Cognitive Bias: The Reason Atheist’s Cannot Understand The Bible

The manner in which people process and interpret information that they see and hear in the world affects the decisions and conclusions they have regarding every important subject of life.

When the human brain receives information, our biases act as a guide to help us understand people, the world, and make decisions. Our bias in these decisions is directly related to our worldview, the lens that we see the world around us through. 

The secular humanist view of life is that man is the center of all life. Science, philosophy naturalism, and humanist ethics are some of the fundamentals for this view of life. 

Secular humanists do not rely on faith or any idea that a Being of superior intelligence, moral perfection, or unlimited power, exists. Science, reason, human wisdom, and education are the sources used to find solutions for human problems. 

On the opposite end of the secular humanist worldview is the Christian worldview that sees an unlimited and loving Being as the center of all life and the universe. Human beings exist for a purpose, because they were created out of love to know and experience a life of beauty and perfection.

Defining Worldview

When human beings seek to understand the world around them they look through eyes that see from a particular bias. A worldview is the framework from where this bias has developed. 

Every ideology, philosophy, or theology originates from a particular approach that is determined by one of two different and divergent views of life and the universe. 

When a person believes that human beings are the center of the universe, and the material world is all that exists, this will affect everything they think about and how they form conclusions in every matter of their life.

When a person believes that God is the center of the universe and He created human beings for a purpose, this will affect everything they think about and how they form conclusions in every matter of their life.

The secular view of life is that we decide what is right and wrong in our life, depending upon our circumstances. The Biblical worldview is that all of life is determined by what God has said and His will for human life.

The Christian worldview of right and wrong are not subjective; they were determined and framed by a Being who is perfect in every regard. The laws that God framed for the universe govern the function of the cosmos and the moral behavior of all beings made in His image. These laws are immutable.

This Biblical worldview is based upon the certainty that the Bible is the word of the Eternal God, and contains all the wisdom needed for man in all matters that concern human life and our existence on earth. The Bible was composed by men who had set themselves apart for God, and they recorded His principles, laws, prophecies, warnings, and instruction that He determined for all human beings.

Who Is Qualified To Be A Biblical Scholar?

The Danger Of Assumptions

A basic rule for determining reliability for all ancient documents that assert eyewitness testimony is that every document should be assumed trustworthy, unless it can be shown unreliable through the burden of proof.

One of the techniques utilized in document analysis is that when an examiner uses the presumption that the subject is lying, the test will always be self-refuting. The presumption that a person is always lying, while performing any examination for truth, is pointless, since the conclusion is already made before the examination has begun.[1]

Unless we assume a general presumption of truth in every testimony, we will never be capable of determining whether anything is actually true. The only effective method that actually allows a professional examiner to determine truthful testimony is the presumption of truth at the onset.[2]

The methods that modern atheist scholars often use today in determining the reliability of the New Testament is the assumption that the text must not be true due to its supernatural references. If any examiner uses this method, even though the text specifies supernatural phenomenon, the result will always be inaccurate. The examiner must let the textual evidence itself determine the conclusions, not their personal bias at the onset.

Is The New Testament A Valid Historical Narrative?

In order to rightly determine whether the New Testament is telling the truth about Jesus, we must begin with the assumption that the narratives are true, and then see if there is any evidence to disprove the assertions made in the text.

When techniques used in determining whether written testimony is true or contrived are applied to the New Testament, we find that the narratives pass with integrity in virtually every test they are subjected to.

Biblical inerrancy is the assertion that the Bible is without error or fault in all its teaching, or that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. Some liken inerrancy to biblical infallibility; others do not.

The Infallibility of the Bible does not mean that the four Gospels of the New Testament must be identical in every word, sentence, and order of events. God wanted each man to write their testimony of what they saw concerning Jesus according to their own personality and remembrance of these events. 

When Jesus told these men that He would soon depart earth and return to heaven, He stated that each man would remember and write according to his individual remembrance as he was enabled to do this by the Holy Spirit.[3] It is the power of God’s Spirit that enabled these men to write personal testimony that was both accurate and true.

Were The Gospels Written By Eyewitnesses?

Each of these men wrote as the Holy Spirit reminded them of these events. When we examine the individual testimonies of these men, we find that they are all telling us the same important and primary events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. There are details that some of the Gospel writers included, that others did not place in their testimony. There are events omitted from the testimony of some Gospel writers that others included. 

This is what we would expect if four individual writers recorded a testimony according to their individual memory. This was the manner in which Jesus determined the world would know about Him. Eyewitnesses, writing according to their own ability and recollection, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

In places where the writers are recording specific things that Jesus said Himself, or when a verse of scripture is being quoted or recited from the Old Testament, often these texts are almost identical in the Gospels where these events are recorded.

It is important to also understand that Jesus called each man according to the background and personality of each man, to record testimony that highlights a particular important aspect of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth.

Each of the four Gospel writers is telling us about Jesus from a different perspective, while also recounting the same primary events: Jesus’ sinless life, love, desire to heal all sickness and disease, power over nature, ability to rule over demonic power, ability to raise the dead, surrender His life as a servant to the Father and die for all sins, be raised to life after three days, and appear alive to the men who had been with Him for nearly four years.

When Were The Gospels Written?

Worldview Determines New Testament View

The Biblical worldview allows a scholar to understand these events from the perspective of the narrative in which they were written, not from a secular humanist worldview that these events are fabrications and myths.

Although scholars were never historically required to have a particular worldview in order to navigate ancient texts and apply literary criticism to these extant manuscripts concerning the New Testament, a secular humanist worldview renders the manuscripts of the New Testament ineffective and powerless.

The ruse of the modern atheist New Testament scholar is that he is aware of this result when he is permitted to write conclusions about these texts from a secular humanist worldview, when they were never meant to be seen in this manner.

The minimal requirements for genuine scholarship in the texts of the extant New Testament manuscripts is a Biblical worldview of these texts. Jesus and Paul stated that unless a person is “born again” by the Holy Spirit, after turning from their sins and trust fully in Jesus, they cannot understand the Bible.

First Requirements: Born Again; Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

A premise to the endeavor of becoming a qualified Biblical scholar, according to Jesus, is that a person must first be born again by the Spirit of God, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who comes to reside inside the true believer.

John 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

The Koine-Greek word used in this verse for “see,” is, ὁράω (horaō); to perceive, discern, experience something by the Spirit. Jesus is saying that no person can truly understand the things of God and His Word, until they have experienced a second, spiritual birth. All humans experience a physical birth, but God only reveals the deep things of His Spirit and His Word, to those who have been born a second time by the Spirit of God.

Only after real salvation has occurred, does God give a person the gift of the Holy Spirit, and it is by the Spirit that God enables a person to truly understand the depths and principles of God’s Word. This is the reason that some people begin with the idea of following Jesus, but they are never born again. Without the Holy Spirit to enable them to understand the Bible, these persons often acquire incorrect views of the scriptures. Without the Holy Spirit living in a person, they often end their desire to follow Jesus.

A secular humanist, who is also a New Testament scholar, is not capable of this cognitive ability.


[1] Professor of history, Louis Gottschalk,  Understanding History, p.89.

[2] 1. For an excellent treatment of the legal aspects of testing the trustworthiness of witnesses and the application of this testing to the New Testament, see John Warwick Montgomery Human Rights and Human Dignity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,1986), pp.139–50.

2. Van A. Harvey surely errs when he says that it is required of a modern historian that he adopt a standpoint of methodological skepticism. See The Historian and the Believer (New York: Macmillan, 1966), 26. 

3. For a general theory of evidence based on a prima facie burden of proof for skepticism, see Roderick Chisholm, “A Version of Foundationalism”, Studies in Epistemology, ed. Peter A. French et al., Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol.5 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,1980), pp. 543–64.

[3] John 14:26 “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

Categories: Agnostics and Skeptics, Alleged Contradictions, Apologetics, Atheists, Contradictions in the Bible, Defending the Gospel, Historical Validity of the New Testament, How Salvation Occurs, How The NT Writers Remembered, Literary authenticity of the New Testament, New Testament Apologetics, New Testament Criticism, Not understanding salvation, Pretend Believers, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Reliability of the New Testament, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus, The Historicity of Jesus, We must repent, What happens after death?

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