Argument from scripture

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Which scripture should be used?

The argument from scripture is the argument that something is true because it is written in scripture, for example, that God exists because the Bible says God exists. It assumes that the scripture and its interpretation are reliable.

This argument is often justified with a related (and circular) argument, that the scripture is to be believed because God inspired it.

A similar argument can be made for passages in other holy books.

"The man who accepts Scripture will readily acknowledge the existence of God.[1]"
"So, how can this problem of God’s existence be resolved? [...] The Holy Quran (pronounced in two separate syllables Qur - an) is full of such evidence.[2]"
"[...] the one overwhelming message that comes across loud and clear is the Bible's claim that it is nothing less the the word of God. [... Jesus] accepted without question that [Old Testament] history was reliable [and] it was the only body of teaching to which he ever gave his approval [and] as being the Word of God [...] [3]"

Types of scriptural arguments[edit]

Arguments that support the truth of scripture include: Argument from prophecy, Argument from scriptural codes, Scientific foreknowledge in sacred texts and Argument from scriptural inerrancy.


"Trying to prove God exists with the Bible is like trying to prove Superman exists with a comic book."

— Robgene
"This is what happens when you have this particular religious mindset, when you have to defend the reliability of scripture, when you should not defend it. There is absolutely no good reason that we should trust ancient anonymous writings that we can't investigate if they make claims that are outrageous [e.g.] claims about miracles. That doesn't mean that they didn't happen. Maybe they did happen, maybe everything in the gospels is true, but what it means is we cannot confirm it. We can't have a sound rational justified belief in the claim that these things are actually true.[4]"

In order for this argument to be sound, one must demonstrate that the scripture is reliable. That is, one must show that if the Bible says something, then that statement is likely to be true.

  • The Bible has been shown to be scientifically wrong. Geological evidence shows no trace of Noah's flood, and that the human race (to say nothing of the earth) is far older than the 6,000-10,000 years predicted by adding up the ages of people in Biblical genealogies. Astronomical evidence shows that the sun does not revolve around the Earth, and that the Earth is not flat or that it ever has been flat which is contradictory to scripture.
  • The Bible has been shown to be historically wrong. Exodus finds no historical backing. There's no archeological evidence that Jews were enslaved in Egypt or millions of people wandered the desert. There's no historical evidence of a large empire of David and Solomon. The nation of Israel appears to have begin as a more political movement out of the general Canaanite populations.
  • The Bible contains contradictions between the four gospels (and other Bible books) that cast doubt on biblical reliability.
  • The Bible contains forgeries. Many of the letters of "Paul" are pseudepigrapha (fake writing) and clearly not written by Paul. This includes the following line in 2 Timothy which says all of scripture is true, and which is generally recognized as a forgery:
    • 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.

Which God?[edit]

Main Article: Which God?

There are many religions and may of those have their own distinct holy texts. There is no clear advantage of one scripture over another, so this is a broken compass argument.

"Should I believe that Jesus is my personal savior? Or should I believe that God made a covenant with the Jews requiring every Jew to keep the commandments of the Torah? Should I believe that Mohammad was Allah's last prophet and that Ali, the prophet's cousin and husband of his daughter Fatima, ought to have been the first caliph, or that Mohammad was Allah's last prophet and that Ali was the fourth and last caliph? Should I believe that the resurrected prophet Moroni dictated the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith? Or that Ahura Mazda, the benevolent Creator, is at cosmic war with the malevolent Angra Mainyu? And on and on it goes.[5]"

"It is unfortunate that the creator of the universe wrote more than one holy book."

Michael Shermer[6]

Scriptural Reliability[edit]

Main Article: The Bible is not a reliable historical source

Apologists argument that the scriptures are honest depictions of the originals: that the Bible was copied very meticulously and so we can be confident that what we have are not substantively different than the originals. Some apologists argue that the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that the Biblical manuscripts vary very little. Others include stories of multiple independent translations which differed by only a few words. They generally argue that:

  • The texts we have today are very similar to the originals.
  • They were not changed much by editing or translation.
    • Therefore we can accept what they say as true.

The problems with this argument are many:

  • The texts do vary greatly. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a prime example of how vastly different versions were.
  • The translation and editing changed the works greatly over the years and religious texts are rife with theological disagreement, editing, and editing of editing.
  • The conclusion and argument itself is entirely a red herring: Even a perfect copy of a work of fiction is still a work of fiction.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. John Blanchard, Why believe the Bible?, 2004
  4. [3]
  5. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, 2011
  6. [4]

See also[edit]

v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Argument from consciousness · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes