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Monthly Archives: August 2013

An Interview With Yigael Yadin

I mentioned a book I owned, Scholars on Record by Hershel Shanks, and one chapter is a reprint of his interview with the Israeli archaeologist. I am going to copy and paste different answers Mr. Yadin gave as they contain some good insights to biblical archaeology.

I will probably only quote one question asked by Mr. Shanks as it contains thoughts supporting what I wrote earlier on archaeology and its convenient use. Nothing is edited in the quotes and if you need more context, you can read the full article in BAR. The specific information for which issue it appeared in will be included after the initial quote. if you have the BAR collection on Cd, you will already own the interview.

I should add that if you read the full interview, I do not agree with everything Mr. Yadin says. I also will include the page numbers from the book where the quotes can be found.

Hershel Shanks: Professor Yadin, one of the things that we hear about most frequently from our readers, and which is somewhat puzzling to them, involves the relationship of archaeology to the historical accuracy of the Bible. We know that archaeology is not supposed to prove the truth of the Bible. Most of our readers are more sophisticated than that. But sometimes they get the feeling that archaeologists are too quick to accept archaeological evidence and find that it contradicts the Bible, too quick to conclude that therefore the Bible is inaccurate. Our readers often point out how uncertain archaeological evidence really is; how often archaeologists argue from silence, from the absence of evidence; and how often there are explanations other than that the Bible is wrong. After all, we know very little of the full archaeological picture. Most of it still lies underground. And even if it were all uncovered, there would still be enormous gaps in our knowledge of the ancient world. I wonder if you feel that archaeologists are sometimes too quick to reject the Bible in favor of limited archaeological evidence? (186)

BAR 09:01 (Jan/Feb 1983). 1983 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.

Yigael Yadin: I think your question is really a basic one. Our knowledge of the Bible as a historical document is not yet complete. It’s limited. And with all the advances in the archaeological discipline, including field archaeology with all that goes with it, it is far from providing 100% answers to many questions people would like to know about the Bible.
My definition of archaeology sounds a bit sophisticated—and incidentally I didn’t invent it. It was written by someone a hundred years ago. I don’t remember who wrote it, but I follow it, and that is that archaeology is the science that examines the mind of man to the extent it is reflected in material or has been expressed in material. (186-7)

YY: I think there is enough evidence, even in Kenyon’s excavations—and also in the earlier excavations of Garstang—to show that at Jericho there is no necessary contradiction to the Bible. (188)

YY: That’s beyond the realm of archaeology, and I think it’s beyond the realm of history as well. It’s a matter of faith. The ancient people believed that this was the cause. Now if you want to believe it, you believe it; if you don’t believe it, don’t. But the fact is that there was a city there, in my opinion, and it was conquered. There can be no doubt. (189)

YY:I belong to a school of thought that thinks tradition must be used as a source for history, of course with caution. People don’t invent certain things. For example, you can’t deny that the Israelites were once in Egypt. What nation would invent such a crazy story, that they were slaves in Egypt and they left that country and came to this country, and then make that the kernel of all their history? There is a historical core. Even if you want to minimize it, there is a core of truth there. Maybe it did not happen exactly as it is recorded, down to the last detail. But there is a historical core. (189)

YY: We archaeologists sometimes make a terrible mistake. We think that when a new king begins to reign, then a new level must be found in the city; when he dies, the city must die as well. When a new period comes, there must be a new city wall. But this isn’t true. Look, today, even today, you can see old city walls that have survived for 300, 400, 500 years. And I believe that the Middle Bronze city wall at Jericho was used in the Late Bronze Age. (190)

YY: One of the reasons scholars are reluctant to believe that there is a kernel of truth in the Jericho story is that they say that there is no evidence from the Late Bronze Age at Jericho. But this is not true. There is evidence, even according to Kenyon. She had to admit that in one spot she did find one house. All right, if you find one house, there may be more. Secondly, that they didn’t find a city wall from the Late Bronze Age is not evidence. The Middle Bronze Age city wall could easily have been re-used in the Late Bronze Age. (190)

YY: When we study history, I think it’s very important not to project what we think onto what people thought at the time. Today there are millions of people who believe that events happened exactly as described in the Bible and I’m sure that in those days when the Israelites managed to conquer cities, and when their grandchildren saw that they, a desert people, were able to become masters of a land that had been owned by giants and had been fortified, the Israelites were absolutely convinced that it was not only their act of valor but it was mainly God’s wish and with God’s help that they were able to do this. Therefore, whatever they wrote is not a bluff. They really believed it. Now you can say that this doesn’t prove that God actually helped them, but it does prove one thing: it proves what motivated them, what moved them to do what they did; it was that belief. We have to understand that; otherwise we can’t understand why they built these temples and in fact why they behaved as they did. (193)

YY: But it is absolutely untrue that archaeology disproves the Bible. On the contrary, I think archaeology proves it, that is, that the great events—for example the conquest of Canaan by the children of Israel, which was a major event in the history of the people—cannot be thrown away and be explained by all sorts of sociological theories, as is sometimes attempted. First, archaeology proves that there was a conquest at that period, and second, the tradition is so strongly imbedded in the Bible, I don’t believe that it was invented.
I am reminded of the story about whether it was Joshua who conquered Canaan. Who would invent Joshua? It’s like the discussion about whether there was a Shakespeare; whether it was Shakespeare or somebody else by the name of Shakespeare. Was it Joshua or somebody else who was called Joshua? Why suddenly invent a Joshua? Now maybe he did less than is ascribed to him. But to deny completely the fact that there was a hero by the name of Joshua who led the tribes at a certain period and that they managed to conquer the land is, I think, to deny archaeology and the Bible at the same time. (194)

YY: You know the same kinds of questions are involved in other ancient documents. I wouldn’t put the Bible in the same category, but the same kinds of questions are involved. Take Josephus, for example [a first-century A.D. Jewish historian]. Before archaeological excavations, it was the vogue among historians—very serious historians—to argue that Josephus in many places relates sheer nonsense, that he is not historical, that he exaggerates, and so forth. But the more we dig in Jerusalem and at Masada and at Herodium and in [Herodian] Jericho, the greater respect we—both archaeologists and historians—have for the accuracy of Josephus. He is one of the greatest historians. Of course he had his own prejudices. But show me any historian without them. Josephus is accurate not only for his own period but for previous periods as well, for example, the Hellenistic period. Josephus had theories; of course he made mistakes in his theories—so we think—but basically as historian, he is much, much more respected as a result of archaeology. (195-6)

HS: Is there a subject, an academic discipline of Biblical archaeology? As you know, some scholars believe that it’s not a real academic discipline, but simply a historical description of what certain scholars in the past have done and they believe that the term should be abandoned. (197)

YY: Well, of course, as the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, you are touching on something very important to your readers. You’re touching a very vexing problem. I know, of course, about the views you refer to.
I think those who object to the term Biblical archaeology have absolutely misused it and therefore created confusion. You put in the mouths of those who object to the term a very mild description of their objections. Some of those who object say that Biblical archaeology is “coffee table archaeology,” for example. The truth of the matter is that unfortunately we are working in a country—let’s say Palestine, it’s the land of the Bible we’re talking about—which for a 2,000-year period [3000 B.C. to 1000 B.C.] left no substantial inscriptions or writings to enable us to understand what we excavate, unlike Egypt and Babylon which have left substantial inscriptions on monuments and written documents. (197)

YY: Now I wouldn’t like to be an archaeologist who is only a technician in dissections. Of course it’s important to know how to excavate, just as it is vital for a pathologist to know how to make a dissection. But if this is all he knows, then he’ll never be a doctor; he’ll never contribute to the understanding of the human body. So what are we to do. From 3000 B.C. to at least 1000 B.C., we have so little written material because our forefathers [unlike Babylonians] did not write much on clay; and papyrus, because of the humidity, did not stay well-preserved. We don’t have Egypt’s dry weather which preserved not only the pyramids but also papyrus. So our forefathers are silent in this respect. So today we can dig. We can know exactly the pottery, the fortifications, and stratification and relative chronology of sites and so on. And we shall be able to reconstruct a fair picture of the culture. But this is not enough. In order to understand the human mind, we have to know more. And we do have sources. We have the Bible, if we understand it correctly. (197)

YY: I really don’t understand why this objection to the term Biblical archaeology has arisen. Can you show me one archaeologist in Greece who has not pursued classical studies as a sine qua non of his education? (198)

YY: Of course, the prehistoric periods are different. I wouldn’t call that Biblical archaeology in the same sense because unfortunately the prehistorical archaeologist hasn’t got the Bible to provide the background. But even there, if he studies the Paleolithic period of Palestine, of the Holy Land, I would still call him a Biblical archaeologist in that sense, as I would the Greek scholar, the Greek archaeologist who studies the Paleolithic period of Greece. After all, this is the land of the Bible. (200)

YY: Now we come to your question, “What is the land of the Bible?” I don’t criticize those who use the term Syro-Palestinian. I think we should let it stand if they wish. It is a political term. But is has nothing to do with our discipline of archaeology. You can show that it is true that Syria and Palestine had a lot in common in certain periods of history. But today the term Syro-Palestinian is used by certain archaeologists in such a way that they will be able to roam about in Jordan, to roam about in Syria. You know Biblical archaeology has already become taboo there. The Bible is already not to be mentioned in certain areas. In Syria, for example, I’m sure Biblical archaeology is becoming a dirty word. But Syro-Palestinian is acceptable, particularly if you put Syro before Palestine, (200)

YY: Therefore, if we’re talking about Biblical archaeology, obviously the land of the Bible is the center. If we’re talking about Homeric archaeology or Greek archaeology, then obviously Greece is the center. (201)

YY: Because of the accumulation of knowledge, we cannot master everything. Because of that, I wouldn’t like to define Biblical archaeology in a limited way. (202)

YY: In Mari [in Mesopotamia], we found a letter written three hundred years, if not four or five hundred years earlier, saying that they are sending an ambassador to Hazor. And ambassadors from Hazor go to Mari. Some letters found at Mari concern shipments of precious metals to Hazor and vice versa, and so on and so forth. At Hazor, a young boy, not an archaeologist found a little broken piece of a tablet which contained a dictionary, a Sumero-Akkadian dictionary; this find shows there was a scribe at Hazor. This dictionary must have been made by a scribe for other scribes. So I think up to now we have simply been unlucky in many of the cities where we have dug in Israel. You know we excavate on a huge mound, and if you don’t hit the archive, you don’t even know it’s there. Even in Ebla [in Syria where a fabulous third-millennium archive was recently found] they had fantastic luck. They could have dug for another 50 years and not hit that one particular spot.(203)

YY: Daily written material from our area, such as transactions and letters and even what the prophets wrote, has unfortunately been lost because most of it was written on papyrus. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls would have been lost were it not for the fact that they were, so to say, buried or hidden in caves in the Dead Sea area which is so dry. Otherwise, they would have been lost as most other scrolls either on papyrus or on leather have been lost everywhere else in the country. (205)

YY: As everyone who starts to study medicine has to know anatomy, so a student of archaeology has to study the pottery and the stratigraphy and the technique of excavation and the typology and so on. But I would advise the student who wants to study the archaeology of this part of the world also to take a course in the history or in the literature or the philology of the country or the adjacent countries. Don’t limit yourself to becoming only a technician/archaeologist. My advice would be to do both. And remember it takes seven years, at least, to really become a qualified archaeologist. (208)

There is a lot of food for thought there and the questions from Mr. Shanks would help the context a lot but space and time prohibit adding more than I already have. Enjoy.

 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in academics, archaeology

 

A Challenge-2

I am going to be around the house this weekend as my dog has had a very rough week and is recuperating from a couple of mishaps and I need to tend to him. I am grateful that God intervened and allowed my dog to survive each serious event.

I hesitate to mention this because while some people are encouraged by God’s intervention in such matters that some consider important and others do not, there is also the issue of discouraging some who did not get the intervention by God they wanted.

I do not want those people to feel down on themselves because one person received a merciful grant from God while they did not. I also do not want those people to get envious or jealous of those who get such acts of kindness and then let those emotions lead them to sin. Telling others about God’s intervention should not lead people to sin but in some cases it does.

So I am thankful that God intervened and only he did it because the situations took place where I was beyond professional human help and they were over my head to take care of. So instead of being envious, or depressed take heart because God cares and intervenes when the issue is not considered by most important and you should have confidence that God will help even in the little things that take place in your life.

Now back to the challenge. If I remember correctly I made a challenge earlier about looking in the Bible for the verses where both God and Jesus gave permission to take science over their word. So far that challenge has gone unanswered and no ‘christian’ evolutionist has been able to find any such verse.

Another controversial subject is when is the Sabbath?  Many people look to certain biblical events and some church fathers, among other early church writers, for their evidence that God changed the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday.

I am not proclaiming a 7th day Adventist ideology here nor am I a 7th Day Adventist but I would like to challenge anyone to find the verse or verses where God or Jesus changed that day.

You cannot use Jesus’ resurrection or accension as proof because neither event is declared as Sabbath changing and God planned those events to avoid  taking place on the Sabbath in order to be consistent with his word.

What I am looking for is similar to the first challenge. An actual verse with actual words implementing the change. Now does this fact mean we can’t worship on Sunday? Of course not. We should worship God everyday as we go through life. Does this mean we have to attend church everyday? No, we can worship God on our own as he directs.

Why am I doing this? I am just interested in seeing what people find in support of their following the later teaching of ‘the Lord’s day’. Here is one link to get you started:

http://www.bible.ca/7-lords-day.htm

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2013 in General Life, theology

 

Archaeology: A Tool Of Convenience

When someone doesn’t want to believe a story or event in the Bible they often turn to the defensive statement, “archaeology hasn’t proven that true’ or something similar.  Most people tend to use the field of archaeology as a great escape from the truth often citing how archaeologists have not discovered any physical evidence to support different parts of the biblical record.

What they tend to leave out of their defensive arguments are the real and factual weaknesses of archaeology. The past is not preserved 100% and there is no way for any archaeologist to uncover all the physical evidence unbelievers demand and even if they got a large portion of that demanded evidence, there is no guarantee that the unbeliever will accept it as evidence.

There are many ways to dismiss archaeological evidence. K.A. Kitchen in his book The Bible and His World documents some of the ‘enemies’ of the field of archaeology. In the first chapter he talks about erosion (pg 10-12) as being  one of the worst natural disasters to hit archaeological remains.

There are other ‘enemies’ of archaeology ad they include but are not limited to: floods, cyclones, thunderstorms, windstorms, construction, renovation, wars and the list goes on. it is impossible to draw real conclusions from the sparse amount of evidence archaeologists uncover at a given site.

It also doesn’t help that the current ideology of archaeologists is to leave some of the site left untouched. The thinking behind this philosophy is the hope that future generations will have more sophisticated tools to use in examining artifacts left for them to find.

It is a pure excuse to leave information in the ground that if uncovered would ruin their theories about the ancient people. I do not like this method as what good does it do anyone to leave information buried when we need it now.

This brings us to another problem in archaeology which makes it a tool of convenience. This problem is that many archaeologists withhold information until they are good and ready to publish their final report. Some never publish at all.

http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=36&Issue=1&ArticleID=25

It’s been 28 years since we finished our excavations at Nabratein and we’ve just published our final report, a hefty volume of 472 pages.

Archaeology is not the definitive field for obtaining information. Instead it is held hostage by the whims of those archaeologists who deem it their prerogative to withhold information and dispense it at their leisure. Hershel Shanks found this out during his battle to get the Dead Sea Scrolls out of the hands of the scholars who were selected to study them  and have them published for everyone to read.

Also, given the fact that most of the evidence uncovered is mute and vulnerable to the beliefs or unbeliefs of the person discovering them we can rarely be sure if the public is being told the truth.

I will try to use a recent lecture by William Dever to prove this point and you can see the full lecture at this link:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/08/william-dever-on-the-exodus-and-the-bible.html

Now one thing you need to know about Dr. Dever is that he grew up a believer but after he got involved in archaeology, he lost his faith. He talks about this in an interview with Hershel Shanks recorded in the book, Scholars On Record.

He makes an interesting statement in the interview and I will include Dr. Ehrman’s remarks as well for context sake

Dever: I’m glad you do . I just don’t need to do that. Religion doesn’t do anything for me and it hasn’t for a long time, and I’ve decided I don’t need its excess baggage.

Ehrman: i have a different view. I would actually like to be a believer.

Dever: I would too. I wish it were true. I really do.

If you listen to this lecture you probably will come to the conclusion that he has left that wish behind and decided he can’t go back to his faith. For the most part I will be speaking generally as not all archaeologist practice what I describe here

#1. We archaeologists deal with the reality frozen in time which has no memory..because it is inanimate…

Actually, archaeologists are not dealing with any reality because they do not know the real reasons for why an object was left in the place that it was found or if that was its original resting place. Between the uncovering of an artifact and the original burial is approx. 1-2,000 years +/- depending on what era one is excavating. It is a foolish assumption to think that any artifact, for the most part, has lain untouched during that whole period of time.

The archaeologist is then guessing that that frozen moment is the moment he thinks it is. He has no access to any ancient record depicting the intervening years of any given archaeological site thus he does not know  anything about the artifact except that it is found in a certain context and he must assume he has it correct in order to draw his conclusions.

The fact that tomb raiding is well attested to provides evidence for this point. People didn’t just explore tombs when other sites may have had easier and less dangerous access with valuable material objects to sell.

#2. That is where history writing begins…Theology is historicized myth that comes later and so does cultural memory

Dr. Dever later labels some people, including biblical authors, revisionists yet here he is being a revisionist. He thinks that theology is a myth possibly based upon actual historical events though those events are not the biblical ones. He dismisses the Biblical events and record and replaces it with a secular history yet he offers no evidence, physical or otherwise, to support his point.

This is the way it is with those who do not want the Bible to be true. They will freely make extraordinary claims about the Bible being untrue yet fail to produce any evidence that supports their contrary view. In other words, they say there is an alternative but they fail to produce the alternative.

They also do not have extra-biblical, or extra-their own theories records to support their alternative ideas of what took place in history. We just get their word for it.

#3. As Barstad (sp) puts it, to the historian everything one does will be governed by the quest to find out what really happened.

There is a problem here with that quest. It is subjective and dependent upon what the historian accepts or rejects concerning the sparse information we have of the past. It is often said that history is in the eye of the historian so we must ask, ‘How do we know a particular historian got it right?’

If the historian doesn’t like one recorded account and chooses another how can we, or the historian, be sure they chose the correct version of events to re-record? They do not have people from those time periods in which to bring their material to verify their conclusions. Even if they did, we would have no guarantee that those remaining eye-witnesses were really eye-witnesses or telling the truth.

It is very difficult to say what really happened just by looking at mute vases, oil lamps, and other ancient remains for the options of what really happened  are many.

#4. the only thing that has changed now is that archaeology is gradually being recognized as a primary source.

This is happening but the problem with that is archaeology is far too limited to be an actual primary source. Take for the example the controversy concerning literacy in the ancient world. because archaeologists only find caches of written material in limited areas, they conclude that most of the ancient people were illiterate and uneducated.

But if you compare that thinking with the modern world of the past 250 years, we would see that most people who went to school, did not write texts, books, poems or any other written material that could possibly be preserved for 2,000 years. Future archaeologists, using the modern-day thinking, would conclude that our modern people were illiterate because they find no texts, poems, books, etc., written by the majority of the population of the time.

Just because a few people did write and have their works preserved doesn’t mean they were of the elite and were the only ones educated. But that is the thinking of the modern archaeologist and scholar concerning the ancient world. They expect each and every ancient person to be an Isaac Asimov or they are illiterate. It is very unrealistic and demonstrates why archaeology cannot be a prime source for one’s historical knowledge or what really took place.

#5. This was a deliberate challenge to the biblical revisionists for whom no real history is possible because it would be inconvenient for their ideology

A couple of key questions come to mind here when Dr. Dever makes this statement. is he saying that secular history is the real history, even though he cannot produce this alternative history? and Why is it that the Biblical people are the revisionists? Why can’t it be the secular historian doing the revising especially when we already know that modern secular historians, in part, are revising history today and for the past 10-20 years?

This accusation has no merit for Dr. Dever cannot produce an alternative history that was supposedly revised by the biblical authors nor prove that they actually revised history. This is a common accusation made against biblical writers and it makes no sense since they write to not lie, bear false witness and so one while the ancient and modern historians do not.

Dr. Dever and others are basically saying that the biblical writers were the hypocrites and wrote against the teachings of the Bible while the secular historians kept to a Godly morality they know little about, let alone support. They have things twisted.

We know from Drs. Chavalas and Younger’s book Mesopotamia and the Bible page 163, that the Babylonians enjoyed copying other people’s works and the Israelites held no such reputation. So why alter history and remove the copyist reputation from the Babylonians and place it upon the biblical authors?

#6. All of the above reflect genuine historical knowledge. The formation of information no matter how much refracted by later authors and editors was rooted in reality. That reality is what we now know archaeologically as the Iron Age…

Here, Dr. Dever infers that the bible was an edited book whose editors took real secular historical events and ‘religionized’ them. Yet again, he offers no evidence that this even took place. The idea of the bible being an edited book comes solely from unbelievers who do not believe the Bible and do not follow Jesus.

They point to minor textual differences as their supposed evidence but when those accusations are analyzed they prove to be false. What I mean by that is that some people claim that Paul didn’t write most of the Pauline epistles because the subject matter differed from other books, his writing style differed from other books and his grammar differed from other books.

If you think about it, it is unrealistic for Paul to have written the exact same words to different churches because that would make the Bible redundant with nothing new to address or problems to solve. I do not write the same way in everything I write so why should Paul? People who dismiss many of the Pauline Epistles as forgeries do so because they do not want to follow those particular biblical teachings. They want their own way not God’s.

But Paul had to write on different subjects as the ancient churches were at different stages of the Christian lives. it would do not good for God to have Paul write the exact same thing and include all those same subjects in the Bible. The people needed to know how to deal with different issues God’s way, just like we do today.

We certainly would not trust the Bible or God if most of the books were mere copies in content of each other nor would the ancients.

As for the dating the Israelites solely to the Iron Age, well that is based upon some physical evidence discovered and mentioned by Dr. Dever. But this dating system is subjective and flexible. if one doe snot like a particular dating because it doesn’t fit their theory then they move key biblical figures and events to another time period.

Dr. Stephen Collins does this with Abraham in order to maintain the idea that his northern location for Sodom is correct, even though it is not. people will argue over the date in order to make claims that the Bible isn’t true. Kathleen Kenyon did this when she excavated at Jericho. She didn’t find a certain kind of pottery she was looking for so she threw out the Bible and said it recorded a fable. Pottery doesn’t determine the validity of the Bible especially when that certain pottery was discovered by Garstang decades earlier (Read Bryant Wood at ABR’s website for more details on this http://www.biblearchaeology.org/search.aspx?q=Jericho&comment=true)

#7. What do the biblical writers remember

This point is a key one in how archaeology is a tool of convenience. Many archaeologists use archaeology to remove God from the equation and try to make the Bible a human authored book. You will notice that Dr. Dever uses the words editors, revisionists, and others to imply that the Bible is not God authored but from a human source writing long after the events discussed.

Again, he offers no physical evidence to support this claim but he will refer to archaeological discoveries as the main reason for this claim. His problem is that he uses the limitations of archaeology to his advantage and he is unrealistic about it. he knows that archaeology cannot prove that any editing or later writing of the Bible took place but he will appeal to it anyways because it is convenient for him and it helps his argument.

He does ignore all the archaeological evidence that proves the validity of the biblical record. One such piece of evidence are the names of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Archaeological discoveries have shown that these names were in use at the time the biblical patriarchs were said to have lived. The Bible got the names and the time period for those names correctly, a feat that would be difficult if the Bible was a human authored book hundreds of years after the fact (in this case over a 1000).

Archaeology actually supports the Bible and as of this writing not one archaeological discovery has proven one part of the Bible untrue. What people refer to as an archaeological discovery proving the Bible false is the conjecture, assumption and leaps to conclusions the unbelieving archaeologists make about archaeological discoveries.

Not only do we have the patriarchal names in the right time period, but we have cities, civilizations, people, all confirmed by archaeology to be in the right place as the Bible records them. That is a lot of evidence for the Bible and there is none against it yet unbelievers will use the limitations of archaeology to support their points when it is convenient to do so.

Eric Cline did this in his book From Eden to Exile and again he skipped facts to use archaeology against the Bible. You will not get archaeological evidence for Eden because it was destroyed in Noah’s flood. A fact ignored by Cline. Even with all the evidence for the Bible, people will use archaeology to fit their point of view and they will find the most convenient aspect of that field to do so.

The believer needs to be aware of this and be wary. We do not take archaeology over the Bible for it is imperfect, missing lots of evidence and permeated with more unbelievers than believers who give out their views not the truth.

I have only made it one-third of the way through the lecture with the 7 points but I will leave the rest for you to find and see how Dr. Dever conveniently uses archaeology to contradict the Bible. Dr. Dever is wrong throughout the lecture because he doesn’t believe God anymore.

Learn from his mistake. He let the limited aspect of archaeology take his eyes off Christ and now he no longer believes. Archaeology is not superior to Christ or the Bible and does not contain perfect knowledge. Don’t be fooled or deceived by the claims archaeologists make but use scripture to fend of the ‘darts’ from evil. Remember to look at their spiritual status first before listening to them.

If they are not of God then they will not be telling the truth about the Bible.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in academics, archaeology

 

What I Find Interesting– A Postscript

I alluded to James McGrath at the end of the previous post and I should point out some reasons why I did so. Here is a post found at his website which provides excellent reasons why you do not listen to him and why he is being deceived:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2013/08/can-young-earth-creationists-and-proponents-of-intelligent-design-be-christians.html

I don’t think that any view which misrepresents evidence the way young-earth creationism and Intelligent Design do is compatible with the moral teachings of Christianity. If you reject the clear teaching of Jesus about truth in order to defend that ancient human beings were somehow prescient in their knowledge of modern science, there is really no way you can seriously call yourself a Christian.

I am going to take different sentences from his statement (and that is his complete statement) and point out the reasons why he is not to be considered Christian or a person whose words are true. keep in mind that James McGrath is a Progressive Creationist and they take secular science over God. I use the word ‘secular’ because Christian science agrees with God.

1. I don’t think that any view which misrepresents evidence

The key word in this part of his sentence is the word ‘evidence’. What evidence is Mr. McGrath referring to? It is the Darwinian, evolutionary, secular evidence unbelieving scientists have claimed to be present on earth and contradicts the Bible. He is not talking about biblical or true evidence, just that which comes from deceived, sinful and fallible people who do not believe God.

Someone else once used the phrase, ‘if that was the way it was done’, in referencing a particular argument. Evolutionists may have had a case for their theory if that was the way origins was done but it wasn’t and they cannot verify one thing they claim about life and atmosphere development.

2. the way young-earth creationism and Intelligent Design do is compatible with the moral teachings of Christianity.

Is it moral to ay that God lied and was incapable of communicating how he created the world? The moral teachings of Christianity are found in the Bible and in the Bible we read to verse: A. God does not lie & B. Nothing is impossible for God.

So who is being immoral here–the YEC people who stand with the Bible or James McGrath and the Progressive Creationists who say that God lied and that telling the truth of what took place was impossible for God to do?

There are 3 books in the Bible that clearly state that God created everything in 7 days: Genesis, Exodus and Hebrews thus to say that God didn’t create in 7 days is calling God a liar and that means that God sinned; rendering the Bible and its moral teachings useless. it also destroys Christianity removing any claim by Progressive Creationists that they are Christian.

There is no Christianity now. The PC group will argue that it was the fault of ‘human authors’ who misrepresented God but that tells us that God is still incapable because he could not control his own writers and have them communicate the truth to his creation.

If God is in capable then how can we have confidence in his promises, his claims, and his being able to help us with our problems. He couldn’t even solve his own.

3. If you reject the clear teaching of Jesus about truth

McGrath is saying here that Jesus did not follow his own teachings of truth for Jesus spoke of creation not a process. If origins happened the way McGrath claims why didn’t Jesus take the time to correct Moses and make sure the correction was published in the gospels and other NT books?

McGrath is saying that Jesus was a hypocrite and if that is the case, there goes our final sacrifice and salvation. Also, McGrath is saying that God is unfair and unjust. Since the time of Jesus billions of people have died knowing and accepting Genesis 1, how fair is it or just of God to have ‘the truth’ come out in starting n the 19th century and continuing to the 21st?

Why didn’t God just say that through Moses when the latter wrote the Torah? Then why leave the discovery of the supposed truth to a man who rejected God and said that his belief did not take? That flies in the face of everything God taught in the Bible.

McGrath doesn’t know the truth nor does he care about the ramifications of his words as he destroys the very faith he claims to hold.

4. in order to defend that ancient human beings were somehow prescient in their knowledge of modern science,

I have yet to receive an answer to the question, Where in the Bible do both God and Jesus give permission to take science over their word? This statement is saying that God is unfair and unjust as people died without knowing this supposed modern science and its supposed knowledge.

But that is the minor issue. We have clear teaching from God to not listen to or follow the words of unbelievers yet here is McGrath encouraging people to disobey God and sin by doing the exact opposite. That is very wrong.

Both God and Jesus, and the disciples, taught that FAITH is the way to go with God, Hebrews 11 makes a very clear point about this, because God knew that his supernatural act would leave evidence that would be distorted by those who do not believe.

Knowing that God exists and created all things as he said, is NOT a scientific issue. we are not to put God into a test tube and then studying him before coming to a decision. We are to come to him by faith, believing he exists and created all things like he said. That is biblical teaching and moral christian truth.

Scientists have to put down their test tubes and scientific experiments and look for God the way God wants–by faith.Some on the Progressive Creationist/theistic evolutionary side of the issue once said, ‘God gave us minds and intellect so we should use them…’ Of course, he meant that believers should use them to follow after secular science and what it teaches.

But that is not what God gave us our minds and intellect for. he provided those tools so we would learn his ways and use our minds and intellect to avoid secular and deceptive teachings and not be lead astray from the truth.

A believer of God is not a mindless drone. They have intelligence so that they can see the difference between true and false teaching and decide to stick with the former, not champion the latter.

5. there is really no way you can seriously call yourself a Christian.

He is wrong. As I quoted in the previous post, Jesus said in John 5 that ‘if you do not believe Moses how can you believe him…’ being Christian means you believe both Moses and Christ.

You cannot believe both man and God, you have to make a choice. McGrath has chosen to believe man thus he is not of God and not a true teacher. Being a Christian means one believes God word even when the majority disagrees with you. Being a Christian means one stands with God and His word even when all the people of the different sciences say God is wrong.

McGrath certainly does not know what it means to be Christian for he disobeys God and follows after false teaching. Disobedience is a sin, not a Christian act. Secular science is false teaching, it is deception and Believers need to use their minds and intellect and decide to follow God and his word.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in academics, science, theology

 

What I Find Interesting…

is that a bunch of fallible, sinful, mistake-prone people can tell the holy, infallible, sinless, error-proof Jesus how to use the OT.  An example of this is found over at Peter Enns’ website

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/08/would-jesus-get-hired-to-teach-an-old-testament-seminary-course-today/

What’s interesting here is that Jesus says “the scripture cannot be annulled” but he seems bend the particular scripture in question, Psalm 82, beyond it’s breaking point.

Seminarians and other Bible students are taught to respect the context of a passage to make sure you’re not reading something into the text that’s not there. If you look at Psalm 82, it becomes immediately clear that what Jesus says it means isn’t what the psalmist Asaph meant.

Notice the last line. I wonder if Mr. Enns really knows what the Psalmist meant since the writer has been dead for thousands of years and cannot communicate his intentions. Mr. Enns would have to go to the Holy Spirit for help in discovering what the Psalmist meant but then one would have to ask, would the Holy Spirit lead humans to contradict Jesus?

Mr. Enns tries to make this point:

Apparently, there is a problem with the rulers of the earth, the kings of the nations (see v. 8). They rule unjustly, show partiality to the wicked, ignore the poor and needy

I do not think you can limit the passage to referring to rulers only for the rulers are not the only ones who ‘defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked’ (v.2) even though the word ruler is used only once in verse 7 and not in the context of the addressee, so Mr. Enns’ idea seems to be off base.

This is the thing, if you or anyone disagrees with the Bible, it is not the Bible at fault. The readers of the Bible must make sure they are truly following the Holy Spirit in order to come to the truth and they must make sure evil is not interfering with their bible study in order to hear clearly from God what he is saying, even in the difficult passages.

Why must we do that? Because people who do not believe God, yet call themselves Christians, do not grasp what God is teaching.  Mr. Enns said this a little later

With that, if you go back to John 10:34-36,you can’t help but see some disconnect between what the psalm means and what Jesus takes it to mean.

No that just isn’t true. i went back to the passage in question and saw that Mr. Enns has the disconnect not Jesus. But that is the way it is with those who reject a lot of the Bible and pursue the teachings of deceived men. Jesus said this

44 “You accept praise from one another. But you make no effort to receive the praise that comes from the only God. So how can you believe?

45 “Do not think I will bring charges against you in front of the Father. Moses is the one who does that. And he is the one you build your hopes on.

46 “Do you believe Moses? Then you should believe me. He wrote about me. 47 But you do not believe what he wrote. So how are you going to believe what I say? (John 5 NIV)
 

This passage is a key to a good Christian life. If you doubt one part of the Bible, how can you believe another? When you doubt God and take deceived men’s teaching over His Holy word then you have let evil in to ruin the rest of what the Bible teaches. This brings us to the second thing I find interesting over at Mr. Enns’ site

Why are men who call themselves Christian turning to secular, fallible, sinful and deceived men and following their words over God’s?

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/08/you-call-that-a-history-course-this-is-a-history-course-13-7-billion-years-in-10-lessons/

Just today I stumbled upon Big History Project, an online course geared toward high schoolers that–get this–takes students on a tour of 13.7 billion years of history in ten units. Bill Gates is providing ongoing support for the project, which at this point is accessible only to educators, but is being geared up for free public access in September.

I watched the promo videos and I am so looking forward to watching this.

The last I looked Mr. Gates was not a true Christian, does not believe God and he also follows the teachings of sinful, deceived men so why would a man like Mr. Enns listen to and advocate for Mr. Gate’s history lessons?

That history is in direct contrast to God’s teachings so why would a man who claims to be Christian and evangelical support the lies of sinful man? i am not going to rehash the old argument that humans were not present at creation but it is a very good argument for it shows the very weakness of the evolutionary/big bang arguments.

Deceived men are using limited evidence and subjective opinion to try to claim that the Bible is wrong but their problem is they are too far removed from the event to know if they are right. The evidence they claim speaks for their theories cannot be verified and there is no way they can know if they put the pieces to their puzzle together correctly. It is one big guess and a guess i snot something to wager one’s life or eternity upon.

The Bible warns about listening to these people so we must ask, why are supposed Christians listening to men God clearly said not to listen to? Taking deceived men’s teaching over God’s word is disobedience and sin. Hear is one passage in 2 Timothy that God wrote to make sure his followers got the message correctly:

Here is what I want you to know. There will be terrible times in the last days. People will love themselves. They will love money. They will brag and be proud. They will tear others down. They will not obey their parents. They won’t be thankful or holy. They won’t love others. They won’t forgive others. They will tell lies about people. They will be out of control. They will be wild. They will hate what is good.

They will turn against their friends. They will act without thinking. They will think they are better than others. They will love what pleases them instead of loving God. They will act as if they were serving God. But what they do will show that they have turned their backs on God’s power. Have nothing to do with those people.

They are the kind who worm their way into the homes of silly women. They get control over them. Women like that are loaded down with sins. They give in to all kinds of evil longings. They are always learning. But they never come to know the truth.

Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. In the same way, the teachers I’m talking about oppose the truth. Their minds are twisted. As far as the faith is concerned, God doesn’t accept them. They won’t get very far. Just like Jannes and Jambres, their foolish ways will be clear to everyone. (NIV)

and

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (KJV)

When people claiming to be Christian advocate for and teach lessons that contradict God’s word then ignore them for they are wrong not God. The age of the earth is not the important lesson from Genesis 1, the fact that GOD created all is.

These men, like Mr. Enns and James McGrath, are robbing people of the truth and turning people towards lies. They are making God small and insignificant simply because they want to follow sinful and deceived teachings.  Be careful out there and make sure you compare the words of men with the words of God and make sure they agree before listening to them.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in academics, theology

 

Where Did Life Come From?

I am still reading the book Genes, Giants, Monsters & Men by Joseph P. Farrell and if you can get past his left-field theories you can find some very interesting information in its pages. There are some statistics on DNA that is worth repeating here but that will wait for another time.

On page 130 the author makes a comment that requires a biblical response:

Moreover, with such maps in hand {DNA Sequencing maps}, one might be able to derive genetically-based definitions of life itself, or even to figure out the minimum amount of genes required in order for there to be life…

This is the secular objective, to remove God from the picture and what better place to do it than in the origin of life itself. If you look at the bold words you can see that the secular world is looking for a genetic answer for the origin of life.

But there is a problem with that objective. God did not put the secret of life in the genetic material. DNA, genes, chromosomes and other genetic material are basically the engine parts that contribute to the smooth operation of the body; much like the spark plugs, pistons, valves contribute their part in making the engine of a car work smoothly.

No mechanic in their right mind would say that the secrets of car building is hidden in the spark plugs. The same applies to genetics. No one should say that the origins of life lie hidden in certain parts of the body.

Just like a spark plug can’t build a car, DNA cannot produce life, it is a mechanism only. One part in a large machine. Where did life come from then if not from the genetic material found in the body? To get that answer we need to turn to Genesis 2

Then the Lord God formed a man. He made him out of the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into him. And the man became a living person. (v. 7 NIV)

Notice God made the body first, which would include the genetic material scientists are studying every day. Man was not alive at that point, he didn’t come alive till God did something special. Read the bold words.

Life came from God instilling it in man separately from the construction of the body and separately from genetic material. To search for the origin of life in genetics is looking in the wrong places for one’s answers.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in academics, creation, science

 

The Hidden Elite

That is the main theme behind the book Genes, Giants, Monsters and Men by Joseph P. Farrell. It is an interesting book, well written and it contains some wonderful information about the ancient people.

The moment he brought up his ‘hidden elite and their agenda’ the whole premise lost credibility. It is difficult to know where to start as the author highlights a wonderful discovery that sets the evolutionary theory on its ear but then denigrated into the topic of a supposed hidden elite.

The discovery has to do with the Babylonian Ishtar gate and the animal in the middle. Now the animals depicted above and below the middle one were common looking bulls (pg. 7) but the one in the middle.

However, the problem for Koldewey…was not that the Babylonians had given full freedom to their artistic flights of fancy; the problem was that they apparently had not, for the creature, known as the Sirrush, appeared right in the middle of other creatures known as aurochs that were self-evidently real,and though they are now extinct as well, they were not extinct in Babylonian times. (pg. 9)

The key to this comes on page 10 after the author gives a physical description of the creature we see on the Ishtar gate:

This strange animal, with the above-enumerated features..was found in the oldest Babylonian art and preserved these features unchanged for millennia.

Then

It could not be, Koldewey concluded, merely the chimerical production of a fevered Mesopotamia artistic imagination, fo rin cases where such mythological creatures were encountered in Babylonian art, these showed a great deal of change over time; the sirrush did not. (pg. 11)

It gets better:

Koldewey proposed one dinosaur, the Iguanodon, which did indeed have hind feet similar to a bird, as being a close match to the sirrush. But that does not make the dilemma any more palatable, since that would mean that long after the dinosaurs were supposed to be extinct according to standard evolutionary theory, the ancient Babylonians were depicting then in clear context of other very real, and very living, creatures, the aurochs.

To make matters very much worse, it even appeared to Koldewey that the sirrush might have been the basis behind at least one biblical story, that recounted in the Greek version of the book of Daniel, and known as Bel and the Dragon. (pg.11)

It is very interesting stuff and to have a creature thought of extinct captured in art as fully alive and part of the then living animal kingdom. Now if Mr. Farrell had continued this discussion a little further and provided more references to the sirrush and detailed its existence more fully this book would be a great study.

But he doesn’t as he goes off on a tangent involving some very real and verifiable ancient mathematics and tries to link that up with some hidden elite who have their own agenda. So far, he doe snot say where this hidden elite originated from, what their physical features are composed, why the are hidden and why they would limit their interaction to only a few  of ancient societies.

I am looking forward to seeing if he answers those questions. Yet a problem with his theory remains as he fails to provide real evidence for the existence of this elite and lays a foundation using the Babylonian myth the Enuma Elish. He writes:

If one is to believe the ancient Babylonian ‘cosmic war’ epic, the Enuma Elish, then almost immediately upon the conclusion of that war, Marduk…set out to ‘measure the structure of the deep.’ (pg. 31)

But instead of basing his ideas in some sort of fact, the author goes to 3 assumptions;

Firstly, we have assumed that an ‘elite’ survived this war…Secondly we have assumed that those elites had agendas…Thus we arrive at the third and final component of the assumptions…that is that some of the fragments of the technology and scientific knowledge, however rudimentary, survived that ancient cosmic war and were put to immediate use to re-establish and preserve those elements of civilization necessary for human survival and progress. (pg. 32)

Only one ancient myth talks about this supposed cosmic war and we have no extra-Babylonian material referring to it thus it is a work of ancient imagination. We have no physical evidence supporting the existence of such an event.

Then, we have no evidence to the identity of this supposed elite. The author can change its identity depending upon what evidence may be uncovered. With no ancient written texts from this supposed elite, how can the author read their minds and propose that they have an agenda. The whole idea of elites is quite far-fetched.

But the author does go on to a very real perplexing problem for unbelievers. it turns out that there was a standard unit of measurement (pg. 34) in the ancient world at a time when the ancients were supposed to be primitive and illiterate. That standard unit is called the Megalith Yard (pg. 35) and it seems to have world-wide influence.

It is a very fascinating discussion as the author continues by saying that there is a Megalith Rod and Inch (pg. 36). The problem is the author makes great leaps to conclusions and tries to use the existence of this standard unit of measurement to prove that some hidden elite existed or exists:

The answer to that, according to Knight and Butler, is rather astounding, and points in tun to a hidden and hardly primitive elite acting as a guiding hand and working behind the scenes. (pg. 38)

…a modified or tempered system was put into place by ‘someone’. (pg. 39)

Hence, the presence of a Megalith university suggests very strongly that we are in the presence of an elite…(pg. 48)

The presence of the Megalithic measures suggested…an elite with an agenda…(pg49-50)

The unbelieving world comes up with many fantastic (not the definition of the word) ideas to explain what they cannot explain or to fill the void left by their rejection of the truth. There was no hidden elite. God did not create a primitive people, he gave them intelligence and other talents/abilities and they put those gifts to good use–though not for the glory of God.

What throws off so many unbelievers is their rejection of Noah’s flood. They have gotten it into their heads that history was linear and that man arose from mindless and unintelligent creatures thus the discoveries of the achievements of ancient man are baffling and a surprise to them.

Ancient man was quite capable of doing a lot as evidence by Cain’s construction of a city; his descendants ability to do metal work and Noah and his sons’ talent in shipbuilding or construction. Believers should not be surprised by what the ancients did for we know their source for achievement. We also know that ancient man was not a primitive tribe of elevated animals but fully cognitive people who were aware of their surroundings and the universe as well.

The continual discoveries of ancient achievement provide the evidence for this and not for an evolutionary model. if ‘someone’ guided the ancient people into these units of measurement or construction then we only have to look as far as Noah and his sons, for they would have carried the knowledge gained in the pre-flood world with them onto the ark.

Being on the ark didn’t destroy their education or memories. Then to explain how that knowledge became so widespread, we only have to look as far as Babel. At that time, before the dispersal, the people were one and they all had the same education, the same history and the same knowledge.

Their education, their memories and their history were not destroyed when their language was changed thus they would carry their knowledge with them to whatever land they settled in. Whether or not they chose to use that knowledge or pass it on to future generations was up to them.

The Bible provides the answers to these mysteries. The key is to learn what words God is using for he will not use the exact words one is looking for and sometimes the details are implied not mentioned.

If there was a hidden elite, why didn’t they just take over the world and rule it with an iron hand when they had the chance? If they were so superior to every other human on earth at the time, why were they so benevolent and not so controlling? The author hasn’t explained that problem yet.

Suffice it to say, the explanations offered by the unbelieving world fall far short and really do not explain anything

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in academics, archaeology, history

 
 
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