Biblical archaeology during the past 200 years has done much to bolster the claims of Christians through the centuries – the Bible can be trusted! Biblical archaeology is one of the major weapons God used in my life as an atheist and journalist. It’s difficult to do honest research and not come to the conclusion that the Bible is what it claims to be – the Word of God.
Here are some of the archaeological findings that played a part in my believing in God and His Written Word.
Noah’s Ark and the Genesis Flood
Dr. Henry Morris introduced me to archaeological research to find Noah’s Ark and prove that the Genesis Flood covered all of the earth thousands of years ago – just as the Bible claimed. We spent only a couple of hours together on my radio program, but Dr. Morris’ introduction was profound and God used it to put a crack in my atheistic armor. Dr. Morris was visiting Tampa to share the plans of his new research organization, ICR (Institute for Creation Research), to lead an expedition to Mt. Ararat – located in Eastern Turkey near the borders of Armenia and Iran. Dr. Morris said one of the difficulties with the expedition would be that the Ark is encased in ice and snow ten months of the year – August and September being the only months for expeditions. He told me about a November 13, 1948 Associated Press story about a Kurdish farmer finding Noah’s Ark on top of Mt. Ararat a couple of months earlier. The farmer reportedly told people in nearby villages about finding a large ship in the ice and many of them climbed up to see for themselves.
Dr. John Morris, son of Dr. Henry Morris, has led expeditions in the past and wrote this historical background you may find interesting.
Another possible location was discovered in 1960 by a Turkish army captain who saw a boat-shaped form in an aerial photograph that was taken of an area near Mt. Ararat. That find led to many expeditions to determine if the form was Noah’s Ark. The Turkish government eventually established “Noah’s Ark National Park” near where the boat-shaped form is located. There is some dispute about the find based on the width of the form and other scientific concerns.
During our radio interview early in 1971, Dr. Henry Morris explained the science he used in supporting the Genesis Flood. Dr. Morris had written a book by that title with Dr. John C. Whitcomb just ten years before we met. Dr. Morris was a hydraulic engineer with a PhD from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Whitcomb studied geology and paleontology at Princeton University. Dr. Morris, who was head of the civil engineering program at Virginia Tech, and Dr. Whitcomb, who was a professor at Grace Theological Seminary, collaborated in the late 1950s to write The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and its Scientific Implications. They wrote the book during a time when many Christian professors and leaders had accepted evolution as the method God had used to “create” the earth. Though I certainly was not convinced during my interview with Dr. Morris, I was impressed with his knowledge and confidence in his beliefs.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1947, Bedouin shepherds found several scrolls, fragments, broken pottery and jars in a cave overlooking the northwest end of the Dead Sea. Scholars in Jerusalem soon heard about the find, which led to more discoveries in several caves and a ruin in Qumran. Hundreds of documents were found, including those of the Hebrew Bible. What may have been most important about this find is that the Dead Sea Scrolls were at least a thousand years older than what had been the oldest known Hebrew copies of the Old Testament. Studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls have demonstrated how accurate the relatively newer copies are to the older ones – a unique demonstration of how God has protected His Word.
Scholars ridiculed the Bible for claiming that the Hittite people existed (e.g. Ezra 9:1; Nehemiah 9:8). The laughing stopped in the late 19th century AD when archaeologists unearthed evidence of a once powerful civilization. The capital of the Hittite Empire, Hattusa, was found in the Black Sea region of Turkey. Some of the earliest people who settled in the area were known as the Hatti people. It’s believed that merchants from Assur in Assyria established a trading post in the area. The merchants used cuneiform writing to keep records of their business dealings. The Hittite kingdom grew in strength and influence during the 18th and 17th centuries BC and reached the height of its power in the 14th century BC under the leadership of King Suppiluliuma I. He became well known for his challenge to the Egyptians for controlling land between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. The Hittite Empire eventually included most of Asia Minor and part of Upper Mesopotamia. Within a few centuries, the empire lost much of its power and became a series of independent city-states. The important point here is that the Hittites were a real people and only the Old Testament told the world of its existence until archaeologists uncovered the lost civilization.
Walls of Jericho
Excavations of the site of Jericho were started during the 19th century AD, but the great discovery about the Walls of Jericho was made during the early part of the 20th century AD. British professor and archaeologist John Garstang excavated the area between 1930 and 1936 and found that the walls fell “outward” just as the Bible records in Joshua 6. Archaeologists have also discovered that the dating of the event coincides with the time Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River to conquer the kingdoms of Canaan.
Solomon’s Walls and Gates
“And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the LORD, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.” 1 Kings 9:15
The walls and gates of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer were discovered during 20th century AD archaeological digs. Though I learned about the finds at Hazor and Megiddo before becoming a Christian, the discovery in Gezer was made in the summer of 1971, just a couple of months after I was saved.
I spent several months after meeting and interviewing Dr. Morris searching, researching and seeking answers to many questions before trusting Christ for my soul salvation. In the 40 years since that time I have not been disappointed by archaeological findings in placing my faith in the Lord for my soul and those of fellow believers. In fact, archaeology continues to add growing support for the ancient claims of the Word of God.
So, what about archaeological findings that support the New Testament? We’ll look at some of those in the next part of our study.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”