Category: Atheism


Christian author Ray Comfort may have a point when he says atheists know there is a God.

In his book: “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think (WND Books, 2009), Comfort said, “We don’t have to prove that God exists to the professing atheist. This is because he intuitively knows that He exists. Every person has a God-given conscience. The Bible tells us that this is the ‘work of the law written on their hearts’.”

Just as every sane human knows it’s wrong to lie, steal, kill, and commit adultery, Comfort says, they also know that God should be first in their life.

Comfort’s reasoning is this: People don’t fight against something that doesn’t exist, or something they don’t believe exists.

That’s why you don’t see groups rising up to fight against the tooth fairy. You don’t see professors in universities ridiculing the existence of Santa Claus. You don’t see organizations mobilizing troops to denounce werewolves, bunyips, or leprechauns.

What’s different with atheists?

So what’s different in the atheist’s brain? If God doesn’t exist, why do atheists such as Richard Dawkins care so passionately that some people believe in Him? Why do they bother writing books against the existence of God? Or waste time preparing videos for YouTube that ridicule God? Or fund ads on the side of London buses?

In fact, why do atheists bother acknowledging that people believe in God at all? People believe all sorts of ridiculous things that atheists don’t care about, so why does it matter to them if one of those things is God?

Interestingly, the Bible gives some answers to this.

Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” Atheists may be brilliant scholars or academics. They may be wonderful inventors, surgeons, or scientists. But if they say there is no God they are declaring themselves fools in spiritual matters. This is why atheism is sometimes called the fool’s philosophy.

The Apostle Paul pointed out in Romans 2:15 that God has written intuitive knowledge of His law in our human conscience. In a wonderful passage in Romans 1:20 he says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

There is abundant evidence of God’s handiwork written on our conscience and in nature all around us, and there is no excuse for not recognizing God’s work in this.

Justifying our actions

So, what is at the core of the atheist’s concern?

As sinful humans, we have an amazing tendency to try to justify our actions. This is something that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. We do something stupid and try to invent plausible reasons why we did it. Sometimes this is to fool others; sometimes it is to convince ourselves that we are not as stupid as our actions indicate.

Sometimes people who have taken a strong point of view on something wrong think it is their duty to get others on side, because there is safety in numbers. This is how cults form, and how dictators get away with murder.

If atheists know in their hearts that there really is a God, but they don’t want to be accountable to God for their actions, then it starts to make sense why they try so hard to convince others that God doesn’t exist.

This also explains why no-one bothers speaking out against belief in mermaids, pixies, and werewolves. People do not have the truth of these mythical creatures written in their hearts or on their conscience. Nor does nature declare anything about the majesty and power of leprechauns or hobgoblins.

So atheists must know intuitively that God exists. They just want to convince themselves and others that He doesn’t exist because if He does it means they have made the worst decision of their lives to reject Him. And that has eternal consequences that are too horrible for them to contemplate.

God wants us to come to Him. He offers salvation to all, and has given two magnificent evidences of Himself. One is the overwhelming evidence of His physical creation all around us, and the other is the imprint of His existence in our conscience.

There should be no atheists. The fact that there are shows human rebellion and arrogance — not an intellectual discovery

Atheism is, essentially, a negative position. It is not believing in a god or actively believing there is no God or choosing to not exercise any belief or non-belief concerning God, etc. Whichever flavor is given to atheism, it is a negative position.

In discussions with atheists, I don’t hear any evidence for the validity of atheism. There are no “proofs” that God does not exist in atheist circles, at least, none that I have heard, especially since you can’t prove a negative regarding the existence of God. Of course, that isn’t to say that atheists haven’t attempted to offer some proofs that God does not exist. But their attempted proofs are invariably insufficient. After all, how do you prove there is no God in the universe? How do you prove that in all places and all times there is no God? You can’t. Besides, if there was proof of God’s non-existence, then atheists would be continually using it. But we don’t hear of any such commonly held proof supporting atheism or denying the existence of God. The atheist position is very difficult, if not impossible, to prove since it is an attempt to prove a negative. Therefore, since there are no proofs for atheism’s truth and there are no proofs that there is no God, the atheist must hold his position by faith.

Faith, however, is not something atheists like to claim as the basis of adhering to atheism. Therefore, atheists must go on the attack and negate any evidences presented for God’s existence in order to give intellectual credence to their position. If they can create an evidential vacuum in which no theistic argument can survive, their position can be seen as more intellectually viable. It is in the negation of theistic proofs and evidences that atheism brings its self-justification to self-proclaimed life.

There is, however, only one way that atheism is intellectually defensible and that is in the abstract realm of simple possibility. In other words, the atheist would have to propose that it may be possible that there is no God. But stating that something is possible doesn’t mean that it is a reality or that it is wise to adopt the position. If I said that it is possible that there is an ice cream factory on Jupiter, does that make it intellectually defensible or a position worth adopting merely because it is a possibility? Not at all. Simply claiming a possibility based on nothing more than it being a possible option–no matter how remote–is not sufficient grounds for atheists to claim viability in their atheism. They must come up with more than “It is possible,” or “There is no evidence for God,” otherwise, there really must be an ice cream factory on Jupiter, and the atheist should step up on the band wagon and start defending the position that Jupiterian ice cream exists.

At least we Christians have evidences for God’s existence, such as fulfilled Biblical prophecy, Jesus’ resurrection, the Transcendental Argument, the entropy problem, etc.

There is another problem for atheists. Refuting evidences for the existence of God does not prove atheism true anymore than refuting an eyewitness testimony of a marriage denies the reality of the marriage. Since atheism cannot be proven and since disproving evidences for God does not prove there is no God, atheists have a position that is intellectually indefensible. At best, atheists can only say there are no convincing evidences for God that have been presented so far. They cannot say there are no evidences for God because the atheist cannot know all evidences that possibly exist in the world. At best, the atheist can only say that the evidence presented so far has been insufficient.  This logically means that there could be evidences presented in the future that will suffice. The atheist must acknowledge that there may indeed be a proof that has been undiscovered and that the existence of God is possible. This would make the atheist more of an agnostic since at best the atheist can only be skeptical of God’s existence.

This is why atheists need to attack Christianity. It is because Christianity makes very high claims concerning God’s existence, which challenges their atheism and pokes holes in their vacuum. They like the vacuum. They like having the universe with only one god in it: themselves.

Some might think that atheists would be content with simply not believing in God and leave the theists to themselves. After all, if God doesn’t exist, then what’s the big deal? Why not let the theists believe in God the way a child believes in the tooth fairy? To the atheist, neither exists. So why bother?

Even though many atheists don’t care if people believe in God or not, others feel obligated to fight what I have often heard them label as “oppressive religious bigotry.” To this end, many of them are active in politics, social groups, the internet, and even use lawsuits to change society into a more atheistic temperament. They often consider Christians as a threat to freedom, common sense, and a good life. Consider this quote I found on an atheist website at atheists.org:

“We are constantly being overrun by people trying to get their ticket to Heaven at our expense, and if we don’t stand up and be counted we will lose the very freedom we hold most dear; freedom of thought . . . “

This kind of statement is quite common in atheist circles. It is inflammatory, illogical, and paranoid.  Many atheists I’ve spoken to tell me that I cannot think logically and am deluded and that I believe in myths. They tell me that I am bound by foolish antiquated beliefs and that I need to abandon my religious bigotry and become a “free thinker” like them. In other words, they don’t want me to think the way I do.

Additionally, after reading much atheist material and debating with them over the internet, I’ve discovered they often use mockery of God, religious leaders, and the Bible as weapons to further their agenda. This isn’t the case with all atheists as I have had very good conversations with some of them, but ridiculing attitudes are surprisingly prevalent and strong. Character assassination, half-truths, and out-of-context Bible quotes are typical tools used by many of them in attempts to make Christianity look bad.

Now, I am not trying to dismantle the atheist position with a generic character attack aimed at them. I am only making an observation. In the majority of my dealings with atheists, I have encountered great arrogance, rudeness, and condescension. Atheists have told me that religion is only a giant con-game designed to get peoples’ money and that clergymen are in business for themselves and that I was mentally ill for believing in God. Following are some of their comments:

  • “I do not want to be bound to archaic mythologies.This is the 21st century.”
  • “Christianity is an oppressive system used to control and manipulate people.”
  • “Logic demands that religion be proven wrong.”
  • “Christians should all be in mental wards.”
  • “We are free thinkers and not bound by outdated and oppressive myths.”
  • “Christians are sycophantic sheep.”

Atheists often imply that reason is best used by them and not by Christians who, as many say, need psychological help for believing in God. This condescending attitude is a fountain for derogatory comments. I have been called stupid, absurd, illogical, and a slave to my religion. I get the impression from atheists that they are so convinced they have the truth that no other options are available to them and that if you don’t agree with them that you’re not smart. Of course, they will deny this and say I am being ridiculous, but this is what I have observed–right or wrong.

Consider some of the terms atheists use to describe themselves: “Free thinkers,” “Free from religion,” “Rational,” etc. They use these self-descriptive terms in juxtaposition to statements of Christians as religious bigots, losers, and brainwashers. On the atheist.org website I read,

“Critical thinking, objectivity, scientific methodology, and peer review are all hallmarks of Atheism. Submission, fear, credulity, and insupportable claims are the hallmarks of religious belief.”

When I read statements like this, I cannot help wondering which religion to which they are referring. It can’t be Christianity because the Bible teaches us to love God and love our fellow man. It teaches that the fear of the Lord is wisdom and that truthfulness is a way of life and that eyewitness accounts of the miraculous is one of the evidences for its validity. Of course, the atheist would argue with all of this because he must in spite of the facts. But still, if an atheist wants to attack religion in general and Christianity specifically, he should, at least, do so objectively. But this doesn’t seem to be the hallmark of the atheistic movement–at least not from what I’ve seen so far.

Matt Slick considers the following statements from Atheists:

  • “Godism is consistent with crime, cruelty, envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness.”
  • “As long as religious purposes are served, ethics, inquiry and reason are abandoned.”

Are these the statements of tolerance, impartiality, truth, and sound judgment? Not at all. It seems to me that if the atheists who authored the above quotes were in power with their views of religion being cruel, evil, and unreasonable, would they then either imprison the “offenders” or legislate complete and total annihilation of all things religious? Who would then be full of hatred, malice, and bigotry? It is something to ponder. Does atheism really teach freedom? No. It teaches bondage for its adherents and for those who disagree with it.

Before we can discuss atheism, we need to define it. According to an official atheism website, atheists define themselves this way: “Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.” Those who identify as atheists prefer to emphasize their lack of belief rather than the refusal to believe. They consider atheism to be intellectually superior to faith in God. However, this definition clashes with the biblical worldview, which states, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Since atheists can agree with people of faith that every human being has the freedom to choose what he or she thinks or believes, we will define atheism here as the choice to disbelieve in any kind of Supreme Being to which mankind is accountable.

Statistics show that atheism is on the rise in countries that have historically had a strong Christian influence. These statistics include those raised in godless homes, but they also show an alarming increase among those who once held to some form of religious faith. When we hear of a prominent figure in Christianity renouncing the faith he or she used to claim, we are left wondering, “Why?” Why would so many people stop believing in God when His handiwork is everywhere (Psalm 19:1; 97:6; Romans 1:20)? Every culture on earth recognizes some form of deity, so why are so many people claiming they do not believe in any god at all?

There are several reasons people may define themselves as atheists. The first is ignorance. Due to lack of correct information, a person may conclude that nothing exists beyond this universe and man’s experience of it. Since there remains a great deal we do not know, ignorance often invents ideas to fill in the blanks. This often results in either false religions or atheism. Sketchy information about God is often tainted by mythology or religious superstition to the extent that anything supernatural sounds like a fairy tale. Exposed to a mishmash of confusing claims, some people decide there is no truth to any of it and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Disillusionment is another reason some people become atheists. Due to negative experiences, such as having a prayer go unanswered or seeing hypocritical behavior in others, a person may conclude that God does not exist. This response is often fueled by anger or hurt. These people reason that, if God existed, He would behave in ways they could comprehend or agree with. Since He did not respond the way they wanted Him to, they conclude that He must not exist at all. They may stumble over complicated concepts such as hell, Old Testament genocide, or eternity and conclude the God of the Bible is too confusing to be real. Disillusionment propels people to find comfort in what is seen and known, rather than an invisible deity. To avoid the possibility of more disappointment, they abandon any attempt at faith and find a measure of comfort in deciding that God simply does not exist.

Closely linked to the disillusioned are those who call themselves “atheists” when, in fact, they are anti-God. Atheist is a label some hide behind to mask a deep hatred toward God. Often due to childhood trauma or abuse in the name of religion, these people are consumed by an antipathy toward all things religious. The only way they can retaliate against a God they consider cruel is to deny Him vehemently. Events of the past have left wounds so deep that it is easier to deny the reality of God than admit that they hate Him. True atheists would not include this group in their numbers, as they recognize that to be angry with God is to acknowledge His existence. But many people do, in fact, call themselves atheists while simultaneously expressing outrage toward a God whose existence they deny.

Still others reject the idea of God because they want Him to be easier to find. When well-known atheist Richard Dawkins was asked, “What would you say if you faced God after death?” he responded, “I would say to Him, ‘Why did you take such great pains to conceal yourself?’” Some people frown at the fact that God is Spirit, invisible, and found only through faith (Hebrews 11:6; Jeremiah 29:13). They adopt the attitude that the Creator of the universe owes them evidence of His existence beyond what He has already lavishly given (Psalm 19:1; 102:25; Romans 1:20). Jesus dealt with this mindset when He walked the earth. In Mark 8, Jesus had just fed four thousand people with a sack lunch, but the intellectual elites came to Him demanding that He perform a sign to “prove” He was the Messiah (verse11). Jesus illustrated this hardness of heart in His parable about the rich man in hell who longed to warn his brothers about what awaited them after death (Luke 16:19–31). From heaven, Abraham answered, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

The most likely explanation for the continuing rise of atheism has not changed since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6; Romans 3:23). The very essence of all sin is self-determination. By denying the existence of a Creator, atheists can do whatever they please without concern for future judgment or eternal consequences (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12; 1 Peter 4:5; Hebrews 4:13). In the twenty-first century, self-worship has become culturally acceptable. Atheism appeals to a generation raised on evolutionary theory and moral relativism. John 3:19 says, “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” If human beings are self-created, self-determined, and self-centered, then there is no moral law or lawgiver to whom they must submit. There are no absolutes and no one to whom they are ultimately accountable. By adopting such a mindset, atheists can focus on seeking pleasure in this life alone.

As long as scientists, professors, and philosophers peddle their atheistic viewpoints as truth and wisdom, people will continue to buy it because the idea of self-determination appeals to our rebellious natures. The attitude is nothing new, but the changing cultural norms are making it more openly acceptable. Romans 1:18–31 details the results of this rejection of God’s authority. Verse 28 says, “God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” Our world is seeing the results of that depravity. What atheists call “enlightenment,” God calls foolishness. Verses 22–23 say, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” Since the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10), then the denial of the Lord (atheism) is the beginning of foolishness.

The web site evilbible.com endeavors to do two things: (1) demonstrate that the Bible is not the Word of God, but instead is only a book written by “evil” men, and (2) disprove the God of Christianity. The arsenal it attempts to use to prove its assertions is one common to many other atheist web sites and publications. Supposed Bible contradictions are put on display, atrocities and immoral practices that are recorded within the pages of the Bible are referenced, and various philosophical and moral arguments are used to assert that the God of the Bible is an impossibility or at best not a God to be worshipped.

While a number of these specific arguments will be addressed in the sections that follow, certain topics on the evilbible.com web site that have already been thoroughly tackled on Gotquestions.org (e.g., slavery) will not be covered, but anyone wishing more information on those subjects is encouraged to review the material that already exists and which sufficiently answers evilbible.com’s charges in those areas. Instead, the focus of this article will be the three broad problems that cause nearly all (or perhaps all) of evilbible.com’s arguments to fail:

• A misunderstanding of God’s Word
• A misunderstanding of God’s character
• A misunderstanding of God’s creation

Let’s now review each of these issues and cite specific examples from evilbible.com’s web site that illustrate how and why their assertions against the Bible and God are false.

Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Word

The first problem area for evilbible.com is a misunderstanding of God’s Word. In its efforts to attack the Bible, the evilbible.com web site makes two key assertions: 1) the Bible is full of horrible atrocities, and 2) the Bible is full of contradictions. As to the first point, evilbible.com is absolutely correct—the Bible is indeed full of atrocities and immoral behavior. From start to finish, the Bible records many terrible things, with the worst being the premeditated murder of the innocent and perfect Son of God. But where evilbible.com’s argument in this area falls flat is that they fail to understand that the Bible does not approve of everything it records. This is absolutely crucial to understand. For example, in Judges chapters 19 and 20, the Bible records the brutal rape and murder of a young woman who was a Levite’s concubine. Moreover, the actions of the Levite are less than honorable, and the crime results in a vicious civil war within the nation of Israel. But a careful reading of the text will show no approval of the actions that took place, and no commendation from God for the Levite’s behavior. So evilbible.com’s argument that atrocities being recorded in Scripture prove that it isn’t God’s Word simply does not hold up.

Another argument in this same vein on the evilbible.com web site focuses on the command of God for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Obviously, they claim, since God initiated this request, and human sacrifice is abhorrent, surely this proves the Bible is not anything produced by a loving and good God. But where evilbible.com’s argument in this area fails is that the web site’s writers don’t understand that God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him; the story is a powerful narrative typology of God Himself sacrificing His own Son Jesus for the sins of mankind. And whereas Abraham was stopped by God from going through with his act, God Himself did not stay His own hand when it came to His Son, and the end result was salvation for all who would believe in Him.

With regard to point number two above, evilbible.com lists a number of supposed contradictions in the Bible they use to assert that the Bible is not inerrant but is instead a fallibly written book. When it comes to assertions of biblical contradictions, it should be noted that a number of good books on this subject address nearly every one (if not all) of evilbible.com’s claims. Second, it should not come as a surprise that non-Christians trip over the issues that evilbible.com brings to the table. The Bible is a spiritual book, and while it exhibits what is called perspicuity (clarity of expression) in regard to its core teachings, there are spiritual significance and lessons for much of what the Bible speaks about, and only those who have been quickened by God’s Spirit will arrive at their true meanings (1 Corinthians 2:14). For example, Leviticus 19:19 says, “Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” Critics look at this obscure Old Testament passage, laugh, and reach the conclusion that God doesn’t want people to wear wool and polyester blends. However, in this case God was using physical things to act as reminders of spiritual principles. He was telling Israel not to mix their pure religion with the pagan religions that literally surrounded them; they were not to be syncretistic, but instead they were to be devoted to the one true God and not assimilate other pagan teachings.

Spiritual lessons such as the above are found in a number of errors that evilbible.com makes. For example they argue for the following set of contradictions:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven… earth… [or] water.Leviticus 26:11

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them.Exodus 25:18

First, it should be noted that evilbible.com does not reference the proper book/chapter/verse in the first quote – it is actually Exodus 20:4. That error aside, their argument fails because they quote the verse out of context; if one continues reading the next verse, the true reason for the prohibition is given: “You shall not worship them or serve them.” The command of God to not make images concerned objects of worship, not objects used for decorative or educational purposes as Exodus 25:18 records.

Another example of a supposed contradiction argued by evilbible.com in the New Testament is the following:

For by grace are ye saved through faith… not of works.Ephesians 2:8-9

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.James 2:24

Again, evilbible.com should not really be faulted for not understanding these two verses clearly; they are spiritual two sides to one coin. The Bible makes it clear that Christians are saved by faith alone. But the Bible also makes it clear that faith in the life of a true Christian is always evidenced by good works. Good works are not the means of salvation; they are the evidence and the proof of salvation. So to put them together in one sentence: Christians are saved by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but the faith that saves is not alone (James 2:24). True faith will always manifest good works; faith which does not evidence good works is a dead faith which cannot save (James 2:26). This principle is viewed elsewhere in Scripture, for example by Jesus, who referenced the fact that good trees bear good fruit, but bad trees yield bad fruit (Matthew 7:17).

To summarize, we can see that evilbible.com’s claims of atrocities and contradictions in God’s Word simply do not hold water. There have always been critics who claim the Bible is wrong. For example, many used to maintain that the reigns and times of the Israelite kings were recorded in error (e.g., Joram-Jehoram), but then came Dr. Edwin Thiele’s book The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, which proved that they are indeed correct. In the end, the Bible always survives the challenges leveled against it.

Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Character

The second problem is that evilbible.com suffers from a misunderstanding of God’s character. The web site routinely speaks of God as a tyrant and an unabashed killer. Evilbible.com takes the position of Socrates who once said that it is better to suffer injustice than to do it, better to be the victim than the perpetrator. Apparently the site’s writers would be more comfortable with God if He were a victim rather than a sovereign. In making such assertions, evilbible.com also follows the lead of atheist Robert Wilson who wrote, “The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer.” In addition, evilbible.com charges that God is the creator of evil and wickedness, and therefore asserts that God cannot be the holy and righteous deity described in the Bible. In theology, this is the problem of theodicy, which is the branch of theology that vindicates God’s divine attributes (particularly holiness and justice) in the face of the existence of physical and moral evil.

With respect to the first assertion—that God is a tyrannical murderer of the innocent—evilbible.com displays a gross misunderstanding of history, which compounds their misunderstanding of God’s character. Referencing Old Testament accounts of God imposing judgment on various cultures and peoples, evilbible.com says:

“The people slaughtered in the Old Testament were almost uniformly blameless (with a few exceptions, of course for instance, the Sodomites violated the conventions of hospitality.)”

It is interesting to note that this absurd statement—that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality, a position straight out the homosexual activists’ handbook—is completely illogical. The statement asserts that God was justified in “slaughtering” the people of Sodom because they were inhospitable. Yet they go on to claim He was not justified in punishing cultures who practiced true wickedness. And when, incidentally, has anyone who displayed a lack of hospitality ever been referred to as a Sodomite? The sin of Sodom was gross immorality and violent homosexuality, as Genesis 19 accurately records.

The claim that those God punished were “uniformly blameless” is completely without merit and historically inaccurate. The Bible records the exact opposite about the peoples whom God acted upon in judgment. A few examples include:

“After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 9:4-5, emphasis added).

“Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 18:12-13, emphasis added).

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-25, emphasis added).

Evilbible.com overlooks the historical evidences that these nations and cultures practiced the very things that evilbible.com decries as morally reprehensible. As just one example, the Assyrians who inhabited Nineveh during the time of Jonah were an incredibly barbaric and cruel people. When archaeologists uncovered Nineveh, the TV specials produced from their work had to be filtered because the evidence of brutality was so great. The discoveries unearthed facts such as how the Assyrians used to slowly impale their victims by sliding them down sharp poles, and that they also made handbags from their victim’s skins. In a stone pillar found at Nineveh, one Assyrian ruler boasted of “nobles I flayed” and “three thousand captives I burned with fire. I left not one hostage alive. I cut off the hands and feet of some. I cut off the noses, ears and fingers of others. The eyes of numerous soldiers I put out. Maidens I burned as a holocaust.” Such things certainly speak against evilbible.com’s claims that the people who fell under God’s judgment were innocent. Other examples include the inhabitants of Jericho who history has shown practiced child sacrifice, cultic prostitution, and much more.

Evilbible.com also overlooks the patience of God in dealing with such people. God always waited for the nations who ultimately experienced judgment to turn from their despicable ways and always warned them of the judgment that was coming. The book of Jonah describes God’s patience with the Ninevites, who finally did turn from their evil ways and avoided destruction. Other peoples and cultures could have repented of their sins, but they chose not to. As an example, the people of Amalek (described in 1 Samuel) routinely attempted to commit genocide against Israel, but were given 400 years by God to repent. But Amalek continued to commit their atrocities against Israel and so God judged them via Saul and the Israeli army.

Evilbible.com does not stop to consider that if one were to catapult the practices, genocide, and barbarism of these cultures/peoples into the 21st century and broadcast it around the world via CNN, there would most certainly be a global outcry for severe military action and punishment. And if modern, “enlightened” man would call for such severe judgment against such atrocities, why should evilbible.com criticize God for carrying out the same thing?

Lastly, in regard to evilbible.com’s claim that God is creator of evil, they present the following rationale and verse from the King James Version to support their position:

“God Is The Creator Of Evil: Secondly, I want to reinforce the fact that God is indeed the creator of evil. Please read verse Isaiah 45:7. ‘I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I the lord do all these things.” The Christian God outright claims that he is indeed the source of evil. So how can he then claim to be sinless?”

In evilbible.com’s defense, the verse from Isaiah 45:7 has been misunderstood by many people, primarily because of a poor translation in the King James Bible (and ASV). Parts of the book of Isaiah are of the poetry genre, and there is a literary technique used at times in Hebrew poetry called antithetical parallelism which sets two thoughts in complete contrast to one another, which is exactly what is happening in Isaiah 45:7. For example, if you were asked what the opposition of “light” is, you would likely respond “darkness,” which is what Isaiah 45:7 says. But if you were asked what the opposite of “peace” is, would you respond “evil”? No, you likely wouldn’t. This is why nearly all other translations of this verse (including the New King James Version) translate the word “calamity” or something similar, as that is what the antithetical structure of the verse mandates. God does not bring moral evil upon anyone, but He does bring about calamity and disaster upon those who oppose Him, but such a thing does not make Him evil; it makes Him a just and righteous God.

So, in the end, the above examples (and others present on the web site) show how a misunderstanding of history and wrong biblical interpretation lead to the wrong conclusion about God’s character.

Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Creation

The last broad issue found on the evilbible.com web site is a misunderstanding of God’s creation, which manifests itself most in the problem of evilbible.com borrowing from the Christian moral worldview to carry out its arguments against God and the Bible instead of using its own atheistic foundation. In essence, evilbible.com invokes a Christian framework to deny the Christian God, a technique that is irrational and disingenuous, to say the least. For example, evilbible.com declares:

“It violates my morality to worship a hypocritical, judgmental, self righteous murderer.”

Here’s the problem with making such a statement: without God, evilbible.com has no real foundation for the morality it claims, no moral framework from which to attack God. Why is this the case? Because before a person can call something bad (as evilbible.com does God and the Bible), a person must know what good is. But before a person can call something good, he must have a moral framework to distinguish between good and bad. But before someone can have a moral framework to distinguish good and bad, he must have absolute moral laws to build that framework. But before a person can have absolute moral laws, he must have an absolute moral Lawgiver (laws don’t give themselves). Now the atheists have backed themselves into a corner, because the only absolute moral Lawgiver you can have is God. This is why intellectually honest atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, rightly understand that an atheist can’t ever call anything bad or good —the atheist foundation doesn’t support such a stance. In his book, River out of Eden, he writes, “Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life…life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA . . . life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” (emphasis added).

Since, being atheists, the writers of evilbible.com cannot be intellectually honest and use the term “evil,” they should rename their web site to something that is not prefaced with the word “evil.” All evilbible.com can assert is what atheist evolutionist William Provine calls “approximate morals,” but they can never have ethics that are globally, eternally, and universally binding upon everyone, and thus cannot call anything evil.

Another misunderstanding of God’s creation is exhibited in evilbible.com’s claim that God Himself is impossible. Evilbible.com puts forth a variety of common arguments against God, but the overall theme is that creation as we know it refutes the existence of the God described in the Bible. Here again the argument of the existence of evil is used to reject God. Evilbible.com wrongly rejects the argument of free will being the catalyst of evil (which it is/was) and mistakenly rejects the fact that, yes, there is evil in this world, but perhaps God has a good reason for permitting it. Jesus dying on the cross appeared on the surface to be the epitome of gratuitous evil, but out of that event, mankind was redeemed from the misery it finds itself in. God’s gift of freedom, and the misuse of that freedom, clearly explains the moral evil we experience. As Augustine said, “Such is the generosity of God’s goodness that He has not refrained from creating even that creature which He foreknew would not only sin, but remain in the will to sin. As a runaway horse is better than a stone which does not run away because it lacks self-movement and sense perception, so the creature is more excellent which sins by free will than that which does not sin only because it has no free will.”

Moreover, evilbible.com posits God is impossible because of supposed contradictions in His nature that do not match the world, yet they are perfectly happy to accept that an impersonal, amoral, meaningless, purposeless universe accidentally created personal beings who are obsessed with morality, meaning, and purpose in life. If, as they argue, a cause must resemble its effect, then what explanation do they give for this contradiction? Mindless matter has no way of producing mind or anything similar.

The fact is, the Being who is the cause of everything in the universe perfectly mirrors the God described in the Bible. This is evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:

• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).
• He must be powerful (incredibly).
• He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes).
• He must be omnipresent (he created space and is not limited by it).
• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
• He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
• He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality).
• He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him.
• He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
• He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
• He must be intelligent (supremely). Only a cognitive being can produce cognitive beings.
• He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
• He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
• He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).
The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile.

Is God evil? – Conclusion

A misunderstanding of God’s Word, His character, and His creation all result in the argumentation errors found on evilbible.com. A fitting summation of their stance is this statement made on their web site:

“I don’t think I could ever complete a whole list as to what I find objectionable regarding the bible.”

For certain, there are apparent difficulties that arise when one begins studying the Bible. But a person should not assume God doesn’t exist and/or the Bible is in error just because he encounters a problem in the Bible that he can’t immediately understand or explain. The scientist doesn’t throw out science just because he/she sees something in the physical world he can’t immediately explain. Neither should we do the same with theology or the study of Scripture. Misunderstandings like those committed by evilbible.com are the result of not thoroughly investigating matters or dismissing a belief based on a presupposition that is buried deep in a person’s heart or lifestyle (or both). And the danger in both cases is something Pascal warned about many years ago: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” What self-described atheists find attractive about denying God is that they think if they deny Him, they will never have to deal with Him in any way. Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong.


Godisimaginary.com is not the first to claim that God is imaginary. In an article entitled “Theology and Falsification” written many years ago, Anthony Flew, one of the twentieth century’s most outspoken atheists wrote,

Two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, “Some gardener must tend this plot.” The other disagrees, “There is no gardener.” So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. . . . Yet still the believer is not convinced. “But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible to electric shocks, who comes secretly to look after the garden he loves.” At last the Skeptic despairs. “But what remains of the original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?”

Following Flew’s thoughts from decades ago, the web site godisimaginary.com provides what it believes are 50 “proofs” that God does not exist – that He is nothing more than an imaginary gardener, a superstition, a myth. The site claims, “Let’s agree that there is no empirical evidence showing that God exists. If you think about it as a rational person, this lack of evidence is startling. There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today’s ‘God,’ nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past, exists.”

Actually, when a person thinks as a rational person and tosses away any preconceived bias and baggage that’s held, one must disagree with the site’s assertions and instead reach the conclusion that God does indeed exist.

Addressing each of the 50 points is unnecessary as it doesn’t matter if the site had 50,000 “proof” points against God; all one needs to do is use a logical, rational, and reasonable argument to show that God does indeed exist and every point becomes irrelevant. It is telling and interesting that godisimaginary.com focuses so much of its time on red herrings of issues with prayer and why God won’t do tricks upon request, and ignores the primary question of philosophy and religion: “Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?” In other words, like Flew, the site concentrates on issues with a gardener they believe to be imaginary and ignores the question of why a garden exists in the first place.

The only place on the site where a possible answer to this question is offered is “proof” point 47. Complexity, says the site, could only arise from either Nature itself or a Creator. “Proof” point 47 then states, “The advantage of the first option is that it is self-contained. The complexity arose spontaneously. No other explanation is required.”

This assertion and conclusion is flawed as they have proposed two explanations and then bundle a third option into the solution they like – spontaneous generation with an eternal universe. An eternal universe is, initially, a logical option but not spontaneous generation, which is a scientific term for something coming from nothing or self-creation, which is an analytically false statement – that is, a statement that shows itself to be false by definition. A fundamental law of science is ex nihilo nihil fit – out of nothing, nothing comes. And as Aristotle said, “Nothing is what rocks dream about.” The web site derides Christians for believing in magic, yet it embraces greater magic than anything found in the Bible – life just appearing out of nothing from non-life with no cause.

Next, their argument ignores the basic laws of causality – an effect must resemble its cause. How can an impersonal, meaningless, purposeless, amoral universe accidentally create beings who are full of personality and obsessed with meaning, purpose, and morality? It can’t. Further, intelligence doesn’t arise from non-intelligence, which is why even Richard Dawkins (noted atheist) and Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) admit that intelligence had to engineer DNA and life on earth – they just say it was a superior alien race who seeded the earth, which of course, begs the question of who engineered that superior alien race. Godisimaginary.com claims, “No intelligence is required to encode DNA,” but refuting this statement is the very co-discoverer of DNA himself – Francis Crick – who admits there is no way for DNA to have arisen apart from intelligence.

But what of evolution? Doesn’t evolution explain life and intelligence? Not at all. Evolution is a biological process that attempts to describe change in already existing life forms – it has no way to answer the question of existence. This one piece of evidence alone began to turn Anthony Flew away from atheism.

These facts being evident, it then becomes quite easy to offer a simple, reasonable, logical proof for God in the following way:

1. Something exists
2. You don’t get something from nothing
3. Therefore, something necessary and eternal exists
4. The only two options are an eternal universe or an eternal Creator
5. Science has disproved the concept of an eternal universe
6. Therefore, an eternal Creator exists

The only premise that can be attacked is premise five, but the fact is every drop of evidence in the possession of science points to the fact that the universe is not eternal and had a beginning. And everything that has a beginning has a cause; therefore, the universe had a cause and is not eternal. Any fanciful assertions of collapsing universes, imaginary time, and the like are just that – fanciful – and require more faith than to believe in God. The two choices are simple – matter before mind or mind before matter – and it is interesting that this web site claims it is their intelligence that causes them to choose the former over the latter.

“But who created God?” the site asks. Why not ask, “Where is the bachelor’s wife?” or “What does the color blue taste like?” It’s a category mistake – you don’t make the unmade. Further, why sit back comfortably and believe in an unmade universe and yet angrily bristle at the notion of an unmade Creator? Could it be because mindless matter cannot call human beings into moral account whereas a personal God can? Finally, is it more reasonable to embrace a cause that contains none of the characteristics of its effect (personality, love, meaning, purpose, etc.) or a cause that embodies them all (a personal God)? The site claims, “In other words, by applying logic, we can prove that God is imaginary,” but in reality, logic, reason, and evidence disprove their position and point in the absolute other direction.

The conclusion is that a personal Creator exists. Moreover, this Being who created everything mirrors the God described in the Bible quite well as evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:

• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).
• He must be powerful (incredibly).
• He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes).
• He must be omnipresent (He created space and is not limited by it).
• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
• He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
• He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality).
• He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him.
• He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
• He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
• He must be intelligent (supremely). Only cognitive being can produce cognitive being.
• He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
• He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
• He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).

The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile. At this point, all 50 “proofs” on the web site become irrelevant – God exists; therefore, all points offered on the site are incorrect in the final conclusion that they collectively try to reach. Wondering why God won’t cure all the cancer in the world because a group of Christians prayed for it, pointing out the divorce rate among Christians, scoffing because God doesn’t create money for churches out of thin air, wondering why Jesus never moved a physical mountain, asserting a false dichotomy that says a person must be a person of facts or of faith (many brilliant scientists believe in God), making unprovable claims that Jesus never did a concrete miracle, and erroneously stating that the Bible “advocates” senseless murder, slavery, and oppression of women – all end up being impotent in light of the conclusion that a creator God exists.

Answering such objections – if they are genuine and not extended in a way that refuses to believe even if reasoned responses are given – requires only the disciplined study of Scripture alongside the Spirit of God who inspired it. Arguments with those who possess a hardened skeptical spirit are to be avoided as 1 Timothy 6:20 says, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’” But even still, God is fully capable of using His powerful general revelation (the creation) to witness to those who appear completely lost due to a skeptical and hardened heart.

In stark contrast to the article he’d written many years earlier, in 2007, Anthony Flew wrote a much different kind of book entitled There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. In it, he recounts his atheism and relays how he now, because of evidence and reason, believes that a creator God exists. The one who initially posited an “imaginary gardener” now says, “I think the origins of the laws of nature and of life and the Universe point clearly to an intelligent Source. The burden of proof is on those who argue to the contrary.” This being the case, one thing is certain – the 50 frail attempts on godisimaginary.com to prove that God is imaginary fall far short of even causing a nick on the armor of evidence that opposes them.

Among the ranks of evolutionary scientists are those who teach the idea of “evolutionary psychology,” an attempt to explain all of life through the Darwinian principle of “survival of the fittest.” One of the more interesting metaphors to come out of this endeavor is an analogy comparing the transfer of information and the spread of ideas to genetic code. Unlike the “nature” of the inherited gene, the “meme*,” or idea, is acquired by nurture—by exposure to the thoughts and beliefs of others. The transfer of ideas has little to do with truth or reality or benefit, but with how well the ideas survive in the given environment. Which ideas “stick” depends on how easily understandable and accepted they are by the receiver. Memes also cluster, manifesting as such things as a worldview, a political leaning, a religion, or devotion to a particular sport.

The “virus of the mind” is an off-shoot of the meme concept used by evolutionary psychologists to represent particularly dangerous ideas. Unlike a meme (or a gene), a virus is not an inherent part of the original organism. It is a foreign object which invades, uses the organism’s innate features to replicate, and spreads, causing harm wherever it goes. It then infects others while continuing to inflict considerable damage, or even death, on its host. In the minds of the most adamant, oppositional atheists, belief in God and participation in any religion is such a virus. People who believe in God are “infected” and coerced by the virus to spread the infection to others. Because of the malleability of a developing brain, children are the most susceptible to being influenced by memes; that is, they are likely to believe what their parents tell them. Which, considering the atheistic rejection of God, is considered to be child abuse. The virus also alters the believers’ minds so they are unable to think clearly about life. Atheists, who claim to have no preconceived ideas about the nature of the universe and rely solely on science, are seen as the only hope for humanity.

The argument is interesting and creative, but academic. And very emotional. The language is threatening and frightening—characteristics of the “fittest” memes [see: any political debate]. The idea of the meme itself, developed by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, is a metaphor, a useful illustration, but not a reflection of truth. Expanding the idea and claiming religion and belief in God are “viruses,” an assertion developed by Dawkins in his essay “Viruses of the Mind” and expounded upon in Darrel W. Ray’s The God Virus, are merely emotional manipulation.

Why the vitriol? Ironically, for similar reasons adamant atheists give for the propagation of religion. Claiming believers are infected with a metaphysical virus provides comfort for those who don’t believe in God, especially those who have been hurt by religion. It “explains” that believers are ill, that their normal thinking skills have been taken over by a malevolent force. And it provides a unifying political cause—if religion is designed to spread easily, it must be kept out of schools, science, and, as far as possible, all human interactions.

Religious adherents will readily concede some of the “proofs” atheists give of the invalidity of religion. Belief in one faith system does tend to discourage belief in others. That is not proof that religion is invalid, however. It is a sign that believers believe their particular faith. Faith systems do tend to make training their children a priority (Proverbs 22:6), not because a virus incites them to, but because parents are designed to share their particular worldview with their kids. And faith systems do emphasize certain habits designed to encourage belief in an individual. It could be continual exposure to the teachings of that faith (Psalm 1:2), consistently meeting together (Hebrews 10:25)or eating together (Acts 2:46). But these are deliberately chosen practices, not unwitting influences of an invasive pathogen. Finally, most religions do encourage evangelism (Matthew 28:19–20). In its most sincere form, evangelism is driven by the adherents’ belief that their faith is true and should be shared. Some motivations are more malicious; some religious leaders want more people to manipulate, abuse, and take advantage of. But, whatever the reason, evangelism is not because an anthropomorphized cluster of ideas is fighting for propagation.

Those are a few of the minor discussions, and they don’t really resolve anything. Adamant atheists have other standard arguments they use to attempt to illustrate the idea of the God virus. One is that religion was developed by fearful, ignorant people who merely wanted comfort in a dangerous world. The Bible says that God is a comfort in a dangerous world (Psalm 23; 119:76; Isaiah 51:12; 61:1–2; Matthew 5:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4). Many evolutionary scientists believe God doesn’t exist because their model of the creation of the universe proves He doesn’t have to exist. But even if their models were complete and accurate, proof of un-necessity isn’t proof of non-existence—or there would be no Starbucks. The Bible provides its own scientific model: God created the world (Genesis 1). And, despite their existence, He didn’t need scientists to do it.

One of the most common arguments that belief in God is a mind virus is also one of the most emotionally charged: religion encourages people to do bad things, and atheistic humanism encourages people to do good things. The ongoing conversation between believers and atheists covers such ground as the Crusades vs. Stalin, medicine vs. orphanages, Jihad vs. the A-bomb. But, as “proof,” atheists tend to point out the most malicious, least godly examples of religion-affiliated incidents. And God is perfectly clear about how He views abusive religious leaders (Ezekiel 34), opportunistic religious practices (2 Peter 2:2–3), and even those undiscerning enough to follow (2 Timothy 4:3).

But this argument should catch the believers’ attention for one simple reason: sometimes it’s true. Religious leaders are occasionally caught in sex scandals—and others often look the other way. Unbiblical views of God and the church have been used as justification for war. And sometimes, out of fatigue, frustration, or misunderstanding of God’s grace, believers are unkind or even abusive. The Bible teaches that, if we are persecuted for no reason, then we follow the example of Christ (John 15:18). But, if we live in a manner that misrepresents the gospel, we get what we deserve (1 Peter 2:19–20).

Calling belief in God a “virus” is a pseudo-scientific metaphor, powered by hate of God and deep-seated wounds born of the misunderstanding of the gospel—of both perpetrators and victims. Religion as a virus is not science; it is emotional rhetoric. For believers, the Bible explains what our response should be: know what we believe and why (1 Peter 3:15), be kind (1 Corinthians 13), examine our own behavior (2 Corinthians 13:5; James 1:22–25), and remember that the “enemy” is not the angry, hurt, or rebellious people who spend their lives rejecting God (Ephesians 6:12). The battle is spiritual, and our greatest weapon is the prayer that the Holy Spirit would soften the hearts of those who are hardened against Him (1 John 4:4).

*Note: Meme is being used as the biological term indicating non-genetic trait-sharing, not the various internet phenomenon that borrowed the term.

  Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Some take these verses to mean that atheists are stupid, i.e., lacking intelligence. However, that is not the only meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal, which often refers to an impious person who has no perception of ethical or religious truth. The meaning of the text is not “unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “sinful people do not believe in God.” In other words, it is a wicked thing to deny God, and a denial of God is often accompanied by a wicked lifestyle. The verse goes on to list some other characteristics of the irreligious: “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; / there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14 is a study on the universal depravity of mankind.

Many atheists are very intelligent. It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of righteousness that leads a person to reject belief in God. Many people do not object to the idea of a Creator, as long as that Creator minds His own business and leaves them alone. What people reject is the idea of a Creator who demands morality from His creation. Rather than struggle against a guilty conscience, some people reject the idea of God altogether. Psalm 14:1 calls this type of person a “fool.”

Psalm 14:1 says that denying God’s existence is commonly based on a desire to lead a wicked life. Several prominent atheists have admitted the truth of this. One famous atheist, when asked what he hopes to accomplish through atheism, declared that he wants “to drink as much alcohol and have sex with as many women as possible.” Belief in a divine Being is accompanied by a sense of accountability to that Being. So, to escape the condemnation of conscience, which itself was created by God, some simply deny the existence of God. They tell themselves, “There is no overseer of the world. There is no Judgment Day. I can live as I please.” The moral pull of the conscience is thus more easily ignored.

Trying to convince oneself there is no God is unwise. The point of “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” is that it is an impious, sinful heart that will deny God. The atheist’s denial flies in the face of much evidence to the contrary, including his own conscience and the universe he lives in.

A lack of evidence of God’s existence is not the true reason atheists reject a belief in God. Their rejection is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them . . . so that people are without excuse. . . . Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. . . . Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts. . . . They exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:18–25).

A very well done article

Archaeology is a scientific discipline requiring dozens of specializations. Despite its complexity, it has the unenviable distinction of being a field in which anyone with sufficient interest and a modicum of experience can claim to be a specialist. Popular examples include self-proclaimed experts who claim to have found chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea, the real location of Mt. Sinai, and the long-lost treasures of Solomon in a hidden cave beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. These claims are difficult, if not impossible, to verify, and are often accompanied by dubious proof and doctored evidence. Archaeology is a field subject to severe abuse by those with too little training and too much imagination.

The mistreatment of archaeological evidence is not the sole property of poorly trained apologists. It is also found in the writings of the new atheists. “New atheism” is much like atheism in general, except that it is exceptionally militant and intolerant of everything remotely religious in nature. The term appears to have been coined by Gary Wolf in a November 2006 article in Wired Magazine titled, “The Church of the New Believer.” In the article, Wolf says that the new atheist will “not let us [unbelievers] off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God” (2006). The new atheist is not merely an unbeliever, but one who promotes disbelief and has no tolerance for anyone who respects religion, whether theist, agnostic, or atheist. For new atheists, it is all or nothing. Incidentally, Wolf—though an atheist himself—ultimately disagrees with the severity of the new atheists’ approach.

The most noticeable of the current leaders in this new and virulent strain of militant atheism include Englishmen Richard Dawkins (biologist) and Christopher Hitchens (polemicist and political journalist), and American Sam Harris (neuroscientist). Their diatribes against religion are both malicious and well publicized. Virtually anything they write is going to secure a place near the top of the New York Times bestseller list. This is not surprising, since their devotees are anxious for any new criticism of Christianity, and believers want to read them to understand the new arguments facing the faithful.

The new atheists frequently appeal to subject areas outside their specialties for proof to support their claims. Such might not otherwise discredit their views, but their level of proficiency in these areas is decidedly inferior, as borne out by the numerous mistakes, misunderstandings, and logical errors that pepper their works. One of the blatant areas of abuse concerns their appeals to archaeology.

While Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are gifted with formidable intellects and considerable literary prowess, archaeology lies outside their realm of competency. They would do well to remember that expertise in one area does not immediately transfer into any other area of one’s choosing. Dawkins may be a highly respected biologist among evolutionists, but he is a rather poor student of the religion he so fiercely opposes. In some cases it appears almost as if he reaches for any argument, no matter how poor, to justify his extreme dislike for Christianity. Hitchens is an insightful journalist, but his impeccable prose inadequately conceals a lamentable ignorance of Christianity and the wealth of evidence supporting its claims. Harris is an up-and-coming scientist, but his skills in logic and argumentation are virtually nonexistent and have drawn heavy criticism from nearly all quarters. All three men may be gifted in their areas of specialization, but outside those areas they are like fish out of water. They seem to have gained only enough familiarity with Christianity to generate criticism that will tickle the ears of their adherents. Their attacks on the Christian faith are little more than public proofs of their inadequacy as critics.

The Responsible Use of Archaeology

Archaeology is an exciting field that brings a great deal of information to bear on the study of the Bible. At the same time, archaeologists must exercise caution in evaluating ancient evidence for several reasons. First, the ancient evidence is usually very fragmentary. Not all the evidence from antiquity made it into the ground in the first place, and if it did, the march of time frequently takes its toll on ancient artifacts. This is not surprising since artifacts deteriorate even in climate-controlled environments in state-of-the-art museums. Second, with every season new discoveries are brought to light, adding to the body of information we possess about the ancient world. The next year could well produce evidence that contradicts this year’s conclusions. Finally, the surviving evidence is piecemeal in nature, requiring archaeologists to fill in the gaps with educated guesswork where conclusiveness may be lacking.  This is not to say that archaeology cannot reach definite conclusions, but only to say that those conclusions may frequently be tentative in nature. Unlike responsible scholars, the Bible’s critics frequently make grandiose appeals to evidence without the caution employed by those who understand how to evaluate the evidence.

Archaeology has been misused by those wishing to foster a skeptical attitude toward the factual reliability of the Bible. A prime example is an article published in Harper’s Magazine titled, “False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History.” Author Daniel Lazare writes,

Not long ago, archaeologists could agree that the Old Testament, for all its embellishments and contradictions, contained a kernel of truth…. That is no longer the case. In the last quarter century or so, archaeologists have seen one settled assumption after another concerning who the ancient Israelites were and where they came from proved false (2002, p. 39).

Lazare, a journalist with no archaeological credentials, does little more than survey the extreme left concerning the intersection of archaeology and the Bible. Yigal Levin, professor in the department of philosophy and religion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, wrote a stinging response to the article in Harper’s. He states: “From his essay, I learned only that Lazare is capable of summarizing The Bible Unearthed, written by my former teacher Israel Finkelstein and his colleague Neil Asher Silverman. Like their book, Lazare’s essay is one-sided and overly dramatic” (Levin, 2002, p. 4).

The book to which Levin refers in his article is The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2001). Finkelstein’s work has drawn substantial criticism from other scholars—even those who doubt the Bible’s veracity. Virtually no archaeologists have adopted his somewhat radical conclusions, which generally deny a great deal of historicity to the Old Testament narratives. It should be noted that Finkelstein, who once held a relatively positive position on the relationship between the Bible and ancient history, now holds a minority view that finds little acceptance among even mainstream archaeologists. His work has been heavily and publicly criticized by American archaeologist William Dever, who called the book “an archaeological manifesto, not judicious and well-balanced scholarship,” adding, “it will do little to educate the public” (2001, 322:74). It is significant that Dever, one of the most widely respected archaeologists in America, states explicitly that he is “not a theist” (2005, p. xi).

A Classic Double Standard Used Against the Bible

The double standard employed against the Bible is both obvious and pervasive. One such example concerns the conquest of Canaan, which is frequently filed under the categories of fiction and myth. Joshua’s campaign is usually assumed to be fictitious, but there is a parallel example from Egypt that mirrors Joshua’s account. In 1275 B.C., the forces of Egypt under Ramesses the Great, and the Hittite Empire under general Muwatallis II, met at the Battle of Kadesh. Egyptian forces were separated into three units as they traveled northward through Canaan. Two divisions traveled farther inland, while a third made its route close to the Mediterranean coastline. The Hittites, lying in wait near the city of Kadesh, ambushed the Egyptian troops. The Hittite forces overran the first division and shattered it. The quick-thinking Ramesses hastily organized his troops and was able to fend off the Hittite offensive long enough for the third division to arrive. The reinforced troops eventually pushed back their Hittite opponents. In the end, Ramesses won a military victory, but suffered a political defeat since the Hittite Empire either retained or reclaimed lost territory in the area.

In typical Near Eastern fashion, Ramesses returned to Egypt and proclaimed a great victory. Indeed, the famous colossi at Abu Simbel were part of a monument erected near the border of Ethiopia to convince Egypt’s neighbors that Ramesses had won a decisive victory—just in case they heard otherwise. A relief depicting the battle shows Ramesses gunning down fleeing Hittite soldiers with his bow and rolling over others like speed bumps in his oversized chariot. In the written account of the battle, he credits both divine intervention and his own leadership as the main causes for the Egyptian triumph over his enemies (Kitchen, 2000, 2:37). According to the poetic version of the account, Ramesses leaps into battle while the uraeus, the serpent-shaped symbol of protection worn on the forehead of the king, blasts fire at his enemies and consumes the Hittite forces like an ancient flame-thrower.

In inscription we see several parallels between the Battle of Kadesh and the military operations carried out under Joshua as recorded in the Old Testament: (1) both leaders are dynamic military figures, (2) each is said to rely upon divine aid to defeat his foes, and (3) each credits his deity with the victory. While no scholar denies the Battle of Kadesh took place, a majority dismisses the conquest of Canaan out of hand. For Ramesses, scholars simply excise any references to the divine and accept the rest as reliable narrative. For Joshua’s account, the references to Yahweh immediately place the story in the realm of myth. No details are accepted as genuine. While there are other factors at work in this particular case (such as the debate over the available information that bears on the conquest of Canaan), it should be noted that for many people, including scholars, Scripture is virtually the only ancient literature where any mention of the supernatural immediately disqualifies any claim to historical reliability. Other ancient works are filled with magic and divine intervention, yet this fact does not stop scholars from searching them for a core historical truth. Quite the opposite is true in the case of the Bible.

Pseudo-Scholarship in the Popular Press

The popular press has been very active in its attempt to diminish the intellectual respectability of biblical faith, and the new atheists are one of the best examples. Their academic arrogance is nothing short of astounding, and only further highlighted by their lack of understanding of biblical studies. One of the most egregious examples of religious ignorance is found in David Mills’ book Atheist Universe:

It’s fairly easy to demonstrably prove that the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s worldwide deluge, are fables. It’s easier to prove these stories false because, unlike the notion of God, the Creation account and Noah’s flood are scientifically testable. Science may explore human origins and the geologic history of Earth. In this regard, science has incontrovertibly proven that the Book of Genesis is utter mythology (2006, p. 28).

Mills provides a priceless example of just how badly militant atheists misunderstand ancient literature. Within a mere paragraph, Mills uses the terms “fable,” “mythology,” and (false) “story” interchangeably. None of these terms are synonyms. A fable is a whimsical tale, usually containing a moral or teaching point, in which talking animals frequently play primary roles. Aesop’s Fables immediately comes to mind. This is quite different from the term “mythology,” which centers on stories of the gods and often has a religious or cultic function. These stories also have varying degrees of contradiction with other myths within the same corpus in which the deities are represented. Incidentally, this is also different from a “legend,” which is an embellished story about a human figure containing at least a kernel of historical truth.

Unlike myths, fables, and fictive stories, the Old and New Testaments are concerned with reporting factual details. The historical books frequently reference other sources such as the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18), the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), and the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah (2 Chronicles 27:7). It appears that the divinely-guided Hebrew writers worked with sources in similar fashion to modern historians. The writers often used source material and on occasion point the reader to those sources where additional information could be found at the original time of writing (e.g., 1 Kings 14:19). Luke makes it clear that he conducted an extensive investigation of the sources in the composition of his gospel account (Luke 1:1-4). His attention to geographical detail, long recognized by scholars for its accuracy and thoroughness, is quite out of keeping with ancient myths, which had no concern for this type of information.  Finally, Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), Peter (2 Peter 1:16), and John (1 John 1:1-2) all offer eyewitnesses testimonials, presupposing their readers had the ability to verify their claims.

It is important to note that the ancients rarely believed their myths actually happened in real time and space. Actual history is of very little concern in mythology, which may come as a surprise to many moderns. It seems to be just as surprising to the critics of the Bible, who invariably equate myth with fiction. The new atheists assume that Jesus is a mythological creation of the early church, missing the point that the early Christians actually believed that He walked the Earth, performed miracles, and rose from the dead. Unlike the pagan populace of Greece and Rome, early Christians were willing to die for their convictions. This attitude made them a target for the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata, who mocked their belief in eternal life. He wrote in “The Death of Peregrine”:

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them… (n.d., 4:82-83).

Since martyrdom was virtually unknown in the Greco-Roman world, why did it become so common in the Christian community? Simply put, no one else believed in the exclusivity of religion. The ancients were polytheistic and inclusive. Not only were other gods recognized, but initiation in one of the mystery religions did not exclude membership in other cults. As long as one had enough money for the expensive initiation rites, he or she could be a member of any number of the secretive mystery cults in the Greek world.

In his book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens spends a few pages alluding to Jesus as merely one of many virgin-born, crucified messiahs (2007, pp. 22-23). Many critics have argued Jesus is nothing more than a plagiarized myth from other world religions, adapted for use by the earliest Christians. Allegedly, the virgin birth is found in Mithras worship, and other gods such as Attis and Osiris were crucified and resurrected. Critics do not appear to realize that in the mystery cult of Mithras, the god was born from a rock, and that the earliest stories come from over a century after the time of Christ (cf. Butt and Lyons, 2006). Further, Attis and Osiris were never crucified. Attis killed himself and Seth drowned his brother Osiris in the Nile River. Further, the two never truly resurrected. Attis remained in a comatose state where his hair still grew and his little finger twitched. Osiris is said to have been brought back to life but did not rejoin the land of the living. He instead remained in the underworld as the lord of the dead (the story also explains mummification, which is decidedly different from the Christian view of resurrection). One would be hard-pressed to find a true resurrection outside the Bible. All of this information is readily available in popular translations of the ancient myths that seem to have escaped the attention of Christianity’s most popular critics. In their haste to relegate the Bible to the realm of myth, the new atheists have failed to realize that the Bible records actual persons, places, and events that can be located in the archaeological record.

Embarrassment in the New Atheism

The new atheists are quite skilled at parroting critical scholars in the popular media, but give little evidence of having done any real research into the archaeological concerns surrounding the Bible. Their mistakes are so elementary that, if one did not know that they were ranked among the world’s intellectual elite, one would simply consider them part of the lunatic fringe. The dogmatic conclusions reached by Dawkins and company are unjustified for several reasons. First, none are well-acquainted with the material they cite. Their specialties lie in unrelated fields, and their conclusions are frequently unsupported or even contradicted by the archaeological artifacts. Second, none possesses a basic, reasonable knowledge of Christianity. They often make basic mistakes that could have been easily prevented by spending time doing minimal research into basic biblical teachings. Finally, they make very few attempts at formulating arguments, and those they make are peppered with logical errors and fallacious reasoning.

Apologists for disbelief have noted the criticism of their leading spokesmen and have rushed to their defense. In a blog called the “Black Sun Journal,” editor Sean Prophet writes:

The flimsiest of all the rhetorical devices used by religious writers is the accusation that atheists lack scholarship on religion. That they supposedly “don’t even understand what they have rejected.” This dismissive attitude is repeated ad nauseam in the popular media. While it’s true that few atheists have doctor-of-divinity degrees, it’s completely false that they therefore can’t understand theology (Prophet, 2008, italics in orig.).

Prophet argues that it is false that atheists cannot understand theology. Yet, he misses the fact that critics such as Dawkins and P.Z. Meyers defend their refusal to engage Christian thought, sometimes crudely, as in the case of a Meyers’s piece titled, “The Courtier’s Reply” (2006). Georgetown professor John Haught critiques them, saying, “Given all their bluster about the evils of theology, why do they wade only ankle deep in the shallows of religious illiteracy? A well-thought-out military strategy sooner or later has to confront the enemy at its strongest point, but [Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens have—DB] avoided any such confrontation. Unlike the great leaders in war, these generals have decided to aim their assaults exclusively at the softest points in the wide world of faith” (2008, p. 63, bracketed item added). While he criticizes the supposed myth of ignorance surrounding the militant, atheist movement, Prophet appears to have as little understanding of religion as those whom he defends. Indeed, his assertion that “[r]ank-and-file atheists are far more facile with scripture than rank-and-file Christians” is so laughable and outrageous as to be absurd. A cursory survey of militant, atheist literature from those who are considered its greatest scholars quickly reveals a host of misunderstandings readily apparent to any unbiased observer.

One example of Dawkins’ many academic sins concerns the Gnostic gospels. In The God Delusion, he argues that Thomas Jefferson advised his young nephew to read the other accounts of Jesus’ life, which Dawkins claims are the Gnostic writings such as the “Gospels of Thomas, Peter, Nicodemus, Philip, Bartholomew, and Mary Magdalen” (2006, p. 95). It would be quite impossible for Jefferson to have recommended the Gnostic gospels to his nephew since they were unknown in his day. So it is with the apocryphal gospels. Those of Thomas and Philip were among the cache of documents discovered in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. The gospels of Peter and Mary were both found in the late 1800’s. The gospel of Bartholomew has yet to be positively identified. In every case, these non-canonical writings date much later than the time of Christ and provide no evidence of offering genuine accounts of Christ’s life.

Christopher Hitchens follows in Dawkins footsteps when he misunderstands the nature of the Gnostic writings. He says that the gospels “were of the same period and provenance as many of the subsequently canonical and ‘authorized’ Gospels” (2007, p. 112). Yet, Gnostic beliefs arose shortly after Christianity, and the documents produced by Gnostics date from the second century to the fifth century and later. As a marriage between Christianity and Neo-Platonic philosophy, Gnosticism reached its height in the second and third centuries, but its incipient form is implicitly condemned in several New Testament passages (Colossians 2:9; 1 John 1:1; cf. 1 Peter 2:24).

Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris appear to draw their notions about the supposed legendary nature of the gospel accounts from Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. All three heartily recommend Ehrman’s book and give him high praise for his journey into unbelief, which he never seems to tire of describing (2005, pp. 1-15; 2008, pp. 1-19; 2009, pp. ix-xii). The new atheists are apparently unaware that Ehrman’s work has drawn heavy criticism because of its tendency to sensationalize, overplay the evidence, and present ideas that few of his academic peers affirm, regardless of their religious orientation or lack thereof. That the trio—as non-specialists who know relatively little about Christianity—would lean so heavily on a scholar like Ehrman is, perhaps, understandable, but remains inexcusable.

Hitchens claims that the existence of Jesus is “highly questionable” and there is a “huge amount of fabrication” in the details presented in the gospel records (2007, p. 114). The only genre into which the gospel accounts could possibly be forced would be legend, but even then, there was insufficient time for Jesus to reach legendary status. As the acclaimed classical scholar A.N. Sherwin-White pointed out, it takes time for legends to accumulate about a historical person (1963, pp. 188-191). The gospel records are clearly non-mythological and give no evidence of being legendary.

The biblical ignorance of the new atheists is on full display when David Mills begs for Christians to defend why they believe in mythical creatures such as unicorns (Job 39:9-10; Psalm 22:21), cockatrices (Isaiah 11:8), and satyrs (Isaiah 13:21). He embarrasses himself when he writes:

I also find it revealing that, in the newer, modern-language translations of the Bible, these ridiculous passages of Scripture have been dishonestly excised, rewritten or edited beyond their original translation in the King James. So not only are the Great Pretenders forsaking long-honored and long-held Christian beliefs, but the Bible itself, under their supervision, appears to be experiencing a quiet, behind-the-scenes, Hollywood makeover as well (2006, p. 150).

The words rendered “unicorn” (re’em, “ox”), “cockatrice” (tsepha`, a type of serpent), and “satyr” (sa`ir, “goat”) have nothing to do with mythological creatures. In fact, these creatures did not even exist in ancient Near Eastern mythology. The last 400 years has seen an explosion in the knowledge of the biblical languages. Scholars now have the benefit of the numerous manuscripts and inscription discoveries that have greatly expanded our knowledge of the languages. The work at the ancient city of Ugarit alone has provided a wealth of information on the Hebrew language through the study of the closely related language of Ugaritic. Mills’ objection evaporates when we understand that the change in English translation is not due to a dishonest makeover, but to a better and truer understanding of how the original text should be translated. To his discredit, he mistakes dishonesty for  intellectual progress, which only further underscores his unfamiliarity with the Bible and its ancient context—and his extreme prejudice.

Christopher Hitchens says the material from the Exodus to the Conquest of Canaan “was all, quite simply and very ineptly, made up at a much later date…. Much of the evidence is the other way” (2007, p. 102). Elsewhere, he says the Pentateuch is an “ill-carpentered fiction, bolted into place well after the nonevents that it fails to describe convincingly or even plausibly” (p. 104). Here Hitchens alludes to the Documentary Hypothesis which claims the books of Moses were compiled from different sources much later than the time of the Exodus. Again, Hitchens does not seem to know that recent discoveries have presented the Documentary Hypothesis with significant challenges that have yet to find plausible answers (cf. Garrett, 2000; Kaiser, 2001). While much of modern scholarship believes in the hypothesis, it must be noted that professors essentially pass on the theory to their students as a body of dogmatic teaching and rarely require them to actually question the theory (cf. evolution). Moreover, archaeology has consistently produced evidence that implies the writing of the Pentateuch is genuinely ancient.

Just when things could not get any worse, Hitchens further destroys his own credibility by claiming urban myth as fact. He states: “the Pentateuch contains two discrepant accounts of the Creation, two different genealogies of the seed of Adam, and two narratives of the Flood” (2007, p. 106). The two creation accounts are intentionally written for two different purposes and are complimentary, not contradictory. This is similar to the way in which a person might take a photograph of an object from two different angles in order more fully to explore the subject in view. Critics seem fixated on digging this old chestnut out of the wastebasket where it rightly belongs (cf. Jackson, 1991). Also, genealogies in the Bible are selective by nature, so differences in genealogical lists are inconsequential (cf. Miller, 2003). The alleged two narratives of the Flood in Genesis 6-9 refers to the artificial separation of the story into two constituent parts, which falls under the purview of the Documentary Hypothesis. This allegation, too, has been shown to be fraught with problems.

The Plausibility of the Biblical Record

Archaeology demonstrates solid connections between the biblical record and ancient history, in contrast to Christopher Hitchens’ assertion that it is an implausible record. Consider the following:

The Patriarchs

Critics often malign the patriarchs without just cause. They insist that camels were not domesticated during the patriarchal age, thus constituting an anachronism in the biblical text. Yet evidence of camel domestication appears as early as 2000 B.C. in several places in Mesopotamia, concurrent with Abraham—if not slightly preceding him (Kitchen, 2003, p. 339). Another point of confidence is the names of the patriarchs. While God selected Jacob’s name, they all highlight the Mesopotamian roots of Abraham since the names of Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, and Joseph are all of Amorite origin (pp. 341-342). These names were at the height of their popularity when the patriarchs lived in the early second millennium and quickly fell into disuse in subsequent centuries.

A vital piece of evidence is the structure of covenants in the Bible. Covenants made in antiquity evolved over time, and each period has a distinct structure for the covenants made at various times and particular locations. Kenneth Kitchen has surveyed a wide range of covenants used from the third millennium through the first millennium B.C. (Kitchen, 2003, pp. 283-289). He found the Abrahamic covenant made in Genesis 15-17 fits securely in the early second millennium, while the covenants in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua 24 fit only in a late second millennium context.

The Life of Joseph

In the very section of the Bible that Hitchens questions is found some of the most compelling evidence for the historicity of Scripture. As Egyptologist James K. Hoffmeier demonstrates, the story for Joseph rings true with numerous details (Hoffmeier, 1996, pp. 77-98). The 20-shekel price paid for Joseph (Genesis 37:28) is consistent with the price of a slave c. 1700 B.C. Egyptian mummification took about 70 days once the period for mourning was included, which matches the time given for the mummification of Jacob (Genesis 50:3). Examples of non-Egyptians becoming viziers is known from Egyptian sources. Further, it appears that the story of Joseph was put down in writing during the 18th-19th Dynasties in Egypt, the very period during which Moses lived. This idea is borne out by the fact that the Pentateuch uses the name “Pharaoh” (Hebrew phar’oh, Egyptian per-`3) when referring to the king of Egypt. During this time, the term was a generic one referring to the king, similar to referring to the U.S. President as “the White House,” or to the British monarch as “the Crown.” Prior to this time, the name of the king was used, and afterward sources mention the monarch as “Pharaoh X” or “X, king of Egypt”—as in the case of pharaohs Shishak (1 Kings 11:40; 2 Chronicles 12:2) and Neco (2 Kings 23:29).

The United Monarchy

David’s existence has been questioned frequently. Examples of petty monarchs ruling miniscule kingdoms in the Near East find rare mention in ancient sources, yet generally their historicity is taken at face value with minimal skepticism. Even Gilgamesh, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, is thought to have been a historical figure ruling in Mesopotamia between 2600-2700 B.C. based on a reference in the famous Sumerian king list. Yet, David’s historicity is viewed with extreme suspicion, even though there are references to David found in the Tel Dan Inscription and the Moabite Stone, as well as numerous references in the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, Gilgamesh is thought to have been a real person despite being the semi-divine hero in a mythical composition, which also includes such fantastic details as a beast-man named Enkidu, a divinely sent creature of destruction called the Bull of Heaven, and a plant that can grant the person who eats it eternal life. David is frequently labeled a myth despite the solid evidence in favor of his existence.

The Divided Monarchy

Archaeology has vindicated the Bible’s mention of several figures that were once thought to have been fictional. The existence of Sargon (Isaiah 20:1) was questioned until a relief bearing his image was found in the throne room of his capital city of Dur-Sharrukin (“Fort Sargon”). Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1) was likewise questioned because Babylonian documents listed Nabonidus as the last king of the Babylonian empire. Scholars uncovered ancient evidence showing that Belshazzar co-ruled with his father Nabonidus, ruling from the city while Nabonidus sat for 10 years in self-imposed exile. Balaam (Numbers 22-24) has been located in an extrabiblical source called the Deir ‘Alla Inscription written during this period (Mazar, 1990, p. 330).

The Life of Christ

Archaeology does not always mention any one individual, and in the case of Christ, more substantial evidence comes from history rather than archaeology. One significant find is the 1990 discovery of the ossuary (bone box) of Joseph Caiaphas, high priest at the time of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion (John 11:49-53). Jesus is mentioned by the Roman writers Suetonius and Tacitus, the Roman governor Pliny the Younger, and is indirectly referenced by the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata. He is also noted in a Jewish composition from the fifth century called the Toledoth Jesu, which gives an alternate explanation for the empty tomb from a hostile source. Jesus is far from the “myth” critics claim Him to be.

The Early Church

Inscriptions have revealed the names of numerous individuals mentioned in the New Testament. Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12-17), is mentioned in an inscription found at the city of Delphi. Paul’s friend Erastus (Acts 19:22) is likely mentioned in an inscription found at Corinth. Sergius Paulus, mentioned as the first convert on the island of Cyprus, was proconsul (a Roman governor) when the apostle Paul visited the island (Acts 13:7). He is mentioned in an inscription found near Paphos (Reed, 2007, p. 13).

After the evidence is surveyed, it is apparent that much of the criticism of the Bible arises—not from intense scrutiny of the evidence—but from ignorance of it. The overwhelming weight of the archaeological and historical evidence firmly places the Bible in the sphere of reality rather than myth.

Knowing Should Lead to Knowing How Much One Does Not Know

Part of the problem with secular science is that it focuses on empirical data, but has little to no interest in epistemology: the study of how human beings know what we know. This great divorce has become clearer over the past couple of centuries, and is on full display in books like The God Delusion, where Richard Dawkins commits dozens of logical errors. Many of his arguments fail because he is not conversant with religion. They also suffer from his lack of understanding how evidence outside his specialty is to be interpreted and applied.

Journalist David Klinghoffer points out: “A favorite strategy of such groups has long been to attack cartoon versions of older rival religions” (2007). He cites as evidence Dawkins’ now-infamous phrase about the God of the Hebrew Bible being “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (Dawkins, 2006, p. 31). No believer in the Judeo-Christian tradition would ever agree to this assessment, nor would anyone familiar with the Bible defend it. While Prophet argues that contrarians like Dawkins should not be labeled as ignorant of religion (2008), the evidence argues powerfully against him.

The unmitigated vitriol that pervades the works of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris is a clear indicator that their intolerance of Christianity is not motivated by objective reason. These men give every appearance of being desperate to artificially maintain a hatred of God. They fail to demonstrate sufficient familiarity with the Bible and fail in understanding the ancient evidence supporting it.

Christians everywhere should be reminded that grandiose assertions, unsupported by adequate evidence, can be dismissed safely. This is the case with much of the material produced by the new militant breed of atheism—which makes many bold claims and offers remarkably little proof. Such is certainly the case with the facts concerning the reliability and historicity of Scripture. Boisterous claims do nothing to bolster their case when Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris find themselves contradicted by the evidence. If these three are the best that militant atheism has to offer, Christians have nothing to fear.

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin).

Dever, William (2001), “Excavating the Hebrew Bible or Burying It Again?” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 322: 67-77, May.

Dever, William (2005), Did God Have a Wife? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Ehrman, Bart (2005), Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: HarperSanFrancisco).

Ehrman, Bart (2008), God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer (New York: HarperOne).

Ehrman, Bart (2009), Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York: HarperOne).

Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (New York: Free Press).

Garrett, Duane (2000), Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Pentateuch (Geanies House, Fern: Christian Focus Publications).

Haught, John F. (2008), God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox).

Hitchens, Christopher (2007), God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything(New York: Hachette).

Hoffmeier, James K. (1996), Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Jackson, Wayne (1991), “Are There Two Creation Accounts in Genesis?http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2194.

Kaiser, Walt C. Jr. (2001), The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? (Downers Grove, IL: IVP).

Kitchen, Kenneth A., trans. (2000) “The Battle of Kadesh—The Poem, or Literary Record,” The Context of Scripture, Volume Two: Monumental Inscriptions Form the Biblical World (Leiden: Brill).

Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).

Klinghoffer, David (2007), “Prophets of the New Atheism,” http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003653502_klinghoffer06.html.

Lazare, Daniel (2002), “False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History,” Harper’s Magazine, 304/1822:39-47, March.

Levin, Yigal (2002), “Let There Be Light,” Harper’s Magazine, 304[1825]:4, June.

Lucian of Samosata (no date), “The Death of Peregrine,” in H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler (1905), The Works of Lucian of Samosata (Oxford: Clarendon Press).

Mazar, Amihai (1990), Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 10,000-586 B.C.E.(New York: Doubleday).

Meyers, P.Z. (2006), “The Courtier’s Reply,” http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/the_courtiers_reply.php.

Miller, Dave (2003), “The Genealogies of Matthew and Luke,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1834.

Mills, David (2006), Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (Berkley, CA: Ulysses Press).

Prophet, Sean (2008), “Pastor Acknowledges Arguments of New Atheism,” http://www.blacksunjournal.com/atheism/1397_pastor-acknowledges-arguments-of-new-atheism_2008.html.

Reed, Jonathan (2007), The HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament: What Archaeology Reveals about the First Christians (New York: HarperOne).

Sherwin-White, Adrian Nicholas (1963), Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament(Oxford: Clarendon).

Wolf, Gary (2006), “Church of the Non-Believers,” http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/atheism.html