Two Recent Archaeological Discoveries




Comments

  1. Rayburne F. says on Jan 28, 2010 @ 07:53 PM:

    As I have said before (see “A Muslim Comes to Christ,“ July 2009 on this website), archaeology is the greatest defender of the accuracy of the Bible. Archaeologists, when in Israel, still rely on the Bible to determine the location of tell sites which reliance has proved to be remarkably accurate. Historians have long acknowledged the accuracy of place names and events recorded in the Bible despite so-called “higher criticism” and skepticism. In fact, the Bible is now a standard historical text for archaeologists in the Middle East, Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Macedonia. The great names of Archaeology, including Dr. Flinders Petrie, Dr. William Albright, Dr. J.O. Kinnaman, Ira M. Price, Professor Sayce of Oxford, and Sir William Ramsey have gone on record to say that archaeology confirms the accuracy and reliability of the Bible. Dr. William Albright, who was not a friend of Christianity and was probably the foremost authority in Middle East archaeology in his time, said this about the Bible: “There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of the Old Testament.”

    Let me quote Dr. J.O. Kinnaman, who spent some 40 years in research work in and about Palestine: "Let me say that of all the thousands of artifacts that have been discovered by the archaeologist, varying from an inscribed jug handle to the complete edition of the Synoptic Gospels, not one thing has ever been discovered that contradicts or denies any word of the Bible, but the artifacts, without fail confirm, illustrate, illuminate, and fill in the gaps of narrative events and historical continuity."

    Seeing this topic relates to a tremendously important archaeological find concerning Nazareth, what about Nazareth? Skeptics have been asserting for a long time that Nazareth never existed during the time when the New Testament says Jesus spent his childhood there. Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, by the apostle Paul, by the Talmud (although 63 other Galilean towns are cited), or by Josephus (who listed 45 other villages and cities of Galilee, including Japha, which was located just over a mile from present-day Nazareth. Dr. James Strange of the University of South Florida is an expert on this area, and he describes Nazareth as being a very small place, about 60 acres, with a maximum population of about 480 at the beginning of the first century. Strange notes that when Jerusalem fell in A.D. 70, priests were no longer needed in the temple because it had been destroyed, so they were sent out to various other locations, even up into Galilee. Archaeologists have found a list in Aramaic describing the 24 "courses" or families, of priests who were relocated, and one of them was registered as having been moved to Nazareth. This shows that this tiny village did, in fact, exist at that time. In addition, there have been archaeological digs that have uncovered first-century tombs in the vicinity of Nazareth, which would establish the village's limits because by Jewish law burials had to take place outside the town proper. Two tombs contained objects such as pottery lamps, glass vessels, and vases from the first century. Renowned archaeologist Jack Finegan, in a book published by Princeton University Press, stated, "From the tombs...it can be concluded that Nazareth was a strongly Jewish settlement in the Roman period. McRay exclaims: "There has been discussion about the location of some sites from the first century, such as exactly where Jesus' tomb is situated, but among archaeologists there has never really been a big doubt about the location of Nazareth. The burden of proof ought to be on those who dispute its existence." Now we have further confirmation of its existence.

    We are living in a day when the stones are crying out in corroboration of the truth of Holy Scripture. Once, “higher critics” scoffed at the idea that Abraham ever lived in Ur of the Chaldees or that indeed such a man as Abraham ever existed. They said he was a mythical person only. But now the very city of Ur has yielded her secrets to the spade of research. In fact there is ample evidence that a high type of civilization existed then just as Genesis 11 tells us. Dr. Driver of Oxford University, used to teach that the first five books of the Bible (the Torah) could not possibly have been written by Moses because, as he said, writing was unknown for hundreds of years after the time of Moses. But Christ said (Mark 10:5): “Moses wrote of me.” Who was right? Christ or Dr. Driver? The stones have cried out. The Tel-El-Amarna tables, discovered in northern Egypt , carry cuneiform inscriptions which date back to the very days of Moses. Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy. In fact, the British Museum has a huge black stone containing the laws of King Hammurabi, and he lived 500 years before Moses. 2 Kings 18:14 tells us that Sennacherib, King of Assyria, conquered the cities of Judah and forced King Hezekiah to pay a tribute of “300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold.” Archaeologists have found a clay cylinder on which King Sennacherib wrote that he had forced the Jewish King to pay him 800 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. The critics of God’s word said, “At last we have proof of a mistake in the Bible.” But, sad for the enemies of God’s truth, we now know that the Assyrians used a different standard for calculating silver talents than the Jews did and 300 Jewish talents exactly equal 800 Assyrian talents. Remember the story given in Daniel 5, of Belshazzar’s feast and the writing on the plaster of the wall just before judgment fell (Daniel 5: 25-28) . The critics used to say that Nebuchadnezzar was king at that time, that this whole story was a myth and that no such person as Belshazzar ever existed. Once again Archaeology has defended the veracity of God’s Word. A cylinder of clay has been unearthed containing a prayer of Nebuchnezzar for his son Belshazzar who was reigning conjointly with his father as king of the nation.

    Again, in Genesis 14 the Bible speaks of Abraham’s victory over Chedorlaomer and five Mesopotamian kings. For years, the critics stated that these accounts were fictitious and many people discredited the Bible. In the 1960s, however, the Ebla tablets were discovered in northern Syria. The Ebla tablets are records of its history . Thousands of tablets have been discovered. What is important is that many of these tablets make a reference to all five cities of the plain proving the Genesis 14 account to be accurate. Another example is the story of Jericho recorded in the book of Joshua. For years skeptics thought the story of the falling walls of Jericho was a myth. Then, archaeologist discovered the ancient city of Jericho. In the 1930s, Dr. John Garstang made a remarkable discovery. He states, “As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins of the city.” This is remarkable because city walls fall inward, not outward. The March 5, 1990 issue of Time magazine featured an article called, “Score One For the Bible.” In it, archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon claimed Jericho’s walls had fallen suddenly. Many scholars feel that this was caused by an earthquake which may also explain the damming of the Jordon. Additionally, grain was discovered, which shows the city was conquered quickly. As to the the fact of the grain found in an area long unoccupied, Jericho was heavily fortified (both with soldiers, weapons and food) and defended for the very purpose of preventing enemy penetration into interior Caanan, it makes perfect sense to me that grain sufficient to last a long time would have been carefully stored and protected and due to the sudden and violent destruction of the walls and defenders of the city, would have most likely been the only thing that would have survived the onslaught (not to forget the condition of the grain that was found there, though unoccupied for a significant period of time). Jericho had so suffered the ravages of time and weather and both amateur and professional excavation have combined to nearly obliterate Jericho's usefulness archaeologically and historically. On the basis of some scarabs of Amenhotep 111, the British archaeologist John Gernstang dated level D at about 1400 B.C. Thus Garstang held to 1400 B.C. as the date of the conquest and the exodus. More recently, however, Kathleen Kenyon, another respected British archaeologist, spent several seasons at Jericho and concluded among other things, that Garstang had misread the evidence and that the Amenhotep scarabs belonged to a later burial. His level D, then, had to be reassigned to about 1300 (Kathleen Kenyon, "Digging up Jericho", New York: Praeger, 1960, p. 42.). If this re-evaluation has caused problems for the early dates proposed for the exodus and the conquest of Jericho (Dr. Eugene H. Merrill, biblical historian, places the occupation of Jericho as early as 7500 B.C.), it has hardly benefited the late dates, since conquest of Jericho in 1300 would place the exodus in 1340. Clearly, this fits no one's position. There is no archaeological sign of any early fourteen century B.C. conquest precisely because the Canaanite cities and towns, with few exceptions, were spared material destruction as a matter of policy initiated by Moses and implemented by Joshua. In other words, signs of major devastation in the period from 1400 to 1375 B.C. would be an acute embarrassment to the traditional view because the biblical witness is univocal that Israel was commanded to annihilate the Canaanite populations , but to spare the cities and towns in which they lived. And the record explicitly testifies that this mandate was faithfully carried out. The only exceptions were Jericho, Ai, and Hazor, the violent nature of their destruction which could help explain why neither Jericho or Ai has yielded valuable chronological clues. The best we can say, then, is that the Jericho evidence is inconclusive and at this point is of little or no value in establishing a chronological or historical framework within which to view the fall of Jericho.

    I could give many more examples of so-called "discrepancies" or incosistences in the Bible that were clearly and thoroughly resolved in favour of the scriptures historicity. I am fully confident that whatever "discrepancy" certain skeptics believe archaeologists have found in respect to Jericho (i.e There is plenty of evidence to call into question the accuracy and reliability of radiocarbon and carbon dating-14 dating--see Dr. Paul Giem's book "Scientific Theology," La Sierra University press, 1997) will also be resolved to collaborate biblical history

    I could give many more examples.

    Finally, in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, consisting of some 900 manuscripts and including a complete scroll of the entire book of Isaiah that is 1000 years older than any other surviving manuscript, as well as all books of the Tanakh (Jewish or Hebrew Scriptures) except Ester (with multiple copies of most books), were written more than 200 years before the first advent of Christ–as indicated by both carbon dating and palaeography (the study of ancient writing). This is tremendously important because they refuted precluded ( and refuted) popular claims that the incredible prophecies of the Bible were written after the first advent of Christ and thus, recorded history after the fact. A comparison was made of the Hebrew Scriptures, as transcribed in the Dead Sea Scrolls, with the oldest (extant) transcription (Bible) written in 900 A.D. This study revealed that the transcription in 900 A.D. was 96 % consistent with the Dead Sea Scroll transcription, the remaining 4% being primarily mistakes in spelling. Time Magazine, August 14, 1989, stated: “The scrolls have also affected Bible translations read by millions of Jews and Christians. The caves contained portions of all books of the Old Testament except ester, including a remarkably complete scroll of Isaiah that is 1000 years older than any surviving manuscripts. Besides clearing up anomalies in several verses, the scrolls have demonstrated the remarkable accuracy with which Jewish scribes preserved the text of the Bible.” Now, this most recent archaeological find of the oldest Hebrew text is once again confirmation of the very ancient dating of these texts and scrolls and their authenticity.

    Sir William Ramsey, one of the greatest archaeologists of all time, spent 30 years of his life trying to disprove the New Testament, especially Luke’s writings. After much intensive research with many expecting a thorough refutation of Christianity, Ramsey concluded that Luke was one of the greatest historians of all time and became a Christian based on his archaeological findings. Dr. Robert Wilson of Princeton, world famous philologist who mastered 28 languages and was at home in 45 languages, one of the truly great scholars, said, “I contend that our text of the Old Testament is presumptively correct, that its meaning is on the whole clear and trustworthy, and that we can as theists and Christians, conscientiously and reasonably believe that the Old Testament as we have it is what it purports to be, and what Christ and the Apostles thought it to be, and what all churches have always declared it to be---the Word of God and the infallible rule of faith and practice.” Please,, no nonsense about conspiracy theories when it comes to the Scrolls. I have heard and read them all: the radical-fringe writings of the Jesus Seminar; the myth-riddled documents and books filled with incredible improbabilities; for example, the second-century Gnostic gospel of Thomas; The Jesus Scroll; the gospel of Judas; The Da Vinci Code; Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the Tomb of Jesus, etc. In battling the Bible for the minds of men, you will find, as many have done, that you are waging a losing battle. Especially is this true of archaeology, as many skeptics and even renown archaeologists, have found out. As I said, archaeology is the best friend the Bible has because it (the Bible) is true.

    One of the greatest archaeological discoveries that confirmed the truth of the Bible was a huge billboard-type inscription carved on the side of a mountain, discovered by Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1835. It was the work of King Darius of Persia who lived 2400 years ago. It was written in three languages, Persian, Babylonian and Median and became known as the "Behistun Inscription." By careful study of this find, the key was found to hitherto unknown languages. Critics of God's Word used to say that there never was such a nation as the Hittites. Secular history knew nothing of them before this discovery. Now archaeologists know the location of the capital of the Hittite nation and can reconstruct much of their life and customs. And it is all perfectly in accord with what the Bible has to say. The Bible as well as other history books (the Bible among other things is also a history book) record that Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem was not voluntary. Caesar Augustus, a pagan and ruler of Rome, required that all Jews of the House of David (tribe of Judah) travel to Bethlehem for the purpose of taking a census so they could be taxed. This is recorded by one of the greatest historians ever known, Dr. Luke in Luke 2:1-5. In 1923 at Ankara, Turkey, a Roman inscription was discovered that recorded that there were three great censuses initiated during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the middle one occuring in 7 B.C. History records that there were petitions sent to Rome by the Jews protesting that they had to travel this long distance to be counted for this census and worse yet, taxed. Due to this protest there was a delay of approximately three years before the edict was carried out, resulting in the census being taken in 4 B. C. That year is the precise year according to biblical historians and the best studies that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).

    Until 1961 the only historical references to Pontius Pilate were literary. Because he played such a central role in the Crucifixion the question would arise: Did he actually exist? The following was found in Caesarea on a 2x3 foot inscription in Latin which specifically said "Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judae, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans," confirming the historicity of Pontius Pilate. There have been thousands--not hundreds--of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the biblical record. The patriarchs--the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--were once considered legendary, but now these stories have been increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is "permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in that long distant past." Also, every reference in the Old Testament to an Assyrian king has been proven correct; an excavation during the 1960s confirmed that the Israelites could, indeed, have entered Jerusalem by way of a tunnel during David's reign; there is evidence that the world did have a single language at one time, as the Bible says; the site of Solomon's temple is now being excavated; and on and on.

    New discoveries again and again have proved skeptics wrong and confirmed the accuracy of the Bible. I already mentioned the historicity of the Hittite Empire, once thought by the "experts" not to exist. Samuel says that after King Saul's death his armor was put in the temple of Astoroth, who was a Canaanite fertility goddess, at Bethsham, while Chronicles reports that his head was put in the temple of a Philistine corn god named Dagon. Now archaeologists were convinced that the Bible was wrong. They didn't think enemies would have had temples in the same place at the same time. The archaeologists confirmed through excavations that there were two temples at this site, one each for Dagon and Ashtoroth. They were separated by a hallway. As it turned out, the Philistines had apparently adopted Ashtaroth as one of their own goddesses. The Bible was right after all. That kind of phenomenon has happened again and again.

    The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church. Even small details have been corroborated, like which way the wind blows, how deep the water is a certain distance from shore, what kind of disease a particular island had, the names of local officials, and so forth. Now Acts was authored by the historian Luke. Hemer gives more than a dozen reasons for why Acts had to have been written before A.D.62, or about 30 years after Jesus' crucifixion. Even earlier, Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which is substantially the same as the other biblical accounts of Jesus' life. So here you have an impeccable historian, who has been proven right in hundreds of details and never proven wrong, writing the whole history of Jesus and the early church. And it's written within one generation while eyewitnesses were still alive and could have disputed it if it were exaggerated or false. You don't have anything like that from any other religious book from the ancient world. The great Oxford University clasical historian A.N. Sherwin-White said, "or Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming" and that "any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd."

    Until 1961 the only historical references to Pontius Pilate were literary. Because he played such a central role in the Crucifixion the question would arise: Did he actually exist? The following was found in Caesarea on a 2x3 foot inscription in Latin which specifically said "Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judae, has presented the Tiberium to the Caesareans," confirming the historicity of Pontius Pilate. There have been thousands--not hundreds--of archaeological finds in the Middle East that support the biblical record. The patriarchs--the narratives about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--were once considered legendary, but now these stories have been increasingly corroborated. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to be mythological until evidence was uncovered that all five of the cities mentioned in Genesis were, in fact, situated just as the Old Testament said. As far as their destruction goes, archaeologist Clifford Wilson said there is "permanent evidence of the great conflagration that took place in that long distant past." Also, every reference in the Old Testament to an Assyrian king has been proven correct; an excavation during the 1960s confirmed that the Israelites could, indeed, have entered Jerusalem by way of a tunnel during David's reign; there is evidence that the world did have a single language at one time, as the Bible says; the site of Solomon's temple is now being excavated; and on and on.

    The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church. Even small details have been corroborated, like which way the wind blows, how deep the water is a certain distance from shore, what kind of disease a particular island had, the names of local officials, and so forth. Now Acts was authored by the historian Luke. Hemer gives more than a dozen reasons for why Acts had to have been written before A.D.62, or about 30 years after Jesus' crucifixion. Even earlier, Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which is substantially the same as the other biblical accounts of Jesus' life. So here you have an impeccable historian, who has been proven right in hundreds of details and never proven wrong, writing the whole history of Jesus and the early church. And it's written within one generation while eyewitnesses were still alive and could have disputed it if it were exaggerated or false. You don't have anything like that from any other religious book from the ancient world. The great Oxford University clasical historian A.N. Sherwin-White said, "or Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming" and that "any attempt to reject its basic historicity must now appear absurd."

    I thought readers on this blog would be interested in some examples of archaeological finds that confirm the accuracy and historicity of the New Testament. Lee Strobel, in his research for his popular book "The Case for Christ" (please read it if you haveen't) consulted McRay concerning a problem that archaeologists have wrestled with for years. Luke said the census that brought Joseph and mary to bethlehem was conducted when Quirinius was governing Syria and during the reign of Herod the Great. The problem is this: Herod died in 4 B.C., and Quirinius didn't begin ruling Syria until A.D. 6, conducting the census soon after that. There seems to be a big gap between the dates. That is, until an eminent archaeologist named Jerry Vardaman found a coin with the name of Quirinius on it in very small writing, or what is called "micrographic" letters. This places Quirinius as proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 B.C. until after the death of Herod, which means, as McRay pointed out, that there were apparently two Quiriniuses. McRay explained, "It's not uncommon to have lots of people with the same Roman names, so there is no reason to doubt that there were two people by the name of Quirinius. The census would have taken place under the reign of the earlier Quirinius . Given the cycle of a census every 14 years, that would work out quite well. Sir William Ramsay, the late archaeologist and professor at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England, had come up with a similar theory. He concluded from various inscriptions that while there was one Quirinius, he ruled Syria on two separate occasions, which would cover the time period of the earlier census. Also, scholars have pointed out that Luke's text can be translated, "This census took place before Quirinius was governing Syria," which would also resolve the problem. While these are plausible explanations, it is well established that censuses were held during the time frame of Jesus' birth and that there is evidence people were indeed required to return to their homeland.

    Throughout the centuries, Christians have wondered about Jesus' rather enigmatic reply to John the Baptist's question in Matthew 11:3 while in prison: "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else? John the Baptist was seeking a straight answer about whether Jesus really was the long-awaited Messiah. Instead of saying yes or no, Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor" (Matthew 11:4-5). Jesus' response was an allusion to Isaiah 35. But for some reason Jesus included the phrase "the dead are raised," which is conspicuously absent from the Old Testament text. This is where 4Q521 comes in. This nonbiblical manuscript from the Dead Sea collection, written in Hebrew, dates back to thirty years before Jesus was born. It contains a version of Isaiah 61 that does include this missing phrase, "the dead are raised." Scroll scholar Dr. Craig Evans has pointed out that this phrase in 4Q521 is unquestionably embedded in a messianic context. McRay explains, "It refers to the wonders that the Messiah will do when he comes and when heaven and earth will obey him. So when Jesus gave his response to John, he was not being ambiguous at all. John would have instantly recognized his words as a distinct claim that Jesus was the Messiah. In essence, Jesus is telling John through his messengers that messianic things are happening. So that answers [John's} question: "Yes, he is the one who is to come."

    I could give many more examples.
    Unlike Mormonism, about whose claims the Smithsonian Institute replied to Dr. John McRay that its {the Smithsonian] archaeologists see "no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book" [of Mormon], archaeology's repeated affirmation of the New Testament's accuracy provides important corroboration for its reliability. Prominent Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson, who wrote, "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book.

    I am passionate about this subject and could give much more valuable archaeological evidence confirming the truth of the Bible, but I am sure I have given the reader enough food (examples) for thought. I cannot, however, convince him of such truth because only God can do, by His grace and Spirit, through divine revelation. Many people reject such revelation not because of the evidence (obviously there is overwhelming evidence) but rather because they do not like the implications that believing in the Christ of the Bible must bring; namely, accountability to a loving, Holy and Righteous God Who must punish sin and evil if He is indeed, loving and just or righteous.

    What about the New Testament and archaeology? I did some checking and found these recommended books for reading:

    Jack Finegan, "The Archaeology of the New Testament. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992.

    J.A. Thompson. "The Bible and Archaeology". Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975

    Edwin Yamauchi. "The Stones and the Scriptures." New York: J.B. Lippencott, 1972.
    John McRay. Archaeology and the New Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker, 1991.

    When scholars and students study archaeology, many turn to John McRay's thorough and dispassionate 432-page textbook "Archaeology and the New Testament. When the Arts and Entertainment Television Network wanted to ensure the accuracy of its "Mysteries of the Bible" program, they called McRay. And when National Geographic needed a scientist who could explain the intricacies of the biblical world, again they called McRay's office at well-respected Wheaton College in suburban Chicago.

    Having studied at Hebrew University, the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Francaise in Jerusalem, Vanderbilt University Divinty School, and the University of Chicago (where he earned his doctorate in 1967), McRay has been a professor of New Testament and archaeology at Wheaton for more than 15 years. His articles have appeared in 17 encyclopedias and dictionaries; his research has been featured in the "Bulletin of the Near East Archaeology Society" and other academic journals, and he has presented 29 scholarly papers at professional societies. McRay is also a former research associate and trustee of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; a former trustee of the American Schools of Oriental Research; a current trustee of the Near East Archaeology Society and a member of the editorial boards of "Archaeology in the Biblical World" and the "Bulletin for Biblical research", which is published by the Institute for Biblical Research.
    McRay supervised excavating teams at Caesarea, Sepphoris, and Herodium, all in Israel, over an eight-year period. He has studied Roman archaeological sites in England and Wales, analyzed digs in Greece, and retraced much of the apostle Paul's journeys. McRay's conclusions have been echoed by many other scientists, including prominent Australian archaeologist Clifford Wilson, who wrote, "Those who know the facts now recognize that the New Testament must be accepted as a remarkably accurate source book." I hope you will check out these books,

  2. Rayburne F. says on Jan 29, 2010 @ 09:47 AM:

    Correction to the above statement:

    "The Tel-El-Amarna tables, discovered in northern Egypt , carry cuneiform inscriptions which date back to the very days of Moses. Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy."

    The latter portion of this statement: "Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy" should be omitted. Based on what I've read and researched, I don't believe that "Carbon-dating gives us remarkable accuracy--which is why I wrote
    "There is plenty of evidence to call into question the accuracy and reliability of radiocarbon and carbon dating-14 dating--see Dr. Paul Giem's book 'Scientific Theology,'La Sierra University press, 1997". Please note this correction. Also, I did not notice that I repeated the paragraph, beginning: "The noted Roman historian Colin J. Hemer, in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, shows how archaeology has confirmed not dozens, but hundreds and hundreds of details from the biblical account of the early church..." until after I had submitted my final comment. I apologize for the mistake. God bless.

    ==============================

  3. humphreys says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 03:25 AM:

    I have a suggestion for Rayburne. No-one's going to read a comment that length. Start your own blog man!

  4. Paul says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 11:20 AM:

    Actually, I read Rayburne's comment thank you very much.

  5. humphreys says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 01:31 PM:

    I read it too. It's a very interesting and well-researched polemic, as good as some of the stuff on this site. I especially appreciated the stuff about the second Quirinius, which I didn't know about and its bothered me in the past.

    But I still don't think its an appropriate length for a forum post. If Rayburn does this a lot, he should get blogging and then post the links here. I'd read him yes I would!

  6. Rayburne F. says on Jan 30, 2010 @ 03:56 PM:

    Thanks guys, but it is actually short compared to many of the comments I've read in the past on different topics on this website (blog). Seeing no one had responded to this intriguing topic, I gathered some material I had used some time ago on a different topic related also to an archaeological find, and submitted it. I'm glad you appreciate it and found it interesting. I hope it will stimulate your interest to do further research in this area. I have no desire to start my own blog; on the contrary, it has been some time since I commented on any blog. Take care.

  7. robaylesbury says on Jan 31, 2010 @ 09:09 AM:

    Here is a modern Rabbi commenting on the Exodus.

    http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2004/12/Did-The-Exodus-Really-Happen.aspx?p=1

    Just an alternative view.

  8. robaylesbury says on Jan 31, 2010 @ 09:13 AM:

    And here is Wiki commenting more generally on the Biblical Exodus.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus

  9. Rayburne F. says on Jan 31, 2010 @ 03:06 PM:

    Most academics dismiss or question the historical nature of the Exodus story"

    Re: article on website above Exodus from Robaylesbury.., I find this statement from academic die-hards and skeptics very amusing at best in light of the number of times "most academics" have been wrong before (and they have always been a majority) in respect to biblical history and the scriptures. Their challenges to the historical accuracy and truth of scripture have been more than satisfactorily met, explored and refuted again and again (what I clearly showed in my long comment), not that the Bible needs any defending. It is certainly capable of defending itself, as has been shown again and again. Dr. Paul Maier, renown expert on first century biblical history and prolific author would strongly disagree with that Rabbi and dissenting views of the biblical Exodus on that website (not that it really matters, except perhaps for die-hard skeptics). Rob is very faithful when it comes to giving alternative "views".I know this from past discussions on different topics with him. Outstanding scholars like Dr. Paul Maier, confront these views and challenges every day

    As I have stated, with abundant evidence, "We are living in a day when the stones are crying out in corroboration of the truth of Holy Scripture". Now, that is my contribution to this discussion. If Rob, or anyone has archaeological evidence (the topic being discussed) to refute the evidence I presented, then I (and many others) would love to hear from them. As to the biblical Exodus, the "academics" have not had the last word on this biblical and historical event. I (and many others) have no doubt that history and archaeology will, in time, remove whatever dissenting opinion and opposition to biblical truth is out there concerning its historical and biblical accuracy. But then, no amount of evidence will convince some (no many, according to scripture) as I have mentioned many times before. The scriptures warn us that unbelief and opposition to the truth of God's Word will increase more and more before Christ again returns and that unbelievers (yes,academics included) will always be in a majority (Matthew 7:13-14; 2 Tim. 4:4; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Peter 3:1-7; etc.)---but then, of course, we all know that truth is not determined by numbers or majority. God bless.

  10. Rayburne F. says on Jan 31, 2010 @ 07:09 PM:

    Here briefly is what Dr. Maier, world renown expert on biblical history and ancient archaeology had to say to the critics who claim there was no biblical Exodus:

    "No Exodus? It is true that few remains of encampments or artifacts from the Exodus era have been discovered archaeologically in the Sinai, but a nomadic, tribal migration would hardly leave behind permanent stone foundations of imposing buildings en route. Hardly any archaeology is taking place in the Sinai, and if this changes, evidence of migration may very well be uncovered. Again, beware of the argument from silence."

    It reinforces what I already said;n namely "The "academics" have not had the last word on this biblical and historical event. I (and many others) have no doubt that history and archaeology will, in time, remove whatever dissenting opinion and opposition to biblical truth is out there concerning its historical and biblical accuracy." God bless.

  11. humphreys says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 02:32 AM:

    I think we ought to take Rob's evidence seriously, rather than dismiss it out of hand. The exercise of apologetics is to deal in the realm of evidence. However we might believe in the doctrine of inerrancy, or the self-confirming nature of the Bible, that is not the point when doing apologetics. It is not on to browbeat the opposition with Christian doctrines which the hearer does not share. It is a bit like Hitchens when he says that anyone who doesn't find the life of Socrates more compelling than the life of Jesus is a moron (or words to that effect).

    In this case, it is the evidence of archaeology (which is something, by the way, that I know little about). In any case, I think we can say that currently, whilst it is abundant in many areas of Biblical history, evidence does not support a completely historical reading of the Bible's account of the Exodus.

    But that shouldn't bother Christians too much. Even if there is no archaeological evidence out there to be found, it still doesn't mean the event didn't take place. The evidence given is not of a positive nature - it is still an argument from silence. Albeit, it is turned into a positive evidence by positing a positive hypothesis first, e.g. "if the Exodus happened, we would expect to find Hebrew pottery in Canaanite towns from the period. We don't."

    And, let us not forget that fifty years ago, Rob would have had a lot more ammunition to fire off on this issue. That ought to give Christians comfort.

  12. robaylesbury says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 03:14 AM:

    It isn't my evidence. And I agree with both humphreys and
    Rayburne that new evidence my come to light. The challenge to believer and non believer is to be open to it.

  13. humphreys says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 06:40 AM:

    My apologies, Rob. I didn't mean the evidence was your evidence, I meant something like 'the evidence that Rob has brought to our attention'.

  14. Rayburne F. says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 12:09 PM:

    If you want to call lack of evidence ("few remains of encampments or artifacts from the Exodus" era of a
    nomadic, tribal migration`)in a region (Sinai) where hardly any archaeology is taking place (an argument from silence)`evidence,` then, go ahead, but don`t go constructing some some `positive` hypothesis in order to turn what we yet don`t know into èvidence,` by presupposing that there is no archaeological evidence out there to be found. We don`t that yet, so save your hypothesis until some serious archaeology is done in the Sinai. Therefore, don`t call what Rob didn`t really bring forward, but has been known for some time, evidence because it is not evidence unless you want to call an argument from silence evidence.

    If by self-confirming nature, you are implying that the nature of the Bible is to confirm itself without evidence. then, we all know that is nonsense, whether believer or unbeliever. Let the evidence (which I`m glad to hear you take seriously) stand on its own and let the chips fall where they will. As I said, the Bible is capable of standing on its own. I never said, or implied, the Bible is capable of standing on its own without evidence. God gave us the gift of faith, not stupidity. Our belief in the Bible as the Word of God, as I mentioned again and again on different topics on this blog (Rob and Humphreys know this only too well) is never without evidence, be it historical, legal-historical, scientific (i.e.archaeological),fulfilled prophecies, transformed lives, etc.--and `please don`t imply that it is. The very nature of the Christian faith and the Bible is to challenge all to thorougly and meticulously examine the evidence: `Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord (Isaiah 1:18); `Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good` (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

  15. humphreys says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 03:26 PM:

    I'm not sure what you're saying, you seem to be contradicting yourself. Which one of the following are you saying with regard to the Bible:

    1) The Bible attests to its own truth, and is therefore 'stands on its own'
    2) Extra-Biblical evidence (alone) attests to the truth of the Bible.

    If you believe (1), which I feel that orthodox Christians should, then I don't see what your disagreement is with me. Of course, if (1) is true, then (2) logically follows, minus the parentheses.

    If you believe (2), then I feel that the challenge is as follows: what is your highest authority in the matter of truth - the Bible or 'evidence'.

  16. Rasyburne F. says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 05:09 PM:

    I am not saying either of the above you suggest. Belief in the inerrancy of scripture (being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit, or error) is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. All truth is God's truth, be it historical, spiritual, or scientific truth. "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). All evidence, of course, must be interpreted. Nature (science) is not propositional revelation, so it is not subject to objective hermeneutical principles of interpretation. Rather, in the study of nature (sciene), propositions must be formulated from the observations by interpreting them in a framework or paradigm; consequently Christians deny that scientific opinion or scientific hypotheses about earth's history,archaeology, anthropological history, etc. may be used to overturn the teaching of scripture, as many believe today. Of course, the Bible is not a scientific textbook, , but when it speaks on science (or any subject),it speaks accurately When I say; therefore, the Bible is capable of standing on it own (when it comes to the evidence), I am definitely not saying that it does so do so exclusive of the evidence, be it historical, spiritual, or scientific--because, as I have already mentioned, the evidence must be interpreted in light of a framework or paradigm, which depends largely on the axioms, or presuppositions that one (including the scientist) begins with; for example, that the earth was formed by special creation, or uniformitarian evolution over millions of years, that it is relatively young, or extremely old (and please I have discussed these topics, with respect to the scientific evidence so much in the past on this blog that they sound like a broken record. I am not changing the topic but merely answering your question with examples of how what paradigm or framework (starting assumptions) we begin with will determine how we interpret the evidence (or lack of it). One (Christian, scientist) does not have different data or evidence than another (non-Christian, scientist). They both have the same data or evidence but intrepret it differently based on the interpretative framework or paradigm (starting presuppositions) used to interpret the data.

    Therefore, to answer your question the hightest authority in the matter iof truth is the Bible (divine revelation), but when it speaks with authority it does not do so exclusive of evidence--which must always be interpreted based on the framework or pardigm and presuppositions that one starts with. The scientist, whether believer or unbeliever, creationist, evolutionist, or theistic evolutionist does the same thing. He interprets the evidence in the light of his own particular paradigm, which depends on his starting presuppositions.

  17. Rayburne F. says on Feb 1, 2010 @ 05:45 PM:

    To further clarify my point, scientific arguments against the Bible come and go. With the wisdom of hindsight provided by several hundred years of scientific endeavour, we can say with confidence that almost every day some non-believing scientist will come up with some so-called "evidence" that purportedly disproves the Bible (just examine the bookshelves on religion/science in your public library or bookstore). This has been going on for centuries. I gave many examples in the field of archaeology, but I could give (and have given previously in discussion of different topics on this blog) examples in other areas or branches of science. What has become clear is that God is always raising up believing scholars and scientists (minority, though they be)to make new discoveries in support of the Bible as well as to figure out while the old "proofs" against its testimony were not really proofs at all. "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of God shall stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

  18. Robaylesbury says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 04:52 AM:

    Humphrey's, when dealing with ray you need to be mindful that no amount of evidence could ever change his mind. Rather than engage directly I tend to encourage readers to consider alternative viewpoints. That way one avoids his religious certainties, and more importantly allows others to see that many of his emphatic claims can be put into stark relief with just a little research.
    No offence ray. It's simply that the more credulous can be easily deceived by his long posts.

  19. robaylesbury says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 05:22 AM:

    Failing that, a little humour might also suffice. For example, let us consider the issue of Biblical innerancy and apply this to the cure that the Lord suggests for Leprosy;

    Leviticus 14 2-52 (Paraphrased)

    God's law for lepers: Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird's blood. Wipe some blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times. That's all there is to it.

    Don't believe me? Read for yourself.

    Next, a prediction. Somewhere out there a fundagelical has given this text grave consideration. Perhaps he/she (probably a he) has consulted with other fundagelicals. Search around and you will locate some theological response to this statement, some logic defying manna from heaven that will, somehow, make sense to the fundamentalist (and only the fundamentalist, who, afterall, understands that their version of scripture is perfect and unsoiled)

    It's enough to make cat laugh. Thankfully, the internet means that the fundy just cannot get away with it anymore.

    There are websites to deal with the fundy that quote mines.
    There are websites to deal with the fundy that denies evolution.

    There is simply no escape. And no excuse for readers like you and I to accept what these individuals assert.

  20. Rayburne F. says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 10:49 AM:

    Thanks Rob. Exactly what I expected from you, a little humour mixed with a lot of scarcasm and ridicule, disrespect for the Bible, changing the topic and claiming that no amount of evidence will satisy Ray when, in fact, you have not given any. You come up with alternative views based on an argument from silence and call same "evidence" because you really don't have any evidence for your assertions and, in truth, are afraid to engage anyone directly who does.

    By the way,you never mention Naaman the Syrian, who was cured aof his leprosy when he dipped in the river Jordon seven times, as Elijah the prophet, told him to do, or the leper that Jesus cleansed by touching him. Maybe you would like to ridicule that, too, for a laugh. But then you and I have not had leprosy, thank God. After all, the Bible is full of the supernatural (seven, by the way, is the number of God's perfection) and we certainly cannot believe anything supernatural, right Rob? That would be contrary to natural laws, right?

    No matter what the readers think of me, I don't try to tear down the Bible and those who truly believe it, especially on a Christian website. Do you get your jolies in doing same? That explains a lot why more Christians don't comment on this website.

    Before I go, and end this comment, therefore, I would like to give a few more examples of the amazing archaeological finds that corroborate the truth of the Bible (what I've been doing consistently on this topic.). A prism was unearthed, dating to 2000 B.C by the Weld-Blundell Expedition in Mesopotamia, and it gives in cuneiform writing, the complete chronological tables of early Bablonian and Sumerian history .And in the midst of the list of rulers is the record of a flood which necessitated a new beginning of human dynasties. Here is another amazing fact. In 1929 Professor Leonard Woolley of the University of Pennsylvania announced that during his excavations at Ur of the Chaldees he dug down through successive layers of the remains of human civilizations dating back to Abraham's time and beyond that he discovered a layer of pure, water-laid clay eight feet thick, evidently deposited by a flood of stupendous proportions. A book by J. Garrow Duncan, director of excavations in Babylonia, Egypt and Palestine, says: "A year ago who would have believed that the story of the flood in Genesis might be proved to contain actual history? I confess that this is one of the passages of which I had never dared hope for any confirmation from the results of excavation. Yet the recent discoveries in Babylonia, in the neighbourhood of Ur and Kish, leave no doubt whatever,that the very period in which the story of Noah and his ark must be fitted, the whole country was buried under an indundation, bringing civilization to a dead stop and causing cessation of all life and activity"

    Yes, it is scholarly and scientific to accept the Bible for what it claims to be, the inspired, inerrant, totally reliable Word of God. As James Dwight Dana, Professor of Natural History and Geology, Yale University, once advised his students: "Young men! As you go out into the world to face scientific problems, remember that I, an old man who has known only science all life long, say to you, that there is nothing truer in all the universe than the scientific statements contained in the Word of God." Now, my next and last comment will be that when the Bible speaks on matters of science, it speaks accurately, whether or not Rob and Humphreys can handle it. May God be with you all.

  21. Rayburne F. says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 11:40 AM:

    Though the Bible is not a scientific textbook and was written thousands of years ago, it nevertheless contains accurate statements that reveal knowledge of science that is thousands of years ahead of what was known in the world when they were penned and that are impossible to explain apart from the Bible’s own claim that they are supernaturally inspired.
    For example, the book of Genesis describes the supernatural creation of man in these words: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Scientists used to ridicule the apparent simplicity of this scriptural account that God used “the dust of the ground” to construct the incredible complex proteins, molecules, and estimated more than seventy trillion cells that make up the human body.
    However, scientists were recently startled to discover that the clay and earth found in “the dust of the ground” do contain every single element in the human body. A Reader’s Digest article in November 1982 (p.116) described this fasinating discovery by the researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California that confirmed the Bible’s account that every element found in the human body exists within the soil. The scientists (and they were not creationists or ‘funnymentalists, Rob) concluded: “We are just beginning to learn the biblical scenario for the creation of life turns out to be not far off the mark.”
    Astronomers once believed that our galaxy (Milky Way) formed the entire Universe until new telescopes developed around 1915, revealed the vast reaches of deep space. Astronomical observations of the far regions of outer space through the enormous 100-inch-wide Hubble telescope, aided by satellite space mirrors, now reveal that the known universe contains 100 billion galaxies, with each galaxy containing hundreds of millions of stars. Yet, Moses, the human author of Genesis, writing 3500 years ago, declared this staggering truth concerning the immeasurable vastness of the universe in Genesis 15:5, in which God challenged Abraham, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” (and Rob and Humphreys, Abraham was not having a romantic evening with Sarah out on the veranda counting the stars).
    There are many other examples, I could give but for space (bet you were worried for a while, hey?). Here are just a few:: the record of Genesis 1 that our Universe did not always exist, but had a definite beginning; the spherical shape of the earth (Isaiah 40:22); the hydrologic weather cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7; 11:13); our complex circular global wind patterns that determine weather (Eccles. 1:6); our deep and huge oceanic currents, such as the Gulf Stream (Psalm 8:8); huge springs of fresh water pouring out of the ocean floor, as revealed by underwater exploration in the last thirty years (Job. 38:16); the scientific connection between lighting, thunder, and the triggering of rainfall (Job 28:26); a “Hole in Space”, as recently discovered by astronomers in the area to the north of the axis of our earth, and the very advanced and scientifically accurate statement by Job that God “hangeth the Earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).

    Well, Rob, because I truly care, I leave you with this warning from our blessed Lord: “He who rejects me, and does not receive my words (the Bible), has that which judges him--the word that have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Read also Hebrews 4:12. God bless.

  22. robaylesbury says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 01:57 PM:

    Hello Ray. Enjoy. Many thanks to calilasseia for putting together a very comprehensive list of the best known Creationist canards. It is posted on www.richarddawkins.net in the creationism forum section.

    In order to deal with several of the canards we see resurrected here with tedious regularity at source, I thought it apposite to launch this topic. Where appropriate canards can be dealt with in one spot, so that future propagandists for reality-denial doctrines arising from mythological blind assertion have no excuse for resurrecting them yet again.

    Consequently, I have a message for all creationists visiting this forum. If you think that you possess some startlingly new "wisdom" that you think is going to overturn valid scientific theories, then I have news for you. You don't. The canards that you and your ilk erect here all too frequently, are well known, well documented, and have been debunked many times before. This post has been erected specifically to provide you with a single point of reference where you can check this, and find out in advance that your canards ARE canards. Now, since I went to the trouble of compiling this post, and exercised much effort in doing so, the least you can do is exercise the mental effort required to read this post in full, and learn in detail why parroting any of the canards contained in this list will lead to you being regarded with at best disdain, at worst contempt. So, before you launch into your posting careers, study the following in detail, and learn that posting previously debunked nonsense without having performed the requisite research beforehand, to determine whether or not said nonsense has been debunked previously, is regarded here as indolent in the extreme.

    So, here goes with the list of canards to avoid when posting here.


    [1] Parroting blind assertions does not constitute "evidence".

    Let's make this explicit, just so that even the most casual of observers of this thread cannot avoid having noticed it.

    Mythology (and I don't care how precious you consider your "holy books" to be, that is what they contain - mythology) merely erects unsupported blind assertions about the world, and presents those blind assertions as if they constituted "axioms" about the world, to be regarded uncritically as eternally true, and never to be questioned. Well, those who wish to adopt this view will find that they are given short shrift here. Because one of the fundamental rules of proper discourse is that whenever an assertion is erected, no one is obliged to regard it as valid unless proper, critically robust supporting evidence is provided for that assertion. Which means independent corroboration from an outside source, or a direct, methodologically rigorous, repeatable empirical demonstration of the validity of that assertion. Without this, any blind assertions, particularly those erected from mythology or mythology-based doctrines, can be dismissed in the same casual manner in which they are tossed into the thread. Failure to provide proper evidential support for blind assertions will result in a poster being regarded as an inconsequential lightweight. Just because you think that mythological blind assertions constitute "axioms" about the world doesn't mean that everyone else does, and you'll soon discover the hard way how much firepower is directed toward those who come here expecting the rest of the forum to genuflect before said blind assertions uncritically. Plus, in the case of supernaturalist blind assertions, parroting these and expecting everyone else to accept them uncritically as established fact in the same way that you did, constitutes preaching, and is a violation of forum rules. Learn quickly to qualify assertions properly when erecting them, unless you wish to be regarded as tediously sanctimonious, boring, and boorishly ill-educated into the bargain.

    Oh, and while we're at it, don't bother trying to assert that your favourite invisible magic man is "necessary" for the biosphere or some other observed entity, until you can provide proper, critically robust evidential support for the postulate that your magic man actually exists. Given that 300 years of continuous scientific endeavour has established that the universe is not only comprehensible without needing magic, but is thus comprehensible in precise quantitative terms, you will be well advised to devote some serious time to providing methodologically rigorous support for all assertions concerning magic supernatural entities, because without it, you're fucked from the start.


    [2] Science is NOT a branch of apologetics.

    Science is as far removed from apologetics as it is possible to be. Science exists to subject erected postulates to empirical test with respect to whether or not those postulates are in accord with observational reality. As a consequence, science is in the business of testing assertions and presuppositions to destruction, Those that fail the requisite tests are discarded. Science modifies its theories to fit reality. Apologetics, on the other hand, consists of erecting convoluted semantic fabrications for the purpose of trying to prop up presuppositions and blind assertions, involves NO empirical testing, and seeks to force-fit reality to the aforementioned presuppositions and blind assertions. Therefore, treating science as if it constitutes a branch of apologetics is dishonest, and those who engage in this pursuit will be regarded with due scorn and derision.

    Among the more duplicitous examples of such dishonesty, all too frequently seen here in the past, is quote mining of scientific papers or scientific publications. There are entire websites devoted to the exposure of this particular brand of dishonesty, and anyone making the mistake of erecting quote mines here will have their buttocks handed to them in a sling.


    [3] The "assumptions" canard (with "interpretation" side salad).

    This is a frequent favourite with creationists, and usually erected for the purpose of attempting to hand-wave away valid science when it happens not to genuflect before their ideological presuppositions. As I have stated in [2] above, science is in the business of testing assumptions and presuppositions to destruction. As an example of destroying creationist apologetics with respect to this canard, I point interested readers to this post, where I destroyed the lies of the laughably named "Answers in Genesis" with respect to their assertion that 14C dating was based upon "assumptions". I've also trashed this canard in detail with respect to radionuclide dating as a whole, so don't even try to go down that road. Likewise, if you try to erect this canard with respect to other valid scientific theories, you will be regarded as dishonest.

    Another favourite piece of creationist mendacity is the "interpretation" assertion, which creationist erect for the purpose of suggesting that scientists force-fit data to presuppositions. Apart from the fact that this is manifestly false, it is also defamatory, and a direct slur on the integrity of thousands of honest, hard working scientists, who strive conscientiously and assiduously to ensure that conclusions drawn from real world observational data are robust conclusions to draw. This slur, of course, is yet another example of blatant projection on the part of creationists, who manifestly operate on the basis of presupposition themselves, and appear to be incapable of imagining the very existence of a means of determining substantive knowledge about the world that does not rely upon presupposition. Well, I have news for you. Science does NOT rely upon "presupposition". Indeed, scientists have expended considerable intellectual effort in the direction of ensuring that the conclusions they arrive at are rigorously supported by the data that they present in their published papers. There exists much discourse in the scientific literature on the subject of avoiding fallacious or weak arguments, including much sterling work by people such as Ronald Fisher, who sought during their careers to bring rigour to the use of statistical inference in the physical and life sciences. Indeed, Fisher was responsible for inventing the technique of analysis of variance, which is one of the prime tools used in empirical science with respect to experimental data, and Fisher expended much effort ensuring that inferences drawn using that technique were proper inferences to draw.

    Basically, there is only one "interpretation" of the data that matters to scientists, and that is whatever interpretation is supported by reality. Learn this lesson quickly, unless you wish to be regarded as discoursively dishonest on a grand scale.

    Meanwhile, as a corollary of [2] above, it is time to address:


    [4] Learn what scientists ACTUALLY postulate, not what you think they postulate, or have been told that they postulate by duplicitous apologetics websites.

    This dovetails nicely with [3] above (because creationists always assume they know better what scientists postulate than the scientists themselves), and also dovetails to varying degrees with [6], [9], [10], [11], [12] and [13] below. If creationists really want to critique the theory of evolution, then they had better start learning what that theory actually postulates, as opposed to the farcical strawman caricatures thereof erected by authors of duplicitous apologetics. If you cannot be bothered to exercise this basic level of intellectual effort, then don't be surprised if people treat your attempts to erect 3,000 year old mythology, written by ignorant Bronze Age nomads, as being purportedly "superior" to the work of Nobel Laureates, with the scorn and derision such attempts deserve.


    [5] Learn the distinction between proof and evidential support.

    This is something that supernaturalists never tire of failing to understand, so once and for all, I shall present the distinction here.

    Proof is a formal procedure in pure mathematics, and only applicable to that discipline. Proof consists of applying, in an error-free manner, well-defined rules of inference to the axioms of a given mathematical system in order to produce theorems, and thence recursively to those theorems to produce more theorems.

    Evidential support consists of providing empirical demonstrations that a given set of postulates is in accord with observational reality. This is the process that is used in the physical sciences in order to build scientific theories. Postulates that are NOT in accord with observational reality are, as stated in [2] above, discarded.

    As in [4] above, if you cannot exercise the basic level of intellectual effort required to learn this simple distinction, or worse still, erect fatuous nonsense about "proving" a scientific theory (especially if "prove" is mis-spelt with two 'o's), then expect your posts to be treated as a free fire zone for scathing and withering derision.


    [6] Scientific theories are NOT "guesses".

    This is a favourite (and wholly duplicitous) canard beloved of creationists, and relies upon the fact that in everyday usage, English words are loaded with a multiplicity of meanings. This is NOT the case in science, where terms used are precisely defined. The precise definition apposite here is the definition of theory. In science, a theory is an integrated explanation for a class of real world observational phenomena of interest, that has been subjected to direct empirical test with respect to its correspondence with observational reality, and which has been found, via such testing, to be in accord with observational reality. It is precisely because scientific theories have been subject to direct empirical test, and have passed said empirical test, that they ARE theories, and consequently enjoy a high status in the world of scientific discourse. As a consequence of the above, anyone who erects the "it's only a theory" canard with respect to evolution will be regarded with well deserved scorn and derision.


    [7] The operation of natural processes, and the intellectual labour required to learn about those processes, are two separate entities.

    That I have to address this explicitly, and deal with this particular canard, after it had been repeatedly erected by one particular creationist here, after he had been repeatedly schooled upon this, really does make one wonder if some of the people purporting to be in a position to critique valid scientific theories, have ever attended a real science class in their lives, let alone paid attention therein.

    Let's knock this particular nonsense on the head once and for all. Just because scientists perform experiments, for the express purpose of determining how a particular natural process operates, and the details of whatever quantitative laws that process obeys, does NOT in any way, shape or form, support "intelligence" at work within those processes. The only "intelligence" in operation here is that of the scientists trying to learn about the natural process under investigation. In order to demonstrate the fatuousness of the converse view, consider gravity. This is a regularly observed real world phenomenon, and, as real world phenomena go, is about as mindless as one can imagine. The idea that "intelligence" is at work when something falls off a cliff is asinine to put it mildly. Now, in order to deduce the quantitative relationships at work when gravity acts upon objects, scientists can perform various experiments, to determine, for example, the speed of impact with which objects strike the ground when dropped from tall structures of varying heights. That they have to do this in order to deduce these quantitative details, and derive the requisite laws operating within the world of gravitational phenomena, does NOT in any way support the idea that "intelligence" is operating within that natural phenomenon itself. Indeed, applied mathematicians can postulate the existence of all manner of alternative forces, obeying different quantitative laws, and determine what would be observed if ever instances of those forces were observed in the real world, but again, this does NOT support for one moment the idea that those forces are innately "intelligent". So those who try to erect this nonsense with respect to experiments in evolutionary biology, or abiogenesis, will again invite much ridicule and laughter.

    For those who really want ramming home how absurd this canard is, the online satirical magazine The Onion has published this hilarious piece on "intelligent falling". Anyone who reads this without laughing, and regards the content as a serious exposition of scientific thinking, is in dire need of an education.

    As a corollary of the above, I am also required, courtesy of the same creationist who was unable to distinguish between the two, to address this:


    [8] Real world observational phenomena, and the theories erected to explain them, are two different entities.

    Again, the mere fact that I have to state this explicitly testifies to the scientific ignorance of many of the individuals who come here, purporting to be in a position to tell us that the world's most educated scientists have all got it wrong, and that 3,000 year old mythology has somehow got it right (or 1,400 year old mythology, depending upon your particular religious ideological background).

    With respect to evolution, populations of real living organisms have been observed evolving in real time. This is what is meant when the critical thinkers here state that evolution is an observed fact. Real populations of real living organisms have been observed changing over time, and have been documented doing so in the peer reviewed scientific literature. The theory of evolution consists of the postulates erected, and the testable mechanisms arising from those postulates, to explain those observed phenomena. Learn this distinction, or once again, prepare to face much contempt from the critical thinkers here.

    This brings me on neatly to:


    [9] The infamous "chance" and "random" canards (now with "nothing" side salad).

    Few things are more calculated to result in the critical thinkers here regarding a poster as a zero-IQ tosspot with blancmange for brains, than the erection of the "chance" canard. Usually taking the form of "scientists think life arose by chance", or variants thereof such as "you believe life was an accident". This is, not to put too fine a point upon it, bullshit.

    What scientists actually postulate, and they postulate this with respect to every observable phenomenon in the universe, is that well defined and testable mechanisms are responsible. Mechanisms that are amenable to empirical test and understanding, and in many cases, amenable to the development of a quantitative theory. Two such quantitative theories, namely general relativity and quantum electrodynamics, are in accord with observational reality to fifteen decimal places. As an aside, when someone can point to an instance of mythology producing something this useful, the critical thinkers will sit up and take notice, and not before.

    Likewise, erecting statements such as "random mutation can't produce X", where X is some complex feature of multicellular eukaryote organisms, will also invite much scorn, derision and contempt. First of all, drop the specious apologetic bullshit that "random" means "without rhyme or reason", because it doesn't. In rigorous scientific parlance, "random", with respect to mutations, means "we have insufficient information about the actual process that took place at the requisite time". This is because scientists have known for decades, once again, that mutations arise from well defined natural processes, and indeed, any decent textbook on the subject should list several of these, given that the Wikipedia page on mutations covers the topic in considerable depth. Go here, scroll down to the text "Induced mutations on the molecular level can be caused by:", and read on from that point. When you have done this, and you have learned that scientists have classified a number of well defined chemical reactions leading to mutations, you will be in a position to understand why the critical thinkers here regard the creationist use of "random" to mean "duh, it just happened" with particularly withering disdain. When scientists speak of "random" mutations, what they really mean is "one of these processes took place, but we don't have the detailed observational data to determine which of these processes took place, when it took place, and at what point it took place, in this particular instance. Though of course, anyone with a decent background in research genetics can back-track to an ancestral state for the gene in question. Indeed, as several scientific papers in the literature testify eloquently, resurrecting ancient genes is now a routine part of genetics research.

    Then, of course, we have that other brand of nonsense that creationists love to erect, which also fits into this section, namely the fatuous "you believe nothing created the universe" canard, and assorted corollary examples of palsied asininity based upon the same cretinous notion. Which is amply addressed by the above, namely that scientists postulate that well defined and testable natural mechanisms, operating upon the appropriate entities, were responsible for real world observational phenomena. In what fantasy parallel universe does "well defined and testable natural mechanisms, operating upon the appropriate entities" equal "nothing"? If you think that those two are synonyms, then again, you are in serious need of education, and you are in no position to lecture those of us who bothered to acquire one.


    [10] Specious and asinine creationist "probability" calculations.

    I've already dealt at length with this in this thread. Don't bother posting copy-paste bullshit from Stephen Meyer or other creationist blowhards from the Discovery Institute or AiG with respect to this, because what they have disseminated IS bullshit. So-called "probability" calculations erected by creationists are based upon assumptions that are either [1] never stated so as to avoid having their validity subject to critical scrutiny, or [2] when those assumptions are stated, they are found to be based upon well known fallacies. The link above addresses two of those fallacies in some detail, namely the serial trials fallacy and the "one true sequence" fallacy. If you post bullshit about "probability" supposedly "refuting" evolution or abiogenesis, virtually all of which arises from the same tired, previously debunked sources, then you will simply be setting yourself up as a target for well deserved ridicule.


    [11] The tiresome conflation of evolutionary theory with abiogenesis (with Big Bang side salad).

    A favourite one, this, among the creationists who come here. Which always results in the critical thinkers going into petunias mode (read Douglas Adams in order to understand that reference). Since so many creationists are woefully ill-educated in this area, I shall now correct that deficit in their learning.

    Evolutionary theory is a theory arising from biology, and its remit consists of explaining the observed diversity of the biosphere once living organisms exist. The origin of life is a separate question, and one which is covered by the theory of naturalistic abiogenesis, which is a theory arising from a different scientific discipline, namely organic chemistry. Learn this distinction before posting, otherwise you will simply be regarded as ignorant and ill-educated.

    While we're at it, evolutionary theory does not consider questions about the origin of Planet Earth itself, nor does it consider questions about the origin of the universe. The first of these questions is covered by planetary accretion theory, the second by cosmology, both of which arise from physics. As a consequence of learning this, if you subsequently erect the tiresome conflation of evolutionary theory with the Big Bang or the origin of the Earth, be prepared to be laughed at.

    As a corollary of the above, it is time to deal with:


    [12] The Pasteur canard.

    We have had several people erecting this canard here, and it usually takes the form of the erection of the statement "life does not come from non-life", usually with a badly cited reference to the work of Louis Pasteur. This particular piece of duplicitous apologetics, apart from being duplicitous, is also fatuous. The reason being that Louis Pasteur erected his "Law of Biogenesis" specifically for the purpose of refuting the mediaeval notion of spontaneous generation, a ridiculous notion which claimed that fully formed multicellular eukaryote organisms arose directly from dust or some similar inanimate medium. First, the modern theory of abiogenesis did not exist when Pasteur erected this law; second, the modern theory of abiogenesis does not postulate the sort of nonsense that abounded in mediaeval times (and which, incidentally, was accepted by supernaturalists in that era); and third, as a methodologically rigorous empiricist, Pasteur would wholeheartedly accept the large quantity of evidence provided by modern abiogenesis researchers if he were still alive.


    [13] The asinine preoccupation with "monkeys".

    This is a particularly tiresome creationist fetish, and again, merely points to the scientific ignorance of those who erect it. I point everyone to [4] above, and in this particular instance, remind those wishing to post here hat what science actually postulates with respect to human ancestry is that we share a common ancestor with other great apes. Indeed, Linnaeus decided that we were sufficiently closely related to chimpanzees, on the basis of comparative anatomy alone, to warrant placing humans and chimpanzees in the same taxonomic Genus, and he decided this back in 1747, no less than SIXTY TWO YEARS before Darwin was born. You can read the original letter Linnaeus wrote to fellow taxonomist Johann Georg Gmelin, dated 27th February 1747, lamenting the fact that he was being forced to alter his science to fit religious presuppositions by bishops, here in the original Latin. So if you wish to indulge your monkey fetish, go to the zoo and do it there, and allow us the light relief of hearing about your coming to the attention of law enforcement when you do.


    [14] The "no transitional forms" canard.

    In order to deal with this one, I have the following to ask. Namely:

    [1] Have you ever studied comparative anatomy in detail, at a proper, accredited academic institution?

    [2] Do you understand rigorously what is meant by "species"?

    [3] Do you understand even the basics of inheritance and population genetics?

    [4] Do you understand the basics of the workings of meiosis?

    If you cannot answer "yes" to all four of the above, then you are in no position to erect this canard. And, canard it is, as anyone with a proper understanding of the dynamic nature of species will readily understand, a topic I have posted at length on in the past. Indeed, you only have to ask yourself the following question, "Am I identical to either of my parents?" in order to alight quickly upon why this canard IS a canard. Your own family photo album supplies you with the answer here. YOU are a "transitional form" between your parents and your offspring, should you have any offspring.


    [15] The "evolutionist" canard (with "Darwinist" side salad).

    Now, if there is one guaranteed way for a creationist to establish that he or she is here for no other reason than to propagandise for a doctrine, it's the deployment of that most viscerally hated of words in the lexicon, namely, evolutionist. I have posted about this so often here, that I was surprised to find that I'd missed it out of the original list, but I had more pressing concerns to attend to when compiling the list originally. However, having been reminded of it, now is the time to nail this one to the ground with a stake through its heart once and for all.

    There is no such thing as an "evolutionist". Why do I say this? Simple. Because the word has become thoroughly debased through creationist abuse thereof, and in my view, deserves to be struck from the language forever. For those who need the requisite education, there exist evolutionary biologists, namely the scientific professionals who devote decades of their lives to understanding the biosphere and conducting research into appropriate biological phenomena, and those outside that specialist professional remit who accept the reality-based, evidence-based case that they present in their peer reviewed scientific papers for their postulates. The word "evolutionist" is a discoursive elision, erected by creationists for a very specific and utterly mendacious purpose, namely to suggest that valid evolutionary science is a "doctrine", and that those who accept its postulates do so merely as a priori "assumptions" (see [3] above). This is manifestly false, as anyone who has actually read the peer reviewed scientific literature is eminently well placed to understand. The idea that there exists some sort of "symmetry" between valid, evidence-based, reality-based science (evolutionary biology) and assertion-laden, mythology-based doctrine (creationism) is FALSE. Evolutionary biology, like every other branch of science, tests assertions and presuppositions to destruction, which is why creationism was tossed into the bin 150 years ago (see [2] above). When creationists can provide methodologically rigorous empirical tests of their assertions, the critical thinkers will sit up and take notice.

    Furthermore, with respect to this canard, does the acceptance of the scientifically educated individuals on this board, of the current scientific paradigm for gravity make them "gravitationists"? Does their acceptance of the evidence supporting the germ theory of disease make them "microbists"? Does their acceptance of the validity of Maxwell's Equations make them "electromagnetists"? Does their acceptance of of the validity of the work of Planck, Bohr, Schrödinger, Dirac and a dozen others in the relevant field make them "quantumists"? Does their acceptance of the validity of the astrophysical model for star formation and the processes that take place inside stars make them "stellarists"? If you are unable to see the absurdity inherent in this, then you are in no position to tell people here that professional scientists have got it wrong, whilst ignorant Bronze Age nomads writing mythology 3,000 years ago got it right.

    While we're at it, let's deal with the duplicitous side salad known as "Darwinist". The critical thinkers here know why this particular discoursive elision is erected, and the reason is related to the above. Basically, "Darwinist" is erected for the specific purpose of suggesting that the only reason people accept evolution is because they bow uncritically to Darwin as an authority figure. This is, not to put too fine a point on it, droolingly encephalitic drivel of a particularly suppurating order. Let's provide a much needed education once and for all here.

    Darwin is regarded as historically important because he founded the scientific discipline of evolutionary biology, and in the process, converted biology from a cataloguing exercise into a proper empirical science. The reason Darwin is considered important is NOT because he is regarded uncritically as an "authority figure" - the critical thinkers leave this sort of starry-eyed gazing to followers of the likes of William Lane Craig. Darwin is regarded as important because he was the first person to pay serious attention to reality with respect to the biosphere, with respect to the business of determining mechanisms for its development, and the first to engage in diligent intellectual labour for the purpose of establishing that reality supported his postulates with respect to the biosphere. In other words, instead of sitting around accepting uncritically mythological blind assertion, he got off his arse, rolled up his sleeves, did the hard work, put in the long hours performing the research and gathering the real world data, and then spending long hours determining what would falsify his ideas and determining in a rigorous manner that no such falsification existed. For those who are unaware of this, the requisite labour swallowed up twenty years of his life, which is par for the course for a scientist introducing a new paradigm to the world. THAT is why he is regarded as important, because he expended colossal amounts of labour ensuring that REALITY supported his ideas. That's the ONLY reason ANY scientist acquires a reputation for being a towering contributor to the field, because said scientist toils unceasingly for many years, in some cases whole decades, ensuring that his ideas are supported by reality in a methodologically rigorous fashion.

    Additionally, just in case this idea hasn't crossed the mind of any creationist posting here, evolutionary biology has moved on in the 150 years since Darwin, and whilst his historical role is rightly recognised, the critical thinkers have also recognised that more recent developments have taken place that would leave Darwin's eyes out on stalks if he were around to see them. The contributors to the field after Darwin are numerous, and include individuals who contributed to the development of other branches of science making advances in evolutionary theory possible. Individuals such as Ronald Fisher, who developed the mathematical tools required to make sense of vast swathes of biological data (heard of analysis of variance? Fisher invented it), or Theodosius Dobzhansky, who combined theoretical imagination with empirical rigour, and who, amongst other developments, provided science with a documented instance of speciation in the laboratory. Other seminal contributors included Müller (who trashed Behe's nonsense six decades before Behe was born), E. O. Wilson, Ernst Mayr, Motoo Kimura, Stephen Jay Gould, Niles Eldredge, J. B. S. Haldane, Richard Lewontin, Sewall Wright, Jerry Coyne, Carl Woese, Kenneth Miller, and they're just the ones I can list off the top of my head. Pick up any half-decent collection of scientific papers from the past 100 years, and dozens more names can be added to that list.

    So, anyone who wants to be regarded as an extremely low-grade chew toy here only has to erect the "evolutionist" or "Darwinist" canard, and they will guarantee this end result.


    [16] The "evolution is a belief" nonsense.

    At this point, it should be sufficient for me to point to [2], [4] and [6] above, and tell those entertaining this fatuous idea to go and learn something. However, I suspect that the attention span of the typical creationist is such that a reminder is needed at this point. And that reminder is now forthcoming.

    When scientists provide hard evidence supporting their postulates, in the form of direct empirical tests of the validity of those postulates, "belief" is superfluous to requirements and irrelevant. This has happened time and time and time again in evolutionary biology, and once more, if you can't be bothered to read the actual scientific papers in question in order to learn this, then you are in no position to critique a theory that has been subject to more thorough critical scrutiny than you can even imagine is possible. Oh, and as an indication of the size of the task ahead of you, if you think you're hard enough to dismiss the scientific evidence on a case by case basis, you have over a million scientific papers to peruse that have been published in the past 150 years. Be advised that tossing one paper into the bin isn't enough, you have to toss ALL of them into the bin. Good luck on that one.

    Just in case this hasn't registered here, the critical thinkers regard belief itself as intellectually invalid. If you have to ask why, then again, you are in need of an education, and badly.

    As a corollary of the above, I now turn my attention to:


    [17] "You only believe in evolution because you hate god".

    Anyone posting this particular piece of drivel, and make no mistake, it IS drivel, is quite frankly beneath deserving of a point of view. Erectors of this sub-amoeboid, cretinous, verminous, pestilential and thoroughly decerebrate cortical faeces are not considered to be worth the small amount of effort required to treat them with utter disdain, let alone the greater effort required to subject them to actual contempt.

    Aside from the fact that I have dealt with the "belief" bullshit in [16] above, and aside from the fact that I've dealt with the complete failure of supernaturalists to provide any evidence for their pet magic man back in [1] above (yes, you need a proper attention span if you're going to engage in debate here), and as a corollary of this latter point, we'd like to know how one can "hate" an entity whose very existence has only ever been supported by vacuous apologetics instead of genuine evidence, this particular favourite meme of creationists is singularly retarded because it misses the whole point by several thousand light years. Allow me to remind you all once again, first that the critical thinkers do not regard "belief" as intellectually valid full stop, and that the critical thinkers accept the validity of evolution because REALITY supports it. THAT is what counts here, because it is what counts in professional scientific circles. You can whinge, moan, bitch and bleat all you like with respect to this moronic canard, but be advised that people who paid attention in classes at school regard this canard as one of the most utterly spastic pieces of apologetics in existence, and given the fulminating level of stupidity that has emanated from apologetics over the years, this makes the above canard rather special.

    While we're at it, let's deal with one polemical argument that was presented to me recently, and one which is again entirely specious. Namely, the argument that evolutionary theory was erected "to kill off the idea of a creator". Er, no it wasn't. Anyone who follows the actual history of the development of evolutionary theory will know that it was erected to provide an explanation for observed biodiversity, and to provide an explanation for observed dynamic change in populations of living organisms. I know that creationists love to erect specious doctrine-centred arguments such as this (which dovetails with the doctrine-centred thinking and specious apologetics covered in [15] above), but such specious doctrine-centred arguments are, not to put too fine a point on it, blatant lies. Just because creationists can't accept that someone might alight upon a view of the world that doesn't rely upon doctrinal presuppositions doesn't mean that such a view cannot exist. But then, the entire creationist argument consists of asserting that the world conforms to their ignorant wishful thinking, so it's no surprise that they adopt the same view with respect to the development of scientific theories. So, if you erect any of the "you hate god" or other specious polemical pseudo-arguments here, be prepared to endure much mockery for doing so, especially if you do so after being directed here and told to learn from this.


    [18] The argument via link to crap websites/copy-paste screed/crap YouTube video.

    By now, those who have been paying attention know what's coming next. So, if you haven't been paying attention, you're in for a shock.

    Time and time again, we see creationists turning up, posting a one-line post consisting of a link to some worthless apologetics website, thinking that they're going to "stick it to the stoopid atheists". Aside from the fact that this is terminally lazy, and merely demonstrates that the poster couldn't be bothered to present the "arguments" contained in said link using original prose of his or her own devising (which requires one to have actually bothered to read the apologetics in question, which a surprisingly large number of link spammers never do), the fatuousness of this approach should become evident very quickly upon asking the following question. If you are told that you have been diagnosed with a brain tumour, who are you going to ask to remove it? Are you going to ask a professional neurosurgeon, who has trained for years specifically to perform this operation, or are you going to ask a football coach?

    If that question seems inane to you, then it is MEANT to seem inane. Specifically for the purpose of bringing into sharp relief the inanity involved in pointing to an apologetics website as a purported source of "scientific" knowledge, as opposed to pointing to the website of, say, an actual university evolutionary biology department, or the website of an actual evolutionary biologist, or the website of a scientific journal that publishes papers in this field. If you think some wank-break televangelist in a $5,000 suit paid for by gullible rubes is somehow an "expert" in the field, then once again, you really are in need of an education. Which of course brings us back to [2] above.

    Let's get this straight once and for all. Websites devoted to religious apologetics are worthless as sources of genuine scientific information. If you want real scientific information, you go to a professional scientist, a professional scientific body, or a professional scientific journal. This is why science textbooks are written by actual scientists. Because, in case you hadn't worked this out, these are the people who know, and who are paid to know. I don't care how many people purportedly possessing Ph.Ds are cited by your favourite apologetics website, this is irrelevant, because the mere fact that those people are contributing to that website means that they are NOT practising real science, they are practising apologetics, which again brings us back to [2] above. Which means that the likes of AiG, ICR, the Discovery Institute and the various other organisations that act as ideological stormtroopers for mythology-based doctrine are worthless from the standpoint of disseminating genuine scientific information, because their primary interest is apologetics. Their primary interest is propagandising for mythology. As a consequence, these websites frequently misrepresent valid science (again, see [2] above). Indeed, several of them peddle outright lies about science (see [3] above, where I provide a handy link to the destruction of one instance of said lies). Consequently, if you come here linking to one of these organisations, the response from the critical thinkers here will be to go into petunias mode (again, see Douglas Adams for the reference).

    Whilst we're here, I might as well address the related argument by copy-paste screed canard, which fits in here too. Copying and pasting a large wall of text from an apologetics website, dumping it here in the same manner in which an incontinent baby dumps the contents of its nappies on the floor, then running off thinking that you have somehow "refuted" valid science, merely earns you our lasting scorn and derision. Even more so if there is a stark contrast between the literacy level of the copy-paste screed, and that of posts containing your own words. If you are unable to spell words of more than five letters correctly when writing your own posts, and unable to post more than, say, 15 words in such posts, then suddenly unleash a wall of text upon us, the critical thinkers will know what they're dealing with, and the resulting savaging that your posts will receive will not be pretty to watch. Picture the spectacle that would result if you slashed a baby with a Stanley knife, then tossed it into a piranha infested river. That's what will happen to your posts.

    The same spectacle will result if you post a link to, or embed, a crap YouTube video. If we see John Pendelton, Kent Hovind or any of the other well-known charlatans appearing, or for that matter any of the well-known wannabees, popping up in the video clip, other than for the purpose of having their execrable ignorance, stupidity and wilful dishonesty eviscerated, then your post gets the piranha treatment.


    [19] The tiresome "design" argument.

    Let's get this straight here. This is nothing more than the resurrection of the Paley's watchmaker zombie, which stinks even more after 150 years of rotting in the grave than it did when Paley first erected it. Aside from the fact that this argument fails spectacularly because artefacts arising from known manufacturing processes are qualitatively different from the rest of the world, and said artefacts are not self-replicating entities, the entire "design" argument fails for one very important reason. Propagandists for mythology have never presented a proper, rigorous means of testing for "design", and for that matter, don't even understand what is needed in order to provide genuine evidence for "design". The fatuous "it looks designed to me, therefore my magic man did it" argument will, once again, receive the piranha treatment if you make the mistake of deploying it here (see [1] above). Make no mistake, this is nothing more than the typical supernaturalist elevation of ignorance to the level of a metaphysic. The "design" argument consists of nothing more than "I can't imagine how a natural process could have achieved X, therefore no natural process could have achieved X, therefore magic man did it". Learn once and for all that reality is not only under no obligation whatsoever to pander to this sort of ignorance and wishful thinking, all too frequently, it sticks the middle finger to said ignorance and wishful thinking.

    Now, I'm going to be kind here, and explain what is needed, in order to have genuine evidence for "design". You need ALL of the following four criteria satisfied, namely:

    [19.1] That there exists a detailed, rigorous, robust methodology for segregating entities into the "designed" and "not designed" classes ("It looks designed, therefore magic man" isn't good enough);

    [19.2] That the methodology cited in [19.1] above has been tested upon entities of known provenance, and found to be reliable via said direct empirical test;

    [19.3] That the methodology cited in [19.1] above, and determined to be reliable in [19.2] above, is accompanied by a rigorous demonstration of its applicability to specific classes of entity of interest;

    [19.4] That the methodology cited in [19.1] above, determined to be reliable in [19.2] above, and determined to be applicable to the requisite class of entities in [19.3] above, yields an unambiguous answer of "designed" for the entities to which it is applied.

    Unless you have ALL FOUR of the above criteria fulfilled, you have NO evidence for "design". Don't even bother trying to claim otherwise until you've spent at least a decade or so devising the rigorous and robust methodology specified as an essential requirement in [19.1] above, because the critical thinkers will know you're lying. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the task at hand, just fulfilling [19.1] above would constitute a major scientific achievement, and by the time you got to [19.4], you would be in Nobel-winning territory. That is, of course, if you fulfilled [19.1] to [19.3] above properly. If you ever made it to [19.4], your name would be indelibly stamped upon history. The idea that some random poster on the Internet is going to achieve this with nothing more than blind acceptance of mythological assertion to guide him is, needless to say, regarded here as a complete non-starter.


    [20] Teleology/ethics redux.

    First, in response to recent posting activity, I'd like to cover the matter of teleology. Which is defined as 'the doctrine of final purpose'. Basically, teleology erects the assertion (hand in hand with supernaturalism) that the universe and its contents are subject to an externally applied overarching 'purpose'. This is merely another example of the pervasiveness of the human tendency to project our own intentionality upon our surroundings, a process that our species applied from prehistoric times onwards. The operation thereof is very simple. Humans are beings who think about their actions (well, at least some of us are), and who frequently engage in activities with a specific end goal in mind. As a consequence, when our prehistoric ancestors saw natural forces at work, and saw that those natural forces shaped the landscape (and their own populations), they considered it entirely natural to conclude that this was the work of some entity similar to themselves, namely an entity with internally generated thoughts and goals, acting to achieve those goals. Basically, our prehistoric ancestors fabricated invisible magic men of various species because they didn't know any better, and in the absence of substantive scientific knowledge, doing so was the only way that they could make sense of a complex, dynamic world. It would take our species a good 200,000 years to reach the point where we could make sense of the world in a proper, rigorous, quantitative manner without erecting such fabrications, and thus, said mythological fabrications have enjoyed far more persistence and persuasiveness than their complete absence of genuine explanatory power warrants.

    Teleology is merely an extension of this. Because we have end goals and act to achieve those end goals in the real world, our ancestors assumed that the events around them arising from natural forces had a like origin, and that some sentient intent and planning lay behind them. However, this is merely another of those presuppositions that, in the fullness of time, was found severely wanting when subject to proper, intense critical scientific test. NO evidence has EVER arisen supporting the idea of an externally applied teleology governing the universe and its contents, indeed, with several physical systems, the idea that this is even possible looks decidedly nonsensical, in the light of the fact that those systems are best represented by systems of equations that are highly nonlinear, exhibit extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, and wildly bifurcating behaviour. There is an entire branch of mathematics devoted to the study of such systems, namely the mathematics of chaotic dynamical systems, and even relatively simple, supposedly deterministic systems of equations have been demonstrated to exhibit wide variance in behaviour with only tiny changes in initial conditions. The Verhulst Equation that is used to model population dynamics is a prime example - even small changes in the fecundity parameter in this equation will lead, once the equation enters the bifurcating régime, in wildly different outcomes even if one starts with the same initial conditions. Indeed, once that equation enters the chaotic régime, our ability to predict future behaviour of the system is severely truncated.

    Now, if a simple ordinary differential equation can manifest this diversity of behaviour, it doesn't take much imagining, at least amongst those who paid attention in the requisite classes, to realise that a physical system such as the weather, which is best modelled using the Navier-Stokes Equations among others, is not going to be in any sense 'directable', no matter what delusions of grandeur any sentient entity has with respect to this. The Navier-Stokes Equations are not only highly nonlinear interlinked partial differential equations (and in the most general case, tensor differential equations to boot, involving at least one second order tensor quantity), but have proven to be so intractable to attack by mathematicians, that the very existence of a general analytical solution to them remains unknown, despite a century or more of intense labour by the world's best mathematicians to answer this question. Indeed, anyone who succeeds in this endeavour will win themselves a $1 million prize courtesy of the Clay Mathematical Institute, and immediately find themselves receiving lucrative job offers from aerospace companies such as Boeing to come and help them streamline their supercomputer models of fluid flow. At the moment, Navier-Stokes turbulent flow modelling requires expensive teams of top-class mathematicians, computer scientists, and a $50 million supercomputer as baseline pre-requisites, and those operating in this field will readily tell you that there are limits to how far in future time one can push the models, particularly those using these tools for weather modelling. The idea that the behaviour of a physical system, governed by equations of this sort, is 'directable' by any sentience will result in considerable mirth amongst those who know. So if you think your magic man is capable of imposing an overarching teleology upon the universe and its contents, and micro-managing the entire show, those two gentlemen called Navier and Stokes flushed that presupposition down the toilet over 100 years ago.

    As a corollary, if there is hard evidence from 300 years of continued scientific endeavour, that an externally applied overarching teleology is not only conspicuous by its absence, but wholly absurd in the light of the divergent behaviour of key physical systems (and that's before we enter the world of quantum indeterminacy), then likewise, the idea that there exists one, single, overarching set of ethical precepts applied externally to the universe from the same source, a set of precepts that remains unconditionally valid for all time, is similarly ludicrous. Nietzsche castigated philosophers who erected grand, assertion-laden metaphysical systems for the purpose of imposing their pet ethics upon the universe even without the benefit of the latest scientific knowledge, and recognised the basic fallacy underlying this exercise. Modern physics simply propels the fallacy into the realms of Pythonesque absurdity. Apart from the cosmic level of anthropocentric conceit required to erect the notion, that the affairs of one small collection of primates on one small planet, orbiting an average star situated in a nondescript galaxy, are the central reason for the universe being here, there is the central absurdity involved in imposing an overarching set of ethical precepts upon a universe in which the supposedly central characters don't put in an appearance for over 13 billion years. The monumental metaphysical profligacy this assumes would make William of Ockham barf.

    This brings us on to the corollary canard ...


    [21] "The universe is meaningless without my magic man"

    To which the short answer is "so fucking what?"

    Leaving aside for the moment the total failure of supernaturalists to support the assertion that their particular pet species of magic man actually exists, which also impinges upon [20] above, the idea that the universe needs this entity to impose meaning upon it is a piece of intellectual constipation that I, for one, find mind-numbingly boring, tedious and unimaginative. Douglas Adams said it best - "Isn't it enough to realise that the garden is beautiful as it is, without having to imagine fairies at the bottom of it?"

    Likewise, why should the universe be required to genuflect before supernaturalist anthropocentric conceit, and be required to be meaningful only because an invisible magic man that we have invented decrees thus?

    We are beings that are capable of eliciting meaning for our own lives, and the world around us, without outside interference. Erecting an imaginary source of outside interference is nothing more than a gargantuan Little Orphan Annie complex, a wish to remain a child with a nice Daddy figure to run the world around us so that we don't have to get off our arses and expend the effort. This is such an utterly lame stance to adopt. It's indolent, naive, simplistic and dumb. Surely there is far more majesty in knowing that the universe, quixotic and capricious though it may seem to be at first sight, is comprehensible by diligent intellectual human effort, and that exercising that effort not only leads to a breathtaking vista of understanding that adds to the majesty, but gives us the power to work toward a better destiny for us all in a manner that produces real, substantive results? Once again, the evidence we have is that fabricated magic men are superfluous to requirements and irrelevant in this vein, and indeed, are increasingly a hindrance. "Magic man did it", once again, is little more than a synonym for "don't bother asking questions, don't bother being curious, don't bother trying to learn". What gives meaning to the world around us is the effort we exert to understand the world and put that knowledge to constructive use.


    [22] The infamous canards surrounding "information".

    Now this is a particularly insidious brand of canard, because it relies upon the fact that the topic of information, and its rigorous analysis, is replete with misunderstanding. However, instead of seeking to clarify the misconceptions, creationist canards about information perpetuate those misconceptions for duplicitous apologetic purposes. A classic one being the misuse of the extant rigorous treatments of information, and the misapplication of different information treatments to different situations, either through ignorance, or wilful mendacity. For example, Claude Shannon provided a rigorous treatment of information, but a treatment that was strictly applicable to information transmission, and NOT applicable to information storage. Therefore, application of Shannon information to information storage in the genome is a misuse of Shannon's work. The correct information analysis to apply to storage is Kolmogorov's analysis, which erects an entirely different measure of information content that is intended strictly to be applicable to storage. Mixing and matching the two is a familiar bait-and-switch operation that propagandists for creationist doctrine are fond of.

    However, the ultimate reason why creationist canards about information are canards, is simply this. Information is NOT a magic entity. It doesn't require magic to produce it. Ultimately, "information" is nothing more than the observational data that is extant about the current state of a system. That is IT. No magic needed. All that happens, in real world physical systems, is that different system states lead to different outcomes when the interactions within the system take place. Turing alighted upon this notion when he wrote his landmark paper on computable numbers, and used the resulting theory to establish that Hilbert's conjecture upon decidability in formal axiomatic systems was false. Of course, it's far easier to visualise the process at work, when one has an entity such as a Turing machine to analyse this - a Turing machine has precise, well-defined states, and precise, well-defined interactions that take place when the machine occupies a given state. But this is precisely what we have with DNA - a system that can exist in a number of well-defined states, whose states determine the nature of the interactions that occur during translation, and which result in different outcomes for different states. indeed, the DNA molecule plays a passive role in this: its function is simply to store the sequence of states that will result, ultimately, in the synthesis of a given protein, and is akin to the tape running through a Turing machine. The real hard work is actually performed by the ribosomes, which take that state data and use it to bolt together amino acids into chains to form proteins, which can be thought of as individual biological 'Turing machines' whose job is to perform, mechanically and mindlessly in accordance with the electrostatic and chemical interactions permitting this, the construction of a protein using the information arising from DNA as the template. Anyone who thinks magic is needed in all of this, once again, is in need of an education.

    As for the canard that "mutations cannot produce new information", this is manifestly false. Not only does the above analysis explicitly permit this, the production of new information (in the form of new states occupied by DNA molecules) has been observed taking place in the real world and documented in the relevant scientific literature. If you can't be bothered reading any of this voluminous array of scientific papers, and understanding the contents thereof, before erecting this particularly moronic canard, then don't bother erecting the canard in the first place, because it will simply demonstrate that you are scientifically ignorant. Indeed, the extant literature not only covers scientific papers explicitly dealing with information content in the genome, such as Thomas D. Schneider's paper handily entitled Evolution And Biological Information to make your life that bit easier, but also papers on de novo gene origination, of which there are a good number, several of which I have presented here in the past in previous threads. The mere existence of these scientific papers, and the data that they document, blows tiresome canards about "information" out of the water with a nuclear depth charge. Post information canards at your peril after reading this.

    Whilst dwelling on information, another creationist canard also needs to be dealt with here, namely the false conflation of information with ascribed meaning. Which can be demonstrated to be entirely false by reference to the following sequence of hexadecimal bytes in a computer's memory:

    81 16 00 2A FF 00

    To a computer with an 8086 processor, those bytes correspond to the following single machine language instruction:

    ADC [2A00H], 00FFH

    To a computer with a 6502 processor, those bytes correspond to the following machine language instruction sequence:

    CLC
    ASL ($00,X)
    LDX #$FF
    BRK

    To a computer with a 6809 processor, those bytes correspond to the following machine language instruction sequence:

    CMPA #$16
    NEG $2AFF
    NEG ??

    the ?? denoting the fact that for this processor, the byte sequence is incomplete, and two more bytes are needed to supply the address operand for the NEG instruction.

    Now, we have three different ascribed meanings to one stream of bytes. Yet, none of these ascribed meanings influences either the Shannon information content, when that stream is transmitted from one computer to another, or the Kolmogorov information content when those bytes are stored in memory. Ascribed meaning is irrelevant to both rigorous information measures. As is to be expected, when one regards information content simply as observational data about the state of the system (in this case, the values of the stored bytes in memory). Indeed, it is entirely possible to regard ascribed meaning as nothing other than the particular interactions driven by the underlying data, once that data is being processed, which of course will differ from processor to processor. Which means that under such an analysis, even ascribed meaning, which creationists fallaciously conflate with information content, also requires no magical input. All that is required is the existence of a set of interactions that will produce different outcomes from the different observed states of the system (with the term 'observation' being used here sensu lato to mean any interaction that is capable of differentiating between the states of the system of interest).


    [23] The asinine "were you there?" canard.

    This canard is particularly loathed here, not only because it is about as palsied and cretinous a canard as it's possible to erect, but because it is also manifestly dishonest. Dishonest because of the inherent double standard that supernaturalists in general, and creationists in particular, adopt when deploying this canard. Namely, that they think it is perfectly legitimate to hand-wave away massive amounts of hard evidence from observational reality using this duplicitous rhetorical device, yet expect the critical thinkers to accept without question the unsupported blind assertions of their mythology, which makes fantastic claims about the past history of the universe that by definition were not only unobserved, but impossible to verify empirically because those claims involve magic. If you think that this double standard is legitimate, be prepared to have your discoursive dishonesty subject to withering critical scrutiny.

    Now, having dealt with the dishonesty at the heart of this canard, I'll deal with why it is asinine. This canard is beneath deserving of a point of view for one simple reason. Physical processes leave behind them physical evidence of their having taken place. This is a basic scientific fact, one that science has relied upon for 300 years in order to make sense of the real world, and denial of this basic fact once again merely demonstrates that you are more interested in propping up a doctrine than learning about the real world. Furthermore, physical evidence of the occurrence of particular processes is frequently persistent, which means that said evidence remains in place for a long period of time, includin

  23. robaylesbury says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 02:09 PM:

    continued.

    including periods of time that are orders of magnitude greater than that asserted to have existed by your ideology. Once again, scientists, and those here who accept the results of the diligent labours of those scientists, aren't interested in doctrinal assertions, they are interested in reality, and if reality sticks the middle finger to doctrinal assertions, tough.

    That physical processes leave behind them evidence of their having taken place, and that said evidence is persistent enough to await our attention, are basic principles that are relied upon by branches of science as diverse as geology and forensics, and if you want to assert that those principles are false, good luck with this, given the massive amount of evidence supporting those basic principles. As a corollary of this, if you erect the "were you there" nonsense in a thread, you will be in no position to complain when the critical thinkers subject the combination of scientific ignorance and discoursive mendacity inherent in this canard to withering attention.

    Indeed, in order to deal with a particularly retarded variant of this argument, I'll state another elementary principle applicable to the refutation of this cretinous piece of creationist apologetic fabrication. Namely that physical phenomena exist independently of our observing or measuring them. And, since those independently existing physical phenomena leave behind them physical evidence of their having taken place, which we can alight upon at any time provided the evidence is persistent enough, this palsied, encephalitic canard should now be well and truly dead with a stake through its heart.

  24. Rayburne F. says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 02:12 PM:

    I've seen this kind of trash and profanity before, thank you. Garbage in, garbage out! Why don't you contribute something to the topic (Two recent archaeological discoveries). I have. Thank you.

  25. robaylesbury says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 02:15 PM:

    You couldn't resist flirting with creationism and required dealing with.

    The article takes 30-40 minutes to read. You haven't read it. You won't. It's light years beyond your comprehension.

  26. robaylesbury says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 02:24 PM:

    I contributed to the discussion by way of mentioning the Exodus. You know, the hugely important event for which there is no evidence?

    And by the way, do birds cure leprosy?

  27. Rayburne. F. says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 03:02 PM:

    "The article takes 30-40 minutes to read. You haven't read it. You won't. It's light years beyond your comprehension."

    Now the above really makes me laugh. I've read enough of this trash to know that when one has to resort to the "f..word, it shows his confidence in what he thinks he knows (call it foundation or applecart) has been upset and it it is time to stop reading it, including your so-called canards that you accuse creationists of erecting. Goodbye.

  28. Rayburne F. says on Feb 2, 2010 @ 07:00 PM:

    By the way,in Leviticus 14: 2-52, the Bible never claims that birds, or water can cure leprosy, only God (remember, what I said about seven being the number of God's perfection."). Read it. The ritual of cleansing instituted under the law of Moses and associated with the disease of leprosy in the Old Testament was also a type of spiritual leoprosy or sin (see Jermiah 13:23), for which Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God (the fulfillment or Antitype)came to shed His own blood to provide forgiveness and cleansing from sin (John 1:29). Today, with early detection and proper drugs, leprosy can be treated effectively, thank God.

  29. robaylesbury says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 05:34 AM:

    Ray, I think you'll find the following are used to treat Leprosy.

    •Rifampin
    •Dapsone
    •Clofazimine

    I think you'll also find that scientists played a part in this. You know, those evil meddlers that enable you to live in the first world luxury you take for granted.

    All the same, very pleased to hear that God cures Leprosy. Now he's now done that perhaps he can turn his attention to Haiti, which appears to slipped under his all knowing radar.

  30. robaylesbury says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 05:47 AM:

    and regarding your unwillingness to engage with material that challenges your supernaturalist blind assertions, these words taken from point five would appear to sum you and your ilk up rather well.

    "If you cannot be bothered to exercise this basic level of intellectual effort, then don't be surprised if people treat your attempts to erect 3,000 year old mythology, written by ignorant Bronze Age nomads, as being purportedly "superior" to the work of Nobel Laureates, with the scorn and derision such attempts deserve."

  31. Rayburne F. says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 06:19 AM:

    Give me a break. I am neither impressed by the esteem of men, especially Richard Dawkins, nor by what people think of the Bible, hank you.(neither is my lord). Have a great life.

  32. Puzzled says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 07:42 AM:

    Here we have a faithful disciple of Dawkins debating with a faithful disciple of Christ, and yet, the disciple of Dawkins rebukes the disciple of Christ for introducing theology thinking that only dogmatic scientific philosophy should be allowed on a Christian site. It is like arguing that only dogmatic theology should be allowed on Dawkins site. I think someone has stumbled onto the wrong blog and has not realized it - no wonder blood pressure is rising.

  33. robaylesbury says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 08:49 AM:

    Hello Puzzled,

    I am nobody's disciple. And my blood pressure is fine.

    Thank you for your concern, though.

  34. robaylesbury says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 08:51 AM:

    And Ray, when you say that you are not concerned what other's think of the Bible I suspect that is not entirely
    honest of you.

  35. Rayburne F. says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 10:09 AM:

    You know perfectly well what I meant Rob. I meant those, like you, who appear to hold the Bible in derision. After all the Bible has withstood the assault of attacks from both inside and outside the church, both scientists and theologians alike for over 2000 years. Now, this is my last word to you. Why don't you get back on topic, remember, "Two Recent Archaeological Discoveries." That's what this space is for (excuse the preposition).

  36. Robaylesbury says on Feb 3, 2010 @ 11:36 AM:

    Ray, you have veered off into creationism, cosmology, and biblical innerency. We are probably both guilty of mission creep.

  37. Steve says on Feb 5, 2010 @ 09:22 PM:

    Hi Rayburne F,
    This is indeed an interesting article you've written, can you provide a link to some of your resources on this, so I can prepare some discussion on it in another forum that I post on?

    Numbers 6:24-26.

    Thank you.

  38. Rayburne F. says on Feb 6, 2010 @ 04:29 PM:

    To substantiate that there are distinguished scholars today, both in the fields of science and philosophy, who strongly believe that science and religion are not necessarily in conflict, I would encourage readers to check out this link . Professor Peter Harrison, BSc, BA(Hons), PhD (Qld) MA (Yale) MA (Oxon) FAHA, holds the distinguished Andreas Idreos Chair of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford and has a long list of impressive credentials and academic accomplishments. What caught my attention is that he is very fair (unlike Dawkins and his kind). Particularly interesting is his candid response that what Richard Dawkins considers to be a knock-down argument against God’s existence is really “silly” and "philosophically naïve," also, his commentary on religious challenges to science. Please check it out. Here is the link:

    http://christiannews.co.nz/2010/professor-peter-harrison-science-and-religion/

  39. Rayburne F. says on Feb 6, 2010 @ 06:35 PM:

    Regarding my article, there are several good sources covering archaeology and the Bible; for example, Jack Finegan, "The Archaeology of the New Testament. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992; J.A. Thompson. "The Bible and Archaeology". Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975; Edwin Yamauchi. "The Stones and the Scriptures." New York: J.B. Lippencott, 1972; John McRay. Archaeology and the New Testament, Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker, 1991.Especially useful is McRay's Archaeology and the New Testament. I also referred to "Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, ," by Professor Eugene H. Merril, a book I used extensively in seminary.

  40. robaylesbury says on Feb 7, 2010 @ 08:49 AM:

    Ray, what books have you actively sought out that have challenged your way of thinking?

  41. Rayburne F. says on Feb 7, 2010 @ 03:29 PM:

    Underlying your thinking is the presupposition (yes, we all have them) that if a genuine believer will just read the “right” books out there that challenge his beliefs or way of thinking, then, that will somehow undermine or cause him to change his mind or way of thinking, as you call it.. This is faulty reasoning because one is not brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour (and to a belief that the Bible is true) by the views and opinions of men, be they scientists, theologians or philosophers(what the apostle Paul calls “philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of this world, and not after Christ”-Colossians 2:8), but rather through the supernatural working of God, the Holy Spirit.

    Yes, there have been men/women in the past who have forsaken Christ and their professed "faith" (I. e. evangelist Charles Templeton) because, in truth, they merely professed (but did not possess) saving faith in Christ. Templeton was so influenced by the liberal rationalism of the day, steeped in evolutionary dogmatism, that he eventually forsook the Christian faith, but you cannot forsake what you really do not possess in the first place. And yes, I’ve read Templeton‘s book “Farewell to Christianity.” Also, I’ve read the radical-fringe writings of the Jesus Seminar, and myth-riddled books filled with incredible improbabilities; for example, The Da Vinci Code; Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls; Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the Tomb of Jesus, etc., all of which merely served to strengthen my faith and confidence in Jesus Christ and His Word.

    Of course, I’ve read Darwin’s "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life," and have quoted word-for-word from it in previous comments on other topics on this website to dispel any notion of “quote-mining.” I have also read basic textbooks in physics, chemistry and biology. Any so-called challenge to my faith, however, does not hinge on what (or how many) science books or journals I've read ( or not read), as I have already indicated.

    Yes, I am no less trilled by the discoveries of science, than was true for outstanding Christian scientists like Newton, Faraday, Kelvin, Boyle and Maxwell, etc. but science deals with the physical Universe and its laws. A scientist can speak with a fair measure of certainty about the things he has observed, the distances he has measured, the properties of elements he has tested in his laboratory, but he cannot speak as such on subjects beyond the compass of his slide rule and test-tube and stethoscope and microscope and telescope. A scientist may say, “I have never seen an angel,” but he cannot say “There are no angels (or supernatural miracles) because I’ve not seen one .” If he makes such a statement, he is becoming very unscientific indeed. So, enough of this nonsense that biblical faith and intellectuality (religion and science) are somehow in conflict. If evangelical Christians have an enemy, it is not the scientist who ferrets out the marvels of nature, as I’ve said before, but the theorist who jumps to premature conclusions before the evidence is all in . As Pastor H. Barber (whose radio sermons from Winnipeg touched many lives) once stated: “Man’s greatest need is not knowledge that comes from the application of the scientific method, but rather purity of heart, hope for tomorrow and inner peace-which come only through faith in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ-the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6; Romans 5:1)

    No, I've not read any books to date that presented a real challenge to my faith in Christ and in His Word. But then, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to believe in God and in God’s revelation concerning Himself in Jesus Christ, as Dr. Wernher von Braun, head of NASA’s Research Space Program, so poignantly reminded us.

    I have read enough to know that if one truly seeks to know the truth concerning God and His revelation in Christ, he will assuredly find it. But humanity's big problem is that fallen human beings don't seek God (Romans 3:11); nor do they desire to know His truth. Indeed, the very opposite is true. God, by His Holy Spirit, must first disclose His revelation of Himself to lost sinners in the Person of Jesus Christ, if they are to know God and understand His truth (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 please read). Ralph O. Muncaster, a former hard-core atheist and skeptic of the Bible found this out when someone challenged him that if he was honestly concerned about truth to research the Bible, including the evidence for its divine claim to truth. I would recommend that before anyone swallow the lie that there is no such thing as objective, transcendent absolute truth (so popular today), he/she do as Muncaster did; namely, research the scriptures, including the evidence, and test their claims for themselves. I can assure you it will be more worthwhile than reading all the science journals and textbooks out there expounding the so-called theories or wisdom of men ("For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. Therefore, let no man glory in men (or man's so-called "knowledge." 1 Cor. 3:19-21).

  42. Robaylesbury says on Feb 7, 2010 @ 04:52 PM:

    Interesting post. I would state emphatically that for 13 years I was a bible believing, spirit filled hearer and doer of the word. I reject the "you couldn't have been a true Christian" canard, as it would not withstand close scrutiny. My many Christian friends would at once stand up and correct you were you to venture such nonsense in their hearing. Oh wait, I guess that means that they must be in error, as is any person whom happens to question your particular brand of biblical interpretation. Thing is, ray, that many good and decent people don't just lose faith; they hand it back when the mental gymnastic become too ridiculous.

  43. Rayburne F. says on Feb 7, 2010 @ 11:51 PM:

    With all due respect, Rob. whether you reject what the Bible clearly teaches in many passages regarding the eternal security of one who is a true blood-bought, born-again, redeemed sinner (See John 6:37, 39; 10;26-29; 17:12; Romans 8:30, 35-39; 1 John 5:10-13; Ephesians 1:4,5, 13; etc.), regardless of your claim for 13 years to be a "bible believing, spirit filled hearer and doer of the word" (and I am not saying you were not) or your many Christian friends who you say would correct me, does not change the truth of scripture. I, too, have many Christian friends who would correct your friends about what you call "nonsense" and it has nothing to do with my brand of interpretation. In the first place the Bible does not teach that people are "good and decent" (please read Psalm 14:1; Jermiah 17:9; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:12; Romans 3:19, 20;etc.). In the second place the Bible does not teach that one can be born again and again and again, as some Christians regrettably believe. Spiritual birth is a real birth just as physical birth is a real birth--which is why Nicodemus, in chapter 3 of John's gospel asked Jesus "How can a man be born when he is old" Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb?" (John 3:4). These words are plain enough for anyone to understand. You can't be born spiritually the second time anymore than you can be born physically the second time.

    Of course, not everyone who professes to be born again is, which is why scripture admonishes us: "Brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" (2 Peter 1:10); "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name,and in thy name have cast out devils?and in thy name done many wonderful works. And then (Christ speaking) will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:22-23). Note, that they wrongly believe themselves to be Christians because they prophesie (preach) and believe they are doers of God's Word ("in thy name done many wonderful works"), just like many today, including many who occupy the pulpit in our churches; yet, Christ plainly declares "I never knew you" No hermeneutical problems here, except those that some skeptics and liberals would like to read into scripture (eisogesis,not exegesis).

    You see the Bible clearly defines the life of one who has experienced the new birth (read 2 Corinth. 5:17). It is a changed life characterized by belief and righteousness (1 John 2:29) and not one that practices sin (1 John 3:8-10), including the grave sin of unbelief and rejecting Christ and His Word (see John 3:36). Read also John 12:48.

    You see when the Bible uses the word "believe", as in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him (Christ)should not perish but have everlasting life," the word "believes" is always in the present continuous tense in the Greek (whosoever "is believing"). Nowhere in scripture is there even a hint that one is a true believer who claims to have believed for a period of time, but thereafter rejected Christ and His Word. Which is why scripture (which always interprets scripture, a basic principle of sound hermeneutics) plainly states in the same chapter (John, chapter 3) in verse 18 immediately following: "He who believes (that is, present continuous tense "He who is believing")in Him (Christ) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." If this is not still clear enough, read verse 36 in the same chapter: He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe (present continuous tense "is not believing") the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

    Now, you can reject the plain meaning of scripture, if you wish, but please don't blame what it clearly says on my interpretation. Both the Bible and history teaches that there are those who professed faith in Christ (many who have confessed their faith through baptism lived a life of moral depravity. Some who claimed to have been "regenerated" (born again) by the Spirit were even hung for crimes of murder. Now, if you (and many others) want to believe they were once true Christians who lost their faith, go right ahead, but do not blame the Bible for teaching such nonsense.

    The Bible clearly teaches that many who profess the name of Christ and claim to be "doers of His word", in truth, never knew Him (I mentioned Matthew 7:22-23). Judas, who betrayed our Lord, was one of the twelve disciples who ate, conversed, and was taught by Christ; yet, scripture is very clear that he was not saved. Jesus even referred to him (Judas) as" a devil" and "the son of perdition" (John 17:12) The Bible clearly warns against those who apostastize from a profession (not possession) of faith, but nowhere does it ever state, or infer, that such a one was ever a true believer.
    Now, there is a big difference in apostastizing or rejecting the faith and backsliding and stumbling in the faith. The Bible is very clear that one who has strayed from the faith (backslid)who is a true believer will certainly be miserable in that disobedient state and will repent and return unto the Lord (i.e. Lot, who scripture states vexed his righteous soul day after day while living inside the wicked city of Sodom). God delivered him and those in his family who would believe (=obey)His word sent by angelic messengers). But His Word is equally clear about those who continue to deny Christ and His Word (John 12:48; John 3:18, 36). If you ever were a true Christian (and I never said otherwise), you will repent of your unbelief and rejection of Christ and His inspired, infallible Word, and return to the One (Christ) who loved you and gave His life for you (that is, for your redemption).God bless.

  44. robaylesbury says on Feb 8, 2010 @ 01:39 AM:

    Ray,

    Funny how vast swathes of believers hold a radically different view to your own. Strange, how so many of the elect have studied, reflected, and sought the counsel of well respected theologians, and considered prayerfully how they should interpret scripture.

    Yet they err. For they know not the "true", the "plain" meaning of the Word.

    Poor souls. Had they only had Ray's insight, Ray's true, unsullied belief perhaps they might have seen the kingdom.

  45. Rayburne F. says on Feb 8, 2010 @ 06:15 AM:

    I xcannot spend so much time in front of the screen (not good for my eyes) , so I'll keep it short. I'm not going to discuss theology here. I'm well aware of the differences in belief. My best advice is to let the Spirit and the Word be your guide in all things, especially understanding scripture. The problem today is we allow culture to define who truly is a believer, not God's Word--and in the culture that takes on as many ideas as the born-again adds on TV.and the movies out of Holywood that always view Christians as narrow, bigoted, anti-intellectual, hypocritical, etc. God knows who are His, and they are not those who hold His Word in derision and reject Christ as the Creator-God, in Whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

  46. humphreys says on Feb 8, 2010 @ 06:24 AM:

    Ray, can I make a suggestion which may make your discussion with Rob more fruitful? Remember that when you are discussing something like the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints with an atheist, it is not the same as discussing it with an arminian. With an arminian, you share a belief in the inerrancy of scripture, the existence of God, and the doctrine of justification by faith alone. With an atheist you do not. All three of these (and possibly many more things which I haven't thought of) form a set of common ground beliefs in order for a debate on these matters to be discussed in any meaningful way. Otherwise, you are not going to get anywhere.

    To summarise, I think it might be better to concentrate more foundational Christian truths before discussing a secondary point of doctrine. 1 Cor 15 tells us what the 'things of first importance' are.

  47. Rayburne F. says on Feb 8, 2010 @ 11:58 AM:

    Thank you Humphreys, but you read in his comment, as I did, the following: "I would state emphatically that for 13 years I was a bible believing, spirit filled hearer and doer of the word. I reject the "you couldn't have been a true Christian" canard, as it would not withstand close scrutiny."

    Obviously, he is not your typical atheist because he must have been exposed to the doctrines of the inerrancy of scripture, the existence of God, and the doctrine of justification by faith alone during all that time. After all, how can you claim to be a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled hearer and doer of the Word without knowing what the Bible has to say on these important doctrinal matters, if indeed, you read and study God's Word?

    I agree with your suggestion, however, that it is better to concentrate on more foundational Christian truths, but not here on this blog. As I indicated, I have to limit my time in front of a computer screen and I'm not going to discuss theology here for obvious reasons, or any matter that is not on the topic being discussed. I tried to accomodate Rob..the best I could within reason in spite of my circumstances although I had to veer off the topic to do so. Now, I would like to move on because I feel I've said all I intended to say relative to recent archaeological discoveries and the subject of archaeology and the Bible. So, please excuse me if I exit. God bless you both.

  48. robaylesbury says on Feb 10, 2010 @ 03:30 AM:

    Off topic, and not intended as a discussion point, I thought that I would post the following interview from the Science network. I often heat the words "strident" and "angry" associated with Dawkins. This is just an interview where he shares some of his ideals and I found it interesting. Thought you might want to hear something from the horses mouth, rather than via the apologist route. Avoids straw man misrepresentations.

    No pressure. It's just here if you're a nutjob like me who likes to get inside the minds of people who disagree with me.

    http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/the-science-studio/richard-dawkins-1

    I know. I know. I should spend more time in the pub!!

  49. Rayburne F. says on Feb 11, 2010 @ 01:03 PM:

    Thanks, Rob. but just about everything I've heard from Dawkins, I've heard from the horses mouth, including the God Delusion Debate between Dawkins and John Lennox in Birmingham, Alabama, what they showed of the second debate in Oxford (a preview of this debate entitled “Has science buried God” Dawkins versus Lennox debate), Dawkins’ interview with Ben Stein, in which Dawkins admits that intelligent design could be a legitimate pursuit and concedes that he is not against same, just as long as the designer is some form of intelligent life from outside the universe--and not God. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoncJBrrdQ8),his interview with John McKay, with Prof. Alister McGrath, etc.--and I (and many others) are not impressed.

  50. Rayburne F. says on Feb 11, 2010 @ 02:30 PM:

    I (and many others), however, were very impressed with Prof. John Lennox, who had the courage of his convictions to proclaim his faith to the majority of the scientific community who, for the most part, are indifferent, even hostile, to any claims to the supernatural and who hold the Christian faith in derision. As I commented about Dawkins' labelling Lennox a "public disgrace", quote:

    "Is it a "public" disgrace" for Professor John Lennox to invoke the miraculous (Jesus turning water into wine), if he believes, like millions of other Christians, that Jesus was the Son of God--and that His miracles served to authenticate His claim to Deity? I think not. Since we still have religious freedom and, at least to my knowledge, no one to date, not even Professor Dawkins, has proven an absolute negative (that God does not exist), it is rational and logical for Christians, including John Lennox, to publicly affirm his faith in Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly, Professor Dawkins would most likely say the same about William Lane Craig, if he publicly declared his faith in Jesus Christ, including his miracles, but I doubt if he (Dawkins)would debate Craig because most people feel he would lose--not that that would make any difference. It wouldn't. Truth is not determined by one's ability to win a debate.

  51. Rayburne F. says on Feb 11, 2010 @ 02:34 PM:

    The above comments are also off topic and not intended for discussion. Take care.

  52. Dawn says on Feb 16, 2010 @ 02:12 PM:

    Wow. I read all of the comments through.

    Rayburne, thanks for all of the information. Rob, you have long posts, but I didn't see a lot of "facts" listed in them. I have to say that the cursing seemed to reduce any effectiveness your posting might have-never good to lose it in a debate.

    Also, Rob,not to stir up trouble or anything, but I am puzzled by your anger and hostility. What do you care that others believe in Jesus Christ? It seems as if their faith personally threatens/offends you in some way. I am a Christian, but your comments and beliefs in no way anger me or offend me. Do you have a reason?

  53. Robaylesbuy says on Feb 18, 2010 @ 02:02 PM:

    Hello Dawn. Pleasure to speak with you. I'm neither angry nor hostile. I simply feel it is important to offer an opposing view. Concerning your comments regarding the abence of facts can you be specific? What facts would you like confirmed? The one's about the Exodus being not considered historical? The one's that specifically address Creationist cannards? I'd be delighted to discuss these or other matters futher.

    All the best. Rob

  54. robaylesbury says on Feb 18, 2010 @ 02:21 PM:

    I should also add that it was not I that cursed. As I made clear in the opening sentence, the longest post came courtesy of a scientist called Calilasseia.

    Don't worry, though. I forgive you.

  55. Rayburne F. says on Feb 18, 2010 @ 10:28 PM:

    I had resigned my presence from this topic due to my eye problem, but I am prompted to make a few comments:

    In all honesty, Rob..judging by your comments to Dana, I can't help but wonder if you even read the material on that long post by some person (I hesitate to use the word "scientist) called Calilasseria. Apart from a lot of philosophical mumbo-jumbo and blind assertions without any facts to support them, most of what I've read relative to so-called "creationists canards" amounts to nothing more than the emotional philosophical babbling of someone trying to vent their obvious anger, contempt, hostility and frustrations towards creationists--all too typical of those who turn to ad hominem attacks when they don‘t have much to say by way of evidence that would greatly strengthen the case for the Thesis of Common Ancestry. (You know, “from the goo, through the zoo, to you” evolution).

    It is really an insult to the intelligence of the reader. For example,

    [16] The "evolution is a belief" nonsense”

    It mentions "hard evidence in the form of direct empirical tests in evolutionary biology," without actually mentioning one concrete example, but simply instructs us to read scientific papers (we can't forget them, right? "Over a million, believe it or not"),again without any reference to what it is by way of evidence you are trying to prove. Brilliant! And then accuses those (Creationists, I guess) with not having an education if they don't agree with the belief of people like Calilasseria that "critical thinkers regard belief itself as intellectually invalid". Again, I say, brilliant! Too bad outstanding Christian scientists like Newton, Faraday, Kelvin, Boyle and Maxwell, etc, did not know that. Maybe, they were not "critical thinkers" in spite of their great scientific accomplishments (right Rob. .or is it Calilasseia?).

    If you think that one takes the cake, read:

    [17] "You only believe in evolution because you hate god".

    I've followed the creation/evolution debate for over 30 years now and have never to date heard any Christian say "you only believe in evolution because you hate God," much less scientists who believe in creation and ID. This canard only exists, as do others in this long comment, in Calilasseia's mind .

    In this emotionally strained diatribe, our "scientist" friend tries to explain why "the critical thinkers do not regard belief as intellectually valid full stop, and that the critical thinkers accept the validity of evolution because REALITY supports it," again without giving one clear example (dare I say "fact"?) from Mr. Reality, except the suggestion (you guessed it)that once again you must search for the evidence for whatever one is looking to prove in "professional circles" (obviously excluding ID/creation scientists). The problem with Calilasseia’s REALITY is that what he/she thinks he knows about reality doesn’t conform to reality. Calilasseia admittedly doesn't like the word "Evolution," much less any discussion of evolution (or of creation) with regards to historical or origins science (what you can't prove by operational science or the scientific method of observation, testing, falsification, etc. ). So much for Miller and Urey, who designed their own experiment in their favour by creating a "trap" to capture the "good" elements and preserve them from destruction in an artificial laboratory experiment (the early earth was hardly a controlled environment)--a far different scenario than random chance evolution, which posits no outside intelligence by way of design in the development of first life. Yet, though evolution (you know, "from the goo, through the zoo, to you," kind) can't even get off the runway (No, can't even get its engine started), we all know that evolution is a fact is a fact is a fact, right, Rob?

    I could go on, but there is no need. I’m sure any “critical” reader and thinker can spot these so-called canards for what they are--deliberately contrived philosophical babble or nonsense amounting to nothing more than ad hominem attacks when they don‘t have much to say by way of evidence that would greatly strengthen the case for the Thesis of Common Ancestry. (You know, “from the goo, through the zoo, to you” evolution). If you doubt this, just read:

    [21] "The universe is meaningless without my magic man"
    To which the short answer is "so f… what?"

    So much nonsense about a "magic man" that exists only in the minds of people like this Calilasseia because it certainly doesn't have to do with the Christian conception of a Creator-God, external to his creation and sovereign over it, including the laws of nature, neither does it hhave anything to do with ignoring evidence, or leaving one's brains outside the church.

    By the way, I’ll deliberately omit the “f…word because it does not do anything to provide substance (I.e. actual scientific evidence) for the “blind” assertions of one “scientist” called Calilasseia. In fact, I had to keep my own emotions and frustrations in check, besides straining my eyes a bit, just to find any “substance” or “hard evidence” in this entire post. So I’ll end here, but before I do, I have to state I (and other readers) would love to know what Dr. Craig thinks about Calilasseia’s “philosophy” and “science”, if only to be polite.

    One last thing, Rob..We have seen over 2000 years of opposing views from the biggest guns inside and outside the church, both theologians and scientists; so, if the best you can do supposedly to disprove the historicity of the Bible is to call lack of evidence in an area (the Sinai)where hardly any archaeology is taking place (an argument from silence), then I have to say I am in good company with those who believe the truth of scripture. I gave plenty of confirmed archaeological evidence to corroborate the truth of scripture, Rob. What about confirmed archaeological evidence (not lack of same) that disproves the truth of scripture, Rob? Then, you would have an opposing view that has substance and validity to it. That is what readers of this topic and blog are really interested in (you know real "factual" evidence), not discussing something that is way off the topic (so-called creationist canards)by way of some emotional philosophical babble that is at best an insult to the intelligence of real "critical thinkers".

  56. robaylesbury says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 03:20 AM:

    Hello Ray. I'm glad you are well enough to post. Long may this continue.

    1. I find your comments regarding lack of evidence bewildering? As you well know, of those working in the natural sciences less than 0.14% hold a Creationist worldview. That would suggest the overwhelming majority, including many fine Christian scientists, find the evidence more than sufficient. I don't suppose there is any value in me directing you towards the peer reviewed articles and publications as you percieve the process to be flawed. Again a minority view, but you are most welcome to it.

    Let us not forget that the debate over evolution is a cultural tempest in a scientific teacup. Most working in the field appear perfectly at ease with it. Of course, as in all good science there is disagreement over some issues. This is to be expected and encouraged. This is how knowledge accumulates.

    Of course, Creationists need only provide an empirical, testable, falsifiable model to support their view and then we can all move along.

    2. "You only believe in evolution because you hate god".

    These are claims made on the forum itself by visiting Creationists. That is why it was included.

    3. "The universe is meaningless without my magic man"

    The wording may rile you, but I often hear theists tell me that without God there is no ultimate meaning. Perhaps we can agree on this, but I defer to Carl Sagan, whom when asked how we bring meaning to our lives responded simply by saying, "Do something meaningful"

    My life is full of meaning Ray. Rich, diverse; a constant source of wonderment and delight.

    4. I understand that you hold the view that for 2000 years the Bible has withstood all assault, which of course is an opinion you are welcome to hold. Other's, of course, disagree, to a greater or lesser extent depending on where they sit in the scale of things.

  57. Robaylesbury says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 04:44 AM:

    I have just noted the claim that you have provided a lot of evidence to corroborate the truth of scripture. So archeology can be used to verify supernatural claims? News to me, but let us grant the premise. Does that then mean that evidence of human sacrifice and the discovery of occult artifacts offers "proof" that Witchcraft is true? Of course not. The entire premise is flawed, yet it mirror's the claim you make. On the basis of your argument any religion or cult could make identical assertions.

  58. Rayburne F. says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 07:33 AM:

    Come on Rob, give me a break. You know perfectly well what I said:"I gave plenty of confirmed archaeological evidence to corroborate the truth of scripture, Rob." Now, note I said "archaeological evidence". Do I have to explain what archaeology is and what archaeologists do? I don't know about your kind of archaeologists, but mine do not try to find archaeological evidence to corroborate supernatural claims, but historicity of events, places,peoples,names, etc. That, however, does not rule out or disprove the supernatural associated with such events; for example, we know from archaeological evidence that the ancient city of Jericho existed, that it was heavily fortified (both with soldiers, weapons and food),that its walls fell suddenly, but we don't know whether their devastating fall was due to an earthquake or the supernatural. You know, I should not even be responding to such nonsense as you bring forth, Rob, but then you can't blame same on Creationists.

    You construct your own premises (straw dummy arguments) by reading into assertions what is not there; than you challenge people to refute such flawed premises. Nothing new. Give me a (and other readers) a break. Stop insulting our intelligence. Just deal with the subject Rob, which is archaeological evidence, which incidently is so prevalent that the Bible is now a standard historical text for archaeologists in the Middle east.

    Like I said, "What about confirmed archaeological evidence (not lack of same) that disproves the truth of scripture, Rob? (NO, Rob, that doesn't mean you have to find same to disprove supernatural claims, just so we understand each other). That is what I and other readers of this topic and blog are really interested in (you know real "factual" evidence), not discussing tripe on creationists that you dig up from atheists websites (that I have heard so often that it sounds like like a broken record and have responded to so often on various topics on this and other blogs that I sound like same) and that is way off the topic. God bless and take care.

  59. robaylesbury says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 10:09 AM:

    Hello Ray,

    Many thanks to Farrell Till for the article shown below.

    "Has archaeology proven the historical accuracy of the Bible? If you listened only to biblical inerrantists, you would certainly think so. Amateur apologists have spread this claim all over the internet, and in a letter published in this issue, Everett Hatcher even asserted that archaeology supports that "the Bible is the inerrant word of God." Such a claim as this is almost too absurd to deserve space for publication, because archaeology could prove the inerrancy of the Bible only if it unearthed undeniable evidence of the accuracy of every single statement in the Bible. If archaeological confirmation of, say, 95% of the information in the Bible should exist, then this would not constitute archaeological proof that the Bible is inerrant, because it would always be possible that error exists in the unconfirmed five percent.

    Has archaeology confirmed the historical accuracy of some information in the Bible? Indeed it has, but I know of no person who has ever tried to deny that some biblical history is accurate. The inscription on the Moabite Stone, for example, provides disinterested, nonbiblical confirmation that king Mesha of the Moabites, mentioned in 2 Kings 3:4-27, was probably an actual historical character. The Black Obelisk provides a record of the payment of tribute to the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III by Jehu, king of the Israelites (2 Kings 9-10; 2 Chron. 22:7-9). Likewise, the Babylonian Chronicle attests to the historicity of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his conquest of Jerusalem as recorded in 2 Kings 25. Other examples could be cited, but these are sufficient to show that archaeology has corroborated some information in the Bible.

    What biblicists who get so excited over archaeological discoveries like these apparently can't understand is that extrabiblical confirmation of some of the Bible does not constitute confirmation of all if the Bible. For example, the fact that archaeological evidence confirms that Jehu was an actual historical character confirms only that he was an actual historical character. It does not confirm the historical accuracy of everything that the Bible attributed to him. Did a "son of the prophets" go to Ramoth-gilead and anoint Jehu king of Israel while the reigning king was home in Jezreel recovering from battle wounds (2 Kings 9:1-10)? Did Jehu then ride to Jezreel in a chariot and massacre the Israelite royal family and usurp the throne (2 Kings 9:16 ff)? We simply cannot determine this from an Assyrian inscription that claimed Jehu paid tribute to Shalmaneser, so in the absence of disinterested, nonbiblical records that attest to these events, it is hardly accurate to say that archaeology has proven the historicity of what the Bible recorded about Jehu. Likewise, extrabiblical references to Nebuchadnezzar may confirm his historical existence, but they do not corroborate the accuracy of such biblical claims as his dream that Daniel interpreted (Dan. 2) or his seven-year period of insanity (Dan. 4:4-37). To so argue is to read entirely too much into the archaeological records.

    The fact is that some archaeological discoveries in confirming part of the Bible simultaneously cast doubt on the accuracy of other parts. The Moabite Stone, for example, corroborates the biblical claim that there was a king of Moab named Mesha, but the inscription on the stone gives a different account of the war between Moab and the Israelites recorded in 2 Kings 3. Mesha's inscription on the stone claimed overwhelming victory, but the biblical account claims that the Israelites routed the Moabite forces and withdrew only after they saw Mesha sacrifice his eldest son as a burnt offering on the wall of the city the Moabites had retreated to (2 Kings 3:26-27). So the Moabite Stone, rather than corroborating the accuracy of the biblical record, gives reason to suspect that both accounts are biased. Mesha's inscription gave an account favorable to the Moabites, and the biblical account was slanted to favor the Israelites. The actual truth about the battle will probably never be known.

    Other archaeological discoveries haven't just cast doubt on the accuracy of some biblical information but have shown some accounts to be completely erroneous. A notable example would be the account of Joshua's conquest and destruction of the Canaanite city of Ai. According to Joshua 8, Israelite forces attacked Ai, burned it, "utterly destroyed all the inhabitants," and made it a "heap forever" (vs:26-28). Extensive archaeological work at the site of Ai, however, has revealed that the city was destroyed and burned around 2400 B. C., which would have been over a thousand years before the time of Joshua. Joseph Callaway, a conservative Southern Baptist and professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spent nine years excavating the ruins of ancient Ai and afterwards reported that what he found there contradicted the biblical record.

    The evidence from Ai was mainly negative. There was a great walled city there beginning about 3000 B. C., more than 1,800 years before Israel's emergence in Canaan. But this city was destroyed about 2400 B. C., after which the site was abandoned.
    Despite extensive excavation, no evidence of a Late Bronze Age (1500-1200 B. C.) Canaanite city was found. In short, there was no Canaanite city here for Joshua to conquer (Biblical Archaeology Review, "Joseph A. Callaway: 1920-1988," November/December 1988, p. 24, emphasis added).

    This same article quoted what Callaway had earlier said when announcing the results of his nine-year excavation of Ai.
    Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8. The Joint Expedition to Ai worked nine seasons between 1964 and 1976... only to eliminate the historical underpinning of the Ai account in the Bible (Ibid., p. 24).
    The work of Kathleen Kenyon produced similar results in her excavation of the city of Jericho. Her conclusion was that the walls of Jericho were destroyed around 2300 B. C., about the same time that Ai was destroyed. Apparently, then, legends developed to explain the ruins of ancient cities, and biblical writers recorded them as tales of Joshua's conquests. Information like this, however, is never mentioned by inerrantists when they talk about archaeological confirmation of biblical records.
    Archaeological silence is another problem that biblical inerrantists don't like to talk about. According to the Bible, the Israelite tribes were united into one nation that had a glorious history during the reigns of king David and his son Solomon, yet the archaeological record is completely silent about these two kings except for two disputed inscriptions that some think are references to "the house of David." This is strange indeed considering that references to Hebrew kings of much less biblical importance (Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Zedekiah, etc.) have been found in extrabiblical records. This archaeological silence doesn't prove that David and Solomon did not exist, but it certainly gives all but biblical inerrantists pause to wonder.

    Another case in point is the biblical record of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and their subsequent 40-year wandering in the Sinai wilderness. According to census figures in the book of Numbers, the Israelite population would have been between 2.5 to 3 million people, all of whom died in the wilderness for their disobedience, yet extensive archaeological work by Israeli archaeologist Eliezer Oren over a period of 10 years "failed to provide a single shred of evidence that the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt ever happened" (Barry Brown, "Israeli Archaeologist Reports No Evidence to Back Exodus Story," News Toronto Bureau, Feb. 27, 1988). Oren reported that although he found papyrus notes that reported the sighting of two runaway slaves, no records were found that mentioned a horde of millions: "They were spotted and the biblical account of 2.5 million people with 600,000 of military age weren't?" Oren asked in a speech at the Royal Ontario Museum. That is certainly a legitimate question. Up to 3 million Israelites camped in a wilderness for 40 years, but no traces of their camps, burials, and millions of animal sacrifices could be found in ten years of excavations. This may be an argument from silence, but it is a silence that screams."

  60. Rayburne F. says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 01:05 PM:

    Rob says:

    "The evidence from Ai was mainly negative. There was a great walled city there beginning about 3000 B. C., more than 1,800 years before Israel's emergence in Canaan. But this city was destroyed about 2400 B. C., after which the site was abandoned.
    Despite extensive excavation, no evidence of a Late Bronze Age (1500-1200 B. C.) Canaanite city was found. In short, there was no Canaanite city here for Joshua to conquer (Biblical Archaeology Review, "Joseph A. Callaway: 1920-1988," November/December 1988, p. 24, emphasis added

    Have you ever heard of Tubal-Cain, Rob? The Bible speaks of Tubal Cain (a descendent of Cain, Adam's and Eve's son, as forging "all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron" (Genesis 4:22). However, science has dated the beginning of the Iron age at about 1200 B.C., much later than the estimated time of Tubal-Cain ( and certainly much laterthan the time of Joshua). Yet, an iron blade has been found just northwest of Baghdad--not far from the probable site of the Garden of Eden--that dates back to no later than 2700 B.C., long before the previous estimate (Joseph P. Free and Howard F. Vos, Archaeology and Biblical History, 1992, p. 41. It appears your reference is a little out of date, Rob.

    Rob says:

    "According to the Bible, the Israelite tribes were united into one nation that had a glorious history during the reigns of king David and his son Solomon, yet the archaeological record is completely silent about these two kings except for two disputed inscriptions that some think are references to "the house of David." This is strange indeed considering that references to Hebrew kings of much less biblical importance (Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Zedekiah, etc.) have been found in extrabiblical records. This archaeological silence doesn't prove that David and Solomon did not exist, but it certainly gives all but biblical inerrantists pause to wonder."

    First, his comment: Yet, the "archaeological record is completely silent about these two kings except for two disputed inscriptions that some think are references to "the house of David."

    In 1993 a stone monument (not some disputed inscription) was discovered at Tel Dan, near the border of Syria and Israel. It mentioned a victory over King David and the House of D, just as indicated in 1 Kings 15:20( John Noble Wilford, in The New York Times, as cited by the Orange County Register: Costa Mesa, CA) August 6, 1993, p. 26). Again, it appears your information, Rob..is a little out of date.

    Solomon's Empire:

    Several interesting archaeological finds support the existence of King Solomon as indicated in the Bible. First, there are indications of trade with Hiram, king of the Phoenician city of Tyre (1 Kings 5:1). A sarcophagus (stone coffin) found in Syria shows the name of Hiram, and the Cyprus Museum possesses inscriptions referring to Solomon's relations with the Phoenicians. Second, the bible tells of Solomon rebuilding three cities: Gezer, Megiddo and Hazor (1 Kings 9:15). All of these cities have buildings and pottery dating back to Solomon's reign. Finally, Solomon's "city of horses" (1 Kings 9:19; 2 Chronicles 8:6)has been located in Megiddo (north of Jerusalem). It contains large compounds with stables (Joseph P. Free and Howard F. Vos, Archaeology and Bible History, 1992, pp.141-143). Pretty good evidence I would say.


    Rob says:

    "The work of Kathleen Kenyon produced similar results in her excavation of the city of Jericho. Her conclusion was that the walls of Jericho were destroyed around 2300 B. C., about the same time that Ai was destroyed. Apparently, then, legends developed to explain the ruins of ancient cities, and biblical writers recorded them as tales of Joshua's conquests. Information like this, however, is never mentioned by inerrantists when they talk about archaeological confirmation of biblical records."

    Is that so, Rob, the Kathleen Kenyon has seriously contradicted herself:

    Read my commentsn my first comment on archaeological evidence.

    "On the basis of some scarabs of Amenhotep 111, the British archaeologist John Gernstang dated level D at about 1400 B.C. Thus Garstang held to 1400 B.C. as the date of the conquest and the exodus. More recently, however, Kathleen Kenyon, another respected British archaeologist, spent several seasons at Jericho and concluded among other things, that Garstang had misread the evidence and that the Amenhotep scarabs belonged to a later burial. His level D, then, had to be reassigned to about 1300 (Kathleen Kenyon, "Digging up Jericho", New York: Praeger, 1960, p. 42.).

    "Another example is the story of Jericho recorded in the book of Joshua. For years skeptics thought the story of the falling walls of Jericho was a myth. Then, archaeologist discovered the ancient city of Jericho. In the 1930s, Dr. John Garstang made a remarkable discovery. He states, “As to the main fact, then, there remains no doubt: the walls fell outwards so completely, the attackers would be able to clamber up and over the ruins of the city.” This is remarkable because city walls fall inward, not outward. The March 5, 1990 issue of Time magazine featured an article called, “Score One For the Bible.” In it, archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon claimed Jericho’s walls had fallen suddenly.

    I could deal with several others, but I have to stop here and give my eyes a rest.

    Obviously, archaeological evidence must be interpreted. No one said archaeological finds, by themselves, prove the Bible is true. They do corroborate the truth of scripture regarding its geography and historicity.

  61. Rayburne F. says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 01:11 PM:

    Correction. Kathleen Kenyon did not contradict herself, but I did mention that she had concluded "that Garstang had misread the evidence and that the Amenhotep scarabs belonged to a later burial," indicating she concluded a later date.

  62. Robaylesbury says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 05:30 PM:

    So about this exodus of yours, Ray. You know, the proverbial Biblical elephant in the room. Two and a half, perhaps as many as three million strong. I fear you may have to rustle up more than a dagger here, an inscription there. Call it the argument from silence if it suits, but the silence is deafening.

  63. Rayburne F. says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 08:09 PM:

    You never cease to amaze me, Rob. With all the archaeological evidence I gave to confirm biblical support for the historicity and accuracy of scripture, you still focus on the Exodus as the main strength of your opposing view, as if this event (important as it is) somehow cancels out everything I said.

    Yes, it is an important event(perhaps the most significant historical and theological event of the Old testament) but it is still just one event in thousands of years of biblical history. First, lack of clear, decisive external confirmation of the biblical account by archaeological evidence does not constitute a disproof of the Exodus.

    Lawrence H. Schiffman is Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, where he serves as Chair of the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. He is an internationally known scholar of the Dead Sea Scrolls and recently co-edited the Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Oxford, 2000). He states:

    “That there are people who do not believe the biblical accounts of the ancient history of the Israelites is not new. What is new in "Doubting the Story of the Exodus" (LA Times, April 13, 2001) is that doubt seems to have been turned into historical fact. Readers were told that there is a consensus of biblical historians and archaeologists that the Exodus did not happen. In reality, though, no such consensus actually exists.

    Many archaeologists, Bible scholars and historians continue to conclude from the evidence that the Exodus did indeed occur, among them the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, Hershel Shanks (Ha'aretz Magazine, Nov. 5, 1999).

    Evidence for ancient events is very difficult to come by. Sometimes, to be sure, indications of an event’s historicity is uncovered but more often all that can be done is to see whether the event can plausibly fit into what is presently known about the historical period. Lack of direct evidence does not disprove an ancient event. Nor can the existence of evidence only in later literary texts be taken as an argument against their reliability; the discovery of ancient Troy came about on the evidence of the much later writings of Homer.

    The Exodus is dated by most of those who accept its veracity to about 1250 BCE. We know that for the previous few centuries, the period during which the Israelites are reported to have come down to Canaan from Egypt and to have become influential, there was indeed a rise in Semitic influence in Egypt, led by a group of western Semites known as the Hyksos, who were closely related to the Hebrews. At some point, ca. 1580 BCE, the native Egyptians rebelled against these foreigners, and this development can be taken to be reflected in the Bible's description of the Pharaoh "who did not know Joseph." As a result of this change, the Semites, including the Israelites, found themselves in the difficult position the Bible records, one which must have lasted for centuries. From this point of view, the story of the slavery and Exodus is perfectly plausible within the framework of Egyptian and Near Eastern history. Further, we have letters which describe the life of work gangs from Pharaonic Egypt and these seem to paint a picture very close to that of the biblical report.

    The Bible describes the period immediately after the Exodus as one of extended wandering in the desert. This wandering was said to result from the fear of the Israelites that a direct route to Canaan, along the Mediterranean coast toward what is now the Gaza Strip, would be dangerous because of the Egyptian armies stationed there. This circumstance has been confirmed as historical by the discovery of the remains of extensive Egyptian influence, habitation and fortification in the Gaza region in this period, especially at Deir al-Balakh. Again, the biblical record is confirmed.

    Further support for the historicity of the Exodus comes from a stele of the Egyptian ruler Merneptah (1224-1214 BCE). In reviewing his victories against the peoples of Canaan, he claimed, "Israel is laid waste; his seed is not." Here the text designated the people of Israel, not the land, as can be shown from the Egyptian linguistic usage. Many scholars believe that this text refers to the people of Israel before they entered Canaan--that is, in the period of desert wandering. More likely, it is a reference to Israel after they have entered Canaan, but before they established themselves as a sedentary population in the hill country in today's West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Since this view accords with the dating of the Exodus we suggested above, it seems that in this text, the only Egyptian document to mention Israel, we have a direct reference to the Israelites in the period of the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan.

    Assuming the biblical account to be unreliable, some scholars have substituted a Marxist theory of class revolution to explain the formation of ancient Israel. According to this approach, the masses revolted against their Canaanite overlords and, after taking control, forged for themselves the new collective identity and mythology of the Israelites. Other scholars have suggested a process of differentiation in which some Canaanites began to see themselves as a separate people, and created an identity and a sacred history from whole cloth, thus inventing the Exodus and conquest narratives. But who would invent a history of slavery and disgrace?

    Further, this theory must explain away the historical and archaeological evidence. Numerous cities from this period show a cultural change at precisely the point when the Israelites are said by the Bible to have appeared. Indeed, the newcomers, since they came from the desert, show a lower level of material culture than the Canaanites whom they displaced. This situation fits well the notion of Israelite conquest and infiltration. Second, the Israelites, throughout their history in the land, were concentrated in those areas easiest to defend against the superior arms of the Canaanites, a fact that supports the notion that they were invaders. Third, the doubters have claimed that few cities from this period show evidence of armed destruction. But careful consideration of the biblical narrative, with due attention to the account in Judges and the evidence that the Canaanites were never entirely displaced, eliminates this inconsistency fully.

    Indeed, the archaeological record supports a reconstruction of the historical events of the conquest when both Joshua and Judges are studied together.

    Finally, these scholars often claim that the Bible is the only source supporting the Exodus. But they forget that several different accounts of the Exodus exist in the Bible, in books written at different periods, thus providing corroborative evidence for the basic scheme of events.

    We may not possess, at least at present, conclusive proof that the Israelites left Egypt en masse as the Bible describes. What we do have, though, are several indications of the Exodus’ historicity, and ample evidence that the biblical account is entirely plausible.

    It is a simple matter to claim that lack of clear, decisive external confirmation of the biblical account is itself a disproof, but no rational person believes that what has not been proven is false. What can be stated with certainly, however, is that there is no consensus that the Exodus is a myth.”

    Archaeology consists of two components: the excavation of ancient artifacts, and the interpretation of those artifacts. While the excavation component is more of a mechanical skill, the interpretive component is very subjective. Presented with the same artifact, two world-class archaeologists will often come to different conclusions -- particularly when ego, politics and religious beliefs enter the equation.

    In the subjective field of Biblical Archaeology, anyone making a definitive statement like "archaeology has proven..." has probably chosen to take sides and is not presenting the whole picture

    This thin archaeological record means that any conclusions are based on speculation and projection. Archaeology can only prove the existence of artifacts unearthed, not disprove that which hasn't been found. Lack of evidence... is no evidence of lack.

    Yet that has not stopped some archaeologists from making bold assertions. In the 1950s, world-renowned archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon dug in one small section of Jericho, looking for remnants of inhabitation at the time of Joshua’s conquest of the land in 1272 BCE. She found no evidence, and concluded on that basis that the Bible was false.

    The problem is that Kenyon dug only one small section of Jericho, and based her conclusion on that limited information. Today, though the controversy lingers, many archaeologists claim there is indeed clear evidence of inhabitation in Jericho from the time of Joshua.
    Archaeology is a new science, and the record is far from complete. We have only begun to scratch the surface.

  64. Rayburne F. says on Feb 19, 2010 @ 08:36 PM:

    The Exodus is a very controversial topic, which is why I took time to address this subject in two comments. This is the second one. Yes, I got the information of a website, as did Rob--and I will be glad to give you this website later.

    When it comes to the Bible, archaeologists and Biblical scholars categorize themselves into two groups: minimalists and maximalists. The minimalists (also called deconstructionists of the Bible) generally hold the view that the Bible is full of myths and is therefore unreliable. So they vigorously try to refute any evidence that supports the Biblical account.

    Professor and archaeologist Anson Rainey says of the minimalists:" Their view that nothing in Biblical tradition is earlier than the Persian period [538-332 BC], especially their denial of the existence of a United Monarchy [under Saul, David and Solomon], is a figment of their vain imagination...Biblical scholarship and instruction should completely ignore the “deconstructionist school.” They have nothing to teach us. (Biblical Archaeology Review, November-December 1994:47).

    The maximalists, on the other hand, believe the Biblical accounts have solid historical and archaeological backing. Long a minority among archaeologists, their numbers are growing, since it seems that every year discoveries are found that support, rather than refute, the Biblical narrative.

    Archaeologist Bryant Wood is an example of a Biblical maximalist who is slowly turning the tide in favor of the Biblical evidence. He argues that the archaeological data for the Exodus fall into place if the event is dated back to 1450 BC, the approximate date the Bible indicates for the Exodus. He mentions that the documented evidence of foreign slaves at that time in Egypt could well include the Israelites. He also adds that archaeological indications of the destruction of Canaanite cities some 40 years afterward support the account of Joshua’s conquests.

    But Dr. Wood goes against the current. Although he sits in the forefront of archaeological digs and is excavating what he believes is the Biblical city of Ai, he notes that he can’t get his research published in serious archaeological journals because of an ingrained anti-Bible bias.
    The tide of scholarly opinion on the Bible has shifted several times in the past centuries. During the later part of the 19th century there was much skepticism of the Bible, but in the 20th century, thanks to astonishing archaeological discoveries supporting the Scriptures, the tide turned somewhat in its favour."

    U.S. News & World Report religion writer Jeffery Sheler observes: "The spirit of post-Enlightenment skepticism unquestionably continues to dominate the Biblical academy. But it is skepticism seemingly less rigid and dogmatic than it has been at times in the past...There are many scholars of a decidedly “secular” nature who nonetheless appreciate the possibility of realities, some which are represented in the Bible, that are beyond the scope of nature and of a natural explanation (1999:14).

    The Biblical Evidence for the Exodus

    How do these factors affect the debate over the Exodus?
    Although not apparent at first glance, the Biblical account of the Exodus contains many tiny details that place it within a distinct historical and chronological context. Those who ignore this evidence refuse to give the Biblical record a fair hearing.

    For instance, in the events leading up to the Exodus, the book of Genesis records that Joseph’s brothers sold him for 20 shekels to slave traders who took him from Canaan to Egypt (Gn 37:28). Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen notes some of the flaws in the logic of those who reject the Biblical Exodus or assign it to unnamed writers many centuries later. He notes that the price of 20 shekels is the price of a slave in the Near East in about the 18th century BC...If all these figures were invented during the Exile (sixth century BC) or in the Persian period by some fiction writer, why isn’t the price for Joseph 90 to 100 shekels, the cost of a slave at the time when that story was supposedly written?...It’s more reasonable to assume that the Biblical data reflect reality in these cases (1995:52).

    The date of the Exodus can be accurately calculated since the Bible mentions in 1 Kings 6:1 that the fourth year of Solomon’s reign was “the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt.” Surprisingly, there is scholarly agreement about the dates of Solomon’s reign, placing his fourth year in the 960s BC. Subtracting 480 years takes us back to a date for the Exodus in the 1440s BC.

    Another Biblical reference used to date the Exodus is found in Judges, where Jephthah tells the Ammonites that Israel had been in the land for 300 years (Jgs 11:26). Again, there is acceptance among the experts that Jephthah’s victory over the Ammonites took place around 1100 BC. This would place the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan near 1400 BC, precisely 40 years after the Exodus. Thus both Biblical dates for the Exodus agree.

    In spite of this Biblical evidence, most minimalist scholars believe the Exodus took place around 1260 BC, a date that contradicts the Biblically-derived dates by almost two centuries. Minimalists generally give three main reasons for this later date of the Exodus: (1) the mention of the Israelites’ building of the city of Rameses (Ex 1:11); (2) the archaeological evidence that no sedentary population lived in the Transjordan and Negev regions between 1900 and 1300 BC; and (3) the widespread devastation of cities and towns of central Canaan during the 1260s BC.

    Let’s consider whether these reasons are grounds for a date that contradicts the Bible.

    The City of Rameses

    Many archaeologists assume the city of Rameses was named after Rameses II, a famous Pharaoh who was a great builder. Yet the term Rameses simply means “born of the god Ra” (or Re) and had been used in monuments centuries before the time of Pharaoh Rameses II. The Bible itself mentions the same name when it speaks of Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt, hundreds of years before the reign of Rameses II:

    So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed (Gn 47:11).

    So the argument that Moses lived in the 1200s because the Israelites helped build a city with the name Rameses is not convincing. In fact, Manfred Bietak, the excavator of Rameses (Tell el-Dab’a), has determined that the name of the site at the time the Israelites were there was at first Rowaty, and then later changed to Avaris. The name Rameses was not used until the city was rebuilt by Rameses II in the 13th century. Thus the use of the name Rameses in Exodus 1:11 and Genesis 47:11 is a case where a later Biblical writer updated the text to reflect the changed name of the city, as we see in some other Biblical passages. We have the same situation with regard to Pithom, the other store city named in Exodus 1:11. That name was not in use until the Saite Period, ca. 600 BC.

    Column fragment with the cartouche (oval with royal name inside) of Rameses II, Qantir, Egypt. Rameses II built a royal center here in the 13th century BC, and from that time on the location was known as Rameses. Earlier, when the Israelites lived there, the city had several different names. When the Biblical text was updated, the older, forgotten, names of the city were replaced with the newer, more familiar, name of Rameses. Bryant Wood.Evidence for Settlements

    The second argument against the traditional date for the Exodus is based mainly on the work of archaeologist Nelson Glueck in the 1930s, which failed to find evidence of permanent settlements in the Transjordan and the Negev regions between 1900 and 1300 BC. This region should have shown a sizable presence of Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites at that time, since the Biblical account mentions their strong opposition to the Israelites.
    However, more-recent excavations have shown many settlements in the area that Glueck did not find. Archaeologist John Bimson notes that Glueck’s initial conclusions were definitely wrong [indeed he later retracted them], and it is disappointing to find scholars citing them as if they were still valid evidence. All too often the 13th century date for the Exodus has been perpetuated by the baseless repetition of outmoded views (Bimson and Livingston 1987:44).

    Widespread Destruction

    The third argument used to date the Exodus to the 1200s BC is the archaeological evidence for the destruction of several Canaanite cities during this period. Scholars believe this took place when Joshua invaded and conquered Canaan.

    Yet, if the traditional 1400s date for the Exodus is maintained, the archaeological evidence seems to fit much better, for destruction levels in Canaanite cities such as Hazor and Jericho also date to the 1400s. If Joshua conquered Canaan after 1400, this would have given the Israelites time to eventually take over much of the land during the 300 years of the judges. The Bible is clear that there were many cities the Israelites didn’t conquer during Joshua’s time or even during the time of the judges (Jos 13:1; Jgs 3:1–6). The archaeological record does support such a gradual process.

    Dealing with the present findings, archaeologist Randall Price concludes: "The signs of widespread destruction at certain sites should not be considered as archaeological evidence against the Biblical chronology and for a late date for the Conquest [by Joshua]. These destructions better fit the period of the Judges, during which ongoing warfare was commonplace (1997:147).

    Dr. Merrill adds: "Signs of major devastation in the period from 1400 to 1375 would be an acute embarrassment to the traditional view because the Biblical witness is univocal that Israel was commanded to annihilate the Canaanite populations, but to spare the cities and towns in which they lived. And the record explicitly testifies that this mandate was faithfully carried out. The only exceptions were Jericho, Ai, and Hazor (1996:73).

    We find, then, that the archaeological evidence better fits the traditional date of the Exodus backed by the Bible.

    Aerial view of Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel, looking north-northwest. Excavations here by the Associates for Biblical Research have produced evidence of a small fortress that matches the Biblical requirements for the Ai conquered by the Israelites. Randy Cook.

    Recent Discoveries

    Another argument that the Exodus never occurred is that there are no signs that the Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years. However, we must remember that during the Exodus the Israelites were forced to live nomadic lives. No longer did they reside in villages with sturdy houses and artifacts that could have survived as evidence. Instead, in the wilderness environment, every item had to be used to its fullest capacity and then, if possible, recycled. Also, the portable tent encampments during those 40 years would have left few or no traces that could be found 3, 400 years later, especially in the shifting desert sands.

    Interestingly, recent satellite infrared technology has revealed ancient caravan routes in the Sinai. George Stephen, a satellite-image analyst, discovered evidence in the satellite photographs of ancient tracks made by “a massive number of people” going “from the Nile Delta straight south along the east bank of the Gulf of Suez and around the tip of the Sinai Peninsula.” He also saw huge campsites along the route, one that fits the description given in the book of Exodus (Price 1997:137).
    Could this evidence be a coincidence? If nothing else at least it shows that a large number of people could be sustained in the same region and on the same path as that taken by the Israelites during the Exodus.

    Oasis at Hazeroth (Nm 11:35; 12:16; 33:17–18; Dt 1:1), Sinai. Note the small group of tourists in the foreground. As with modern Bedouin, the nomadic Israelites would have left little behind which could be discovered thousands of years later. Bryant Wood.The Sturdy Anvil

    We have covered only some of the evidence for the Biblically derived date of the Exodus. It seems that every year more discoveries are made that confirm the existence of Biblical persons and places. But the skeptics know what is at stake, and in this world of growing unbelief they will not be deterred from striking at the foundations of Christianity and Judaism.

    Although almost 200 years old, a statement by 19th-century writer H.L. Hastings regarding skeptics’ attacks on the Bible holds true:

    For 1800 years, skeptics have been refuting and overthrowing this book, and yet it stands today as a solid rock...The skeptics, with all their assaults, make about as much impression on this book as a man with a hammer would on the Pyramids of Egypt. When a French monarch proposed persecuting Christians, an elderly advisor told him, “Sir, the Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.” So the hammers of the skeptics have been pecking away at this book for ages, but the hammers are worn out, and the anvil still endures. If this book had not been the book of God, men would have destroyed it long ago. Emperors and popes, kings and priests, princes and rulers have all tried their hand at it; they have all died and yet this book lives on.

    As with the rest of the Bible, the Exodus account remains a mighty witness to a God who cares about His people and intervenes in human affairs to carry out His plan.

    Bibliography
    Bimson, J.J., and Livingston, D.
    1987 Redating the Exodus. Biblical Archaeology Review 13.5:40–53, 66–68.
    Kitchen, K.A.
    1995 The Patriarchal Age: Myth or History? Biblical Archaeology Review 21.2:48ff.
    Merrill, E.H.
    1996 Kingdom of Priests. Grand Rapids MI: Baker.
    Price, R.
    1997 The Stones Cry Out. Eugene OR: Harvest House.
    Sheler, J.
    1999 Is the Bible True? San Francisco: Harper.
    Watanabe, T.
    2001 Doubting the Story of Exodus. Los Angeles Times, April 13.
    Yamauchi, E.
    1972 The Stones and the Scriptures. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

    Before I close I would lke to say, Rob. spare me and other readers any allegations of conspiracy claims. If you believe that that Dr. Bryant Wood own claim that he couldn't "get his research published in serious archaeological journals because of an ingrained anti-Bible bias" is a conspiracy theory (believe me, I've heard them all), then you are entitled to your opinion.

    Before I end, I would like to list a few more archaeological evidences supporting the historical accuracy of scripture.

    Speaking of King David, it was thought that David could not have been a musician since the instruments the Bible says he played were not developed until later. Then, archaeologists discovered the types of instruments used by David in the city of Ur (Abraham’s hometown).--including lyres, flutes, harps, and even a double oboe, dating back to 2500 B.C. Additional discoveries of musical instruments were made in Egypt (dating back to 1900 B.C) and in Palestine (dated about 2000 B.C.), both long before the time of King David (which was about 1000 B.C. (Joseph Free and Howard Vos, Archaeology and Bible History, 1992, pp. 126-127.

    It was believed that domesticated camels did not exist at the time of Abraham (as indicated in Genesis 12:16). Then archaeologists discovered paintings of domesticated camels on the walls of the temple of Hatshepsut (near the city of Thebes, Egypt), which date back to this period (Free and Vos, Archaeology and Bible History, 1992, pp.51-52).
    It was once argued that the account of the strong, bolted doors of lot’s house (Genesis 19: 9-10) was illogical because at that time cities were in a state of decline. Then, archaeologists discovered the biblical city of Kiriath Sepher in the same area, with evidence of walls and strong doors. The construction dates from 2200 to 1600 B.C, the time of Lot (Free and Vos, pp. 56-57).

    The existence of the Philistines was once doubted. The Bible reports them as active enemies of Israel during the time of the judges. Now many Philistine cities are just beginning to be uncovered. To date, more than 28 sites and 5 major centers have been uncovered in Palestine. Even the burning of the city of Gibeah, as indicated in judges 20: 8-40, has been confirmed (Free and Vos, pp. 59-60, 121.

  65. robaylesbury says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 01:58 AM:

    Ray says, via his post.

    "What can be stated with certainly, however, is that there is no consensus that the Exodus is a myth.”

    I would venture that the initial Wiki article I posted challenges this statement profoundly.

    Let us assume, for the sake of it, that archeology does indeed provide evidence for certain historical places, persons etc. I could accept this and yet all your work remains before you. As we both recognise, it cannot speak into supernatural events or offer any succour to those seeking to prove them.

    Can I disprove the Exodus? Or that the Walls of Jericho fell? No.

    However, equally studious Muslim clerics use identical lines of argument to add credence to the claims they posit.

    Can you disprove the Night Journey during which Muhammad rode a creature called a Buraq from Earth to heaven and back? This giant horse was tethered for a period of time on the Rock or foundation stone of the Holy Jewish Temple, leaving a hoofprint on the Rock.

    I would not ask you to disprove it.

    I think we can recognise the limitations of the discipline. The ancient world is indeed a fascinating place and archaeology is a fine tool for sifting certain data. We should however take care not to let our inferences get ahead of us. The realm of speculation lies beyond.

  66. robaylesbury says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 04:08 AM:

    And now for a minor thought experiment to make a salient point.

    Imagine we find ourselves 700 years into the future. Imagine we are in the city of London. Tales abound that many hundreds of years ago there was a Prime Minister capable of flight whom was frequently observed circling Big Ben. Let's call him Gordon Brown.

    Sound incredible? But wait. Let's place the claim in context. Our archives tell us that there was indeed a Prime Minister by that name, and that the city of London existed, and that Big Ben is regarded as a historical location.

    We have our set, our actors, accurate timescales. Should we infer therefore that Prime Minister Brown was indeed capable of such feats?

    No. The incidental facts such as location and timing are just that; incidental. I could conceed every historical point and yet continue to deny the central claim.

    The Bible makes sensational claims. It was written by people whom lived in and around the time. It should come as no surprise that they can refer to particular figures we happen across in scripture. But this does not, for even the briefest moment, add anything to the spectacular nature of the books more remarkable claims.

    The challenge to those who accept the innerancy of scripture is to create a causeway between non controversial historical data, such as that which archaeology affords, and the myriad claims of miracles, visitations et al.

  67. robaylesbury says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 04:17 AM:

    "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." ~Bertrand Russell

  68. robaylesbury says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 04:43 AM:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_archaeology

  69. Rayburne F. says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 10:04 AM:

    This is my last comment. Rob. regarding your quote from Bertrand Russell: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." ~Bertrand Russell.

    Bertrand is now no longer an unbeliever. “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). And if the shoe fits, wear it. Take care.

    http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/Exodus.htm

    http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/08/09/The-Exodus-Controversy.aspx

    http://www.bibleandscience.com/archaeology/exodus.htm

  70. robaylesbury says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 11:37 AM:

    Thank you for taking time to post Ray. Take care and keep well.

  71. Rayburne F. says on Feb 20, 2010 @ 03:23 PM:

    I know I said I made my last comment, but I had to thank you for your comments, and for your concern for my well being. Though we had our differences (and we both got a little frustrated at times), I found your comments interesting, even challenging at times. I, too, like a good challenge, especially when it comes to my faith, which is why I say sincerely that if there were not sensational claims in the Bible, amazing fulfilled prophecies, and incredible miracles, I would probably find Christianity a little boring and question the supernatural origin, inspiration, inerrancy and authority of scripture, as well as the absolute claims of its central character, Jesus Christ.

    That may come as a surprise to you, Rob..but Christianity is a living relationship with the Living God, Who has revealed Himself supernaturally in His creation, in human conscience, and most importantly in His Son, Jesus Christ, Whom to know is to have life eternal (John 17:3). If that were not so, I know I would not be here (According to the medical expertise of not one, but two doctors, I should have died with TB when I was about one year old). Years later I met the nurse(then in her late eighties) who told me how she had rebuked those two doctors who had given me a death sentence (and rightly so according to medical knowledge at that time) and had prayed for me night after night, no matter how tired. She had served years earlier in isolated coastal Labrador with the great medical doctor and Moravian missionary, Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1865-1940). She said to me, "Rayburne, you are a living miracle. I can remember when I had you on my knee and you looked like a living skeleton. Thank God for His mercy." It was the love and kindness I saw manifested in the lives of Christians while teaching in Labrador that God, by His Holy Spirit, used most of all to draw me to Himself, for which I am forever grateful and seek, by His mercy and grace, to share same with others in word and deed.

    I have my faults and weaknesses, as do we all. I have peace with Him in the present through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), I'm forgiven of the past, and most importantly I look forward to the future--to the day I will be with my blessed Lord (and with those I love, especially my Mom and Dad, who are already in His glorious Presence).

    Please forgive me if I sound emotional and preachy. My dad, who was a fisherman, gave very short sermons; for example, "Every tub (a wooden barrel or tub in which they coiled rope or twine)got to stand on its own end."

    I pray that God, by His Spirit, will draw you to Himself, both through His Word and in the lives of Christian friends. God bless.

  72. Iain says on May 7, 2010 @ 02:57 PM:

    Rob-

    Some people forget that the Bible was not always the Bible. It was indeed some historical documents that were compiled by the early Church into what we now call the Bible. When you say that evidence that Jehu existed has been outside of the Bible and then say it does not mean that the events attributed to him in the Bible is absurd. Would you say this about other historical documents that related the life of Jehu? Would you say, such and such a document says that Jehu did this or that, but we don't know if he ever existed. Then, you find confirmation that he did indeed exist and then you disregard the only records of his actions? That is absurd.

  73. Robaylesbury says on May 7, 2010 @ 04:02 PM:

    Hello Iain. I think you may wish to refer to Hume before using comments such as absurd. His comments on miracles would be a good start for you.

  74. Rayburne F. says on May 8, 2010 @ 04:26 PM:

    Whatever Hume (or the Bible) has to say about miracles in general, or in particular, has nothing to do with whether or not Jehu existed (which biblical and extra-biblical, historical records show he clearly did).

  75. KStret says on May 8, 2010 @ 06:34 PM:

    Rob,
    Hume's arguments on miracles have been refuted by several different people.

  76. robaylesbury says on May 9, 2010 @ 04:00 AM:

    Kstret

    I disagree. Would you care to offer your own refutation?

    Ray, I agree that on the balance of probabilities there was a 1st century itinerant preacher who may or may not have been called Jesus.

  77. Wade A. Tisthammer says on May 9, 2010 @ 08:26 AM:

    Kstret

    I disagree. Would you care to offer your own refutation?

    While I'm not Kstret, you might be interested in a book called Hume's Abject Failure. Unfortunately, Hume didn't make himself very clear, and so there's more dispute as to what argument Hume was putting forth more than whether Hume's argument against miracles is satisfactory. So before Kstret (or anybody else) tries to refute Hume, I recommend putting forth exactly what you believe Hume's argument was. Interpreted one way, it's fairly easy to show the failure. Interpreted another way, it's maybe not so easy.

  78. Rayburne F. says on May 9, 2010 @ 10:49 AM:

    With all due respect, Rob..what you believe (or just another skeptic of the Bible believes about the Bible, including miracles)has nothing to do about whether or not the Bible is true, that Jesus really lived, etc. As I have said many times before, the Bible has witstood the fierce assault from the mightest guns (both theologians and scientists) from within, and without, the church, as well as from skeptics and atheists alike. That includes your Mr. Hume, who now knows the Bible is true.

  79. Rayburne F. says on May 9, 2010 @ 02:12 PM:

    I'm not going to go over why I believe the Bible is true. I've exhausted that subject on different topics on this website (blog). If someone else wants to answer that, be my guest (please give solid evidence, if you are going to do so, and no circular arguments).

    Sufficient to say, as I have mentioned before, if there were not sensational claims in the Bible, amazing fulfilled prophecies, and incredible miracles, I would probably find Christianity a little boring and question the supernatural origin, inspiration, inerrancy and authority of scripture, as well as the absolute claims of its central character, Jesus Christ.

    As for Hume questioning miracles, what's new? (Remember when "higher criticism" and German rationalism started to infiltrate the churches in America and Britain, especially with the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species?). The Bible has always predicted false teachers and apostasy, especially do we see it today in modern churches.

    As for infidels, a past great preacher, Dr. B. R. Lakin, tabbed them “in-fer-hells.”. This is what he had to say:

    "Many infidels are brilliant as far as intelligence and accumulation of facts are concerned. But these people do not believe that God gave us a Bible in any respect—not in the original languages, not in the English language, not at all. These infidels are constantly attacking the Word of God. (They launched a crusade recently to remove from all public school textbooks any reference to God or the Bible or Christianity.) Their denial of the Word of God, though, does not dilute its power. Imagine a man is facing you with a loaded 38-caliber revolver. As he cocks the hammer, you mock him and say, “That gun doesn’t have any power. That gun can’t hurt me.” You’d be a fool to talk like that. You’d be no more of a fool, though, than the man who denies the power of the Word of God.

    As far as I'm concerned this topic is finished (nada).

  80. Wade A. Tisthammer says on May 10, 2010 @ 10:56 AM:

    While Hume had much to say, here's an example of how one interpretation could leave one to believe that Hume's argument against miracles wasn't very good. In Hume's Of Miracles he wrote:

    A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined....There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit the appellation.

    Using a fairly literal interpretation, this is pretty easy to refute. C.S. Lewis in his book Miracles said,

    Now of course we must agree with Hume that if there is absolutely 'uniform experience' against miracles, if in other words they have never happened, why then they never have. Unfortunately we know the experience against them to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false. And we can know all the reports to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred. In fact, we are arguing in a circle.

  81. robaylesbury says on May 11, 2010 @ 07:48 AM:

    I should clarify my position. I do not say that miracles are impossible. I would, however, venture that I am aware of no example where a miracle has been proven.

    Concerning Biblical miracles, my doubts pivot upon the fact that the information we have is not direct testimony, but rather based upon a higly malleable oral tradition, belatedly recorded by authors whom are for the most part anonymous, and then changed by well meaning scribes.

    So can I disprove miracles? No. I simply have reasonable personal doubts as to the veracity of those that scripture regails us with.

    Once again, I am anxious to avoid the kind of confrontational rhetoric that these post can descend into. I'm not looking to win an argument or make converts. If you disagree me with then I've no objection. For those whom think I might have a case I encourage further balanced reading.

  82. KStret says on May 12, 2010 @ 05:45 PM:

    Rob,
    "I should clarify my position. I do not say that miracles are impossible."

    You cited Hume's work on miracles as something you base your opinions on. I pointed out that there have been several people who have refuted Hume's arguments. You disagreed. Wade pointed out that one of the criticisms against Hume is he has a circular argument that doesn't disprove miracles but instead attempts to define them out of existence. The argument can be summed up as:
    1. Miracles are violations of the laws of nature
    2. It is impossible to violate the laws of nature
    3. Therefore, miracles don't exist

    Now it seems like you are running away from Hume. Can you clarify your position? What are Hume arguments that you believe refute miracles?

  83. robaylesbury says on May 13, 2010 @ 10:23 PM:

    Hello Kstret,

    I side with Hume in so far as acknowledging that no testimony is sufficient to satisfactorily validate a miracle.

    I am also not aware of any example of where the laws of nature have been violated.

    How do you propose to validate a miracle?

    Once again, I am keen to avoid the kind of confrontational chest thumping that has mired previous exchanges.

  84. robaylesbury says on May 14, 2010 @ 05:48 AM:

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nicholas_tattersall/miracles.html

    The above link offers a counterpoint to some of C.S Lewis's writings on miracle claims. I won't use the term rebuttal as the term is frequently accompanied by the most grotesque arrogance.

    It's just something posters may or may not want to have a glance at.

  85. KStret says on May 14, 2010 @ 06:51 PM:

    "How do you propose to validate a miracle?"
    It depends on how you are defining a miracle. For example, take the healing miracles of Jesus. There are several examples of spontaneous healing that happen today. Forbes recently did a story about people who were given a certain amount of time to live and the diseases they had miraculously went away. In that respect, healing miracles can be verified.

    " I side with Hume in so far as acknowledging that no testimony is sufficient to satisfactorily validate a miracle."
    With that argument, you are essentially doing the same thing as defining miracles out of existence. If a highly unlikely event did happen, according to Hume's logic it didn't happen. How else can you verify an something that happens that is out of the ordinary? Most of the time it's by a personal testimony. Hume is attempting to cut the legs out of miracles.

  86. Wade A. Tisthammer says on May 15, 2010 @ 06:42 PM:

    robaylesbury said,

    I side with Hume in so far as acknowledging that no testimony is sufficient to satisfactorily validate a miracle.

    It's difficult to see why this should be considered rational. What about the testimony of one's senses? From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on "Miracles":

    Hume is thus constrained by his empiricism. He is constrained in such a way that had he been at the shore of the Red Sea with Moses when they were being chased (as in the movie version); and had Moses raised his staff and the Red Sea split up the middle (i.e., no low tide but raging waters on both sides); and had the Red Sea crashed to a close the moment the last Israelite was safe — killing those in pursuit; and had Hume himself lacked grounds for assuming he was hallucinating or perceiving events in any way other than as they were actually happening — Hume would still be constrained by his principles to deny that what he was witnessing was a miracle. This example suffices to show the unacceptability of Hume's argument.

  87. Wade A. Tisthammer says on May 15, 2010 @ 08:16 PM:

    robaylesbury said,

    I side with Hume in so far as acknowledging that no testimony is sufficient to satisfactorily validate a miracle.

    It's difficult to see why this should be considered rational. What about the testimony of one's senses? From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on "Miracles":

    Hume is thus constrained by his empiricism. He is constrained in such a way that had he been at the shore of the Red Sea with Moses when they were being chased (as in the movie version); and had Moses raised his staff and the Red Sea split up the middle (i.e., no low tide but raging waters on both sides); and had the Red Sea crashed to a close the moment the last Israelite was safe — killing those in pursuit; and had Hume himself lacked grounds for assuming he was hallucinating or perceiving events in any way other than as they were actually happening — Hume would still be constrained by his principles to deny that what he was witnessing was a miracle. This example suffices to show the unacceptability of Hume's argument.

  88. robaylesbury says on May 16, 2010 @ 10:19 AM:

    Hello guys. Thanks for those comments. I hear what you are both saying. When I read Hume I regard him as playing percentages. He ascribes what I consider to be a level of probability concordant with the likelyhood of any miraculous claim behind true.

  89. robaylesbury says on May 16, 2010 @ 11:17 AM:

    As an aside, how do you appraise the miracle claims made by adherents of other religions? Assuming one grants the possibility of Christian miracles using the mechanisms prescribed, does it not follow that the same principles must be extended to persons of different faiths?

  90. Rayburne says on Oct 28, 2010 @ 10:48 AM:

    If some Christians use miracles to prove the Bible or Christianity is true, they shouldn't. Miracles don't prove anything is true. The Bible tells us that even the "man of sin" (2 Thess. 2:1-3-the antichrist or great imposter whom God will allow to rule the world for a limited time prior to the return of Christ will be able to perform miracles (i.e. bring down fire from heaven). The Bible records instances where Pharoah's magicians performed miracles to counteract those of Moses. The Bible gives us both negative and positive. It does not minimize the reality of supernatural forces of darkness and evil, but keeps a balanced perspective by placing them (and their miracles) under the dominion or control of a Sovereign God Who is LORD of all.