How does one go about believing in the Bible?

I’m always concerned this topic will come up when I’m having a discussion (i.e. argument) with an atheist, and I would like to have guidance as to how I should go about it. My apologies if I inadvertently say anything offensive or sacrilegious; that’s not my intent.

Can a person be selective in how he/she goes about understanding the Bible? For example: In the New Testament, Christ is attributed to turning water to wine at the Wedding at Cana. In the Old Testament, Noah was tasked by God to take a pair (male and female) of every species of animal on Earth into a single ark, in order to survive an impending global flood. Do I have to literally believe Noah managed to save every known type of creature on the planet? Even if I don’t, how would a symbolic reading of the event be much of an improvement? I don’t think it does much good to imply that Christ symbolically turned water to wine.

Father James Barron offered one way of going about interpreting the Bible, although it doesn’t check off all of the problems I personally have:

God’s Holy Spirit is the One and Only Interpreter of Scriptures.
Church Magisterium flows from God’s Holy Spirit.
When one reads the Bible - it Must be a Prayerful Study … with FAITH as the Key…
That allows the Author-God - to be with you - Guiding you


See CCC 109-119

I don’t worry about trying to “make another person believe in the Bible.”
I like a video I watched one time of Fr. Sheehan regarding evangelization. So often we hear the phrase “The Bible says it. Therefore I believe it.” To me that’s not good enough. As this popular television priest of the 1950’s stated, neither should it be. Would the same argument work if I put any other book in the place of the Bible?
Fulton Sheehan talked about the sacred texts of other religions. What makes the Bible more sacred than the Koran, or any other text? Every religion has its own sacred text.
As Catholics, we understand that Christ did not come to Earth bound in black leather. Christ came to earth, incarnate. I have a copy of The Scriptural Roots of Catholic Teaching. I like how the author states, the Bible is not the Word of God. Rather the words of scripture are meant to bring us to the Living Word of God, the Word Incarnate.
I often use these words, referencing the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John. “And the Word became Flesh and Dwelt among us.”
It is not the Book that we as Catholics worship, as important as the Bible is to our Faith. We worship the Incarnate God.
The Document on Sacred Revelation links the three pronged importance of Sacred Tradition which is protected by the Holy Spirit, under the authority of the Magisterium or teaching authority of the Church, and the written Word of God, or Scripture as we know it. Each is important in its own right, Like the legs of a three legged stool for milking a cow, none stands alone. They are entwined.
I am not sure I answered the original question. It does come to allowing the Holy Spirit to take the lead.

1 Like

If you start trying to make the Bible more “friendly” to non-believers, as in “well you don’t have to believe this about Noah” you run into a conflict when you turn to the New Testament and say, “but you do have to believe this about Jesus”. We had another thread discussing this recently.

This sort of misguided attempt to “explain away” the more supernatural or difficult parts of the Bible resulted in the 70s in Catholics teaching explanations like “Jesus didn’t really multiply the loaves and fishes. Everybody just brought food and shared it with each other, so the sharing part is what is important, there was no miracle.” Which of course is wrong.

Furthermore, if you are trying to show a person new to Christian belief that the Catholic Church teaches the truth, it is a bit odd to hand them a Bible and then start telling them that parts of it are pious fiction.

It is better to not worry about convincing people about the Bible. Hand them a Bible, tell them the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and everything in it is there for a reason of God showing us something or teaching us something. Then let them go read it and come back with questions. Handle each question as it comes up.


And… Allow God to answer questions.

All it takes is FAITH/BELIEF … that God Indeed can do that.

But First? You must believe that God can indeed hear you…


The Bible does not convert people; Jesus converts people, in person (in persona). Jesus, in person, explained scripture to the disciples; Philip opened scripture to the Ethiopian; someone wrote, “all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” profitable for the teacher to use in person, the student listening to the real person but never just given a bible as if it were magic.
We are an Apostolically converted people; we are not generated by the bible, but the apostles carry the bible so they in real life know what to say to us.


Many people say read the Bible and find the answer.
The first college I attended required Theology for graduation. I never took the class. What I do remember from Freshman Orientation is the freeing statement regarding the required Theology class.
" Instead of looking to Scripture for answers, when you read the Bible look for the questions."
There are many non-believers who will talk about the contradictions they find in the Bible, often because they don’t really have a firm understanding of the Scriptures. They have read bits and pieces, but have not read the Bible in its entirety.
When I began to read the Bible with the mindset of allowing it to question me, instead of simply looking for answers, it is amazing how many answers I found.
Another way of looking at reading the Bible is that it about transformation, not information. It is God who does the transforming, a God who is not confined between the bindings of a book. A God who chooses to dwell within the space of our heart if we dare open it to Him.

1 Like

If you don’t live it, then you don’t.believe it. People may profess faith but their lifestyle shows otherwise. Faith works by love. Faith is not the same as intellectual notions of belief. People need to come faith, repentance and the acknowledgment of the truth and faith needs to reside in the heart and not only in the head. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. If we do not forgive and show mercy to others, then neither will the Eternal Father show forgiveness and mercy to us. Jesus said “Follow Me”. We must feed on the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and abide. He who is faithful and endures to the end will be saved.

The Word of God is more than the printed page or the interpreted bits on a screen, the Holy Spirit brings power to the Word and to the lives of followers of Jesus Christ. We need the Spirit and graces that accompany genuine faith and hope and love.

1 Like

Read It… … Start with the New Testament

Nothing can auto-make one Believe…


The Bible is for believers to guide them to Christ and His teachings. For the person without the Spirit, it is foolishness to them (paraphrasing). It’s in 1 Corn 2:14

1 Corinthians 2:14 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

14 Those who are unspiritual[a] do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually.


those who come here with a chip on their shoulders - have already put a block on FAITH…

_those who honestly and openly seek the Truth - do find


If we do not forgive and show mercy to others, then neither will the Eternal Father show forgiveness and mercy to us.

But isn’t God’s forgiveness supposed to be infinite? If I was to murder a man who murdered my family (in an extreme hypothetical scenario), would that mean I’m condemned to Hell alongside the original murderer? I’m not saying we’re spoiled children that can be free to do whatever comes into our heads at any given time, but why did God confer emotions like anger and rage upon us if they’ll almost always lead to wrath in situations like the one I described above?

As a Catholic I am aware that I have a fallen nature (a tendency to sin.)

I believe with all my heart that the Lord Jesus Christ provided us with everything we need to overcome our tendency to sin and selfishness if we pray, and prepare ourselves well to receive all the helps we need, such as the sacraments of confession, the Holy Eucharist…, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.

Through all the good things the Lord offers me I can have his peace during times of trial and difficulties. He draws us closer to him and enables us to get through severe difficulties if we trust in Him.

They don’t. Most people whose families have been murdered don’t go kill the murderer. If they did, we would not have criminals pleading to murder and having trials for murder. Those defendants would all be dead.

They may want to kill the murderer, they may fantasize about doing it, but in the end, they don’t do it.
Some of them even end up forgiving the murderer.

1 Like

No twisting of arms…

No trying to MAKE anyone do anything.

Suggesting - Get to Know Jesus… … Can lead to FAITH and God’s Holy Spirit

Here are two things I did to believe the New Testament. In college, I studied ancient Greek so I could read the Bible in its original language and prove to myself it was false. Instead, I proved to myself that it is true, and became a Christian.
If learning Greek is too intense for you, here’s something else I do. Every time something happens to me that is a big “coincidence”, or doesn’t have a natural explanation, i write it down. Then I look in the Bible to see if there are verses to explain it. There always are.

1 Like

That’s Good News! It reminds of some who’ve delved deeper into BioSciences so as to prove Creation of Humans as false - only to find out that Darwinism is ridden with Falsity…

This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit