We don’t hear this expression much any more. When I was young it was however a sort of Redneck mantra, a Bible Belt bulwalk of Protestant evangelical apologetics. Even when believers like our recent fly-by-night newcomer to the Blog, “apologianick” tie their knickers in knots appealing to causality, if not finality and other pseudo-philosophical and teleological arguments they call “proofs” for the existence of God, their underlying basic conviction is that they KNOW God exists (and that he has a divine purpose for everyone of us) – because He revealed Himself to mankind in the Bible. In a word or four, “It’s in the Book !”. Take away divine revelation, be it the Torah, the Gospels or the Koran, leaving people with the dry bones of academic philosophical speculations, and the world would be full of empty synagogues, churches and mosques.
I have never written a paragraph quite as aggressive as that in any of the 750 posts in this Blog. But I have said a lot about the supposed divine origin and inspiration of the Bible and am convinced that this is at the heart of people’s religious faith. When you ask a believer why he accepts his sacred books as the word of God, he is usually at a loss and at best blurts out “proof” like the “miracles” worked by the Prophets, and, for Christians, those worked by Jesus, notably His own Resurrection. When we point out that this “proof” is found only in the Bible, they seem untroubled by their circular “thinking”. Catholics, of course, go further and add a second source of Revelation they call “Tradition” : if enough believers believed something long enough, it must be true. (Catholic godologians call this the “sensus fidelium”, the “sense of the faithful”.) They infuriate Protestants by using this nonsense to assert the infallible truth – defined as dogma by Rome – that, for example, Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven. But to stick with just biblical “revelation” (the Assumption is mentioned nowhere in the New Testament), they add that their faith would not have survived through the centuries unless people at the beginning had solid, credible, irrefutable reasons for believing in the authenticity of the miracles : either because some of them claimed to have witnessed them personally, or, because they believed in the divine inspiration of other non-witnesses who recorded them in their Gospels.
This faith in the Bible is reinforced by an unspoken sentiment that they know they are right because it makes them feel good and gives meaning to their lives and even their death, especially when they worship along with other deeply convinced members of their congregation. Their liturgy, their solidarity, their tangible sense of belonging to a community, their “good works” performed together and church-sponsored social and cultural events give them such reassurance that they don’t need any of the intellectual rant between their apologists and those nasty, damned (literally), godless atheists. And when their preachers – whether tent-revival, boisterous Bible-bashers or sophisticated, eloquent ministers of Established Religion – preach the Word of God in a way that makes their personal, presumably sincere, conviction contagious, there is no way the faith of their congregation can be shaken.
The Bible is likely to remain the world’s best-seller. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, though similar, does not come even close.