Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Objectivity and archaeologists in the Holy Land

My response to a review of the DVD The Bible Unearthed posted on Amazon by R. R. Morris:

I used to be just like you. My faith in God was absolutely unshakable. I even graduated from a Christian university and was thoroughly grounded in conservative Bible doctrine. So I know that you (and I at the time) started with the premise "The Bible is true" because of the verse you referenced in your review "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good work" (KJV, quoted from memory), and everything you have learned about the Bible since then has been judged on the basis of whether it agrees or disagrees with that premise. But if you are honestly interested in learning whether something is true or not, you need to start with no premise and simply see what information is produced by careful research. If you were to look objectively at the doctrine of the inspired inerrancy of the Bible being established by the Bible itself, you'd see that it wasn't a very reliable proof on its own. Any author can claim to be inerrantly inspired of God. You can agree with that. There must be some external, disinterested, objective proof to corroborate that author's claim. With the Bible, all you have for objective proof are tradition and the unquestioning faith of billions of people. Even the scientific evidence used to prove the truth of the Bible isn't entirely reliable because it's produced or interpreted by scientists who start with the premise "The Bible is true." Starting with a premise always skews research results in the direction the scientist wants it to go, and some secular scientists are guilty of that, you're right. But believing that all secular scientists are bad scientists producing skewed data is too broad a generalization.

When you wrote "with no proof and contrary to archaeological finds," you were referring to the interpretations of archaeologists who started with the premise "The Bible is true." Before 1960 or so, all Holy Land archaeologists started with that premise, and they would even tell you that. It was simply a given among those archaeologists. So if recent reinterpretations and new findings disagree with the long history of interpretions in support of the Bible, they should be considered seriously because previous archaeologists were admittedly not very objective.

The review by R. R. Morris:

I didn't know and the cover doesn't say whether the DVD was going to endorse the Bible or present it contrary to its own testimony,"inspired of God" 2 Tim.3:16. The first 52 minutes "argues" there is no archaeological evidence of camels, Philistines during Abraham's time and no evidence of Abraham ever being in Ur, so therefore the Bible is wrong on those issues. (I guess there is nothing left for archaeologists to find, they found it all!) "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." They also say Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were never father, son and grandson with no proof and contrary to archaeological finds! Go figure! Just more Bible-predicted degrading of God's word.