In this episode Kurt talks with Ted Wright, founder of Epic Archaeology, about the importance of archaeology in making the case for Christianity. This episode was broadcast live at the RELIABLE seminar at Faith Covenant Church in Wheaton, IL on March 18, 2017.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It’s a pleasure to be with you here from the Defenders Media seminar here in Wheaton, Illinois. We are at the Reliable event. Can You Trust The Bible? And today I am joined here with Ted Wright, and Ted you’ve made an appearance on our show before but not in person before, so it’s great to have you here in the flesh in Chicagoland so thanks for joining us.
Ted: Thank you, Kurt. Great to be here.
Kurt: For those of you who are regular listeners, last week we covered the topic of Lent and what that entails. We had Aaron Damiani to join us and we talked about sort of the good beneficial experience of observing it and some Protestants, they’re not too keen on it, but there are some good reasons why we should do it, so if you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode yet, please do so. Today we are talking about digging for truth and whether you’re listening to us live on the internet or if you’re following us on Facebook which we’ve got going here today on the event, we would love to take your questions. There are a couple of ways we are doing that today though however. We normally have our phone system as you might know and you can call that number at any time and leave us a message or even during the show. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Today, we’re not going to be doing the phone system so there’s only a couple ways that you can comment or get in touch with us. One, if you are watching on Facebook, I’m going to try my best to keep tabs on the Facebook comments here on the stream on my phone. No promises on that. #2 though. You can text us. All you need to do is text the word VERACITY to 555-888 and here on my computer I’ll load up the texting progam and we’ll see if you’ve got any questions for us. That’s the same for our live studio audience here. Why don’t you guys all shout and say hello to the internet.
Kurt: That was great. If you have questions, there might be tan opportunity for you to come up maybe, you could stand in line, or if you just want to be anonymous and text them in, you can do that as well. I’ll load up the system assuming that our internet connection keeps going well as it is, that’s great. Today’s episode is called Digging For Truth and we’re talking about archaeology. We’re here at an apologetics conference. The podcast covers apologetics in addition to other issues and Defenders Media is an apologetic non-profit ministry. Ted. Could you tell us a little bit about how it is that archaeology and apologetics is related and what is that role that archaeology plays in apologetics?
Ted: That’s a great question Kurt. Thank you. Again, thanks for joining us again who are online or watching through the podcast. Those of you here, thank you guys for being here as well. That’s a great question, the relationship between archaeology and apologetics. Earlier today I was giving a talk and mentioned to the audience here and it’s worth repeating that archaeology is really part of a greater case for Christianity. As many of you know, I used to work for Cross-Examined and we have four questions that we teach there that are what we call the four fundamental questions or four vital questions of apologetics so there are really five, I would say, but let’s just start with four and so to show you how archaeology fits into that, the #1 is does truth exist? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? #2. Does God exist? Very fundamental question. You begin with truth because if there is no truth then not even atheism can be true, and then God has to exist, there has to be a theistic God. We’re operating on the assumption that God exists. That’s part of the overall case for Christianity. Truth. Does truth exist? Does God exist? #3. Are miracles possible? If there is a God, then miracles are possible, but there are those today who are in the scientific community mainly who believe that miracles are not possible, that the natural world is all that we have, so theism gets you miracles. #4 would be “Is the New Testament reliable?” Do we have accurate historical information from the New Testament? The essence and the core of the Christian faith is the resurrection as you know, Kurt. If the resurrection had not happened, if Jesus had not historically risen from the dead, then as Paul says we’re still dead in our sins and transgressions and we’re to be pitied above all men and so Christianity is unique in that it is a religion that is grounded in history and because the resurrection is an event that happened 2,000 years ago, we have a book, the Bible, that actually teaches us about the resurrection. History becomes very important and the fourth question is Is the New Testament Historically Reliable? Then becomes an important apologetic question and from that I would say, the fifth question we would add on, Did Jesus rise from the dead, but you have to have those four questions, so where does archaeology fit into those four questions? Does truth exist? Does God exist? Are miracles possible? Is the New Testament reliable? Archaeology is part of that fourth question. Is the New Testament historically reliable? There are two ways that we established the historical reliability of the New Testament. #1 is through manuscript evidence. We’ve got literally over 6,000 manuscripts now of the New Testament. Many of them have been found recently in the past decade or so. There’s an organization now that’s led by a gentleman that I’ve met on several occasions and been to some conferences with him, Dr. Daniel Wallace, at Dallas Theological Seminary. It’s called the Center For The Study of New Testament Manuscripts at Dallas Seminary and many Christians are maybe not aware of what he does. Pretty amazing actually. What he does is there are still monasteries and libraries around the world that contain manuscripts and many of these manuscripts are biblical manuscripts that they’re unaware of so what Dr. Wallace is doing is he’s going around the world in these libraries and he’s actually digitally photographing manuscripts that have not yet been counted as part of the overall manuscripts for the New Testament.
Kurt: So before they basically go off in the dust of the Earth, we can digitize what they look like, put them up on the internet forever.
Ted: You can go to his website. I think you can google it. It’s Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. You can actually look at these manuscripts on your computer. They are rare Greek manuscripts, Of course you have the Chester Beatty papyrus and there’s sort of this mysterious Mark fragment, don’t even ask me about that. Please no one ask about the Mark fragment. Insider joke here. In any case, there is a purported fragment of Mark’s Gospel that dates to the time of the eyewitnesses, but in any case we know internally that based on the New Testament itself internally within the text, we know that the New Testament was written very early. We believe that Mark was written first very likely because it contains very early source material, creeds, things like that, and then Paul’s writings were written at least before 70 A.D. Why? Because all of Paul’s letters, none of them mention the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, a major event. We know historically that that happened in 70 A.D., so we know that all of these manuscripts and all of these writings date to a very early time frame, which means that they would have dated to the time of the eyewitnesses, so that’s one aspect Kurt, and the other aspect, we’ve got the manuscript evidence and then we have the archaeological evidence and this morning we’ve been talking about primary sources and the first session we had this morning was what the Bible and history and here in the audience, I’ll put you guys on the spot so you can impress everybody with your knowledge. What are the three primary sources of history? Eyewitnesses. Historical records. Archaeological data. That’s right. Archaeological remains. So there are eyewitnesses, historical records, and archaeological remains, and the Gospels claim to be written by eyewitnesses. They claim to be written by people who as John says, we have beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten, the Father, full of grace and truth, we saw Him with our eyes, we put our hands in His hands. We felt His wounds. We saw Him. It was claimed to have been written by eyewitnesses. Many of Paul’s letters, in fact the Gospels, they talk about people. They talk about places. They talk about events that happened. I think I have this correct. Double-check me. I don’t think I’m wrong on this, but I think every major New Testament city mentioned in the New Testament has been discovered archaeologically. Every single one. Not one city mentioned in the New Testament has not been found archaeologically. Cities. People. Places. Pontius Pilate. Later on we’re going to talk about, later today we’ll talk about this, but we actually have found, not me, but us collectively, archaeologists, scholars, have found the ossuary, the coffin, the bonebox, of Caiaphas, the high priest that presided at the trial of Christ. Not only that, his bones are in there. The bones of Caiaphas, the high priest that presided, but you say “Ted. How do you know that? You just found some bones and said ‘Here’s Caiaphas. The high priest!’ “ Well, it was found in a section of Jerusalem that was known to be a very wealthy burial spot for the very wealthy people in Jerusalem in the first century and it was contained in the most elaborate coffin ever found there at the site and it has a name inscribed on the side of the coffin. Joseph Ben Caiaphas. Well how do you know it’s that? The historian Josephus mentions the full name of Caiaphas, Joseph Ben Caiaphas, the high priest in Jerusalem that presided at the trial of Christ. We have the bones of the high priest that presided at the trial of Christ. We have also found evidence of Pontius Pilate’s existence outside of the Bible. Dozens and dozens of others. In fact in my bag, I forgot, I usually keep in my pocket, I actually have a coin from King Herod Agrippa I who was the son of King Herod the Great. I also have a son from Herod the Great. We know about Herod. No one doubts his existence. No one doubts Herod existed.
Kurt: There is this robust data, the archaeological record that helps to confirm what the Bible’s telling us.
Ted: Yes. Absolutely.
Kurt: It seems at least from my surveying of the archaeological data that a lot of this is coming in the past 50 or maybe even 100 years so for the vast majority of the Christian tradition, this data has not been available to people.
Ted: That’s true. Several years ago, sort of my hero and I didn’t even know it but when we were in San Diego a couple years ago, I think you were there at that meeting, we were there listening to a lecture and I had first read about him, he was footnoted in the books I was reading, and then I actually saw his books and he’s a Japanese-American archaeologist by the name of Edwin Yamauchi. Dr. Yamauchi’s at Oxford, Miami University at Oxford, Ohio and I never could figure that out. Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Never mind, go ahead. Anyway, I was at this lecture and among this lecture and sitting beside me is Dr. Edwin Yamauchi. I looked at his nametag and I was like “Gulp!” There’s my hero. Dr. Yamauchi. He was very kind to me and I told him a little bit about what I was doing and told him about apologetics and archaeology and he actually sent me some really nice articles that he wrote on archaeology and an honor to meet me and wanted to follow me and see what I’m doing and everything. He’s an elderly gentleman now. I think he’s in his 70’s or 80’s, but anyway, great to meet him, but Dr. Yamauchi to answer your question, I call these when I give a class on these I call these Yamauchi’s fractions. Only a fraction of the sites remain. Only a fraction of those sites have been excavated. Only a fraction of that stuff is published so we are just now scratching the surface even though archaeology has been around for about 100 years we are just now really getting in. There’s more stuff coming out. People who are skeptical of the Bible, New Testament or Old Testament.
Kurt: Just they wait.
Ted: Exactly. What we’ve found already, give you an example of that. Dr. Bryant Wood with the Associates for Biblical Research, who I am associated with them as well, ABR, a shoutout to the ABR folks out there, but Dr. Wood has a great little story, a little thing that he gives about archaeology and the Bible, and he said obviously we can’t find every single thing, like when you look at the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, we haven’t found every single thing, archaeology hasn’t found every page…[NP1] but he said it’s sort of like a factory. You go to a factory that makes widgets and there’s a quality control point and you’re making millions of widgets a day, like say 10,000 a day, and every so often you pull a widget off the conveyor belt. You want to make sure the quality is right so every time you take a sampling you want to make sure that that’s right. That’s the way archaeology has been. Every time we dig into the ground and take a sample, Bible’s historically accurate. Bible’s historically accurate. Bible’s historically accurate. We haven’t found everything, but whenever we’ve taken a sample, whenever we’ve looked at things in the archaeological record, it has come out to be very reliable.
Kurt: It’s almost counter-intuitive. People think the further that we get away, the less we can know, but here we are growing in this field of study.
Ted: Yes, and I will add further that a lot of the things that have been discovered were not really found by people looking for it. They were found accidentally, like the Pontius Pilate inscription was found in Caesarea in 1961 and it was found by an Italian archaeologist excavating the amphitheater at Caesarea and they were not looking to prove the Bible. They just found this inscription that contained the name of Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea. Isn’t that interesting? There’s a lot of sites like that.
Kurt: Before I ask my next question, let me open up my Dr. Pepper here, which many long time listeners know is my favorite.
Ted: He says it’s Dr. Pepper. We all know….
Kurt: There’s one segment of the show that we’ve presently taken a break of called Rapid Questions and it’s when I ask these questions to the guest is do they drink Dr. Pepper so I’m usually pleased or disappointed and when I’m disappointed in their answer, I ask a follow-up. It’s “Would you consider drinking a Dr. Pepper if you were given one?” so to those who would really turn it down, they lose some points in my book. To those that really turn it down, they lose some points in my book. Ted. Tell us what is the state of Biblical archaeology today? Do most scholars in secular schools recognize the value that this brings to, even when we talk about the Bible, archaeology and the Bible?
Ted: That’s a great question Kurt so yeah, the state, what is the state of Biblical archaeology today? Let me start by saying this? About 15 or 20 years ago, there’s a professional organization called ASOR. It stands for the American Schools of Oriental Research and there are two great prestigious organizations in America, academic organizations that study archaeology. One is here in your lovely town of Chicago, the Oriental Institute, which I was there yesterday. It’s amazing. The Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago, and then ASOR stands for the American Schools of Oriental Research and that was co-founded by George Ernest Wright and William F. Albright.
Kurt: Any relation?
Ted: I don’t know. Possibly. Anyway, ASOR, their goal or their journal, their professional journal, was called Biblical Archaeologist and so their purpose was to look at archaeology as it relates to the Bible. They did a survey of their members several years ago. I was a student member at the time and I got the journal called Biblical Archaeologist on the top cover and these are professional and very academic articles, not quite for laymen, pretty professional stuff, journal quality, and they put a survey out of should we change the name to Near Eastern Archaeologist to get away from the name Biblical Archaeologist and get away from this idea of Biblical Archaeology and interestingly, I think 70-80% of the readers, many were scholars and many were not quite conservative scholars…
Kurt: Did they say no?
Ted: No. They said don’t change the name.
Ted: And you know what they did?
Ted: Changed the name.
Ted: I voted, in fact they actually published my little thing as a student, Theodore Wright from who knows where I was living at the time. They posted my little thing in there saying no. The founders when they started the journal they wanted to specifically focus on archaeology of the Bible, so there’s been a move away from the term, in fact now it’s sort of a pejorative term among scholars. Anybody who’s doing archaeology today whether it’s at UC San Diego or Chicago or John Hopkins or wherever, there’s a lot of great schools doing archaeology. University of Pennsylvania does some great stuff. They sort of shy away from the term Biblical Archaeology, but I will say this of this caveat. There is this new growing movement among conservative archaeologists and those of us who believe the Bible is inerrant, we believe in inerrancy, that there’s been some amazing new discoveries and some of this work has been done by Dr. Bryant Wood and others who are basically saying that the Bible does contain a lot of great historical truth and now people are beginning to take notice of those who call ourselves Biblical archaeologists or Near Eastern archaeologists, whatever, that the Bible does contain a lot of great historical detail so now the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. I personally think that even though today the current state of academia and archaeology is that you can’t really trust the Bible, I think there’s an interest in that…
Kurt: It’s a historical document and it’s not that they have to believe exactly what it says say on theological matters. There still is history behind it and that can and should be explored.
Ted: Right and to go back, it’s a huge subject. The question is a great great question. Earlier we talked about this. There’s a movement among academic archaeologists and I don’t think it’s shared by all of them, but there’s sort of an internal debate today among Near Eastern Archaeologists who wouldn’t call themselves Biblical Archaeologists. They’d call themselves Near Eastern Archaeologists or Syro-Palestinian Archaeologists, some people at the University of Arizona. The debate is over what is called Biblical Minimalism vs Biblical Maximalism and one, I actually studied under one of his graduate students, James Hardin, his name is William Dever at the University of Arizona. Dr. Dever is considered to be a Biblical maximist in the secular realm, but when a secular person uses the term Biblical maximalist, what they mean is they believe the Bible is historically accurate to the time of the Babylonian exile. Anything before the Babylonian exile, we’re not quite sure or it probably didn’t happen like the conquest, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.
Ted: Exactly, so even though they’re maximalists they’re not quite as maximal as we are. We believe the Exodus actually happened and we believe the patriarchs really did exist, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now we’ve got evidence of that, some new stuff coming out.
Kurt: Which you described this morning which is awesome.
Ted: Yeah. It’s pretty amazing stuff. So anyway, the minimalists are coming from Copenhagen and Postmodernism, the Copenhagen School of Biblical Interpretation and they basically say that the Bible cannot be trusted with anything historical, that it’s just myth made up, invented, and those are the ones that are sort of, they’re Biblical minimalists. They see no historical value at all and that’s kind of where some people fall into in the academic realm. You’re either a maximalist, but to say you’re a maximalist, it doesn’t mean you’re an inerrantist. It just means that you believe they probably went into Babylonian exile but anything before that, the Exodus, so a real maximalist would be the one, Genesis to Revelation.
Kurt: Yeah. It seems from the secular side of thing they’re weary of people’s motivations so if someone is motivated by the Bible to discover archaeology, we should side away from that, but even in logic that’s sort of like the genetic fallacy. Right? If you could cite where an idea comes from, the idea, therefore must be false, which of course is absurd because we can cite the origin of true propositions and beliefs we have in the same way, it’s all about the evidence. What does the archaeological data tell us? Even if someone has biblical motive shall we say, it’s still either a good artifact or a bad one. Right?
Kurt: There’s got to be some other reasons why the secular audiences are weary of that.
Ted: It’s interesting Kurt because you can see what people really think about archaeology and the Bible by the discoveries that are made that disprove the Bible. They’ll go “Oh! See here’s an example where archaeology,” Well conversely, if it can disprove it can prove. Not proof in the logical sense.
Kurt: Despite their worst nightmares becoming true.
Ted: They’re quick to point out, a couple years ago there was a story that came out where they found some camel bones and they said that Abraham was said to have camels and it’s not in the Bible and it’s an anachronism so it appeared to look like archaeology disproved the Bible. As it turned out, it was a little too premature. If you look at the history of biblical archaeology, there are people who have been critical of the Biblical text and a later discovery would then disprove that person, that they were wrong, so the Bible has an amazing track record of it being actually very reliable in detail and sometimes accidentally.
Kurt: I want to get into some of those things that do sort of perhaps prove it, but first you sort mentioned the disproving. Are there, shall we say, these difficulties in the archaeological data that might present a forced interpretation with how we understand the Bible? What off the top of your head might you think of?
Kurt: What is there out there that people say “This disproves the Bible”, if anything.
Ted: If anything? Yeah? That’s a great question. What disproves the Bible? I would say probably the Conquest. We talked about this earlier today. We talked about the Conquest. We talked about Jericho. People will look at Jericho and they will see a documentary or they’ll look it up online and there are some web sites to talk about, Jericho, they’ll look at Jericho and they’ll look at Katherine Kenyon’s interpretation of Jericho and they’ll say the dates don’t line up and then they’ll just keep the clock going back and they’ll go, “The Exodus supposedly happened under Rameses II, but there’s no plagues, there’s no death, there’s nothing.” Rameses, it’s sort of like in the movie Indiana Jones, I keep going back to Indiana Jones, I wonder why. Anyway, they go back and they’re looking for this place that has called the Well of the Souls, remember that, they’re in a race against the Nazis and they find the Staff of Ra and Indy and Sallah, they repel down into this cave, into this map room, and they put the[NP2] in the socket and the sun comes through and the light gazes down and it shows the exact spot where the Ark of the Covenant was and they look at each other, they’re digging in the wrong place. It’s sort of like that with a lot of secular archaeologists. They’re looking in the wrong time. They say Exodus and Conquest happened in the 1200’s B.C. There it is! Not there. We’re looking in the wrong timeframe. Earlier today we were talking about the chronology, we were talking about the importance of chronology, the importance of time, and how with synchronisms based in the Neo-Assyrian record under Sennacherib in 701 B.C., we’re able to establish a pretty firm Old Testament chronology, so if we can anchor our time in 701 B.C., then we know that based on the internal evidence from the Scripture itself, based in 2 Chronicles and Kings, that 1 Kings 6:1 says the Exodus happened 480 years prior to the laying of the foundations of Solomon’s temple, so that means based on that chronology, that would have been, Solomon would have done that in about 967 B.C. You just reverse the clock back 480 years. That puts the Exodus at about 1486 B.C. Now you have some amazing evidence for the Exodus and you see this with Amenhotep II.
Kurt: And the key then is to line up the internal evidence with the external and you want to see, it’s like a dance almost because sometimes maybe external evidence might force us to reevaluate our internal perspective which I’ll be talking a little bit about in terms of the Gospel differences later today. It’s kind of that fine dance. You want to see both.
Ted: It’s not a case of where some people would say, I can hear some skeptics say “Well, you’re just trying to force the Bible to fit the archaeology”, and that’s not the case at all because in Egyptian chronology, in Egyptian history, there were three intermediate periods and these are periods of upheaval in which the Egyptians did keep meticulous records of their pharaohs, of their kings, and we learn about this through the writer Manetho who is a priest and we learn about Egyptian history and how they kept records, but these intermediate periods of Egyptian history is when we sort of lose track of the timeframe, there are three intermediate periods. So there’s nothing definitive about the dates. You have to sort of, there’s pretty much an accepted chronology given these intermediate periods and we’re pretty sure we know what the Egyptian chronology is. We know who the pharaohs of the 18th dynasty are. We know what the dates are, so there doesn’t appear to be any dates that need to be adjusted in Egyptian chronology. What we’re trying to do now is reconcile Syro-Palestinian archaeology or the archaeology in Israel with the archaeology of what we see going on in Egypt, to see if there is correlation, and again, a very important point to make. We’re talking about the Exodus and Conquest. We often think about the Exodus, yes the Exodus, the Pharaoh, all that, the chariots and all, all the great stuff, but it’s one big event archaeologically, at least time frame. Exodus, Conquest. If there was an Exodus, there must have been a conquest. If there was a conquest you’ll see it in the archaeological record and we do. The two fit together. Based on this chronology, we talked about it earlier, the 1446 date, it’s called the early date by the way, not the late date, some of you may have seen the movie Patterns of Evidence. It’s a documentary about the Exodus and it was a very well-produced movie, a documentary, and there’s some good things about it. The thing that kind of got me was it was sort of uncertain, had some of my colleagues in it with ABR, Dr. Petrovich was in there, he may have been, I know Dr. Bryant Wood was in there, David Rohl was in there as well and Rohl actually argues for adjusting the Egyptian chronology to make it fit so there’s pros and cons to that, but me personally, the issue with adjusting Egyptian chronology is, it’s sort of like a slide rule, if you adjust it here, it’s going to have a domino effect down here, so if we readjust Egyptian chronology and now we put the Exodus in a different pharaoh, then we don’t see any Exodus. We see no Exodus at all, and so we have to make all the archaeology and all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Again, it’s not a matter of forcing it. It’s a matter of using good scholarship and using archaeology and I think a case can be made that a case can be made that the early date is grounded in good, solid archaeology.
Kurt: Great. We’ve got to take a short break, but we’ve got to take a short break, but we’ve got some more questions afterwards so stick with us.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that short break from our sponsors. Now is a time for a new segment to the show that we’ve had for a couple of weeks. We’ve taken a slight sabbatical from Rapid Questions, plus Ted, you’ve already done the rapid questions so it’s good that we do this new segment and for those of you unfamiliar with it, listen and I’ll ask you what you think it is.
Kurt: What do you meme? That’s what Justin Bieber’s singing. Right? What do you meme? No. He’s singing What Do You Mean? The segment of our show here is What Do You Meme and a meme for those of you not familiar is one of those images you see on social media being floated around. It’s either a cartoon or a picture with some text over it and so for Ted and I know Beth in the audience there, we’re big on social media. We see this stuff all the time. Some of the stuff is good and funny. Some of the stuff not so much. We’ve got some memes to respond to today. The first meme here, I’ll load it up for the screen for those in the live studio audience, you’ve been able to see what I do here on the computer when we’ve got the show, so here’s the first one I’m going to talk about. It’s a really popular one. There’s a Facebook profile called The Friendly Atheist. It’s a guy who runs a blog on Patheos. He’s not very friendly. He calls himself the friendly atheist, but really he’s not. He put this up there and this image here was shared over 75,000 times, so there are 75,000 people on Facebook, and that’s when I checked earlier in the week, that have shared this image, and it says according to Genesis we all came from Adam and Eve who had three sons. Think about that. Take all the time you need. Okay. We see the point here. They’re saying there’s incestuous relationships that occurred there in the Bible. That’s where we came from. Oh no. How do we respond? There are two that we can respond and it might not even depend upon your perspective of the age of the Earth, so I’ll give as what I take as the Young-Earth Creation defense first here, and it’s that the DNA, when we have incestuous relationships the DNA is so corrupted that it just creates children that have deformities or what not, things aren’t going right, but early back then, the DNA was more pure and so it was permissible, of course, because later on we see that it becomes prohibited, having incestuous relationships, in the Mosaic Law, so they do get to a certain point where that’s prohibited, so it’s really okay. There’s a second model that I would say I’m more sympathetic to that says maybe Adam and Eve and for some of you this might be a bit controversial, maybe they weren’t the only creatures, and we might have different subcategories between this, but if you think that Adam and Eve were historical maybe they weren’t the only humans out there. After all, we read in terms of what happens to Cain from Cain and Abel, Cain goes off and what does he do? How many people know? What does Cain do? He builds a city. Who’s living in the city? You don’t build a city when there are no people to live in it. Right? That’s just wasting his time and if this is the beginning of the Earth, you don’t want to wait. You have to survive. You don’t want to build buildings no one’s going to live in. Let the government do that, build bridges to nowhere. If there’s a city, there’s people so there’s something maybe going on and in my perspective of the text, there’s more going on behind the scenes here and it’s not really a problem for me. This meme doesn’t really harm my position at all, but let’s think about this from the atheist perspective, the naturalistic perspective I should say.
Common descent, the theory of evolution. If that’s the only way we got here I think under common descent you have to have similar relationships in order for the species to continue on, at least when they first branch off. I think that might still be a problem for the naturalist here as well. It’s really not an issue. When all things are considered I think atheists might have other motivations that are pushing them towards putting these things which are causing inconsistencies. That’s the problem. It’s really the inconsistencies here. So that’s the first meme. We’ve got another one here. Let me bring it up for you.
It reads “World’s Best Archaeologist. Never Does Archaeology.” Ted. Tell me here. What do you think? This one’s for you. It’s your favorite character from fiction.
Ted: I don’t know if I agree with that meme. No.
Kurt: Indiana Jones. World’s best archaeologist. Never does archaeology. Does he do it? Maybe he does. He tries at least.
Ted: Is that a real meme?
Kurt: It’s on the internet. It must be real.
Ted: It must be true.
Kurt: I didn’t make it up just now. If it’s on the internet, it’s real.
Ted: It’s got to be real. In actuality, at least not in the 1940’s when Indy was sort of doing his archaeology, it was sort of going on at the time, but there was a time in which archaeology called the Antiquarian period in which it was pretty much grave robbers, tomb raiders, but Indy does say that this needs to be in the museum. He would always tell the person he’s getting the artifact from, “It needs to be in the museum.” Yeah. He doesn’t really do archaeology in the academic sense of the term. He’s not excavating with a trowel and he’s not in a city doing…
Kurt: But he is trying to find artifacts.
Ted: Graphic archaeology, through different means.
Kurt: That’s the politically correct way of saying it.
Ted: Exactly, but in all honesty, this is a good point, a little segue to talk about something called non-provenanced artifacts. Big word. Explain what it means. These are artifacts that were taken out of context. The most important thing in archaeology is context. So for instance, this little scarab here, I got this at a museum store. What if you found this in Egypt?
Kurt: A real one.
Ted: No. It looked like this. In Egypt near the pyramids with some other stuff? Any difference in that? One is in a store? That’s called a provenance. Non-provenance means is that you have an artifact. We don’t really know where it came from definitively. Some things we know that are old, we don’t exactly know, we didn’t find them in place or in situ, in place. There’s actually a very famous archaeological discovery that’s non-provenanced. Actually lots of them. One you know about. The Dead Sea Scrolls? Did you know that? The original Dead Sea Scrolls were non-provenanced. They were actually collected on an Antiquities market.
Kurt: The black market.
Ted: The black market. Yes. They went later and they found more scrolls in the caves, but initially they were not. In fact, a lot of the antiquities that we find, we know they’re ancient based on other types of things but they’re non-provenanced, so there’s been a big problem, even today, in fact it’s a big problem of people going into archaeological sites in Egypt and Israel, with ISIS going into Nineveh and Iraq and they’re looting these sites and getting these rare historical artifacts and selling them on the black market and these are non-provenanced artifacts, so archaeology is kind of like Indiana Jones today in the sense that you really need somebody that’s swashbuckling and not afraid of danger to go into some of these places and deal with some pretty shady characters to recover these artifacts.
Kurt: And even still it makes it hard because you’re not sure. There could be forgeries and fakes. Right?
Kurt: And that’s the downside to not finding it in the ground.
Ted: Yes. Exactly.
Kurt: Good. Alright. Well that’s What Do You Meme?
Kurt: Bieber Fan. Alright. Let’s get back to the other questions that we had for you today. Before the break we talked about, one of the questions I asked you is if you thought there was stuff that was supposedly disproving the Bible. Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. Do you think there is one amazing archaeological discovery which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Christianity is true and really causes people to believe?
Ted: Is there one archaeological discovery that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the Bible is true and cause people to believe?
Kurt: It’s just so clearly obvious that what this discovery is is that Christianity is true. Is there something like that?
Ted: I would be tempted to say, and again we haven’t talked about this, it is a non-provenanced artifact, because we don’t know the original where, we think we know, we can sort of conjecture. Obviously if the theory about it is true, then we know where it came from, but the historical trail sort of leads off in about the 14th century and that’s the Shroud of Turin. The Shroud of Turin of course claims to be the burial of Christ. You mentioned earlier, I got the honored privilege of being on CNN, don’t know if that’s an honor, but being on CNN, the Communist News Network, I mean Cable News Network.
Kurt: We are livestreaming here, Ted.
Ted: Oh we are. That’s right. Well we’re not on CNN.
Kurt: Not on CNN, but if CNN wants to retweet this, you are welcome to do so.
Ted: They didn’t pay me anything so…but no, so basically the Shroud interestingly, when I got to be on CNN I actually contacted someone that I trust, that I go to for my what do you think about this, and a couple of them, one of them was, some of you may or may not know who he is, Dr. Gary Habermas from Liberty University. I called Gary, I actually emailed him, told him I was going to be on CNN, we’re going to be talking about the Shroud of Turin. I know Gary’s done a lot of work on the Shroud. Gary said, “Ted. You need to contact a gentleman by the name of Jerry Bergeron who does forensic autopsies. He has done some work on it.” I contacted him. He sent me some of his papers he’s done on the Shroud and that led me to another book I got on my Kindle iPad app and I read on the plane on the way to New York to be filmed for the CNN interview and it was a book by a gentleman by the name of Frederick Zugibe and it’scalled The Crucifixion of Jesus. It’s the most definitive physiological account of the Shroud based on cadavers, based on bodies, and so through talking to Dr. Gary Habermas and through talking to Jerry Bergeron and talking to others and reading the Zugibe book, let me just summarize the Shroud of Turin here. The way Gary describes it is that we eliminate, we say what it’s not. It’s not this. It’s not that. It’s not that. By process of elimination, you eliminate what it is. That leaves what it could be. Here’s one thing it’s not. It’s not a painting. It’s not a painting. It is not, in fact it is created by forces that we don’t exactly fully understand, but what it appears to be, the best evidence now appears to be that there was intense radiation coming from the body on the Shroud. There’s only two kinds of radiation that could form that power of radiation. X-Ray and Gamma radiation. If you know anything about astronomy, a gamma ray burst is the most powerful supernova in the known universe and they’re so powerful that if one were to happen in our solar system, it would affect life on Earth.
Kurt: And we haven’t been able to control X-rays or gamma rays for so long.
Ted: So here’s the thing physiologically. We know that patients who have been through chemotherapy, large amounts of radiation therapy, on their deathbed, there would be an imprint of a hand or something like that, but an entire body, it’s literally a photographic negative. It is an X-ray, or at least looks like an X-ray. Upon infared examination of the image in the shroud, there’s actually, you can see the roots of the teeth through the beard. There are things that people in the 14th century, because the current theory about the Shroud was that in the 14th century they painted it, relics were being spread around to Europe and France and Germany and England, so it’s a relic from then, but there were things physiologically and scientifically on the shroud that scientifically were unknown in the 14th century and one of them, several amazing things, was that the thumbs were not, if you look at the shroud, the body’s like this, the feet are together, the hands are crossed over the groin area, and it doesn’t look like there are any thumbs and it looks like the fingers are really really long. That’s because it’s showing the bones going all the way up into the hand like an X-ray. If you were to go X-ray your hand, your fingers don’t just stop there, the bones continue to go up, so the image in the shroud has the bones going all the way up, but there are no thumbs. It looks like the thumbs are gone. Now we know based on work done on cadavers, things like that, that a Roman nail would have went through the end of the wrist here, there is a medial tendon nerve, it’s a tendon that attaches to the thumb. When a nail goes through that wrist there, it breaks, it pops the tendon, the thumb retract inside the hand, so whoever the person was on the shroud was crucified and their thumbs went in and they had intense incisions on their head. They had coins placed on their eyes. We know that that was a practice that was done by the Jews in second temple Jerusalem by the Pharisees. Who’s tomb was Jesus buried in? Joseph of Arimathea. Who is Joseph of Arimathea? He was a Pharisee. Pharisees had began to adopt practices by the Romans and one of the things Romans did was they placed coins over the eyes to pay the ferryman because they believed, I don’t know why they placed them on Jesus’s eyes, it was just a practice they did. The body was wrapped rapidly. It had dirt on the knees, dirt and particles on the feet. They’ve taken some of the particles through an electron microscope and you can actually pinpoint its limestone that was in the bottom of the feet. Limestone has a chemical composition and a chemical identifiers that identifies exactly where the limestone came from. It came from Jerusalem in a quarry in the first century that was used as a burial area, so whoever this person was, we’re not right sure, but he walked in that area, he was crucified, he had severe blood loss, there was a blood and serum stain on the side, contusions on the knees, oh, and on the back of the shroud image, there are lacerations from flailing from a Roman flagrum, and the flagrum actually, you can literally see this. It’s called the cat-of-nine-tails and it’s basically a stick with leather thongs on it. At the end of the leather thongs there are lead barbells, little teeny barbells, and they would stretch the person around the column so that their skin was stretched tight and they would slap the metal into the back and pull it down and it would just rip the skin off and blood would come out. The person on the shroud, on their buttocks, on the back of their legs, their whole back is covered with whipping marks from this cat-of-nine-tails. Radiation, crucifixion, we don’t know where it came from. We eliminate all these things and it might not be, but I’ll let you decide if you think it’s real. It’s pretty amazing. Let me finish this.
Ted: I’m sorry. I forgot one little key part of this. The original question was what archaeological evidence would there be. What one thing would convince and my answer would be, nothing. Nothing will convince the person who doesn’t want to believe. I say that and I’ll open it up to this passage here when you start to ask questions. Luke 16 beginning at verse 19. This is the story of rich man and Lazarus. Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus told this parable or story. Did it really happen? The rich man went into torment and the poor man, the beggar Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom which is where the Pharisees wanted to be because they loved Abraham. This dialogue ensues between Abraham and the rich man who was in torment and he said, “If you will bring Lazarus back from the dead and go to my brothers and warn them of this horrible place to not come here, so they will believe” and what does Abraham tell Lazarus? They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them. “No.” He insists. “But you don’t understand. If you would send Lazarus back, if he would rise from the dead and come back out of the grave they would surely believe.” And he says once again, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them. If they will not believe Moses and the Prophets. They would not believe the one risen from the dead.” That’s exactly what he says. You can have the most amazing amount of evidence, even a man rising from the dead and those who do not want to believe will not believe no matter what evidence you show them because the issue is not the evidence. The issue is the heart. The issue is the will. I do not want to believe. I want to hang on to this. I want to hang on to that. I don’t want to believe this stuff. I don’t want it. Evidence is good, as we say in the south, it’s not going to convince the skeptic. It’s not. It just will not convince the heart of the skeptic.
Kurt: I know we’re going to get a little bit more into other archaeological discoveries that have been made later today, so let me ask you this since we’re running short on time here. Are there any new discoveries that you are able to tell us a little bit today? Give us some inside scoop that you wouldn’t give yourself a bad name for telling us common average Joes?
Ted: Yes. There’s some interesting things out there and again, let me preface my answer by saying this. In archaeology, there’s different phases of an excavation, different phases of research, and the very first phase is the research itself. You read the books and you read the articles and the journals and things like that and the Biblical text and the historical text, whether it’s the Iliad the Odyssey, the Bible or whatever and then you read all the pertinent literature. The first thing you do when you go to the field is you do what’s called a survey and in a survey, you’re just doing what a survey does, you’re surveying the site. You’re saying, “Okay. We find some arrowheads here, some pottery here, some pottery there,” and you mark it down and you kind of sort of get an outline of where you’re going to excavate, then you go back and you excavate. With that being said there are a couple of things that are interesting. One, in particular, and I hesitate to say this because I know it’s going to sound really far-fetched, what I’m about to tell you, but trust me. I know all the background story to this. There seems to be a site on Mount Ararat in Turkey at 13,000 feet. It’s a wooden structure and that’s all I’m going to say.
Kurt: Deep beneath the ice.
Ted: Deep beneath the ice. It’s in a glacier. There have been of course the boy who cried wolf. There have been tons of people say we found it, we found it, we found it. But this is not going away. It came out in America several years ago and it was broken by a team of Chinese Christians and has since been sort of pushed under the rug, but behind the scenes there are people out there investigating this site so those who are skeptical, I know that there are those, especially on the internet who are going, yeah right, whatever, but yeah, I’m with you. Totally with you. But we’re just in the site survey phase so I’m not going to say what it is. I’m just saying it’s at 13,000 feet.
Kurt: There’s this cool thing at 13,000 feet.
Ted: It’s a big giant wooden structure. It contains fossilized animal droppings. Not making that up. It contains wooden rooms. There are no nails.
Kurt: Maybe it was a ski lodge.
Ted: It could have been a ski lodge. Could have been
Kurt: Ancient ski lodge.
Ted: It’s broken in half. It has a very harsh smell. You have to have a respirator to be in this thing. The smell has been likened to a chemical smell like ammonia and we know when animals urinate on the ground and it becomes saturated in maybe wood, it will turn to ammonia and so there’s horrible smells emanating from this thing whatever this artifact is.
Kurt: The dog wasn’t trained.
Ted: He wasn’t trained. Exactly. It could have been, I don’t know, maybe a barn or something, who knows? We don’t know for sure what it is, but it was reported that this was discovered. My skepticism came when I wanted to see the pictures and I was a little skeptical of it, but I’ve seen some photographic evidence and some video evidence of this particular structure and I’ll just say my initial thoughts as an archaeologist. We need to do further research on this and it’s being done, so one of the things, my hobby, what I think is a good time people would think is a horrible time. I’m a mountain climber. I’ve climbed Mount Rainer. Mount Shasta in California. Mount Rainer is in Seattle. They’re both 14,000 foot mountains. The summit of Mount Rainer is 14,411. The summit of Mount Shasta is 14,162 and you have to train really hard. You have to really be in excellent shape to go climbing on top of these things. Mount Ararat is, I think it’s 17,000. 15 or 17 thousand feet. It’s really tall. So at 13,000 feet you can barely breathe much less try to create some type of giant structure under the ice and furthermore, where it is it’s actually locked under a glacier and the people who found it had to repel down to get down inside of it. That’s all I’m going to say. Stay tuned. I’m not going to be sensational about it, but it’s there. There’s a wooden structure on Mount Ararat at 13,000 feet. That’s what we know so far. It has animal droppings in it. It has some pottery in it. There are people up there researching it now. I was supposed to go a couple of years ago because the people I’m in contact with, they’re connected with the mountain and the people who found it, they knew I’m a mountain climber and they invited me to go to a trip. I was going to fly to Istanbul. I had just gotten back from Norway and they said can you leave on Monday morning to go to Istanbul to climb Mt. Ararat. I was like, “I would love to do that but I just can’t right now. There’s no way.” I was like, aw man, I wish I knew some kind of wealthy person. Yeah. I was supposed to go up there and we were going to do what is called zero-point survey. It’s what cave drivers used and it’s basically a device. Those cave divers, when they’re diving into a cave, they want to measure the cave and so it’s a device with a laser that sends out a laser and it measure the inside of the cave so we’re going to take this device inside this structure and measure the three dimensional shape and structure. There are rooms. I was told they were climbing down. I’ve taught one-on-one to people who have been on the structure. I’ve talked to them face to face, asked them questions, and there are large container rooms below deck so there’s big rooms, there’s small rooms. The ladders are actually logs with stairs chopped into them, but there are no nails. There’s wooden pegs and it’s got a black pitch type substance on the inside walls.
Kurt: Does the structure look like that big thing down in Kentucky?
Ted: Actually. No. It does not. It absolutely does not. That’s interesting to hear you say that.
Kurt: Gee. I wonder why.
Ted: You set me up. I have friends that work for Answers in Genesis and I love them, they’re great men of God. If you’re listening, love you guys, but what gets me about the Answers in Genesis Ark down in Kentucky, is when you look at the outside of it, it’s not what the biblical, and what gets me is that my friends at Answers in Genesis, they really like to hold up the fact that they’re staying with the text, but what the design, the outside design, they didn’t stay with the text. It’s like this big giant boat looking fin. That’s not in the text. The text, it’s basically a barge. It’s a square. In fact, Henry Morris, one of the early young-earth creationist. He was actually a hydrologist. They did some feasibility studies on Noah’s Ark. They made a scale replica of Noah’s Ark. It was a square box based exactly on the Biblical, they did it to scale. They put it on a tank that was used by the U.S. Navy or something to test supertankers or ships. They said that the ark could withstand a 200 feet tidal wave head on because it was so stable. It could just ride out. It would go up and down.
Kurt: All it needs to do is float.
Ted: It would not turn over. It just needs to float. This thing in Kentucky is like a boat. That’s not what the Biblical, that’s not in the text.
Kurt: You mean Noah wasn’t like navigating the waters.
Ted: There was no sails. There was no Evinrude outboard motor. No. No sails. No. It was just a barge.
Ted: I mean there is some great stuff and it’s an amazing exhibit, but you do get to see the scale of it. It’s enormous just to see how large it is.
Kurt: Well, Ted. Thanks for sharing that information with us. It’s pretty sweet. Thanks for coming on the show again today.
Ted: Thank you for having me. I had fun. Thank you.
Kurt: That does it for our show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons. Those are folks that just chip in a couple of bucks a month, five or ten dollars. Wink wink to the live audience. To the partnerships that we have with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Evolution 2.0, and Traffic Buffet. Thank you to the tech team which is, oh wait, that’s me doing the one-man band today, and to our guest Ted Wright, and thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
[NP1]Slurred words at around 14:15
[NP2]Unclear around 25:20