Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I visit some Christian blogs from time to time. Well, really only two: Pastor Buck and nakedpastor. I have posted on nakedpastor before. It is a very welcoming place.

I try to keep my comments limited, only posting when I feel I must, when something is said that I feel I really must respond to. I have made a few comments in the past on Pastor Bucks blog.

I realize that I am really wasting my time doing this. There is little hope that anything I might say could penetrate through a long held and cherished religious faith.

I really don't think my purpose in responding to Christians is to get them to consider anything I have to say other than to attempt to convince them to exercise some integrity when it comes to what they consider to be supporting evidence for the claims of their faith. They can believe what they want to believe. All I ask is that they refrain from offering "proof" in support of what they believe, (whether it be scientific or historical findings) without actually examining this "proof" before hand.

A few weeks ago I posted some links in a response on Pastor Bucks blog, when someone made mention of Werner Keller's book, "The Bible as History". I read the book many years ago when I was a bible believer.

Anyway, I really don't want to take up space on Pastor Bucks blog. I mean, it is a Christian blog, and I am not a Christian. I doubt many ministers would want their blog hijacked by an infidel.

Torn between just keeping my mouth shut, or speaking out when I see the need, I try to compromise and speak out just a little when visiting Christian blogs, and then invite them to read my response here...well...at least that is what I will do from now on.

Anyway, my response is below.

Hi Pastor Buck,

You said,
"The articles seem to be pretty consistent with others I have read from those whose worldview approaches the issue of faith with skepticism."
Of course. But how do you feel about "skepticism"? It is difficult to tell from your comment. Is it a good thing? Aren't you skeptical? Are you not just as skeptical about the historical accuracy of Islamic texts and their claims of inspiration, as, say, an agnostic is of Christian texts and their associated claims? Just a guess, but I would bet that you are.
So could we agree that we are both skeptical, just to differing degrees? Surely you will admit that you view "issues of (other religions) faith" with just as much skepticism as some view yours...?

I read some of the links you posted. I will read further, but I have to comment on what is said right out of the blocks.

From the first link: "Because the Christian faith is based on historical events, Christians welcome any evidence that archaeology can provide, but they do not anchor their faith to it. No lack of evidence nor critical scepticism can disprove God’s Word."

I really have a hard time responding to such a statement. It is so full of "We believe what we believe and there is absolutely no amount of "facts" that will persuade us otherwise because what we believe is true".
Is the Christian faith based on historical events, or is it based on claims of historical events as written down in the bible? How many Christians actually researched the faith before they became believers?....very, very few? And once they are believers, if they do any research, isn't it almost exclusively in literature designed to bolster the faith. How often do you, or your Christian friends, read, I mean really read, with mind open, scientific material that is not written from the Christian perspective, but solely from the scientific perspective? Will you admit, very seldom if ever?

As the statement from the first link above says: "Christians welcome any evidence that archaeology can provide, but they do not anchor their faith to it. No lack of evidence nor critical scepticism can disprove God’s Word.", there is nothing that the non believer can present that will persuade the believer, if the believer is not willing to consider that they may be wrong. It is that simple. I think many claims in "God's Word" can be shown to be false, but in the mind of the believer it will never be dis proven.

I listened on-line to one of your sermons many months ago, on the book "The Da Vinci Code", and you made a statement that went something like this: Archeology has confirmed the trustworthiness of the bible. Excavations of Jericho has proven that the walls are confirmed to have fallen outward.
But, if you cared to look further, you might find conflicting data and conflicting conclusions, even from believers, as to when that happened:

Extensive archaeological work at the site of Ai, however, has revealed that the city was destroyed and burned around 2400 B. C., which would have been over a thousand years before the time of Joshua.
Joseph Callaway, a conservative Southern Baptist and professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spent nine years excavating the ruins of ancient Ai and afterwards reported that what he found there contradicted the biblical record. The evidence from Ai was mainly negative. There was a great walled city there beginning about 3000 B. C., more than 1,800 years before Israel's emergence in Canaan. But this city was destroyed about 2400 B. C., after which the site was abandoned. Despite extensive excavation, no evidence of a Late Bronze Age (1500-1200 B. C.) Canaanite city was found. In short, there was no Canaanite city here for Joshua to conquer .
(Biblical Archaeology Review, "Joseph A. Callaway: 1920-1988," November/December 1988, p. 24

(This same article quoted what Callaway had earlier said when announcing the results of his nine-year excavation of Ai.)

Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8. The Joint Expedition to Ai worked nine seasons between 1964 and 1976... only to eliminate the historical underpinning of the Ai account in the Bible (Ibid., p. 24).The work of Kathleen Kenyon produced similar results in her excavation of the city of Jericho. Her conclusion was that the walls of Jericho were destroyed around 2300 B. C., about the same time that Ai was destroyed. Apparently, then, legends developed to explain the ruins of ancient cities, and biblical writers recorded them as tales of Joshua's conquests.

This link, from a conservative Christian, shows that the above conclusions are most likely correct.

My point is not to throw dates back and forth in a battle of evidences, but to just point out that you made a claim based on what...Christian apologetic literature, void of any referencing to non Christian literature, neglecting to do any further research to see if what you were saying was actually based on scientific fact.

From the second link you provided: "Christianity is a historical faith based on actual events recorded in the Bible.
Biblical archaeology has silenced many critics as new discoveries supported the facts of the Bible."

I just don't understand how a "faith" can be based on known facts. Doesn't it cease being "faith" if faith is no longer needed after one offers confidence in "known facts"? In other words, once I "know" something as fact, faith in that 'something' is rendered obsolete, is it not?

That first statement in the link - "Christianity is a historical faith based on actual events recorded in the Bible." is where this argument begins to fall apart. Right from the beginning, the author misrepresents his own religion. Christianity is not a faith that is based on known factual events. From what I know, Christianity is based, by faith, on the biblical claim of the life, death, and resurrection of the God-man Jesus the Christ. Am I correct?
The authors use of the word "actual" is where problems arise, for we can't even begin to confirm that Jesus was born (of a virgin no less), that he lived, died, nor arose after death. And if we can't confirm, by scientific means, any of those supposed "actual events" how could we even begin to confirm that the Jesus of the bible was God, or that there even is a God?

What it boils down to Pastor Buck, is this: Christianity is a faith. A faith based on the writings in a 2,000 year old book, nothing more. It is not based on any scientific or historical evidence at all. No evidence outside of the bible is needed for anyone to believe what the bible says. No factual confirmation is necessary. Therefore, Christian apologists are wasting their time searching for confirmation in the dirt or in the sky, because what ever they will find (as evidenced by the past conclusions of many a Christian) they will use, or misuse to bolster their faith, when their faith is all that is really needed...correct?

I guess what it comes down to is this: I would have much more respect for modern Christianity if they would simply and honestly admit the facts;
Christians believe that Jesus was born, died, and arose from the dead.
Christians believe that God is real.
Christians believe that the words in the bible are true.
And when a Christian says to me that I should believe as he does, or I will go to hell, if he was honest, he would end his plea with, "...but that is just my belief, for I actually don't have any factual evidence to back it up."
That would be honest, wouldn't it?



nakedpastor said...

hey bob. good post. you are indeed welcome anytime to take space on my blog commenting. i agree: physical and scientific facts and scripture are mutually exclusive. the bible is not a scientific document, and hardly historical.

bob said...

Hey np,
How did you find me? Do blogs tell each other that their masters are talking about each other?
Anyway, thanks so much for you thoughts.
One day soon I plan on posting about my friend David, the minister to the common and confused. There is nothing quite as refreshing as finding folk who are willing to admit that they are just like me, unsure.
I still visit you daily.

Rowen said...

interesting post. i'll relate my experience, for me the evidence of the bible is firmly based on history..we can see this from the great knowledge shown in the bible of ancient empires and peoples that are far too detailed to be written in anything other then first hand accounts, the fact that the biblical writers and prophets criticised their own rulers and thus they were independently functioning is another evidence. And similarly with the new testament the manuscript evidence is far too compelling and too close to the time period described for mythological accouns to develope imho...take care

bob said...

rowne said "i'll relate my experience, for me the evidence of the bible is firmly based on history"

I readily agree that there is much history in the bible. No doubt that many of the people, places, and events written in the bible are factual. But science has brought many into question. And it is these questions that Christians tend to ignore. That is where I tend to criticize. If a Christian is going to site archaeological discoveries as "proof" that the bible is true, they should have the integrity to seek out and share opposing views in science before making such claims.
But I reiterate: faith has no need for petty little confirmations, does it?