Sunday, December 26, 2010

Theological Modernism Disproven But Not Dead

Since the nineteenth century, multitudes of people have assumed that the Bible has been discredited by modern science and by the “higher criticism” of theological modernism.

In his biography of Charles Darwin, Jacques Barzun repeats this myth,

“The cosmogony of Genesis was swamped under an avalanche of contrary geological facts” (Darwin, Marx, Wagner, p. 66).

In fact, it was not an avalanche of scientific facts that swamped the Bible; it was an avalanche of myths based upon evolutionary assumptions.

Yet countless people have given up their faith in the Bible because they ASSUMED that it was discredited.

Charles Templeton is an example. He was once the preaching partner of Billy Graham, but he became an atheist after being convinced that science had discredited the Bible. He wrote the following to Graham,

“Billy, it's simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn't created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It's not a matter of speculation; it's demonstrable fact” (Templeton, Farewell to God).

Consider Charles Lyell. After visiting Niagara Falls in 1841 Lyell published his conclusion that it had taken 35,000 years for the gorge to be cut at the present rate of retreat. He based this on a statement made to him by a local resident that it was receding at about three feet a year. Lyell included this figure in his popular Principles of Geology and his prestige and influence were increased when he was knighted in 1848. His statements were used to discredit the Bible’s teaching that earth is only a few thousand years old, but it has since been learned that the Niagara gorge is receding at a much faster rate than Lyell estimated, and this would reduce the age to between seven and nine thousand years. As Ian Taylor observes:

“Reasonably, the rate would have been greater in the early stages when the rock was softer making the age even less. Nevertheless, had it been honestly reported in the first place, this would have been regarded not as a refutation but rather a near confirmation of the Genesis Flood. ... a [false] preconception in the mind of one man contributed to the destruction of the faith of many and ultimately to change mankind’s worldview” (In the Minds of Men, p. 92).

The entire superstructure of Darwinism was built on Lyell’s uniformitarianism, but it has being discredited even by evolutionists.

“Much of Lyell’s uniformitarianism, specifically his ideas on identity of ancient and modern causes, gradualism, and constancy of rate, has been explicitly refuted by the definitive modern sources as well as by an overwhelming preponderance of evidence that, as substantive theories, his ideas on these matters were simply wrong” (James Shea, “Twelve Fallacies of Uniformitarianism,” Geology, Sept. 1982, p. 456).

“[Lyell’s] uniformitarianism triumphed because it provided a general theory that was at once logical and seemingly ‘scientific.’ Catastrophism became a joke and no geologist would dare postulate anything that might be termed ‘a catastrophe’ for fear of being laughed at or inked with a lunatic fringe of Velikovsky and Californian fundamentalists. But I would like to suggest that ... the ‘catastrophists’ were better geologists than the ‘uniformitarians’” (Derek Ager, past president of the British Geological Association, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, 1981, pp. 44, 45).

In spite of the fact that Lyell’s theories have been discredited, the damage was done.

Only the Lord can calculate how many individual’s faith has been overthrown by the statements of modernists over the past 200 years. How many have read a book or a newspaper or magazine article or sat in a college or university classroom or watched a television documentary only to hear that the Bible is not historically true, that it is at least partially mythical. Believing that the august authority spouting this unbelief knows what he or she is talking about, the individual doesn’t check the facts. He never hears the “other side” and he continues along life’s short path assuming that the Bible has been discredited and is thus not worth believing.

Yet the fact is that the modernistic theories have been repeatedly disproven whereas the Bible has been repeatedly authenticated.

For example, in the 19th century it was believed by modernists that writing was not sufficiently developed by Moses’ for him to have written the early books of the Bible. Supposedly, the material was passed along orally and only later written down. Thus, the Bible’s account of writing in that day was said to be false.

This view was based on the teaching of Andrew Wolf, which appeared in his Prolegomena to Homer, published in 1795. He argued that the use of writing for literary purposes was unknown before the classical period of Greek history in about 1000 B.C.

Modernists in general latched onto this, claiming that since writing did not evolve until 1000 B.C., the Bible’s account about Moses is erroneous.

For example, in 1892, H. Schultz, in Old Testament Theology (vol. 1, p. 25), said: “The time, of which the pre-Mosaic narrations treat, is a sufficient proof of their legendary character. It was a time prior to all knowledge of writing.”

It is now known that writing was developed around 3150 B.C., at the latest, which was more than 1,500 years before Moses. “Inscribed artifacts from archaeological excavations show that man had a knowledge of writing as early as the late 4th millennium BC” (Joseph Naveh, Origins of the Alphabets, p. 6).

I have seen the evidence for this at the British Library, the Gutenberg Museum in Germany, and the Oriental Institute in Chicago, among other places. According to the biblical time scale, the fourth millennium B.C. takes us back to the earliest days of man’s history. Noah’s Flood was about 2500 B.C.

In the late 19th century, archaeology discovered that Egypt, Nineveh, and Babylon were literate societies full of schools and libraries. This was long before Abraham was born.

“The Babylonia of the age of Abraham was a more highly educated country than the England of George III. .. The Mosaic age, instead of being an illiterate one, was an age of high literary activity and education throughout the civilized East. .. From one end of the civilized ancient world to the other men and women were reading and writing and corresponding with one another; schools abounded and great libraries were formed, in an age which the ‘critic’ only a few years ago dogmatically declared was almost wholly illiterate. ... The civilized world was a world of books, and a knowledge of writing extended even to the classes of the population who were engaged in manual labour” (A. H. Sayce, Monument Facts and Higher Critical Fancies, 1904, pp. 35, 40, 42, 43).

In 1904, Flinders Petrie discovered an ancient Egyptian mining town at Serabit el-Khadem. Slaves from Canaan were employed there, and tablets were found that contain their writing, which was different both from hieroglyphics and cuneiform. “It invalidates once and for all the hypothesis that the Israelites who came through this area from Egypt, were at that stage still illiterate” (Flinders Petrie, cited in The Bible as History, p. 127). The writing was fully deciphered in 1948 by a team of archaeologists from the University of Los Angeles.

“Without a doubt the inscriptions had their origin about 1500 BC. and are written in a Canaanite dialect. ... The famous Sinai inscriptions are the first stage of the North Semitic alphabet, which is the direct ancestor of our present alphabet. It was used in Palestine, in Canaan, in the Phoenician Republics on the coast. About the end of the 9th century B.C. the Greeks adopted it. From Greece it spread to Rome and from there went round the world. ... we now know that three hundred years before Moses led his people out of Egypt to Sinai, men from Canaan had already been ‘writing’ in this area, in a language which was closely related to that of Israel” (Werner Keller, The Bible as History, pp. 128, 129).

In the first decade of the 20th century the ancient capital of the Hittite kingdom was unearthed. Ten thousand pieces of cuneiform tablets gave historians vast new insight into ancient times. Seven languages were in use in the kingdom, and it was learned that the ancient Hittite language was a relative of Greek and Latin and a predecessor of French, German and English.

Beginning in 1929, the library at the ancient city of Ugarit was unearthed by a French team led by Claude Schaeffer. The city was accidentally discovered by a farmer plowing his field. When he moved a large stone, he found a passage leading to an ancient tomb. This influential merchant city was on the Mediterranean coast in Syria. Hundreds of tablets were found in the languages of Ugaritic, Babylonian, Hittite, Hurrian, and Egyptian. Archaeologists learned that extensive government and business records were kept and international correspondence was conducted in multiple languages. “Some report foreign affairs, treatises with neighbour kings, or imposed by the Hittites” (Alan Millard, Treasures from Bible Times, p. 87).

Between 1933-39 the ancient city of Mari was excavated by a French team, and 24,000 cuneiform books were discovered. This city-state, which thrived from about 2500 to 1750 B.C., was highly literate. “The scribes kept their eye on every detail of palace life. Tablets record the amounts of food coming into the palace, grain and vegetables of all sorts, and several hundred list the provisions provided for the king’s table each day. Hundreds of letters carry news to the king from all over his realm. One official reports progress in making musical instruments the king had ordered, another that there is not enough gold to decorate a temple as the king wanted” (Alan Millard, Treasures from Bible Times, pp. 54, 55)

In the 1950s the great city of ancient Ur was uncovered, the very city of Abraham, and it was found to be highly sophisticated and literate. Among the books unearthed at Ur were student exercise books for learning how to read and write the cuneiform language. “To help them learn the old Sumerian language they had tables of verbs, and for arithmetic they had tables of square and cube roots and reciprocal numbers. Tablets from other cities of the eighteenth century BC in Babylonia display a correct understanding of ‘Pythagoras Theorem’--1,200 years before Pythagoras formulated it!” (Alan Millard, Treasures from Bible Times, p. 53).

In 1975, the royal archives of Ebla, the capital city of the ancient Canaanite empire, were unearthed. Dating to about 2500 B.C., the more than 15,000 clay tablets and fragments prove that the scribes of that day were proficient in multiple languages and highly advanced in the skill of writing. This was a thousand years before Moses. See Archives of Ebla by Giovanni Pettinato (1981).

For decades Dr. Harry Rimmer and his Science Research Bureau offered a $1,000 reward to any person who could prove the existence of a scientific error in the Bible. In 1939, William Floyd brought a lawsuit against Rimmer, claiming that he had found several such errors. After hearing the case, Judge Benjamin Shalleck of the Fourth District Municipal Court, ruled in favor of the Bible (Rimmer, That Lawsuit against the Bible, 1956).

November 18, 2010 (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143,

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