The Holy Bible
The Holy Bible is often thought of as a book. And actually it is a book now. What many don't really think about when considering the Bible however, is that it is really a collection of many books that were written over a period of around 1,500 years by many different authors in many different places.
Many Christians like to say the Bible is inspired by God and its every word is correct. Myself I am not sure I believe this way. I do believe the Bible is inspired by God, however the word "inspired" is just that. It is inspired by God. Not written by God himself. I believe God chose individuals who were the most knowledgeable and who the Holy Spirit was strong inside of them. I believe every important thing in the Bible is correct because of this. I also believe it is possible their memories could make simple mistakes like remembering the order of events or remembering a perfume when it was a spice or whatever. These I believe are often minuscule things that really make no difference to the important facts of the Bible. When you forget the minuscule tidbits that don't change anything, and focus on the important facts of the Bible, there is not one place the Bible contradicts itself.
Now some may say that if you cant trust every word of the Bible, how can you trust the religion at all. I can only ask... "really?" Whether Jesus cleansed the Temple early in his ministries or later, does it change whether he cleansed it or not? Whether there were one angel or two angels in the empty tomb, does it change whether Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead? Remember, these were humans writing these books. Now maybe I am wrong and maybe every word is correct. My entire point here is "Does it matter?" When judging whether the scriptures of a religion are true or false, I don't really care one bit about the minuscule details. It is whether there are actual important teachings or major facts that contradict or are proven wrong, that matter.
There is something in the world of ancient documents that is called Historicity. When Experts on historical documents look at a document, they will put it through some tests to see how it lines up historically. Some of the tests are not necessarily what one would expect, but they make great sense. For instance, they will look for sensationalism in the writings. When people write a story, they tend to sensationalize the characters they are lifting up. For example, let us say John saves a kid from being hit by a car. If someone is speaking to a cop and telling him what happened, they would simply say that the kid ran into the street and John ran out and grabbed her and saved her. A writer telling the story would write something more in the lines of.... The young girl wandered into a busy street, but John jumped into action. With no thought to his own safety, he rushed out into traffic and grabbed the girl and pulled her to safety just as a car went speeding past. Historians will look for this kind of sensationalism and if they find it, they will hold it against
the document as possibly fictional writing. They might see it as someone trying to tell a story instead of someone recounting the facts. Sensationalism will not discredit a story on its own, but it will be held against it.
Historians all agree that the Bible does not contain sensationalism. It is not written as if someone was trying to lift Jesus up, but simply as someone telling the truth of what happened. Another thing that historians recognize in the writing is that the writers do not hide the faults of their own. If a Christian writes a story about another Christian, it would be common practice to not write about the flaws of other Christians or their mistakes. Especially if they are writing in hopes of gaining more followers. Yet the Bible is full of cases where one disciple or another is made to look bad. Peter denying Jesus, his own Lord's name three times. Jesus rebuking Peter telling him, "Get Behind me Satan!", or Thomas showing his doubts. There is the story where Jesus gets on their cases for falling asleep when he asked them to keep watch. This is all seen as evidence that those who wrote the books were writing the truth even if it made them look bad.
More impressively, the New Testament books are seen as some of the most accurate writings ever found when it comes to names and positions of real people, places and layouts of the land and items used. So accurate to the point that many non-Christian historians have even turn to the New Testaments as a reference when checking other ancient writings from the same time period. Even characters like the High Priest of the Jews who was behind Jesus being sentenced to death, there was never any evidence that he was a real person until recent times when they found actual evidence of him. There are no made up characters and every person mentioned in the Bible has either been found to be real, or they simply do not know. Not once have they found any person in the books to not be who the books said they were.
Another test they look at is how the books line up with each other. What a lot of atheist like to say are contradictions in the Bible are not really contradictions but simply differences in what the writer focused on. If two people write about something that happened and they were both witnesses to, and the two stories come out exactly the same, one starts to think they must have collaborated to get their stories straight. In reality people will notice different things. Remember different details. It is just how the brain works.
For instance, when Jesus rose from the dead and Mary finds the empty tomb, one book mentions there are two angels in the tomb. Another only mentions one angel. Atheists like to say this is a contradiction but its not. The book does not say there is only one angel. It just mentions the one angel who spoke. The writer was focusing on what was said and who spoke rather than how many people were there and such. This is not evidence of a contradiction, but in truth is evidence of the trustworthiness of the writers telling the truth as they know it.
I have chatted with different atheists who have tried to point out contradictions in the Bible. As of yet, I have not found one that was actually a contradiction. Most of the time it is just a case of someone not reading the context of the verses around it to understand what is actually being said. In one case someone had me stumped for a moment when they sent me a link to a verse that proved there was no free will. They had me stumped for all of two minutes before I realized the version of the Bible they found it in was some funky version I have never heard of. When I read the verse in any of the standard bible versions, it was clear that was not what it was saying at all.
The Bible can be a very confusing book if you don't know anything. You can easily find verses that read side by side seem like they are contradicting each other. But then when you read the verses around them and realize one might be telling something Jesus said and another might be telling what someone who was not even a Christian said or something. People tend to believe that just because it is in the Bible, God must agree with it. Its not true. Much of the Bible is the telling of what actually happened. For instance the questioning of one of the disciples asking Jesus why a man was born blind, if it had to do with something he did in another life. Some will read that and think it is proof that even the Bible supports reincarnation. It doesn't. Just because one of the disciples asked it, doesn't mean that disciple knew better at the time. The book was not telling everything that God supports, but was repeating what a human being asked Jesus. Nothing more.
Another important criteria when deciding whether the Bible is to be trusted is the amount of times it has been picked over by Christian, non-Christian and even atheist scholars. The books have been translated in so much detail to the point that you can easily look up the actual words used in the Hebrew or Greek and their actual different meanings and which verses used them and how they were used. Personally, I like to read the New American Standard Bible (nasb) because when I started digging into it, I found that many consider this version to be the most accurately translated. In my phone app when reading it, there are often links that I can click on and it will let me know what words were removed or added from earlier translations. My point is that with so many scholars pouring over its every translation, it is easy to find why some versions are better than others and in the end, there are very few places in the Bible that can be argued as wrongly translated. More importantly, you wont find anywhere that the (nasb) Bible is changed to fit a belief of a religion. Unlike other religions like the Jehovah's Witness and Mormons who have made many changes to the Bible to make it fit what they wanted it to say instead.
Of all of the different religions ancient writings, there is none that is poured over with a more critical eye or found to be more accurate than the Holy Bible (nasb, niv, etc...) Its historicity, its cohesiveness between different books and writers, written many years and miles apart is unmatched.
In the end, when testing any religions ancient scriptures, if you can find even one major account that contradicts its teachings or can be proven to be false, you cannot trust that scripture is from God. Through centuries of atheists trying to prove falsities in the Bible, there are none yet that have held any real strength.