Atheist Son Writes… Archaeology contradicts the bible

Dear mum,

It’s great to hear from you. I appreciate the time you spend answering my emails as I know the church takes up a lot of your time. We are both very busy but I value our discussion. Please let me know more of what you think about your DNA haplogrouping – evidence in your very own blood that creationism is flat-out wrong – and if it has changed the way you think about evolution.

I’m glad to see you have picked up my gauntlet and are willing to discuss the origin and accuracy of the bible and if it can be used as a trustworthy source. In my last email I proposed three hypotheses:

The bible is:

  1. the 100% inerrant and literal word of god.
  2. the word of men interpreting god, sometimes correctly, other times incorrectly.
  3. a man-made, multi-origin, mixture of ancient myths, fabrications, second-hand historical accounts and bronze-age morality.

Judging by your email you have chosen to argue the first option. I, on the other hand, will argue the last option. To be clear, this does not claim the bible is 100% inaccurate, only that by the nature of its origin it is an unreliable source, and highly undesirable as a basis for modern morality. You want to start with archeological evidence which is as good a place to start as any. You wrote:

There are 25.000 sights; digs; that all correspond with events, people, names, locations, and cities, it is rooted in history.

Really? Unless you can provide academic sources for this figure it is pure speculation. Even if this is true it is irrelevant as I will explain below. You continue:

In the 1930s & 40s, people questioned the existance of the Hitite Civilization, but about a decade ago, sightings have been discovered varifying the Hitite civilization, plus the royal House of Nebuchadnezzer.

This is not a recent discovery as you suggest – your timing is off by about a century. Archaeological evidence for a Hitite civilization was unearthed in 1906 (by Hugo Winckler in Bogazkoy, Turkey) and clues began surfacing from 1884 (Wikipedia). The fact selected parts of the bible mention historical locations and events is certainly no surprise and is exactly what one would expect if the third hypothesis above is true. There are similar historically accurate descriptions in almost all ancient religious manuscripts including the Quran, the Vedas, etc. However, this neither makes the remaining text true or the word of god – especially when you consider it was sourced from multiple authors hundreds of years apart.

In addition, mulitple incriptions have been discovered to king David, King Solomon’s great Empire :- In Jerusalem, nothing of his work remains, in fulfilment of the Lord’s prophecy that “not one stone should remain upon another” Matthew 24:2, except for the Wailing Wall.

“Except for the wailing wall”? Last time I checked this wall has more than “one stone remaining upon another”. Sounds like a big fat prophecy fail to me! Besides, it’s hardly a shocker that the temple is not standing – almost nothing of old Jerusalem is standing after 2000 years. In fact, it’s remarkable anything is standing at all after all the war and killing done in gods name since that time!

According to Scripture, there are three other cities which Solomon built with his special style as at Jerusalem. this style is described in 1 Kings 9;15.

I do not dispute this. Once again, you can cherry pick as many examples of cities in the bible for which there are remains today. It is still only evidence that the bible was written by men who lived around the time those cities were built. Your implicit suggestion is that, if the author knew of a city around his time, then everything else he wrote, and every other man wrote, in the bible over hundreds of years, must also be gods honest truth. This is staggeringly naïve! If a few instances of historical accuracy are so significant, then an equal claim for accuracy can be made for the Iliad and Gone with the Wind. However, the evidence you provide is entirely compatible with the claim in hypothesis number 3 above that the bible contains some historical accounts.

Also, in chapter 2:v2 , he reports about a census that first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. A Papyrus has been found, giving details about the census, and how every 14yrs, the Romans organized a census to be made, also during the time of Caesar Augustus, verse 1, and evidence discovered of Quirinius, governor of Syria.

I have already addressed the irrelevance of cherry-picked historical accounts to the broader accuracy of the bible. However, because Luke links this census to the birth of Jesus this raises a related question… when was Jesus born? Since Quirinius became governer of Syria in 6 CE, nine years after king Herod’s death (Wikipedia) was it after 6CE?

Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 

Or, since Herod died in 4 BCE (Wikipedia) was it before 4 BCE?

Mathew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king.

It turns out most modern historians agree Lukes account to be incorrect (John P Meier, 1991). Fancy that, the bible is wrong on a point as important as the timing of Jesus birth! I wonder what else could be wrong? Is such a historical contradiction unusual? Not at all! This is only one of 439 key historical points where the bible contradicts itself.

The bible is so full of holes I guess that’s why they call it the holy book!

No archaeological discovery has contradicted the accuracy of the Bible. The Bible is rooted in history, It is not a book about myths or legends

Writing such a statement without providing evidence does not make it true! However, it can easily be falsified if just one archeological statement in the bible was found to contradict archeology. Where this to happen the hypothesis that the bible is 100% literal and accurate word of god would be untenable, and anyone who continues to believes it would be unreasonable and hopelessly blinded by faith. I will not provide one, but several examples where the bible is contradicted by archaeology (and there are plenty more):

  • Archaeology does not support anything about biblical creation, the Flood, or the conquest of the Holy Land.
  • The Bible contains anachronisms. Details attributed to one era actually apply to a much later era. For example, camels, mentioned in Genesis 24:10, were not widely used until after 1000 B.C.E. (Finkelstein and Silberman 2001)
  • 4000-year-old tombs of pyramid builders were found recently (Reuters). Evidence from the tombs of these artisans clearly shows they were NOT oppressed slaves, held captive and in need of rescuing by their god via a series of supernatural horrors from Exodus (Skeptoid).
  • The Exodus, which should have been a major event, does not appear in Egyptian records. There are no traces in the Sinai that one would expect from forty years of wandering of more than half a million people. And other archaeological evidence contradicts it, showing instead that the Hebrews were a native people (Finkelstein and Silberman 2001; Lazare 2002).
  • There is no evidence that the kingdoms of David and Solomon were nearly as powerful as the Bible indicates; they may not have existed at all  (Finkelstein and Silberman 2001Lazare 2002).

I could go on and on, especially about the historicity of the biblical version of Jesus, but should probably leave that for another email. Suffice to say your claim that “no archaeological discovery has contradicted the accuracy of the Bible” is empirically not true.

Next time I write I could give you more proof & evidence in this area with more details, or I will cover my next reason why I believe in the Bible.

I think listing a few more examples where the bible got names or locations correct isn’t going to convince any intelligent person to believe in talking snakes or zombie Jesus. So lets move on to the next evidence on your list which I hope is more convincing.

One parting thought, however. Does the fact that the Old Testament is, by and large, mythical in nature make it worthless? Of course not. It was the Jews’ repository of collected wisdom and mythology. It has much in it that is beautiful and worth thinking about even today. But as a history text book, it has once again (as it has over the past three centuries, at least) been shown to be non-factual in many, very likely most, of its points.

Love, reason and understanding,

Sam

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3 Responses to Atheist Son Writes… Archaeology contradicts the bible

  1. Pingback: Atheist Son Writes… 5 reasons why your arguments fail | My Creationist Mum

  2. Pingback: Atheist Son Writes… 5 reasons why your reasoning fails | My Creationist Mum

  3. Funso says:

    It is interesting to read your blog. All I want to ask you is, if all the knowledge of the people of the world is put in a circle, how much of that knowledge is yours. I am sure your knowledge will be so infinitesimal. So, your general conclusions are unfounded. “no archaeological discovery has contradicted the accuracy of the Bible”.

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