I recently heard an argument that Bill Maher uses to debunk the authority and authenticity of the Bible. It says, “the Bible was a book written by men and edited by men as well”. How would you respond to this?
My response would be to say that this is true. Maher is right. Every word recorded in the Bible was recorded by human beings. In some cases God spoke, but even then, humans wrote down what God had spoken (by the way, the recording of the Ten Commandments and the writing on the wall in Daniel 5 are two exceptions). Also, it is true that humans edited some, but not all of the books into their final form. For example, I believe that there was an editor (or editors) who created the final versions of Daniel, Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Proverbs. The content speaks for itself. Yet, not all of the books we have were edited. It is likely that we have the letters of Paul, the gospels, and Old Testament books such as Malachi and Zechariah unedited–written directly in their final form by the original authors.
In fact, it is rather obvious that these books were written by men and some had editors putting them in their final form. So Maher is telling us nothing we did not already know. So, what is his point? The question is not whether they were written by humans, on which all agree. The question is whether these books, despite being written by humans, are inspired by God. As Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:19-21, the writers of the scriptures were “carried along by the Holy Spirit” as they wrote. He claims that (despite the fact that the writers were human), “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The fact that some of the books of the Bible had editors putting them into their final form is irrelevant to the key question, which is whether they are inspired.
Therefore this claim by Maher is really just a smoke screen, intended to avoid the real question, which is whether these scriptures show evidence of inspiration. Maher uses rhetoric to simply avoid the relevant question, which is whether there is evidence of inspiration in the scriptures. Of course, I believe that the evidence for inspiration of the scriptures are absolutely overwhelming. There is the consistency of message, despite dozens of authors. There is the historical and scientific reliability of the scripture. There is the fulfilled prophecy, as well as fulfilled prefigure and foreshadow. There is the evidence for miracles, both in the Old and the New Testaments, which lend great credibility to the things said. There is the overwhelming evidence that Jesus was in fact raised from the dead, which gives great credence to the gospels.
If we look at the Old Testament messianic prophecies, they require that the Messiah be crucified (Psalm 22:16-18), be pierced, rejected and silent when accused (Isaiah 53), be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-14), be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) but be raised in Galilee, near to Nazareth (Isaiah 9:1-6), and be killed in Jerusalem in about AD 30 (Daniel 9:24-25). Jesus certainly did all these things and many more that were prophesied. What does Mr. Maher say to this evidence? There is a boat-load of evidence for the inspiration of the Bible, much of which is found in my book Reasons for Belief (available at www.ipibooks.com). I suggest that Mr. Maher avoid using mere rhetoric and consider the evidence that the scripture is in fact inspired by God, as it claims to be.