I challenge you to prove to me how the bible is divinely inspired without appealing to the bible at all.
I would say that there are six really good pieces of evidence pointing to a divine hand behind God. There are several Bible passages that tell us that the Bible is true. People like Pearce reject that because the Bible can't be it's own witness. Before we go through these six strands of evidence, let's look at how Jesus answered this charge when it was used on him.
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come. John 8:13-20
Ultimately, God backs up the Bible because it came from God. All the following evidence points to this.
The Bible isn't a single book, it is a collection of 66 books, over 40 authors, written on three continents, over 1500 years. It's telling a single story and a nonconflicting message. There is no way all the authors could have known each other or talked to one another to get the story together. Not everyone agrees that the Bible does not conflict internally or with external evidence, but they are wrong. If you think the Bible contains contradictions you are making a positive assertion that you have to demonstrate is true. People who assert that there are contradictions in the Bible, they have the burden of proof.
B. Best Attestation
Honest scholars - believers and unbelievers - admit that when it comes to being the earliest ancient text copied, widely distributed, and translated, nothing comes closer than the Bible. I think Dr Daniel Wallace put it best.
"The wealth of material that is available for determining the wording of the original New Testament is staggering: more than fifty-seven hundred Greek New Testament manuscripts, as many as twenty thousand versions, and more than one million quotations by patristic writers. In comparison with the average ancient Greek author, the New Testament copies are well over a thousand times more plentiful. If the average-sized manuscript were two and one-half inches thick, all the copies of the works of an average Greek author would stack up four feet high, while the copies of the New Testament would stack up to over a mile high! This is indeed an embarrassment of riches."
Does this mean that the entire text is true? Nope. The text is not true because of this evidence, but if it were not true it would mean that the Bible would most likely be wrong. This does not just include the copies text itself being well-attested but also the content of the text. For example a scholar so liberal that he thinks that Jesus was not buried or physically resurrected named Dr. John Dominic Crossan. He says:
Another example. A lot of people don't realize it that the first three centuries of Christianity have a few examples of Jesus being discussed by non-Christians and Christians after of the cannonical Bible ends.How is it that no other piece of literature from the time of the New Testament has been so well preserved, given that we know some people did their best to destroy it?
Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea and, appointed by the emperor Tiberius, he ruled from 26 to 36 C.E. He and the Jewish high priest Caiaphas collaborated not wisely but too well and they were both eventually removed from office by their Roman masters. Jesus’ execution is as historically certain as any ancient event can ever be but what about all those very specific details that fill out the story? - Dr John Dominic Crossan Source
Here is a good link that lists over two hundred such citations: Historical Jesus - Two Centuries Worth of Citations
C. Fulfilled Prophecy
One big reason I believe the Bible is reliable is that it contains fulfilled prophecy. By this I mean that it makes predictions about historical events and those event have either come true or haven't happened yet. There is not a single prophecy that has fallen to the ground unfulfilled. For example God gave the Prophet Daniel a prophecy predicting the fall of the Babylonia Empire and the rise of the Persian Empire before it happened. He also predicted the rise of the Greek Empire and Alexander the Great and how it was split up after his death. And He predicted the Roman Empire.. Some have tried to circumvent this by attempting to date Daniel as late as possible so that the Daniel who was taken from Jerusalem in the 580s BC could not have written it. I think it's a pathetic attempt to deny the miracle so that they can believe that the Bible is not true. There is plenty of evidence to conclude that the Book of Daniel is reliable. There are many such prophecies that can be studied and discussed.
I do not have enough time to really discuss all the examples, but I would like to point out that we see a lot of prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament - about his person, origins, and mission. These things are either fulfilled in the New Testament or will be fulfilled in the future by Jesus. Because of the prophecies that have already been fulfilled I see no reason to not believe that the unfulfilled ones won't be completed.
There are well over 100 prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament. The chances that one person could have fulfilled just eight of them in a single lifetime has been calculated to be one in one hundred million billion. Want an image? Think of covering the whole state of Texas with silver dollar coins to a depth of two feet. Mark one of them. Mix them up. And then have a blindfolded person pick that coin. The odds are just the same a one person fulfilling eight of them. Now let's make it really interesting. What are the odds of fulfilling 48 of them? Mathematician Peter W. Stoner computed the probability to be one in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion. My favorite objection that is often raised that Jesus had read the prophecies and purposely and methodically fulfilled them like he had a "to-do list". Does this make sense? Kinda. I mean we know that Jesus was conscious of what he was doing and he even said that he did somethings to fulfill scriptures. Fair enough. Of course that means he orchestrated being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, to be descended from King David, being born in Bethlehem, and the time in which he born? Oh and his mother would be a virgin?! Okay. Fine by me. He'd have to be God or something to have done that.(See Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ page 183,184 ).
As near as I can find archaeology confirms the Bible. Many of the people, places,and things found in the scripture have been confirmed or now has evidence pointing to them. Here are a few examples.
Line One: TIBERIEUM,,
Line Two: (PON) TIUS
Line Three: (PRAEF) ECTUS IUDA (EAE)
The Translation: "Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea."
The Gospels tells us that Pilate existed and who he was, but now have lots of evidence that it make no sense to doubt that Pilate exists. Source
3. John 5 tells us that in the city of Jerusalem there had been a pool called Bethesda surrounded by five colonnade. Up until the 19th century, a lot of people thought it was a myth, but then it was found.
This archaeological discovery proved beyond a doubt that the description of this pool in the Gospel of John was not the creation of the Evangelist. It reflected an accurate and detailed knowledge of the site. The Gospel speaks of (a) the name of the pool as Bethesda; (b) its location near the Sheep Gate; (c) the fact that it has five porticos; with rushing water. All these details are corroborated through literary and archaeological evidence affirming the historical accuracy of the Johannine account.
It can't be underscored how important this is. People had used the concept that pool was mythical as a reason to conclude that the writer of John had no idea what he was talking about. Oops. Source
Yes, the Bible being correct about somethings that can be confirmed in archaeology does not mean that everything is correct - is the object you will get. However, if we can find absolutely no evidence confirming Biblical content we'd be justified to chuck the Bible. You know....like the Book of Mormon. However we have much more solid ground regarding the Bible.
E. Undesigned Coincidences
There are two things to consider here. One is that the Gospels each having different details is a good thing. They interlock and shed light on each other by providing corroborating details that can't be explained by the writers of the Gospels getting together and working it out this way. I'm going to just provide a single example now but there are many others. John only tells us about Mary Magdalene going to the tomb Easter morning. But when she finds the tomb open and tells Peter and the other disciple that the tomb is empty we find something interesting:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”- John 20:1,2
Who's "we"? Well, we know from Matthew, Mark, and Luke that Mary Magdalene was not alone when she went to the tomb early Easter morning. She had other women with her. Although, John spotlights only Mary Magdalene, he does not say that only Mary Magdalene was the only woman at the tomb. For further information look up the work of Dr Tim McGrew because there are many, many other examples. Here is a place to start looking up more information: link.
F. Evidence of Intimate knowledge of the Time and Place
Peter J Williams does a lecture where he explains how the Gospel writers get things correct that only people who have knowledge of first century Palestine correct. These are details that you can't just make up. For example, the percentage of popular people names in the Gospels with respect to the total names of persons in the Jewish population of the first century matches what you would expect given the data that has been collected about the names of people in the population during that time. For example, you would expect that a great number of men who lived during the time of the New Testament was named "Yeshua" and "John" and "Simon", but not many Thaddeus. The percentage of people in the Bible named John and Yeshua and Mary match what you would expect from studying population data from that time. But you find no such in correspondence in other Jewish population centers in places like Alexandria, Egypt.
Here is one of Dr Peter J Williams' lectures to understand this point better.
I like the fact that the Bible is grounded in reality. It didn't take place once upon a time, a long, long time ago in a land far, far away. That's how the Greek myths and other myths are placed - no real historical time or place that you can touch or feel. The Bible is different. The Bible talks about real people who actually existed and real places and describe real events that we know took place. The counter I run into most often against this point is that getting a lot of incidental details correct doesn't mean the whole Bible is true. Objectors can't have it both ways. Had the Bible contained such incidental errors it would be enough to reject it. As a matter of fact sometimes accusations are made that things like geography are indeed wrong in the Bible, but upon closer examination this never bears out. It makes no sense to reject the Bible based on the error of incidental details. Does not hold because it does not make incidental mistakes on geography - neither in the Old Testament of the New Testament. It's a good test, because a person who had never been to the places or experienced the things the writers say they did would not be able to get such things right. It is interesting how objectors are quick to use such things to try to reject scripture but then deny the incidental details if they support Biblical reliability.
Here is a link to such an example. link
They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,
When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.
Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons;
Unbelievers think that there is a contradiction between Mark and Luke over against Matthew. Did Jesus go to the city of Gerasa or to the city of Gadara? Neither. The texts say the incident of the demoniacs being healed happened away from a city but in a region that contained both cities. Matthew referred to the area by it's capital and most important city, while Mark and Luke used the city closest to where the action really took place - near a cliff, near a cemetery, and near lake. No contradiction at all!
I have presented 6 reasons why I think we can conclude that the Bible is reliable but also why it's different than any other book. It's not the pure products of human minds. It's purity transcends the writers. Our faith is based on the inerrancy of the Bible. If any part of it is false, why should you believe any part of it? I find that giving up Biblical inerrancy is the first real step to apostasy. This is not saying that you should believe that Bible is true despite evidence that it has errors. I'm saying that the Bible doesn't have those contradictions. There is not a single contradiction or objection against the Bible that has not already been raised and dealt with. The thing to remember is that we don't need to now everything. and God has not chosen to reveal everything to us. God has revealed to us everything we need through God's word - The Bible.