Was ancient man (or mankind) intelligent? Many Christians today have unanswered questions about the authority of the Bible due to their acceptance of an evolutionary timeline of history and, in particular, their view of mankind within that timeline. If the claims that mankind emerged from the slow process of evolution are true, then the Bible must be wrong, because the biblical record tells us that men were intelligent since the day of their creation (e.g., able to converse with God, able to work, and so on).
Yet our modern society believes we are just reaching the height of human intelligence and capabilities. If we accept this evolutionary view, what do we do with the biblical account about ancient man? Is it completely unfounded and simply a myth? Or is the Bible true and verifiably so, thus making the evolutionary timeline errant?
Most secular historians have not completely ignored the record of the Bible. However, they cite it as simply a source of information (e.g., a document of men, without God). In doing so, they undermine the authority of Scripture by not placing the Bible in its rightful place. Many Christians unwittingly accept this abuse of God’s Word and furthermore even promote it! When it is assumed that the Bible is only one of many records of early man and it is placed in a timeline alongside the other legends predating it, two key points are missed:
1 God existed before creation and is the infinite, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator and, as such, He is the ultimate authority above all things (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 40:28; Isaiah 40:14; Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 24:1).
2 The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and authoritative Word of God, given to us as God spoke through human writers (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16).
Therefore, God’s account of what happened at the beginning of time, and since then, is accurate and true, and it is fallible man’s accounts of history that is subject to error. No matter when in human, historic time the Bible was actually penned or by whom, it has priority over any other account. In our book, The Genius of Ancient Man, we refer to this idea as the “priority of God in sequence and time.” God predates the universe and all human history; He was actually there, and His account (which He revealed to us in His Holy Word) is the accurate one.
Simply put, it came from the Bible. Of course, the Bible doesn’t say explicitly anywhere, “The earth is 6,000 years old.” Good thing it doesn’t; otherwise it would be out of date the following year. But we wouldn’t expect an all-knowing God to make that kind of a mistake.
God gave us something better. In essence, He gave us a “birth certificate.” For example, using a personal birth certificate, a person can calculate how old he is at any point. It is similar with the earth. Genesis 1 says that the earth was created on the first day of creation (Genesis 1:1–5). From there, we can begin to calculate the age of the earth.
Let’s do a rough calculation to show how this works. The age of the earth can be estimated by taking the first five days of creation (from earth’s creation to Adam), then following the genealogies from Adam to Abraham in Genesis 5 and 11, then adding in the time from Abraham to today.
When we start our thinking with God’s Word, we see that the world is about 6,000 years old. When we rely on man’s fallible (and often demonstrably false) dating methods, we can get a confusing range of ages from a few thousand to billions of years, though the vast majority of methods do not give dates even close to billions.
Cultures around the world give an age of the earth that confirms what the Bible teaches. Radiometric dates, on the other hand, have been shown to be wildly in error.
The age of the earth ultimately comes down to a matter of trust—it’s a worldview issue. Will you trust what an all-knowing God says on the subject, or will you trust imperfect man’s assumptions and imaginations about the past that regularly are changing?
During a UK-based study, Understanding Unbelief, atheists and agnostics from various countries, including Brazil, China, Denmark, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom were interviewed. In the New Scientist overview of the study, they highlighted that the majority of atheists (71%) and agnostics (92%) believed in “at least one supernatural phenomenon or entity,” the most common being a belief in “fate” (“significant life events are meant to be” and “underlying forces of good and evil” exist), but astrology, reincarnation, and karma all made the list as well.
For some atheists/agnostics, it is easy to mix certain aspects of different religions into their worldview. For example, over 8% of Japanese respondents and 1% of Chinese respondents identified themselves as Buddhists. In most forms of Buddhism, there is no personal God or gods, and, ultimately, Buddhism teaches that any “god idea” has its origin in fear, which needs to be mastered and put away by meditation, and that belief in God is not necessary to achieve enlightenment. Buddhism could best be described as non-theistic: that if there are any gods, they don’t matter.
But for most, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile atheism or agnosticism with a religion that believes in God—like Christianity. Nevertheless, atheists and agnostics still borrow many aspects from a biblical worldview—whether they realize it or not. For example, logic, truth, knowledge, morality, and science—which are predicated on the Bible being true—do not come from a materialistic and naturalistic view of things. Atheists and agnostics often agree that logic, truth, morality, and so on exist, but it cannot be justified in their worldview.
Like everyone, atheists and agnostics long for meaning, purpose, and hope. After all, God has written eternity on their hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so they know there must be more to this life than what we can see. But their worldview does not offer any ultimate meaning, purpose, or hope. In their worldview, when you die, you cease to exist. That’s it. The end. Or is it? If that were really true, then why do up to 25% of atheist and 35% of agnostic responses “agree” or “strongly agree” that reincarnation exists? And (even more surprisingly) why do up to 30% of atheists and agnostics “agree” or “strongly agree” that life after death exists? That certainly seems like a core-belief contradiction.
Since atheists and agnostics know there is no ultimate meaning, purpose, or hope in that kind of outlook, what do many atheists and agnostics do to give themselves the very thing their worldview cannot supply? They add a (false) hope to their worldview: karma, astrology, fate, reincarnation—or many other things for which the study didn’t account. Each of these beliefs gives some idea that there is more to us and this life than just naturalism. That, somehow, our lives have some kind of cosmic purpose or meaning, and maybe, just maybe, there really is something beyond the here and now.
But what these atheists and agnostics really need to do is acknowledge the bankruptcy of their worldview and ditch it! They need to give up a worldview that cannot give them what they truly long for and embrace the only one that can: a biblical worldview grounded in the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
During my debate with Bill Nye “the Science Guy” on February 4, 2014, Bill was asked where matter came from. In his answer he said it was a great mystery, but he loved the “joy of discovery” as he pursued such questions. In my responses to Bill’s answers, I asked him why the joy of discovery mattered to him. I explained that from Bill’s perspective, life is the result of natural processes and there is no biblical God, so when he dies, he won’t even know he ever existed or knew anything. Then, when others who knew him die, they won’t know they ever knew him, either. Eventually, from his perspective of naturalism, the whole universe will die and no one will ever know they ever existed. So what is the purpose of this “joy of discovery”? Really, the naturalistic view of life is ultimately purposeless and meaningless!
Think about the well-known atheist Richard Dawkins. Why does he spend so much time writing and speaking against Someone (God) he doesn’t believe exists? Why is he so aggressive against biblical Christianity? In an ultimately purposeless and meaningless existence, why does it matter to him if people believe in the God of the Bible and the account of creation as outlined in Genesis? Why bother fighting against such people when, from his perspective, eventually no one will even know they ever existed?
They claim that they care about people and argue that believing in creation is harmful to society. But something deeper is going on. They aren’t fighting for the truth, but suppressing it.
Really then, when Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins, and others so aggressively oppose biblical Christianity, what they are doing is this. They are covering their ears and closing their eyes and saying, “I refuse to submit to the God who created me. I refuse to acknowledge that God is the creator. I refuse to accept that I’m a sinner in need of salvation. I want to write my own rules! Therefore I must oppose anything that pricks my conscience and aggressively suppress the truth to justify my rebellion.”
So why do these who so aggressively oppose Christianity care? They care because they are desperately trying to justify their rebellion against the truth. They don’t want to admit that they are sinners in need of salvation and thus need to submit to the God who created them and owns them.
We’ve visited other Creationist attractions — each has its own unique charm — but none match the scale and sophistication of Kentucky’s Ark Encounter. Regardless of your religious beliefs (and in spite of a biblically proportioned admission and parking fee [$40 per ticket plus $10 parking]) the Ark is an attraction that should be visited — if only because it’s unlikely that you’ll ever visit anything else like it.
Built at a reported cost of $91 million, opened to the public in July 2016, the Ark is the brainchild of Answers in Genesis, the same group that opened the Creation Museum in 2007. Billed as “The Largest Timber-Frame Structure in the World” and “a modern engineering marvel,” the Ark contains 3.3 million board-feet of lumber and weighs more than two thousand tons. Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham claims that it was built to scriptural specs, 510 feet long and as tall as a seven-story building — an exact replica of Noah’s enormous wooden boat.
The purpose of the Ark, according to Ham, is to fuel the faith of his fellow Bible literalists and to reach people who would otherwise avoid a Creationist attraction. Co-founder Mike Zovath has stressed the Ark’s broad appeal, saying that he hopes it becomes a bucket-list roadside wonder, “like seeing the biggest ball of twine.”
The Ark itself is dimly lit, a windowless wooden labyrinth whose brown interior is enlivened with over 100 bays of colorful, professionally-designed exhibits. As you walk up a ramp into the Ark’s belly you’re greeted by the recorded sounds of a thunderstorm and caged animals. There are no live animals on this Ark, only lifelike replicas, including a surprising number of juvenile dinosaurs. These creatures are a big part of the appeal of Ark Encounter, especially for children. The attraction could have simplified its narrative by wiping out the dinosaurs in the Flood, but then it wouldn’t have had any dinosaurs for visitors to see. Answers in Genesis speculates that the dinosaurs’ later extinction — after all the trouble taken to save them — was not a miscalculation by God, but because Noah’s descendants ate them.
Ark Encounter features a number of exhibits showcasing the wickedness that made God decide to drown everyone on the planet (The “Help Me Understand” display explains that God created humankind, so He’s within His rights to kill everybody whenever He wants to). These detailed glimpses of the sinful pre-Flood world are the most memorable part of the attraction. One miniature diorama shows people murdered in an arena by a human giant and a toothy dinosaur with gilded horns. Another elaborate tableau depicts babies being delivered into the belly furnace of a golden snake god.
Poster-size illustrations with titles such as “Abuse of Creation” and “Descent into Darkness” show poor, defenseless dinosaurs being senselessly slaughtered by depraved humans, and crowds of smug, shirtless revelers with tattoos and tambourines — time-honored visual shorthand for every parent’s nightmare of party debauchery.
If you’re wondering how you missed the part in the Bible that chronicled the age of dinosaurs as gladiators… you didn’t. A sign explains that Ark Encounter had to invent these details because the Bible doesn’t mention any of them. Nevertheless, visitors are assured, the pre-Flood world “was thoroughly infested with violence, idolatry, and every imaginable form of immorality.”
An attraction so invested in its own feasibility can tolerate no perceived insults. This is stressed in the “Fairy Tale Ark” exhibit, which attacks children’s books (most of them Christian) for practicing the “7 D’s of Deception,” including “Discrediting the Truth” and “Deceptively Cute.” Ark Encounter makes clear that there’s nothing cuddly about the Earth’s greatest premeditated mass slaughter, although there is one bright spot. Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham has said that his Ark, despite appearances, is not built to float, because God promised He would never flood the Earth again.
This will be a short post. Yesterday, Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis and promoter of scientific ignorance, wrote a post titled, Learn about Astronomy Through a Biblical Lens. I thought, Biblical lens? Wouldn’t it be better to view the cosmos through a telescope? Instead of encouraging people to get a telescope and set it up in their backyards so they can survey the wonders of the night sky, Ham wants them to come his young earth creationist indoctrination camp so he can teach them how to “properly” do astronomy. Of course, if people heed his advice, the turnstiles will turn at Ham’s backwater properties, adding dollars to his “ministry’s” bottom line. Just remember, it is always about the money.
Now, I’m glad the Bible’s not a textbook of science like those used in public schools, because it would change all the time. Many ideas have come and gone. For example, most of the evolutionary beliefs used by scientists in the transcript of the Scopes Trial have been abandoned—but God’s Word remains the same. It is the infallible Word of God—the true history book of the universe.
Secularists often accuse us of reading Genesis literally but not other portions of the Bible. We point out that we should read the Bible naturally. There is history (e.g., Genesis), poetry (e.g., Psalms), prophecy (e.g., Isaiah), and so on. Different genres of writing require different interpretative methods. Historical documents such as Genesis are not intended to be taken figuratively.
Secularists also attack Christians for not following Old Testament laws. But most secularists have no understanding of the Old Covenant and New Covenant—and they don’t want to. They want to distort and attack the Word.
I’m burdened for those described in the Bible as “having no hope and without God in the world”, which is why we boldly proclaim truth. My challenge to secularists is this: the evidence of creation is obvious, so “do not be unbelieving, but believing” and “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light”.
When you reject God’s Word in Genesis and interpret it through the lens of man’s fallible, opinionated word, more and more compromise is sure to follow. You see, when you start compromising in one area of the Bible, it isn’t long before compromise shows up in other areas. My challenge to all believers is this: believe all of God’s Word!
People are born and die, but “the word of our God stands forever” — and no person can ever change that! Secularists can’t change this: “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever”.
Many people try to change God’s Word, particularly in Genesis, but “forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven”.
Our secularized culture teaches a strange history. We are told that we were once dumb brutes in an evolutionary past—no different from animals—but over the millennia we got a little smarter and came out of Africa and learned how to be farmers instead of hunters and gatherers.
Then we began building basic settlements and then civilizations and finally empires. So here we are sitting on top of the food chain because, unlike “other animals,” we have become smarter and smarter to become masters of our domain.
Okay, so this is a bunch of hogwash—man is made unique from animals and created in the image of God! But people believe these lies because this is what has been imposed upon them in secular schools, secular media, secular museums, and so on. Do you realize this alleged evolutionary history is not recorded by ancient historians in any culture? It is a modern fairly tale. It is a story that comes out of religions like secularism (including atheism and so on).
But as a result, kids of the next generation look at technology today and misunderstand it. They presume that, since we have more technology, we are “getting smarter” just like the evolutionary story says. …. After the Flood, a godly worldview dominated. As cultures deviated at Babel and down through the ages, man abandoned a godly and biblical worldview (of what had been revealed from Adam down through Noah) in favor of man’s flawed ideas (i.e., forms of humanism). As they began worshipping ancestors and false gods, their general worldview deteriorated into many various paths of paganism.
This affected science and innovation in a general pattern. It caused technology to remain nearly stagnant—with a few exceptions of course. A mind and culture with little hope has little desire to grow in the knowledge of God’s world (albeit sin-cursed and broken). Many worldviews even deter science and technology because of their very nature (e.g., animism). Animism, for example, has spirit beings that help or harm human interests in the physical world. Thus causality, which is the basis for observable and repeatable science, is meaningless because aspects of nature are controlled by the spirits rather than by a God who has promised to uphold things in a consistent fashion. (For more on world religions read World Religions and Cults Volumes 1–2.)
As Christianity began to explode in Europe prior to AD 1400, people began returning to a godly, biblical worldview leading up to the early modern period. This gave them the proper understanding of the world around them. Acknowledging that our all-knowing (Psalm 147:5) and all-powerful (e.g., Jeremiah 32:27) God upholds the world (Hebrews 1:3) and that He has promised to do so in the future until the end (e.g., Genesis 8:22) gives us the basis for doing observable and repeatable science. This presupposition is vital to make science possible.
As a result Christians began systematically studying the world and how it works (operational science). Most fields of science were developed by Bible believers—even the scientific method was developed by a young-earth creationist, Sir Francis Bacon!6
As Biblically based science erupted, technology, knowledge, inventions, and innovation built one on top of the other. This brings us to the world in which we live, built on centuries of technology. …. I humbly suggest that as the culture moves away from a biblical understanding of the world, so will they also miss out on certain scientific advancements—or at least delay them. Consider the unbiblical worldview of millions of years: researchers never thought oil could be produced quickly because they had been indoctrinated with the idea that oil production took vast ages. Yet oil can be made in 30 minutes from algae.12
Imagine if researchers in the 1960s had been thinking correctly (i.e., a younger age of the earth and thus rapid oil production at the time of the Flood) and had developed technology based on that truth. It could have revolutionized the oil industry in our current age! Instead, researchers only recently figured it out.
I want to encourage you to think biblically. The Bible makes sense of the world and makes sense of science and technology. Even so, we are in a world where the Bible comes under increasing attack, and secular scientists want to divorce science from the Bible (see “Is Science Secular?”). Science exists because the Bible is true. There is no reason to suppress this knowledge (Romans 1:18–21).
According to the Bible, man has always been brilliant—both in the past and in the present. The difference today is that we have more accumulated knowledge and technologies.
Little by little, the secularists have been outlawing Christianity from the culture. Through misinformation, bullying, and intimidation, they have been succeeding. And because so many Christians have been so secularized by the public education system, they have largely not put up a fight.
And if this trend keeps happening, do you want a picture of where America is headed in the future? Just look at England. …. Warning! What is happening in the United States has already happened in Britain. That’s where America is heading.
I would say the decline is happening for the same basic reason: God’s people didn’t stand on God’s Word from its beginning. In this era, the compromise between evolution/millions of years and Genesis began in England and spread around the world. Really, what’s happened to the church throughout England is actually the outworking of a church that has compromised God’s Word with man’s fallible ideas. Furthermore, the church has largely handed over the education of generations to the state.
This same compromise is rife in the church in the United States. At the same time, generations of children in America have been educated in schools that have increasingly outlawed anything Christian.
I believe this is why the Lord has raised up ministries like Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and the new Ark Encounter. God is using these outreaches to equip Christians to stand against the secular attacks of our day and to challenge (in a very public and bold way) non-Christians with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.
God has allowed AiG to build the Creation Museum and the Ark because I believe there are many godly people who will take a stand on the authority of the Word of God.
While we still have the freedom to boldly proclaim the message of God’s Word to the world, I pray you will support us in prayer to do whatever we can to embolden God’s people and reach millions with the saving gospel. I urge you to help us to stand against those who would try to completely outlaw Christianity from the culture. ….cc If God’s people don’t contend for the faith, we will see Christianity outlawed even further in our culture! I implore you to stand up for your faith. In a very public way (with an increasing number of scoffers trying to stop us), AiG is contending for the faith through many ministries like the Creation Museum and now the Ark Encounter.
Is Christianity being outlawed? Of course not. Christians are free to worship whenever, however, wherever, with whomever. Christian public school students are free to individually pray and read the Bible in school. Evangelicals are free to send their children to Christian schools or home school them. Christians are even free to build monuments to ignorance such as the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum. Evangelicals are free to evangelize their neighbors and stand on street corners preaching the gospel. Christianity is freer here in America than any other country on earth. Christian ministers get special tax exemptions/deductions, as do the churches they pastor.
Despite freedom of belief, worship, and practice that all Christians (and non-Christians) enjoy, charlatans such as Ken Ham continue to say that their brand of religious Fundamentalism is under attack. Ham says secularists are trying to ban Christianity. Knowing everything that I have mentioned above, how can Ham continue to lie about this? The very fact that Ham can build a damn wood boat on dry Kentucky land and say it is a testament to God’s saving grace is proof that secularists are NOT trying to ban Christianity. Most secularists don’t care about with whom, where, and how people worship their respective deities. Simply put…WE DON’T CARE!
We do, however, care about Evangelical (and Catholic and Mormon) attempts to breach the wall of separation of church and state. We do care when Evangelicals ignore the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, saying that God’s law trumps man’s law. We do care when Evangelicals attempt to sneak creationism and its gussied-up sister, intelligent design, into SECULAR public school classrooms. We do care when Evangelicals wrongly assert that America is a Christian nation and that the Bible should be the law of the land. And most of all, we do care when Evangelicals attempt to hijack local, state, and federal government for their own purposes.
Secularists stand resolutely against ANY attempt to merge church and state. We are students of history, knowing that when church and state are one, freedoms are lost and people die. If anyone is a threat to America and human freedom and liberty, it is theocrats such as Ken Ham. Does Ham want more or less freedom for those who do not share his religious sentiments? Less! Does Ham support the wall of separation between church and state? Does Ham think people should be free to live godless, heathen lives? Does Ham think consenting adults should be free to do sexually as they please? Does Ham support fairness, justice and equal protection under the law for all? No, on all counts. It is Ham and his Fundamentalist horde who want to rob Americans of their freedoms, not secularists. The real enemy, Ken, is You!
By now, everyone knows that Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers in Genesis, has opened his latest monument to human ignorance — Ark Encounter. Countless articles have already been written about Ham’s Ark Park, so there is no need for me to write another one. I do, however, want to post a video by the Liberal Redneck that hilariously explains Ark Encounter. I hope you will widely share this post/video, especially with your Fundamentalist friends. Enjoy!
According to the latest bit of nonsense posted on the Answers in Genesis (AIG) website, the following decree from an unnamed Caesar PROVES Jesus resurrected from the dead:
It is my decision [concerning] graves and tombs—whoever has made them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household members—that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person, I order that a judicial tribunal be created, just as [is done] concerning the gods in human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to allow anyone to move [those who have been entombed]. But if [someone does], I wish that [violator] to suffer capital punishment under the title of tomb-breaker.
Scratching your head? Me too. I see no evidence that remotely suggests that Jesus resurrected from the dead. The AIG article was written by Henry B. Smith Jr. Smith received his training at Trinity Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary and is currently the director of development for the Associates for Biblical Research. Here’s what Smith had to say:
After Christ’s Resurrection, Claudius Caesar issued a decree for people to stop stealing bodies from Judah’s sepulchers. Without realizing it, he was confirming Christ’s Resurrection!
The Nazareth Inscription is a powerful piece of extrabiblical evidence that Christ’s Resurrection was already being proclaimed shortly after He was raised. …. This “Decree of Caesar” is known as an imperial rescript, having the force of law. Rescripts frequently dealt with unusual legal, religious, or political issues arising in a specific region. The text fits both the style and structure of other rescripts of Claudius.
Matthew records one of the first responses to reports of Jesus’ Resurrection. The Jewish authorities invented a lie that the disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:13). Their goal was to spread an alternative story explaining why the body was missing and the tomb was empty. The Nazareth Inscription is very likely the Roman response to that very same problem. …. The Nazareth Inscription forces skeptics to deal more deeply with the two major competing views of events: believing in the Resurrection of Christ or believing that His disciples stole His body from the tomb to perpetrate a great religious fraud. The account of Christ’s Resurrection was first circulated by the Apostles themselves, according to Scripture, and it was not a later invention by Christians of the post-apostolic period. The inscription is excellent evidence confirming this truth, and it brings to mind Paul’s statement, “If Christ is not risen . . . your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15:14).
An excellent summary of the history and nature of this inscription in English, complete with a list of all other work on it up to that time, is F. de Zulueta’s article “Violation of Sepulture in Palestine at the Beginning of the Christian Era,” Journal of Roman Studies 22 (1932), pp. 184-97, and this relies heavily on the most decisive research and commentary on the stone, available only in the French of F. Cumont’s “Un Rescrit Impérial sur la Violation de Sépulture,” Revue Historique (Jan-Apr. 1930), pp. 241-66. I refer to these in what follows:
The Date: Zulueta concludes that the most extreme possible dates of the inscription, based on the style of lettering, are 50 B.C. to A.D. 50. He thinks it most likely in the middle, thus around the turn of the era, long before the death of Jesus. Cumont agrees, believing the edict to be of Augustus, although it may even be of Julius Caesar from the time of the Alexandrine War. Both arrive at this conclusion because the edict states simply “Caesar” and does not qualify with the specific successor’s name, as is almost always the case. Thus, the claim that it dates to the reign of Tiberius or Claudius is not only unsupported by any evidence, but is all but contradicted by the evidence. A Claudian date was conjectured by Dr. De Sanctis only because Galilee (where Nazareth is located) was not under the empire until the time of Claudius, but this is not very decisive for two reasons: first, allied states often voluntarily appealed to Julius Caesar or Augustus for a ruling in some issue (especially in time of war, when the power of Rome was the only effective law enforcer around); second, it is very doubtful that the inscription is actually from Nazareth.
The Location: the inscription’s origin is not clearly known. It was found in the collection of a man named Fröhner when it was donated to the Paris National Library in 1925. His notes on the item state nothing more than “Dalle de marbre envoyée de Nazareth en 1878.” That’s it. This translates as “Slab of marble sent from Nazareth in 1878.” Zulueta observes that this does not say “found” in Nazareth (découverte à), but sent from there, and it has been shown that Fröhner’s “notes on the provenance of his treasures are very exact,” thus he can be counted on to have chosen his words carefully.
In the late 19th century there were only two major market centers for all antiquities recovered in Palestine: Jerusalem and Nazareth. Thus, Zulueta makes the plausible conjecture that the slab was recovered either in Samaria or Decapolis and either purchased in or shipped out of the nearest possible place, which would be Nazareth. Indeed, Zulueta also observes that the text uses the plural form “gods” which would have been offensive to Jews, making the most likely origin the Hellenized district of Decapolis. In line with this is the constant emphasis in the decree of the cult of the dead, even as being on par with the religious worship of gods, a choice of words and phrases that would not have been much approved by Jews, no matter how much it might have been true, but would have made perfect sense in a community of Greeks. On the other hand, there is an historical event in Samaria that could have served as a cause of this decree: in 8 A.D. some Samaritans entered the Temple after midnight and tossed around corpses they had presumably illegally exumed elsewhere, possibly provoking the recall of the governor Coponius.Even so, Zulueta leans in favor of Decapolis, since this edict seems to be unconnected with a Temple violation, and to be aimed more at Greeks than Jews.
To this it can be added that a tiny village of no more than a few hundred inhabitants, none of whom are even remotely likely to have been literate (or even speakers of Greek), is not where such an inscription would be set up. Jerusalem would have been a candidate, but not Nazareth, where the inscription would be useless and a pointless expense. Though the poor quality of the inscription demonstrates that it was put up by a private person, who either was or who hired a scribe who was somewhat incompetent in Greek (but who apparently knew Latin), even this sort of person would not go to all this trouble and expense to put up a slab like this where no one would read it–though even if he did, its location would have nothing to do with the interests of the emperor or governor. All of the above evidence decides fairly strongly against a Nazarene provenance, and in favor of an Augustan date.
The Nazareth Inscription provides no evidence for Christianity or its claim of an empty tomb. It contains no new or unusual laws regarding graverobbing, the decree itself is not unique, and it has no references or direct links to Christianity of any kind. Moreover, it’s date is most likely pre-Christian, its origin is not likely to be Nazareth, and its contents are not explainable even as a muddled imperial reaction to the theft of Jesus’ body. To tie this to Christianity requires piling dozens of conjectures onto scores of speculations, and the rejection of a good supply of contrary indications and evidence, and none of this is either necessary or reasonable.
Well…there ya go readers. Are you now convinced that Jesus resurrected from the dead? Me neither.
Smith’s little ditty is just another example of how desperate Evangelicals are to “prove” their faith. As the forces of secularism and science continue to weaken Christianity’s foundation, Evangelicals — fearing the collapse of the faith once delivered to the saints — seek the smallest bit “proof” that can be used to prop up their shack. While such bits of “proof” might wow the intellectual giants who frequent the AIG website, those outside of Evangelicalism just shake their head and laugh.
The most that can be said about the Nazareth Inscription is that the Roman government had a body-stealing problem. I know of no evidence that connects the Nazareth Inscription with Matthew 28:11-15:
Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
Smith’s presuppositions force him to accept Matthew 28:11-15 as historical fact. Since the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, Smith is certain that soldiers started a rumor about Jesus’ disciples stealing his body. Smith has no evidence for this claim. Like all Evangelicals, Smith’s arguments start and end with “. . . the B-I-B-L-E says . . .”
Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis and stand-in for Captain Noah on the Kentucky Ark of Ignorance, is well-known for pointing to the Bible — God’s science textbook — as THE (only/final) authority when it comes to understanding how the universe came to be. Ham is noted for telling Bill Nye that the Bible was all-sufficient, that it alone explains how everything came to be. But here’s the thing, Ham doesn’t really believe this. Here’s proof of my contention:
Ken, I ask you, why do we need to read your materials? I thought all we needed to do is read Genesis 1-3. Now you are saying that the Bible is NOT sufficient for our understanding of how the universe and biological life came to be. What’s up with that?
Of course, Evangelicals don’t really believe that the Bible is one-stop and shop knowledge store. If this was really the case, there would be no need for the thousands of Christian books that are published every year. There would also be no need for “ministries” such as Answers in Genesis. Ham and his cadre of professional dispensers of ignorance have published over ten thousand articles that are meant to help Evangelicals understand what God said in Genesis 1-3. If God has spoken, why would Christians have any reason to read any of Ham’s articles? The answer, of course, is that Ham needs 10,000 loads of bullshit to cover up his irrational, anti-scientific, literalistic interpretation of the Bible.