Biblical skeptics love to try and prove that the Bible is nothing more than a bunch of fairy tales that will unravel as soon as someone enlightened takes a closer look at all those silly Christian ideas. Skeptics and atheists have been trying to disprove the Bible for decades, but to their disappointment, they have never succeeded. They originally attacked the New Testament and claimed that Jesus Christ was a complete invention by Christians. Skeptics abandoned this theory like a sinking ship after it was buried under evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who was executed by Rome. Today, scholars are in unanimous agreement that Jesus existed.
Since they were unable to disprove the backbone of the New Testament, skeptics shifted their focus to attacking the Old Testament. This at least appeared to be an easier target. Given how long ago events occurred, less physical evidence would have survived to the present day. Besides, the Old Testament describes some of God’s largest, flashiest and most extreme miracles. These seemed like they would be easy to disprove. They were wrong.
It is true that the Old Testament lacks some of the handy records that were used to prove that the New Testament was a record of real events. Many of the records that would have existed have also been lost to the passing of time. That does not, however, mean that no evidence has survived to support the claim that the Old Testament is just as historical as the New Testament.
Noah’s Ark: Black Lake to the Black SeaSome of the stories that are most attacked by skeptics and atheists are those found in the first book of the Old Testament. The story of creation is routinely belittled even though the creation accounts in Genesis actually line up quite well with modern science. As well as the story of creation, atheists love to mock the tale of Noah’s ark. The idea that the entire world was ever flooded is ludicrous, they claim. The joke, however, may be on them. Columbia University scientists have found evidence that the Black Sea was actually a freshwater lake until a massive surge of water from the Mediterranean Sea roared into the area with a force more than 200 times greater than that of Niagara Falls. The sudden flood buried more than 150,000 square kilometers of farmland under water around 5,000 B.C. and would have been audible more than 100 miles away. This overwhelming catastrophe made its way into a number of ancient Middle Eastern narratives, including Noah’s Ark and the Mesopotamian story of Atrahasis.
This flood did not drown the entire world, but a closer look at the language used in the original Hebrew versions of Noah’s Ark show that the story may not have ever claimed that the flood covered the entire world. The word used in Gensis is “’eretz.” ‘Eretz means earth, country, way or ground not the entire globe. In fact, ‘Eretz Israel is still used to describe the modern State of Israel.
The Story of Joseph: Bahr Yusef, Imhotep and the HyksosThough it faces less derision than the stories of creation and Noah, the tale of Joseph and the sons of Israel is a common target of skepticism. Atheists and skeptics claim that there is no evidence that there was ever such a person or that they saved Egypt. After all, some record would surely have been left behind of such an important individual right? Well, there might well be that evidence once regional naming customs are taken into account. It is true that there is no record of a person named Joseph, but there is an Egyptian tale that describes a man named Imhotep who saved Egypt from a terrible famine after the annual Nile floods failed for seven consecutive years. Following his death, Imhotep was deified by the Egyptians. Some scholars have suggested that, given the similarities between the two stories, Imhotep was simply the Egyptian name for Joseph. After all, many societies made it a practice to rename their slaves with names from the master’s language.
Even if Imhotep was not Joseph, there was enormous political upheaval in Egypt during Joseph’s time. As such, the pharaoh Joseph advised might not have even been Egyptian. It could have been a Hyksos king who would also have been referred to as “pharaoh.” As such, skeptics may have been looking at the wrong kingdom for evidence of Joseph. Though they seem determined to ignore the existence of it, there was a canal dug between 1850 and 1650 B.C. that was so effective it still functions today. There is no record of the original builder, but for thousands of years it has been called Bahr Yusef, the Waterway of Joseph.
The Exodus: Red Tide, Eastward Wind and Pottery in JordanPerhaps the biggest and most extreme claim that skeptics have ever made about the Old Testament is that the entirety of the Exodus story was a fabrication created during the Babylonian exile. There is, after all, they claim, no record of such a momentous event or massive migration. Setting aside the fact that people wandering through the desert as nomads normally do not leave much behind that would survive the harsh environment for several thousand years, the Exodus is actually perfectly possible. The much-mocked plagues of Egypt are theorized to have actually been the result of a phenomenon not unlike the infamous Red Tide. The microscopic organism Oscillatoria rubescens would have choked the Nile leading to a catastrophic domino effect that killed off frogs, livestock and eventually humans. As for the parting of the Red Sea, a strong easterly wind that blew all night would actually be able to force the sea to recede. When the wind stopped, the water would roar back into the area in less than 30 minutes. As for the aftermath of the Exodus, archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be ancient Israelite camps in the Jordan Valley at Khirbet el-Mastarah. This would mark some of the first hard evidence of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt.
The Old Testament is a popular target for skeptics because of its massive scope, scale and timeframe. Atheists may laugh at the descriptions of God’s fury and power, but science continues to back up the events of the Old Testament. As such, it is the faithful who get the last laugh.