Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 2

Hittite Lion's GateSolid evidence. Something an investigative journalist can sink his teeth into. That’s what I needed to see in 1971. Christians I had invited on my radio talk show to intimidate and make fun of were turning the tables on me. Me! A well-known, hard-core atheist talk show commentator, I was actually listening to Christians talk about why they believed in the existence of God. Sound ridiculous? I thought so at the time, but they kept coming back with more and more evidence. For a free-thinking journalist interested in knowing whether something’s true or not, evidence is hard to ignore.

What I was hearing about how archaeology supported many of the claims in the Bible was impressive. One of the most impressive was the discovery of the Hittite nation.

People made fun of Jews and Christians for centuries because of this:

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the River Euphrates: the Kenites and the Kenizzites and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Rephaim, and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” Genesis 15:18-21

The Old Testament mentions the Hittite people almost 50 times, but who were they? There was no record of their existence anywhere in the histories of ancient cities and civilizations. Critics of the Bible believed the Hittites were nothing more than an invention of the writers of the Bible, and there was no evidence to prove otherwise. That is, until 1876, when a British scholar made a discovery that led to the uncovering of the history of a great nation known as – the Hittites.

Archibald Henry (A.H.) Sayce found inscriptions in Turkey that had been carved on rocks. He wrote about his find and the Hittite people in “The Hittites: The Story of a Forgotten Empire” (New York, F.H. Revell Co. pref. 1888). Clay tablets were discovered at Boghaz-koy, Turkey, about ten years later and German archaeologist and historian Hugo Winckler investigated the tablets and undertook his own expedition in 1906. Winckler and his team uncovered thousands of clay tablets that included a treaty between Egypt and the Hittite nation. Boghaz-koy was the location of the Hittite capital city and had been known originally as Hattusha. Winckler also found ancient temples, large sculptures and a fortified citadel. Tablets discovered in the temples confirmed many details about the kinds of treaties, ceremonies and regulations written about in the Old Testament.

One of the things archaeological expeditions discovered about the Hittite civilization was that it began around the early part of the 20th century BC in the western part of Asia, an area known as Anatolia, now known as part of Turkey. Hittite kings expanded it into an empire by the 18th century BC and reached the height of power during the 14th century BC. The empire included most of Asia Minor, the northern Levant (Eastern Mediterranean area between Anatolia and Egypt, including Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine) and upper part of Mesopotamia (Assyria).

Abraham and his descendants encountered the Hittite people on many occasions in the land of Canaan. Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried “in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth.” (Genesis 25:7-10). Abraham’s grandson, Esau, married two Hittite women, which bothered his parents Isaac and Rebekah a great deal (Genesis 26:34-35).

Jacob, the brother of Esau, was also buried in the field Abraham purchased from Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite (Genesis 50:12-13). God told Moses during the 15th century BC that He would deliver Israel from Egyptian captivity and lead them “to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.” (Exodus 3:8) The Israelites had many dealings with the Hittites during the 15th – 12th centuries BC, supported by the archaeological findings that the Hittites were a powerful people in the region during that time.

After the death of Moses, God told Joshua to cross the Jordan River and lead the people of Israel into their new home. God described where that would be: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:3-5) God did as He promised and gave Joshua and Israel victory over Jericho, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites (Joshua 24:11).

However, Israel didn’t destroy the Hittites. In fact, years after Joshua’s death we see Israel living among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Even though God had sent Israel into the land to take it as their possession, they did not obey God. The Israelites took the daughters of these former enemies to be their wives and gave their daughters to be married to their sons. This intermarriage, which God had commanded Israel not to do, led the people of God to serve the gods of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites and other enemies of God (Judges 3:5-6).

The Hittite empire collapsed into several small “Neo-Hittite” cities by the 12th century BC. Some Hittites were even serving in the Israeli army by the 11th century BC (1 Samuel 26:6; 2 Samuel 11:6). Those Hittites who had not been killed and were left in the land were forced into labor by King Solomon of Israel during the 10th century BC (1 Kings 9:20-21). Solomon disobeyed God and married many foreign women, including Hittites (1 Kings 11:1-3).

According to The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University in Providence, RI, the Hittite kingdom was the “first major imperial entity that had its core territories on the Central Anatolian Plateau.”  The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology has a helpful Power Point presentation about the Hittites online at http://proteus.brown.edu/mesopotamianarchaeology/1007 that includes many photos of the temples and city gates at Hattusha.

For centuries, people laughed at Jews and Christians because of the Bible’s information about the Hittites. To me, as an atheist, the archaeological findings that supported the existence of a powerful people known as the Hittites was strong evidence for the genuine historicity of the Bible. How could documents written centuries before an ancient civilization was discovered and proven to be authentic by modern scientific methods have been fraudulent? How could the writers of the Hebrew Bible who lived well before the 1st century AD have known a powerful nation existed that was not known to exist centuries later by any other means except that the writings of the Bible were true? At least about the Hittites! And if the ancient writings in the Hebrew Bible were true about the Hittites, what else about those writings might also be true? Could what the writers of the Hebrew Bible wrote about the existence of God also be true?

As I continue to share about more archaeological finds that support information found in the Bible, here are some of the books available to me in 1971 that you may find helpful in your study. I will share more recent archaeological finds, books, and articles in future posts.

In alphabetical order:

William F. Albright – The Archaeology of Palestine (1951) … The Archaeology of Palestine: From the Stone Age to Christianity (1949/rev. 1960) … The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra (1963) … Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: An Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths (1968) …

John Garstang – The Hittite Empire (London, Constable and Company, Ltd., 1929) … The Foundations of Bible History; Joshua, Judges (London: Constable, 1931) …  The Story of Jericho (Hodder & Stoughton, 1940)

Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Desert, (New York: Farrar, Strous and Cudahy, 1959)

Kathleen Kenyon – Early Jericho, Antiquity 26 (1952) … Guide to Ancient Jericho, Jerusalem (1954) … Some Notes on the Early and Middle Bronze Age Strata of Megiddo, Eretz Israel (1958) … Excavations at Jericho, Volume I,  Tombs Excavated in 1952-4, London (1960) … Amorites and Canaanites, (Schweich Lectures Series, 1963), London : Published for the British Academy by Oxford *University Press (1966)

Fred Wright, Highlights of Archaeology in the Bible Lands, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1955)

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Mark McGee

Mark McGee is a career journalist and former atheist. He became a Christian in 1971 after months of investigating the claims of Christianity. He studied Bible and Theology at Luther Rice College and received a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. You can follow Mark on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

  • staircaseghost

    “Critics of the Bible believed the Hittites were nothing more than an invention of the writers of the Bible and there was no evidence to prove otherwise.”

    Name one.

    And before you start looking, please see here and then here for a cautionary tale for apologists peddling this urban legend.

    • Mark McGee

      I’ve heard a few names through the years of specific skeptics in the 1800s who wrote about the fallacy of the Bible’s info about the Hittites (e.g. William Graham Sumner, F.W. Newman, T.K. Cheyne), but there was a larger skepticism (e.g. higher criticism) during the 18th and 19th centuries concerning much of the information in the Bible. Some of that came from German critics who influenced others, including ivy league schools (e.g. Princeton, Harvard, Yale) and liberal seminaries (e.g. Union, Andover). Not believing what the Bible said about the Hittites was just one of many details the critics disbelieved.

      What was especially important to me as an atheist was the fact that the Bible contained detailed information about a major civilization that had been lost to the knowledge of the world until archaeological discoveries of the late 19th century and early 20th century.

      Thanks for asking!

      • staircaseghost

        I must have been unclear.

        I was not asking for people “who wrote about the fallacy of the Bible’s info about the Hittites”. I am looking for specific, named people who “believed the Hittites were nothing more than an invention of the writers of the Bible” and direct citations where I can read them explicitly saying the Hittites never existed.

        Can you produce even one citation from a skeptic (not, ehn oh tee not an apologist who says that skeptics said this) claiming “Hittites were nothing more than an invention of the writers of the Bible”?

        • Mark McGee

          The three people I named were identified in 1800’s writings as being people who believed the Hittites didn’t exist. You asked me to name one, so I thought three would be helpful. Are you asking to see the original 1700’s/1800’s documents written by the skeptics?

          • staircaseghost

            My continued unclarity comes as a surprise to me.

            I am asking for a citation (that is, an author, a title, and a page number) to one of these authors where they specifically claim “Hittites never existed”. (You can check Ken Coughlan’s recent post on this site for an example of what the format of an academic citation looks like.)

            If you are unable to supply evidence to back up these claims, basic intellectual honesty requires you to retract that portion of your article.

            Have you read the links I supplied? Have you gotten a sense of the difficulties involved in actually finding someone, anyone, who explicitly claimed “the Hittites never existed”?

            • Mark McGee

              One of the important points to make is that Old Testament scholarship was under intense attack from German and English higher critics in the 1800s. The Hittites were just one of many of the claims of Scripture that were under fire at the time.

              Below are some citations and other writings you may find helpful.

              E.A. Wallis Budge (British Museum), Egypt and Her Asiatic Empire (New York: 1902), 136

              Professor F.W. Newman (Balliol College, Oxford), History of the Hebrew Monarchy, 1857,

              Rev. T.K. Cheyne (Balliol College, Oxford), Encylopedia Britannica 9th Edition article, 1882 (as reported in The British Quarterly Review, July and October, 1882, Vol. LXXVI … William Wright wrote about Cheyne’s article in the Encyclopedia Britannica in his book The Empire of the Hittites (1884). He wrote that Cheyne, “treats the Bible statements regarding the Hittites as unhistorical and unworthy of credence.” p. 89 (Encyclopedia Britannica 9th Edition was published from 1875 to 1889 in 25 volumes)

              I found this URL for the Britannica article, http://www.cwru.edu/univlib/preserve/Etana/encyl_biblica_e-k/hirah-horonaim.pdf , but it is not available at this time from the university.

              A.H. Sayce, The Hittites: The Story of a Forgotten Empire, (New York, F.J. Revell Co. pref. 1888), 11, Sayce wrote, “Nearly forty years ago a distinguished scholar selected this passage [2 Kings 7:6] for his criticism. Its ‘unhistorical tone, he declared, ‘is too manifest to allow of our easy belief in it. No Hittite kings can have compared in power with the king of Judah, the real and near ally, who is not named at all … nor is there a single mark of acquaintance with the contemporaneous history.”

              William Wright, The Empire of the Hittites, 1884 – Wright writes about the importance of the Hittite investigation, “because the casual references to the Hittites in the Bible have been used by the enemies of Divine revelation to discredit the historical accuracy of the book…” p. 88

              Millar Burrows (Professor at Yale University), What Mean These Stones, (New Haven: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1941) (Ch. 3, n. 9) – Burrows acknowledged that the Hittites were “hardly more than a name to us” until the excavations at Boghaz-koi.

              Professor R.A. Torrey published a series of commentaries in the early 1900s to help Christians deal with the onslaught of “higher criticism.” This is a quote from a commentary written by George Frederick Wright as a part of Torrey’s publication entitled “The Testimony of the Monuments to the Truth of the Scriptures” (1910). I share it because Wright lived during that era and heard from those who did not believe what was being reported about the Hittite people. “Unil the decipherment of the inscriptions on the monuments of Egypt and Assyria, the numerous references in the Bible to this mysterious people were unconfirmed by any other historical authorities, so that many regarded the biblical statements as mythical, and an indication of the general untrustworthiness of biblical history. A prominent English biblical critic declared not many years ago that an alliance between Egypt and the Hittites was as improbable as would be one at the present time between England and the Choctaws. But, alas for the over-confident critic, recent investigations have shown, not only that such an alliance was natural, but that it actually occurred.”

              People like R.A. Torrey, D.L. Moody, George F. Wright, A.C. Dixon, C.G. Trumbull, G. Campbell Morgan, J.C. Ryle, Franklin Johnson and many others were part of a strong group of men who responded to higher criticism in the late 1800s and early 1900s and knew what they heard and what they faced.

              Now, would you answer me this … Would you agree that an ancient document written 3,000 – 4,000 years ago that contains detailed aspects of an ancient civilization that was unknown through any other means other than archaeological discoveries just 100-150 years ago would be a document to consider seriously as being of historic significance?

              Thank you.

              • staircaseghost

                One of the important points to make is that Old Testament scholarship was under intense attack from German and English higher critics in the 1800s.

                I am not looking for “intense attacks”. I am looking for a specific person in a specific book on a specific page specifically claiming Hittites never existed. Or, failing that, a retraction of the claims made in this article to that effect.

                Below are some citations and other writings you may find helpful.

                E.A. Wallis Budge (British Museum), Egypt and Her Asiatic Empire (New York: 1902), 136

                Professor F.W. Newman (Balliol College, Oxford), History of the Hebrew Monarchy, 1857

                I am not looking for entire books or entire articles. Suppose I read an entire book and come and say, “I read the book, and didn’t find the specific claim you said was in there.” “You must have been looking on the wrong pages.” “Well, why didn’t you just tell me what page to look on in the first place?”

                Rev. T.K. Cheyne (Balliol College, Oxford), Encylopedia Britannica 9th Edition article, 1882 (as reported in The British Quarterly Review, July and October, 1882, Vol. LXXVI … William Wright wrote about Cheyne’s article in the Encyclopedia Britannica in his book The Empire of the Hittites (1884). He wrote that Cheyne, “treats the Bible statements regarding the Hittites as unhistorical and unworthy of credence.” p. 89 (Encyclopedia Britannica 9th Edition was published from 1875 to 1889 in 25 volumes)

                Remember way back in the day, when I specifically said I was not interested in reading hearsay accounts of what some Christian says a skeptic says? Likewise, do you see how “statements regarding X are unhistorical” is not the same thing as “X never existed”?

                I found this URL for the Britannica article,http://www.cwru.edu/univlib/pr… , but it is not available at this time from the university.

                I cannot access that link.

                Have you ever actually read it? Or did you hear about it from Christian A, who read about it on a blog post from Apologist B, who read about it in a book from Apologist C, who copied it from Apologist D, who read the quote from the Quarterly review, from the guy who says “this is what the skeptic says”?

                Are you starting to see the problem here?

                You are looking at the funhouse-mirror reflection of your initial “shocking discovery”. You are learning that Christian apologists routinely make claims which even cursory research demonstrates are baseless. That certainly was a catalyst for my deconversion.

                A.H. Sayce, The Hittites: The Story of a Forgotten Empire, (New York, F.J. Revell Co. pref. 1888), 11, Sayce wrote, “Nearly forty years ago a distinguished scholar selected this passage [2 Kings 7:6] for his criticism. Its ‘unhistorical tone, he declared, ‘is too manifest to allow of our easy belief in it. No Hittite kings can have compared in power with the king of Judah, the real and near ally, who is not named at all … nor is there a single mark of acquaintance with the contemporaneous history.”

                This is not what I asked for. This is, once again, some Christian saying that some unnamed person said something; moreover, it does not say they said “Hittites never existed”!

                William Wright, The Empire of the Hittites, 1884 – Wright writes about the importance of the Hittite investigation, “because the casual references to the Hittites in the Bible have been used by the enemies of Divine revelation to discredit the historical accuracy of the book…” p. 88

                This is not what I asked for. This is, once again, some Christian saying that some unnamed “enemies of divine revelation” said something.

                Millar Burrows (Professor at Yale University), What Mean These Stones, (New Haven: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1941) (Ch. 3, n. 9) – Burrows acknowledged that the Hittites were “hardly more than a name to us” until the excavations at Boghaz-koi.

                Once again, not a claim “Hittites never existed”.

                This is a quote from a commentary written by George Frederick Wright as a part of Torrey’s publication entitled “The Testimony of the Monuments to the Truth of the Scriptures” (1910). I share it because Wright lived during that era and heard from those who did not believe what was being reported about the Hittite people. “Unil the decipherment of the inscriptions on the monuments of Egypt and Assyria, the numerous references in the Bible to this mysterious people were unconfirmed by any other historical authorities, so that many regarded the biblical statements as mythical, and an indication of the general untrustworthiness of biblical history. A prominent English biblical critic declared not many years ago that an alliance between Egypt and the Hittites was as improbable as would be one at the present time between England and the Choctaws. But, alas for the over-confident critic, recent investigations have shown, not only that such an alliance was natural, but that it actually occurred.”

                Sigh. Who are these “many”? Who is this “prominent English biblical critic”? Where is a quote clearly saying “Hittites never existed” (not “some specific stories about Hittites are unhistorical”?)

                George Washington did not chop down the cherry tree. That story is not historical. But this is not the same as the claim “George Washington never existed”.

                There was no shenanigans with the Olympian gods and the golden apple that caused the Trojan War. That is not the same as the claim “Troy never existed”. And the discovery that Troy did exist, when many people believed it did not, does not increase one iota the probability that the Olympian gods exist.

                Still waiting for you to back up your claim that “Critics of the Bible believed the Hittites were nothing more than an invention of the writers of the Bible,” or retract it.

                • Mark McGee

                  Greetings. I’ve answered your questions and demands, giving you more information than you required. Your not accepting my answers as satisfactory to your opinion and judgment is not a valid reason for a retraction of those answers.

                  You are doing what I used to do as an atheist, finding a small point of distraction to hide the larger issue, so I understand the tactic. I don’t know how old you are, but I was using that tactic and many others almost 50 years ago. RIB – Ridicule, Intimidate, Bully – basic tactics of the atheist trade.

                  You have not answered my very simple question about the main issue, which is – Would you agree that an ancient document written 3,000 – 4,000 years ago that contains detailed aspects of an ancient civilization that was unknown through any other means other than archaeological discoveries just 100-150 years ago would be a document to consider seriously as being of historic significance?

                  I look forward to your answer.

                  Mark

                  • staircaseghost

                    “Greetings. I’ve answered your questions and demands, giving you more information than you required.”

                    On the contrary. You have not supplied me with the name of one single skeptic who denied the Hittites ever existed, along with a direct citation to them actually saying this. You have supplied me with several examples of what I went out of my way to tell you I was not asking for — examples of hearsay reports from Christians saying that skeptics say things in the general ballpark.

                    Who, specifically, is this skeptic who claimed the Hittites “were nothing more than an invention of the writers of the Bible” (your words, not mine), and where, specifically, do they specifically say this?

                    I have no idea where you think you’re going in changing the subject to “of historical significance”. As I explained, the Iliad is “of historical significance”, but Schliemann’s discovery of Troy (a city which, by the way, actual skeptics actually did say never existed, and were proven wrong about) in no way caused me to reevaluate my atheism on the question of the Olympian gods. Should it have?

                    • Mark McGee

                      I think we’re starting to go in circles. I’m sorry the evidence is not good enough for you. It was enough for me to keep investigating and asking questions.

                      The men who lived during the 1800s who wrote about what they had heard liberal scholars say and read what they wrote about the Hittites were not “hearsay reports.” They were giving first-person testimony about what they heard or saw. Hearsay is information that someone gains from someone else without having direct, verifiable knowledge. The information I shared with you was based on direct, verified, first-person experience shared by people who lived during the 1800s. These men were scholars, professors and respected leaders in their community. There is no reason not to believe what they say they heard with their own ears and heard with their own eyes.

                      Here is a link to The British Quarterly Review July and October, 1882 – http://archive.org/details/britishquarterl01goog

                      Here is a link to Dr. Wright’s lecture about the Hittites, 1892 – http://www.amazon.com/Hittites-Date-Delivered-Palestine-Exploration/dp/B00AKTL7TY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376185158&sr=1-1&keywords=Hittites+Up+Date

                      Here is a link to Professor Ira Price’s The Monuments and the Old Testament, 1907 – http://www.amazon.com/Monuments-Old-Testament-Maurice-Price/dp/1161370927/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376185324&sr=1-1&keywords=Monuments+Old+Testament

                      My reason for asking you about the historical significance of the Bible in containing specific, detailed, verifiable information about the Hittite nation was to determine whether you are open to the possibility of God’s existence and a continued discussion. I’m certainly not changing the subject since the title and purpose of the series I’m writing is, “Convince Me There’s A God.” The existence of God is the subject.

                      God was extremely kind to save an angry atheist and I appreciate the opportunity to share with others the greatest of all discoveries – the reality of God.

        • MGaerlan

          Hi staircaseghost,

          Your participation and inquiry are much appreciated. However, we like to keep things friendly and civil. Comments such as “ehn oh tee not” distract from that. Please see our comment policy here: http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/comment-policy/

          Thank you again for your participation.

        • Mark McGee

          Would you agree that an ancient document written 3,000 – 4,000 years ago that contains detailed aspects of an ancient civilization that was unknown through any other means other than archaeological discoveries just 100-150 years ago would be a document to consider seriously as being of historic significance? That is what impressed me most when I learned about the Bible, the Hittites and subsequent archaeological discoveries made in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.

          • Ryan Lidster

            I suppose it would depend on what you meant by “consider seriously as being of historic significance.” Ancient documents are actually quite commonly used as source material to assist in the ‘rediscovery’ of ancient artifacts, buildings, and even entire dynasties and civilizations. For example, in Cambodia, Ta Prohm was only described in a few Buddhist writings before its rediscovery by the École Française d’Extrême Orient, who drew heavily on those documents for evidence; the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an were once thought to be mythical or hyperbole until their rediscovery in 1974; in fact, the entire Zhang Dynasty that preceded the Qin Emperor was thought to be mere legend, attested only in ancient writings, but these are now crucial in helping archaeologists unearth the past. So, ancient documents can provide lots of great leads that help historians and archaeologists piece together the past, but they are not, strictly speaking, a historical record in the sense we use it now, and they were probably never intended to be. While some details might even correspond to the evidence we find, many usually don’t, and that’s true both for the ancient writings of the Khmer in Cambodia and for the Old Testament. It doesn’t take long to find pretty glaring discrepancies, but the documents are certainly worth “considering seriously as being of historic significance” if by that you mean that they are important sources of information concerning what people wrote down and believed at the time.

            As for the Hittites, it’s rather unsurprising that a document written at the time of the Hittites would write about the Hittites. They were a dominant power in the region, and they are mentioned quite frequently in Assyrian and Egyptian texts. They were one of the main reasons for the collapse of the Mitanni Empire. So, it would be inaccurate to imply that the whole civilization had no records of its existence other than the Old Testament before Sayce. Rather, Europe’s knowledge of the ancient history of Anatolia was quite limited. Taking the example of one of the authors you mentioned, F.W. Newman, it wasn’t that he thought the Hittites didn’t exist. He rather famously declared in 1853 that “No Hittite king could have compared in power to the King of Judah,” believing that the Bible showed how the Hittites were mere satellites of Israel. We know now that the story was quite different. The Hittites controlled a vast empire that dwarfed the Israelites in power and size, but rather rapidly collapsed about 3000 years ago.

            • Mark McGee

              Thanks for responding, Ryan. I often said as an atheist that there was absolutely NO evidence for the historicity of the Bible. A bit naive on my part at the time, but it’s what I believed. Interestingly, no Christian who engaged with me on my daily radio talk show shared any evidence with me. They just argued from the perspective that God existed and had inspired the writing of the Bible. That didn’t cut it with me, as it probably does not cut it with most atheists, so I ridiculed them until they either hung up on me or we went to commercial.

              In my journey from atheist to theist, I came across archaeological findings that supported the Bible as having historical information that connected with other ancient data that was accepted as historical.

              The1960s was a time of the rise in doubt and even overt opposition to Christianity. Since I had been raised in a Christian home and attended a Christian church as a child, I found the doubt and opposition stimulating. It fed my personal anger toward Christianity. I studied Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism, then read as many books as I could by atheists of the day. Some college professors in the mid-60s were atheists and what they believed and said supported where I was going in my own worldview.

              I used what I had learned to rail against Christianity and Christians on talk radio. What I’m sharing in this series of posts, Convince Me There’s A God, is what changed the direction of my life journey to belief in God.

              Thanks for sharing and I look forward to speaking with you again. Mark

              • Ryan Lidster

                It’s certainly true that the Bible describes some real historical events, some of which are described in great detail. I’d agree wholeheartedly there. I would, however, caution against trusting the Bible as an accurate source of history. Parts of the Bible are very unambiguously intended to be allegorical, but for other sections, it’s not that clear. For example, some Biblical scholars argue that the story of the Mosaic Exodus should be taken as allegory, whereas others maintain that it was intended to describe a real historical event. The problem with that is not only that there’s no archaeological or historical evidence to support a mass exodus of 600,000+ Jews from Egypt around 3250 years ago, but also that there’s strong evidence *against* that ever having happened (in the form of continuous records from sources who were both hostile and friendly to the Egyptians and Israelites). Is the Bible’s brief, vague mention of the Hittite Empire in the Levant really good cause for believing that the Noahic flood was a real, historical event? That’s where I think treating the Bible as a historical document gets a little scary. So, sure, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and dismiss the Bible’s account wholesale, but there are very good reasons not to treat it as a scientifically rigorous account of the events of its time. Indeed, that very notion of “historical accuracy” as a necessary component of the reliability of a text is a social construct that came along much later than the Bible was written.

  • http://hausdorffbb.blogspot.com/ Hausdorff

    “I was actually listening to Christians talk about why they believed in the existence of God. Sound ridiculous?”

    No, that doesn’t sound ridiculous at all. I find the reasons people believe to be fascinating, especially when they believe something different than me.

    As to the evidence of the Hittites existence, that kind of thing is fascinating but it does not prove anything about the supernatural events that took place in the bible. Even if you could prove that various battles that take place in the bible happened in reality it says nothing about God’s supposed role in that battle. It could have just been a normal battle between two tribes and the winners write in their history that God was on their side.

    New York is a real place, but spiderman is not a real person. Proving a place is real does not mean that characters and events that are written about in the place are necessarily real.

    • Mark McGee

      What I’m doing is describing the process of how an atheist came to believe in the existence of God. What the archaeological findings about the Hittite civilization showed me was the Bible could be trusted on some level as an accurate conveyor of ancient history. During my investigation into the question of God’s existence, that was a big discovery for me. I thought of the Bible as mythical in the sense of being untrue and unreliable. Finding any reliability to Scripture was important to my continuing the process.

      • http://hausdorffbb.blogspot.com/ Hausdorff

        Fair enough. I’d be interested to read about how the rest of that process went :)

        • Mark McGee

          Thanks! I look forward to sharing it.

    • Robin Schumacher

      Se the following on the use of the Spiderman fallacy: http://goo.gl/bhT2Bb

    • MaryLouiseC

      If you look at all other supposedly sacred writings such as the Koran or the Book of Mormon or the many mythological religions of the Ancient Near East (ANE) surrounding gods such as Osiris or Zeus, for example, you will see that not one of them is grounded in history as the Bible is. That is one of the things that sets it apart from the so-called holy books of other religions.

      Take the Book of Mormon, for example. There is absolutely no archaeological evidence for any of the people, places or events it records. That suggests none of it is grounded in reality. Looking at ANE myths (which are available for reading online at sacredtexts.com), we see that no real people, places and events are included in them.

      More importantly, it is easy to see one very notable difference between the Bible and mythology — myth involves a worldview of continuity. By that, I mean that everything in creation, including the gods, are physically part and parcel of each other. On the other hand, in the Bible, God is transcendent over creation, not part of it. Additionally, myth looks at life as circular. The Bible looks at it in a linear fashion as we move toward a specific goal at a specific time in a specific place — all of which are named and, therefore, verifiable.

      This is why the archaeological evidence is indeed significant. No other religious texts are anchored in history/reality the way that the Bible is. No other religious text offers the fulfilled prophecy that the Bible does.

      As for the element of the supernatural, I find that those who come to the Bible with the presupposition of naturalism automatically deny the supernatural without even seriously considering it. I have seen miracles in my own life and in the lives of others. Therefore, I don’t have any problem accepting the reality of supernatural events.

      Of course, the greatest supernatural event is that of the resurrection of Christ. There is evidence for it just as there is evidence for other historical events — too many to outline here. However, anyone interested in looking at it should visit Gary Habermas’ site (http://garyhabermas.com/) as he is one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject.

  • el-shalom

    CHRISTIANITY AND SCIENCE

    By the grace and mercy of God, Matthew 24:14 which summarily stated
    that this gospel will spread world wide for the whole earth to bear
    witness before the end will come, led me to ask God to give me a little
    knowledge on how we can reach out to the scientific world and God by His
    mercy, gave me an utterance through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    CONCLUSION ON THE ISSUES OF THE MYSTERY OF TRINITY

    Concerning some unscientific questions like, how can God eat, how can
    God sleep, how can God die? Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, God
    wants to logically end it.
    John 1:1 in the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.
    THE WORD THAT WAS WITH GOD (JOHN 1:1)

    Since the word was with God, then God has the right to allow His
    creative word to become human being and be born of a woman, eat food,
    sleep and be circumcised etc.
    THE WORD WAS GOD (JOHN 1:1)

    According to Matthew 25:31-46, the word Jesus, as God will judge this
    world and He will separate this world into two groups i.e. the righteous
    (sheep) and the sinners (goats). And give the most accurate judgment to
    the world. It is a mystery from God.
    ORIGIN OF SCIENCE
    Genesis
    2:17 but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat
    of eat: for in the day that thou eats thereof, thou shall surely die.
    Science was gotten from this tree of knowledge.

    In Genesis 3:7 when Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of
    knowledge, they made the first discovery, they discovered that they were
    naked, and they begin to have more knowledge, they made the primitive
    clothes from the fig leaves and cover themselves.
    THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE TREE OF LIFE
    THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

    Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shall
    not eat of eat: for in the day that thou eats thereof, thou shall surely
    die.
    This tree of knowledge consists of good and evil knowledge.
    GOOD KNOWLEDGE

    God has given man the good knowledge to do well, e.g. man can use the
    name of Jesus to perform miracles, signs and wonders and all the good
    things of life, but only the tree of life guarantee entrance to heaven.
    EVIL KNOWLEDGE

    Some evil men can do extraordinary things, some even call themselves
    God, they perform magic, and witchcraft is also a product of this tree.
    Do not be deceived, those village ancestors and gods are just
    advertising the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they are not God. There
    are powerful idols discovered by men, through this source, but let’s
    keep that between me and you.
    SCIENCE
    Science is the physical
    product of the tree of knowledge; God has given man the privilege to
    make discoveries. Science could have been a good knowledge but since
    they denied the existence of God, their knowledge became evil.
    THE TREE OF LIFE

    Genesis 3:22 and the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of
    us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take
    also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever.
    Whether you have all the good knowledge of life, without the tree of life, you are doom for hell.
    Who is the source of the tree of life?

    John 14:6 Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one
    comes to the Father, except by me (quoted from the heart)
    ORIGIN OF LIFE ACCORDING TO SCIENTIST

    According to science, cell is the smallest unit of life, then the cell
    will gather together to form tissue, and tissue will gather to function
    as organ, then the organs function as system, that is why we have
    respiratory system, reproductive system. This is the fact based on the
    tree of knowledge that led to human discoveries.
    THE SPIRITUAL INTERPRETATION OF THESE SCIENTIFIC FACTS

    A prayer answered can give can give life to a dead system, and the dead
    cells will come back to life and form a living tissues and organs, and
    the systems will function again. That is why scientist do wonder, when
    they see dead coming back to life, at the mention of Jesus and women
    with damaged wombs given birth to babies. Hallelujah Amen.
    By the
    grace of God I started by given answers to questions like can God eat,
    can God sleep, these questions are not really logical or scientific
    questions, and they are rather product of malicious sentiments.
    SCIENTIFIC WAY OF ASKING QUESTIONS THAT MATTERS
    (1) Since you Christians claimed that God has knowledge of all things, can God taste food, feel pains, weep, die etc.?
    ANSWER

    Answer: God is a Spirit, He cannot do that but His word (Jesus Christ)
    in human flesh, has proven that Jehovah is not ignorant of physical
    things, so God has all knowledge through His word Jesus Christ.
    BIBLICAL BACKINGS TO THIS ANSWER
    John 1:1 in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.
    Right form the beginning, the creative word of God has all the sense of creativity and physicality.
    John 1:3 all things were made by Him and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
    This has proven that not only physical things, even scientific knowledge comes through His permission.
    John 1:14 and the word was made flesh and dwell among us, eat, die, resurrected etc.
    TO PROOF THAT JESUS THE WORD OF GOD WAS NOT IGNORANT OF ANYTHING
    DEAD

    Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shall
    not eat of eat: for in the day that thou eats thereof, thou shall surely
    die.
    Jesus was never born like anyone of us, He was not a product
    of Adam, He simply came through Mary, and this meant He has nothing to
    do with the tree of knowledge yet He died.
    LIFE
    Genesis 3:22 and
    the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of us, to know good
    and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree
    of life, and eat and live forever.
    He resurrected on this earth and lived forever. So Jesus is complete at all levels.

    Finally I knew that scientist will not argue with this facts because it
    did not condemned their knowledge but they have to accept the even from
    the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their knowledge is tertiary.

    Knowledge of good e.g. miracles is the greatest knowledge given to
    man, magic is evil but can be secondary, scientific and all physical
    knowledge can be tertiary (my own view, not from God).
    Science will
    tell you that the whole human body can function as one, but every organ
    can function on its own meaning the dead ear cannot stop the legs from
    functioning; this is from the little knowledge given to them.
    I
    think with their little knowledge, scientist can be able to understand
    the little that God want us to understand, scientist will know that
    Jehovah is a Spirit, but His word can function on its own, yet it is
    part of Him. May God bless us all. Amen.
    Let’s find a means to spread the message to the scientist world, according to Matthew 24:14.Like · · Sha