Again we are sure you have heard of this fiasco. We haven’t said anything because we have been a little busy lately.
At least a dozen headlines declared that a recently released human genetics study disproves a biblical account found in the Old Testament. But Christians are pointing out that the media got it wrong and only one has issued a correction.
“The Bible got it wrong: Ancient Canaanites survived and their DNA lives in modern-day Lebanese,” says a Pulse headline published last week. Meanwhile, U.K.’s the Daily Mail wrote, “Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible’s claim that the Canaanites were wiped out.”
The Telegraph also declared that the study that was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics disproved the Bible but it was the only publication among the 12 examined that issued a correction and modified its headline. The correction reads: “The original version of this story erroneously said the Bible claimed the Canaanites were wiped. However, elsewhere in the Bible, it says the elimination was not successful.”
New archaeological discovery contradicts the Bible.” I’ll tell you why headlines like this are worth double-checking.
We’ve heard a lot about “fake news” this year, and last week we were treated to a flurry of fake news aimed at the reliability of the Bible. A study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics reported that DNA from 3,700-year-old Canaanite remains closely matches that of the modern Lebanese. In other words, a major biblical people are alive and well, still living in the region!
It was an exciting confirmation of the Bible’s history. But for a dozen or so major media outlets, it was precisely the opposite.
“Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out,” trumpeted the UK Telegraph.
The Independent declared, “The Bible says Canaanites were wiped out by Israelites but scientists just found their descendants living in Lebanon.”
And ABC Online reported: “Canaanites survived Biblical ‘slaughter,’ ancient DNA shows.”
Even the journal, Science, joined the debacle with the headline, “Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites.” Science soon issued a casual correction, saying, “The story and its headline have been updated to reflect that in the Bible, God ordered the destruction of the Canaanites, but that some cities and people may have survived.”
There was a spate of headlines last week claiming that new scientific discoveries disproved the historical narrative of the Bible. Headlines included, “DNA vs the Bible: Israelites did not wipe out the Canaanites” and “Study disproves the Bible’s suggestion that the ancient Canaanites were wiped out.” The problem is that the reverse is actually true: The discoveries confirm what the Scriptures explicitly state.
Not surprisingly, these headlines didn’t come from obscure, Bible-bashing websites. Instead, they came from Cosmos Magazine, Yahoo.com, New Scientist (claiming that the discovery helped unravel the “true fate” of the Canaanites), and others. As stated in the New York Times, “There is a story in the Hebrew Bible that tells of God’s call for the annihilation of the Canaanites, a people who lived in what are now Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories thousands of years ago.
“‘You shall not leave alive anything that breathes,’ God said in the passage. ‘But you shall utterly destroy them.’
“But a genetic analysis published on Thursday has found that the ancient population survived that divine call for their extinction, and their descendants live in modern Lebanon.”