How reliable is the Bible?

“Talking snakes, a boat holding every living species, a prophet who survives three days in a whale’s stomach – how ridiculous!”

This is the kind of argument Christians often face from sceptics when discussing the Bible’s truth. What these sceptics lack is historical imagination, the ability to see how ancient cultures used stories, symbols and poetry to depict the deepest human fears and hopes. The Adam and Eve story may seem quaint but it’s a very real portrayal of sexual trust and betrayal dating back to the birth of human consciousness.

What is truth?

Today even science and technology are losing their stamp of infallibility. Evidence that 95% of our universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter that science cannot detect, and theories that there may be multiple universes beyond our own, help to generate growing scepticism.

More and more, we hear claims that each group and each culture shape their own ‘truths’ to give meaning to life in the face of a heartless universe heading inexorably towards a cold and empty death.

Despite a myriad of diverse cultures and ages, human nature seems remarkably unchanging. To gaze upon the stunningly beautiful cave drawings of Lascaux in France – of animals, humans and symbols – from around 17,000 years ago is to taste anew the same wonder and mystery that we experience in the face of nature today.

The Bible, too, is such a source of human hopes and beliefs in a God that permeates our world. It continues to speak of divine presence and love for this world through many different tongues, cultures and literary forms. The Bible is an unparalleled statement of human trust in the meaning of the universe.

Father Neil Vaney


Next steps

This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 2, ‘God Speaks To Us’ referencing page 16. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 2’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.