Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Extraordinary claims... proof. You know the drill...

One of the most common things I hear from biblical literalists is how accurate the bible is historically or, how much archaeology backs up the bible etc. etc.

What I don't understand is why people think this is a meaningful thing. We have plenty of evidence backing up many myths, but it doesn't make them any more true. Take for example the Illiad. We know there was a Troy. We know roughly around when it was destroyed. But that doesn't mean we know that Greeks tricked the Trojans with a gigantic wooden horse to get inside their gates, or that during the course of this battle various gods fought on various sides, or anything of the sort.

Compare to Jericho. We know where the ruins of Jericho are. We know it was conquered many times, so it is perfectly plausible that the Israelites did at one point as well. That said, it does not prove that the Israelites walked around the city blowing horns and god made the walls fall down.

That's why historical accuracy does not equal mythological accuracy. That said, however, there are parts of the bible with little to no backing archaeologically and historically. Genesis is a good place to start there, as is Exodus.

My favorite, though, is the book of Daniel, which by modern evidence is far more likely to be maccabean propaganda encouraging the Israelites to keep their faith against the depredations of Antiochus. The book uses various anachronisms and poor knowledge of Babylonian royal lineages, as well as bad dates. Still, there is much evidence for various happenings of the bible, but not any for the extraordinary feats.

This is of course still more than we can say for The New Testament, which is lacking even insofar as historical proof.


  1. I hate that line, too. Sure, there is some historical evidence for some of it. I have to see any proof of say, a world wide flood. You'd think that would have left a mark somewhere.

  2. I hate that, too. Sure there's historical proof of some of it. And no historical proof of most of it. For instance, a world-wide flood, but nowhere on this enormous planet is a single shred of evidence? Really?

  3. Wouldn't you think that? Yeah. The Flood story is one of the worst. Although there is evidence of large floods in that area of the world in ancient times, and many flood myths. But absolutely zero for global flood proof.