100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

#65: Hasn't science proven the Bible to be historically inaccurate?

I like to watch documentaries on TV, as many people do. Documentaries that have to do with Christianity, made by secular producers, have often tried to undermine the truth of the Bible. In the past they would discuss and try to develop arguments and show evidence as to why the Bible might not be historically accurate. But these days, documentary writers just take it for granted that Bible is false; it's just assumed. Consider this quotation from a documentary I saw recently: “You cannot afford to ignore the Biblical text, especially if you can isolate a kernel of truth behind these stories.” We can see that the speaker simply assumes that the stories of the Bible are inaccurate, and one must sort of “dig around” in the text looking for something that might actually be true. But this is also making an assumption of the audience. It is essentially answering the audience's question “Why look into the Biblical text at all?” The speaker assumes that the audience has no faith in the historicity of the text at all, and is saying “Well, though the Bible is not accurate, we should try to locate these 'kernels of truth' nonetheless.” Now, this is certainly indicative of where our society has come. I am not aiming to demonstrate the historicity of the Bible in this short post; it’s too big a task. But I do want to raise awareness of a kind of manipulation happening here which is responsible for grounding this society deeper in its convictions over the historicity of the Bible. It works like this... I'll give you another perfect example. The following are Richard Dawkins' comments on the age of the Earth...

Anybody who thinks the Earth is less than 10,000 years old ... the best excuse for them is lamentable ignorance. Ignorance is no crime, but it's something to be remedied by education. Anybody who is not ignorant; anybody who's been shown the facts, and still believes the world is less than 10,000 years old, there's gotta be something wrong with them. (Richard Dawkins)

You can find these comments here. What Richard Dawkins plainly does here is make you feel stupid if you don't agree with him. But that's all he does. You take an educated man like Richard Dawkins to say something like this, or to exclaim with confidence that “Evolution is a fact!”, and people believe him because they don't want to feel stupid. I've spoken with people who will scream in my face “Evolution is a fact!”, and yet they can't answer my questions about Evolution. But it must be a fact because the highly esteemed Richard Dawkins says so. They believe in their heart that while they don't know the answers to my questions, Richard Dawkins does, and that's good enough for them. This is manipulation. And this is no different to what's happening in the afore mentioned documentary. When the speaker treats his whole audience as already having no confidence in the Biblical text, people who are really only thinking about the historicity of the Bible for the first time immediately want to identify themselves with what appears to be the “normal people”.

Now I'm not saying that Richard Dawkins never offers any support for his belief that the Earth is billions of years old. I'm sure he has decent arguments, and I could refer you to decent arguments for a young Earth here. But that YouTube video isn't popular because it gives strong arguments for an old Earth. People are content to trust that Richard Dawkins has the answers. What would happen if they actually read Dawkins' books and thought about them critically for themselves? I, myself, have read Dawkins. But the volume of Richard Dawkins' work is a bit much to take on here, so let's turn our attention back to the documentary I saw recently. This documentary showed archaeological evidence, for example, that the population of Canaan had a sudden and dramatic increase in its population. Anyone should see this as evidence of the influx of Israelites coming in from Egypt. And yet, this documentary concludes that the Israelites were never in Egypt at all, but were lower class Canaanites who overthrew the upper class. If this conclusion makes no sense to you, then I would say that you're a normal, thinking individual! They scrape together ancient rubble that could be interpreted all kinds of ways, blind to the fact that they have an enormous amount of data from that time, present in the Bible. Their conclusions about whether or not a shard of pottery belonged to a rich or a poor man must be right, but that the Bible plainly says that the Israelites came out of Egypt into the promised land... anything other than that must be true! It's almost like the secular world doesn't even bother to put in the effort anymore in trying to undermine the truth of the Bible. Perhaps they get away with it because people are inclined to just take it on authority? Rather, let's actually listen to what's being said as we watch these documentaries, or read our Blogs, or stream our YouTube...

But you know, even Christian preachers can be guilty of using this sort of technique. They sound authoritative, and make you feel like you'd be stupid not to nod your head in agreement. This is something we must be equally careful of! We really need to examine what we're told. One of the most genuinely authoritative people in history is the Apostle Paul. And yet he commended the people of a certain Greek city because they were diligent to verify all the things that he'd been telling them. (Acts 17:11). We are all held accountable for what we believe. So let's base our convictions on more solid ground than “I heard it in a documentary.”

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

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