“The Bible has been altered and changed throughout thousands of years and is therefore untrustworthy.” This is one of the most common arguments used by atheists to attack Christianity. The knee-jerk instinct of a lot of Christians is to come up with a response that will even convert hardcore atheists like Richard Dawkins or Bill Nye. But is this true? Is this a valid argument? After all, it’s not like we can back this up with Scripture since that would be a circular argument. So what evidence can we use? Is there any? When we take a look at what archaeologists have researched and discovered, it becomes quite clear that there is.
HUMANS AREN’T PERFECT
Firstly, we must acknowledge that humans definitely aren’t incapable of making mistakes. Secondly, the Bible is really old, of which some Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts date back to 200 B.C. So yes, knowing humans, they’ve had plenty of time to alter or corrupt the text. Despite these facts, however, God still preserved His Word. There have been some inconsistencies found in manuscripts, though none of them are significant. None of them actually change the meaning of the text. These inconsistencies are like changing “Jesus Christ” to “Christ Jesus” or different spelling or word order. One of the most significant variants in a verse is regarding the number of the Beast being either “666” or “616” (Revelation 13:18).
NEARLY COUNTLESS MANUSCRIPTS
Many would argue that just because there’s a lot of something it doesn’t make it true. That’s correct. But right now the question is whether or not the Bible has been altered or changed through a long time span. Not whether it’s true or not (that’s a different discussion for another time). So the evidence of there being more manuscripts for the Bible than any other historical work still holds. What’s more, is that despite some of them having huge age gaps from others, they’re still nearly identical. Every scholar who’s looking at the evidence with an unbiased viewpoint will attest to this.
Also, because there are so many manuscripts, it actually greatly helps the process of textual criticism. To determine what the original copies have said, we compare many other copies against each other. We can better determine where the discrepancies arose and be able to say with confidence what the original author wrote down. The fact that there’s over 25,000 New Testament manuscripts alone (more are found all the time) really supports the translations we have today.
Furthermore, there are some who say that the fact that errors exist in manuscripts, small and insignificant as they are, still show the Bible has errors. Thus proving 2 Timothy 3:1-17 wrong in stating “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” If Paul was referring to the copies of original manuscripts, this would be a valid argument. However, Paul was talking about the original writings, not their copies. So yes, there are minor errors in some copies. But once again, the fact that we have so many copies (when stacked reach over 1 mile high) helps us determine what the originals said. Any attempts made by someone wanting to change the meaning of any texts would be quickly spotted.
THE EVIDENCE IS STRONG
All this testifies to God’s sovereignty over preserving His Word; despite it being in a fallen world full of fallen people. We have confidence that our modern Christian translations are accurate to what the originals said and have not been changed. God is the true author of Scripture and our confidence in His Word is not misplaced.