Jehovah`s Witness/Professor Beduhn
Brother Drake, In 2002 I emaied Mr Beduhn and received a reply. Impossible now days. His two favorites were the NWT and the new catholic bible. The latter being his second choice. but they are both biased, and there is no such thing as an unbiased translation. After thinking about this, I realized he was putting himself above the translators themselves. Either he is a very honest person or an egotist. I find the back handed complements he gives the NWT confusing. People are only seeing the positive and avoiding the criticisms or destain he seems to have for bible translators. But if he is correct..... No one can hold and read for themselves, The Holy Scriptures. Because all are tainted. Ultimately for me this says we have no one we can trust for the real truth. Just wanted your opinion. I have read Pastor Russell's writings on John 1;1. Same basic conclusion. (and the Word was a god or Deity. And when the common text read Godhead, he preferred Deity. Maybe he should have done the translating. If you have an opinion, I would like to hear it. I am not a JW,or a scholar. However, I do not have a closed mind, and hope for purity in translations Sorry if my previous text was not clear. David
Thank you again for clarifying the questions. It’s interesting how the validity of the Bible can remain such a valuable source of God’s wisdom, purpose, and plan for future restoration of the earth, the heavens and all of His creations in between. However, with the common layman, it’s incomprehensible for a book to stand the test of time. The information presented here is from various sources and citations where appropriate.
Not so long ago, I answered a question in regards to the legitimacy of the Bible. This was originally written on papyrus or on parchment—much more perishable materials. Thus, the manuscripts produced by the original writers disappeared long, long ago. So the Bible was preserved through the ages by making countless thousands of copies were laboriously written out by hand. This was the normal way to reproduce a book before the advent of printing. There is, however, a danger in copying by hand. Sir Frederic Kenyon, the famous archaeologist and librarian of the British Museum, explained: “The human hand and brain have not yet been created which could copy the whole of a long work absolutely without error. . . . Mistakes were certain to creep in.” When a mistake crept into a manuscript, it was repeated when that manuscript became the basis for future copies. When many copies were made over a long period of time, numerous human errors crept in.
Now David, from the seventh century to the tenth century of our Common Era, the heirs of the Sopherim were the Masoretes. Their name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “tradition,” and essentially they too were scribes charged with the task of preserving the traditional Hebrew text. The Masoretes were meticulous. For example, the scribe had to use a properly authenticated copy as his master text, and he was not allowed to write anything from memory. He had to check each letter before writing it. Professor Norman K. Gottwald reports: “Something of the care with which they discharged their duties is indicated in the rabbinic requirement that all new manuscripts were to be proofread and defective copies discarded at once.”
How accurate was the transmission of the text by the Sopherim and the Masoretes? Until 1947 it was difficult to answer that question, since the earliest available complete Hebrew manuscripts were from the tenth century of our Common Era. In 1947, however, some very ancient manuscript fragments were found in caves in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, including parts of books of the Hebrew Bible. A number of fragments dated to before the time of Christ. Scholars compared these with existing Hebrew manuscripts to confirm the accuracy of the transmission of the text. What was the result of this comparison?
One of the oldest works discovered was the complete book of Isaiah, and the closeness of its text to that of the Masoretic Bible we have today is amazing. Professor Millar Burrows writes: “Many of the differences between the [recently discovered] St. Mark’s Isaiah scroll and the Masoretic text can be explained as mistakes in copying. Apart from these, there is a remarkable agreement, on the whole, with the text found in the medieval manuscripts. Such agreement in a manuscript so much older gives reassuring testimony to the general accuracy of the traditional text.” Burrows adds: “It is a matter for wonder that through something like a thousand years the text underwent so little alteration.”
In the case of the part of the Bible written in Greek by Christians, the so-called New Testament, the copyists David were more like gifted amateurs than like the highly trained professional Sopherim. But working as they did under the threat of punishment by the authorities, they took their work seriously. And two things assure us that we today have a text essentially the same as that penned by the original writers. First, we have manuscripts dated much closer to the time of writing than is the case with the Hebrew part of the Bible. Indeed, one fragment of the Gospel of John is from the first half of the second century, less than 50 years from the date when John probably wrote his Gospel. Second, the sheer number of manuscripts that have survived provides a formidable demonstration of the soundness of the text.
On this point, Sir Frederic Kenyon testified: “It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain. Especially is this the case with the New Testament. The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other ancient book in the world.”
Many of the copyist or scribes would count each word and letter that they copied. When the new copy was made they performed a quality control check which was done in a meticulous manner so as to preserve the authenticity of the writings.
The original languages in which the Bible was written were also, in the long run, an obstacle to its survival. The first 39 books were mostly written in Hebrew, the tongue of the Israelites. But Hebrew has never been widely known. If the Bible had stayed in that language, it would never have had any influence beyond the Jewish nation and the few foreigners who could read it. However, in the third century B.C.E., for the benefit of Hebrews living in Alexandria, Egypt, translation of the Hebrew part of the Bible into Greek began. Greek was then an international language. Thus, the Hebrew Bible became easily accessible to non-Jews.
When the time came for the second part of the Bible to be written, Greek was still very widely spoken, so the final 27 books of the Bible were written in that tongue. But not everybody could understand Greek. Hence, translations of both the Hebrew and the Greek parts of the Bible soon began to appear in the everyday languages of those early centuries, such as Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic, and Ethiopic. The official language of the Roman Empire was Latin, and Latin translations were made in such numbers that an “authorized version” had to be commissioned. This was completed about 405 C.E. and came to be known as the Vulgate (meaning “popular” or “common”).
Thus, it was in spite of many obstacles that the Bible survived down to the early centuries of our Common Era. Those who produced it were despised and persecuted minorities living a difficult existence in a hostile world. It could easily have been badly distorted in the process of copying, but it was not. Moreover, it escaped the danger of being available only to people who spoke certain languages.
Why was it so difficult for the Bible to survive? The Bible itself says: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) In view of this, we would expect the world to be hostile to published truth, and this has proved to be the case. Why, then, did the Bible survive when so many other pieces of literature that did not face the same difficulties were forgotten? The Bible answers this too. It says: “The saying of Jehovah endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:25) If the Bible really is the Word of God, no human power can destroy it. And right up into this 20th century, this has been true.
However, in the fourth century of our Common Era, something happened that eventually resulted in new attacks on the Bible and profoundly affected the course of European history. Just ten years after Diocletian tried to destroy all copies of the Bible, imperial policy changed and “Christianity” was legalized. Twelve years later, in 325 C.E., a Roman emperor presided over the “Christian” Council of Nicaea.
Now the writing of all the books of the Bible was completed. From then on, Christians were in the forefront of copying and distributing the complete Bible. At the same time, they were busy translating it into the most common languages of the day. While the Christian congregation was busy with this admirable work, however, something was beginning to take shape that would prove very dangerous to the survival of the Bible. This development was foretold by the Bible itself. Jesus once told a parable of a man who sowed his field with good quality seeds of wheat. But “while men were sleeping,” an enemy sowed seeds that would produce weeds. Both types of seeds sprouted, and for a while the weeds hid the wheat from view. By this parable, Jesus showed that the fruitage of his work would be true Christians but that after his death, false Christians would infiltrate the congregation. Eventually, it would be difficult to distinguish the genuine from the false.—Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
The apostle Peter frankly warned of the effect of these weedlike “Christians” on the way people would view Christianity and the Bible. He warned: “There will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.”—2 Peter 2:1, 2. Even during the first century, the prophecies of Jesus and Peter were being fulfilled. Ambitious men infiltrated the Christian congregation and sowed dissension. (2 Timothy 2:16-18; 2 Peter 2:21, 22; 3 John 9, 10) During the following two centuries, the purity of Bible truth was corrupted by Greek philosophy, and many mistakenly came to accept pagan doctrines as Bible truth.
In the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine adopted “Christianity” as the official religion of the Roman Empire. But the “Christianity” he knew was very different from the religion preached by Jesus. By now, the “weeds” were flourishing, just as Jesus had foretold. Nevertheless, we can be sure that during all that time, there were some who represented true Christianity and labored to follow the Bible as the inspired Word of God.—Matthew 28:19, 2 It was in Constantine’s time that Christendom as we know it today began to take shape. From then on, the degenerate form of Christianity that had taken root was no longer just a religious organization. It was a part of the state, and its leaders played an important role in politics.
Eventually, the apostate church used its political power in a way that was completely opposed to Bible Christianity, introducing another dangerous threat to the Bible.
When Latin died out as an everyday tongue, new translations of the Bible were needed. But the Catholic Church no longer favored this. In 1079 Vratislaus, who later became king of Bohemia, asked the permission of Pope Gregory VII to translate the Bible into the language of his subjects. The pope’s answer was no. He stated: “It is clear to those who reflect often upon it, that not without reason has it pleased Almighty God that holy scripture should be a secret in certain places, lest, if it were plainly apparent to all men, perchance it would be little esteemed and be subject to disrespect; or it might be falsely understood by those of mediocre learning, and lead to error.” The pope wanted the Bible to be kept in the now-dead tongue of Latin. Its contents were to be kept “secret,” not translated into the languages of the common people. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, produced in the 5th century to make the Bible accessible to all, now became a means of keeping it hidden.
As the Middle Ages progressed, the Church’s stand against vernacular Bibles hardened. In 1199 Pope Innocent III wrote such a strong letter to the archbishop of Metz, Germany, that the archbishop burned all the German-language Bibles he could find. In 1229 the synod of Toulouse, France, decreed that “lay people” could not possess any Bible books in the common tongue. In 1233 a provincial synod of Tarragona, Spain, commanded that all books of “the Old or New Testament” be handed over to be burned. In 1407 the synod of clergy summoned in Oxford, England, by Archbishop Thomas Arundel expressly forbade the translating of the Bible into English or any other modern tongue. In 1431, also in England, Bishop Stafford of Wells forbade the translating of the Bible into English and the owning of such translations.
These religious authorities were not trying to destroy the Bible. They were trying to petrify it, keep it in a language that only a few could read. In this way, they hoped to prevent what they called heresy but what really amounted to challenges to their authority. If they had succeeded, the Bible could have become just an object of intellectual curiosity, with little or no influence in the lives of ordinary people.
Happily, though, many sincere people refused to follow these edicts. But such refusals were dangerous. Individuals suffered terribly for the “crime” of owning a Bible. Consider, as an example, the case of a Spaniard named Julián Hernández. According to Foxe’s History of Christian Martyrdom, Julián (or, Juliano) “undertook to convey from Germany into his own country a great number of Bibles, concealed in casks, and packed up like Rhenish wine.” He was betrayed and seized by the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Those for whom the Bibles were destined “were all indiscriminately tortured, and then most of them were sentenced to various punishments. Juliano was burnt, twenty were roasted upon spits, several imprisoned for life, some were publicly whipped, many sent to the galleys.” Clearly, these religious authorities were by no means representative of Bible Christianity! The Bible itself revealed to whom they belonged when it said: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother.”—1 John 3:10-12.
How remarkable, though, that men and women were willing to risk such shocking treatment just to possess a Bible. And such examples have been multiplied many times over right down to our day. The deep devotion that the Bible has inspired in individuals, the willingness to suffer patiently and to submit uncomplainingly to terrible deaths without striking back at their tormentors, is a strong evidence that the Bible is the Word of God.—1 Peter 2:21.
Eventually, after the Protestant rebellion against Roman Catholic power in the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church itself was forced to produce translations of the Bible in the everyday languages of Europe. But even then, the Bible was associated more with Protestantism than with Catholicism. As Roman Catholic priest Edward J. Ciuba wrote: “One would honestly have to admit that one of the more tragic consequences of the Protestant Reformation was a neglect of the Bible among the Catholic faithful. While it was never completely forgotten, the Bible was a closed book for most Catholics.” But the Protestant churches are not free from blame as far as opposing the Bible is concerned. As the years passed, certain Protestant scholars mounted another sort of attack on the book: an intellectual attack. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they developed a method of studying the Bible known as higher criticism. Higher critics taught that much of the Bible was composed of legend and myth. Some even said that Jesus never existed. Instead of being designated the Word of God, the Bible was said by these Protestant scholars to be the word of man, and a very jumbled word at that.
While the more extreme of these ideas are no longer believed, higher criticism is still taught in seminaries and theological circles, and it is not unusual to hear Protestant clergymen publicly disavow large sections of the Bible. Thus, one Anglican clergyman was quoted in an Australian newspaper as saying that much that is in the Bible “is just wrong. Some of the history is wrong. Some of the details are obviously garbled.” This thinking is a product of higher criticism. Perhaps, though, it is the conduct of Christendom that has posed the greatest obstacle to people’s accepting the Bible as God’s Word. Christendom claims to follow the Bible. Yet, her conduct has brought great reproach on the Bible and on the very name Christian. As the apostle Peter foretold, the way of the truth has been “spoken of abusively.”—2 Peter 2:2.
For example, while the church was banning Bible translation, the pope was sponsoring massive military efforts against the Muslims in the Middle East. These came to be called “holy” Crusades, but there was nothing holy about them. The first—termed the “People’s Crusade”—set the tone for what was to come. Before leaving Europe, an unruly army, inflamed by preachers, turned on the Jews in Germany, slaughtering them in one town after another. Why? Historian Hans Eberhard Mayer says: “The argument that the Jews, as the enemies of Christ, deserved to be punished was merely a feeble attempt to conceal the real motive: greed.”
The Protestant rebellion in the 16th century dislodged Roman Catholicism from power in many European lands. One result was the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48)—“one of the most terrible wars in European history,” according to The Universal History of the World. The basic cause of the war? “The hatred of Catholic for Protestant, of Protestant for Catholic.” By this time, Christendom had begun to expand beyond Europe, carrying “Christian” civilization into other parts of the earth. This military expansion was marked by cruelty and greed. In the Americas, the Spanish conquistadores quickly destroyed the indigenous American civilizations. Noted one history book: “In general, the Spanish governors destroyed the native civilization, without introducing the European. The thirst for gold was the principal motive that drew them to the New World.” Protestant missionaries also went out from Europe to other continents. One of the results of their work was the promotion of colonial expansion. A widespread view today of the Protestant missionary effort is: “In many instances the missionary enterprise has been used as a justification and a cover for the domination of people. The interrelation between mission, technology, and imperialism is well known.” The close association between Christendom’s religions and the state has continued down to our day. The last two world wars were fought primarily between “Christian” nations. Clergymen on both sides encouraged their young men to fight and try to kill the enemy—who often belonged to the same religion. As was noted in the book If the Churches Want World Peace: “Certainly it is no credit to [the churches] that the war system of today grew up and has worked its greatest havoc among states devoted to the cause of Christianity.” It’s a distressing history of Christendom to highlight two points. First, such events are a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It was foretold that many claiming to be Christian would bring reproach on the Bible and the name of Christianity, and the fact that this has happened vindicates the Bible as being true. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the fact that the conduct of Christendom does not represent Bible-based Christianity.
The way genuine Christians can be recognized was explained by Jesus himself: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Further, Jesus said: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) On both counts, Christendom betrays itself as clearly not representing Bible Christianity. It claims to be the Bible’s friend, but it has been a false friend. The second point is this: In view of the fact that Christendom as a whole has acted so much against the interests of the Bible, it is remarkable, indeed, that the book has survived until today and still exercises a good influence on many people’s lives. The Bible has survived bitter opposition to translating it, onslaughts from modernistic scholars, and the unchristian conduct of its false friend, Christendom. Why? Because the Bible is unlike any other written work. The Bible cannot die. It is the Word of God, and the Bible itself tells us: “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God endures for evermore.”—Isaiah 40:8, The New English Bible.
In 1613 the Italian scientist Galileo published a work known as “Letters on Sunspots.” In it, he presented evidence that the earth rotates around the sun, rather than the sun around the earth. By so doing, he set in motion a series of events that finally brought him before the Roman Catholic Inquisition under “vehement suspicion of heresy.” Eventually, he was forced to “recant.” Why was the idea that the earth moves around the sun viewed as heresy? Because Galileo’s accusers claimed that it was contrary to what the Bible says.
Many people widely hold today that the Bible is unscientific, and some point to Galileo’s experiences to prove it. But is this the case? When answering that question, we have to remember that the Bible is a book of prophecy, history, prayer, law, counsel, and knowledge about God. It does not claim to be a scientific textbook. Nevertheless, when the Bible does touch on scientific matters, what it says is completely accurate. Consider, for example, what the Bible says about our planet, the earth. In the book of Job, we read: “[God] is stretching out the north over the empty place, hanging the earth upon nothing.” (Job 26:7) Compare this with Isaiah’s statement, when he says: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) The picture conveyed of a round earth ‘hanging upon nothing’ in “the empty place” reminds us strongly of the photographs taken by astronauts of the sphere of the earth floating in empty space.
Consider, too, the earth’s amazing water cycle. Here is how Compton’s Encyclopedia describes what happens: “Water . . . evaporates from the surface of the oceans into the atmosphere . . . Steadily moving air currents in the earth’s atmosphere carry the moist air inland. When the air cools, the vapor condenses to form water droplets. These are seen most commonly as clouds. Often the droplets come together to form raindrops. If the atmosphere is cold enough, snowflakes form instead of raindrops. In either case, water that has traveled from an ocean hundreds or even thousands of miles away falls to the earth’s surface. There it gathers into streams or soaks into the ground and begins its journey back to the sea.”
This remarkable process, which makes life on dry land possible, was well described about 3,000 years ago in simple, straightforward terms in the Bible: “All streams run into the sea, yet the sea never overflows; back to the place from which the streams ran they return to run again.”—Ecclesiastes 1:7, The New English Bible. Perhaps even more remarkable is the Bible’s insight into the history of mountains. Here is what a textbook on geology says: “From Pre-Cambrian times down to the present, the perpetual process of building and destroying mountains has continued. . . . Not only have mountains originated from the bottom of vanished seas, but they have often been submerged long after their formation, and then re-elevated.”2 Compare this with the poetic language of the psalmist: “With a watery deep just like a garment you covered [the earth]. The waters were standing above the very mountains. Mountains proceeded to ascend, valley plains proceeded to descend—to the place that you have founded for them.”—Psalm 104:6, 8. The very first verse of the Bible states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Observations have led scientists to theorize that the material universe did indeed have a beginning. It has not existed for all time. Astronomer Robert Jastrow, an agnostic in religious matters, wrote: “The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
True, many scientists, while believing that the universe had a beginning, do not accept the statement that “God created.” Nevertheless, some now admit that it is difficult to ignore the evidence of some kind of intelligence behind everything. Physics professor Freeman Dyson comments: “The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.”
Dyson goes on to admit: “Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning.”4 His comment certainly betrays the skeptical attitude of our time. But putting that skepticism aside, one notes there is a remarkable harmony between modern science and the Bible’s statement that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”—Genesis 1:1. Consider the Bible’s coverage of another field: health and sanitation. If an Israelite had a skin blemish suspected of being leprosy, he was put in isolation. “All the days that the plague is in him he will be unclean. He is unclean. He should dwell isolated. Outside the camp is his dwelling place.” (Leviticus 13:46) Even infected garments were burned. (Leviticus 13:52) In those days, this was an effective way of preventing the spread of the infection.
Another important law had to do with the disposal of human excrement, which had to be buried outside the camp. (Deuteronomy 23:12, 13) This law no doubt saved Israel from many sicknesses. Even today, severe health problems are caused in some lands by the improper disposal of human wastes. If people in those lands would only follow the law written down thousands of years ago in the Bible, they would be much healthier. The Bible’s high standard of hygiene even involved mental health. A Bible proverb said: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30) In recent years, medical research has demonstrated that our physical health is indeed affected by our mental attitude. For example, Doctor C. B. Thomas of Johns Hopkins University studied more than a thousand graduates over a period of 16 years, matching their psychological characteristics with their vulnerability to diseases. One thing she noted: The graduates most vulnerable to disease were those who were angrier and more anxious under stress If the Bible is so accurate in scientific fields, why did the Catholic Church say that Galileo’s teaching that the earth moved around the sun was unscriptural? Because of the way the authorities interpreted certain Bible verses. Were they correct?
In one Bible verse David it says: “The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5, The Jerusalem Bible) According to the Church’s argument, expressions such as “the sun rises” and “the sun sets” mean that the sun, not the earth, is moving. But even today we say that the sun rises and sets, and most of us know that it is the earth that moves, not the sun. When we use expressions like these, we are merely describing the apparent motion of the sun as it appears to a human observer. The Bible writer was doing exactly the same. The other passage says: “You fixed the earth on its foundations, unshakeable for ever and ever.” (Psalm 104:5, The Jerusalem Bible) This was interpreted to mean that after its creation the earth could never move. In fact, though, the verse stresses the permanence of the earth, not its immobility. The earth will never be ‘shaken’ out of existence, or destroyed, as other Bible verses confirm. (Psalm 37:29; Ecclesiastes 1:4) This scripture, too, has nothing to do with the relative motion of the earth and the sun. In Galileo’s time, it was the Church, not the Bible, that hindered free scientific discussion.
There is, however, an area where many would say that modern science and the Bible are hopelessly at odds. Most scientists believe the theory of evolution, which teaches that all living things evolved from a simple form of life that came into existence millions of years ago. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that each major group of living things was specially created and reproduces only “according to its kind.” Man, it says, was created “out of dust from the ground.” (Genesis 1:21; 2:7) Is this a glaring scientific error in the Bible? Before deciding, let us look more closely at what science knows, as opposed to what it theorizes. The theory of evolution was popularized during the last century by Charles Darwin. When he was on the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, Darwin was strongly impressed by the different species of finches on the different islands, which, he deduced, must all have descended from just one ancestral species. Partly because of this observation, he promoted the theory that all living things come from one original, simple form. The driving force behind the evolution of higher creatures from lower, he asserted, was natural selection, the survival of the fittest. Thanks to evolution, he claimed, land animals developed from fish, birds from reptiles, and so forth.
As a matter of fact, what Darwin observed in those isolated islands was not out of harmony with the Bible, which allows for variation within a major living kind. All the races of mankind, for example, came from just one original human pair. (Genesis 2:7, 22-24) So it is nothing strange that those different species of finches would spring from a common ancestral species. But they did remain finches. They did not evolve into hawks or eagles. Neither the various species of finches nor anything else Darwin saw proved that all living things, whether they be sharks or sea gulls, elephants or earthworms, have a common ancestor. Nevertheless, many scientists assert that evolution is no longer just a theory but that it is a fact. Others, while recognizing the theory’s problems, say that they believe it anyway. It is popular to do so. We, however, need to know whether evolution has been proved to such an extent that the Bible must be wrong.
How can the theory of evolution be tested? The most obvious way is to examine the fossil record to see if a gradual change from one kind to another really happened. Did it? No, as a number of scientists honestly admit. One, Francis Hitching, writes: “When you look for links between major groups of animals, they simply aren’t there.”7 So obvious is this lack of evidence in the fossil record that evolutionists have come up with alternatives to Darwin’s theory of gradual change. The truth is, though, that the sudden appearance of animal kinds in the fossil record supports special creation much more than it does evolution. Moreover, Hitching shows that living creatures are programmed to reproduce themselves exactly rather than evolve into something else. He says: “Living cells duplicate themselves with near-total fidelity. The degree of error is so tiny that no man-made machine can approach it. There are also built-in constraints. Plants reach a certain size and refuse to grow any larger. Fruit flies refuse to become anything but fruit flies under any circumstances yet devised.” Mutations induced by scientists in fruit flies over many decades failed to force these to evolve into something else.
Another thorny question that evolutionists have failed to answer is: What was the origin of life? How did the first simple form of life—from which we are all supposed to have descended—come into existence? Centuries ago, this would not have appeared to be a problem. Most people then thought that flies could develop from decaying meat and that a pile of old rags could spontaneously produce mice. But, more than a hundred years ago, the French chemist Louis Pasteur clearly demonstrated that life can come only from preexisting life. So how do evolutionists explain the source of life? According to the most popular theory, a chance combination of chemicals and energy sparked a spontaneous generation of life millions of years ago. What about the principle that Pasteur proved? The World Book Encyclopedia explains: “Pasteur showed that life cannot arise spontaneously under the chemical and physical conditions present on the earth today. Billions of years ago, however, the chemical and physical conditions on the earth were far different”!
Even under far different conditions, though, there is a huge gap between nonliving matter and the simplest living thing. Michael Denton, in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, says: “Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system, such as a crystal or a snowflake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive.” The idea that nonliving material could come to life by some haphazard chance is so remote as to be impossible. The Bible’s explanation, that ‘life came from life’ in that life was created by God, is convincingly in harmony with the facts. Despite the problems inherent in the theory of evolution, belief in creation is viewed today as unscientific, even eccentric. Why is this? Why does even an authority such as Francis Hitching, who honestly points up the weaknesses of evolution, reject the idea of creation?11 Michael Denton explains that evolution, with all its failings, will continue to be taught because theories related to creation “invoke frankly supernatural causes.” In other words, the fact that creation involves a Creator makes it unacceptable. Surely, this is the same kind of circular reasoning that we met up with in the case of miracles: Miracles are impossible because they are miraculous!
Besides, the theory of evolution itself is deeply suspect from a scientific viewpoint. Michael Denton goes on to say: “Being basically a theory of historical reconstruction, [Darwin’s theory of evolution] is impossible to verify by experiment or direct observation as is normal in science. . . . Moreover, the theory of evolution deals with a series of unique events, the origin of life, the origin of intelligence and so on. Unique events are unrepeatable and cannot be subjected to any sort of experimental investigation.” The truth is that the theory of evolution, despite its popularity, is full of gaps and problems. It gives no good reason to reject the Bible’s account of the origin of life. The first chapter of Genesis provides a completely reasonable account of how these “unrepeatable” “unique events” came about during creative ‘days’ that stretched through millenniums of time.
Many point to another supposed contradiction between the Bible and modern science. In the book of Genesis, we read that thousands of years ago the wickedness of men was so great that God determined to destroy them. However, he instructed the righteous man Noah to build a large wooden vessel, an ark. Then God brought a flood upon mankind. Only Noah and his family survived, together with representatives of all the animal species. The Flood was so great that “all the tall mountains that were under the whole heavens came to be covered.”—Genesis 7:19.
Where did all the water come from to cover the whole earth? The Bible itself answers. Early in the creation process, when the expanse of the atmosphere began to take shape, there came to be “waters . . . beneath the expanse” and “waters . . . above the expanse.” (Genesis 1:7; 2 Peter 3:5) When the Flood came, the Bible says: “The floodgates of the heavens were opened.” (Genesis 7:11) Evidently, the “waters . . . above the expanse” fell and provided much of the water for the inundation. Modern textbooks are inclined to discount a universal flood. So we have to ask: Is the Flood just a myth, or did it really happen? Before answering that, we should note that later worshipers of Jehovah accepted the Flood as genuine history; they did not regard it as a myth. Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, and Peter were among those who referred to it as something that really happened. (Isaiah 54:9; Matthew 24:37-39; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20, 21; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:5-7) But there are questions that have to be answered about this universal Deluge.
First, is not the idea of the whole earth’s being flooded too farfetched? Not really. Indeed, to some extent the earth is still flooded. Seventy percent of it is covered by water and only 30 percent is dry land. Moreover, 75 percent of the earth’s fresh water is locked up in glaciers and polar ice caps. If all this ice were to melt, the sea level would rise much higher. Cities like New York and Tokyo would disappear. Further, The New Encyclopædia Britannica says: “The average depth of all the seas has been estimated at 3,790 metres (12,430 feet), a figure considerably larger than that of the average elevation of the land above the sea level, which is 840 metres (2,760 feet). If the average depth is multiplied by its respective surface area, the volume of the World Ocean is 11 times the volume of the land above sea level.” So, if everything were leveled out—if the mountains were flattened and the deep sea basins filled in—the sea would cover the whole earth to a depth of thousands of meters.
For the Flood to have happened, the pre-Flood sea basins would have to have been shallower, and the mountains lower than they are now. Is this possible? Well, one textbook says: “Where the mountains of the world now tower to dizzy heights, oceans and plains once, millions of years ago, stretched out in flat monotony. . . . The movements of the continental plates cause the land both to rear up to heights where only the hardiest of animals and plants can survive and, at the other extreme, to plunge and lie in hidden splendor deep beneath the surface of the sea.”15 Since the mountains and sea basins rise and fall, it is apparent that at one time the mountains were not as high as they are now and the great sea basins were not as deep. What happened to the floodwaters after the Flood? They must have drained into the sea basins. How? Scientists believe that the continents rest on huge plates. Movement of these plates can cause changes in the level of the earth’s surface. In some places today, there are great underwater abysses more than six miles [more than 10 km] deep at the plate boundaries. It is quite likely that—perhaps triggered by the Flood itself—the plates moved, the sea bottom sank, and the great trenches opened, allowing the water to drain off the land.
If we grant that a great flood could have happened, why have scientists found no trace of it? Perhaps they have, but they interpret the evidence some other way. For example, orthodox science teaches that the surface of the earth has been shaped in many places by powerful glaciers during a series of ice ages. But apparent evidence of glacial activity can sometimes be the result of water action. Very likely, then, some of the evidence for the Flood is being misread as evidence of an ice age. Similar mistakes have been made. Concerning the time when scientists were developing their theory of ice ages, we read: “They were finding ice ages at every stage of the geologic history, in keeping with the philosophy of uniformity. Careful reexamination of the evidence in recent years, however, has rejected many of these ice ages; formations once identified as glacial moraines have been reinterpreted as beds laid down by mudflows, submarine landslides and turbidity currents: avalanches of turbid water that carry silt, sand and gravel out over the deep-ocean floor.”
Another evidence for the Flood appears to exist in the fossil record. At one time, according to this record, great saber-toothed tigers stalked their prey in Europe, horses larger than any now living roamed North America, and mammoths foraged in Siberia. Then, all around the world, species of mammals became extinct. At the same time, there was a sudden change of climate. Tens of thousands of mammoths were killed and quick-frozen in Siberia. Alfred Wallace, the well-known contemporary of Charles Darwin, considered that such a widespread destruction must have been caused by some exceptional worldwide event.19 Many have argued that this event was the Flood.
An editorial in the magazine Biblical Archaeologist observed: “It is important to remember that the story of a great flood is one of the most widespread traditions in human culture . . . Nevertheless behind the oldest traditions found in Near Eastern sources, there may well be an actual flood of gigantic proportions dating from one of the pluvial periods . . . many thousands of years ago.”20 The pluvial periods were times when the surface of the earth was much wetter than now. Freshwater lakes around the world were much larger. It is theorized that the wetness was caused by heavy rains associated with the end of the ice ages. But some have suggested that on one occasion the extreme wetness of the earth’s surface was a result of the Flood.
Geology professor John McCampbell once wrote: “The essential differences between Biblical catastrophism [the Flood] and evolutionary uniformitarianism are not over the factual data of geology but over the interpretations of those data. The interpretation preferred will depend largely upon the background and presuppositions of the individual student.” That the Flood did happen is seen in the fact that mankind never forgot it. All around the world, in locations as far apart as Alaska and the South Sea Islands, there are ancient stories about it. Native, pre-Columbian civilizations of America, as well as Aborigines of Australia, all have stories about the Flood. While some of the accounts differ in detail, the basic fact that the earth was flooded and only a few humans were saved in a man-made vessel comes through in nearly all versions. The only explanation for such a widespread acceptance is that the Flood was a historical event.
Thus, in essential features the Bible is in harmony with modern science. Where there is a conflict between the two, the scientists’ evidence is questionable. Where they agree, the Bible is often so accurate that we have to believe it got its information from a superhuman intelligence. Indeed, the Bible’s agreement with proved science provides further evidence that it is God’s word, not man’s.
As a basis for translating the Hebrew Scriptures, the text of Rudolf Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica, editions of 1951-1955, was used. The 1984 revision of the New World Translation benefited from updating in harmony with the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia of 1977. Additionally, the Dead Sea Scrolls and numerous early translations into other languages were consulted. For the Christian Greek Scriptures, the master Greek text of 1881 as prepared by Westcott and Hort was used primarily, but several other master texts were consulted as well as numerous early versions in other languages. When presenting as a gift the publishing rights to their translation, the New World Bible Translation Committee requested that its members remain anonymous. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania has honored their request. The translators were not seeking prominence for themselves but only to honor the Divine Author of the Holy Scriptures.
Over the years other translation committees have taken a similar view. For example, the jacket of the Reference Edition (1971) of the New American Standard Bible states: “We have not used any scholar’s name for reference or recommendations because it is our belief God’s Word should stand on its merits.” It should be noted that the New World Translation is not the only Bible that does this. The divine name appears in translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew, in passages where quotations are made directly from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. The Emphatic Diaglott (1864) contains the name Jehovah 18 times. Versions of the Christian Greek Scriptures in at least 38 other languages also use a vernacular form of the divine name.
The emphasis that Jesus Christ put on the name of his Father indicates that he personally used it freely. (Matt. 6:9; John 17:6, 26) According to Jerome of the fourth century C.E., the apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel first in Hebrew, and that Gospel makes numerous quotations of passages from the Hebrew Scriptures that contain the divine name. Others of the Christian Greek Scripture writers quoted from the Greek Septuagint (a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, begun about 280 B.C.E.), early copies of which contained the divine name in Hebrew characters, as shown by actual fragments that have been preserved.
Professor George Howard of the University of Georgia wrote: “Since the Tetragram [four Hebrew letters for the divine name] was still written in the copies of the Greek Bible which made up the Scriptures of the early church, it is reasonable to believe that the N[ew] T[estament] writers, when quoting from Scripture, preserved the Tetragram within the biblical text.”—
Journal of Biblical Literature, March 1977, p. 77.
Compton’s Encyclopedia, 1987, Vol. 7, p. 13.
The Book of Popular Science (Grolier, Inc.), 1967, pp. 213, 214.
God and the Astronomers, by Robert Jastrow, 1978, p. 14.
Disturbing the Universe, by Freeman Dyson, 1979, pp. 250, 251.
Medical World News, October 10, 1983, p. 71.
New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, 1967, p. 252.
The Neck of the Giraffe, by Francis Hitching, 1982, p. 19.
The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 61.
The World Book Encyclopedia, 1987, Vol. 12, p. 245.
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton, 1986, pp. 249, 250.
The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 137.
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 355.
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 75.
The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1987, Vol. 25, p. 124.
Wonders of Nature, edited by Claus Jürgen Frank, 1980, p. 87.
The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 1987, Vol. 9, p. 505.
Planet Earth—Glacier, by Ronald H. Bailey, 1982, p. 7.
Scientific American, May 1960, p. 71.
Planet Earth—Ice Ages, by Windsor Chorlton, 1983, pp. 54, 55, 57.
Biblical Archaeologist, December 1977, p. 134.
The Genesis Flood, by John C. Whitcomb, Jr. and Henry M. Morris, 1967, p. xvii.
The Lollard Bible and Other Medieval Biblical Versions, by Margaret Deanesly, 1920, p. 24.
The Lollard Bible, p. 227, 328, 295, 296, 48, 36, 30-33
The History of Christian Martyrdom, by John Foxe, 1873, p. 130; Casiodoro de Reina, Spanish
Reformer of the Sixteenth Century, by A. Gordon Kinder, p. 16.
Who Do You Say That I Am? by Edward J. Ciuba, 1974, p. viii.
The Crusades, by Hans Eberhard Mayer, translated by John Gillingham, 1978, p. 44.
The Universal History of the World, by Edith Firoozi and Ira N. Klein, 1966, Vol. IX, p. 732.
A Brief History of Ancient, Mediæval, and Modern Peoples, by Joel Dorman Steele and Esther Baker Steele, 1883, pp. 428, 429.
The Church and Its Mission: A Shattering Critique From the Third World, by Orlando E. Costas, 1974, p. 245.
If the Churches Want World Peace, by Norman Hill and Doniver A. Lund, 1958, p. 5.
Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, by Sir Frederic Kenyon, 1958, p. 50
A Light to the Nations, by Norman K. Gottwald, 1959, p. 40.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, by Millar Burrows, 1955, pp. 303, 304.
Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text, edited by Frank Moore Cross and Shemaryahu Talmon, 1975, pp. 276, 277.
An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament, by W. O. E. Oesterley and Theodore H.
Robinson, 1958, p. 21.
Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, p. 55.
Reasoning from the Scriptures by WTBS, pages 277-278, paragraphs 4 -8