Atheist: ‘Why Do You Think the Bible is Better Than Other Holy Books?’ Here’s What He Really Wants to Know

By Tom Gilson Published on August 25, 2023

Time for another challenge from atheist activist Ed Krassenstein! I’ve covered the first two already. Here’s the third: “Why are the stories in your holy book more right than the stories in another holy book, or for that matter an ideology that someone comes up with and writes about today?”

You have to love his equalizing approach here. No special favors for the Bible, no sir! It’s just one “holy book” among many. That’s code language, actually. When atheists talk about the Bible as a “holy book,” what they usually mean is, “ancient holy book,” as in, “ancient compilation of superstition, myth, and obsolete ethics.” I’ve heard it dozens if not hundreds of times, and it’s always dismissive that way.

What He Really Means Is …

So let’s not be so naive as to take this as a contest between “holy books.” Not when it’s really about the Bible — and every other religious text — stacked up against all that the world has gained through science. If we’ve really progressed that far — if science knows all, guides all, explains all — then it doesn’t matter if one “holy book” is better than any other. What’s the point of matching up superstitions against each other, when science squashed them all?

Yet there’s still a reason people might ask why Christians think our “holy book” is better. It’s not because they think we’re wrong in our facts. They think it proves we’re wrong in our ethics, our character. They want to show how arrogant, intolerant, and unthinking we Christians are.

So the question comes at us with teeth on both sides of it: the Bible vs. science, and Christian arrogance vs. multicultural tolerance. And I’ll bet Krassenstein thinks we’ve got problems answering both challenges. Not really.

The Bible vs. Science

How does the Bible stack up against science? The answer almost looks easy: From pure physics to applied technology, it’s literally ages behind on just about everything science has discovered. The hard part is discerning the difference between what science has discovered, what it thinks it’s discovered, and what it has no business even talking about discovering.

That could get complicated, but the reality is it only takes one question: For all we’ve grown in knowledge in the past few centuries, how much have we grown in wisdom? Think Sophocles. Think Shakespeare. Now think of the poet, playwright, or author alive today who can match them.

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Maybe you can come up with a name — I can’t, but we can all have our favorites. Now try telling me that person is wiser than the ancients were. If you think you can do that, try stacking your favorite up against Jesus.

We’re so weak in wisdom these days, you don’t even hear the word being used. Knowledge, yes. Information, yes. Technology, yes, that too. But wisdom?

The Bible is more than wisdom, of course, and there are myriad ways to show it’s as relevant now as ever. For those who think the passage of years means growth in all knowledge, however, it’s a good place to start. We have a word for people who think wisdom doesn’t matter: They are fools.

The Bible vs. the Book of Science

The other question was about Christian “arrogance” for believing our “holy book” is better. One easy answer: The members of other religions think theirs are, too. If they didn’t, they’d switch religions — at least the knowledgeable ones would.

People who believe in science alone — scientific materialism, that is, meaning the idea that nothing is real except the things of nature that science can study and seek to explain — think their books are better, too, by the way. Is that any less arrogant?

They’ll say science is better because it’s objective. Anyone can test it, can make his own decisions based on the evidence. That only works within the realm of nature, though. When science sneaks out from there, it becomes incompetent. That would include wisdom, of course, along with most of the rest of what’s regarded as religion: the human problem, the solution(s) to that problem, and the meaning of the good life.

When science claims authority in those spaces where it’s incompetent, it becomes a mindless bully, throwing its weight around, like a brute on the grade school playground.

The Bible vs. Other “Holy Books”

And I have no problem saying the Bible is objectively better than the other “holy books.” Unlike all the rest, it has history on its side. Other sacred texts claim wisdom, but only the Bible has its wisdom rooted in stories of real people in real history. And for those who will treat history without prejudging the supernatural to be impossible, the history stands up.

Everyone wants to follow Jesus. Why not go to the source and follow Him from there?

Other religious “wisdom” is untestable opinion. The Bible’s truths are open to being verified or falsified. Some questions remain about the Bible’s historical veracity, but they are few compared to the thousands of ways it has been verified. It has never been falsified.

The Final Proof: Jesus Christ

Book Cover Finally, there is Jesus Christ. Have you noticed how every religion wants Him for their own? The Qur’an calls Him a great prophet. Hindus claim Him as an avatar. The Mormons call their church by His name, though the “Jesus” they follow is far different from the Jesus of the Gospels. As my friend Craig Hazen has somewhere pointed out, if everyone wants to follow Jesus, why not go to the source and follow Him from there?

Jesus shines brighter than the sun, putting every other religious leader in the shadow of His magnificence. Even His story is better than any other, far too good to be mere legend, as the skeptics would have you think. As I wrote in Too Good to Be False, He is the one example of perfect love in all history or literature. His way is the only way of grace: God reaching from heaven to lift us up to him, rather than us having to claw our way to God by our own feeble efforts. His story can also be verified as true.

The Only True Holy Book

And if His story and His way are true, then it necessarily follows that the other ways are false, at every point where they contradict His. He claimed to be the one way to the Father. His death on the cross seals that claim. He suffered willingly for our sins, but He also suffered greatly, beyond anyone’s imagining.

Such a death could not have been just one option among many — one possible way to reach God, or heaven, or oneness with the universe, or whatever the goal of religion might be. If there were two ways to get to heaven, and the Cross were one of them, then surely God would have said, “Let’s just go with the other way and not bother with the sacrifice.”

If the Bible tells us a true way to God, then it tell us the only true way to God. That’s not arrogance speaking. That’s humility before the God who chose to save us from our sins through Jesus’ sacrifice.

Answering the Arrogant Atheist

I’ve heard many atheists ask this kind of question many times, and I can’t think of one time I’ve heard it without a sneer. It isn’t just, “How can you think your ‘holy book’ is better?” It’s “How can you be so unthinking as to consider your ‘holy book’ better?”

I hate to break it to them, but the Bible stands up to good thinking. What I’ve shared here is only the tiniest fraction of what could be said. The reason Christians can say the Bible is better is because it is. It has wisdom for the ages. It’s historically verifiable. And most of all, it’s the record of the life, the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.

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