Tuesday, February 17, 2009

God could prove the Bible to be inerrant if He wished to

There can be little doubt that God could actually prove the Bible to be inerrant.

The most interesting method that I’m aware of was proposed by Carl Sagan. It involves the number pi (π). In his novel, Contact, Sagan proposes the possibility of God communicating a message to intelligent beings through the digits following the decimal point in the number π.

Of course π is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and, therefore, would be a number that would be calculated by any group of intelligent beings who knew the geometric shape we call a “circle”. Because circles are so pervasive in all of astronomy, it would be difficult to imagine any group of intelligent beings which didn’t have an appreciation of that shape and would, therefore, devise ways of calculating π.

Certainly π has many practical applications. But at some point, those practical applications disappear. I read somewhere that if you knew the value of π to 38 digits after the decimal point, you could calculate the circumference of the universe to the precision of the size of an electron. So after, say, 100 digits it is difficult or impossible to think of or even imagine any possible practical application to knowing additional digits.People have used computers to generate the digits after the decimal point for π to millions of digits. No one has ever seen a pattern.But let's say that at some non-arbitrary point (say the Billionth digit) a pattern DOES emerge. Then imagine that within that pattern is some elaborate and detailed message.

(Sagan suggested in his book that a possible pattern could appear at such a specific point using base-11 arithmetic.)

Would such a thing, if found, be evidence of God's existence? Sagan thought so. I would agree. After all, only God could have created π.

Or, more to the point, what if the coded words “In the Beginning” appeared in those digits? Wouldn’t that be amazingly persuasive evidence that God exists AND that the Bible is His word?

I would guess that even the most hardened skeptics would be convinced.

Some question the validity of Sagan’s proposal. Those people would classify “reshaping” π as an example of the “omnipotence paradox”, which concerns whether or not God can do logically impossible things. (Can God create a rock so large that even He can’t lift it? Can God make two-plus-two equal something other than four?) Furthermore, the extra precision of π may actually have practical value in areas that aren’t apparent.

But there are other ways in which God could ‘prove’ that he exists and that the Bible is his inerrant word. Another way would be to move some stars around in the sky to spell out the words “In the Beginning” (in the original Hebrew, I suppose).

I can even think of a third mechanism God could use. According to the Bible, God “stopped the sun” in the sky for 24 hours when Joshua asked him to do so. (See Joshua 10:12-14.)

If God simply duplicated this feat in modern times, I think that God’s existence and the validity of the Bible would both be confirmed.

God is surely much smarter than I am. He’s even smarter than Carl Sagan was. So there are probably even more elegant and effective ways in which God could both prove His existence and at the same time show that the Bible is His inerrant word.

God doesn’t do any of those things.

Why not?

If God is choosing not to do so simply because he wants us to exercise our free-will (which is the answer that I hear most often from Biblical literalists who have been asked this question) then doesn’t it make sense that even an inerrant Bible, if it really was inerrant, would provide similar proof? So wouldn’t God simply shy away from creating an inerrant Bible if it meant proof of his existence?

And if God truly wanted to “prove” His existence, couldn’t He do better than through a book which involved human intervention?

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