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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.