Can the Bible Withstand Scientific Scrutiny?
There are two pervasive misconceptions about the Bible. The one held by skeptics is that the Bible is an antiquated book, which is full of fables, stories, scientific fallacies and mistakes. The other view, which is mainly held by liberal theologians, is that the Bible is a religious book and as such, must be interpreted spiritually and allegorically and is not to be taken literally.
In fact, the Bible is self-authenticating, divinely inspired and true throughout, whether it is dealing with history, science or medicine. And as we shall see, it can be relied upon totally.
The veracity of the Bible will be examined under the following five topics.
- Noah’s Flood
- The Universe and the Earth
There is no event in the Bible that has caused as much controversy and endured as much attack as God’s judgment on sinful mankind by way of Noah’s flood. This treatment of Noah’s flood is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather aims to demonstrate the plausibility of the episode and the evidence for its historicity.
Disbelief in the flood has become so entrenched that even some Christians don’t believe it, even though the Bible states it plainly and Jesus affirmed it. The Lord’s words are recorded in the book of Luke:
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating; drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came, and destroyed them all.
Almost all civilisations have a flood story as a legend or folklore in their culture. Evolutionary geologist Robert Schoch wrote:
Noah is but one tale in a worldwide collection of at least 500 flood myths, which are the most widespread of all ancient myths and therefore can be considered among the oldest.
Not only are flood stories ubiquitous amongst ancient civilizations, they are remarkably similar. James Perloff noted:
In 95 percent of more than 200 flood legends, the flood was worldwide; in 88 percent, a certain family was favored; in 70 percent, survival was by means of a boat; in 67 percent, animals were also saved; in 66 percent, the flood was due to the wickedness of man; in 66 percent, the survivors had been forewarned; in 57 percent, they ended up on a mountain; in 35 percent, birds were sent out from the boat; and in 9 percent, exactly eight people were spared.
So much recorded history of a worldwide flood, originating from diverse civilizations, points to the conclusion that it actually happened.
One account which is similar to the Bible version is contained in the Epic of Gilgamesh, dating from the seventh century BC and found on the eleventh of twelve clay tablets during the excavation of Nineveh. Skeptics and some encyclopedias maintain that the Babylonian story is the original and the biblical account was based on it.
In comparing the two flood stories, the Genesis account is detailed (people on board, number of animals, the length of the time it rained, the dimensions of the ark and its construction, etc.), it is descriptive (fountains of the deep broke open, the whole world covered with water) and purposeful (divine judgment on a very wicked people). It makes more sense to believe that Genesis was the original, and the Gilgamesh Epic, which lacks the detail of the Genesis account, arose from and is a distortion of the original. For a thorough and well-referenced comparison of the two flood stories, the reader is directed to the work of Nozomi Osanai.
What does the Bible say about Noah’s Flood? (Genesis 6–8)
The book of Genesis states:
God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
It goes on to inform us that God said He would destroy man, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. So God told Noah to build a large boat and place selected animals in it, along with his wife, three sons and their wives, and that He would flood the entire earth.
Some people have suggested that the flood may have been only local. But the Bible makes it clear that it was global. If it was only a small regional flood, why would God have Noah build an ark? He simply could have walked away from the area of land that was to be flooded. Why place all of the animals, including birds, on it? If it was local, how could the waters rise 15 cubits above the mountains? And again, if it was local, God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a flood again.
What would we expect to see today as the result of a worldwide flood?
- Most of the world would be covered by sedimentary layers, that is, rock laid down by water.
- Stratification or layering of the sedimentary rocks.
- Coal, oil and gas deposits as a result of vast floating mats of vegetation being buried.
- Evidence of rapid and jumbled burying of animals and vegetation and as a consequence, many well-preserved fossils.
- High mountains containing remnants of marine life.
Worldwide sedimentary layers
Sedimentary rock is formed by the laying down of sediments by moving fluids, such as water. These sediments are made up of pieces of rock or other material which existed somewhere else and were eroded or dissolved then redeposited in their present location. Seventy-five to eighty percent of the earth’s land area is covered by sedimentary rock in a thin veneer over the earth’s crust; the rest is volcanic igneous rock from volcanic eruptions., 
In many places, the upper crust of the earth consists of a series of sedimentary layers built upon a basement of metamorphic rock. Their meeting is easily seen, for example, in the lower section of the Grand Canyon where the junction is called The Great Unconformity. Here, a sediment layer sits on a widespread, water-eroded surface. Similar examples can be seen on many continents. The water activity that produced the erosion of the metamorphic rock was a global phenomenon.
Many sedimentary layers, which consist of limestone, sandstone and shale, cover much of the globe. One particularly obvious sedimentary layer is the coal-bearing Upper Carboniferous.
The Upper Carboniferous consists of large coal deposits derived from vegetation. It also contains the remnants of uprooted trees in a variety of positions. All of this is consistent with a large flood dump. As a noted geology professor observed:
The extensive coal and associated deposits of the Upper Carboniferous are almost incredibly widespread, from the American Midwest to the Donetz Basin in what was (until recently) the former Soviet Union.
Other large layers include the chalk beds of southern England, the enormous sandstone layer containing the Australian Great Artesian Basin which runs continuously for thousands of kilometers, and the extensive coal beds of eastern Australia that contain millions of fossilised trees which give the appearance of having been dumped there. All the layers mentioned contain mixtures of land-based vegetation and marine fossils. It is difficult to account for the existence of such features other than by a worldwide flood.
How do evolutionists account for these facts? They cannot dispute that the sedimentary rock was laid down by water and that it is widespread, but they maintain it was formed over millions of years by way of many localized floods, with each stratum of the sedimentary rock representing hundreds, thousands and even millions of years. They have great difficulty in explaining the vast sizes of the Carboniferous layers.
There are serious problems with the idea that layers of sediments were laid down over long periods of time, and these are discussed below.
Stratification can happen quickly, as shown in this picture of stratified material formed by the 1986 volcanic eruption of Mt St Helens in about one week.
The bending of strata
Photo from: Creation, 2002, 25(1), 40-43.
Some strata contain very sharp, almost hairpin bends, as shown in the accompanying photographs. Other strata have bends and folds so great that they can only be perceived from the air to obtain perspective as shown in the photograph below. Photo supplied courtesy NASA
Evolutionary geologists are hard pushed to explain this phenomenon, as they assume formation took place over thousands and even millions of years as the strata were laid down one level at a time. They say high temperatures and pressures must have been involved. However, many of the strata contain fossils and shells, which negate the possibility of high temperatures.
A far more plausible explanation is that the folds occurred when the strata were laid down in a relatively short time—like, for example, one year, by way of a worldwide flood as described in the book of Genesis, chapters six to eight.
Such bending could only have occurred when the entire set of strata was still wet, soft and therefore supple; otherwise the layers would have cracked and even broken—and there is very little evidence of such cracking and breaking in the strata. The forces required to produce the type of bending seen in the second picture, which is seen in many repeated instances that are widespread across the globe, must have been immense and would have involved the whole of the Earth’s crust.
Such a cataclysmic event is consistent with the biblical account of Noah’s flood as the Bible describes it:
—–all the fountains of the great deep broke up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
At the conclusion of the event, the Bible states:
The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped also, and the rain from heaven was restrained.
Again, consistent with Scripture, there is no process operating now which could produce such dramatic changes to the earth’s surface on a worldwide scale. What is seen today can be best explained by Noah’s flood. No other explanation satisfactorily accounts for such bending and folding.
There are many places around the world where rock layers are evident (known in evolutionary terms as ‘the geological column’)—none more so than the Grand Canyon (see photograph).
These layers provide a history of what has happened in the past. To evolutionary geologists, they represent millions of years, as each layer of a particular period forms on top of another layer with allegedly millions of years between them. However, there are some big problems with this assumption.
First, since each rock layer has been assigned a particular age, normally by the fossils which the layer contains, there exists what are known as ‘flat gaps’ or ‘paraconformities.’ That is, each layer is claimed to be millions of years older than the one it lays directly over. Yet if there were millions of years between the formation of one layer and the next layer, then we would expect to see evidence of erosion on the surface of each layer, and to a very large extent, as wind, rain, floods and in some cases earthquakes and volcanic activity leave their mark. This is not what is observed. In fact, each layer is extremely flat, giving the appearance that they were laid down one after the other (as evidenced in the picture above of the Grand Canyon) and in accordance with what would be expected as the result of a global flood.
The photograph to the right makes this point very clear. The top layer is Coconino Sandstone and the bottom layer is Hermit Shale. There is meant to be a time gap of six million years between the two layers, but there is no evidence of erosion on the surface of the bottom layer as would be expected if it had been exposed to the elements for six million years. Instead, their junction is extremely flat.
Another factor which stands in opposition to the idea of strata being laid down over great periods of time is the presence of polystrate fossils, which are fossils traversing many strata. As mentioned above, evolutionists believe that each stratum (or layer) of sedimentary rock represents thousands or even millions of years. But what has been found are trees, and in some cases animals, going through many strata. These have been documented for some time.
The image to the right is taken from an old print of two tree trunks that appear to be in a growing position at Nant Llech in the Valley, South Wales. Derek Ager, Emeritus Professor of Geology, University College of Swansea, stated that one estimate of the age of the strata these trees pass through is 100,000 years, which, he concludes, is ridiculous.
Tens of thousands of polystrate fossil trees have been found and they are scattered across the globe. Below are just four of the numerous examples. It is very clear that these trees transverse many strata.
Coal, oil and natural gas deposits
Coal is formed from massive mats of vegetation rotting over time. Oil and gas are by-products of this breakdown process. Since this procedure has never been observed, the details of the process remain the subject of speculation.
Those who reject the Bible claim that their formation took place over millions of years by way of trees falling into and rotting in large swampy areas. However, some of the trees that gave rise to coal can still be identified, and they are not species that grow in swamps.
For Bible believers, the process can be explained quite easily by Noah’s flood, which would have resulted in giant masses of floating vegetation that became buried by the enormous amounts of silt and mud produced by this cataclysmic event.
Evolutionists counter with the fact that coal, oil and gas deposits are so vast that there is not enough vegetation on earth for them to have been formed at one time. However, they do not consider the possibility that pre-flood conditions were vastly different from those today. For example, there is much evidence from the coal seam vegetation of northern hemisphere deposits particularly, that they were derived from huge forests of vegetation designed to float. Such huge mats of forests floating on the shallower pre-flood seas, more than adequately answers the objection.
Rapid burial is one of the key preservation factors required for the formation of fossils.
Dramatic and undisputed examples of rapid burial include the marvelously detailed fossil of a mother ichthyosaur giving birth to her baby, and a fossilised fish eating another fish when they are suddenly frozen in time and fossilised.
A logical explanation for the enormous quantity of rapidly buried preserved specimens is that they were covered by a massive wall of mud during a great upheaval such as Noah’s flood.
Most Dinosaurs may have drowned
An article in New Scientist provides strong evidence that most dinosaurs drowned:
The classic ‘dead dino posture’
Recreating the spectacular pose many dinosaurs adopted in death might involve following the simplest injunction: just add water.
When paleontologists are lucky enough to find a complete dinosaur skeleton, there’s a good chance it will be found with its head thrown backwards and its tail arched upwards—technically known as the opisthotonic death pose. No one is entirely sure why this posture is so common, but Alicia Cutler and colleagues from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, think it all comes down to a dip in the wet stuff.
Cutler placed plucked chickens on a bed of sand for three months to see if desiccation would lead to muscle contractions that pulled the neck upwards. The chickens decayed without contorting. When seven other chickens were placed into cool fresh water, however, their necks arched and their heads were thrown back within seconds, Cutler told the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this month.
If an animal dies today, it will not become a fossil. Within a very short time, carnivores will carry bits of its body away, birds of prey will be picking the bones clean, smaller scavengers such as rats, mice, beetles and ants will be taking what they can and, finally, micro-organisms will break down the remains. Thus, in a matter of months, the beast will have disappeared, with the possible exception of a few bones. The mere presence of fossils suggests that rapid burial has taken place.
Perhaps the most challenging fossil phenomena for evolutionists to explain are the massive graveyards of fossilised animal remains found throughout the world. For example:
Agate Spring, Nebraska is a fossil graveyard containing 9,000 animals buried in alluvial deposits. The remains of camels, three-toed horses, rhinoceroses, giant wild boars, birds, plants, trees, seashells and fish are all scrambled together.
Gobi Desert. This area of Central Asia is one of the driest places on earth, yet it is a paradise for paleontologists. So far, 25 therapod dinosaurs and 200 skulls of mammals, along with other dinosaurs, lizards and small mammals have been unearthed, in an amazing state of preservation.
The Ashley Beds is an area of phosphate bed comprising 100 square kilometers (40 square miles), located in South Carolina USA. It was first mentioned by Major Edward Willis in his book Fossils and Phosphate Specimens, 1881. It contains the remains of both land and sea animals—dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, whales, sharks, rhinoceroses, sheep, horses, mastodons, mammoths, porpoises, elephants, deer, pigs and dogs.
Montceau-les Mines. The mine is near Autun in France. The fossils are well preserved and in excellent condition. As well, they consist of a mixture of creatures. Some are saltwater dwellers, some are freshwater and some are land-based animals. For example, hundreds of thousands of marine creatures were buried with amphibians, reptiles and insects. Spiders, scorpions and millipedes were found as well. The find was reported in Scientific Americanand the two paleontologists, Daniel Heyler and Cecile Poplin, were bewildered by the mixture and variety of animal fossils present.
Such large deposits of mixed animal and aquatic fossils spread throughout the world provide a clear demonstration of large scale violent and rapid burial. This is exactly what would be expected as the result of a worldwide flood.
Mountains Containing Remnants of Marine Creatures
The Bible states that all of the mountains were covered with water. This being the case, evidence may exist to support this fact. There is enough water in the oceans so that, if all the surface features of the earth were evened out, water would cover the earth to a depth of 2.7 kilometers.
Major mountain ranges are formed by the collision of continental shelves and many are still rising. For example, if Sir Edmond Hillary were to climb Mt Everest today, he would have to climb an extra meter and a half. Interestingly, marine fossils are found at high altitudes, including Mt Everest and on all five continents.
There are many big ammonite fossils in the Muktinath area of the Kali Gandaki Valley, Nepal, at around the elevation of 4,000 meters above sea level. This is one of the proofs that the Himalayas were indeed once under water.
For many people who have faith in the Hindu religion, ammonite is one of the many forms of their Lord Vishnu (see page 5). They keep ammonite fossils in their worship room and worship them. The photograph left shows a Nepalese girl standing on a large ammonite fossil.
The Andes in South America have so many marine fossils that tour companies are now offering fossil hunting as part of their programs.
Questions Commonly Asked About the Flood
1. Was Noah’s Ark big enough to hold all of the animals?
The Bible specifies the dimensions of Noah’s Ark in cubits. A cubit is the distance from his elbow to the tips of a man’s fingers, and this is between 450 and 550 mm (17½ and 21½ inches). Most scholars regard 460 mm (18 inches) as the length of a cubit. This being the case, the ark was 140 meters (450 feet) long, 23 meters (75 feet) wide and 14 meters (45 feet) high; and its displacement would have been more than 22,000 tonnes. It had 3 decks, a door in the side and it was sealed with pitch both inside and out. Its window consisted of a long continuous slot under the roof eaves, 460 mm (18 inches) high. It was a big boat!
The photograph shows Johan Huibers’ replica of Noah’s Ark, which he built to roughly one half of biblical dimensions. It resides in Schagen in the Netherlands, and it puts the size of the ark into perspective. It was a huge box with a volume of 40,000 cubic meters (1,396,000 cubic feet), which is enough room to carry 125,000 sheep. Various calculations have been made on how many animals Noah would have had on board, in accordance with God’s instructions. One estimate from Dr Henry Morris is 35,000 while another study by John Woodmorappe concluded only 2,000 animals would have been necessary. In any event, the ark could have carried 50,000 animals quite easily.
If the whole world was covered with water and all of the animals came out of the ark, how is it that we find kangaroos and koalas only in Australia and kiwis only in New Zealand?
There are severe practical limitations on our attempts to understand something that happened once, was not recorded in detail, and cannot be repeated, but we can make a few points.
When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, the island remnant remained lifeless for some years, but it was eventually colonised by a surprising variety of creatures, including and not only, insects and earthworms, birds, lizards, snakes and even a few mammals. This example demonstrates that animals can move freely between land masses.
Land bridges between continents did exist. They were possibly caused by an ice age, which creationists believe happened after the flood due to warm oceans and warmth from the sun being blocked by ash from volcanic activity. Vast quantities of water would be locked up as ice, causing the sea levels to drop. Animals could have spread out in many directions. It is not necessary for two kangaroos to have hopped all the way from Mt Ararat to Australia just as two rabbits did not hop all around the whole continent of Australia after a small breeding colony was let loose in NSW about 150 years ago. Yet they are found in every corner of the vast continent. Once here, the animals could have become isolated in the post-ice-age period as sea levels rose.
The question which then arises is why don’t we find fossils of, say, kangaroos in Asia or any other part of the world? Fossilisation is a rare event, requiring rapid burial to prevent scavenging and decomposition. Lions lived in Israel until recently. Yet no lion fossils have been found there. The millions of bison that roamed North America have left no fossils. So it is not surprising that no kangaroo fossils have been found.
There is a widespread, but mistaken, belief that marsupials are found only in Australia. However, living marsupial possums are found in North and South America. Similarly, monotremes were once thought to be unique to Australia. But the finding of a fossilised platypus tooth in South America stunned the scientific world.
So it is possible that animals unique to Australia, or in fact any other island, could have come via now submerged land bridges, and that the animals that were not isolated died out, leaving no trace of their past presence.
There are other questions regarding the seeming impossibility of the whole story, such as: “How did the animals get to the ark?” or “What did they eat?” or “What about the carnivores eating some of the other animals?” and “How did the ark contain the huge dinosaurs?” Such questions cannot be answered with any precision. The fact is that the whole episode was a miracle of God. There is no doubt He would have chosen animals that possessed the greatest genetic diversity to mate. He would have brought them to the ark and possibly placed them in some type of hibernation for the period. God would have chosen adolescent dinosaurs of the very large type. God did it all. But where science comes in is in answering the question “Is there any evidence that it actually took place at all?” This has been addressed and the answer is a resounding “yes”.
The Universe and the Earth
The number of stars
Jeremiah, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writes:
As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.
Stars at night
Jeremiah’s words here echo the covenant promises to the patriarchs, including the fact that the stars are too numerous to be numbered.
The first person acknowledged to have counted the stars was Hipparchus in 190–120BC. After having made a study of the stars, he announced that there were 1,080 and 300 years later, Ptolemy put the number at 1,056. It is now generally accepted that without the aid of a telescope and on a very clear night, up to 4,000 stars can be seen. But back in 600 BC Jeremiah said the number of stars was countless. And even further back to about 2,000 BC we read a similar statement in Genesis 22:17. So, up until a few hundred years ago, it would have seemed that the Bible grossly exaggerated the number of stars in the sky. However, with the aid of powerful telescopes, it is estimated that there are 10 to the power 21 stars. If it were possible to count 20 stars per second, it would take 100 million billion years to count to 10 to the power 21. And interestingly, this number is also an estimate of the number of grains of sand on the seashores. Of course, God, who has infinite knowledge, knows the number of stars. In fact, the Bible states in Psalm 14:
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
The heavens declare God’s glory
The psalmist tells us in 19:1 and 2:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; and night after night they display knowledge.
Here the psalmist is saying that the silent heavens are declaring the glory of their maker and their glory is a testament to the magnificent greatness of the Lord who created them. Why does the Bible say it is the heavens that declare God’s glory and not, say, the beauty of a flower as it opens, or the birth of a baby, which demonstrates the miracle of a new life?
Beside and below are a few images of the heavens taken from the Hubble telescope. They include images of supernova, that is, stars that have exploded a gas cloud and a galaxy.
With the aid of a very modern telescope, it is easy to understand why the Psalmist states that it is the heavens that declare God’s glory. Such beauty and symmetry on an incomprehensible scale so appropriately points to the Creator.
He stretches out the heavens
There are at least eleven references in the scriptures to the fact that God stretched or stretches (makes ongoing or makes continuous) the heavens. Therefore, this is something to be believed.
Isaiah wrote in about 700 BC at a time when people thought that the stars were stuck on a canopy that covered the sky and the concept of the depth of the cosmos was inconceivable. Yet the Bible states that the heavens are being stretched. As discussed, there is a general consensus among contemporary cosmologists that the galaxies are not only moving apart but that their movement is accelerating.
Photo courtesy of NASA
The earth is suspended in space
The ancient Greeks believed that the earth was held on the arms and shoulders of a giant named Atlas. A group of Hindus believed that it was supported on the backs of two huge elephants that stood on the shell of an enormous turtle that in turn was swimming in the cosmic sea. Other ancient peoples simply thought the earth was flat. But the Bible tells us that it is floating in space and nothing holds it up. Job wrote about 3,500 years ago:
He stretches out the north over empty space (תֹּהוּ,emptiness, vacuum); He hangs (תָּלָה,let down, dangle) the earth on nothing(בְּלִימָה, nothingness, not—aught).
The earth is round
In the year 1492 Christopher Columbus wanted to show that the world was round and that he could reach India by sailing west. He attempted to do just that, but ran into the continent of America or more accurately, the West Indies. Before this time, apart from a few exceptions, people thought the world was flat, to the extent that seamen would refuse to go on long sea voyages because of fear of sailing off the edge. In about 700 BC, however, the prophet Isaiah recorded this revealing insight into God’s perspective of the Earth:
It is He who sits above the circle (חוּג,draw round, make circle)281,  of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.
As well, in about 1,000 BC David implies that the earth is round when he writes:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us?
A similar thought is conveyed in Proverbs:
When he prepared the heavens, I was there; when he drew a compass upon the face of the deep.
Here the word ‘compass’ can also be translated ‘circle’. That is, God contained the waters in a circle as evidenced by the view of a ship sailing away and as it does, its hull disappears first and the top of its mast last.
The earth is rotating
Luke depicts Christ’s Second Coming as happening while some are asleep at night and others are working at daytime activities in the field—an indication of a rotating earth with day and night occurring in different places at the same time.
The area of science offers insight into whether the Bible is indeed divinely inspired or is simply an ancient book written by fallible men. Scientific knowledge has been growing exponentially, and so much more is known now than was known 2,000 to 3,500 years ago. If the Bible is divinely inspired, then statements that incorporate science will be correct. Below are some biblical texts that can be tested against what is now known to be true.
Time had a beginning
Both 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2 tell us that Christ existed before time began. It is difficult for us to comprehend the absence of time. It was only Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity that showed time to be a physical quantity like speed and gravity, for example, and that it can vary with either speed or gravity. Time dilation, that is, time slowing, has been observed experimentally when an object is travelling very fast; in fact, time stops at the speed of light. Time only came into being when the universe did. The verses tell us that Christ existed before the universe (creation) and consequently He existed before time.
Circulation of the atmosphere
Ecclesiastes 1:6 says:
The wind blows to the south, and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning to its course.
Here the Bible describes the circulation of the atmosphere, which was not contemplated at the time Solomon wrote these words, in approximately 1,000 BC.
Air has weight
Job 28:25 says:
To make the weight for the wind; and he apportions the waters by measure.
People at the time would have been familiar with water having weight and volume, but not the wind or air. In fact, we live under a lot of air, about 80 kilometers of it, all weighing down on us. We measure it as barometric pressure. Without that weight we would not be able to breathe. We simply open our lungs and they fill up with air.
Springs in the oceans
Job 38:16 states:
Have you entered the springs of the sea?
The idea of springs in the sea would have been quite foreign to Job and his friends, but as was shown in the previous chapter, the sea does indeed have springs. The image on page 57 depicts a hydrothermal vent issuing forth from a deep ocean trench. So springs in the sea floor certainly do exist.
The innumerable stars
Jeremiah 33:22 says:
As the hosts of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured.
Since the “hosts of heaven” is a biblical term for stars, Jeremiah is saying that they must be numbered in the billions, which has only been shown to be true relatively recently, in particular since the advent of the Hubble telescope. As mentioned earlier,  Hipparchus (190—120 BC) counted the stars and declared the total to be 1,080.
The Bible and entropy
…You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands: They shall perish; but you remain; and they shall grow old as does a garment.
Who could have known 2,000 years ago that all of creation is wearing out? It is the case. The sun and other stars are burning away, the earth’s rotation is slowing and its magnetic field is decreasing in strength. The second law of thermodynamics, which in effect states that the entire universe is becoming less ordered and degraded, was not discovered until comparatively recently. Yet the One who inspired the writer of Hebrews knew.
The exponential increase in knowledge and travel
In the twelfth chapter of his book, Daniel records his prophecies that concern the end times, and in verse four, he states:
…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
Taking this statement as it stands; we are continually amazed at the development of air travel. We can go from country to country in a matter of hours. In fact, we can traverse continents likewise. When we do, we find airports jammed with people doing the same thing. Similarly, knowledge has and is increasing exponentially, from communications to transport to medicine. It is happening at such a pace that we find it difficult to keep up with developments.
Paths in the sea
Psalm 8:8 mentions the paths of the sea. The sea seems to be just a huge mass of water, so how could it have paths? Man discovered the existence of ocean currents in the 1850s, but the Bible stated it 2,800 years ago. Matthew Maury is considered to be the father of oceanography. Apparently he was bedridden during a serious illness and asked one of his daughters to read a portion of the Bible. While listening, he noticed the expression ‘the paths of the sea.’ Upon his recovery, Maury took God at His word and went looking for these paths. His work on oceanography, which includes ocean currents, cut sailing times dramatically.
Each star is different
1 Corinthians 15:41 states:
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory.
From earth the majority of stars look the same; only recently, with the aid of powerful telescopes, has it been revealed that every star is different.
The hydrologic cycle
The hydrologic cycle, which involves water evaporating from the sea, being transported over the land as clouds, and falling as rain, is mentioned in Amos, Isaiah and Psalms, as well as in Job, who wrote:
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the stream, the clouds pour down their moisture, and abundant showers fall on mankind.
And again in Ecclesiastes:
All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; to the place from where the rivers come, there they return again.
The Bible could not make this amazing cycle any clearer. Yet it was not fully comprehended until many hundreds of years after these texts were written.
Clouds holding great amounts of water
The book of Job states:
He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.
Here the emphasis is on how much water the clouds support. The clouds hold millions of tons of water and the consequences of this fact are seen in flooding rain that takes place from time to time. Again, the Bible is correct.
In the book of Leviticus at chapter 25, the Lord instructs Moses to tell the people to let the land rest every seven years. This seems to have two components to it—one agricultural and one spiritual. It is now well-established practice to allow land to rest periodically as continual planting and harvesting depletes the soil of its nutrients and allows for the build-up of viruses. Again we see the wisdom of the scriptures. It is interesting that God did not instruct his people to let one seventh of their land rest every year, but rather to let the whole land rest for one year. This is where the spiritual aspect comes in. The people had to trust God to provide for them during the year the land was to rest.
As with science, so it is in the area of medicine; statements in the scriptures that relate to medicine can be analysed to assess whether or not they are consistent with modern medical knowledge.
Newborn babies have a heightened risk of hemorrhaging or continuous bleeding from a cut, especially if they are breastfed. The reason for this condition is that the infant’s intestinal tract has not had time to develop a healthy population of bacteria. There are approximately 500 different species of bacteria that colonise the human gut. They perform a variety of functions which facilitate living, one of which is the production of vitamin K. Vitamin K is involved in the biosynthesis of a group of coagulation factors, which cause the blood to clot. An important one is factor 11, also called prothrombin. Interestingly, breast milk is very low in vitamin K, while cow’s milk has about three times the amount. This condition is called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, caused by vitamin K deficiency. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, which is the world’s best-selling medical textbook, states that:
Vitamin K deficiency causes hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, which usually occurs 1 to 7 days postpartum.
Circumcision is a very bloody procedure. And the Bible states that it is to be carried out on the eighth day after birth. Again, the insight of the Bible is impeccable.
The reality of hemorrhagic disease is demonstrated by physician Dr Rex Russell, in his book What the Bible Says About Healthy Living. He writes:
My first surgical case was a newborn male who was scheduled to be circumcised. After finishing the operation, I carefully bandaged the wound. Four hours later, I checked the patient and discovered that the bandage was soaked with blood. We administered vitamin K to help clot the blood, but a slight bleeding persisted for several days before it completely stopped. A specialist checked the boy and found no evidence of hemophilia. No harm was done but the infant began life with an unnecessary risk.
Only very recently, circumcision has been shown to protect men from both bacterial and viral infections. The procedure has worked wonders in Africa, reducing the infection rate of HIV by 60 percent, and New York is considering introducing a trial to promote circumcision among the city’s men. As well, circumcision has been shown to reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections among boys. Brian Morris, Professor of Molecular Medical Sciences at the University of Sydney, is reported as saying that circumcision significantly reduced the incidence of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted disease:
Between 2 and 5 percent of uncircumcised boys will develop UTIs compared with 0.1 to 0.2 percent in boys who are circumcised.
‘Circumcision cuts cervical cancer rates’ was the headline of a New Scientist article that reported the results of a review of seven studies from five countries on a total of almost 2,000 couples. Among the data supporting the headline was the fact that 20 percent of uncircumcised men and less than 6 percent of circumcised men carried the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is known to cause cervical cancer in woman who had sexual intercourse with infected men. Another report concluded that uncircumcised men are more than 20 times as likely to get cancer of this organ.
God’s directives to His people are always for their benefit.
The chemical nature of flesh
It was not until the nineteenth century that chemists started to understand the molecular nature of all substances, including every part of us. But God said that He made Adam from the dust of the ground. And He told Adam that he is going to return there. All the chemical elements necessary to make a person are present in the earth; it is just a matter of joining them in the right way: a simple task for the Lord. The writer of Genesis would have had no understanding of biochemistry, and the text demonstrates, once again, that God inspired the Bible.
It is interesting to notice that in order to fashion Eve, God put Adam into a deep sleep and removed one of his rib bones. From this, He formed Eve. The rib bone is the only bone in the human body that will grow again if it is removed. Surgeons often use a rib or part thereof if bone is required in another part of a person’s body, and, providing the periosteum (outer membrane or sheath) is left intact, the rib will regrow most of the time. This fact of the regrowth of ribs would have been completely unknown to ancient people.
Life is in the blood
Scripture declares that the blood is the source of life. Leviticus 17:11 says:
For the life of the creature is in the blood.
Up until about the 1880s, sick people were often bled in an attempt to heal them and many died from the practice. It is now known that the blood is the source of life. We are composed of cells; muscle, skin, brain, nerve etc, and it is our blood that delivers to them, their life-sustaining oxygen and removes their waste product of carbon dioxide. It carries all of the body’s regulating hormones, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. So if you lose your blood, you lose your life.
The uniqueness of Christ’s blood
When Adam did what God said he was not to do and ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, his whole body, including his blood, became defiled and he died both spiritually and (eventually) physically. The process that led to death was instigated the moment he ate. God’s punishment infected all of Adam and Eve’s offspring and all succeeding generations. However, scripture speaks of Christ’s blood as being different; it was His own, precious, justifying, redeeming, atoning, purchasing, etc.
Christ was conceived uniquely by the Holy Spirit, and the human ‘Seed’ was incubated in a woman. Admittedly, some of these statements are to be taken symbolically, but for the other statements to be true, Christ’s pure blood as a fetus should not have mixed with His mother’s blood which may have carried her sinful nature in some way. David said that he was sinful from the moment of conception. This is in fact what happened. The mother’s blood is never mixed with that of her fetus. The two vascular systems are completely separate, and even though nutrients and waste products freely transverse the placental membrane, the two bloods never mix. In fact, in many cases the mother and her fetus can have different blood groups, and the fact that the mother’s antibodies do not attack the fetus as they would any other foreign tissue remains a mystery. Of course, as with many systems, they can break down when a small amount of the baby’s blood leaks into the mother’s circulatory system and if the mother’s blood is Rh negative and her baby is Rh positive then the mother’s antibodies attack the baby’s blood. This is known as Rh Disease.
Even to the level of detail of an obscure point such as this, the Bible is found to be reliable and consistent.
A prohibition against marrying within the family
When God had finished His work of creation, He pronounced it to be very good. However, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, sin entered the world and all creation was affected by it, right down to the molecular level. Mutations, which are faults or defects, began to occur in strands of DNA in all forms of life.
Since we are fearfully and wonderfully made, cells have mechanisms for repairing such faults, but some remain. These would build up very slowly at first, with the passing of generations. This accumulation of mutations may have been a causal factor in the reduction in life spans, particularly in the period after the flood. Sometime later, God gave the civil law through Moses. Part of this is a prohibition against sexual relations with close members of the family, for both moral and genetic reasons.
When a child is conceived, one strand of the mother’s DNA (which is bound up in packages called chromosomes) combines with one strand of the father’s DNA. Both strands contain mutations and at conception, as the two strands line up with one another, the function of the part containing the mutation is taken over by the corresponding part of the other parent’s DNA and all is well. However, if the two strands contain similar mutations—as they would in the case where the parents were close relatives—when the two strands come together, the mutations line up and the mutation is expressed in the offspring.
As mutations accumulate, genetic disorders caused by intrafamily marrying are becoming common, not so much in western societies (presumably because their laws and practices were based on the Bible), but in groups who have not had the benefit of scripture. Howard Schneider writes in reference to Saudi Arabia’s alarming increase in genetic disorders such as thalassemia, sickle cell anemia, hydrocephalus and diabetes due to intrafamily marriages:
Nevertheless, even in a country hesitant to discuss its most intimate problems with the outside, a public dialog is developing…. Religious sheiks counsel young men to “choose a wife carefully” and with an eye towards health.
A heading in the Digital Journalwas quite explicit: ‘British Muslim Inbreeding Causing Genetic Disorders.’
Again we can see God’s instructions to His people still apply today, even though they were given about 3,500 years ago.
A comparison of the Bible with Islamic writings
We have seen how the Bible can withstand close examination in the light of modern science, medicine and astronomy. By way of comparison, let us now apply the same close inspection to the Koran (Qur’an), which was written no earlier than 600 AD and post-dates the Bible by several hundred to two thousand years.
The earth is flat
The Koran talks of the god of Islam, who has:
—made the earth for you like a carpet spread out.
This certainly gives the impression of the earth being flat. And the Koran repeatedly refers to the earth as wide or spread out. These statements hardly describe a sphere. Not only does the Koran imply that the earth is flat; it states it explicitly in a message to the unbelievers of Mecca:
Do they never reflect on the camels, and how they were created? The mountains, how they were set down? The earth, how it was made flat?
Compare these statements with the Bible in Isaiah 40:22:
He sits above the circle of the earth
The sky is hard
He holds the sky from falling down upon the earth; this it shall not do except by his own leave. Compassionate is God, and merciful to mankind.
In other words, the Koran asserts that the sky is hard and if it fell it would harm or kill the earth’s inhabitants. Again, Koran 19:90 speaks of the fact that the heavens could crack. And finally:
Are the disbelievers unaware that the heavens and the earth were but one solid mass which we tore asunder.
The sun sets in a pool of black mud
He journeyed on a certain road until he reached the west and saw the sun setting in a pool of black mud.
The assumption is that the sun is so small that it can set in a muddy pool on earth.
A fetus was made from a clot of blood
The germ [fetus] we made a clot of blood, and the clot a lump of flesh. This we fashioned into bones then clothed the bone with flesh, thus bringing forth another creation.
Errors due to internal contradictions
How many days for creation? Sura 7:54, 10:3, 11:7 and 25:59 clearly state that [the god of Islam] created the heavens and earth in six days. But in 41:9-12, the detailed description of the creation procedure add up to eight days.
What was created first, the heavens or the earth? First earth, then heavens. Heaven, then after, the earth.
Will all Muslims go to @#!*% ? According to sura 19:71, every Muslim will pass through @#!*% . Other passages state that those who die in Jihad, will go to Paradise immediately.
Some miscellaneous errors
The Koran states that every ear of corn has 100 grains. Clearly, this is not the case.
The Koran states that [the god of Islam] has created all living things in pairs.
This is not true, because many plants and fungi reproduce asexually. However, to an ancient people this would seem correct; it is only with the advancement of science that the fallacy of the statement becomes evident.
The Koran tells of some men who slept in a cave for 309 years. Under such conditions the men would have died after two or three weeks from dehydration and starvation.
According to the Koran, mountains make decisions and possess fear:
We offered our trusts to the heavens, to the earth and to the mountains, but they refused the burden and were afraid to receive it.
Not only did the clouds and earth talk but they decided whether they would come willingly or be forced to come. This statement ascribes a level of intelligence and independent agency to both the clouds and the earth:
Then turning to the sky, which was but a cloud of vapor, he said to it and the earth: “Come forward both, willing or perforce.” “We will come willingly,” they answered.
According to the Koran, fiery comets chase evil spirits around the heavens:
We have decked the sky with constellations and made them lovely to behold. We have guarded them from every cursed devil. Eavesdroppers are pursued by fiery comets.
There are many websites detailing errors in the Koran. After listing ten areas of error, one of them sums it up like this:
The Holy Qur’an is full of inaccuracies, contradictions, inconsistencies, redundancies, no chronology or chapters, grammatical errors, etc.
There exists a large body of archaeological evidence that confirms the authenticity of the people, places and events recorded in the Bible. Selected examples are given below. More can be found in many books; a particularly good one is Peter Masters’ Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum.
The Old Testament
In 1910, G J Reisner discovered 63 potsherds containing inscriptions written in ink. These are called ostraca (plural) and ostracon (singular); an image of one is shown on the right. The inscriptions are in ancient Hebrew writing and are commercial records (letters, receipts, accounts etc) of the time.
Thirty of them identify the clan and district name of seven of the ten offspring of Manasseh that are recorded in Joshua 17:2–3.
The oldest passage of scripture currently known was found written on a tiny scrap of silver. It was rolled up and apparently worn around someone’s neck, and was buried with the person. It was found by Dr Gabriel Barkay during the excavation of burial caves in the Shoulder of Hinnom area in 1979 and can be seen today in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. It contains an inscription of the Aaronic Blessing of Numbers 6:24–26:
The LORD bless you, and keep you: The LORD make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
The military campaign into Israel by Pharaoh Shishak, the first Egyptian king to be mentioned in the Bible, was found recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun in Thebes, Egypt.
The Merneptah Stele
This stele dates to the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah (1236–1223 BC). It commemorates the victories of Egypt. However, the last paragraph contains a fascinating reference to Israel:
Canaan has been plundered in every evil way … Israel is devastated having no seed.
This is the earliest documentation of Israel besides the Bible and the only known mention of Israel in Egyptian records. It resides in the Cairo Museum.
David’s Capture of Jerusalem
After Saul died, David became king (1010 BC), he united Israel and his capital was at Hebron. Jerusalem was a Canaanite city occupied by the Jebusites and David desired to have it for his seat of power. However, it was built on a limestone outcrop with walls on top of steep canyons thereby making it well fortified and almost impossible to capture. The inhabitants had access to a plentiful supply of fresh water from the Gihon Spring which was accessed via a shaft that reached down to the spring. The water would be of great value if the city came under siege.
When David’s army reached Jerusalem, the Jebusites were so confident that the city would not fall, they taunted David by saying that even the blind and the lame could defend the city.
Apparently David new about the water shaft, so he said to his men that the only way to conquer the Jebusites will be via the water shaft and he will make the man who is able to enter the city, the commander of his army.We then read that it was Joab the son of Zeruiah who claimed this honor.
In 1887, the British engineer, Captain Charles Warren discovered a shaft that now bears his name which runs from within the old city to a spot near the Gihon Spring. The narrow and tall shaft was demonstrated to be transversable when a member of Warren’s team climbed from the top to the base. It has been long thought that this is the water shaft that Joab scaled to launch his surprise attack on the city. In 1998, while a visitor center was being constructed, builders discovered that there was an additional passageway, about two meters higher and starting from the horizontal curved tunnel that skirted the 14 metre vertical shaft, and continued to the pool much nearer to the Gihon Spring.
In 2005, archeologists discovered the ruins of walls that would have protected the overland path to the spring prior to the tunnel’s construction. Further evidence for this being the original water shaft that Joab climbed comes from the discovery of ceramics which date to the 18th century BC.
The House of David Inscription
In 1993, at the completion of a 25-year excavation of the archaeological site at Tel Dan in northern Israel, someone noticed lines of writing on a rock being highlighted by the afternoon sun. Upon closer examination, it was revealed to be a stele fragment mentioning King David’s dynasty. It is the first mention of King David, and the earliest mention of a significant biblical figure, outside the Bible. The inscription is now in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
A group of people called Hittites are mentioned 47 times in the Bible, one had prominence as being one of King David’s mighty men and the husband of Bathsheba. His name was Uriah the Hittite. But there was no evidence of their existence and many claimed the Bible to be wrong. However, in 1906 German explorers while searching the ruins of the ancient city of Bogazkoy in Turkey uncovered five temples, magnificent sculptures and over 10,000 clay tablets. They announced to the world that the Hittites had been found.
The Names of Biblical Kings on an Assyrian Stela
The Stela of Shalmaneser ΙΙΙ
A stela of Shalmaneser ΙΙΙ, king of Assyria from 859-824 BC showing him saluting his gods, was found and now resides in the British Museum (room 6). The text which covers both front and back of the stela describes Shalmaneser’s first six military campaigns including specific mention of Ahab (king of Israel) and Ben-Hadad (king of Syria). Ahab succeeded his father Omri as king of the northern kingdom of Israel and married Jezebel as mentioned in 1 Kings 15-22. Whereas, Ben-Hadad was king of Syria (Aram) and is mentioned in 1 Kings 20 and 22. The relevant quotation is:
I approached Karkara. I destroyed, tore down and bound Karara, his royal residence. He brought along to help him 1,200 chariots, 1,200 cavalrymen, 20,000 foot soldiers belonging to Hadaezer [Ben-Hadad] of Damascus,…. 2,000 chariots, 10,000 foot soldiers belonging to Ahab the Israelite.
The Fall of Samaria
The fall of Samaria to Sargon II, king of Assyria, was found recorded on his palace walls, as was the defeat of Ashdod by Sargon II., 
The Siege of Lachish
The siege of Lachish by Sennacherib was found recorded on the Lachish reliefs.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel, courtesy BiblePlaces.com
The Bible states that the Judean king Hezekiah commissioned a tunnel to be built to carry water from the Gihon Spring, which was outside the city wall, to within the city, in order to give Jerusalem an adequate water supply in the event of a siege from the threatening Assyrian army.
The tunnel was constructed between the period 727 BC and 698 BC and was discovered by Edward Robinson, an American Bible scholar, in 1838. It is still carrying water and people can walk along all of its 533 meters.
The Taylor Prism
As mentioned, King Hezekiah had his tunnel constructed in order to have a plentiful supply of water during a siege from the rampaging Assyrian army. The Assyrian king was Sennacherib and he laid siege to Jerusalem. Hezekiah prayed in the temple and in the morning, 185,000 men of the Assyrian army were dead. Sennacherib consequently retreated to Nineveh. However, he did record his victories on stele.
This stele has been named after Colonel Taylor, who discovered it in 1830, and it resides in the British Museum. It confirms the following points made in the Bible—Sennacherib did invade Judah; he conquered many cities and trapped Hezekiah in Jerusalem. In addition, the stele reveals that Hezekiah paid him tribute, but this happened before Sennacharib came to Jerusalem and it seems likely that Sennacherib added this statement as a way of explaining why he did not lay waste to Jerusalem as he had done to 46 other cities. No mention is made of the capture of Jerusalem.
The Assassination of Sennacherib
The assassination of Sennacherib by his own sons was found recorded in the annals of his son Esarhaddon.
The existence of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, named in Daniel chapter 5, was doubted. The last king of Babylon was Nabonidus, according to recorded history. However, tablets were found showing that Belshazzar was Nabonidus’ son who served as coregent in Babylon. This being the case, Belshazzar could only offer to make Daniel ‘third highest ruler in the kingdom’ for reading the handwriting on the wall, the highest available position. Here we see the accurate nature of the biblical record, once again confirmed by the discoveries of archaeology. The Nabonidus Chronicle resides in the British Museum.
The Moabite Stone
The Moabite Stone is an ancient slab of stone erected in 850 BC by King Mesha; it contains a long inscription commemorating a victory resulting from his revolt against King Ahab of Israel. It was found at Dibon, Jordon, in 1886 by F. A. Klein, a German clergyman. Although it was broken when Klein tried to purchase it from the local Arabs, most of the fragments were recovered. The stone resides at the Louvre in France.
Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian Chronicle (605–594 BC)
Nebuchadnezzar II’s Campaigns in the West
The tablet shown is one of a series that summarises the principal events of each year from 747 BC to at least 280 BC. Each entry is separated by a horizontal line and begins with a reference to the year of reign of the king in question.
The inscription states that after re-equipping his army, Nebuchadnezzar marched to Syria in 599 BC. He marched westwards again in December 598 BC, as Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, had ceased to pay tribute. Nebuchadnezzar’s army besieged Jerusalem and captured it on 15/16th March 597 BC. The new king of Judah, Jehoiachin, was captured and carried off to Babylon. A series of expeditions to Syria brings this chronicle to an end in 594 BC. The tablet, describes the events exactly as they are stated in the Bible.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Chief Official
While searching through Babylonian financial accounts in the British Museum’s great Arched Room, visiting professor Michael Jursa came across a name he half remembered, Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, on a 2,600-year-old Assyrian cuneiform tablet. Professor Jursa, an Assyriologist, checked the Old Testament, and there in chapter 39 verse 3 of the Book of Jeremiah, he found, though spelt differently, the same name: Nebo-Sarsekim. He was, according to Jeremiah, Nebuchadnezzar’s chief officer and he was present at the siege of Jerusalem. The tablet is dated to Nebuchadnezzar’s tenth year, which was 595 BC, 12 years before Jerusalem was besieged. Dr Irving Finkel, a British Museum expert, commented:
This is a fantastic discovery, a world-class find. If Nebo-Sarsekim existed, which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative (of Jeremiah) takes on a new kind of power.
Courtesy of Generation Word (generationword.com)
Evidence of Jeremiah’s Jailers
While Jerusalem was under siege from the Babylonians (588-586 BC), Jeremiah urged the people to surrender and live, while those who do not will die. As a consequence, some of King Zedekiah’s officials took Jeremiah and threw him into a cistern which was empty, although Jeremiah did sink into the mud. Two of these officials were Jehucal son of Shelemiah and Gedaliah son of Pashur.
Courtesy of Generation Word (generationword.com)
In 2005 archeologist Dr Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered a bulla (a clay seal) when she was digging near the Dung Gate of the Old City. It was dated to the sixth century BC and the Paleo-Hebrew writing on it was translated as: belonging to Jehucal son of Shelemiah son of Shovi.
While digging further in 2008 in the same area, Dr Mazar discovered another bulla also dated to the sixth century BC, this time with the inscription: Gedaliah son of Pashur.
The significance of these bullae is that they confirm the reliability and accuracy of the Bible even down to the names of the king’s officials.
The Cyrus Cylinder
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus captured Babylon in 539 BC. But about 200 years before then, God foretold in the Book of Isaiah how He would raise up Cyrus and use him as His instrument. Cyrus is also mentioned in Ezra 1:2–4 and in 2 Chronicles 36:22–23. The Cyrus Cylinder, which tells of Cyrus’ exploits after he captured Babylon, was uncovered in 1879 and now resides in room 55 at the British Museum.
Cyrus was buried in a simple gabled stone tomb outside his capital of Pasargadae in modern Iran. According to the historian Strabo, this inscription once graced the structure:
Passer by, I am Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, who founded the empire of Persia, and was king of Asia. Grudge me not therefore this monument.
Further confirmation that Cyrus was once king of Persia comes in the form of an inscription on a palace ruin, stating:
I Cyrus the king, an Achaemenid (Persian).
The tomb of Darius the Great
Darius the Great
Darius the Great was king of the Persian Empire from 522–486 BC. On the request of the Jews, he ordered a search of the records and recovered the decree to restore the Jerusalem temple, the construction of which, had been discontinued. Darias the Great’s tomb has been discovered at a site in Iran and is explicidly identified by an inscription. Nearby Darius’s tomb are three others which are thought to be those of the biblical characters: Xerxes, Artaxerxes and Darius II.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
These documents were held by a small Essene community who lived in the Judean desert on the western shore of the Dead Sea. They were written from about 200 BC to AD 70. They cover all the books of the Old Testament except those of Esther and Nehemiah. The Dead Sea Scrolls are discussed in more detail on page 127. However, they are included here as support for the integrity of the Bible in two major ways.
The Scroll of Isaiah
Firstly, they pre-date the oldest preserved written text of the Hebrew Bible by approximately 1,000 years, yet they are almost identical with the standard Hebrew Masoretic text, which confirms the remarkable precision used in the copying of scripture. This gives believers great confidence that the Bible we have today is the same, with the exception of very minor details, to what was originally written.
Secondly, they give strong support to the unity of the authorship of Isaiah. Critics have claimed that the book had two authors: one, the original, wrote the first 39 chapters (which are basically about impending judgment), and later, another who completed the book with prophecies that were subsequently fulfilled. Liberal scholars claimed that the latter half of the book must have been written after the events because of its prophetic accuracy. Yet the Dead Sea Scrolls contain the entire book of Isaiah (this is on display at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem). A close examination shows no break between chapters 39 and 40. In fact, chapter 40 commences at the bottom of the chapter 39 column, thereby clearly demonstrating the unity of Isaiah.
The New Testament
The Pool of Siloam
Liberal scholars claimed that the Pool of Siloam never existed and that John’s gospel was pure allegory; the pool normally referred to by that name was built by Eudocia of Constantinople (AD 400–460) and could not have been the pool of Jesus’ time. This liberal line of thinking was shown to be wrong in 2005, when a repair team, excavating a damaged sewer, uncovered two steps. Subsequent excavation revealed three groups of five stairs, each about 60 meters long, leading down to a pool, as shown.
This pool was built by King Hezekiah and is about 200 meters from the other Pool of Siloam. Commenting on this discovery, James Charlesworth, a professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, said:
To dismiss John as historically unimportant is absurd. Now it becomes clear that the gospel of John does have reliable historical information. We have found there is such a pool, precisely as John describes it.
The Pilate Inscription
The Bible was the only known source that affirmed Pontius Pilate as being the governor of Judea. Consequently, many doubted that he ever really held that position until 1961, when the Italian archaeologist Dr Frova uncovered a limestone block while he was excavating an ancient theater near Caesarea Maritima. It had inscribed on it a phrase in Latin, which is translated as Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea— which is how scripture describes him.
The Ossuary (a receptacle for containing human bones) of Caiaphas the High Priest
Caiaphas the High Priest
Caiaphas was high priest for 18 years (AD 18–36). It is probable that he gained the position by marrying the daughter of Annas, head of a powerful high-priestly clan. Caiaphas is infamous as the leader of the conspiracy to crucify Jesus. Dr Zvi Greenhut of the Israel Museum discovered his ossuary in November 1990.
At a meeting of the religious leaders, Caiaphas made this prophetic statement concerning Jesus:
Nor do you consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish.
Many statues of Artemis have been discovered and one is shown here.
The Worship of Artemis
During Paul’s third missionary journey, he and fellow travelers stopped at Ephesus and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. Acts 19:11 states:
The remains of the temple are shown here.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.
As a consequence, many people believed and rejected the worship of Artemis (the Greek name for the Roman goddess Diana), the goddess of fertility, and the silversmiths who made a living by making statues of Artemis felt the loss of sales and started a riot in order to have Paul and company taken from their midst.
The Tomb of Herod the Great Discovered
In May 2007, Professor Ehud Netzer announced that a team of archaeologists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem had discovered the remains of the sarcophagus and mausoleum of Herod the Great, near the top of Mount Herodium, the cone-shaped hill he had created.
This Herod is mentioned in the Bible as the king who ordered the death of all males under the age of two. Herod made his decree in order to take the life of the One who had been born King of the Jews, after the Maji, who had been warned in a dream, failed to return to him and tell him where he could find the Child.
Mount Herodium (a Hebrew University of Jerusalem photograph)
A photograph of what is almost certainly Herod’s sarcophagus
The Erastus Inscription
In 1929, an inscription mentioning an Erastus was found near a paved area northeast of the theater of Corinth. The exact inscription, written in Latin, is translated as follows:
Erastus for his aedileship laid [the pavement] at his own expense.
Aediles were elected officials and were responsible for the maintenance of public streets and buildings, they managed the revenues derived from such places and they served as judges.
David W. J. Gill provides convincing evidence that this Erastus is one and the same as Paul mentions in his personal greetings at the conclusion to his letter to the Romans (16:23) which he wrote from Corinth, even though it was a common name. The Greek name Paul used to describe Erastus’s post is oikonomos which was equivalent to aedile.
Jews Forced to Leave Rome
The forcing of the Jews to leave Rome during the reign of Claudius (AD 41–54) was recorded by Suetonius (circa AD 70—after AD 130). In The Life of Claudius 25.4, we find the statement:
As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [a Latin name for Christ], he expelled them from Rome.
This is plausibly a reference to the expulsion of Jewish Christians from Rome. Luke, the writer of Acts, makes mention of this same expulsion, which occurred in AD 49.
And he [Paul] found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome); and he came to them.
Aquila and Priscilla were converted to Christianity prior to meeting Paul.
The Vardar Gate inscription
Luke’s accurate use of official titles
The author of the book of Acts, Dr Luke, carefully recorded the titles of officials as he chronicled Paul’s missionary journeys. For example, he mentions practors in Philippi, refers to Publius as the first man of Malta and the city council of Thessalonica as politarchs (Acts 17:6 & 8). This last title has caused some to question the accuracy of Luke since the word was not found in any other Greek literature. Politarches(πολιτάρχη) is a compound of polis (city) and arche (ruler). However, an archaeological discovery in 1835 revealed that politarches was an official title; a stone inscription on the Vardar Gate in Thessaloniki used the title and Luke was vindicated.
The James Ossuary
The existence of an ossuary (a receptacle for containing human bones) was announced on October 21, 2002. What made this artefact so different from the hundreds that have been found, is that it contained the inscription written in Aramaic; James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus. The inscription is unusual in that it names the deceased’s brother which was very unusual except if his brother was of importance.
The authenticity of the inscription had been declared a forgery by the Israeli Antiquity Authority and they charged its owner; Oden Golen with forgery. After a five year trial, Judge Aharon Farkash acquitted the accused of all forgery charges, ruling that the prosecution could not show beyond reasonable doubt that the inscription was forged.
Several points have emerged which are beyond doubt:
It has been dated at between AD 6 and 70.
It was made from local limestone.
The same patina (sheen) covered the incised lettering as it does for the rest of the surface.
Biblical Archaeology Review announced that: There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the inscription of the James Ossuary.
Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University produced a statistical analysis of the occurrence of these three names in ancient Jerusalem and declared that there were 1.71 people named James, with a father named Joseph and a brother named Jesus, living in Jerusalem around the time at which the ossuary was produced. Professor Fuchs says he can state with 95 per cent assurance that it is a statistically accurate conclusion.389
Evidence has been presented that shows that the Bible is correct in all that it says, whether it is a cataclysmic event such as Noah’s flood, or matters of science, agriculture, hydrology, cosmology or medicine. This is not the case for another ancient book (although not nearly as old as the Bible), the Koran. Finally, we have seen how archaeology has confirmed the historicity of the people, places and events mentioned throughout the Bible.