January 22, 2010

An Open Challenge to Bible Critics

In responding to a previous article at Revelife, someone wrote, “If you can find a religious prophecy that matches a rational criteria, then I'll convert on a dime.” Your note, stating, “If you can find...,” reveals that you perhaps aren’t a very motivated seeker of truth. A key question you may wish to ask is, “If I do see proof that the scriptures are divinely inspired, am I willing to worship God as Creator and Lord of all? Am I willing to surrender my life to God?” Many people would not be willing to do these things and, thus, no amount of evidence would be able to convince them of the reality of God's existence, for all intents and purposes.

Jesus pointed out that the writings of Moses and the prophets offer ample proof of the truth of the scriptures and their divine inspiration and are readily available for true and sincere seekers. Isaiah pointed out that the scriptures are both rational and reasonable, though the content is spiritual in nature. Critics of the Bible seem to fall into one of two categories: either they are not motivated to look into what is written, or they are not in a condition spiritually where they are able to receive the truths therein. This article is an open challenge to all critics of the Bible to examine the scriptures with an open mind and an open heart. Test the scriptures and the evidence and see if you can answer even just one of the following questions:

1) Present one piece of archaeological evidence which disproves the history recorded in the Bible.
2) Present one prophecy in the Bible which has not come to pass as predicted.
3) Present one person in history, other than Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the “vague” prophecies of the Messiah.
4) Present one papyrus or parchment ancient manuscript more reliable than those of the New Testament.

It may be difficult for you to know where to begin because many Bible critics have never actually read the Bible, so I can help you to become familiar with some of the main issues.

1) The Bible records specific historical accounts which may be verified with archaeology. For example, according to the Bible (Joshua 6-7), the walls of the city of Jericho fell miraculously, the city was then burned by the Israelites and no food or spoils of war were to be taken as per God's commands. The fallen walls, the charred remains and the neglected spoils of war were all found in archaeological digs.

Much of the history recorded in scriptures is contained in the first five books known as the “Torah” in Hebrew. One of the main historical events critics focus on is the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the land of Canaan. According to the scriptures, God miraculously divided the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to pass through. If you want to scrutinize the latest archaeological evidence regarding this account, I recommended that you check out the documentary film “The Exodus Revealed” or book “The Exodus Case” (Revised Edition) by publisher Scandinavia and Dr. Lennart Moller, which present archaeological evidence of Hebrew dwellings in the land of Goshen in Egypt and evidence of coral encrusted forms, similar to chariot wheels and axles, on an otherwise flat area of the Red Sea floor. They also present compelling evidence that the biblical Mt. Sinai is located in Saudi Arabia, not Egypt. Soon to be released film “The Exodus Conspiracy” deals with the evidence presently being kept from public observation.

2) Nostradamus is known for his fairly vague prophecies, and some are proposing that the Mayans predicted the present era would end some time in the year 2012 A.D. But more specific than these prophecies, a biblical prophet, Daniel predicted the day when Messiah would come to Jerusalem as king, hundreds of years in advance of the event. Would you consider that a specific prophecy? Check the following prophecy for yourself:

Daniel's Prophecy of Messiah's Coming

Daniel 9:25 (NKJV) states "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks...”
Daniel was shown by God a remarkable prophetic time clock that would be set off by a unique event, the command by a ruler to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah 2:1-8 records the giving of this command about one hundred years later by King Artaxerxes “in the month Nisan, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes' the king.”

It wasn’t until 1877 that Sir Robert Anderson, Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard for many years, explained in detail the fulfillment of this prophecy, using data from the British Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. This observatory is known for introducing Greenwich Mean Time, the time standard for the world. Anderson knew that the ancient calendar was based on lunar cycles. Artaxerxes I reigned 465 – 424 B.C., and the 20th year of his reign, and the month of Nisan, could be determined based on astronomical records. The first of Nisan would have been a new moon and astronomer G. B. Airy, of the Royal Observatory, calculated the new moon to have occurred March 14, 445 B.C. And so this was the date Anderson used to mark the beginning of the prophetic time clock.

Though the command by the king specifically says the “month of Nisan” not the “1st of Nisan,” if a specific date was not recorded in history, it is likely that an important official decree would be linked to the new moon. It is also traditional to assume that if Hebrew scripture writers didn't mention an exact date, then it would be attributed to the first of the month. Some theorists have offered that the new moon may not have been visible for 24 hours and that the command may have been made one or two days later. That's a possibility, but, compared to almost 500 years, one or two days is a minimal factor of adjustment.

Daniels prophecy speaks of “seven weeks.” In scriptural prophecy a week always refers to seven years. When you calculate Daniel’s prediction for the coming of Messiah, using seven years as a “week,” (7x7) plus (62x7), you end up with 483 years. In his book, “The Coming Prince,” in Chapter 10, Anderson outlined the calculations he used in determining the leap years, the B.C./A.D. transition, and the Hebrew 360 day calendar, etc. The sum he arrived at was a total of 173,880 days, and this corresponds with April 6, 32 A.D. 

To what location was Messiah's “coming” predicted? The prophecy centers on the rebuilding of Jerusalem and this location is directly related to the text of “Messiah,” the “Prince” and ruler described elsewhere in scripture. The prophet Zechariah predicted the coming of Messiah as follows: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey..." (Zechariah 9:9). In the context of the Old Testament, the place of Messiah's triumphal entry can be no other place than Jerusalem.

Can we determine the date Jesus entered Jerusalem? According to Luke’s Gospel (3:21-23), Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist at 30 years of age. The year is defined in Luke 3.1, as “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” who was crowned Emperor on August 19, 14A.D. And so, the year from August 19, 28A.D. to August 19, 29A.D. was Tiberius' fifteenth year. It is generally believed that Jesus was baptized in the fall season. His public ministry was a total of 3½ years and he was crucified in the spring of 32A.D. on the eve of Passover. The first spring full moon, known as the Paschal (Passover) Moon, of 32 A.D. was March 29 at approximately 11 pm. Jerusalem time, according to U.S Naval Observatory data. But the question again is “When exactly did the rabbis see and determine the full moon?” If they chose March 29th, then preparations for Passover would have begun a week after that date and the actual Passover feast would have been 14 days after it (Exodus 12:6). According to tradition, the sacrificial lambs would have been brought for inspection around the same time that Jesus was presenting Himself as Messiah. This would have been the first “Palm Sunday,” the day when Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, April 6, 32 A.D. 

As Jesus rode into the holy city, the crowds exclaimed "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38). Though the religious elite were incensed, Jesus did not quiet the crowds. In fact, this was the first time Jesus publicly acknowledged his title as the Messiah. Previously he had revealed this only to his disciples (Matthew 16:13-20). He had often told people not to reveal he was the Messiah publicly until the timing was right, and this was, apparently, the appointed day.

Before He entered the city, Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and “wept over it” saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” “..because you did not know the time of your visitation." (Luke 19: 41b 42b, 44b). Why was this particular “day” especially important? Why should they have known the “time” of his arrival? Because these things had been prophesied of in detail (and the Rabbis should have known how the ancient calenders operated)! Many did acknowledge Jesus as the true Messiah, but the religious/political leaders, who basically controlled the Jewish society, felt threatened by him, hated him, and were more concerned about how to kill him than how to interpret prophecy. In general, the literal interpretation of prophecy was not en-vogue with the rabbis of Jesus’ day. Some later critics have been so stunned by Daniel’s prophecy that they have claimed it must have been written after Jesus' life. But the book was included in the Septuagint Bible translation in 285 BC, so this is not a possibility.

3) A line you often hear is that the prophecies are “vague” and can apply to anyone at anytime. Let's look at a few more regarding the person of the Messiah and see how vague they are. Isaiah 53 prophetically describes a man who is to be “despised and rejected” and whose life will be a sacrifice for sin: “and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” This is not written in a legal sense but in a spiritual sense. This cannot be a vague metaphor of the Jews because, though they have suffered, they have not born the sins of others or justified anyone spiritually. This man, however, would do just that: “By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” And who, after being an “offering for sin” is able to “see his seed” and “prolong his days?” The answer is Jesus Christ, who brought new spiritual life to those who are able to receive him and his Holy Spirit.

The Messiah’s mission is described in Daniel 9.26: “Messiah” is to be “cut off, but not for himself.” Here, Isaiah 53 uses the example of a “lamb to the slaughter.” The Jewish priests of the temple would have rejected a lamb with a defect or a blemish, as the lambs were inspected for the purpose of spiritual atonement. So, apparently, this “lamb,” that would be an offering, was without blemish, i.e. sinless. This is the testimony of the twelve disciples who lived with Jesus for three and a half years, ten of which would die brutally as martyrs, history records, because they would not deny that this man was the sinless Messiah. If this is a “vague” prophecy, please name one other person in history who proposed he or she would become a sacrifice to atone for sin, as Jesus claimed. Name one other person in history who claimed personal authority to forgive sin. I won't even get into the other many specific prophecies related to Messiah. You can scrutinize them yourself if you are a sincere seeker of truth.

4) One of the most common misunderstandings today is that the text of the New Testament is not reliable. What “rational criteria” are used to determine if an ancient text is reliable? There are two main factors: the number of corroborating ancient copies and their proximity time-wise to the ancient original penned text. How does the New Testament stack up against the writings of figures such as Herodotus, the “Father of History,” or Roman magistrate Pliny the Younger? How about philosophers Aristotle and Plato? Compare for yourself: 

Homer (Iliad) - wrote in 900 B.C., nearest copy 400 B.C., 500 year break, 643 copies
Herodotus - wrote in 480 - 425 B.C., nearest copy 900 A.D., 1, 300 year break, 8 copies
Plato – wrote in 427-347 B.C., nearest copy 900 A.D., 1200 year break, 7 copies
Aristotle – wrote in 384 - 322 B.C., nearest copy 1,100 A.D., 1,400 year break, 5 copies
Pliny – wrote in 61 - 113 A.D., nearest copy 850 A.D., 750 year break, 7 copies
New Testament – written 50-100 A.D., nearest copy 130 A.D., less than 100 year break, 5600 copies (Greek) 

Comparing the New Testament text with the other known ancient documents, it's easy to see there is nothing close to the NT, in terms of proximity and the number of copied manuscripts. When you include the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages, in addition to the Greek, the number of manuscripts skyrockets to over 24,000. The internal consistency of the New Testament is determined to be about 99.5% textually pure, compared with the second place text of the Iliad, which is considered to be 95% textually pure. People who say the New Testament is not reliable text, simply don't know what they are talking about. You may not agree with the content of the text, and the miracles described, but that is an entirely different matter. Jesus said that those who would not believe Moses and the prophecies would not believe miracles either, and, as usual, he was right on the money (Luke 16.27-31).

If you are willing to receive the truths of scripture, and Jesus himself, who offers you today “the things that make for your peace,” then why not take a step of faith and receive him as your Savior and Lord? Though the Bible is true and provable, spiritual life, nevertheless is based on faith. Please consider forwarding this article to any Bible critics you know of. I pray that God will bring revelation as the text is read.

26 comments:

  1. This is one of the most pathetic articles I have read. The reason is that without even reading it and just browsing over 4 of the "challenges" I can see that just about any serious student of history could refute all of the points you ask evidence for.

    Pathetic. You are obviously blinded by ignorance and aptly, blind faith.

    Get out of your stupid phase and grow up. You really don't need a dummy and doll with you anymore. Or trolls, fairies or serpents that speak in gardens.

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  2. Zenon - Lots of type and lots of hype - but no answer? C'mon, you can try harder than that. You're the third atheist this week with the same cop-out "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" - To quote a Christian bard.

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  3. 1) The Onus isn't on us to provide archaeological evidence disproving something, it's on the people (such as yourself) claiming something _did_ happen, to prove that it happened. Nevertheless, the absense of evidence speaks quite clearly: If over a million Jews spent 40 years in the desert, why is there absolutely no evidence of their encampments? We're talking about what would have amounted to the largest city in the ancient world! See http://skepticblog.org/2010/02/04/more-on-ancient-jews-pyramids-pharaohs-and-the-exodus/

    Ron Wyatt is a conman and a fraud: http://www.tentmaker.org/WAR/ http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/06/ron_wyatt_collosal_fraud.php

    2) Where to start? Let's try where Jesus fortells that he's coming back in the lifetime of his apostles, for a start: Matthew 16:28, Luke 9:27, Matthew 23:36, Matthew 24:34, Mark 9:1, Mark 13:30, and so forth.

    A much bigger list of unfulfilled predictions and prophecies here: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/proph/long.html

    2 and 3, however, are totally irrelevant, because you're presenting in a single package a book that, you claim, documents both prophecies and their fulfillments, without any independent verification. I to can write a book like that: It's called fiction.

    4) That a text is old and much replicated says nothing about its accuracy. If the original copy of the Iliad was preserved, would you declare it to be absolutely true by virtue of its provenance?

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  4. Arachnid: Thank you for your response. I assume you are an atheist and the willingness to address actual questions, as opposed to just making snide comments, is rare. My answers are in separate comments because of the amount of text.

    1. I believe the book and documentary film I recommended on the Exodus do provide a lot of historical evidence. I recommend a serious scrutiny of these, which may be available in your local library. You wrote "We're talking about what would have amounted to the largest city in the ancient world!" I'm not sure what city you are referring to because the people were nomadic after leaving Egypt. There is archaeological proof of Hebrew settlements in the land of Goshen in Egypt, as I mentioned. And there is evidence on the floor of the Red Sea also. This is documented in the film Exodus Revealed. After crossing the Red Sea, they encamped at Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia. There is compelling evidence that they camped there, built a great stone altar, and worshipped at the foot of the great mountain which had apparently been scorched by fire, as descibed in the biblical account.

    2A. (Matthew 16:28) - It's important to read the scriptures in context. The “kingdom of God” Jesus spoke of has two meanings in the Bible. If this is not understood there is great confusion. It first refers to the initiation of the spiritual kingdom Jesus brought and established through His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus said don’t think of this in physical terms, “'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17.21) When Jesus prophesied “some standing here" would see “the Son of man coming in His kingdom" this was fulfilled in the very next chapter. Peter, James and John (those standing there) saw the unveiling of Jesus’ glory and kingdom before them. This is called the transfiguration. This is confirmed by 2 Peter 1:16-18 where the transfiguration is said to be "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus had not yet been resurrected and glorified so this event was a foretaste of the coming of His glory and His kingdom. The second sense of the coming of God's kingdom has to do with the establishment of His physical political reign on Earth known as the Millenium. This is described in Revelation 20.4-6 – 2B. These notes apply also to Luke 9:27.

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  5. 2C. “All these things shall come upon this generation.” (Mat. 23.36) What things was he referring to? He answers this question in the very next verses, 37-38. Jesus shows he is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the house of Israel at that time, not the end of the world.

    2D. “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Mat. 24.34) Again, you have to look at the context. In the beginning of the chapter (V3) the disciples asked for signs of the end of the age before the second coming of Christ. Jesus then launches into a long list of signs. In verse 6-8 he says “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” If scattered wars, increased famines and earthquakes, etc. were just the beginning of sorrows or literally “birth pains” in the original Greek, then he obviously wasn’t talking about just those people standing around him. He clarifies this by saying the gospel will first spread throughout the entire world: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”(V14) Then Jesus refers to Daniel Chapter 9 a prophecy also describing the end times which actually predicted Jesus’ own coming as Messiah: “…the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. (V26) now pay attention to the next verse: “The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” The people who destroyed the city of Jerusalem were Roman soldiers. And the ruler who is to come will be of this same Roman Empire. This ruler is defined in scripture as the Antichrist. It says he will make a covenant for 7 years but will break it and begin to blaspheme the Jewish temple which will be rebuilt (Jesus had already described its destruction in V1).

    When you study the history, you see that the Roman Empire was not conquered and superseded by a dominating kingdom; it essentially split in two, East and West, and imploded from moral decay such that common barbarians were able to pick off the leftovers. It was actually the Christian worldview that superseded the polytheistic, anti-theistic world-view but the Bible shows that the anti-theistic world-view will again dominate and the Roman Empire, in a revived form, will be re-established. Daniel describes this final world kingdom in Daniel Chapter 2 and the final judgment that will come upon the Earth when Christ’s physical kingdom is established on earth, as described in Revelation19.15 “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” A key to understanding the time frame is to realize that Jesus’ first coming was to bring redemption, not to judge. (John 3.17) But His second coming regards the judgment of those who have rejected the gospel.

    The specific verse you mentioned “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Mat. 24.34) Has to do with what generation and what things? Look at the context: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Mat 24.32-33) The generation He is referring to is in the last generation in the list of events He just described.

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  6. 2E. (Mark 9.1) I already addressed this. It is another reference to the spiritual kingdom, established in the Church, not the physical millennial political Kingdom.

    2F. (Mark 13:30) I addressed this. It is the same account as 2C (Mat. 23.36) simply by a different apostle.

    3. No the Bible is not just a single book. It is a collection of 66 books by 40 authors over a 1500 year time span. Did all the authors have the advantage of possessing, knowing or even understanding all the biblical writings that came before them? Although skeptics like to think otherwise, the answer is certainly no.

    "Malachi probably was acquainted with the other sacred books of the Old Testament. But Daniel might not have known what Ezekiel had written, and many of the prophets would not have known the message their contemporaries were giving. In the New Testament, Paul wrote independently of John; James did not know what Paul was writing.
    If there had been collusion, if the writers would have consciously attempted to make their writings agree with others, there would have been a superficial unity and apparent inconsistencies would have been resolved. The fact that the Bible has unity despite obvious differences in content, style, and perspective is a powerful witness to the independence of each author.

    ...Imagine various pieces of a cathedral arriving from different countries and cities, converging on a central location. In fact, imagine that investigation proves that forty different sculptors made contributions over a period of many centuries. Yet the pieces fit together to form a single magnificent structure. Would this not be proof that behind the project was a single mind, one designer who used his workmen to sculpt a well-conceived plan? The Bible is that cathedral..." http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aiia/biblecongruency.html

    4) That a text is old and much replicated says nothing about its accuracy. If the original copy of the Iliad was preserved, would you declare it to be absolutely true by virtue of its provenance?

    The Iliad does not contain any prophecy whatsoever and presents no doctrine which may be analyzed. It does not present detailed and extended periods of history which may be tested against the background of secular history and archaeology. It seems like a weak comparison in my opinion.

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  7. By "the largest city of the ancient world", I mean that the exodus would've constituted the largest grouping of people in the world at that time. That many people can't camp out for even a single night, let alone 40 years, without leaving traces that would be evident even today - but all you can point to is a few vague shapes found by a known fraud and huckster. The same applies to the red sea stuff: Yes, he has a photo of what looks vaguely like a wagon wheel. It's not, and nobody has independently verified anything he claims to have found, nor found anything else, nor put any of it in a museum.

    Don't you find it difficult to credit that this one person claims to have found pretty much every artefact of significance mentioned in the bible, but only has his word and some isolated photographs to show for it?

    Your defense in 2D is absurd. Jesus was clearly talking to his disciples, but you're trying to say he was talking to people thousands of years hence - and stating a tautology, at that? What sort of 'prophecy' is "some of the people who are alive at the end of the world will see the end of the world"?

    3. I didn't say it was a single book - I'm well aware of the Bible's authorship. It seems completely plausible-likely, even - that earlier authors wrote down unfulfilled prophecies, and later writers fitted the events of the time to those prophecies so they could claim they were fulfilled. A book, regardless of its origin, that you claim contains both the predictions and their fulfillments, without independent verification of either, is worthless as evidence.

    How you can simultaneously claim that the inconsistencies and contradictions in the bible make it more remarkable that it's perfect and consistent boggles the mind.

    And yes, the Iliad is a work of fiction. That's my point. You haven't addressed the fact that just because it's old and much copied doesn't say anything about its accuracy.

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  8. Nick Johnson: You wrote “That many people can't camp out for even a single night, let alone 40 years, without leaving traces that would be evident even today.”

    - After four or five thousand years, it is likely that evidence of nomads in a desert, no matter how many, would be difficult to find. Perhaps sand and silt may have covered this evidence. Are you familiar with the sandstorms which occur in deserts? We visited a Bedouin camp in Israel for one evening and found the winds almost unbearable. Critics of the Bible called the biblical account of Nineveh a myth also:
    “Before the excavations in the 19th century, historical knowledge of the great Assyrian empire and of its magnificent capital was almost wholly a blank.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh

    Can you imagine an entire city, the capital of ancient Assyria, with walls etc. with no trace?

    http://www.helium.com/items/880715-ancient-cities-nineveh-the-capital-of-assyria

    “…all you can point to is a few vague shapes found by a known fraud and huckster.”

    - I’m not even sure who you are referring to. Dr. Lennert Moller traveled with an international team to do his research. It is highly unlikely that an international team of Christian researchers would create a scam and cover it up. If you are referring to Ron Wyatt, who died back in 1999, he was never proven to be a fraud. You may disagree with his conclusions but that does not make him a fraud.

    http://creationwiki.org/Ron_Wyatt

    “Yes, he has a photo of what looks vaguely like a wagon wheel.”

    Obviously, you didn’t see the documentary. There are many different photos and videos presenting coral forms similar to those of wheels and axles standing on end. These forms are not found anywhere else in the Red Sea. The area where the true Mt. Sinai is located is in a forbidden zone in Saudi Arabia. I recommend watching the documentary in its entirety or reading Moller's book. These may fill in some of the blanks the pop Bible critics on the internet conveniently leave out.

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  9. So, which museum can I view these artefacts in? And which independent archaeologists have verified the findings and documented them? References, please.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Wyatt

    You really find it credible - that one person claims to have discovered every object of significance from the Bible, yet has no solid evidence for any of them? Sorry, but if this constitutes an acceptable standard of evidence to you, practically any myth can be claimed as true.

    Oh, and he was, of course, looking in entirely the wrong body of water in the first place: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passage_of_the_Red_Sea

    "The Hebrew term for the place of the crossing is "Yam Suph". Although this has traditionally been understood to refer to the salt water inlet located between Africa and the Arabian peninsula, known in English as the Red Sea, this is a mistranslation from the Greek Septuagint, and Hebrew suph never means "red" but rather "reeds.""

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  10. Arachnid: If you want to visit some good museums, Israel is a good place. There is an entire museum dedicated to the scroll of Isaiah, for example, found near the Dead Sea.

    Coral encrusted forms from the supposed Red Sea crossing, as far as I know, are not in a museum. The site where Noah's ark may apparently be located, on Doomsday Mountain, has been converted into a museum by the Turkish government. http://www.wyattmuseum.com/noahsark.htm

    In terms of Wyatt, his claims were not documented to the satisfaction of professional archaeologists, and there is a possibilty he read too much into his discoveries, which are presently being tested and scrutinized. Nevertheless, I would not put him on a level with evolution scams such as the Piltdown Man, a deliberate fraud, and the more recent Archaeoraptor Liaoningensis fraud committed in China, where bird skeletons and a dinosaur skeletons were knowingly joined together. Storrs L. Olson of the Smithsonian Institution stated: "National Geographic has reached an all-time low for engaging in sensationalistic, unsubstantiated, tabloid journalism."

    http://www.nwcreation.net/evolutionfraud.html

    As far as the location of the Red Sea crossing, the drowning of the Egyptian army in a shallow marsh would be a greater miracle than their drowning in deeper water. In the same Wikipedia text you cited, it shows the word “suph” or “reeds” also has a duel meaning: “…suph also puns on the Hebrew suphah ("storm") and soph ("end"), referring to the events of the Exodus.” This would give a meaning as “Storm Sea” or “Sea of the End.” Even if you take the word reed literally, it does not prove this was not the body of water today known as the Red Sea. Some reeds will grow along a river, such as the Nile, while others can grow in estuaries and marshes beside salt water areas, and this could have been a feature used to identify all the sea water of the area, including the main body, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba.

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  11. Rick -- it is ironic that you spelled dual the way you did in a sentence on puns.

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  12. Rick: - After four or five thousand years, it is likely that evidence of nomads in a desert, no matter how many, would be difficult to find.
    Except there is archaeological evidence which has been found throughout the Sinai, throughout the period of the supposed Exodus, of Egyptian outposts, oasis camps, etc. None for the travelling Israelites, however, not even in the location they supposedly camped for some 38 years. The Exodus as presented in the bible simply didn't happen, and is likely a mythical tale of national origins rather than anything historical.

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  13. I see you mentioned Noahs ark in a comment. There is no evidence of a flood of the magnitude presented in the Ark myth, nor is there evidence of a genetic bottle neck in all species around the same time, nor any reasonable theory as to where the water came from and went to, nor how the animals got to the ark, were stored on the ark and then got to their current locations.
    Noah's ark is also a myth.

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  14. As for prophecies, we have those of Ezekial regarding Tyre, which failed to come true (as the text of Ezekial indicates), as well as his prophecies regarding Egypt. We also have the prophecy of Daniel regarding Antiochus, which are strangely accurate up until a specific point, and then become vague and inaccurate - a fact which indicates that they were written around the time the inaccuracy and vagueness begins, not during the exile.

    The bible fails prophetically as well.

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  15. As for anyone fulfilling prophecies - I don't see any reason anyone should. The prophecies are fairly vague, and could be fulfilled in a number of ways. It's also possible and very likely that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies in a literary manner - the authors of the various books wrote the fulfilment rather than Jesus actually doing so historically.

    Point 3 is ridiculous and fails.

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  16. For point 4, what do you mean by reliable. Do you mean more closely represents the original text, or do you mean more closely represents historical events as they happened?

    The two are unrelated, and you seem to be arguing for the former for the NT. Even if we were to justify and accept this claim of yours, it doesn't mean that the NT is historically accurate (especially as the authors of the only books which might be thought to be interested in recording history, the Gospels, were more interested in theology, as can be seen in the way they modified the stories of previous authors to fit their needs).

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  17. 1) I think the argument on the exile has been shown pretty strongly (600,000+ people would leave a mark on Egypt and the desert)

    2) Prophecies are intentionally vague so that they can be "shown" after the fact. Unless the bible can make a prediction, for the future, that is specific there is no reason to believe it. This is not a reason to believe the bible.

    3) Suffers from the same problem. If we are only looking in the bible then it is a literary device called foreshadowing where an author alludes to something and then shows what was alluded to later. If one doesn't believe the bible then one would not be surprised to find no historical figures who fit the messiah prophecy.

    4) You are committing the logical fallacy of begging the question. Rather than show that the bible is true, you assume the bible is true and ask for something more true. If you do not prove your contention that the bible is true then I could say that the Iliad is just as true because it also covers an historical society and their mythology.
    Speaking to the textual purity of the bible (how well it has been preserved) that is due to the fact that, unlike the other books, it was a religious document. Almost every other religion was based on oral tradition whereas judaism (and christianity) are based on textual tradition. The greeks, romans, and chinese told their myths to their children, judaism and christianity read their myths. Hence the need for a book. Had Aristotle been revered as a religious figure his books would have been preserved as strongly. The textual purity has nothing to do with the accuracy of the book. The Lord of the Rings is 100% (or near enough to 100%) textually pure but no one thinks that makes it divinely inspired. I haven't read up on the textual purity of the bible, though I have heard rumors of it being disputed. I will withhold argument on the textual purity, but purity does not prove validity.

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  18. Hmmm. "textually pure" is interesting.

    For argument's sake let's say you are right.

    Then, how can I be sure my bible (which is obviously not written in Ancient Hebrew or Ancient Greek or whatever) is 100% faithful to the source texts?

    I think hardly any translations, even translations of texts written today, are absolutely *perfect*, due to difficulties that arise not just because of the language itself but also because our cultures and ways of life and thinking are so diverse.

    (by *perfect* I mean conveying *everything* that the text would have meant to the intended audience, of course in terms that the translation's audience would understand. For an entirely technical text I think that's possible but certainly not for a novel or, indeed, a spiritual text.

    I mean, people often have different interpretations of literature written in their own language!!)

    And you are talking about texts that are seperated from us by languages and cultures that existed 2000 or so years ago!!

    I am interested in your comments.

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  19. Havok,

    "There is no evidence of a flood of the magnitude presented in the Ark myth."

    - The Cambrian strata is evidence of a sudden and great flood. The Earth's crust was broken up during the flood and the mountains we have today were not formed until the end of the flood. Therefore, the water required to cover the Earth is less than critics claim.

    "As for prophecies, we have those of Ezekial regarding Tyre, which failed to come true..."

    - Ezekiel wrote the timbers and building members would be cast into the sea. This blog link includes text and images documenting this and other aspects:

    http://lastdayscall.blogspot.com/

    Ezekiel stated the city would ultimately be a place with barren rocks for drying fishing nets. That's exactly what the barren rocks are used for today. Page 11 of this text outlines the fulfillment of this prophecy:

    http://www.kpc.org/i_m_new/PDF%20files/WhyIBelieveintheBible.pdf

    This has added information:

    http://www.tektonics.org/uz/zeketyre.html

    "The prophecies are fairly vague, and could be fulfilled in a number of ways...It's also possible and very likely that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies in a literary manner."

    - Havok, you apparently couldn't address the specific text in the article:

    "Present one person in history, other than Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the “vague” prophecies of the Messiah."

    Not vague or "literary" at all. One prophecy was spelled out precisely in the article:

    Daniel's Prophecy of Messiah's Coming

    Daniel 9:25 (NKJV) states "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks...”

    So, as usual, Havok, you present generalized misinformation without addressing specific points.

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  20. Rick: The Cambrian strata is evidence of a sudden and great flood.
    No it doesn. Do you even know what the Cambrian strata is, or are you just guessing?

    Rick: The Earth's crust was broken up during the flood and the mountains we have today were not formed until the end of the flood. Therefore, the water required to cover the Earth is less than critics claim.
    Nice try Rick. This scenario requires the continents to move at metres per second. Do you realise how ridiculous this claim is?
    I guess not, since you made it.

    Rick: Ezekiel wrote the timbers and building members would be cast into the sea.
    Which didn't happen until Alexander. Ezekial is explicit that Nebudchadnezzar would do this - fail.

    Rick: Ezekiel stated the city would ultimately be a place with barren rocks for drying fishing nets. That's exactly what the barren rocks are used for today.
    The city is still there Rick. Nebudchadnezzar NEVER conquered Tyre (the island).

    Rick: Not vague or "literary" at all. One prophecy was spelled out precisely in the article:
    And Rick you haven't presented ANY evidence that Jesus actually did fulfill this prophecy rather than having it written into the story.

    The Daniel date is rather controversial Rick. You do realise it can be made to fit a number periods of time, and Jesus doesn't seem to be the most obvious.

    Rick: So, as usual, Havok, you present generalized misinformation without addressing specific points.
    And as usual you proudly proclaim your ignorance for all to see, while showing no interest in reality as it is.

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  21. Your first link on Tyre fails to understand that the Island city WAS Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar didn't destroy Tyre, he destroyed a daughter city, or the suburbs.
    It seems that Ezeikial knew this:
    Ezekial 27:4 "Thy borders are in the midst of the seas, thy builders have perfected thy beauty."

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  22. Yes, I will address your points. But I find it interesting you frequently avoid answering my questions.

    I asked you to provide an example of someone in history who could substitute for the supposedly vague prophecies of Jesus Christ. I haven't seen your answer. For starters, Daniel prophesied of the exact day Messiah would arrive in Jerusalem. This day can be verified by “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" as noted in the article. To claim Jesus never existed is nonsense. This same person would have to have the authority to forgive sins, according to the noted passage in Isaiah 53. Name one other person in history who claimed he or she would be a sacrifice in order to atone for sin. Or any other person who claimed to have personal authority to forgive sin.

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  23. Rick: I asked you to provide an example of someone in history who could substitute for the supposedly vague prophecies of Jesus Christ. I haven't seen your answer.
    The question is ridiculous. The supposed prophecies aren't, so we don't need to try to find someone who would fit them.

    Rick: To claim Jesus never existed is nonsense.
    It really depends on what you mean by "Jesus".
    If you mean some Jewish guy (or guys) who may have been names Yeshua, who inspired other people in some way, then you might go some way to establish existence.
    If you're talking about the magical, cosmic zombie, then you're going to have a far greater problem in establishing this being existed, and in fact, you're pretty much bound to fail, because the evidence we have is not nearly sufficient to establish such a thing.

    Rick: Name one other person in history who claimed he or she would be a sacrifice in order to atone for sin. Or any other person who claimed to have personal authority to forgive sin.
    Demonstrate that some historical "Jesus" claimed these things, rather than the authors of the NT putting them in his mouth.
    We know and have a large amount of evidence that the latter happened to people (including your supposed historical Jesus).

    We have nothing written by Jesus, nor ANY contemporaneous material which mentions him. The earliest writings (Paul's and some other epistles) barely mention any historical Jesus (they're far more interested in their cosmic "Annointed Saviour"), and the Gospels were written decades later, show little to no interest in recording history, freely copy from each other (changing things to fit theological purposes, not historical accuracy), yet never announce any sources nor methods, whose authors are basically unknown, or dubious provinance, etc etc etc.
    You *REALLY* want to try to claim that these documents should be treated differently to other ancient texts, and accepted as recording history exactly?

    You truly are delusional Rick.

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    Replies
    1. >The question is ridiculous. The supposed prophecies aren't, so we don't need to try to find someone who would fit them.

      - No, not ridiculous at all.

      On the one hand, atheists claim the prophecies of Messiah are "too vague", and yet, if they are so vague, why can't any other person fit the bill?

      If you wish to discredit the prophecies of Messiah, you then need to show that the prophecies DID NOT predict the specific person of Jesus Christ. Either show Jesus cannot be a match for the specific prophecies or that someone else can be a match.

      The historic person arriving on the exact day of Daniel's prophecy, as verified by highly specific historical details in scripture, is overwhelming proof that Jesus is the true Messiah. This is in addition to prophecies of his birthplace, his life and his crucifixion.

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  24. Havok,

    "The supposed prophecies aren't, so we don't need to try to find someone who would fit them."

    - I'm not sure what the meaning of your sentence is here. It seems there is an object missing. Fill in the blank and then there will be a meaningful sentence:

    "The supposed prophecies aren't ________________, so we don't need to try to find someone who would fit them."

    I can tell this is going to be a long process, Havok. In the mean time, you made some defamatory statements about me in my most recent post. For example, the following one:

    "The many of the flaws have been pointed out to you. You have, as far as I can tell, generally ignored the flaws and continued to claim, illogically, that your logical arguments are valid and sound." (December 4, 2011 11:00 PM )

    I've asked you repeatedly to post examples of cogent, related comments that I did not address in my comment thread for article, "How Identity, Logic and Physics Prove God's existence" and you have not. Instead, you've posted several new debate points at that article thread (December 7, 2011 2:03 PM) and at other articles as well.

    So far, because you can't seem to justify your statements, that implies they are false statements, in which case several of the statements you've made about me are nothing but slander.

    "slander - words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another."

    http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/Slander

    When I have posted criticisms of Dawkins, you or others I reference documented quotes. You, however, seem to like to make general slanderous comments without any documentation or factual basis whatsoever.

    I don't see the need to continue debating with you on various other points until you admit your statements about me were unfounded or back up your statements with some documented examples.

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  25. With regard to Dn's comments,

    "I think the argument on the exile has been shown pretty strongly (600,000+ people would leave a mark on Egypt and the desert)."

    Diodorus, a Greek historian between 60 and 30 BC, described: "Between the river [Nile] and the lake HE constructed a CANAL 800 stades [89 miles] in length and 300 feet in breadth. Through this canal, at times HE admitted the water of the river, at other times HE excluded it, thus providing the farmers with water at fitting times by opening the inlet and again closing it scientifically and at great expense" (The Pyramids of Egypt, by I. E. S. Edwards. Viking Press, London. 1986, p. 235).

    Whitehouse uncovered sections of this huge canal leading into the Fayum basin and feeding Lake Karoun, and also learnt from the local inhabitants WHO the mysterious "HE" was (in the writings of Diodorus) who constructed it!

    This canal, which incredibly STILL waters A THIRD OF EGYPT, appears on modern maps of Egypt under its Arabic name -- BAHR YOUSEF, or "THE SEA OF JOSEPH"!!

    Whitehouse reported back to his astonished employers that he had confirmed the existence of a vast lake artificially created by the Hebrew patriarch Joseph in the time of the PHARAOH MOERIS, and that "the most practical method of irrigating the arid Egyptian desert was to reconstruct the system ohttp://templestream.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-challenge-to-bible-critics.html#comment-formf irrigation which JOSEPH had instituted 3,500 years ago"!

    http://hope-of-israel.org/josepheg.htm

    In Egypt's Goshen, where the Hebrews settled, evidence was discovered. "The type of structure known as the Israelite 4-Room House, found prolifically in Iron Age Israel ca. 1230-587 BC, has been discovered and excavated both at Tel ed-Dab’a and near Memphis."

    http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org/goshen.htm

    So, we know Hebrews lived in Egypt and ended up in Israel. Therefore, we know at some point they crossed the wilderness in between - not a difficult deduction.

    As far as Dn's point about begging the question, this article is not presented as a formal logical proof. And archaeological findings could disprove the Bible if the findings opposed the text.

    If archaeology, for example, discovered the inscribed name of an Israeli king that was never mentioned in the Bible, this would discredit the Bible. What we find, however, is that archaeological finds consistently support the historical accuracy of the Bible in its context. Such is the case with "The David Inscription."

    "This not only indicates that the family of David still sat on the throne of Jerusalem, but this inscription represents the oldest textual reference to the historical King David ever discovered!"

    http://teldan.wordpress.com/house-of-david-inscription/

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