… But Archaeology DOES Disprove ‘the Bible’
Posted by NT Wrong on May 6, 2008
“Responding to these developments, some secular scholars have claimed that archaeology actually disproves the Bible. Thankfully, it does not.”
– Finders of the Lost Ark?, Gordon Govier, Christianity Today, May 2008, Vol. 52, No. 5
It is often said that archaeology does not disprove the Bible. Some go even further, and claim that archaeology can not disprove the Bible.
Both claims are false. Archaeology can and does disprove “the Bible”.
But the phrase “disproves the Bible” is a very vague description. Archaeology discusses certain propositions, some of which overlap with the Bible’s own propositions. Given that the subject matter of archaeology and the Bible overlap in many areas, archaeology can and does disprove the Bible. The Bible deals both with the ‘what’ happened in the past, as well as the ‘why’ it happened. Much of the ‘what’ happened directly contradicts archaeological evidence (e.g. the biblical account of the Exodus, the biblical account of the Conquest, the biblical account of the united monarchy). And the Bible usually presents the ‘why’ as being intimately related to the ‘what’. So the ‘why’ questions that the Bible tries to answer aren’t immune from disproof from archaeology, either (although, the grounds for disproof are indirect).
For example, archaeology proves, according to the rules of argumentation and evidence of the game of archaeology, that there were only 3 million people in Egypt in the Late Bronze Age. The Bible’s own proposition is that some 600,000 fighting men, aged 20 and upwards, migrated out of Egypt during a period which may be correlated with the Late Bronze Age. When we add women, children and elderly, 600,000 fighting men implies some 2.5 to 3 million people who migrated from Egypt in the Late Bronze Age. However, the archaeological evidence shows no such thing at all. There is no such disruption to the archaeological record. In fact, Egypt generally grew in strength throughout this period.
So, the Bible’s proposition that 600,000 fighting men migrated out of Egypt in the Exodus is proved false by archaeology. The idea that God has called a certain people to him is also affected by this evidence. Without an Exodus, there’s no theological establishment of Israel. And the only biblical account of the Exodus is disproved. So, archaeology disproves this part of the Bible.