The Bible as History

Generally, the Bible talks about history—past, present, and future—through the lens of literal Israel (OT) and spiritual Israel (NT). The questions that are often asked are: “Can we still trust the Bible?” “Can we still believe the Bible?” We can still believe this old book called the “Bible” that has survived for more than two millennia. The following historical facts show that the Bible is an historical book.

First, the Exodus from Egypt took place about 1450 BC. The date can be worked out from First Kings 6:1 where Solomon began to build the temple about 480 years after the Exodus. Solomon came to the throne around 960 BC, and 480 years from this date gives us dates between 1440 and 1450 BC. Two theories are forwarded to support the fifteenth century BC date. A volcanic eruption took place at Sinai around 1450 BC and it is theorized that this explains the language in Exodus 19:16–19.

A second theory relates to the Habiru invasion and when it took place. Take for instance the Tel El-Amarna tablets discovered in Egypt; these record certain invasions into Palestine by the Habiru (marauders). From this document, we find that Abdu-Heba wrote to the Pharaoh of both the oppression of Egypt and the exodus. The Habiru at that time besieged Jerusalem and wanted to take their city back. It is believed that the Habiru were the Israelites who had escaped from Egypt in 1450 BC and were now invading Palestine.

A second line of evidence begins at 1 Samuel 8. The Bible records the government that arose among the Israelites. It started with Saul as the first king of Israel, followed by David and then Solomon. This was called the “united monarchy.” Historians are convinced that these stories are true and historically reliable. The reigns of David and Solomon are considered the “golden age” of ancient Israel.

Take King David for instance; he is not only an historical figure and ancestor of the Messiah, but also the prototype of the Messiah to come. David was a type of Christ in many ways. First, David was born in Bethlehem; Christ was born in Bethlehem. Second, David was a shepherd; Christ was the true shepherd (Ezek 34:23; John 10:11). Third, David was anointed; Christ was baptized (1 Sam 16; Matt 3:13–17). Fourth, David was hated by his kinsmen; Christ was hated by his own people (1 Sam 17; Mark 6:4). Fifth, David was a king, called a prophet (cf Acts 2:29–30), and functioned as a priest (2 Sam 6:16; 24:25); Christ is a Prophet (Deut 18:15), a Priest (Heb 7), and a King (Dan 7:9–14; John 18:36–37).[1]

Jonathan Edwards in his book, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, says the following:

David, as he was the ancestor of Christ, so he was the greatest personal type of Christ of all under the Old Testament. The types of Christ were three sorts; instituted, providential, and personal. The ordinance of sacrificing was the greatest of the instituted types; the redemption out of Egypt was the greatest of the providential; and David the greatest of the personal ones. Hence Christ is often called David in the prophecies of Scripture; as Ezekiel 34:23, 24: “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them even my servant David; My servant David a prince among them;” and so in many other places. He is very often spoken of as the seed and the son of David.[2]

Solomon was also an historical figure and was a type of Christ. Solomon’s name means “peace” and “prosperity.” During his reign, Israel experienced national peace and prosperity. Also, the population may have doubled since Saul’s time.[3] The construction of the temple was begun in his fourth year (959 BC) and was completed seven years later (cf. 1 Kgs 6:36f). The temple served a dual purpose. It was a royal chapel for priests and kings and, since it held the Ark, it was intended as the national shrine of the people of Israel proclaiming their allegiance to God.

During the reigns of David and Solomon, Israel witnessed what is often called: the “golden age,” where the culture of ancient Israel flourished; the land experienced an amazing period of peace and prosperity.

After the death of Solomon (931 BC), the united kingdom was divided into the northern and the southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom was composed of the ten tribes of Israel with its capital city in Samaria. The southern kingdom was known as Judah and held the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem. Later, because of their unbelief, disobedience, and the desecration of the Sabbath, both were taken into captivity. The northern kingdom went into Assyrian captivity, while the southern kingdom went into Babylonian captivity.

This leads us to the third line of evidence. In 722 BC, the Assyrians invaded the land of Israel and deported its ten tribes to the Assyrian territories. With time, these ten tribes merged with other nations, and eventually lost their identity.[4]

The history of Judah is dealt with in the biblical record. Chapters 36–39 of Isaiah are mainly historical interludes that deal with Assyrian invasions under the leadership of Sennacherib (705–681 BC), the illness of Hezekiah (chap 38), and Merodach-Baladan’s visit (chap 39). Sennacherib became king of Assyria in 705 BC and made his first campaign against Judah in 701 BC. He captured forty-six walled cities of Judah, including Lachish, and besieged Jerusalem, where Hezekiah found himself imprisoned. The inscription of Sennacherib’s clay prisms, describing his campaign against Hezekiah and the Philistines in 701 BC, are the most detailed Assyrian accounts of an episode related in the Bible.[5]

Sennacherib then had to turn his attention to Babylon where Merodach-Baladan (subject to Sargon since 710 BC) made another bid for the kingship with the help of the Arameans, Elamites, and Arabs. He was defeated by Sennacherib at Kish in 703 BC, who plundered Babylon and deported 208,000 prisoners. Only in 693 BC was Babylon finally suppressed and the god Marduk was taken to Assyria. It was then that Sennacherib took the ancient title “king of Sumer and Akkad.” In the wake of these developments in the eastern part of the empire, Palestine also rose and rebelled against the Assyrian overlords. Sennacherib marched along the Phoenician coast line and reimposed control there.

He also took 200,150 prisoners from the countryside of Judah and deported them to Assyria. By these acts he isolated Hezekiah in Jerusalem, after which he besieged the capital of Judah and, from Sennacherib’s perspective, he could describe Hezekiah’s situation as being “like a bird in a cage.” Then, however, the angel of the Lord smote Sennacherib’s army and the siege was raised (cf. 2 Kgs 19:35). Interestingly the Assyrian annals are noticeably silent about the reason for the ending of the siege. The presumption is that Sennacherib’s death followed soon after his return from Palestine (cf. 2 Kgs 19:36).

The kingdom of Judah managed to retain its independence for a while because the Assyrian empire began to decline. With time, the newly formed empire, known as the Neo-Babylonian Empire, conquered Assyria. It was founded by Nabopolassar and the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC could be taken as a point of departure, although it is also often argued that the decisive victory over the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 BC was the moment when the Neo-Babylonian empire commenced.

Nabopolassar (626–605) was made king on November 22, 626 BC after defending Babylon successfully against the Assyrian army. In 616/15 BC the crown-prince Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Assyrians at the Euphrates and drove them back to the heart of Assyria proper. Asshur fell in 614 BC and Nineveh in 612 BC.

In the Babylonian Chronicles, no record of the final assault is given, which might support the classical tradition that the final stronghold in Harran was overrun in 605 BC, where the battle at Carchemish was won by Nebuchadnezzar, following which he “conquered the whole area of the Hatti-Country”[6] (Syria-Palestine) (cf. 2 Kgs 24:7). In his first visit against Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar, in 605 BC, took Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah as hostages to Babylon—a common practice in regard to the stability of a vassal-overlord relationship. In his second visit to Jerusalem in 597 BC, he took Ezekiel, along with ten thousand prisoners, including Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin. On his third visit, in 586 BC, he destroyed the city and its temple.

The fourth line of evidence that the Bible records legitimate history, apart from recording the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, is that it tells of those people who were involved during His time. Caiaphas was one of those people who plotted to kill Jesus; this shows that the time of Christ’s ministry was included within the years of his administration. Interestingly, in November 1990, archeologists “uncovered a crypt with four loculi in which twelve ossuaries were discovered.”[7] Coins and writing styles dated these ossuaries to the first century AD. Two inscriptions appeared: the first, on the side of the ossuary, read “יהוסף בר קיפּא” (Yehoseph bar Qyph’); the second, at the end of the ossuary, read “יהוסף בר קפּא” (Yehoseph bar Qph’). The ossuary contained bones of an old man, sixty years of age along with “two infants, a toddler, a young boy and a woman,” and is thought by some to be “the ossuary of Caiaphas the High Priest, to whom Josephus refers as Joseph Caiaphas.”[8]

A second ossuary had the inscriptions “קפּא” (Qph’). The third ossuary bore the words “מרים ברת שׁמעון,” which means “Miriam, daughter of Simon.” Also, “a coin minted during the reign of Agrippa I (42/43 C.C., with the inscription “βασιλεὺς Ἀγρίππας” “King Agrippa”) was found in the mouth of the skull.[9] From the Gospels, one can conclude that Caiaphas was the high priest of the year in which the events of Christ’s passion were fulfilled. These extra-literary sources provide evidence for the existence of Jesus and of those who lived during His time. The evidence supplied by archeology also substantiates the claims of Judeo-Christianity more than anything else.

On the one hand, while archeology and archeologists cannot verify everything about the Bible, “archaeology has proved to be a friend of the Bible, not its foe,” said Erwin W. Lutzer.[10] On the other hand, our faith in God’s Word is not dependent on archeology.

Faith is given prominence in the book of Hebrews, which mentions sixteen characters by name: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, plus “we” (vs. 3), Moses’ parents (vs. 23), “the people” of Israel (vs. 29), and “the prophets” (vs. 32). All these showed extraordinary faith.

Faith is needed in our exposition of the Bible and in the way we believe in His word. Not to place our “faith—blind faith—on manmade theological interpretation of God that does not exist anywhere in the Bible.”[11] The Bible does not teach blind faith; in fact the Bible says: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Biblical faith is not blind but is powerfully warranted; we have good reason to believe. Our faith is built on a great foundation, based on the Word of God, which contains a revelation of Himself. Therefore, our faith is far from being blind; it is a biblical faith and not a blind faith. Faith is the second-greatest principle of the Christian religion (second to love) (cf. 1 Cor 13). It is a faith that is rooted in history and evidence.

Faith is not credulity. It is not believing in something you know is not true. Neither is faith a substitute for knowledge. Christian faith operates in the realm of meaning, not in the realm of fact. Faith recognizes fact but it is not out to obtain, contradict, or prove facts. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD) knew this when he said, “I believe in order that I may understand.”

Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109 AD) said: “Faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum).[12] He further writes, “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand.”[13] This unique attitude is common for both saints—Augustine and Anselm; they did not seek to replace faith by understanding, but sought to establish a deeper relationship between both. In other words, it is negligence if we make no attempt to understand what we believe.

Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it. So is bread, but you have to eat it. So is water, but you have to drink it.

So how do we accept this gift? Not by a feeling, for “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come upon me with a strong feeling of some kind. Rather, faith comes when we take God at his word.[14]

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4 NKJV). The opportunity is ours as it was of people of old (Heb 11). Note that the first struggle was between faith and reason; today it is between reasonable faith and faithless reason!

Youssry Guirguis currently serves as a full-time Lecturer at Asia-Pacific International University (AIU), Muak Lek, Thailand and also as an adjunct professor at the Adventist Institute for Islamic & Arabic Studies at Middle East University (MEU), Beirut, Lebanon.

Photo of Amarna letter courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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[1]Jon Bonker, Treasures of Christ in the Life of David (Raleigh, NC: Lulu, 2013), 24.

[2]Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Raleigh, NC: Lulu, 2018), 3:294.

[3]John Bright, A History of Israel (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), 217.

[4]William J. Duiker and Jackson Spielvogel, The Essential World History (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2006), 20-21.

[5]Gaalyah Cornfeld and David Noel Freedman, Archaeology of the Bible Book by Book: An Up-to-Date Archaeological Commentary on the Bible, with over 400 Illustration and Maps (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1976), 155.

[6]Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 1983), 207.

[7]Craig A. Evans, Jesus and the Ossuaries (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2003), 106.

[8]Evans, Jesus and the Ossuaries, 106.

[9]Evans, Jesus and the Ossuaries, 106.

[10]Erwin W. Lutzer, 7 Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 2015), 122.

[11]Daniel N. N, Blind Faith: How Christianity Abandoned God: Part One: The Trinity Doctrine (McKeesport, PA: BookCountry, 2016), 211.

[12]Mark W. Graham, “The Opening of the Western Mind: The Emergence of Higher Education in the ‘Dark Ages,’” in Faith, Freedom, and Higher Education: Historical Analysis and Contemporary Reflections, ed. P. C. Kemeny (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2013), 31. [14-34]

[13]Frederick Copleston, History of Philosophy: Medieval Philosophy (London, UK: A&C Black, 2003), 2:156.

[14]Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000), 133.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10489
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To paraphrase your reference to Anselm, “Faith seeking understanding”, you are engaging in “Faith seeking confirmation”. The Bible is not the evidence, it is the claim. Starting from the conclusion and using the discipline of archaeology to confirm your assumptions is reversing proper methodology.

Archaeology should not function as a magnifying glass to confirm biblical stories. Its function is to provide data to piece together that which happened, when it happened, how it happened, and why it happened. Let’s look at several of your claims:

Claim: “The exodus took place about 1450 BC. The date can be worked out from 1 Kings 6:1 where Solomon began to build the temple…” Now you look for archaeology to confirm this. Backwards. No archaeological data supports an exodus from Egypt around 1450 BC or at any other time. No refuse, bones, tablets, detritus, shards of pottery, or anything else has ever been found in the Sinai which would have been expected if a massive multitude had spent 40 years wandering around there. No evidence of a conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews or anyone else has been found by archaeologists. In fact the opposite is the case; the data shows the Hebrews slowly evolving from a small and insignificant shepherding people into inhabitants of small towns. Dating of warfare and destruction of any Canaanite cities cannot be made to fit the Biblical account. For further reading I would suggest “The Bible Unearthed” by two Israeli archaeologists, Finklestein and Silberman, who discuss the state of academic archaeology vis a vis OT history.

Claim: “A second line of evidence begins at 1 Samuel 8. The Bible records the government that arose among the Israelites. It started with Saul as the first king of Israel, followed by David and then Solomon.” Again, you begin with the tale told in the OT rather than observing archaeological data which does not indicate the existence of David and probably Solomon. No great kingdom has been shown to have existed in Judea at that time. Furthermore, no evidence of Solomon’s great temple has ever been found. Archaeology is silent on these subjects.

Claim: “Take King David for instance; he is not only an historical figure and ancestor of the Messiah, but also the prototype of the Messiah to come.” David is only an historical figure in the Bible, not in archaeological data. As ancestor of Jesus, you have other problems, that of logic. There two alleged genealogies of Jesus offered, one in Matthew and the other in Luke. Matthew runs the genealogy through David’s son Solomon. Luke runs the genealogy through David’s son Nathan. There is no similarity between the two genealogies other than the end point…Joseph, which gives rise to a problem with the virgin birth and incarnation beliefs. Now both genealogies cannot be accurate. One is in error without question. Both could be fabrications.

Claim: “During the reigns of David and Solomon, Israel witnessed what is often called: the “golden age,” where the culture of ancient Israel flourished.” We already touched on this above, but there is absolutely no evidence of the great empire alleged in the OT established by David and expanded by Solomon. None. NONE. We are not dealing here with history; rather, we are in the realm of legend or myth.

Claim: “The fourth line of evidence that the Bible records legitimate history, apart from recording the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, is that it tells of those people who were involved during His time.” Placing a character into a historical context doesn’t affirm the historicity of the tale any more than placing the character “Maximus” into the movie “The Gladiator” makes him or his story historical… It is interesting that the earliest writings of the NT, those of Paul, say nothing about the details of the earthly Jesus of the gospels. He is silent on any indication that he is writing about a recently living man living and preaching in Galilee and crucified in Jerusalem by Romans and Jews. Silent. It is inexplicable that it would be at least another generation before the gospel story of an earthly Jesus began to evolve. This is a massive subject. For further reading I would suggest “On the Historicity of Jesus” by Richard Carrier or “Jesus, Neither God nor Man” by Earl Doherty. At the very least, it should be recognized that the gospel stories are very questionable as history.

You are certainly free to exercise faith in the testimony of other men, but faith is not a substitute for the rigors of critical examination of actual data.

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however, if the bible is true, and archaeological findings, where they exist, are interpreted accurately, they should corroborate the biblical account…this is just basic logic…

here’s an Answers in Genesis article - still non-adventist, to my knowledge - which suggests that archaeology does corroborate the bible:

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Your analysis of the methodology of this apology for the Bible as “a historical book” is right on target. Thank you for it.
Contrived efforts to apologize for the stories of the Bible as “historical” is a fool’s errand. If it were the case that everything the Bible says is historically accurate, it would not at all prove its inspiration. It would only prove that it is a credible book of history which, of course, further discoveries of documents or archaeological artifacts would require to be taken into account for any future historical reconstruction.

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Thanks to both of you for shining a light on the crippling weakness of all fundamentalist approaches to the Bible. The assumption that God through supernatural means sent each writer the most precise information possible on all historical events is a fools errand, since (a) the internal evidence will not support such a theory of inspiration and (b) it exposes the life of faith to near-fatal discoveries that nullify non-essential elements in the biblical story. The Bible is a theological document, not a historical one, even though portions of it are historically credible. We are the heirs not of how specific historical events occurred in time, place and participants; we are the beneficiaries of the story of God’s calling a people and ultimately revealing himself in Jesus of Nazareth. We have a canon largely agreed to many centuries ago which we accept as normative for the faith-community in which we participate. Through preaching we continue to tell the story into the future. It is telling that both the Quarterly and this essayist avoid that discussion so arduously. BTW: To Dr. Weiss, I have learned much and been spiritually blessed by your two books on meditating Paul and John. Blessings my friend!!

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I read your attachment. That’s pretty thin my friend.

Engaging in “archaeology with the Bible in one hand and a trowel in the other” is a good example of a methodological error. It is akin to a phrenologist examining heads with an interpretive sketch of skull lumps in one hand and a head in the other shouting “Eureka! Every head has lumps just as we were told!” If you begin with a faith conclusion, you will inevitably find “evidence” to support your theory. We have an innate psychological propensity to give credence to “confirming evidence” and to discard disconfirming evidence.

When one looks at the archaeological picture which emerges from the Levant, the most examined acreage on the face of the earth, the historical narrative which emerges is not that of the OT stories. Rather, it suggests an evolving movement of events among tribes in Canaan similar to that of other bronze age regions. There was no great conquest of a tribe of Hebrews grinding through all the other city states of the region. There was certainly no so-called “golden age” of a massive kingdom of David and Solomon. There is no evidence that Jerusalem was anything but a small and unimportant backwater.

Again, as an example, if you ask a flock of Egyptologists if their research indicates a movement of millions of slaves out of Egypt into the Sinai peninsula in the second century BC, you will get a few chuckles, but nothing you are looking for. If, however, you ask if they have found evidence of periods of plenty and those of famine, you will get affirmation. Voila, the story of Joseph is confirmed. Hooray, the Bible is once again vindicated.

No field of academic study should begin with a conclusion following which you then search for confirming evidence. This is just as true when examining the fossil record or genetic evolution or cosmology. If one begins with the conclusions of creation ex nihilo, a world wide flood, and pre-scientific notions of descent, and only looks for confirming data rather than letting all the data speak for itself, he is not engaging in objective, scientific study; rather, he is doing theology in opposition to any inductive discipline.

You say “however, if the bible is true, and archaeological findings, where they exist, are interpreted accurately, they should corroborate the biblical account…this is just basic logic.” But what do you do when excavations show the opposite of the Biblical account, that Jerusalem was far from being the seat of a great empire in the 900’s BC? Do you then conclude that the Bible story of the “golden age” was inspirational fiction meant to bolster the faith of the people in the political legitimacy of the ruling class of the time of composition? Or do you suggest that we should suspend judgment and keep searching for those elusive great palaces and temple and distant acknowledgment of subservience to king Solomon?

Again, I suggest you buy the book “The Bible Unearthed” Finklestein and Silberman. You should remember that these two Israeli scholars are a part of the academic movement trying to establish ancient roots of Jewish habitation for modern political purposes. Nevertheless, they are objective archaeologists first, not apologists. You would do well to wrestle with their up-to-date assessment of the state of archaeological findings in Israel.

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Just for grins, I thought I’d offer another example of archaeological findings that, shall we say, are in tension with the Biblical story. Subject: Jericho

Jericho has been intensely studied. What does the data show?

*The area was inhabited from deep antiquity.

*The city was destroyed in the 16th century BC, much too early to correspond to Biblical dating for the conquest.

*Jericho remained uninhabited until ca 900 BC but even then was only a tiny settlement.

*It grew back into a significant town by the 600’s BC but was then destroyed again by the Babylonians in the 500’s basically becoming a pile of rubble.

One could surmise that the Biblical writer, composing his historiography sometime in the centuries following the Babylonian destruction, saw the still uninhabited remains of Jericho, and incorporated it into his tale of Joshua’s fictional conquest. He would have had no actual history of the place available, so simply created an explanation for the rubble he now saw before his eyes. It made a great story with the walls collapsing by a miracle of Yahweh, but it isn’t history.

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There were 10 virgins waiting for the bride groom 5 had oil for their lamps and 5 others did not. I fear that many have given up their oil disbelieving that the Bible’s value as an inspired book given to us by God to guide us in life, and encourage others to to do the same.

Our faith in God is beginning to be tested in earnest it seems and you must ask yourself which group of 5 do you belong to? If you believe God’s word is fakery and an imaginative fairy tale then by your own testimony you have declared you position on this matter.

Consider this carefully or you will be found without oil when to call is raised.

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It is precisely because we have not only oil in our lamps but also some extra oil in reserve that we can fully appreciate the inspiration of the Bible. As testimony to the faith of our ancestors in the faith of Abraham, the friend of God who believed his promise and walked faithfully toward the Promised Land, the Bible is absolutely indispensable as a guide to those who join in the journey and also walk by faith. To take it as a book of true “science” or a book of true “history” is to disfigure it into an idol. Faith in idols is not faith but vision.

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Faith: the acceptance of a proposition in the absence of evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Faith adds nothing in the corpus of knowledge. It is a short circuit in the attempt to gain knowledge without the rigors of reason and the examination of evidence. It is the destroyer of minds but offers the arrogance of certainty not available to skeptics.

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Faith has very little to do with knowledge. Faith is a way of being; it is power to live in a certain way. The realm of being is not the realm of knowledge. Expressions of faith by means of propositions are culturally conditioned and temporary.

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Yes I concur it is neither of these nor written as such.

Faith is one of those amorphous words. Like “love” it has many meanings. Some examples of synonymous meanings are: loyalty, confidence, oath taking, well meaning, etc. I am using it in a specific sense epistemologyically. How do I gain and verify knowledge? The writer of Hebrews gives a fair representation of faith used in this way: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). It is the substance or reality of a hope. It is the evidence for that which hasn’t been perceived by the senses. It is a wish wherein faith is substituted for actual evidence. I agree with that definition.

Now you suggest that faith isn’t a means of knowing. Allow me to propose some questions for you.

  1. Out of all the gods of the Canaanite pantheon, El, Baal, Asheroth, Marduk,etc. you likely only believe that El actually exists. Why? Because some unknown bronze age contributor to the Torah said so? Same with Yahweh, the Judean tribal god of thunder and war. He actually exists, but the gods of other surrounding city states did not exist? How do you know it? It is based on the testimony of a mystic in whose word you express faith.

  2. Did the plagues occur in Egypt culminating in the Passover and the exodus of a huge multitude through the sea followed by the drowning of the Egyptian army? How do you know it? Again, through the anonymous writer of the story in the book of Exodus. Through faith in his veracity, you accept that for which no evidence exists.

  3. Did David and Solomon rule over a great empire with a magnificent temple? How do you know it? You express faith in an anonymous ancient author in the absence of evidence and in spite of evidence to the contrary.

  4. Was Jesus born of a virgin? How do you know it? You have the testimony of an anonymous gospel writer, generations after the supposed event, misapplying a text from Isaiah. Faith substitutes for evidence. According to the story, even Joseph was convinced by having a dream that Mary didn’t get pregnant in the normal way.

  5. Did Jesus miraculously rise ballistically into outer space as the writer of Acts claims? How do you know it? You are expressing faith in the testimony of another man.

In these examples and innumerable others, everything you know or think you know is based upon testimony of those who in many cases are anonymous. This kind of faith isn’t confidence or loyalty or a way of life. This is the substitute of human claims for the improbable for the normal epistemological requirements of requiring evidence and verifiability. This kind of faith isn’t even expressed toward El or Yahweh. It is expressed toward the claims of other men. It is the attempt to gain real knowledge through mysticism.

Do you accept the visionary claims of Muhammad? Why not. He claims to speak on behalf of the same god (Allah is the Arabic form of Elah/El of the Canaanites and Hebrews). He claims that the prophets of old were true prophets, but their followers got it wrong. He claims that Jesus is a true prophet, but that the Christian followers got it wrong. He claims that he is a true prophet following in the same line. Islam has supplanted Judaism and Christianity according to Muhammad, the same thing Paul claimed for Christianity superseding Judaism. If you reject Muhammad, which I think is the case, it is because you have discriminated among prophets claiming to have had a mystical connection with El. But in any case, faith is expressed in the prophets you choose. Rather awkward I think…

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Consider this point.

Faith is our default. We are all biologically hard-wired for faith based on the “sucking reflex.” A newborn will routinely resort to sucking reflex when nursing to satisfy the sense for hunger. The newborn will cling to the primary care provider to satisfy the sense of being embraced and loved. The development of our mind thus is based primarily on the consequences of faith. It takes a life event to break this default. We see evidence of this among children who have been emotionally neglected, physically abused or victimized. We see evidence of this among adults with problematic relationships. We see evidence of this among those with unfortunate life experiences in how they perceive God.

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I would suggest that the proper attitude of a healthy adult to be skepticism when confronted with improbable claims without sufficient evidence. The automatic response of an infant is not to be maintained through the maturing process.

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True.

But when it comes to spiritual pursuits, what constitutes “sufficient evidence?”

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That question should lead to the recognition that positing the existence of that for which there is no sufficient evidence should be deemed arbitrary and without standing.

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What would be the parameters of healthy skepticism when we are discussing transcendent narratives beyond the edge of our perception.

For example, we can go “Socratic” on everything and anything. We can dig deep and conclude that apart from certain assumptios, there is no evidence for the standard model of physics being the only viable enterpretation of matter as an observable phenomenon . We can refer to cognitive experience, but such experience is already pre-packaged and pre-filtered.

So, how do you know that electron exists apart from an aggregate phenomenon that we reduce and attribute to that model?

Electron is not a reality in a sense that we KNOW what it is. It’s a model that dresses numbers into a narrative we can communicate, learn and use. And that’s what evidence allows you to construct… a narrative that fits your worldview.

But, which justification path do you use in order to day that evidence that you observe supports your view and your view alone? Wouldn’t you see that as a false dichotomy, which your very own skepticism should inform you of?

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I wish this were true but the spiritual world and the mental world is of a different nature. Every image, perceived or real, represents an event which requires full acknowledgment. It cannot be dislodged or swept under the mat.

Have you ever tried convincing a paranoid person that his thoughts were non-exitent?

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Total and infallible knowledge of the universe is not possible. That is why at every step it is necessary to check the foundation upon which expanded knowledge is based. I don’t pretend to be a physicist, but that which you are discussing is a part of the universe, subject to verification and replication as well as prediction. On the other hand, discussing transcendence, whatever that is, does not arise from any knowledge base. Rather, it is posited to exist arbitrarily.

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