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message 1: by Lee (last edited Feb 11, 2014 04:32PM) (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/sci...

This discovery isn't anything new; it just confirms what we thought we knew all along. That the camel wasn't domesticated in Israel until after King David.

I counted 21 verses in Genesis about camels, all in a domestic sense. What are they doing there?

So here is my usual question, as I try to nail down what an apologist's job is. Are we supposed to be arguing that the Bible is a history book, when it clearly isn't? Here are 21 occasions that are not literally true.

It's not like the Bible's writers were trying to deceive us. They imagined transportation to be like it was in their own time. How could they possibly know there were no domesticated camels 1,000 years beforehand?

Does this mean the Bible is not inerrant, because of 21 camels who don't belong, or do we apologists need to lighten up and stick to what is logically arguable?


message 2: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Conclusions were drawn via radiocarbon dating which has been shown to produce dubious results.

" One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said"


message 3: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments I guess that answers my question.


message 4: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments We should probably finish your quote, Brent:

“One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said in an email. “Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system. But this does not mean that these very traditions cannot capture other details that have an older historical background.”


message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments "Earliest Known" doesn't mean squat.


message 6: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Did you read the article, Robert? These are not the earliest known camel relics.

Camel bones were found dating before the time of David, but the study showed they were not domesticated. The whole point is to determine when they were domesticated.

Do I have two votes for taking the Bible story as truth and ignoring scientific findings? Does that mean apologists are supposed to argue against the evidence?


message 7: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Lee, does that prove conclusively that no camels were even domesticated previous to those bones found? It's really not striking that the god of this world want to do everything in his power to show the Bible as "unreliable" (2 Cor 4:4, 1 Jn 5:19).


message 8: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Studies like this are not convincing. Many new studies and "findings" in similar nature like this have later been found to be dubious, like Jesus having multiple partners or the Gospel of Thomas being earlier than the supposed Q source.


message 9: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Hmmm. That is the apologetic view, then, that Satan is trying to fool us?

Would it not be good apologetics, then, to argue for a flat earth? Or is that carrying it too far?


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Yes, Lee, I read the article, let me then rephrase "earliest known domesticated" doesn't mean squat. You have a vote for taking the Bible story as truth and ignoring THESE scientific findings. That means apologists need be wise as serpents in yet one more area.


message 11: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Gimme some odds then, Robert. What are the chances that the scientific study represents truth, and the camel wasn't domesticated until after King David?


message 12: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Brent #8, I don't see how your examples compare at all to carbon dating. Which, btw, is actually quite accurate when measuring only a few thousand years ago.


message 13: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) I just mean to say that skeptics are always trying to dismantle the Bible. And yes, Lee, I do believe the spiritual powers in control of the world that Paul speaks about in Ephesians 6. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the god of this world. Robert is right, we have to be wise and cunning as serpents, and also innocent as doves when we take on topics like this.

One example, is many thought Ananias the high priest who presided over Paul's trial was a fabrication. Historical inquiry and new archeological findings recently proved skeptics wrong. Whether carbon dating is accurate or not, Robert has a point. This does not unequivocally prove that no camels were ever domesticated previous to these specific bones found.

You're really good with rhetorical devices, Lee. No one was talking about a flat earth.


message 14: by Robert (last edited Feb 11, 2014 07:37PM) (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Ok, Lee, I will. If I felt like researching it, but I don't because I have other projects going, I'd lay odds of 5-1 that camels are depicted in pre-Abraham Egyptian art as carrying burdens. Any experts in this field on the board to corroborate or refute this claim?


message 15: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Yes, camels were domesticated in Egypt long before Israel.

Brent, maybe I wasn't clear. Your point is that Satan fools us with false scientific findings. If this is the stance that apologetics takes to defend the Bible against scientific findings, why don't apologists defend a flat earth? My question is merely one of limits: How absurd does something have to be before we admit the findings are true, and quit blaming Satan?

I confess, the whole business of pitting apologetics in opposition to qualified research seems to me dishonest. What happened to searching for truth, shouldn't we be anxious to uncover where the Bible is in error so that we can evaluate its merits honestly?


message 16: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Well, Lee, you have mapped out a very difficult chore for yourself. Of the thousands of apparent errors in the Bible, you have to ferret out the real ones, which would entail cognizance of miracles and Divine interference. Then, after that impossible task, you would have to arrange them in order of significance without much objective criteria to base it on. Then the other half of the task. Of all the scientific hoopla floating around trying to get grants, you would have to separate the real from the silly science. And after that impossible task, you would need to order them by significance with even LESS objective criteria much to the dismay of befuddled scientists who claim otherwise.


message 17: by Chris Warns (new)

Chris Warns | 45 comments This article and it's references seem to be unclear on how archeologists determine, through carbon dating, whether a camel fossil is considered domesticated or not domesticated at ANY time period. So I'm not necessarily convinced either.
Does anyone here know enough about archeology that they could explain that to me?
By the way, Robert, your vocabulary is awesome lol


message 18: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Chris, the carbon dating just dates them, it doesn't identify whether they were domesticated. "Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads."

I think we're getting carried away trying to attack the merits of the research. I doubt any of us are qualified sufficiently to determine its accuracy. The point is, to the best of our scientific knowledge, camels were not used in Israel before the first millennium BC.

I'm speaking in general to the role of an apologist. I think any reasonable person agrees that, to the best of our scientific knowledge:

- There was no worldwide flood since man came.
- There was no mass exodus from Egypt
- There was no conquest of Canaan as described.
- There was no beginning of life 6,000 years ago

I could go on, but you get the point. It is mathematically naive to imagine that our best scientific conclusions are wrong about ALL of these accounts. I mean, if we are extremely generous and award only a 20% chance of truth to scientific claims like "there was no flood", then compounding, say, only ten findings that contradict the Bible leaves us with .8 to the 10th, or a 10% percent chance that the Bible contains no myths. And again, this is an EXTREMELY generous calculation.

Given that the odds by far indicate that the Bible contains numerous myths before the time of David, why would an apologist take the stance that it does not? Isn't that dishonest? Or at least, if not dishonest, does it not render the apologist's credibility as next to zero?

Fight the battles that can be won, and quit forcing people to choose between the Bible and science. Instead, let the Bible aid science (or science aid the Bible) in discovery of truth.


message 19: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Chris - thanks for the compliment. When you get around to my book, you'll find it's written in the same manner, but some parts delve into a certain measure of science. The book has been well-received, but if there's one criticism it's that the jsrgon I use is hard to follow. But I didn't use any jargon! I kept explanations appropriate for a layman using virtually no abstruse scientific terms. When I had to quote Darwin or the Bible though, of course I had to do it verbatim. Some of my readers, it pains me to say, are complaining because the Bible is too cloudy for them.


message 20: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Lee, you're mingling science and history like these are the same thing. Scholars have been debating the exodus for hundreds of years and there is still no consensual agreement on the matter. New archeology shows that Israelites could have take a route through Saudi Arabia. Also, new discoveries about the Hyksos lead to more historical conjecture, not that Israelites were synonymous with the aformentioned, but Joseph could have been a provincial ruler over them. When they were expelled from Egype as historical and archeological fact tells us, the Egyptians would not have "known" this clan of Israelites just as the Exodus narrative tells us as they were out I to subjugation.

Certainly older presuppositions about many things were false (Israelites built pyramids, took Eastern passage for exodus, etc) but that by no means excluded new findings, evidence, or proved any of these events fallacious. You're biased opinion against any veracity to the Bible shines brightly, Lee.


message 21: by Judy (new)

Judy Mish jentz | 44 comments I've been reading your posts and decided to get my 2 cents in.

For one thing, don't scientists believe the world has been around for billions of years? Any Christian knows that is not true. So how can they tell what determines when a camel was domesticated?

Research has been known to be faulty; that is to be made to say what the person wants it to say. Even in medical research, all the negative aspects, or at least most of them, about new drugs are hidden and only the good ones are put in for review.

As far as research goes, is anyone honestly going to think there is no cure for cancer or AIDS or other diseases, that's if they are really even looking for a cure. A cure for these things would make Big Pharma broke. They only want expensive band aids. I know this is off track but I'm just trying to show the realization of research. Who can we honestly trust now days.

Myself, I believe the Bible. In the NT it says all over about things like this coming out. It doesn't specifically say research but things that are going to try to diminish faith of believers.


message 22: by Lee (last edited Feb 12, 2014 10:50AM) (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments I do not have a biased opinion against the Bible, Brent. I'm simply incapable of "believing in a dozen impossible things before breakfast." I know without a shred of doubt that many biblical claims are false, because they have been proven so. Therefore, when I read a biblical passage, I give it a proper amount of credence. That seems quite logical to me.

I'd be curious to read archaeological evidence of 2 million people travelling through Saudi Arabia over 3,000 years ago. What an incredible find that would be, it would really put archaeology in a dither.

Judy, I suspect the majority of Christians (those who care enough to have an opinion) believe the earth is billions of years old. It's simply the truth, conclusively proven many different ways.

And that is my point. If apologists insist Christians must literally believe all the myths in the Bible, we'll soon have no Christians at all ... or just a bunch of Ham-like dreamers. My goal is never to debunk the Bible, but to make it accessible to knowledgeable people today. And that means that we quit reading it like a history book.


message 23: by Chris Warns (new)

Chris Warns | 45 comments Robert-Cant wait to read it.
Judy- Surprisingly there are many Christians who believe otherwise. (Concerning the age of the earth). But you do bring up some good points on how only certain research is brought ought in order to satisfy some monetary interests.
Lee- There are plenty of scientists, "who care to have an opinion", that do not believe in millions of years and even more that aren't necessarily Christian who think evolution is just laughable. The scientific community has always been confused when it comes to origins. That's why God has given us the Bible in order to have a foundation for truth.
And correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems as if you are defending your opinion of the bible rather then defending the faith that has been given to you by Christ our Saviour. If your foundation for truth is not The Scriptures, which are God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), then by what standard are you resorting to?


message 24: by Lee (last edited Feb 12, 2014 12:20PM) (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Chris Warns wrote: "And correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems as if you are defending your opinion of the bible rather then defending the faith that has been given to you by Christ our Saviour. If your foundation for truth is not The Scriptures, which are God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), then by what standard are you resorting to? "

hi Chris, that is a good question. The answer is, I do not see how believing literally in the myths of the old testament helps me with my faith in Jesus.

We must revise our understanding the Bible where our old understanding is proven incorrect. If we don't, the Bible will die. We can't continue thinking evolution isn't true, for example, when it so clearly is.

That means we must change how we view the creation story, the flood story, the conquest story, the exodus story, etc. This isn't that hard, nor unprecedented: I'm not aware of any Christian who still believes the earth is flat, and as you said, most believe the earth is billions of years old. They simply do not interpret Genesis literally anymore.

Finally, I would be very interested if you can point me to ANY scientist who disbelieves evolution and who is also not religious. Religion is the only reason I have ever heard of any scientist rejecting evolution.


message 25: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Are we getting overrun by New and flat Earthers? Madre de dios!


message 26: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments lol. Don't get me started on the Madre de dios.


message 27: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Chris, to cut to the chase, Lee does not believe the Word was divinely inspired, and hence rejects the corollary doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Judy - I hate to see you so jaded about science. All I can assure you is that there are thousands of publicly faceless and nameless, yet very dedicated and smart, researchers laboring night and day in obscurity to improve humanity's lot in every applicable area. Yes, scientific claims are suspect in a lot of fields, but we are making, albeit halting, progress. Religion can't say that, nor social sciences, nor literature, philosophy or art. Technology is the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal world.


message 29: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Brent wrote: "Chris, to cut to the chase, Lee does not believe the Word was divinely inspired, and hence rejects the corollary doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible."

It goes further than that, Brent. I believe any doctrine which asserts a literal interpretation of Genesis is inherently detrimental to Christianity in the long run. Whether we approve or not, our children are being taught a more scientific worldview and they cannot relate to the Bible stories literally.

Note my word "assert." Believe as you wish, but don't try to tell another person they must believe the way you do. In other words, stay out of the arenas of infallibility and inerrancy as an apologetic. While you may think you are doing a service helping people believe "properly," that kind of apologetics actually is detrimental to Christianity in the long run.

That's my stance.


message 30: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Lee, have you forgotten the two thousand word post of me explaining NO ONE here is interpreting Gen 1 literally according to current scientific methodology. It is an analogical account of creation ex nihilo in anthropic phenomenonalogical language...


message 31: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Not true, Brent. Several people here interpret it quite literally. And when I bring up a topic like the domestication of camels, which contradicts a literal reading, the tone quickly turns defensive, as if I am somehow attacking the Bible. All I mean to do is point out that when the stories of the Bible were written down, they were retold from the worldview of those who were telling them. It didn't cross the minds of the writers that the camel had only been recently domesticated.


message 32: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Example: "In the morning, Abraham hastened to the place where God told him to go."

As I might retell it today: "Abraham sprung out of bed, pulled on his pants without brushing his teeth, and scrambled out of his tent."

How would I know that Abraham slept on a sheepskin, didn't wear pants, and couldn't care less about dental hygiene? At least I tried, guessing that he lived in a tent.


message 33: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Lee -the Bible is not a collection of Canterbury Tales, it is the Word of God. Believers, of which you are not, feel God inspired the minds and writing instruments of the authors so their works reflect the mindset of their maker. Worldview is immaterial. I would agree in many place it is allegorical and should not be interpreted literally, but it is nevertheless inerrant and infallible, not subject to the whims of wherever your crack cocaine whiffs take you.


message 34: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Because you say so, Robert?


message 35: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Lee - there are legions of Believers who have Faith the Bible is infallible and inerrant. You might call that anti-intellectual, and for you, who merely scours the Scriptures for discrepancies, this is a perfectly plausible assessment. But, for those of us who use God's Word for strength and direction, it is counterproductive to go around nitpicking. Because this is an Apologetics board you raise an outstanding point - should we be promoting a religion that in places appears irrational? To you, a humanist, anything is irrational that disobeys the Laws of Physics; to God's children, who believe in miracles and Divine intervention, the paradigm switches and very little is outside the realm of possibility.


message 36: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) This is precisely the work of the Holy Spirit, Lee. Namely, that it allows the individual to epistemologically consent to the truth propositions contained therein, knowing full well, that it is a divinely inspired infallible, and inerrant, trustworthy source of salvific knowledge in so far as we can gain an apprehensive and intimate relationship with our creator, Savior, and sustainer.


message 37: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Sorry, Robert, if I come across that way. I don't mean to point to myself but to the experts in various fields, admitting my own (OUR own) lack of qualifications. it is not me who claims camels were not domesticated; it is those who study the matter in the field, using the knowledge and tools of their profession.

All of my questions probably stem from a misunderstanding of what an apologist does. If his or her job is to present logic and/or convincing evidence, and if he or she also believes in something (like Biblical infallibility) which is NOT logical or evidential, then it seems most honest to admit up front that the evidence and the logic contradicts the belief.

Should apologists wear a disclaimer: "I believe contrary to the majority of qualified researchers that ..." so that a reader can measure the apologist's credibility before engaging in discussion?

Or should apologists shrink from topics such as Biblical inerrancy, knowing the evidence is stacked against them?

The question gets more complex when we consider an approach like Brent's. "Yes, the evidence is against me, but that is because Satan is doing his best to fool us." Brent can then approach apologetics from a different angle, arguing for the existence of an invisible malevolent being.


message 38: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments You've got it completely backwards, Lee. It is most researchers that should carry the disclaimer "This thesis is based on partial evidence, produced by biased researchers, who in order to get grant money must toe the current scientific bent toward atheism. Any resemblance to truth is purely coincidence as the outcome of this study has been predetermined by the one principle we can all agree upon - we must disavow God or science as we know it is finished."


message 39: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments I guess Robert's stance is also complex. "yes, the evidence says I'm wrong, but God is capable of divine intervention and that makes anything possible."

Robert's claim (unlike Brent's) is actually logically arguable. Plantinga and others have shown us how to argue for the existence of such an all-powerful creator being, which then lets us believe anything we want with a simple "God did it."


message 40: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Sorry, I'm just rolling this all around in my head and trying to make sense of how others think. It's a bit foreign to me but I'm trying to grasp the thought process.

I wonder why Ken Ham didn't take Robert's approach. Science is then out the window, and a young earth is as likely as an old one then.


message 41: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments What IRREFUTABLE evidence says I'm wrong.


message 42: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Robert wrote: "You've got it completely backwards, Lee. It is most researchers that should carry the disclaimer "This thesis is based on partial evidence, produced by biased researchers, who in order to get grant..."

You might be missing my point, Robert. Besides being a bit jaded. It's not that the scientific method doesn't contain errors, or take a long time to zero in on truth. It's that the best evidence we have, from the most qualified people we have, is against the Bible. Right now, an honest apologist must admit the evidence is not on his side.


message 43: by Lee (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments Robert wrote: "What IRREFUTABLE evidence says I'm wrong."

I don't think that way, Robert, nor do our researchers. I weigh evidence and choose the most likely.


message 44: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Lee - Not all science. Evolutionary Biology seems to be the dividing point. Sciences more rigorous than that (Physics, Chemistry, Cosmology, Genetics, Cell Biology, etc.), while taking the perfectly logical stance that everything obeys the Laws of Nature and is thus explainable (no meddling supernatural being), nevertheless follow their research where it leads without a predetermined outcome. This has lead some to conclude "Hmmm, the universe is queerer than we thought or even hope to discover - maybe there is something to this God business."
Alternatively, sciences in the lower threshold: ecology, environmental biology, etc. are firmly anti-God and even largely anti-scientific method. They are largely humanistic, political, and have predetermined outcomes not even remotely connected to truth.


message 45: by Brent (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) Lee,

You're fighting against all Christian apologists, even prolific and well respected ones like Plantiga? You intention seems deceptive--sowing seeds of doubt.

You take a New York Times article as irrefutable proof, the atheistic bias of all left news reporting notwithstanding, yet then deny the infallibility of the Scriptures.

You simply beg the question and then run the taxi-cab fallacy back and forth like your late to your wife's anniversary dinner party.


message 46: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Fifty years ago, I would have agreed with you, Lee, the predominance of scientific evidence seemed to indicate slightly (0.49) against the existence of a Supreme Being. But, recent advances in all the higher functioning sciences have altered that probability. Now, the probability (strictly scientifically speaking) is about (0.60) for a Creator. You pride yourself on being on the cutting edge of cultural trends, Lee, why don't you get up to speed with your science instead of dredging up tired old theorems?


message 47: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments Ha! Ha! Good Analogy, Brent - I've actually been in that taxi scenario; very uncomfortable ground to occupy.


message 48: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments I am reminded of my second wife. She was very beautiful, shapely, and erudite to such a point that a friend remarked: "that woman is worth many camels." So I paid the dromedary dowry only to find she was meaner than a whole herd (Do camels have a special moniker for a bunch of them like clutch or pride?) of camels so I really got taken on that transaction. Remind me never to deal in camels again!


message 49: by Lee (last edited Feb 13, 2014 11:30AM) (new)

Lee Harmon (DubiousDisciple) | 2112 comments I'm with you, Robert, and I'm not arguing against the existence of a supreme being. Today's science does not contradict such a belief.

And Brent, the domestication of camels is one small example among many. I listed others: there was no worldwide flood since man came aboard this planet, and so on.

The point I'm making relates not to the existence of God but to the infallibility of the Bible. Please understand that I am not saying it is shameful to believe against the evidence. Indeed, such a practice is considered a godly virtue by many, though it's a skill I'm unable to develop. Kudos to those who can just believe whatever they wish.

Rather, I'm proposing that apologetics--when it tries to take on too much, such as the inerrancy of scripture--is deceptive and shameful, because its practitioners are knowingly arguing against the evidence. Better to be honest up front, and admit to believing against the evidence.


message 50: by Brent (last edited Feb 13, 2014 12:46PM) (new)

Brent McCulley (brentthewalrus) The grit of your question is that can you argue the inerrancy of the Bible without the epistemelogical internal witness of the Holy Spirit? No, we cannot. The Word tells us that we cannot, indeed, it says that such a doctrine would be considered foolishness to the world and all its wiles.

If that be your point, we are agreed.

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