Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bible Archaeology's Rock Men: Seeing What They Want to See?

You See What You Want to See and 
You Hear What You Want to Hear. Ya dig?

In Harry Nillson's rather pointed rock opera, "The Point", he introduces a character called the Rock Man.  The Rock Man tries to explain to the hero, young Oblio, why people don't seem to understand things that ought to be obvious to everybody. "You see what you want to see," the Rock Man explains, "And you hear what you wanna hear.  Ya dig?"

And archaeology's confidently self-assured rock men seem to see what they wanna see rather more often than they would have you believe or that strictly adheres to the principles of good science. They seem to see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear, THEN they dig. Watching documentaries on biblical archaeologies is a bit of a frustrating thing if you are a Christian for a couple of reasons.

  1. They believe the Bible is a work of fiction: There is an assumption beforehand that the writers of the Bible are making stuff up as they go. And even if the biblical account finds support in the ruins, it is largely by accident.
  2. The believe that their dating techniques can prove the Bible is fiction:  Archaeologists rely heavily on dating pottery shard styles, carbon dating and inscriptions by kings whom we know lie like all git-out on their victory monuments. Then they adjust their interpretations of those dates according to their own pre-conceived ideas and agendas.
  3. They don't seem to read the same scriptures we do: They draw all sorts of wild conclusions from tiny passages that make perfect sense if you read them in context. Of course, if you're trying to prove a preconceived point, you'd actually expect that sort of thing.
Are you shocked that archaeologists have agendas?  Well they do. I just watched a Palestinian archaeologist explain how Israel was never more than a tribe of scruffy vagabonds who didn't amount to anything, how Abraham and Moses were made up and that the Israelites never came from Ur or anywhere else decent, but were a bunch of disgruntled serfs and peasants who revolted against their Canaanite betters.  This particular archaeologist claimed that the idea that the Israelites existed as a nation possessing the land of Canaan or that their history was anything more than "pious fiction" was equivalent to claiming the Earth was flat.

Care to guess what case he's trying to make there?

The interpretations archaeologists make of scripture cause you to wonder whether these guys ever actually read those passages. One group of scholars claim that because in one place Noah is told to bring in animals to the ark in pairs and then instructed also to bring in the clean animals in groups of seven that therefore there were two writers at work on the Noah story. That's a pretty big leap and assumes there was no such thing as clean and unclean animals prior to the Levitical laws and that the Genesis story is invented and written much later after the Sabbath laws and ten commandments are established in response to the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians as kind of a portable form of Judaism.

Some folks might find that the skepticism of many of these skeptical Biblical archaeologists should be avoided in order to not have doubts about your own faith. What I've found is that if you know the God that the Scriptures tell of, you find even in the skepticism of secular revisionist archaeologists you still discover the fingerprints of God.

It's not harmful to be aware of what the archaeologists are saying about Biblical history. It's even fun when cocky archaeologists have to eat their words because Biblical characters or events keep turning up in awkward places (at least awkward for the skeptics).

When I became a Christian, I challenged God to show himself.  My prayer the night of my conversion was, "God I think I have seen you. I will do what you say to do in order to know you, but you have to show me that you are real and who you say you are?"  Fortunately for me, God in his mercy had over the years answered my impertinent youthful prayer. I have no doubt but that He is who He says He is.

"Mythical" Israelite King David's Palace found
So don't let "higher" critics tell you that Scriptures are "spiritual" in their meaning and not to be considered "literally" true. As I used to remind my science students, a lack of evidence, doesn't prove anything. The idea that God must present Himself to us in the way we believe He ought to, misses the point of the aftermath of Eden altogether. When human beings decided to choose to do as they wished and not what God required, we in effect invited God to butt out of our lives. The fact that He has largely done so, ever since, should surprise no one. Fortunately for us God does respond to those who call upon him in faith.

I suspect that in the war of good vs. evil, that a good God would allow us to choose freely whether to follow Him or not.  An evil Lucifer, would do the opposite, coerce, deceive, and flatter in order to get us to follow him. Make no mistake, we are in a war. If you don't think the devil wouldn't take measures to confuse history and even to hide evidence, then you probably don't understand the concept of evil.

As H.M.S. Richards, the founder of the Voice of Prophecy, used to say at the end of every broadcast, "Have faith in God."  If you do, God will provide all the evidence you need, archaeological or otherwise.

© 2016 by Tom King