It is often heard, ‘the physical evidence tells us…’ and this, or something similar, has become the battle cry of the non-believer who looks to what archaeology has discovered to justify their unbelief and sinful lifestyle.
A good example of this is Dr. Erich Cline’s book, ‘from Eden to Exile’, as he goes through some of the ‘mysteries’ of the Bible. Throughout its pages the author appeals to the physical evidence as proof for his theory that the Bible is wrong on many fronts or is only a metaphorical book for religious purposes (more on his book can be found in the book review section of this site).
BUT there are very big problems that come with this kind of attitude and this work will highlight a few of them so you can get an idea how physical evidence can be mis-used or mis-applied to the Bible.
First, it must be made known that everyone has the same evidence.
Second, very rarely do they find written records or explanations for this physical evidence. Investigators simply find it lying buried in the ground by itself and the real work begins as they try to decipher the context and reasons why it was found in that spot.
Third, Bias, religious beliefs or lack of them, prejudices, arrogance, close-mindedness and so on all play a part in the interpretation process and makes an archaeologist vulnerable to being lead down the wrong path to the wrong conclusion.
Fourth, as stated in other pages on this site, the amount of evidence comes from a very miniscule part of the whole history of the area and with this missing data it is very easy to make the wrong assumption or draw the wrong conclusion.
When looking at an inscription that is fragmented and only says (as an example) ‘King Babel’ on it, archaeologists have numerable options they must choose from. Questions need to be answered, like: “Is this mentioning a real king?”; “Is this something from a play?”; or “is this just a child’s playing with names?” And the options continue.
Researchers can and do get corroborating evidence but not all the time and a lot of guess work is involved when trying to fit the pieces into some sort of puzzle, but this puzzle doesn’t have a picture on the box top to help one determine if they got it right.
Also a fifth problem is the acceptance or rejection of the evidence or is it attributed to the wrong event, dynasty or time period. Take the example of Noah’s flood. Most people reject whatever evidence there is that supports the account. We know by reading books like, Path to of the Poles’ by Dr. Charles Hapgood, that in South America there are numerous caves containing bones thrown together in a manner that only could be done by some violent action.
Such evidence is dismissed as opponents to the flood point to the lack of evidence for a global flood. Of course they may see the evidence for such an event but attribute that to a local event, so physical evidence is not always handled in the most honest or objective manner.
Another example we can point to, is the popular thought that the Biblical authors contradicted God’s teachings and violated His rules by coping from other myths or legends. Dr. Cline mentions this in his book but the problem with this thought is if this theory was true then the whole Bible is invalidated as its authors committed sin which makes Jesus, heaven, God and other important aspects of Christianity a lie and makes God full of sin which disqualifies Him as God.
For the unbeliever this would be good news for then they do not have the worry of a final judgment and hell awaiting them and they can live as they please. For the believer, this idea would destroy their lives and ruin them psychologically as well as other areas.
It must be remembered that first discovered does not mean it is the original nor does it mean that the Biblical writers copied from other nations. There would be no point to their copying as they would soon be found out as frauds and their work discarded, not accepted and followed.
Physical evidence can be wielded two ways, as a tool which helps faith strengthening it or as a weapon seeking to destroy those who believe the Bible. The latter is used quite often as discoveries are down dated to fit personal agendas, or credited to other events or places in history. We can see this latter reason at work in the Egyptian chronology and the Israeli sojourn and exodus.
If you look at the traditional chronology you can see how the evidence is placed throughout Egyptian history where it then makes no sense and refers to nothing in particular. But if you read the arguments for a revised Egyptian chronology, ‘Unwrapping the Pharaohs’ by John Ashton and David Down, you will see the evidence placed in the proper context and see how it makes reference to an actual event.
We have the evidence to support the Biblical accounts unfortunately it is subject to those who do not believe the Bible nor want to prove it true. Where does this leave us? With a lot of work to do to get what evidence we have in its proper place and context despite the unbelieving professional’s objections.
Also we cannot solely rely on what the physical evidence says as that is subjective and depends on who is doing the interpreting. We need to look to The Holy Spirit to lead us to the truth even if it disagrees with experts and popular thought, keeping physical evidence in its proper place.
The Bible is a book which requires faith, to please God we need to exercise that faith as there are things contained in the Bible which archaeology and science can never prove true, i.e. heaven, hell , angels etc.,
We will never get all the physical evidence that would destroy that requirement and those who rely on physical evidence to cause them to believe will be severely disappointed. Then to judge the Bible false because one does not have complete evidence or information shows arrogance unmatched in the world.
Physical evidence is not the final authority on whether or not the Bible is correct and i am reminded of the parable of the rich man &Lazarus, as the rich man asks that someone be sent back to his brothers but that request is denied because even that bit of evidence would not cause the unbelieving brothers to repent and believe in Jesus.
So even if we found Noah’s ark and verified it as the true ship, I highly doubt we would win converts to Christ as there would be found some way to disbelieve the correct evidence. So for the unbelieving world they are stuck. They must use faith and believe or when they get the proof they seek, it will be too late to do anything about it.