Is the Bible 'fake news'?

I have to write a sociological academic essay about truth and in the texts I am reading, scientists say that the Bible is 'fake news. This is because centuries ago Christians locked themselves inside a self-reinforcing mythological bubble never daring to question the factual veracity of the Bible (said by Yuval Noah Harari).
What do you think about this statement from Yuval Noah Harari? I feel difficult to find academic arguments against this statement.


Hello, @Liv! This is a very interesting question. Thanks for bringing it to the community! I’ve heard this thought expressed before, but I’ve not been able to really engage with it on any depth. Could I ask if you could give us a bit of Harari’s own words from the book? Mainly the passage that stands out to you. That would help us begin to respond to it. And which book is it from? Sapiens?

P.S. I moved this from the Science Category to the Bible Questions category to give it a little more visibility. (Though, I know Harari is a social scientist.) :slight_smile:

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Hello Liv
I love the way Amy Orr Ewing speaks about the authenticity of the bible. Staggering facts and analysis!
All the best with your paper.

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@Liv Reviewers, including non-Christians, critique Harari’s reductionist view of both religion and history. For example, it is simply not true that Christians never dared to question the Bible. I do that - you’ve probably done that - Christians for the last two thousand years have been wrestling with the Bible. That is simply a false statement.

But - at a more fundamental level - Harari’s success is due in part to peoples’ ignorance of what Christians actually believe and why… Any decently read Christian would know that there are many scientists and educated people who believe in Jesus and have asked plenty of tough questions. It is only in a culture that has no understanding of Christianity that such a claim about the Bible could even flourish.

John Crace in the Guardian does an excellent job of summarizing Harari’s argument so that we can digest it. “No one knows what the future will look like. Humans like to tell themselves stories, be they in the form of religion or political ideologies, such as nationalism, communism and liberalism. But none of these can adequately prepare us for what may happen in the next 50 years. New technology and climate change might make the world more different than we can possibly imagine. So we had better keep an open mind and hope for the best.”

Nevertheless, in my opinion the book is also deeply flawed in places and Harari is a much better social scientist than he is philosopher, logician or historian. His critique of modern social ills is very refreshing and objective, his piecing together of the shards of pre-history imaginative and appear to the non-specialist convincing, but his understanding of some historical periods and documents is much less impressive – demonstrably so, in my view.

I’m not surprised that the book is a bestseller in a (by and large) religiously illiterate society; and though it has a lot of merit in other areas, its critique of Judaism and Christianity is not historically respectable. A mere six lines of conjecture (p242) on the emergence of monotheism from polytheism – stated as fact – is indefensible. It lacks objectivity. The great world-transforming Abrahamic religion emerging from the deserts in the early Bronze Age period (as it evidently did) with an utterly new understanding of the sole Creator God is such an enormous change. It simply can’t be ignored in this way if the educated reader is to be convinced by his reconstructions.

A commitment to a reductionist, mechanistic view of Homo sapiens may give us some insight into some of the aspects of our past most tied to our material nature. But Harari’s view of culture and of ethical norms as fundamentally fictional makes impossible any coherent moral framework for thinking about and shaping our future. And it asks us to pretend that we are not what we know ourselves to be — thinking and feeling subjects, moral agents with free will, and social beings whose culture builds upon the facts of the physical world but is not limited to them.


One of the problems, at least in my estimation, with this argument, is its reversibility. The argument is reversible in the sense that you could just as rationally say that the truth itself, once discovered, is self reinforcing in it’s own right and ought to be something that we lock ourselves into. You certainly should not want to lock yourself out of something that is true. The Christian’s could’ve just as rightfully been locking themselves into what is true about the world, which by definition would be self-reinforcing.

Also we should understand that Mr Hararis own beliefs regarding what is true about the would suffer from the same charge. Many scientist deliberately have locked themselves into a ‘self-reinforcing scientific bubble’, and refuse to see the full and diverse extensions of truth as being more than a rational reading of the empirical. The one important difference is that the Christian can, and historically has, indeed with great pleasure embraced and Largely caused the launchof the beautiful truths and blessings of the scientific endeavor and its initial rise, while the atheistic materialist scientist will usually only view religion and its metaphysical implications as perhaps pragmatically useful, but still to science secondary, and more than likely expendable.
Affirming the existence of the supernatural does not exclude the true and fruitful pursuit of the scientific, but only to affirm the existence of the natural would automatically rule out the possibility of the supernatural, and we seem to be most at home as humans beneath the realities of both, and as history shows, and as the above link demonstrates, faith in God in the west was the very motor that drove the entire scientific enterprise as we know it today.
So far from being stuck in bubble, Christianity, in a very intense and global way, really like no other religion ever has, engaged with and changed for the better much of the developed world and gave an eternal shape to the moral realities that we can now take for granted, and are increasingly and unfortunately forgetting.

Mr Hararis argument from where I stand doesnt seem very convincing and will likely only appeal to atheist who’ve already made up their minds and formed there own self-reinforcing bubbles. It’s more the case that what we now enjoy in terms of a truly stunning variety of social goods within the world came almost directly from Judeo Christian impact and influence,
And it’s hard to see how truly being stuck in a self-reinforcing bubble wouldve have gotten us there

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