I enjoy to ask the deep questions and meditate on the revelations of God in His Word to us. I think this, at least in part, was learned through my upbringing. My parents are quite clever and engaged my and my sisters’ curiosity towards the things of Scripture by asking questions that required thought, reasoning and sometimes were just for fun. One of the household conundrums, for as long as I can remember, is:
“Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons?”
Is this an essential question to the faith? No. Does it affect the grace of God over my life? Of course not. But think about the implications necessary to meditate on such a silly question: God’s created order, the literal appreciation of the Genesis creation account, the reliability of Scripture.
Is the Bible true? It is accurate? Is it without error?
Traditional and conservative Christian thought affirms that yes, the Bible is true, complete and without error. There are different kinds of Scripture. There are direct quotations of God Himself: “Thus says the Lord” is stated 417 times in the Old Testament, followed by a statement directly proceeding from the mouth of God. There are indirect quotes of the Lord as well as poetry, narratives and historical accounts, parables and didactic writings just to name a few of the literary types exemplified within the fulness of Scripture. But we know one thing:
“All Scripture is inspired by God [literally “God breathed”] and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Tim 3.16-17
What exactly does it mean that the Scriptures are inspired or God breathed? Peter states it in another way:
“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
2 Peter 1.20-21
God used the personalities and minds of the authors, but His Spirit at work within them led them to pen the exact words intended by God to teach His people. And if the inspiration or thought came from God we know it is truth because God cannot lie (Titus 1.2).
Now, you might make the observation that at the time Paul wrote this statement, they only had the Old Testament Canon established – and therefore Paul was clearly speaking of the first 46 books of the Bible (39 of which were already grouped together by the time of Jesus). Yes. You would be correct. But Paul, in 1 Tim 5.18 quotes sections from both the Old and New Testaments together and credits them both as Scripture:
“For the Scripture says, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages'” (1 Tim 5.18).
The first quote here is from Deut 25.4 and the second is from Luke 10.7. We also see Peter, in 2 Peter 3.16 referring to the work of Paul as Scripture; many of the short letters that you find after the Gospels are letters by Paul. The New Testament was compiled and accepted as Scripture primarily in practice, and the authors were referring to one another as having written Scripture, and the final compilation was suggested by Athanasius in 367 AD and was confirmed by the Senate of Carthidge, a panel of early-church leaders, in 397.
Having established the entirety of the 66 books of the Bible as we have it is Scripture, what exactly does that mean? Is it without error? Conservative and Biblical Christianity would say yes, the Bible in it’s fulness and original language is without error. There is room for scientific and poetic discernment; for instance we would not say that the Bible is in error for saying that “The sun rose” when we know scientifically that the Earth revolves around the sun. We all use that terminology and to use it does not mean that we do not understand the nature of gravity and the orbit of the planets. Another contention would be estimates on numbers. If Scripture does not claim absolute exactness, we can assume that numbers can be rounded at times. We must look primarily at the author’s intention, if he was documenting censuses, like the book of Numbers, or if he was telling a story and estimating numbers.
I do not intend to evaluate all the depths of the inerrancy of Scripture and the surrounding discussion here, but just to scratch the surface to observe the foundations of the doctrine. Is it circular reasoning to use the Bible itself to define it’s own accuracy? Yes. It is. Unfortunately, the very nature of defining most laws rests on that which is discovered within the law examined. Does 2+2=4? If so, can you explain that apart from using mathematics and basic rules of addition? Therefore to assert the authority of Scripture is to affirm the Scripture’s own claim to authority as so. It has not been observed in failure yet, and Christianity continues to remain the largest world religion.
Can we test and prove the inerrancy of Scripture? No, you cannot study inerrancy scientifically as the scientific method is defined by tests and provability. I must conduct a test, documenting all of my variables, and you must be able to recreate my test and arrive at the same outcome. There is no way to scientifically test the authenticity of a document. Therefore we turn to rules of Law which rest on the account of witnesses. The Bible is by far the most widely copied piece of literature in antiquity, with minimal variation; most variations being found are spelling. Again, I will not exhaust this argument, but if you desire to study more – two very good introductions to the discipline are “More than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell and “The Case For Faith” by Lee Strobel. Both authors began as atheists who were intent to disprove Christianity in their own expertise and training.
So. Did Adam and Even have belly buttons? Scripture says that God created Adam from the dust. Then he put Adam to sleep and used one of his ribs to form Eve. The belly button is technically a scar left over from the umbilical cord. So if God just formed them straight up, if they were never in the womb, would they have the scar? But if God can create something out of nothing, would he create man and woman to look the same as their children would appear? If God can create people, he can create them with a scar…