Is the Old Testament Fiction?

Is the Old Testament fiction? Is there evidence that it’s a reliable, historical document? Why doesn’t the Bible say more about the dinosaurs?

Jul 11, 2018

Is the Old Testament fiction? Is there evidence that it’s a reliable, historical document? Why doesn’t the Bible say more about the dinosaurs? Vince and Jo Vitale dig into these questions this week on Ask Away.

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Michael Davis: Hello and welcome to another episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I am your host, Michael Davis. The wider secular culture has not only discounted the biblical narratives, but many in the culture are at a complete loss that anyone could even believe in them.

There is a belief that only backwards and stupid people are capable of suspending their reason enough to believe these myths. How does one deal with the apparent contradiction between science, history and the Old Testament narratives? How do we engage these people with love and compassion when they hold our very beliefs in contempt? Oh, and what about the dinosaurs?

But before we get started, Vince, could you tell us a little bit about our upcoming Refresh conference happening July 24th through the 27th at the Zacharias Institute in Atlanta, Georgia?

Vince Vitale: Well, we're getting excited about Refresh coming up soon. We rally a whole bunch of our team together, come down to the Zacharias Institute, get together a large group of students, upperclassmen in high school and those just heading off for their freshman year in college, that crucial year when you're out on your own. And you're figuring out what the trajectory of life is going to look like, what the trajectory of your beliefs is going to look like for the coming years and for the rest of life. It's such a critical time.

We think it's a good time to take a week out and to ask some hard questions. And to have some great discussions about what it looks like to put in place the sorts of foundations and practices and disciplines that are necessary, in order to really keep faith strong and actually grow in faith even through the college years.

We're going to have a lot of fun as well and we're really going to focus on the students' questions. We get a panel up on the stage, of our speakers, and we promise that whichever questions come in, we have a system by which questions come in, and then you can vote on each other's questions.

We just promise that we will answer whichever question gets the most votes. No matter how odd it is, no matter how funny it is, no matter how difficult it is, that's the question we're going to answer next.

So the students themselves are the ones who are directing the content of the week in large part and that way we know that we're actually hitting the questions and the challenges that they actually have, rather than the ones that we had however many years it was ago, which were often very different.

Michael Davis: That's right. Absolutely. It's a lot of fun. Okay. We are actually going to devote the entire episode to one question. This is from Mark from Liverpool in the UK, and I'm going to actually break this question down into three parts, just because even though it's a single sentence, there's a lot of implications to it.

So here's the question: "I know that everyone knows that the Old Testament is just fiction, but why doesn't God mention dinosaurs?" So I see here three elements. I see, first, I think that a lot of people might look at the New Testament and say, ‘Okay, this might be historically understandable.’ But the Old Testament, that's just myth and there's no real way to discern whether or not this is true."

Some people even deny the fact that what we have right now is the original Old Testament. And then I would like for you guys to address the fact that Mark is saying that everyone would assume that the Old Testament is fiction. And then finally the question, "But what about the dinosaurs?" So let's go for the first part. Could you guys maybe talk a little bit about the manuscript evidence for the Old Testament?

Jo Vitale: Well, Mark, thank you so much for this question. I'm particularly loving that you're asking this from Liverpool. That is the city of my birth. That's what it says on my passport. You wouldn't be able to tell from the accent because I didn't spend a whole lot of time there.

Vince Vitale: Give it a try, Jo.

Jo Vitale: I know. Actually, my sister just moved to Liverpool so she's been picking it up and she keeps saying the same funny things to me down the phone like, "All right, lad," and I'm like, "What you saying?" I think my mom is not even recognizing her own children anymore because obviously I'm starting incredibly southern these days with my "all y’alls" and that. So, we're sorry. Sorry. I've been trying.

Anyways, so Mark, appreciate where this question's coming from. I also appreciate the question because it's such a classic question from England. This is the kind of thing I'd hear all the time in the UK particularly when I would say, "Oh, I'm doing a PhD on the Old Testament," and people would look at me like, "Are you mad?" Like what would be the point in doing a PhD on something like that?

The UK is somewhere where actually 75% of people don't believe Jesus historically existed in the first place, which historically is crazy because the evidence is so incredibly strong that no serious historians agree with that perspective.

But that's kind of the culture that we're in. That's what everyone in the UK is sort of growing up in, so I think this question is another great example of the general mood and perspective on Christianity in England. So thank you so much for asking it.

Starting with the texts and the manuscript evidence before we move to the bigger question of is the content itself fictional. I love this question because Christians talk a lot about the New Testament and the New Testament is actually the most well-tested documents in history and the evidence for their reliability is incredible.

But people often spend less time talking about the Old Testament. Part of the reason for that is because for a long time it was actually hard to say confidently whether the texts that we have today could be said be a reliable and accurate representation of what they originally were.

The reason was because we had a huge time gap between when the original texts were written and the earliest existing copies that we had of them. So it used to be the case that it was in AD 980 that our earliest manuscripts originated of the Old Testament.

Now, some people would try and get around that big time gap by saying, "Oh, but even though it's such a long time gap, we at least know that the people who are copying the text, that they were called Masoretic scribes and that they themselves, they were really good at their job. They were very faithful. They took the Bible very seriously. They were very careful in what they were copying.

We see evidence of that in the way that they would count literally the number of words on every single line. And then that the number of lines on a page. They wouldn't just copy the words themselves, but they would also copy the exact layout and the spacing. Even in Hebrew, sometimes you find some words that sort of randomly start with a capital letter and then you compare the manuscripts. Those same at letters would be capitalized across the different traditions. So they were very, very careful.

But even so when you're talking about like over a thousand years of an age gap, it seems a little bit worrying to put your trust in that. Then we have what was an amazing discovery in the middle of the 1900s, when they discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave. I'm sure you know the history of some of this, but it was remarkable because suddenly they found these ancient copies of the Old Testament scrolls, either partial or complete copies, dating back over a thousand years earlier.

What was so incredible about what they discovered was, for example, if you take one of the books of the Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah, which was the most complete book that they found in these caves, when you compare that Book of Isaiah a thousand years earlier to the copies that we have today, it was 95% accurate. That's how identical it was.

In the places where you could find difference in copying, it really came down to spelling mistakes or kind of like slips of the pen. That kind of detail. So we suddenly realize, "Wow, that's how consistent these scribes have been," giving us incredible confidence in the reliability, not only of the New Testament, but also the Old Testament documents as well.

Vince Vitale: Yeah. I think a really interesting question to ask oneself is, if the Old Testament of the Bible didn't include miracles, then what would we think of it historically? If it were an ancient document that gave all of the history that it gives but didn't include miracles and had the sort of manuscript tradition, the strong manuscript tradition that Jo has spoken of, then how would we treat it as a historical document?

I wonder if we would treat it very differently, if we would see it as an unbelievable source of history, given such a strong manuscript tradition, if it didn't have miracles. If that's the case, then it's not actually that the text doesn't fare well by historical standards.

It's rather that we have a philosophical predisposition against miracles. So we need to deal with that question sometimes first, before we jumped to an assessment of whether or not the Old Testament is a reliable historical document.

Michael Davis: So this actually leads us into the meat of Mark's question, which is, "I know that everyone knows the Old Testament is just fiction." So is the Old Testament just fiction? I think I know the answer to this.

Jo Vitale: Such a good question and so much we could say to this. On the point Vince just made, actually, if you aren't interested in the question of miracles, you can check one of our earlier episodes, which, I love this, we called it...what was it? “Who Needs a Talk?”

Michael Davis: Yeah. “Who Needs a Talking Donkey?”

Vince Vitale: Jo loved it so much that she can't remember it. “Who Needs a Talking Donkey?”

Jo Vitale: It's like, oh, something about a donkey.

Vince Vitale: Yes. Yes.

Jo Vitale: Anyway. So we had an earlier episode called “Who Needs a Talking Donkey” and that kind of addresses that question of miracles in the Old Testament.

Vince Vitale: The other thing to say about this question about whether the Old Testament is primarily fiction, there are two out of three of us in the room right now thought that at one point in our adult lives. So it's a good question and we've seen movement in ourselves on this question and so we'll be speaking of it, of that experience.

Jo Vitale: It's a part of the question depends as well on what kind of literature we're talking about. Because the beauty of the Old Testament is it's so many different genres of writing, 70 different books. So within it you have poetry, you have love songs, you have allegory, you have prophecy, you have legal codes, you have history, you have all different kinds of literature.

So we can't just sort of sweepingly examine it and try and judge it all the same way. We have to look every time and say, "Okay, what are we reading here? What are the claims that it's trying to make?"

But I think the big question that you're really getting at here is, is it all fiction, even the things that claim to be historical? For example, did these things even happen? Can we have any confidence at all that it's telling the truth about ancient history?

In some ways it's a tough question for us because today, we live in a culture where we have social media and selfies and the Internet and the printing press and paper. So much information is gathered about us throughout our lifetimes that even after we're gone, people can get a really good sense of who we were and the historical footprint that we've left.

But how does that apply when you're talking about a document coming from over two to three thousand years ago? Part of that comes down to what do we understand the role of archeology to be and how much can archeology help us? That is an interesting question because there are all kinds of challenges when it comes to archeology. Partly, there's the simple fact of what is the landscape that you're looking at?

So when it comes to ancient Israel, we're looking at a landscape that was ravaged both by time but also by numerous wars that were conducted over the region over a very long time, where things are constantly destroyed and burned and then rebuilt. So things get ruined.

Then we're also in an area where people have built on top of it again and again and again. So you have earth being churned up and disturbed and things like that. We also under a particular challenge in this region, because there are so many areas today that we actually can't excavate because they have their shared Jewish, Christian and Muslim heritage in their area. There's a lot you can't dig up because what has been built on top of it.

Then on top of that you also have some challenges around archeology, simply because of the way that the discipline is conducted. So for example, archeology is a process that is non-repeatable. Once you've dug it up, you have to get it right the first time as you're going through, because any human error that's made in the process that can't be corrected or checked over again. Now our technology is really improving in this area, but a lot of what we have has come out of a process of things that have been uncovered and can't be redone.

Then, of course, there's the fact that when you're digging up archeology, you only get about 10 to 15% of the site. You dig down in squares in particular areas, so there could be so much you're missing.

And then it comes down to the archeologists themselves. Who's interpreting the information that they're given because interpretation is involved as well. All that just to give you a sense of how complicated the process actually is when we're looking at history.

So all that stuff. I think we need to have the right sense of expectation when it comes to this. I don't think we should expect our archeology to be able to prove what happens in ancient biblical times because of the time gap, because of the region, because of the landscape.

But I do think that archeology and what we find can help illuminate what we saw in that culture. I do think so many historical claims are made that we should actually expect to find evidence of a historical footprint of many of the things spoken about in the Old Testament, given how many historical claims it's actually making.

Vince Vitale: Yeah, and for those things where we don't have archeological evidence, a friend of mine had a useful phrase. He said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." I think that's particularly true when you're dealing with archeology from thousands of years ago in a very wet region of the world, as Jo said, that had seen many wars and many different civilizations as well. So absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

Jo Vitale: Hmm. A great example of that would be the evidence of the movement of the Israelites out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan, because are a lot of archeologists will say, "Well, where's the evidence of that? Where do we have evidence of Jewish people living in Egypt if there were a huge number of them who were slaves in Egypt for a long time before they moved." Now actually we do have evidence of people speaking Semitic languages in that region. We also have evidence that the towns listed along the way as they journey into Canaan actually match in the ancient maps at that time.

But part of the reason you won't find a lot of ancient papyrus recordings of the people at that time is because of the landscape of Egypt. That the water table is so full of water in that region that actually you won't find anything because it would have been destroyed by the landscape that you're in. So you can't say that the lack of evidence, for example, in that area shows that they didn't live there when actually even if they did live there, we still find exactly what we would expect to find, which is not a whole lot.

Vince Vitale: I think it's a really good general point as well. So often we think if I don't have evidence for something, that means I should disbelieve it. I should believe it's not true. And that's just not the case.

You know, I don't evidence right now that there's a spider in this room that we're in. But even if there is, I shouldn't expect to have evidence for that. It's a very small thing and may or may not be in this room.

I don't have evidence that there's-

Jo Vitale: I keep thinking about thinking about ... Oh.

Michael Davis: Ooh.

Vince Vitale: Everyone's looking around.

Jo Vitale: There's so many bugs in Georgia, it's very possible.

Vince Vitale: I don't have evidence that there is not an even number of stars in the universe, but that doesn't mean that I disbelieve the claim. I just shouldn't expect to have evidence one way or the other. So sometimes we just get in the mindset of, "Oh, there's no evidence for that, so I'm going to disbelieve it." Actually we always first have to ask the question, "Should I expect there to be evidence for that if it is true?"

Michael Davis: So Vince, discussing just the supposition that the Old Testament is fictional. We talked a little bit about this and just the fact that a lot of people don't believe the Old Testament just because it has miracles. How much of an influence do you think...

Well, first of all, can you explain what empiricism is to the people who don't know what it is, but then how it influenced our culture in regards to how they view the Old Testament?

Vince Vitale: Sure. Well, empiricism kind of points back to David Hume and then out of the empiricism came what was called logical positivism or verificationism in the early 20th century. Don't worry, you don't need to remember those terms. There will be no quiz. But basically the idea was that the only truth, something could only be true and known to be true if it was something that either could be experienced by the senses or scientifically verified.

If that's the case, then miracles, in particular historical miracle, would get ruled out, out of question. It's not something that we can experience by our senses today. It's not something that we can scientifically verify. And then we come to the conclusion that it could not have existed.

The problems with that view are manifold and even people who subscribe to the view did come to see that. So, for instance, take the view itself. The view claims that something can only be true if it is experienced by the senses or scientifically verified. Can that statement be experienced by the senses? No. Can it be scientifically verified? No. So the theory itself on the theory's own grounds cannot be true. That's one reason why that theory got off the table in philosophy.

But I think you're right, Michael, that in popular opinion and in just day-to-day life with people who aren't studying philosophy, it still carries a lot of weight. People think something can't be true unless I'm experiencing it directly or unless it can be verified and proven scientifically.

One thing we need to realize is that if that is our standard for truth, we're going to rule a lot out. We're not only going to rule out historical miracles. We're also going to rule out mathematical truths, for instance, and think about how we need mathematical truths for somewhat to go about in our day-to-day life.

We're also going to become radically distrustful of moral truths and maybe we're seeing that in society as well. Because a moral truth is not something you experienced directly. It's not something you can put your hands on or touch or taste or see. It's also not something you can scientifically verify. But you only have to look back at the history of the 20th century to see how devastating it can be, if we throw moral truths to the wind and say there can't be any absolute morals, we can do as we wish.

So yeah, good historical connection point there, that empiricism, which led to the logical positivism, verificationism, led ultimately to us living in a society where we're very distrustful of miracles. And yet at the same time I like to ask people, "Have you ever had an experience that has made you think there might be a God?"

When I ask people that question and they take time to consider it and then tell me what they've experienced in their life, I find that the majority of people have, in fact, encountered something which would be highly, highly improbable unless God exists. And yet there's a tension there with this theory of scientism or empiricism that we tend to go about life affirming.

Jo Vitale: Well, that to say, Mark, coming back to your question around the question of is the Old Testament fiction. If you are asking a Christian to go through the Old Testament line by line and prove that every single line that was in there, that we can prove that that truly happened, then that, of course, is not going to be possible by any kind of historical standard.

And yet even if we can't prove everything, what I do find remarkable when you recognize that fact and when you recognize some of the challenges around archeology, is actually just how much we can say historically did happen. I find this incredible, as someone who's studied the old testament, just how compelling the evidence actually is.

I love going to the British Museum and looking at one of the reliefs there on the walls of the conquest of the Lachish. It's this amazing wall relief that goes around a whole huge room where you see pictures coming out of the Assyrian Empire of when they attacked Israel and they took the Israelites into captivity. What's incredible about this is it exactly mirrors the story of the war that we encounter for ourselves in the Book of Isaiah.

And another historian who talks about this, Walter Kaiser, Jr., he's commented on how amazing it is that throughout the Old Testament time and again what has happened historically is people have said, "Oh, this person didn't exist or these people didn't exist or that place didn't exist. Yes, the Bible says there, but we can't find any other evidence."

For years people have assumed the Bible to be wrong. Then lo and behold, they dig something up and suddenly they discover, actually it was the Bible that was telling a faithful testimony the whole time and it was our own history that had it wrong.

So if you want to look at a missing person, one of them would be from the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. He talks about this Babylonian ruler, Belshazzar, and every other piece of historical evidence we had said, "No, he wasn't the ruler at that time. It was someone else called Nabonidus."

Then years later, they uncovered evidence to show that actually Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus and they split the kingdom. So he was ruling on behalf of his father for a long time and Daniel had it right and our own history had it wrong.

Well, you could talk about different people groups for years. The Bible would talk about the Hittites or the Hivites and people said, "Well, we can't find any evidence of these people existing historically." And then at the beginning of the 20th century, they discovered tens of thousands of clay tablets in Turkey documenting the evidence and that these people existed. Time and again, this has been proven to be true.

Well, things like in King Solomon, it talks about all the gold that he had in his court. It says that the gold came from a place called Ophir and for years people said, "Oh, well, that place doesn't even exist. It's made up. The Bible just made it up."

Then in the 1950s, they found this small sign on which was written, "The gold of Ophir," and 30 shekels. It was basically a sign assigned for a shipment that was being sent from gold from that place. And they realized, "Oh, actually again, the Bible had it right. Our own history had it wrong."

So all that to say the more we uncover, the more remarkable it is. Not only the big-picture stories that you see happening, but the level of detail that's accounted for. So I actually find it incredibly encouraging. I mean, archeology can be hit and miss, but it's an amazing discipline for some of the things that have been on earth that build up my own levels of confidence in some of the historicity of what the Old Testament says.

Vince Vitale: Yeah. And yet as Jo said, the archeology can be hit or miss. So Mark, your questions are really fair. One, because as Christians, we're claiming more than hit or miss. We're claiming that actually this is an authority in our lives.

So maybe I'll just share a little bit about how this played out in my life. An analogy I was thinking of was that if I found a piece of paper on the floor and it was a complex mathematical equation, it might be silly of me to just assume it was correct. If I just picked up a piece of paper on the floor, I had no idea who wrote it down. I had no idea what their training had been. I wouldn't just assume it was correct.

But if Einstein had seen it and he had said, "Yes, this is correct," then I would have good reason to take the mathematical equation as correct. I would have good reason to trust that piece of paper, that text which I had picked up.

My personal journey to coming to believe that the Old Testament is reliable is a lot like that. Yes, you can look into the archeology and see that there is confirming evidence. But for me, really, I had to go to the person who's the one who's putting their stamp of approval onto the text. And for a Christian, that person is Jesus.

Michael Davis: Amen.

Vince Vitale: So really, rather than spending all of your time, once you get to the point where you say, "Okay, there's some interesting archeological evidence here. There's some interesting reasons to take this seriously, historically," I think then you can move to the person of Jesus and say, "Who did he claim to be," Christians say that he claimed to be divine.

Well, if He was divine, if he's God Himself, if he's the one who actually created the universe, then if he is saying that this text is inspired and reliable and accurate and true, then that's like Einstein saying the mathematical equation is correct. Then we have reason to trust it.

When you look to Jesus' life, which we have very good records of, that's the sort of thing he said. He said, "Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen will be dropped from the law," referring back to the Old Testament. In many instances, Jesus quoted the Old Testament as authority in his life and he allowed it to stand on its own. He didn't feel like he had to give further justification for using the Old Testament as an authority in his life.

Here's just one example. This is from Matthew 22, where Jesus draws a conclusion based on even a single word in the Old Testament. It says, "While Jesus was teaching in the temple court, he asked, 'Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David?' David himself speaking by the Holy Spirit declared."

Then it quotes the Old Testament: "The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet. David himself calls him Lord. How then can he be his son?" So Jesus makes this argument about the fact that the Messiah, referring to Jesus himself, must be David's Lord and not his son based on this word, Lord, rather than son, a single word in the Old Testament.

So he looked at even details of the way the Old Testament was constructed and felt that that could be authority that he could base conclusions on. That's the way that Jesus treated the Old Testament.

So for me it went back to the person of Jesus. What did he claim about himself? Did he show that to be true by the miracles he performed and by rising from the dead? And if that was true, then I could trust him like I could trust Einstein, when I look back at the Old Testament.

And then you dig back into the Old Testament and you find amazing things. Jo has spoken about some of them. Some of the other amazing things we haven't even mentioned are some of the prophecies in the Old Testament that look forward hundreds or thousands of years to Jesus and are fulfilled in great detail in his lifetime.

Just one to have a look at: When Jesus is on the cross, he says, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" And that is also the first verse, he would have known this, of Psalm 22 in the Old Testament written hundreds of years earlier.

And that text, that when you look at it seems to be prophesying, foretelling, even some of the details of the way that Jesus would die. Even very specific details, like casting lots for his clothes or that his hands and his feet would be pierced. Someone might say, "Well, the writers of the New Testament were aware of that and so they wrote those things in. They just lied about it or they just made it up."

But that would be a challenge that I would put to you or to anyone who is investigating this. To read the Gospels and to ask yourself, "Do the writers of these texts seem like the sort of people who are just making things up or who are just lying about things and just writing things in? Or is it the case that they write with a certain moral integrity and a certain nobility to their words? People who were deeply invested in the person who they were writing about because he had proven to them that he was more than just a man."

Michael Davis: So this actually leads us to the elephant in the room. What about the dinosaurs?

Vince Vitale: Even bigger than an elephant.

Michael Davis: That's right. Oh, I truly messed that up.

Jo Vitale: Oh, that's so bad.

Vince Vitale: All right, so the dinosaurs. Why doesn't the Bible say more about the dinosaurs I think is a good specific question, but it also helps us make a more general point. That the Bible is not intended to be a book that tells us everything about everything. It's not even intended to be a book though it's a historical book that tells us everything about history.

I thought that it was. In fact, I was fearful of that before I became a Christian. I thought if I became a Christian, the Bible is going to tell me everything to believe about everything and it's going to completely take away any sense of freedom of exploration or intellectual exploration, which was one of the things that I loved.

The Bible does talk about land animals. That can include dinosaurs and many other types of land animals. That there are many more types of land animals that the Bible never references than the ones that it does reference. So it's not odd for the Bible to not reference dinosaurs in particular. Both within Christianity and in the scientific community, there's a variety of views about how dinosaurs came to be and when dinosaurs came to be. But we shouldn't be surprised that the Bible doesn't talk about it.

There are lots of other things the Bible doesn't talk about as well. The Bible doesn't talk about the pyramids or many other great events or occurrences in history. That's because the Bible is particularly intended to tell us what we need to know in order to come to a belief in Jesus in order to come to salvation.

It's in particular telling us about the spiritual journey that God is taking people on and that He desires to take us on, in particular. That's its central focus. That's it's specific focus. So there are lots of other things that the Bible is not going to talk about.

But when we ask this question about what are the dinosaurs, I'm sometimes tempted to turn the whole thing around and actually say that without God, I don't think you could ever get dinosaurs. However exactly God produced dinosaurs, just to have the conditions by which you have a universe that is ordered in such a way that you could get such a complexity and precision of design that a species like dinosaurs could come to exist, to my mind, actually the probability of that on just naturalism and randomness is almost nothing.

I've mentioned before. Fred Hoyle, the Cambridge astronomer, he said that the possibility of getting life like that out of randomness would be like a tornado blowing through a junkyard and producing a perfect airplane. Those are the sorts of odds we're talking about.

So quite to the contrary of looking at dinosaurs and saying that that's some sort of problem for God, I look at a precision and an intricacy of design that could produce a species like that and one that would be remembered for so many years afterwards by billions of children who are awed by such an incredible species. I think actually that could only occur if you had a god who was ordering things such that you could have such complex life on the earth in different time periods.

Jo Vitale: Hmm. I think what I love about that is it speaks to the creativity of God. I was speaking with an astrophysicist not long ago, who was talking to me about species diversity and the fact that at every period of history and throughout world history at every point, we have maximum species diversity for the environment that we have.

To me that speaks to something of the character of God, a God who values creation. He makes beautiful, interesting, fascinating creatures. It says something about his character as well.

So yeah, coming to this question, I don't think we have science and the Bible in contradiction with one another. But I think both in different ways, one answering the why questions, the other speaking about the how we came to be sort of questions. They actually work beautifully together.

I love that as a Christian, I don't feel like I have to choose between these two things, but actually that God is the ultimate scientist. A true pursuit of science, I think, points us back to God. It's another way that I marvel at what He has made.

So, yeah, just thinking about the Bible, what is the Bible? How are we supposed to read it? For me, it's kind of like when you're far away from home and you miss your family and then you get a letter from a loved one. Like a parent who sends you something, just saying, "Hey, here I am. I'm thinking about you. I'm reaching out. I want you to know more about who I am." That to me is a picture of what Scripture is.

It's about a love letter from God to us telling us some of the story that we've been on, the story of humanity, like the family history, if you will. But also speaking to us about where we're going, how we live well in this life and, above all about the fact that He loves us and that He values us. So for me, that's the primary question is it's a God who's introducing Himself to us and wanting to know, "Hey, I'm all in. I'm passionate about knowing you and loving you. Do you have the interest in getting to know me as well?"

Michael Davis: Well, guys, we are out of time. Vince sum it up for us.

Vince Vitale: Well, we've had some really good questions about...really one question, but encapsulated within it questions about whether or not the Old Testament is fiction, how we understand the manuscript tradition within it. What about dinosaurs and what about the things that the Old Testament does and doesn't speak to? How can we explain this?

Maybe as we finish, it's just worth saying these are really good and challenging questions of the Christian faith and yet it's always good to ask questions in both directions. So if someone is taking a naturalistic, perspective on the universe, well, there are questions in that direction as well. You have to answer questions like how does something come from nothing? How does a incredible order and design come from randomness? How does the design of a dinosaur come from just randomness?

How does life come from non-life? How does consciousness come from non-consciousness? How does a non-moral beginning somehow lead to a moral universe and moral greatness and moral atrocity?

So there are questions in both directions and as we continue this conversation, I hope those are questions that'll be challenging as we continue to be challenged by the questions that you've put towards us.

Sometimes I think it's an interesting question to raise when you think about faith and that element of trust, stepping beyond just the mathematical certainty and putting your trust in a belief, in a worldview, in the Christian faith, in a person.

And to ask that question, does it take more faith in one sense, to be a Christian or to believe in atheism, to believe in naturalism? To believe that we can understand order and design and life and consciousness and mortality without good explanations for those things?

Interesting question to continue to think about for all of us.

Michael Davis: Vince, Jo, thank you for joining me. Thank you all for listening and we will catch you next week.

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