by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
A documentary movie called Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus by Timothy Mahoney has been causing quite a stir in Christian and secular circles. It has received praise from many Christian organizations, as well as creation science ministries such as Answers In Genesis and Creation Ministries International. You can buy it, or rent it online from places like Amazon. This is not a review, as I have not seen the movie or read the book — yet. My purpose here is a mite different.
I was listening to Derek Gilbert's interview of Mr. Mahoney on "A View from the Bunker". From about the 2 minutes 40 seconds mark through 11 minutes, he gave background on what motivated him to do investigations and make the film. He went to a dig site in Egypt for Goshen, and it was the area of Rameses (but I don't know which Rameses he meant). He asked an archaeologist if anything had been found about the Israelites having been there, and the answer was that nothing was found so far.
|Passage of the Jews through the Red Sea / Ivan Aivazovsky, 1891|
This cause Tim a crisis of faith. What if it was all false? Exodus is essential to Judaism and Christianity. After all, the consensus of many scholars is that the Israelites were never in Egypt. Mahoney then did some research and learned that there have been questions raised about the chronologies and record keeping of ancient Egypt. He decided (my wording here) to follow where the evidence leads. Correctly noting that people interpret evidence according to their presuppositions, he wondered what would happen if researchers were able to leave those behind.
Unfortunately, Mr. Mahoney appears to have been basing his faith on evidence only. He must have known that skeptical archaeologists have often used an argument from ignorance to "refute" the Bible; absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, you know. "We cannot find archaeological evidence or written records of the Israelite exodus from Egypt about 3,500 years ago. Therefore, it did not happen." Two of the many examples of where scoffers were proved spectacularly wrong include the claim that the Hittites never existed, and that Belshazzar never existed (or if he did, he was certainly no king). They also appeal to the majority, and they appeal to authority by citing consensus, but a consensus is not a guarantee of something being factual; consensus has been wrong, and will be wrong again. It's disappointing that scholars resort to such shoddy reasoning as the argument from ignorance and of relying on consensus, but what's worse is that people believe "scientists" and "scholars" because of who they are.
The good news here is that archaeologists are beginning to come around and reexamine the Egyptian record keeping. Serious flaws have been found, and when given the proper perspective, suddenly the Bible is proven right — again.
Evidence changes, but the Word of God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8)! I disremember when this was, but some "deep time" Christian was saying that the Big Bang was proof that God exists, especially since the Big Bang had been proved by gravitational waves and BICEP2. Except that the Big Bang is loaded with serious flaws and bad reasoning, and the BICEP2 thing was retracted shortly after that jasper made his assertion. Where is his faith now, since his "proof" was faulty?
Please note that I am in no wise criticizing Timothy Mahoney. It's tough to think that your saddle has been uncinched and you're going to fall off your horse. For him, the scoffing got mighty loud in his mind, and he saw repercussions throughout Scripture and he wanted to do something about it. I reckon from what people are saying about Patterns of Evidence that he did an outstanding job.
Genesis is foundational to the gospel message, and the source of all major Christian doctrines. Proponents of amoeba-to-archaeologist evolution use the fallacies listed above, and more, to cling to their faith in evolution to suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18-19). Exodus is also extremely important, but is not quite so viciously attacked as Genesis. If secular scientists could be like some of these archaeologists and see that the evidence does not support evolution, there would be even more people abandoning evolutionism and embracing biblical creation.
The Christian faith is to be based on faith in the Word of God (Psalm 138:2, 2 Peter 1:19). No, I don't support fideism, reason and evidence support the Christian faith and are not contrary to it. What I am advocating is that evidence is used properly. When we elevate science, evidence, and other things to a magisterial position, they become the supreme authority and the Word of God is subordinate. It's supposed to be the other way around.