5 Earth-Shattering Events Linked to the Bible

In the recent update to my father’s classic book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, we begin with a chapter on the uniqueness of the Bible. Unquestionably, in comparison to every book ever written, the Bible stands out as unique in a number of areas including authorship, literary genres, translation, geographical production, circulation, survival, and impact. The Bible truly stands in a category of its own.

And yet I was recently reading a new book (which is part of a larger series of books being released this fall as part of the opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.) about the Bible’s influence on key historical events. The book is called 99 Earth-Shattering Events Linked to the Bible, and its fascinating!

The authors show how the Bible played a core role in scientific discoveries, ancient voyages, the founding of universities, and more. Here are five of my favorite examples:

  1. The Puritans found Harvard. On September 8, 1636, Puritans founded the first institution of higher learning in the American colonies, Harvard University. The purpose was to train pastors to serve their newly founded churches. According to the founders, “One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.”
  2. A Christian monk helps abolish gladiatorial games. In the 5th century A.D., a Christian monk named Telemachus traveled to Rome and attended the gladiatorial games. He was horrified and deeply disturbed at the bloodshed and lack of value for human life, contradicting the biblical command not to murder (Exodus 20:13). He rushed into the arena, appealing for the games to stop, but in an uproar at the disturbance, the crowd stoned him to death. Because of his bold stance, the Roman emperor Honorius abolished the games three days later.
  3. The Magna Carta inspires universal human rights. In the early 1200s, King John signed the Magna Carta in England, which declared for the first time that kings would be subject to the law, and not above it. Although it was not initially successfully, “…it was revised in later years and eventually set a standard, based on the Bible, that laid the foundation for the English system of common law. Today, our modern democratic society continues to reap the benefits.”[1]
  4. Copernicus reveals order in the universe. Copernicus was convinced the natural world designed by a creator (Psalms 19:1-2). He said, “The universe has been wrought for us by a supremely good and orderly Creator.” With the release of his book On the Revolutions, Copernicus challenged the belief that sun revolves around the earth. He did this not to undermine the church or the university, but to proclaim the truth he had discovered through his scientific work. Copernicus is considered by many to be the founder of modern astronomy.
  5. Johann Sebastian Bach composes breathtaking music. Bach is one of the most influential composers in world history. His St. Matthew Passion is considered one of the greatest achievements of western civilization. Bach was both dedicated and inspired by the Bible. In the margins of his Bible, next to 1 Chronicles 25, he wrote, “This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing music.”

These five are only a smidgeon of the influence the Bible has had on world history. It also shaped the development of the Red Cross, motivated the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, inspired the civil rights movement, and much more.

These examples don’t show that the Bible is true, of course. But they do show that the book has shaped more lives and cultures than any book in world history. If you haven’t read it, don’t you think it’s time to personally see why this book has been so influential?

And not only have you read it, but have you considered the evidence that the Bible is actually true? The impact of the Bible is surprising to people who are not aware of its impact. Similarly, if you are not familiar with the evidence, I think you will be pleasantly surprised as well.

Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. Sean is an associate professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. He is the Resident Scholar for Summit California. Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps him have exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008, he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot School of Theology with a master’s degree in theology and another in philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies in 2014 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times. Sean is the author, co-author or editor of over 18 books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015); A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016); The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour, 2016); Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014); Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow; and Understanding Intelligent Design, with William A. Dembski. Sean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the general editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker Journal, Decision Magazine and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org. In April 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano. Sean played college basketball at Biola and was captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.


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