Historical Integrity of the Bible and AOL News

Historical Integrity of the Bible - Tel Dan Stele
AOL News for January 5, 2019, carried a list of archaeological finds supporting the historical integrity of the Bible. Skeptics and atheists continually flood the media with claims of supposed contradictions between the Bible and historical evidence. A listing like this with pictures and descriptions is a refreshing change. Unfortunately, there is little documentation of the biblical references or which archaeological teams made the discoveries. The list on AOL News is as follows:

The bones of Mary Magdalene which are in the Church of Saint Maximin have been examined. Scientists confirmed that they do belong to a woman from the area where the Bible says Mary Magdalene lived and from the time she lived.

Solomon’s wall to protect Jerusalem has been found.

A ziggurat (tower) has been found at Etemenanki which is located in the former ancient city of Babylon matching the description of the Tower of Babel in the Bible.

A seal with Jezebel’s name and insignia has been found and dated to the 9th century BCE, so claims that she was a biblical myth do not stand.

The Tel Dan Stele has a reference to the “House of David” refuting atheist claims that David never existed.

The city of Nazareth was discovered in 2001 and matches the biblical description of where Jesus lived as a child.

The Pilate Stone was found in 1971 and his title of “Prefect of Judea” is written on the stone.

Herod’s tomb was discovered in 2007 with the details fitting Josephus’ description of the man who killed the Bethlehem babies described in the Bible.

A seal with Isaiah’s name has been discovered, so claims that he never existed have been debunked. (A seal of Hezekiah has also been discovered, but that is not mentioned in the AOL report.)

The tomb of Caiaphas, the high priest at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion was discovered in 1990.

We would like to make clear that this is an AOL production, not a report by an archaeological research group. However, we have seen most of these reports in Biblical Archaeology Review and Archaeology magazine which are both academic productions of professional archaeology groups. There is support for the historical integrity of the Bible.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Design Is an Illusion – Not

Design Is an Illusion – Not
If you read our posts and publications regularly, you probably know that we are continually talking about design in the universe, on our planet, and especially in living things. We think that it is impossible to look at life and say that we see no design. However, some people can see the same things and say design is an illusion. They are willing to accept on faith that everything came into existence out of nothing and evolved by pure accident with no intelligence involved.

One person who refuses to see design in nature is a very well-known evolutionary biologist. Richard Dawkins has written several best-selling books that are supposed to be on the subject of biology. However, they are actually books on theology. The high point (or low point) of his books on theology is The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin 2006). He travels the world giving lectures on theology, under the guise of biology.

Dawkins’ field of study is biology, not theology, so we take his pronouncements with a grain of salt. However, even Dawkins has to admit that his biological studies appear to show design. In his book The Blind Watchmaker he wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” However, he then goes into theology by stating that design is an illusion and there is no designer. That means there is no ultimate purpose in life beyond day-to-day survival. In River Out of Eden Dawkins wrote, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good…”

No design, no purpose, no evil, and no good—that’s the way Dawkins describes the living things he has spent his life studying. Life, of course, includes human beings—you and I. If Dawkins is right, why should he study living things, or why should we? What is the purpose of using our purposeless lives to study purposeless things? Perhaps Dawkins has found his purpose in theology as he endeavors to convince everyone that there is no God.

As we think about this, we have to be amazed at how incredibly ironic the Dawkins delusion is. In the meantime, we will continue to admire the design we see in the world and pay homage to the Designer. Faced with the Dawkins challenge that design is an illusion, we choose to believe our eyes–and our common sense.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Bible Manuscripts and National Geographic

Bible Manuscripts and National Geographic
Atheists often suggest that the Bible is a group of fake manuscripts with a traceable history of distortion and rewriting. Therefore, it can’t be taken seriously. Perhaps the main hero of biblical skeptics and critics is Bart Ehrman. In 2005 Ehrman released a book titled Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. In that book, he claims there are massive mistakes in Bible manuscripts. Ehrman, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, is an atheist who was previously an evangelical Christian.

In the December 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine, the lead article by Robert Draper is titled “The Bible Hunters.” It is a well-documented article about the history of searching for and finding early Bible manuscripts. It shows how those manuscripts agree with the Bible we have today and that more and more evidence supports the integrity of the Scriptures.

If you aren’t familiar with Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete copy of the New Testament, this article will help you learn about the interesting story of how it was discovered. The article details the finding of a nearly complete copy of the book of Isaiah, the Messianic prophet, from the Dead Sea Scrolls dating before the time of Christ. It also details a number of other ancient Bible manuscripts.

The article is honest and admits the deliberate altering of some documents. While it may make people aware of some of the problems of Biblical documents, the weight of the evidence revealed in the article is very supportive of Biblical accuracy. We can accept the Bible as God’s Word, and most of the difficulties are likely to be resolved with more study of the Bible manuscripts.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Relying On Ignorance

Relying on Ignorance of Grand Canyon Formation
We often hear from young people who have been taught something in a Bible class or sermon or a religious publication or video that they know cannot be true. Many creationists and creationist groups lack training in the fields in which they claim to be experts, and they are relying on ignorance of their hearers. When smart young people hear something they know is incorrect, it gives them a reason to reject the church and perhaps reject God’s existence.

A classic example of this is shown in explanations of the Grand Canyon. Many writers try to explain away the formation of the Grand Canyon by saying that the Flood of Noah did it. They say the Flood formed the Canyon in a short time just a few thousand years ago. They claim that the Flood laid down the sediments, and when the water swept off the land, it carved the Grand Canyon.

As an Earth Science teacher in the public schools in South Bend, Indiana, I taught young people about petrology — the study of rocks. Knowing how rocks were formed enabled scientists to find resources such as copper, oil, marble, iron, and certain gems. We can now synthesize some of these materials by copying the methods by which they were formed in the Earth’s past. Relying on ignorance would not allow us to find or synthesize these materials.

We know that the deposition of materials and subsequent erosion by the Flood did not form the Grand Canyon. The dominant rock in the Grand Canyon is limestone. Children taking Earth Science courses learn that limestone is a chemical precipitate. Quiet waters produce it over a long time. Most of us know about rock candy in which a solution of sugar crystallizes to create the candy. Limestone produced by a similar process, as is halite, dolomite, and gypsum. These are chemically precipitated rocks, never deposited in moving water.

A recent headline in a creationist journal reads, “Rapid Limestone Deposits Match the Flood.” A young person told me that she didn’t want to hear anything else from the Church because the statements in the journal were clearly not true. She doubted anything the Church said was true as a result. She also pointed out other problems. The Canyon is not just one rock type. It has alternating layers of different materials produced by different climates and processes. There are desert-produced sandstones, conglomerates which are produced by running streams, salt deposits produced by evaporation, and lavas that flowed across the top of the rock layers below them and were not injected as sills.

There is a huge burden on us to know what we are talking about. We must be as accurate as we can in understanding what the evidence shows. The general public is ignorant of most of these things and will not call an error to our attention. However, young people today are better educated in scientific facts, and we must not be relying on ignorance to expect our explanations to go unchallenged.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Being Rational About Creation

Being Rational About Creation
In response to our postings, we often receive messages like these: 1) “There is absolutely no proof that any god exists!” 2) “Belief in a god is not rational.” 3) “There is no evidence of any ‘Creator’ (whether it’s God or an Advanced Alien or Magic Unicorn).” We asked the people who posted each of these comments, “Are you absolutely sure that there is no evidence of any Creator?” Being rational requires comparing options to see which is most reasonable.

A basic fact is that anything that begins to exist has to have a cause. Science has proven that the universe had a beginning, therefore, what was the cause? According to science, the cosmic creation event (better known as the “big bang”) was the beginning of matter/energy and space/time. If whatever caused the universe created matter, then that Cause has to be non-material, and not under the restraints of the physical laws of the material universe. If the Cause of the universe created time, then that Cause must be outside of the time dimension in which we are bound.

Science, by its very nature, cannot investigate, prove, or disprove anything that lies outside of the dimensions of matter, energy, space, and time in which science operates and which it investigates. Modern science suggests that there are other dimensions beyond the three spatial dimensions and the one time dimension that we experience. If anyone says that scientific, empirical evidence is the only way to know reality, that person is making a faith statement, not a scientific statement.

All reasoning begins from certain faith commitments that we cannot reach by pure reason. Being rational requires being open to the available options. A person who believes that “God created the heavens and the earth” is acting on faith. So also is the person who says, “There is no evidence of a creator.” Which of these two ideas is more “rational?”

1) The universe began to exist without a cause.

2) A Cause/Creator outside of time and space and not restricted by the physical laws of matter/energy brought the universe into existence.

The truth has to be one of those two options.
–Roland Earnst © 2018

Abraham Had Camels

Abraham Had Camels
It’s the case of the missing camels. One argument that biblical skeptics keep resurrecting is the claim that there were no camels in ancient Israel. In Genesis 24 Abraham’s servant took ten camels and went to find a wife for his son Isaac. The charge is that there were no camels in the Promised Land at that time so this account is in error. We want to know if it is true that Abraham had camels.

Camels are mentioned 22 times in Genesis and are mentioned again in Exodus 9:3, Leviticus 11:4, 1 Samuel 15:3, 1 Kings 10:2 and 2 Kings 8:9 as well as other passages. In modern times famed archaeologist William F. Albright claimed that there were no camels in the Holy Land until the 10th century B.C. National Geographic repeated that claim claim in 2014.

Dr. Mark Chavalas in the November/December 2018 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review makes it likely that Abraham had camels and the biblical account is not in error. He gives archaeological evidence that there were camels all around the Holy Land as early as the 4th millennium B.C. Here are five of the pieces of evidence Chavalas gives:

1) In the 4th millennium B.C., a bactrian camel (one with two humps) is portrayed in artwork in Eastern Iran.
2) In the 3rd millennium B.C., a dromedary (with one hump) appears on a plaque from modern day Iraq.
3) Camel skeletal remains from the 3rd millennium have been found in Iran.
4) Camel remains from 2400 B.C. were found in the Sumerian city of Shuruppak.
5) A Babylonian document from the 18th century B.C. contains the line “the milk of the camel is sweet.”

Abraham and his family came from Mesopotamia (Genesis 12) and moved to the land God promised to him. Migrating to this new land, Abraham, who was rich in livestock, would have brought his animals with him. (See Genesis 13:2.) So it seems evident that Abraham had camels. The attempts of skeptics to declare the Bible anachronistic is simply a case of letting prejudice override a reasonable search for evidence.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Modern Misconceptions About the Flood

Modern Misconceptions about the Flood
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. For the past several days we have been examining some of the questions people have. Today we will look at two modern misconceptions about the flood.

Did the Ark come to rest on Mount Ararat? The answer to that question is “no!” Genesis 8:4 says that the Ark came to rest “upon the mountains of Ararat” which is not modern day Mount Ararat. This is of little interest except that the claims of some people that they found the Ark on modern-day Mount Ararat are clearly erroneous.

Was the Grand Canyon caused by the flood laying down strata and then carving the canyon by erosion? The answer to that question is also “no.” The rocks in the canyon are not of one deposition and are not flood strata. Floods leave a tangled mess of debris. The majority of rocks in the Grand Canyon are limestone which is a chemically precipitated rock. The limestone is interspersed with conglomerate, shale, desert deposits of sandstone, and some volcanic deposits. A flood would produce none of those except shale.

Do fossils in the Grand Canyon verify the flood? No, a flood produces a tangled mess of all kinds of remains of plants and animals. The rock layers in the Canyon have different animals at different layers. Each animal or plant grouping is a function of the environment in which they lived. That is not what a flood would do.

The question is not whether the flood happened, but rather what a flood would do and what remains from the flood. There are dozens of flood layers in the stratigraphy all over the American southwest, but which one might be related to Noah’s flood cannot be determined.

There are many modern misconceptions about the flood of Noah. The flood did not create the Grand Canyon. The rocks and fossils prove that. No one has found Noah’s Ark. The claims of someone finding the Ark have always turned out to be erroneous. We need to test every Spirit and not be sold a bill of goods by religious groups trying to back up their beliefs by claiming to have found the fossils of giants, an ark, or some other claimed artifact of the flood of Noah.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
We have a discussion of the flood in our video series program # 27 available on our doesgodexist.TV website. You can also look up information on the flood by doing a word search on our doesgodexist.org website search engine.

How Extensive Was the Flood of Noah?

How Extensive Was the Flood of Noah?
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. This week we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “How extensive was the flood of Noah?

Taking the Bible literally does not mean a superficial reading of the King James translation of the Bible. You have to look at who wrote it, to whom it was written, why it was written, and how the people to whom it was written would have understood it. The language of Genesis 6-8 certainly seems to indicate that the waters of the flood covered the whole globe.

Many times biblical passages sound like the event was global when it clearly was not. Luke 2:1-3 says “There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…” Was that the whole globe or the Roman world? Did Rome collect taxes from the Incas, the Hopi, or the Denali? The people of the time would have understood that to mean the entire Roman world. In Colossians 1:23 Paul says that the gospel of Christ “was preached to every creature which is under heaven.” I have visited with the native people at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and they have no record of the gospel ever having been preached to their ancestors there. Clearly, Paul was talking about the world that he knew.

The message of Genesis 6-8 is that humans discarded God and became corrupt to the point that God destroyed them by a flood. The one person who stayed faithful to God was a man named Noah who was warned that the event was coming. God gave him time to construct a way to save his family and the animals of his area. There is evidence to verify this that we have considered in this series of posts and which is available on our website.

How extensive was the flood of Noah? It ended the lives of all but the few people on the boat. The Bible tells us that a flood like that will not happen again. However, it also says that the Earth will be destroyed by a fire that melts the very elements of which we are all made ( 2 Peter 3:8-13).

We must listen to the lesson of Noah and not try to deny the historical event on which it is based. I would suggest the flood covered the whole inhabited Earth of Noah’s day. It probably did not cover uninhabited lands thousands of miles away from where Noah lived. If you have a different opinion, that is fine, but don’t miss the message of the story.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
We have a discussion of the flood in our video series program # 27 available on our doesgodexist.TV website. You can also look up information on the flood by doing a word search on our doesgodexist.org website search engine.

Where Did the Water Go After Noah’s Flood?

Where Did the Water Go After Noah's Flood?
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. This week we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “Where did the water go after Noah’s flood?

If the flood covered the whole Earth so that the highest mountain was under water by 15 cubits (Genesis 7:19-20), what happened to all that water? Genesis 8:1-3 says that “God made a wind to pass over the Earth” and stopped the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven. That indicates three methods of removing the water. If the fountains of the deep involved underground springs that gushed massive amounts of water, that water could be removed by flowing back into the caverns from which it came. If “the windows of heaven” indicates an extraterrestrial source, it is difficult to suggest any significant return. High winds which the Bible mentions would maximize evaporation, but there are some other factors to consider.

It is important to point out that nowhere in the Bible is there an indication that the waters were level. We will discuss the extent of the flood in our next post, but the known earth at the time of this event was a limited area. At the Straits of Gibraltar, there is a normal fault with the downthrown side to the west. At the base of that fault is a large waterfall gouge. The Glomar Challenger Oceanographic Research Vessel has documented what appears to be an opening of the Straits with the whole Atlantic Ocean having access to the Mediterranean Sea at a time in the past, which was a desert before the flood. It is reasonable to propose a model where hydrostatic pressure could drive water up the western shore of the Mediterranean which is of course where the biblical story takes place.

While this is speculative, it does show that a limited flood to the known world at the time is possible. The water could merely return to normal static levels after the event. There are several other models based on recent evidence that assist in explaining the question of where the water came from and answering the question of where did the water go after Noah’s flood. Very important to this question is, “What was the extent of the flood?” We will examine that question tomorrow.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
We have a discussion of the flood in our video series program # 27 available on our doesgodexist.TV website. You can also look up information on the flood by doing a word search on our doesgodexist.org website search engine.

How Could All Those Animals Fit in Noah’s Ark?

How Could All those Animals Fit in Noah's Ark?
Perhaps the most argued event in the Old Testament is the flood of Noah described in Genesis. For the past two days, we have been examining some of the questions people ask. Today we will look at the question, “How could all those animals fit in Noah’s ark?

The Bible gives the dimensions of the ark, and it indeed was huge, especially for that time. How do you get the 25 million or so species of animals on Earth today into that ship? The answer is that you couldn’t.

Genesis 6:20 lists the same groups that are described in Genesis 1. Those are (1) fowl, (2) cattle, (3) “creeping things,” and (4) fish. We pointed out in our lessons on evolution that the word “kind” in Hebrew is not the same as “species” in modern scientific terms. The word “kind” is the Hebrew word “min,” and the Bible tells us in both the Old and New Testaments that there are four kinds: the flesh of fish, the flesh of birds, the flesh of beasts, and the flesh of man. First Corinthians 15:39 identifies these four and Genesis 1 identifies them as well. The same groupings are used in Genesis 6 to describe what Noah took on the ark.

The Hebrew word “remes” is rendered as “creeping thing” in some translations of the Bible. “Sherets” is also translated creeping thing (see Leviticus 11). “Remes” was an animal the Jews could eat, but “sherets” was not. “Remes” clearly refers to goats and sheep – animals that could be eaten by the Jews. But “sherets” refers to things like snakes and lizards which they could not eat.

So how could all those animals fit in Noah’s ark? The point of all this is that Noah didn’t take two poodles, two cockapoos, two German shepherds, etc. He took two dog-like animals. Similarly, he took two bovines, not the dozens of varieties that exist today. There are over 100 varieties of chickens, but he took two of that group. In short, Noah’s ark would have had enough room, and the evolutionary change that has taken place since has given us the variety we have today.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
We have a discussion of the flood in our video series program # 27 available on our doesgodexist.TV website. You can also look up information on the flood by doing a word search on our doesgodexist.org website search engine.