The Bible claims to be God's message to man. In this article, I justify this claim by showing that humans (or angels/demigods) would not compose the Bible even if they could. This leaves us with the only possibility that God has composed the Bible. We know that man would never write the Bible on his own because of its following features.
"From women let not evidence be accepted because of the levity and temerity of their sex." – Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 4.8.15.
If Jesus had some dirty secrets and the apostles knew about it there is no explanation for the change of heart we see in the apostles shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. Those who fled in fear when Jesus was arrested now boldly preached him. According to history, all the apostles (except John) were tortured to death – for the same reason. They all claimed that Jesus had risen and was the only savior. They were told to stop, and they responded by saying, "we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." (Ac 4:20). Dan Brown [the author of the Da Vinci Code] would certainly not hold on to what he has claimed if he was faced with the prospect of being thrown to the lions, whereas Peter was willing to be crucified upside down for claiming that Jesus is lord. No prizes for guessing whose testimony is more reliable! How did the New Testament authors die?
“No man is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie—an irrefutable fact that adds great weight to the apostles’ testimony.” - Robert G. Ingersoll, American atheist.
The Bible's teachings are contrary to those that human teachers would like to convey. A few examples:-
This counter-intuitive nature is also seen in the Biblical teaching of inspiration or revelation. Why would anyone revere or submit to a book? Here are the reasons suggested by human common sense or intuition
But the Bible says something different about itself. Although parts of the Bible consist of mechanical dictation by God (see Leviticus 1:1 for example), other parts are writing done by people - as part of their journal (example: Genesis 5:1), correspondence with others (Acts 1:1), etc. and yet God wrote through them (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21). The Bible is God-breathed, yet the emotion and the personality of the writers come through!
These ideas and teachings - totally different from what humans would think of when left to themselves - point to the divine origin of the Bible.
Let's consider the following aspects of detail:-
The extent of detail: If I was a fraudster trying to cook up a story about Moses and Israel, there's absolutely no need for me to devote several pages to detailed measurements of the tabernacle (In Exodus 25:10 to Exodus 28:43 and Exodus 30:1 to Exodus 30:38, these measurements are mentioned as God’s instructions. Then, in Exodus 36:8 to Exodus 9:43, the same measurements are repeated while narrating the construction!). In Numbers 7, the same details regarding the offerings of the tribal leaders are written 12 times. No fraudster would do that (remember, in those days writing was very laborious – there was no “copy and paste”). The only explanation is that Moses was being absolutely honest and writing exactly as God was guiding him.
The "irrelevance" of the detail: The Old Testament centers around Israel. Yet it contains the records of Esau, one of the ancestors of the Arabs. One of Esau's descendants mentioned is Anah. We read in Genesis 36:24 that Anah found mules in the wilderness when he was grazing the asses of his father. What on earth does a modern (or ancient) Israeli reader care about whether some Arab found some mules in the desert?! There is absolutely no need for a fraudster to include information such as this. But among Esau's community, the recent discovery of mules would be a major windfall, and thus worthy of mention in the community records. Thus, when Genesis 36:9 introduces us to the "records of Esau", we can be sure that the content is indeed what it claims to be.
The "boringness" of the detail: The Bible has long lists of names. If (as skeptics claim), the Bible was written long after the events described took place, why include genealogies? Who cares about people who supposedly lived long ago? Note that Biblical genealogy is not confined to a few prominent men. A lot of "unimportant" people find mention (the first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles, several chapters in the Pentateuch). Why bother to mention long lists of cities and tribal borders (chapters 10-21 of Joshua), ritual procedures (almost the entire book of Leviticus), demographic data of people who lived 3500 years ago (several chapters of Numbers) and building descriptions (more than a dozen chapters in Exodus, 1 Kings, and Ezekiel)?! A writer driven by human motivation would not include all these! There is only one logical explanation for all this: God really chose Israel, and the Old Testament was really intended to be a record of their history, and events such as tribal territory allocation happened just the way the Bible says they did.
The outlandishness of the detail: A fraudster will try to sound plausible and non-specific. The surest way for him to give himself away is to make some outlandish, specific prediction that people can test. But Isaiah does just that - he says that a virgin will give birth to the incarnation of God (Isaiah 7:14). Then Micah says this will happen in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)! And Daniel predicts the exact date on which he would present himself to Israel, and that he would be killed after that! No human author would invent such predictions. Similarly, no human author would invent Daniel's description of the Antichrist (see Daniel 7:24-25, etc).
The place where detail occurs: Some things appear in places that appear inappropriate. As an example, in Leviticus 23 we have the list of feasts with their prescribed rituals. Just after the mention of feast of the 50th day (Pentecost) we have a curious instruction: the Israelis were to avoid scraping their fields clean during harvest. They were to leave some of the grain behind so that the poor and landless foreigners in the land could pick them up (Leviticus 23:22). Surely, such an instruction belonged to the section on civil law? Why mention it here?! But the diligent Bible student will at once notice that the feasts correspond to historical events. This instruction fits in perfectly well when we realize what these historical events are and what their significance is. Of course, Moses would not know all this when he was writing! So the only explanation for such a diversion on his part is that he was writing exactly how God wanted him to write!
To summarize, the extent of detail in the Bible, its nature and its location strongly suggest that the writers were authentic, honestly writing what they saw and heard.
If the apostles had vested interests:-
Out of Jesus' 12 disciples, Matthew wrote one book of the New Testament, John wrote five, Peter wrote two, and the other nine wrote none; the remaining nineteen (more than two-thirds!) were written by outsiders. As far as we know, all the writers were male and Jewish (except perhaps for Luke); yet no one complained against anyone. The writer to the Hebrews did not even bother to identify himself explicitly. What we see is unequal limelight with total harmony and good will. This strongly suggests that each disciple honestly wrote what he believed God wanted him to write.
The Bible has multiple accounts of the same events. These accounts often have superficial differences that skeptics pounce upon and use as fodder for the long lists of Biblical contradictions that you can find on the internet.
One of the favorites of the skeptics is the resurrection accounts. Mark tells us that the women saw one angel (Mark 16:5) at the tomb. Luke reports that the women saw two angels (Luke 24:4) at the tomb. Contradiction? In an English Bible, the crucial difference is a single letter "r". Mark's group had bought their anointing spices (Mark 16:1), while Luke's group had brought spices that they had prepared (Luke 24:1). Thus, Mark and Luke are describing two different groups of women, and so there is no contradiction.
Two points emerge:-
Thus, this feature of the Bible - apparent contradictions that get resolved on scrutiny - is proof of the authenticity of the Bible.
A proposition is said to be falsifiable if a genuine attempt can be made to disprove it. Any true statement about the real world is falsifiable. Most religious books contain a large number of statements, some of which are falsifiable. For example, the Koran mentions Mecca and the Hindu scriptures mention Ayodhya. Thus, someone can try to disprove these books by proving that Mecca or Ayodhya does not exist and never existed. To the credit of these books, both these cities exist. The Bible however, is unique in the dramatic, "easy" falsifiability that it contains. Consider the following claims of the Bible:-
All these claims (except the last) were made before 500 BC. The last claim was made by Jesus Christ in AD 32.
Thus, the Author of the Bible is really placing Himself on the line. You can prove Him wrong by:-
It is almost as if the Bible's Author is saying, "Come on, prove me wrong if you can. I'll make it easy for you!". No human author would provide such ready falsifiability. Rather, the Bible has been written by God. He has perfect knowledge and control of world history, and that is why He can afford to make such statements.