Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dumb headlines for lazy people

At the Atlantic Wire, the headline blazes:

"Archaeologists claim they are one step closer to proving the Bible is true!"

Oooh Hoooh!  Hurray!  Except, of course, that this is a vague and simplistic headline.  Just what is meant by true in the first place?  How much of the Bible are they talking about?  What about things that we know to be true?  The Bible mentions Rome and ancient Egypt and Assyria, and we don't doubt those.  Does that mean it's true? 

The fact is, this is a game that's been played for more than a couple centuries now. And the reason it is played is beyond any quest for actual truth or facts.  It's because of the claims that the Bible makes about the divine and our place in the cosmos.  As a result, skeptics have felt it bolstered their case if they could disprove the framework upon which many of these stories take place.

And so for centuries you have had critics claim any number of stories, anecdotes, or details in the Bible are wrong.  By that, of course, they mean not supported by any evidence outside the Bible.  Of course in many cases, if we find ancient writings, we take their word for it.  If we find an inscription on some tomb or on a pillar, we accept it at face value.  The Bible, on the other hand, is judged guilty, and only solid, corroborating evidence outside of the Bible will clear it.

And then, even not that.  Because if the charge is made, for instance that nobody was ever crucified by Rome the way the Bible speaks, by nails in hands and feet, and later we discover archaeological evidence of a skeleton executed that way, that changes nothing.  The critics can say it's a fluke, it proves nothing, it's only one case, it may be a fraud, or if they accept that this particular charge has been shown to be baseless, they simply point to another part of the Bible that has no evidence to support it.

FWIW, the existence of David's kingdom, the Exodus, and other major events that cover decades are heavily debated, but again, only because the nature of the materials puts such weight on it.  If this is found, it will only show the die-hard skeptic that the charge of error needs to be redefined, tightened, and applied to new aspects of the story. 

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