe that anyone would regard as inspired, for example, the brazen bragging about the fitments of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings, or the instruction in Deuteronomy to bury your excrement outside the camp lest God see it and be offended.

    In the second place, the expression which Bird translates “God-breathed”, (with the hyphen that is not in the original) is far more likely to mean “inspired by God” than “the literal output of God”, with “inspired” (“breathed in”) being used in English in the opposite sense to the Greek.

    Thirdly, if Paul actually wrote these words (and there is good reason to think they are pseudonymous, and later) then he could not have been referring to “scripture” that did not exist in his day – like the Gospels, the later epistles, and Revelation.

    Fourthly, no amount of massaging the meaning of those words, or any others in any of the scriptures, will get you to “scripture must be read literally”, which is what Bird is attempting to imply without ever actually saying so.

    Finally, Bird asserts as fact that “Jesus accepted all the people and events of the Old Testament as actually and accurately historical.” There is no warrant for this statement at all. None. There are no words in scripture that amount to saying this. Jesus used the stories of the Old Testament as references, in exactly the same way as we might use any of our literature. There are no words of His that attest to their literal fact.

    That lack is why Bird is driven to an eccentric interpretation of the words of a writer who may or may not be Paul of Tarsus to assert scriptural inerrancy, and, though he carefully avoids specifying it, literality. Even then he imputes to those words a meaning that they do not bear.

    The only thing to be said for this scholarship is that it’s well up to the fundamentalist standard.

  4. Michael Fugate

    Some scripture has expired – is more apt.

  5. I note the acceptance rate of God’s Bible School and College is 100%; therefore don’t be discouraged by the fact that you’re a moron. Despite the acceptance rate I recommend that if you’re a serial killer don’t mention it on your application.

  6. I suppose that literalists would find nothing difficult in accepting the details of Solomon’s temple as literally corresponding to a reality.
    I find it more difficult to accept the liar’ paradox in the Epistle to Titus.
    But I have heard of those who accept the literal truth of the Deluge carving the Grand Canyon or the literal fall of Adam.

  7. Michael Fugate

    Bird’s alma mater, Grace, is the alma mater of John C. Whitcomb.

    Click to access covenant.pdf


    We believe in the creation and fall of man: that he was the direct creation of God, spirit and soul and body, not in any sense the product of animal ancestry, but made in the divine image; that by personal disobedience of the revealed will of God, man became a sinful creature and the progenitor of a fallen race, who are universally sinful in both nature and practice, alienated from the life and family of God, under the righteous judgment and wrath of God, and have themselves no possible means of recovery or salvation.

    They also believe in sentences with multiple clauses…

    God has a family?

  8. They believe the Bible is true because it says it’s true, or at least ‘God inspired’? Presumably they also believe The Water Babies (by Charles Kingsley) is also true because the first page insists that it is all true.

  9. “God-breathed down to the very words”
    How does that work? When I breath down no words appear, I have to do a little more work.
    Also: bats are birds once again.

  10. “I recommend that if you’re a serial killer don’t mention it on your application”

    Reading the various Bibles suggests that being a serial killer is not really a hindrance to holiness.

  11. “Rain is falling on my car right now” and “Rain is not falling on my car right now” cannot both be true.
    This shows he does not have much of an intellect as the statement is BS. The paradox is in language, not reality, as the rain can both fall and not fall on the car at the same time; I have actually seen this happen. Like most people his language is all wrong. “Rain is falling OVER MY ENTIRE car right now” and “Rain is not falling OVER MY ENTIRE car right now” cannot both be true. is the correct way. As I saw a car on the rain boundary where the hood was rained on and the trunk was not!
    But then religion=sloppy thinking if any!

  12. Dr. Bird soars into the intellectual stratosphere–miraculously and singularly unrestrainted by the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle

    Implied in the correspondence view of truth is the law of non-contradiction: something cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.

    But even if, at every given moment, God can know whether Schrödinger’s kitty is alive or dead, that little avails us mere mortals…

  13. It’s generally pointless to argue over the fine points of Biblical interpretation with a creationist. If there is any conceivable connection with a word in a proof-text, a creationist will that that as confirming what he wants to believe. On the other hand, what difference does it make if the authors of the Bible had a particular belief about the natural world?
    But I am tempted by this particular author because he brings up some novel points – in particular, the philosophical definition of truth. He seems to accept a common defintion, the Correspondance Defintion of Truth: something is true if what it says corresponds to reality, or “It is raining” is true, if and only if it is raining.
    There are alternative, competing definitions. I will mention a couple.
    The Coherence Definition of Truth: something is true if it is consistent with other truths.
    The Pragmatic theory of Truth: Something is true if it works. This can be taken to mean by the con man, if he can get away with it, then it’s true for him. Or it can be the observation that if something doesn’t work, then it isn’t true.

    Now, to the proof-text in question 2 Timothy 3:16
    “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
    This does not fit the Correspondence Theory of Truth. It is more like a variation of the Pragmatic Theory of Truth; The Greek text for “profitable for” is “ophelimos pros”, literally translated so.

  14. Charles Deetz ;)

    At least he gives us a clear distillation of fundie thinking of why The Truth needs a ™ mark. In one’s brain, or spoken in a sermon, this probably seems pretty reasonable logic. Written out, the holes are easy to see.

  15. Using the same reasoning, then isn’t the Koran true, or the Torah, or the tales of Mt. Olympus and any other imaginative scenario that man can come up with?

  16. Dave Luckett; “the instruction in Deuteronomy to bury your excrement outside the camp lest God see it and be offended”; indeed that’s good advice. But how about the rules of war in Deuteronomy; hesitating between all enemies must be slaughtered, or, you enslave them all if they submit, otherwise kill all the men and take the rest as slaves. Are we invited to think that Jesus approved of this approach to diplomacy?

  17. One can make an argument that rules of warfare are dependent on circumstances. In the Ancient Near East, life was tough, and if one didn’t act brutally to one’s opponent, it was taken as a sign of weakness which could be exploited. I’m not making that argument, but I realize that a creationist can. Given so many factually mistakes which cannot be defended, why go off on a tangent?

  18. BTW, I wonder whether many of the arguments from immorality in the Old Testament are contributing to Anti-Semitism. The God of the Old Testament, and therefore Judaism, is evil.

  19. Unlikely. Historically at least, anti-Semitism has been strongest among christian (and sometimes Muslim) fervent believers, and few in either of these faiths would call the old Testament evil, although they would agree in calling it superseded

  20. Michael Fugate

    When did God stop finding the aroma of burning flesh to be pleasing?

  21. Michael Fugate, Maimonides took the line that Temple sacrifice was a now superseded aid to devotion in a less sophisticated era. I don’t think he realised what a dangerous line of argument this was, since it could be applied to any specific practice or doctrine

  22. Michael Fugate

    Doesn’t this make Bird’s claim false?

  23. Of course, his whole dissertation rests on the unprovable assumption that there actually IS a God.

    That said, we can assert as fact that there is a universe, and it is controlled by certain physical laws that science attempts to define. Religionists would assert (without proof) that the universe was created by God (whichever god they choose to believe in); therefore, it follows that the religionist would believe that God also created the physical laws governing the universe.

    That is the crux — we see many assertions in the Bible that contradict the physical laws of the universe. (The Flood, God “stopping” the sun to give the extra daylight to win a battle, age of the Earth and universe, etc.) So, which is true — scripture, written by the hand of man allegedly guided by God’s inspiration, or the physical laws of the universe, undoubtedly (in the mind of the religionist) created by God himself?

    So no, the Bible cannot be relied upon as a true description of physical reality, any more than we can rely on the science of the year 2018 being the Final Word in understanding the universe. However, in science we change our view as we gather more facts through observation. The religionist’s mind, on the other hand, is frozen in the Bronze Age.

    The Bible can be a useful guide in our dealings with others ( leave out some of Deuteronomy, however). But the religionist should heed the advice given by St. Augustine before asserting the absolute truth of all scripture.

  24. I would not agree that the world is controlled by physical laws. It is described by physical laws. Unfortunately, both concepts (prescriptive and descriptive) are denoted by the same world “laws”.

  25. The creationists are stuck with a modern mind interpreting a text from the Ancient Near East. The ANE is comfortable with a magical view of the world and an allegorical mode of expression. The ANE could accept the picture of God taking a stroll in the evening cool in the garden. The ANE could accept “the snake” as a repesentative of all snakes, past and present. The modern creatoist tries to make sense of things in a modern way, and it just won’t work. Even the Flat-Earthers cannot bring themselves to accept the cosmology of the Ancient Near Earth, they cannot deny the existences of the Americas, Australia, Antartica, modern communications and inter-continental travel. Somehow millions of people must be pretending to making a living by going along with a conspiracy.

  26. @Dave Luckett. I say Pshaw! on your original Greek. I like my Bible the way it was originally written in English in the King James not in some Greek rewrite!

  27. Ross Cameron

    Which bible is true? They are like Heinz–57 varieties. And, of course, you have to ignore the Qumran Scrolls that show there are a number of manuscripts that differ from the normal canon. As does LXX. Who`s a poor believer to trust?

  28. Dave Luckett

    Of course the instruction to bury your excrement is sound. So, for that matter, is an instruction not to eat pork or shellfish, in the ancient middle east. But is the instruction inspired by the revelation that the Lord God is offended by the sight? I think not.

    As for the scriptural instructions on waging war, yes, again, it’s obvious to anyone of a moderately humanistic outlook that they, and the repeated genocides allegedly demanded or executed by this god, are evidence that scripture is not inspired – at the very least, not all of it. But fundamentalists are NOT of a moderately humanistic outlook, and they will roundly claim that drowning every human and every breathing animal bar one arkload, or killing the first-born of an entire population who had no power over events, or demanding the total annihilation of an entire people, every man, woman and child, is all divine justice. That is, of course, the real condemnation. Be damned to them.

    But when they claim that all scripture is inspired, even the bit that attests to God’s coprophobia, they can be seen as simply idiotic, rather than horrible. Horrible is formidable. Idiotic is merely ridiculous. They don’t deserve the status of horrible.