Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask, part 5
Former Christian turned atheist DaGoodS (DGS) has compiled a list of eleven questions that he doesn’t think Christians can answer. I’ve decided to take him on, since I’m a sucker for questions that Christians supposedly can’t answer. Hopefully, DGS and I can learn something from each other.
What century did the Exodus occur?
Trying to chip away at the historicity of the biblical accounts here.
No one knows, actually. Few scholars actually completely discount the possibility of the Exodus; in other words, most believe that it probably happened but we’re unsure of the exact date. James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici, who previously tried to trash Christianity with the Jesus Tomb documentary, came out with Exodus Decoded, wherein they lay out a case for a historical Exodus.
Like the Jesus Tomb fiasco, this documentary is laden with evidence that supports their conclusion. Rather than explored or refuted, contradictory evidence is swept under the rug. They wish to make only their case, and try the case in the court of public opinion where an impressive TV special is all it will take to convince most people that you’ve got something.
So, here’s the rub: if the archeologists don’t know, then I’m happy saying that I don’t know, either. When more evidence comes to light, I’ll be happy to conclude something then.
Posted on January 14, 2011, in Apologetics and tagged Exodus, historicity of Bible, James Cameron, Simcha Jacobovici. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
You have read The Bible Unearthed, no? They make an interesting case for an ahistorical Exodus. (I’m not deeply enough interested in ancient history to worry overmuch about the conclusion; I don’t particularly care one way or another whether or not Exodus actually occurred.)
I just reserved a copy from my local library. Sounds quite interesting, and it isn’t an issue that I’ve really explored at any length until these few posts.
This was a question I have whenever I discuss Exodus. If you don’t know…fine. Only if someone wants to argue it did happen, that I ask it.
I’m sure that the Exodus did happen. Let’s give the written record the benefit of the doubt. The only reason many are not giving the written record the benefit of the doubt in this case is because the extant records are in the Bible. For some reason, the Bible is never given the benefit of the doubt that any other ancient historical document is.
However, some events in ancient times are disputed as to exactly when they did happen. That’s not uncommon. A quick Google search turns up this article, which debates the dates of the colonization of east Polynesia–a nonbiblical event that is known to have happened but a date can’t be fixed.
So the ability to fix an exact date isn’t what makes something historical. As to whether it happened, I would follow J.P. Holding and cite the Cythians, a people for whom only a single written mention exists. Other than a few royal tombs, we literally have no archeological evidence this people existed apart from the writings of Herodotus. Yet we know they did, and we know that they held a significant (though nomadic) empire for almost 1000 years in Russia. (source)
Anyway, even if we can’t fix an exact date, or find a mention in Egyptian records of the Exodus, there’s no reason to suppose it never happened. If a people can live for over 1000 years and leave next to nothing behind save small mention in an ancient historical text, then I’m sure it’s more than possible that the Israelites can trek 40 years in a desert and leave only a single mention in an text as well.
EDIT: I just found this from Victor Reppert’s blog, so I thought I’d put it up here since it was on topic.
But it isn’t the situation we have a claim and there is no data to support it. We have a claim (incorporating the Ten Plagues, the Exodus and Joshua’s invasion) that multiple data points conflict with it. Namely the relative stability of Egypt conflicting the Ten Plagues claim, the development of language and archeological finds conflicting with Exodus, and numerous archeological finds conflicting with the invasion.
Unfortunately, what I often see are Christian apologists cherry-picking evidences to support these events, not realizing the various evidences they use come from different centuries! Thus I first establish what century they are claiming to narrow what evidences they will use.
I always wonder about this “give the Bible the benefit of the doubt.” Why must we reduce our standard in applying historical documents (and no, we do NOT give histories “the benefit of the doubt” when conflicting archeological evidence is presented. Far from it.) so that what is supposedly inspired by a God can sustain.
One would think God could do better than humans. Not less so.