(We need a personal foundation; without one, we lose ourselves somewhere. We become hollow and self-centered.)
A goat was missing and the boys responsible for finding the lost critter began their search reluctantly. A goat can go where many humans (without gear) cannot. Their hooves and balancing skills make it possible for them to climb almost vertically. That makes it really tough to find one, especially on cliffs pockmarked with caves.
It was the year 1946 when one boy stood at the foot of a steep vertical wall of earth and said he wasn't going to climb up there and look in every hole. That ornery goat could be hiding in any of the darkened caves. To save time, he picked up a rock and threw it into an opening. If it hit the goat, he and his brother would certainly hear him complain. The sound coming back to the boys wasn't a goat's bray, but something breaking. When they scrambled up to look inside, they found old, very old, pots filled with writings.
They had no idea news of their discovery would excite millions. The writings they found had been placed in clay pots by men almost two thousand years ago! The age of the carefully written documents alone was enough to make the rolled up writings a treasure. The real treasure, however, was what the writings recorded. About one fourth of those ancient pages were copies of Bible Books. If anyone had issues believing in God or in the Bible, this was going to be a big deal!
Mankind already possessed manuscripts of the Scriptures that were about a thousand years old. But the boys had found copies that were much, much older than those previously in hand. In order to understand why this discovery was seen as having a major impact, it's helpful to know that scholars and others had criticized the truthfulness of the Bible for centuries. Well respected religious professors had shared their doubts about the Bible. These highly educated people had used arguments that seemed completely reasonable to other thinking people. The doubters agreed that the Bible was, indeed, very old. That fact, however, was part of the problem; they stated arguments for distrusting this old religious book because of its age!
Some of the reasoning followed a course something like this. Surely, over all those centuries before printing was invented and copies had to be done by hand, people had made mistakes. There was no way to tell what the Bible had said originally because all those mistakes would have changed the meaning of the teachings over so many hundreds of years. Bible writers, according to the scholarly theory, had simply changed the writings as time went by in order to fit their present situation. If this were true, Biblical prophesies foretelling the future, must be fake. The writers had to have changed the text so it would apply to their own time. The conclusion was that prophesy was a myth. No one could possibly predict events in the future with exact accuracy.
When it was learned that the boys had discovered Bible copies made before Jesus of Nazareth was born, many scholars rejoiced over the find. However, those who had attacked the truthfulness of the Bible rejoiced for their own reasons. They thought these ancient documents would finally show the world that the old Book could not be trusted. Because the boys had found the clay pots in caves close by the Dead Sea, the centuries-old copies had come to be called the Dead Sea Scrolls.
At first, the writings were considered such a treasure that only a few, around a dozen people, were allowed to examine them. The world waited years to learn the verdict. Could the Bible be trusted? Or, were the theories of the learned scholars correct about massive mistakes made over a millennium of years that stood between the copies the world had in hand and the newly discovered documents? Had the Book's teachings changed with the times? Had the copiers simply made the Bible speak to their own time by changing the original words?
Millions of people held their breath. Had Bible believers placed their trust in a work of fiction? Was it true that the Bible was only an assembly of old stories that were written to teach nice moral lessons? These were the charges. Had those critical of the old Book been right? Finally, there would be an answer.
The results of years of meticulous study were made public. The determination of the scholars who had carefully examined the documents was that no significant changes had been made in all those one thousand years. "Hebrew Scholar Millar Burrows writes, “It is a matter of wonder that through something like one thousand years the text underwent so little alteration... A significant comparison study was conducted with the Isaiah Scroll written around 100 B.C. that was found among the Dead Sea documents and the book of Isaiah found in the Masoretic text (Our most ancient copy of the Old Testament). After much research, scholars found that the two texts were practically identical. Most variants were minor spelling differences, and none affected the meaning of the text." Patrick Zukeran article in PROBE 4/17/06
Following the news of the accuracy of the Bible and the falsehood of the theories critical of the Old Book, one would think more people would search its pages with new trust. The human condition, however, prohibits us from easily admitting wrong-doing or that our theories are incorrect. The most significant and heart-splitting reality of the Dead Sea Scrolls' discovery is that people who had accepted the logical and intelligent theories of those past scholars had become too blinded to see the truth. In the thinking of many, the scholars should still be trusted. After all, shouldn't people trust others who are more educated than themselves? Shouldn't we believe books recommended to us by the educational establishment?
The general rule would be that, yes, we can place a great deal of trust in our scholars. However, when it comes to spiritual belief, we must be more careful. Those who allow others to decide crucial issues for them are sometimes misled. They rob themselves of believing the words of the Book that could have shown them the way to live a more rewarding life. Indeed, some of those deceived may have been lost for eternity.
Even theories that are plausible and that appeal to our intellect may cost us a great deal. A variant of a quote attributed to Mark Twain may be appropriate here, "It ain't the things I didn't know that hurt me. It was the things I knew for certain that weren't so that hurt me."
Challenging what you know to be certain.
Is the evolution of mankind from monkey to man a fact or a theory? Remember, you may be betting eternity on a wrong answer. Does how you answer matter? Should you believe what scholars and scientists say is true? A studious answer would be both, yes and no. When should you not agree with thought leaders?
Here's one that even a multitude of Christians will answer incorrectly. Are people basically good or basically bad? The answer can be a life changer. Does it shock you that the Bible says we are basically evil? "...all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." If we were basically good, God would have sent a Helper. Instead, because we not only sin, but are sinful (full of sin) we needed a Savior.
Telling the future is a deal clincher. Can you imagine knowing the future and what you could do on Wall Street? Or what about how you'd place bets at the Horse Races? If you could see a car accident you'd be involved in on your way to school or work, you could just stay home. What that would do to the space-time continuum we'll just leave to the physics professors and Marty McFly.
If someone claimed to be able to see the future, we'd demand proof before we'd put any trust in them, right? There are multitudes of people who have problems trusting "God and the whole religion thing." Of course they do! If a person told you they could tell the future, any intelligent being isn't going to trust them without a demonstration of proof. God claims He can see the future. Not only does He make the claim, but He also provides all kinds of proof to back it up. Remember, He doesn't tell us the future so we can get rich. The future is revealed to us so we may trust Him.