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The Bible must be accurate because archaeology supports it (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (The Bible must be accurate because archaeology supports it (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH120:

Archaeology supports the accuracy of the Bible. The Bible's historical account has many times been substantiated by new archaeological information.

Source:

  • Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. 1985. Life--How Did It Get Here? Brooklyn, NY, pp. 207-214.


CreationWiki response:

Let the record state first that the Watchtower Society is from the Jehovah's Witnesses faith; a sect drastically different from Christianity.

(Talk Origins quotes in blue)

1. Archaeology supports at most the general background of the Bible and some relatively recent details. It does not support every Biblical claim.

Nor does objective archaeology counter any Biblical claim.

Most so called archaeological claims against the Bible are arguments of lack of evidence, that is the claim is based on the assumption that the Bible is wrong until evidence is found to prove it right. This is a fallacy that ignores the fact that evidence may exist but has yet to be discovered, or that evidence has been destroyed by time or act of man. A good example is the fact that Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt at least twice, and thus much useful would have been destroyed and deliberately so. History has shown that when new evidence is found it supports the Biblical account.

In particular, archaeology does not support anything about creation, the Flood,

First of all creation would not have left any direct archaeological evidence. The only direct archaeological evidence for the Flood would be finding Noah's ark and unless it is in a fairly inaccessible location like Mt. Ararat, it would probably have long ago been stripped to nothing for relics. The main archaeological difficulty deals with the accepted chronologies of ancient civilizations like Egypt. However there are reasons to suspect that there are errors in these chronologies that, when corrected, bring them in line with the Biblical account of the Flood. Furthermore the presence of over 500 Flood legends from all over the world, provide some archaeological support for the Flood.

Reference: Searching for Moses

Reference: Displaced Dynasties

or the conquest of the Holy Land.

Talk Origins' claim here is based on an error in Egyptian chronology. This flawed Egyptian chronology is used to date artifacts from Israel. Based on the flawed Egyptian chronology, there is no evidence for a conquest of the Holy Land at the time the Bible says it took place, but if the Egyptian chronology is corrected for the errors, then there is abundant evidence for the conquest of the Holy Land.

Reference: Searching for Moses

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.

If it were only a few instances Talk Origins would have a point but there are many. The alleged problems are with popular theories and not actual archaeological evidence.

Reference: Searching for Moses

Reference: Displaced Dynasties

Reference: Archaeology and the Bible

Reference: Does archaeology support the reliability of the Bible?

Reference: Biblical Archaeology Society

2. Archaeology contradicts significant parts of the Bible.

Correction: Some archaeological theories and interpretations claim that archaeology contradicts significant parts of the Bible.

  • Luke 2:4 describes Nazareth as being Joseph's home, but the archaeological evidence indicates that the town didn't exist at the time [Humphreys 2003].

First of all Talk Origins' source only makes the case for the lack of evidence outside the Bible. Given the fact that both Matthew and Luke were written in the 1st century, they qualify as evidence that Nazareth existed at the time. At best this is a classic case of an appeal to a lack of evidence. It assumes that the Bible is wrong unless proven right and to the satisfaction of biased scoffers. It also ignores the fact that Nazareth is referenced to in four 1st century writings, which does qualify as evidence for it existence.

1st century evidence for the existence of Nazareth includes:

  1. An inscription found in Caesarea telling of priests from Jerusalem being assigned to live in Nazareth, following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
  2. Pottery dating from the 1st century that has been found about Nazareth.

Reference: Nazareth or Nazirite?

Finally note that the url of Talk Origins' source is jesusneverexisted.com. It is not only a biased source, but its home page has a clear tone of bigotry about the topic. Their depiction of president Bush as a borg is just one example of the fact that they clearly have an ax to grind.

  • 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 BC. [Finkelstein and Silberman 2001]

This is nothing but an Appeal to Authority since no details are given for how this conclusion is arrived at. Most likely it is a case that 1,000 B.C. is the earliest that the there exists extra Biblical evidence for the wide use of camels. It needs to be stressed that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However even if it is true, the fact that camels were not widely used does not mean that they were not used at all. If camels were a luxury item, they would not be widely used, but they might be used for long hauls by people of wealth, which Abraham was.

All such alleged anachronisms are based on either disagreements in chronology or a simple lack of extra Biblical evidence. It is interesting to note that they do not consider the Biblical record to be evidence. This because those who make such claims are basing their view of the Bible on an idea of Biblical authorship that assumes the Bible to be false.

Reference: Did Moses really write Genesis?

  • 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 40 years of wandering of more than half a million people. And other archaeological evidence contradicts it, showing that the Hebrews were a native people.

Talk Origins' claim here is based mainly on an error in Egyptian chronology. When the error is corrected for there is plenty of evidence for the Exodus.

And there is a good reason why there is no evidence of Israel wondering in the Sinai. The Bible does not say they wandered in the Sinai, but the wilderness in general (Num 14:33). So the reason why there is no evidence in the Sinai, is that they were not wandering in the Sinai. Furthermore there is evidence that Mt. Sinai is not even on the Sinai peninsula, but in Saudi Arabia. This includes Mt. Sinai itself with evidence of Israeli occupation. It also includes evidence of the Red Sea crossing.

  • 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.

As is so often the case this claim is based on an error in chronology, correcting for the error provides ample evidence for both their existence and their power.

Reference: False History—'out with David and Solomon!'

Many claims that archaeology supports the Bible, especially earlier ones, were based on the scientists trying to force the evidence to fit their own preconceptions.

This is a totally unsubstantiated claim, based on the unspoken assumption that only the scoffers are objective. Given the obvious bias of one of Talk Origins' sources, they are hardly in the position to accuse any one of forcing the evidence to fit their preconceptions. It is a fact that both sides of the issue of the authenticity of the Bible tend to interpret the evidence based on their presuppositions.

If one accepts the theory that the first five books of the Biblical were not written by Moses and that the official chronologies (particularly that of Egypt) is accurate, then one will not find much evidence to support the Biblical account.

If one accepts that the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses (or that Genesis was written even earlier) and that there are errors in the official chronologies, and particularly that of Egypt, then one will find considerable evidence to support the Biblical account.

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