To understand the historical context of both the Old and New Testaments is extremely important when making connections between our society and their society. When we fail to do this, we usually come to the wrong conclusions about scripture. An example of this is that many non-believers claim that there is an obvious conflict between the moralities in the Bible — Old Testament morality being more “cruel”, while New Testament is more “acceptable”. They also go on to say that if the morality in the Bible reflects God’s morality, then God’s morality is “changing”. This, they conclude, is a contradiction in God’s nature.
Contradiction In God’s Nature?
In the Bible, God’s commandments seem contingent on the moral and historical status of the people He’s dealing with. Jesus plainly affirms this in Matthew 19:8, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been that way.” Even though God didn’t intend marriage to be that way, He permitted divorce for the Israelites because of their moral depravity. Thus we can conclude that God’s commands are dependant on the historical context of the people. Different people at different times are to follow different commands.
Contradiction In The Bible’s Morality?
A contradiction is something that is logically incompatible between two statements. Given the fact that the Bible says that God’s commandments are historically conditioned and that the the New Testament was written in a totally different historical frame than that of the Old Testament’s, there isn’t any contradiction happening. Most of the laws given in the OT were never intended to be timeless ethical principles (like “unclean food”). As proof of this, ancient Israel was a theocratic society with God at the head. That’s a huge contrast between our society and ancient Israel’s. Many acts, like adultery, were deeply immoral and deserved capital punishment. In our sexually promiscuous society such a view of adultery seems inconceivable, but I take that as a clear sign on how far we’ve fallen away from God. Think about it. Look at how much society’s view of marriage and purity has changed in the last hundred years. Now think about the last thousand years. It’s a huge transformation and isn’t necessarily in the right direction.
After Anders Breivik went on one of the most deadly killing sprees in history with 76 confirmed murders, many started pointing fingers – especially at “christian fundamentalists“. Although Breivik was obviously not a “fundamentalist” in the theological sense, this doesn’t negate the claim that he considered himself Christian. Many Christians spoke out at this and said that Anders wasn’t a “true Christian”. However, many an atheist replied and claimed that Anders ought to be called a “true christian” and anyone that says he isn’t is committing the fallacy of No true Scotsman.
A simple version of the fallacy goes like this:
Joey: “All Americans like pizza.”
Timmy: “I don’t like pizza.”
Joey: ” Yes, but all true Americans like pizza.”
We can easily see the fallacy here. Joey starts out by saying that all Americans (somebody who comes from the United States) like pizza. Timmy is an American, but doesn’t like pizza. So what does Joey do? He refines the definition of Americans (somebody that hails from the United States) to “Americans” (somebody that hails from the United States and likes pizza) and then implies that Timmy isn’t an American based on the failure to meet up to his new definition. It’s a form of ad hoc reasoning and is highly unreasonable, even though all true Americans do like pizza.
The Atheist’s Argument:
Now, let’s look at the argument atheists and the like are making:
Smith: “All Christians follow the example of Christ.”
Johnson: “Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian.”
Smith: “Yes, but all true Christians follow the teachings of Jesus.”
Johnson: “Hey! You’re being illogical there!”
Debunking The Alleged Fallacy:
Where’s the fallacy? How is Smith being illogical? Let’s look: Smith said Christians (a person that follows Jesus’ teachings) follow the example of Christ. Johnson claims that Anders is a Christian. Smith replies by implying that Anders Breivik wasn’t a Christian and then gives the same definition that he gave earlier (Christians are people that follow Jesus’ teachings). Where’s the ad hoc reasoning? There isn’t any! Smith never refines his definition of Christian and is therefore not committing any fallacy.
A Different Fallacy Is Found:
When atheists (like Johnson in the example) say that Anders is a Christian, they’re completely assuming that he met up to the standards of being a Christian ( or a “fundamentalist Christian” for that matter). They’re just begging the question.
Johnson: “How do you know Anders Behring Breivik is a Christian?”
Smith: “Because he said he was.”
But you see, being a Christian isn’t the same as saying you’re a Christian. Christianity isn’t a spectator’s sport – it’s full contact. This is what separates Christianity from most philosophies and religions: it’s faith coupled with works. Without faith, you’re spiritually dead. Without works, you’re spiritually dead. They go hand in hand together.
As we saw above, nobody is committing a fallacy in saying that Anders wasn’t a true Christian. The fallacy just isn’t there. However, a fallacy is found in saying that Anders was a Christian just because he said he was. Christianity is more than just saying
Relativism is a very interesting belief that, well, doesn’t make a lick of sense. So why am I talking about it? Because most of the PC (Politically Correct, for those who don’t live in California) world believes in some type of moral relativism. It’s inescapable. That’s why I think it’s a completely relevant topic in today’s world and needs a response. To get started, let’s define the two types of mainstream relativism:
1. Conventionalism: Moral truths are completely or partially dependent on societal conventions. And for the ease of remembering, we’ll call this: “Societal Relativism” (i.e. if society believes (x), then you ought to do it).
2. Subjectivism: Moral truths are dependent on the personal preferences of the individual. We’ll call this: “I Say Relativism” (i.e. personal tastes: “Pizza Hut has the best pizza”).
In this post, I’ll start off by talking about some nonsensical conclusions of Societal Relativism (I’ll talk about I Say Relativism later):
The Euthyphro Dillema:
The Euthyphro dillemma applied to Societal Relativism basically goes like this: “Is ‘good’ supported by society because it is actually ‘good’, or is something ‘good’ because a particular society supports it?”.
The First Horn:
The answer to this one is pretty easy. If the relativist states that society supports something that is ‘good’ because it is ‘good’, then he’s not actually a relativist; he’s accepting that there is an alternative and more superior moral measuring stick, if you will, that society attempts to live up to. He is thus contradicting the core premise of moral relativism and ought to reconsider his beliefs.
The Second Horn:
This one is a little tougher, but not by much. If the relativist asserts that something is ‘good’ because a certain society supports, then a whole slew of problems happen:
Problem 1: A central belief of Societal Relativism asserts that all societal laws/beliefs equate to moral truths. This means that genocide, racism, infanticide, slavery, and oppression were all ‘good’. Really? Yup. If there are no ‘self-evident’ laws in the universe, this is what we end up with. I seriously doubt that you’ll meet any person that actually believes this, but if you do, then this person is, as William Lane Craig puts it, “morally handicapped” and needs to get some help.
Problem 2: If Societal Relativism is true, then anybody who opposes the ‘divine commands of society’ are immoral. Relativists agree with this. However, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, they seem to squirm. Why? Because people like, Martin Luther King Jr., Oskar Schindler, and many others that opposed the ‘sacred law of the land’ are thus ‘evil’. It’s a logical conclusion and is inescapable. The men and women who risked their lives to save the Jewish people in the Holocaust were all ‘evil’. The men and women who risked their lives in assisting slaves in the Underground Railroad were all ‘evil’. The list goes on and on. Most Societal Relativists don’t even realize this. They believe that relativism fixes ethical problems, when in fact all it does is complicate things.
As we’ve seen above, Societal Relativism goes completely against our moral intuitions. Things like justice, fairness, blame, etc. just don’t make sense in a topsy turvy relativistic world. It just doesn’t fit. The Societal Relativist is either morally insane, delusional, or hasn’t actually thought about what he or she believes. This is why it is our duty to show the frankly evil conclusions of moral relativism and give the alternative: moral objectivism.
This is probably one of the most convincing arguments for the existence of God and especially as a negation towards moral relativism. Now before we start the argument, let’s define a couple of important terms:
1. Moral duties: the obligation to retreat from the ‘bad’ and fulfill the ‘good’.
2. Moral values: ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
3. Moral objectivism: moral values and duties that are independent of what people think (e.g. the Holocaust is bad, even if the Nazis succeeded in brainwashing the world to think that it wasn’t).
4. Moral relativism: moral values and duties that are dependent of what people think.
5. Moral intuition: an intuitional proposition is true because (1) it is self-evident, (2) needs no further justification, (2) and is known in full once all the facts are laid out (2+2=4 must be learned, but is justified by an appeal to intuition).
Here is the syllogism for the argument for those who like to see the logical flow:
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
1. Therefore God does exist.
With these in mind let’s begin the argument!
In Defense of Premise 1:
Many an atheist proudly affirm that objective morality exists even in the absence of God. They state that the origin of morality is derived from the evolutionary process and is grounded in our society. It’s merely an adaptation to our hostile environment – just like legs or arms. But an obvious problem arises when one claims this: morality doesn’t become objective in a naturalistic worldview, it becomes merely an illusion of the mind conditioned throughout the ages. Why? Because it was put in our minds for the sole purpose of increasing our survivability rate. Nothing else. Therefore, it becomes impossible to condemn war, oppression, racism, and sexual abuse as evil. Although, through the course of human evolutionary development, such actions have become ‘taboo’, there is no reason to believe that such actions are actually wrong. A person committing rape, for example, is simply going against the social norm and is thus on the same level as a person that belches at the dinner table or leaves the toilette seat up. The rapist is merely acting unfashionable. Morality when coupled with evolution becomes relativistic and non-binding, not objective and obligatory.
Some radical types have retreated to a spin-off of the famous Platonic Good to explain the existence of objective morality without God. They posit that the abstract concepts of love, charity, compassion, etc. exist in their own eternal realm and act within the non-abstract realm. However, a contradiction arises from this. From their claim it follows that in the absence of people, universals like charity would still exist. Why? Because these traits allegedly exist in an independent abstract dimension. However, this statements is incoherent because charity isn’t actually charitable. Secondly, I don’t see how this abstract dimension could interact with the physical dimension. It just doesn’t make sense. But that’s besides the point. Even if the abstract could interact with the physical dimension how would we know what is ‘good’ or ‘wrong’, since the only thing these abstract ideas could do is simply describe a particular set of actions and not actually oblige us to do anything. Thus, this theory neglects to answer both the meta-physical and normative ethical questions.
In Defense Of Premise 2:
I think it’s important to remember that the burden of proof is on the one that makes claims that are different from our moral intuition. This is to say that any theory that seems to contradict our ethical intuitions needs justification. But, this begs the question, do intuitions actually exist? The answer is yes. There are many different pathways to gaining knowledge and I think one of them is morality. I also think that with every pathway to knowledge there are certain “base beliefs”. These base beliefs range from things like self-awareness, mathematical equations, logical principles, and most importantly, basic moral laws. One might ask, “How do you know such ‘base beliefs’ exist?”. Well, Aristotle seemed to agree with me: “Some, indeed, demand to have the law proved, but this is because they lack education; for it shows lack of education not to know of what we should require proof, and of we should not. For it is quite impossible that everything should have a proof; the process would go on to infinity, so there would be no proof….” (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1006a). If I always had to give justification for my beliefs, then I would have to ad infinitum. Forever. To stop this infinite regress one must appeal to the apparent: intuitions or base beliefs.
Take this conversation:
“What color is that apple?”
“How do you know the apple is red?”
“Because the apple is right in front of me….”
“How do you know the apple is right in front of you?”
“Because I see it….”
“How do you know you see it?”
“Because the I see the physical world and that apple is in the physical world.”
“How do you know you see the physical world?”
It seems I’m stuck. I don’t conclude that I see the physical world based upon any other evidence. The infinite regress seems apparent. We need intuitions; without them we wouldn’t be able to know anything.
So how does this prove that objective morals exist? Well I think goes like this:
(1) If objective morality does not exist, then our moral intuitions do not exist.
(2) Our moral intuitions do exist.
(C1) Therefore, objective morality exists.
We’ve already proven premise (2) of the argument above, so what about (1)? From our argument we see that if our moral intuitions suggested the objectivity morality, then we would observe that our intuitions would be things that would only make sense if morality were objective. I think that our intuitions of justice, fairness, tolerance, charity, etc. all point to objective morality because these things can’t exist in a relative world. There is no justice if nobody is wrong. There is no tolerance if you have no obligation to respect each other’s beliefs. The list goes on and on. Our base beliefs only make sense in an objective world and until proven wrong (since the burden of proof is on the opposing side) we have every reason to believe so.
We can be sure that we cannot truly be good without a law giver. On the other hand, if we do believe that moral values and duties are objective and intuitional, that provides moral grounds for believing in God.
It interests me how the alleged “New Atheists” have rejected God as the source of moral objectivity. Richard Taylor on the subject writes, “The modern age, more or less repudiating the idea of a divine lawgiver, has nevertheless tried to retain the ideas of moral right and wrong, not noticing that, in casting God aside, they have also abolished the conditions of meaningfulness for moral right and wrong as well. Thus, even educated persons sometimes declare that such things are war, or abortion, or the violation of certain human rights, are ‘morally wrong,’ and they imagine that they have said something true and significant.Educated people do not need to be told, however, that questions such as these have never been answered outside of religion…. Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning.”
Mormonism seems to be the opposite of the Bible in several ways. The Book of Mormon and the other “Standard Works” are in complete contrast with the Bible’s superb historical reliability. In the face of contradicting evidences, Mormonism’s claim of divine revelation seems less and less plausible. Since they claim the “Standard Works” have a greater explanatory scope than the Bible, they carry the burden of proof to show both the superiority and reliability of the Standard Works. But they completely fail to do that for these reasons:
1. The Book of Mormon states that the Nephites and Lamanites had Jewish beliefs that became Christian when the resurrected Christ appeared to them. However, there is no evidence that the ancient inhabitants in the Americas had either Jewish or Christian beliefs.
1. The gold plates (from which the Book of Mormon was supposedly translated from) is said to be written in “reformed Egyptian”. Almost all scholars of linguistics (except those that are Mormon) call this made-up language pure gibberish. Why? Because there is absolutely no existing evidence of a “Reformed Egyptian” language. On top of this, there isn’t any evidence that the following words used in the Book of Mormon are Egyptian or Semetic: Shazar (1 Nephi 16:13-14), Irreantum (1 Nephi 17:5), Liahona (Alma 37:38), deseret (Ether 2:3), or other words unique to the Book of Mormon.
2. The Book of Nephi and Mosiah asserts that the Hebrew native language was Egyptian from 600-91 B.C and Mormon 9:32 says it was “Reformed Egyptian” by A.D. 400. However, according to well-established history Hebrews spoke Hebrew until the Babylonian captivity in 560-538 B.C.. Under the captivity of the Babylonians, the Hebrews adopted Aramaic while those with religious positions still spoke Hebrew.
1. 1 Nephi 18:25 says that North America had cows, oxen, donkeys, horses, and goats “for the use of man” in 600 B.C. However, these animals weren’t present in North America until the Europeans brought them almost a thousand years later.
New World Artifact Problem:
“And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.” Alma 18:9
1. Alma 18:9-10, 12 , Alma 20:6, and 3 Nephi 3:22 mention the use of chariots in the Americas. Firstly, there is no record of any use of wheeled modes of transportation. Secondly, the roads built by the natives were crude, steep, and rough – conditions unsuitable for the use of chariots.
“And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.” 2 Nephi 5:15
2. The use of steel and iron are mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon. The fact is, there is absolutely no evidence found in the Americas of iron being smelted or being hardened into steel. As Kevin J. Vaughn, a Purdue assistant professor of anthropology, says “Even though ancient Andean people smelted some metals, such as copper, they never smelted iron like they did in the Old World,” and goes on to say that “metals were used for a variety of tools in the Old World, such as weapons, while in the Americas, metals were used as prestige goods for the wealthy elite.”
3. Mormon 6:10-15 claims that hundreds of thousands of people were killed near the hill Cumorah during a major battle. It says that “their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth” (Mormon 6:15). In other words, their bodies were left there, unburied.
To give you the magnitude of death this supposed battle brought upon, let’s look at another major battle. During the Battle of Gettysburg, 6,000 men died and about 55,000 were wounded. The people sent to clear the dead described the field as having “streams of blood”. If Gettysburg had streams of blood, then the battle at Cumorah was an ocean of blood. I mean seriously, it’s really hard to imagine 100,000+ dead bodies. But, even with all the dead, no artifacts have ever been found near the battlefield. Metallic artifacts from weapons and armor would have all been easily found, but nothing has ever been discovered at hill Cumorah.
Changes To “The Most Correct” Book:
Joseph Smith said “that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book,” (History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 461). Why? Because it was allegedly translated through the power of God himself. Here is a brief list of revisions to the “most correct book on earth”:
|1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon||1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon|
|1 Nephi 11:18||“And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of [. . . . ] God, after the manner of the flesh||“And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.”|
|1 Nephi 11:21||“And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the [. . . . ] Eternal Father!…”||“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!…”|
|1 Nephi 11:32||“…And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, [. . . . ] the Everlasting God, was judged of the world…”||“…And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world…”|
|1 Nephi 13:40||“…and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is [. . . . ] the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world…”||“…and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the World…”|
|1 Nephi 19:20||“…for had not the Lord been merciful, to shew unto me concerning them, even as he had prophets of old; [. . . . ] for he surely…”||“…for had not the Lord been merciful, to show unto me concerning them, even as he had prophets of old, I should have perished also.”|
|1 Nephi 20:1
changed in 1964 ed.
|“Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah,[. . . . ] which swear…”||“Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear…”|
changed in 1964 ed.
|“…king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings;…”||“…king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings;…”|
|Alma 46:40||“…because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared, to remove the cause of diseases which was subsequent to man by the nature of the climate.”||“…because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to removed the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.”|
|3 Nephi 3:23||“And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land of Zarahemla and the land Bountiful.”||“And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla [ . . . .] and the land Bountiful…”|
|3 Nephi 10:4||“O ye people of these great cities which have fallen which are a descendant of Jacob; yea which are of the house of Israel; O ye people of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you…”||“O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, [. . . . ] how oft have I gathered you…”|
|3 Nephi 16:10||“and thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you at that day, When the Gentiles shall sin against my Gospel, and shall subject the fulness of my Gospel, and shall be lifted up…”||“And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel,[. . . . ] and shall be lifted up…”|
|3 Nephi 22:4||“…for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, [. . . . ] and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.”||“…for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.”|
|Ether 9:2||“…nevertheless, the Lord was merciful unto Omer, and also to his sons and to his daughters, which were not, or which did not seek his destruction.”||“Nevertheless, the Lord was merciful unto Omer, and also to his sons, and to his daughters [. . . . ] who did not seek his destruction.”|
The list doesn’t end there. The Doctrine and Covenants (a divine revelation from God published in 1833 and re-published in 1835) has been changed numerous times throughout the years:
Section 6: gained 101 words and was then placed in a totally different section.
Section 19: gained 64 words.
Section 20: received 388 words.
Section 28: (Originally a mere 93 words) gained 649 words.
649 words! Jeez! I’m pretty sure they weren’t just spell-checking there.
The Best Evidence Against Mormonism:
The Book of Abraham is allegedly Joseph Smith’s translation of an Egyptian papyri Joseph obtained through purchasing an Egyptian mummy and is probably the best evidence against Mormonism. The actual papyri (thought to be destroyed in a Chicago fire) was discovered in the archives of the New York City’s Metropolitan Museum. After examining the text, Egyptologists and many other scholars confirmed that these supposed “revelations” were actually nothing but common Egyptian burial texts belonging to the Book of Breathings and bears absolutely no resemblance to the Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith was terribly wrong in his translation of the Book of Abraham, it follows that he cannot be trusted to have produced an accurate translation of the Book of Mormon, which he himself claimed was in the same language.
Baer (an Egyptologist that translated the book) provided a comparison of his translation with Joseph Smith’s. It is quite easy to see that there is not the slightest resemblance between the two. For example:
Baer’s translation: “the”
Smith’s translation: “… now this priest had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time who were the daughters of Onitah, one of the royal descent directly from the loins of Ham, these virgins were offered up because of their virtue they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or stone, therefore they were killed upon this altar”
Is the Bible a book of fairy tales describing fake events in imaginary places? Uhh, no. Not only is there archeology that confirms the Bible, the Bible is used to confirm archeology!
The Bible Used To Explain Archaeological Finds…
In their book, When Skeptics Ask, Geisler and Brooks talk about a pretty fascinating archaeological find:
The excavation of Gezer in 1969 ran across a massive layer of ash that covered most of the mound. Sifting through the ash yielded pieces of Hebrew, Egyptian, and Philistine artifacts. Apparently all three cultures had been there at the same time. This puzzled researchers greatly until they realized that the Bible told them exactly what they had found.
Some archeologists found it interesting what the Bible had to say about this:
For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up and captured Gezer, and burned it with fire, and killed the Canaanites [Philistines] who lived in the city, and had given it as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. So Solomon rebuilt Gezer… (1 Kings 9:16-17).
So the Bible tells us that the Egyptians captured and burned down Gezer in which the Canaanites were living. Later, the Egyptians gave the city to Solomon – who rebuilt it. This explains the fact that “a massive layer of ash” covered the site and “yielded pieces of Hebrew, Egyptian, and Philistine artifacts”.
No wonder the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Anthropology has an official statement on “The Bible As History” that says:
… much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the old testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These Biblical records can be and are used as are other ancient documents in archeological work. For the most part, historical events described took place and the peoples cited really existed.
But, Wait! There’s More!
A seven-foot stele named the Israel Stele, engraved with hieroglyphics, boasts of an Egyptian pharaoh’s conquest of Libyans and peoples in Palestine, including the Israelites. As the stone states: “Israel — his seed is not.” This is the earliest reference to Israel in non-biblical sources and demonstrates that, as of c. 1230 BC, the Hebrews were already living in the Promised Land and were recognized as an independent ethnic group.
A commemorative hieroglyphic carved on the walls of the Temple of Amon at Thebes tells of Shishak’s conquest of Judah under Rehoboam’s rule ( confirms 1 Kings 14 and 2 Chronicles 12 ).
A three-foot stone slab called the Moabite Stone, tells of the repulsion of king Mesha by the Israelites ( confirms 2 Kings: 3).
On a six-and-a-half-foot black obelisk found in Nimrud, a depiction of Jehu, king of Israel, is kneeling before the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III (confirms 2 Kings 9-10). This is the only depiction of a Hebrew monarch ever discovered.
A burial plaque, discovered on the Mount of Olives, reads: “Here, the bones of Uzziah, King of Judah, were brought. Do not open.” King Uzziah is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26.
In addition to these finds, Jericho, Haran, Hazor, Dan, Megiddo, Shechem, Samaria, Shiloh, Gezer, Gibeah, Beth Shemesh, Beth Shean, Beersheba, Lachish, and many other biblical sites have been discovered. Such excavations are extremely significant in demonstrating that fact, not fantasy, is intended in the Old Testament historical narratives; otherwise, the specificity regarding these urban sites would have been replaced by “Once upon a time” narratives with little to no description of actual historical sites.
The list goes on and on and on….
The New Testament…
The NT is constantly confirmed by archaeology. Instead of listing names of places, I’ll give two of the most common rejections of the NT’s historical accuracy.
The Census and Quirinius:
(1) There was no such census, (2) Quirinius wasn’t the governor at that time, and (3) people didn’t have to return to their ancestral geographic location (like Bethlehem).
(1)We know that the Romans held a census every 14 years and that it was started by Augustus. (2) An inscription found in Antioch tells of Quirinius being governor of Syria around 7 B.C.. (3) A papyrus tells us about the Roman census:”Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their home should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment…”
Iconium a city of Phrygia?
Many archaeologists believe that Luke was completely wrong by saying that Iconium was a city of Phrygia because they believe that Phrygia was actually within Lycaonia.
Xenophon, who marched with Cyrus’ expedition through Phrygia, calls Iconium the last city of Phrygia. Other ancient authorities who knew the local conditions speak of Iconium as Phrygian.
These rebuttals shows that Luke, yet again, proves to be an excellent historian.
The New Testament, especially the writings of Luke, is filled with accurate historical data. So much that the studies of both archaeology and ancient history alike have been very impressed. The famous archaeologist and once skeptic Sir William Ramsey wrote, “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” The classical historian A.N. Sherwin-White writes, “ … for Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming … any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” The discoveries of the archaeologist, the pen of ancient Christian historians, and tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts provide evidence that the Bible is a volume which is historically reliable and that its text has been preserved in a pure form. In other words, it is trustworthy.
|Author||When Written||Earliest Copy||Time Span||Number of Copies|
|Caesar||100-44||900 A.D.||1,000 yrs.||10|
|Plato (Tetralogies)||427-347 B.C.||900 A.D.||1,200 yrs.||7|
|Tacitus (Annals)||100 A.D.||1,100 A.D.||1,000 yrs.||20|
|also minor works||100 A.D.||1,000 A.D.||900 yrs.||1|
|Pliny the Younger (History)||61-113 A.D.||850 A.D..||750 yrs.||7|
|460-400 B.C.||900 A.D.||1,300 yrs.||8|
(De Vita Caesarum)
|75-160 A.D.||950 A.D.||800 yrs.||8|
|480-425 B.C.||900 A.D.||1,300 yrs.||8|
|Sophocles||430-406 B.C.||1,000 A.D.||1,400 yrs.||100|
|Lucretius||Died 55 or 53 B.C .||1,100 yrs.||2|
|Catullus||54 B.C.||1,550 A.D.||1,600 yrs.||3|
|Euripedes||480-406 B.C.||1,100 A.D.||1,500 yrs.||9|
|Demosthenes||383-322 B.C.||1,100 A.D.||1,300 yrs.||200*|
|Aristotle||384-322 B.C.||1,100 A.D.||1,400 yrs.||5**|
|Aristophanes||450-385 B .C.||900 A. D.||1,200 yrs.||10|
|*All from one copy. **Of any one work.|
|From Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, rev ed. (San Bernardino, Calif.: Here’s Life,1979), p. 42.|
The boring chart above shows the bibliographical test in which historians seek to determine how many and how far apart the copies of ancient literature are. As you can see, on average, there are only 20 copies of each book and the average year apart is about 1,000 years. In contrast to this, the New Testament documents have both a staggering quantity of manuscripts and a very short time span apart (this increases it’s internal veracity). There are approximately 5,000 Greek manuscripts, 8,000 manuscript copies of the Vulgate (a Latin translation done by Jerome from 382-405 A.D), and more than 350 copies of Syriac (Christian Aramaic) versions of the New Testament (c. 150-250 AD). On top of this, the entire new Testament could be reproduced from various citations in other works (mostly early church fathers). So you can see, there’s a bunch out there. What about the span of time between known copies? Well, many of the manuscripts are very early. The John Rylands manuscript (c. 120) found in Egypt, contains a couple of verses from John. The Chester Beatty Papyri (c.200) contains major portions of the New Testament. The Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350) contains virtually all of the new Testament. The Codex Vaticanus contains virtually the whole Bible (c. 325-350). All of these are well under the average time of 1000 years. However this, of course, does not prove the authenticity of the Bible alone. What it does show is that we can comfortably believe in an accurate representation of the New Testament. And by comfortably, I mean very comfortably because the New Testament sits very high above the other manuscripts of antiquity.
Another form of internal criticism lies on these conditions: the document is a private letter or intended for small audiences. The absence of these qualities do not, however, diminish the documents historical standing. All they do is increase the documents prima facie acceptance. Much of the New Testament, especially the apostolic letters and some of the sources behind the Gospels, is made up of personal letters originally intended for individuals and small group and thus the NT is much easier to accept historically.
Some Eyewitness Help…
Acts 1:21-22 (NIV): “21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Passages like this qualify the statement that being in an apostolic position requires eyewitness status (another one is found in Hebrews 2:3). This, compounded with the fact that the NT authors claimed to be eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4; Gal. 1; 2 Peter 1:16), makes a very good case that the NT was written to record actual events by actual witnesses. C. H. Dodd has argued that the chronological order of Jesus’ ministry as it is given in the sermons parallels nicely to the order given in Mark’s Gospel. This shows the NT authors were interested in fine historical detail. Furthermore, Paul himself showed great interest in biographical details of Jesus’ life (Rom. 15:3, 8; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-11).
Arguments For The Eyewitnesses…
1) Under the burden of proof, one must show that a historical document is false. They can’t just assume. Immanuel Kant supports this by stating that a general presumption of lying is self-refuting, since if such a presumption is universalized (one always assumes someone is lying) lying becomes pointless (lying is impossible without a general presumption of truth telling). Thus we have good reason to believe in the historicity of the NT, unless proven otherwise.
2) Did the witnesses have anything to gain from it? Nope. In fact they all suffered a life of hardship, rejection from their own community, and died martyr’s deaths (2 Cor. 11:23-29). People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie. Look at human nature throughout history. No conspiracy can be maintained when life or liberty is at stake. Dying for a belief is one thing, but numerous eye-witnesses dying for a known lie is quite another. And for what? Nothing at all.
3) The presence of fake eyewitnesses would have killed the spread of Christianity. Why? Because Christianity originated, and remained for sometime, in the various areas Jesus had ministered. If the early portrait of Him was untrue, how could the apostles have succeeded there? They would have been run out of town and the birth of the “cult” would have been choked. If Jesus did not exist, there should not have been such a rapid growth of the early Church in Jerusalem. It would like me knocking on your door and telling you that you had a new neighbor and went even further by saying he was the president, you would easily find out that this was wrong (yes, that was a terrible analogy, but you get the point). This is exactly like the early Christians in Jerusalem, they could easily find out that this man never existed on the basis that he supposedly ate, slept, and taught in the very place they lived in (not to mention the resurrection). Secondly, why would they have begun there in the first place? It would have been much easier to start in a place where nobody had an opinion on Christ or the apostles, for that matter. One of the last places a fake religion flourishes is in the place where it claims that the residence saw miraculous signs.
4) The time between Jesus’s death and the writing of the gospels is just too short for legend interpolations to happen. This point has been well-explained by A. N. Sherwin-White in his books on Roman society and law in the New Testament. According to Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman and Greek history are usually biased and removed one or two generations or even a couple centuries from the events they purport to record. In the face of this, he says, historians (like himself) reconstruct with confidence the course of Roman and Greek history. As an example used by many, the two earliest biographies of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch 400+ years after Alexander’s death, and yet classical historians still consider them to be trustworthy documents. In fact the legend filled accounts of Alexander occur almost exactly two generations after the earliest biographies. According to Sherwin-White, the writings of Herodotus enable us to determine the rate at which legend accumulates, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospel accounts, he states that for the gospels to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be “unbelievable.” More generations would have to be necessary for legend to creep in. This point is corroborated by the fact that the fanciful apocryphal writings of Jesus appeared in the 2nd century AD – almost exactly around the time biasness was predicted to creep in by Sherwin-White.
70% of Americans believe that many faiths lead to eternal life a survey said. As the excerpt reads from the study:
America remains a nation of believers, but a new survey finds most Americans don’t feel their religion is the only way to eternal life — even if their faith tradition teaches otherwise. The findings, revealed Monday in a survey of 35,000 adults, can either be taken as a positive sign of growing religious tolerance, or disturbing evidence that Americans dismiss or don’t know fundamental teachings of their own faiths. Among the more startling numbers in the survey, conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: 57 percent of evangelical church attenders said they believe many religions can lead to eternal life, in conflict with traditional evangelical teaching. In all, 70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation shared that view, and 68 percent said there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own religion.
A Common Mistake…
The statement “Many (or all) religious faiths can lead to heaven.” doesn’t even come close to making sense let alone follow the rules of logic. Different world religions cannot all be true or lead to the same destination because they make mutually exclusive truth claims about salvation, God, ethics, and even the very nature of heaven itself. The law of non-contradiction states that it is not possible that something be both true and not true at the same time and in the same context (I sounded smart there :D). That is to say that two opposite or antithetical propositions (contradictory statements) cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way (We all know this. Oranges can’t be apples in the same time and manner), the very thing the advocates of religious inclusivism (The belief that all religions lead to a sort of salvation or “happy place”) affirm.
Ehem, We’re Aren’t All The Same…
It is wrong to say that salvation is inclusive because many religions dictate that salvation is exclusive in nature. How can person #1 say “Mormonism and Islam can both lead to heaven” if person #2 says “Islam is the only way to heaven” and person #3 has a totally different view of heaven ? (For Mormons, ‘heaven’ is when we get to rule our own planets. Cool!)
A Failure On Our Part…
And yet, 70% of Americans believe this pretty dang absurd idea of inclusivism. Why? Maybe it’s because Americans are watering down the Church’s message. Maybe it is because most Christians just don’t really care anymore. Or maybe it’s a combination of all three. Recent studies have shown that Americans don’t even have a rudimentary knowledge of their own religion and the other ones around them. The study also showed that even if he/she attended church weekly, he/she scored only 4% better than people who attended monthly/yearly and only 3% better than people who attended church seldom or never. Pretty sad….But don’t give up! The Church is on our side! Or maybe not….
The “How Can I Get Rich” Gospel…
The Church has watered down the gospel into a mere self-improvement strategy for wealthy (or poor) Americans looking to enhance their lives. Is the reality of Christ’s resurrection and rulership really being rejected for a Gospel of prosperity, greed and compromise. Seriously?? Who would have thought 30 years ago that so many of the nations major denominations would be seriously debating allowing homosexual ‘unions’, and that some would adopt such practices as ‘Church’ doctrine. The reality is now that the Bible, and the risen Christ have been abandoned for a new kind of gospel – a gospel of humanism and social/political acceptance. They have in essence become part of the world system and actively participate in furthering the objectives of political correctness. The church has become too preoccupied with becoming accepted by society rather than becoming accepted by Christ.
1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
I Found This One On The Internet…
“The number of things that are impossible to do are almost infinite. If god were to be almighty he would be able to do them, but it’s impossible to do so. Therefore there cannot be a god. For example, God can not create a rock that he can’t lift.”
What A Funny Question…
This is known as a pseudo-question i.e not genuine but having the appearance of. Questions like “Can God beat Himself in a thumb war?” or “Can God create something He can’t destroy?” are all pseudo-questions. Why? Because they all go against the very laws of logic and, not to mention, the nature of God. These questions are fallacious because they beg the question: What is omnipotence?
Just A Simple Misunderstanding…
The fallacy of these questions lie in the misunderstanding of the biblical concept of omnipotence. These questions are intended to show the weakness of one aspect of God’s ability against the other (His creative ability posed against His ability to lift objects). Thus showing (they believe) the “contradiction” of God’s “omnipotence”. This would be effective if that is what omnipotence in the Biblical sense meant. To the dismay of the proposers of this argument, Omnipotence doesn’t mean that God can do anything and everything. The concept of omnipotence has to do with power, not ability.
A Logical God…
God can’t make square circles or curved straight lines. He can’t double a cube or invisible opaque objects. None of these, though, have to do with power. Instead, they are logically contradictory, and therefore contrary to God’s rational and logical nature. God doesn’t have the ability to be illogical just like He doesn’t have the ability to be unjust. Ergo, God’s omnipotence remains intact. Why? Like I said before, omnipotence has nothing to do with ability (like the ability to do illogical things), but with power.
And One More Thing…
An addition to the definition of true biblical omnipotence is found in the fact that there are two different types of omnipotence: positive omnipotence and negative omnipotence. Positive omnipotence being the power of causation and negative being the lack thereof. So when someone asks “Can God create a rock that He can’t lift?”, say “Creating a rock (positive omnipotence) is certainly a quality of God, not being able to lift (negative omnipotence) is not.”