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The burden of Proof: The burden of proof falls on the one making the claims. If the Christian is witnessing to another, he has the responsibility to prove what he says is true, if he is asked for proof. However, if the critic is challenging the Christian, the burden of disproving lies with the critic. The closer the claim is to socially accepted knowledge, less proof is needed, while the further one moves from general knowledge, the more evidence is required. I believe that the legal burden of proof offers the best answers to the witnessing of others. Even with circumstantial evidence alone, a criminal can be convicted of capital murder, and receive the death penalty. Below we will list the levels of legal proof and some percentage and wording to indicate the degree of certainty needed. We have used different Bible objects for each one, but any criticism could be plugged into that particular burden of proof.
Warrants Further Investigation
Reasonable (30%): This is a low-level burden of proof in that it is enough to accept something as reasonably likely, being so unless proven otherwise by a more in-depth look, which may bring in more evidence. For example, at this level, it is reasonably likely that Jesus Christ lived, died, and was resurrected. This may be achieved in the first conversation with the one with which we are sharing the good news.
Probable (40%): This is also a low-level burden of proof in that it is enough to accept something as likely being so unless proven otherwise by a more in-depth look, which may bring in more evidence. At this level, the Bible is probably the inspired, inerrant Word of God. This may be achieved in the first 2-3 conversations with the one with which we are sharing the good news.
Conviction for Claim
The preponderance of Evidence (51%): This is a higher-level burden of proof that makes Noah surviving a worldwide flood more likely to be true than not true.
Clear and Convincing Evidence (85%): This is an even higher level of burden of proof that Adam and Eve were historical persons created by God is substantially far more likely than not.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt (99%): This is the highest level of burden of proof that over forty major prophecies about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament came true, being beyond a reasonable doubt. It must be understood that feeling as though we have no reason to doubt is not the same as 100 percent absolute evidence of certainty. If one has doubts that affect their belief of certainty, it is not beyond a reasonable doubt. This, too, must be qualified. It is reasonable to have doubts about certain aspects of the whole, as they may not have all the answers as of yet. However, it does not affect the level of certainty as a whole.
A Few Relevant Basic Principles in
Dealing with Bible Difficulties
False or Mistaken Interpretations of the Bible
The Bible is filled with different genres, author intentions, among other things; therefore, imperfect humans are coming to the Bible with their 21st-century mindset and are going to go away with widely different interpretations frequently. Many of the difficulties that we encounter in the Bible are not from what is in the Bible itself, but rather from the unrealistic, mistaken, sometimes biased interpretation of the reader.
Intended Meaning of Author
The intent in criminal law is essential. First, the Bible student needs to understand the level that the Bible intends to be exact in what is written. What was the intent of the apostle Paul in Galatians and Luke in the book of Acts? Timothy George sums it up nicely, “Neither Acts nor Galatians was intended to be a day-by-day journal of Paul’s activities …” Therefore, let’s not treat Galatians-Acts like a day-by-day journal, nor have unrealistic expectations that Galatians-Acts will give us explicit evidence like a day-by-day journal. Neither Acts nor Galatians are a timetable for the life of the apostle Paul.
If Jim told a friend that 650 graduated with him from high school in 1984, it is not challenged, because it is all too clear that he is using rounded numbers and is not meaning to be exactly precise. This is how God’s Word operates, as well. Sometimes it means to be exact; at other times, it is merely rounding numbers, in other cases, the intention of the writer is a general reference, to give readers of that time and succeeding generations some perspective. Did Samuel, the author of judges, intend to author a book on the chronology of Judges, or was his focus on the falling away, oppression, and the rescue by a judge, repeatedly. Now, it would seem that Jeremiah, the author of 1 Kings was more interested in giving his readers an exact number of years.
Acts 2:41 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
As you can see here, numbers within the Bible are often used with approximations. This is a frequent practice even today in both written works and verbal conversations.
Acts 7:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 And Stephen said:
“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’
If you were to check the Hebrew Scriptures at Genesis 12:1, you would find that what is claimed to have been said by God to Abraham is not quoted word-for-word; it is simply a paraphrase. This is a normal practice within Scripture and in writing in general.
Numbers 34:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho, eastward toward the sunrising.”
Just as you would read in today’s local newspaper, the Bible writer has written from the human standpoint, how it appeared to him. The Bible also speaks of “to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9), “from the four corners of the earth” (Isa 11:12), and “the four winds of the earth” (Revelation 7:1). These phrases are still used today.
Unexplained Does Not mean Unexplainable
Considering that there are 31,173 verses in the Bible, encompassing 66 books written by about 40 writers, ranging from shepherds to kings, an army general, fishermen, tax collector, a physician and on and on, and being penned over 1,600 years, one does find a few hundred Bible difficulties (about one percent). However, 99 percent of those are explainable. Yet no one wants to be so arrogant to say that he can explain them all. It has nothing to do with the inadequacy of God’s Word, but is based on human understanding. In many cases, science or archaeology and the field of custom and culture of ancient peoples has helped explain difficulties in hundreds of passages. Therefore, there may be less than one percent left to be answered, yet our knowledge of God’s Word continues to grow.
Unrealistic Expectations Are Unhelpful Expectations
We should also note that Unrealistic expectations are unhelpful expectations. Even though it’s challenging to set aside what we expect, hope, or desire a particular Bible book to tell us, work on relinquishing them unrealistic expectations because they can actually lead to doubt. And remember that God’s Word of 39 OT books and 27 NT books, a total of 66 books are giving us exactly what we need to get through life or up unto the time of Christ’s second coming. That understanding alone should actually inspire, support, and serve us well.
Remember (1) the intent of the Bible author is not meant to fulfill our expectations of what we want; the intention is to give the reader God’s will and purposes. (2) A Bible book cannot be what it was not meant to be. An illustration of a book that is on the subject we might want, say a cookbook on cookies, yet after buying it, we find that it does not have the recipe for our favorite cookies. Yet, this does not mean the cookbook is worthless. A book on THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT may come in the mail, and we might have been expecting an introductory level book. However, it ended up with an intermediate-advanced book, so do we go to Amazon and give a 1-star review, complaining about how the book was not what we wanted? Is that the author’s fault that the customer had an unrealistic expectation, especially when the book description and the look-Inside-Feature made it clear what the intent of the author was?
 Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 123.