Thursday, November 06, 2014

Questions To Ask of Sensational Stories in Biblical Archaeology

Every now and again a sensational story related to biblical archaeology hits the headlines. (This week it was this one.) It's not long before I receive emails asking about the authenticity of the alleged discovery. To help my readers better discern whether they are dealing with a potentially legitimate discovery or not, I suggest that the following questions be asked as you read the report.
  • Does this discovery sound too good to be true? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • It is reported by a news source you've never heard of? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does it cite archaeologists that you've never heard of before and don't appear on a Google search? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does the report avoid getting input from known experts in the field? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does the alleged discovery require a radical reinterpretation of the Bible? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does the article use language such as, "This definitively proves..." or, "This is irrefutable evidence that shows..."? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does it relate to newly discovered physical remains related to the crucifixion of Jesus? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does the article mention Ron Wyatt, Robert Cornuke, or Indiana Jones? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Is it first announced in a TV special about the time of Easter/Passover? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does the discovery relate to Noah's Ark or the Ark of the Covenant? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Is it reported on a website with links to stories about Bigfoot, UFOs, and conspiracy theories? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Does the website name begin with www.world….? If so, it's probably bogus.
  • Did I ignore it on this blog? If so, it's probably bogus.
Did I miss some important questions? Feel free to suggest additional ones in the comments below.

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7 Comments:

  • www.worldmag.com is probably safe.

    By Blogger David, at Thu Nov 06, 01:02:00 PM  

  • Indeed, and there are others no doubt...

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Nov 06, 03:09:00 PM  

  • OK, I'll name some. If it's some guy writing that Ron Wyatt is a fake, he never investigated nor traveled ton the sites and has no clue. He's a couch potato. Hope this helps - from someone who actually did investigate and travel.

    By Blogger Jay Jaguar, at Thu Nov 06, 09:36:00 PM  

  • Jay - no, it doesn't help.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Thu Nov 06, 11:13:00 PM  

  • Jay: sorry my friend, but many other people have traveled and investigated too, and the consensus of the experts, both believers and otherwise, is that Mr. Wyatt is not credible.

    By Blogger Mike Caba, at Fri Nov 07, 01:22:00 AM  

  • I would add the following: anything that appears in the popular press (such as the Associated Press, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc.) should be treated with great suspicion. It is not automatically wrong, but journalists are usually not Biblical scholars and lack the expertise to properly evaluate archaeological discoveries.

    (And don't get me started on the problem of secular bias in modern journalism!)

    By Blogger Recovering Lutheran, at Fri Nov 07, 04:25:00 PM  

  • Recovering Lutheran - I agree that mainstream journalists are not experts in the fields they cover, but what distinguishes them from those I'm highlighting in this post is that they usually won't publish a story without any scholarly support. The scholars they cite may be biased, and they may ignore other scholars, but the story isn't usually bogus.

    By Blogger Todd Bolen, at Fri Nov 07, 05:34:00 PM  

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