The Dan Barker-Thomas Ross Debate:
“The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact.”
A Trancript of the November 17, 2015 Debate at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
Scott Janis: [0:50] And we will also give Matt an opportunity wherever he is . . . there he is . . . to mention Philosophy Club and if anyone is interested on campus to do that as well. I will let you go first.
Paul Rains: OK . My name is Paul Rains and I am with “Set Free.” We’re an on-campus organization and Bible study group and we meet every Tuesday night. We are on campus several nights each week, and we are really just letting the campus / students know about our Bible Study. We meet on Tuesdays, every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. up in the University Room 264, upstairs in the UC. And we meet every week and what I like to say in promoting it is we talk about the big questions, “Where are you going to go when you die?” and important life questions. And we try to give answers from the Bible and things that you can rest your faith on. So that is a little bit about our group and there is much more we discuss. It’s really kind of an open thing where we try to get students where they can ask questions that they have, but every week we have a program and everyone is welcome to come to that.
Scott Janis: All right then, I am Scott Janis. I am the president of the Secular Student Alliance , UW-Whitewater Chapter, here. A little bit about our group: we meet every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., again just like these guys do. We might be changing that next semester; but in the meantime, that’s what we do. We meet every other week for a pre-decided, kind of planned-out presentation and then a discussion following, where we talk about anything from “what the campus life is like,” to “the separation of church and state with respect to current issues like religious freedom.” We talk about each other’s beliefs and our own or lack thereof. And it is usually a lot of fun. And every other week, when we are not doing that, we’ll have a discussion or we might just go do something as a social group for people who might not be able to find many more people who have that same perspective or want to exchange them openly in a social environment. So, it is definitely worth going to. We usually meet at Highland 1319. So that’s just downstairs, 7:00 on Tuesdays and we hope to see you there .
Matthew Schultz: Hello? Hello. Hi. My name is Matthew Schultz. I am the current president of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Philosophy Club and I thank you for coming to our debate. We have two separate guest speakers coming in tonight. The first is Thomas Ross. Just a little bit about Thomas. He grew up during, I’m sorry, doubting the existence of God in a very, very non-Christian home and he was born again in October 1995 during his freshman year at college shortly before his 16th birthday. He got a B.A. from the University of California [at] Berkeley. He has a Masters of Arts at Fairhaven Baptist College during 2001, a Masters of Divinity at Great Plains Baptist Divinity School  in 2007. He also has a Masters of Theology at Anchor Baptist Theological Seminary, during 2009. He is currently working on his Ph.D. at Great Plains Baptist Divinity School estimated to be 2015. He is currently a professor at Baptist College of Ministry and Theological Seminary, a ministry of Falls Baptist Church in (excuse me) Menomonee (Thank you!) Falls, Wisconsin. He is the Assistant Professor of teaching Post Graduate and Undergraduate courses in Greek and classical Hebrew. Starting in 2012, also a professor at the Mukwonago Baptist Institute, a ministry of Mukwonago Baptist Church, teaching Biblical languages and theological studies. Starting from 2006 to present, he also preaches at the Mukwonago Baptist Church  and has also held in the past various other teaching positions. He regularly reads the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament as part of his devotional studies. He has read through the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Torah, and the Aramaic portions of Scripture. He can translate at sight large portions of the Greek New Testament and much of the Hebrew Old Testament.
Our second speaker tonight is going to be Dan Barker. He has received a degree in religion from Azusa Pacific University and was ordained to the ministry by the Stanford Community Church. It was located in California in the year 1970. He served as associate pastor at the Religious Society of Friends Church, an Assembly of God and an independent Charismatic  church. In 1984, he announced to his friends that he was an atheist. He appeared on AM Chicago hosted by Oprah Winfrey later that year, on a show about kicking the religion habit. Barker met Annie Laurie Gaylor when both were guests on the show. They began dating six months later and were married in 1987. They have a daughter, Sabrina Delata. He is also the current co-president with his wife of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an American, Free Thought organization that promotes the separation of church and state. Barker is co-host of Free Thought Radio, a radio program on the radio station WXXM [Madison], a channel targeting atheists, agnostics, and other Freethinkers that has included interviews  with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, and Julia Sweeney. Barker is a successful musician and has composed over 200 songs that have been published or recorded. To this day, he receives royalties from his popular children’s Christian musicals, Mary Had a Little Lamb (1977) and His Fleece Was As White as Snow (1978), both published by Manna Music. Dan Barker also speaks fluent Spanish and is studying other languages. He belongs to a number of high IQ societies including the Prometheus Society, with an entrance requirement in the 99.997th percentile.
May I call both of the presenters to the stage, the front at this time? (applause) This is Thomas Ross on my right and this is Dan Barker on my left. I am assuming that Thomas is going to be going first?
Dan Barker: Nope.
Matthew Schultz: Oh, Dan Barker.
Dan Barker: I have the affirmative, isn’t that right?
Thomas Ross: Yeah.
Matthew Schultz: Yes, he does, my apologies once again. All right, and I will leave you to have the floor.
Dan Barker: So you can hear me through this mic OK? Well that is interesting. Usually I go second. Usually I am the negative in these debates. But the topic was “The Old Testament is mainly fiction, not fact.” So while ordinarily I am Daniel in the Lion’s Den, tonight he is Doubting Thomas, because he is doubting the affirmative. So that is nice. It is a nice change. So we have 20 minutes for opening statements. Maybe I can do it quicker than in twenty , so we can take questions from the audience. Because I know you people are the reason we are here tonight. So if you have read the The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, turn with me in your book, The God Delusion, to Chapter 2, verse 1. The first sentence of the The God Delusion says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” And I agree with Richard Dawkins one hundred percent. If that God did exist , we have a moral obligation to denounce the immorality of such a tyrant. However, we are not talking about the moral truth of the Bible; we are talking about whether it is fictional or not. Richard Dawkins asked me to document each of those nineteen nasty adjectives with Bible verses, which was easy to do. And then he said, “You know what? That would make a good book.” (Pun intended.) “A good book with one chapter for each of those nineteen adjectives, so you could go to it and look up, ‘What do you mean, God was an ethnic cleanser? What do you mean, He was misogynistic? What do you mean, He was infanticidal?’” So next February—I wrote the book; he wrote the forward—the book is coming out February 2nd. It’s called God, The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, and that’s our debate tonight. Is it fiction? The Old Testament is itself mainly fictional. It has a little bit of history in it. I’m reading right now one of the novels of Steven King . In fact, it’s the first Steven King novel I have ever read. It is called The Stand, which is really pretty fun, pretty gruesome; but in this novel, there is a Las Vegas. There is a Los Angeles. There’s a Central Park in New York. There’s a Terra Haute, Indiana. There is the state of Vermont, the state of Maine. There are Chevrolets. There are a lot of things that are actually historical things in that novel that really do exist. Is Steven King’s novel, The Stand, a historical book? No it isn’t. It is what you would call historical fiction. The Old Testament is historical fiction. You will find some history in it. You will find some places that actually do exist. But that doesn’t mean that the story itself is actually a true, historical story. I used to be an ordained minister, as you heard. I am not a professional Bible scholar. I did preach from every book of the Bible and I continue to study the Bible and can also read the New Testament in the Greek  and can quote much of it from memory. As if that matters at all that you can say it in that original language -En archeœÇ eœn ho logos, kai ho logos eœn pros ton Theon,” you all know John 1:1. So that is kind of important to be able to quote the Scriptures in its own language. But really, is it a historical, is it a true book? I am not a professional historian. I just preached the gospel because I believed it with all my heart that Jesus was my Lord and Savior. I confessed my sins. I thought, I thought His death on the cross paid the penalty for my sin and His resurrection gave me the promise of eternal life. And I preached that for nineteen years. I was wrong. Tom is wrong. You believers in this audience who are Christians, I am sorry, I know how deep it is. I used to get goosebumps. I used to feel it. I used to see it. But it is wrong. It’s not fact, it is fiction.
I have five arguments to show that the Old Testament is fictional. The first one is that there is no  archaeological evidence for any of the stories that we find in the Old Testament.
Two. There is no literary evidence for any of the stories that we find in the Old Testament.
Three. The literary evidence itself shows parallels with ancient mythology. The stories that we find in the Old Testament are cut from the same fabric as other ancient mythologies.
Four. There are many historical anachronisms in the Old Testament. Things which simply cannot be true. They are mistakes that the authors make.
And Five. This is the weakest argument, but I put it in anyway because it is more philosophical than anything. The stories are really outrageous. Outrageous claims require outrageous proof. We don’t have outrageous proof with these claims. There were many religious folktales and myths in the first and second millennium B.C.E. The Greeks, the Babylonians , the Persians, the Indians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians. There were Ugaritic myths. There were Sicilian, Mesopotamian, Sumer—. . . so many, many of these myths and foundational stories, with all sorts of clearly mythical and magical events in them, none which we take seriously on historical grounds. None of which you take seriously on historical grounds. The gods on the top of Mt. Olympus, for example, the divine birth of Hercules. All these things, that we all know, come on, that’s mythology. The ancient Israelites had their own version of a foundational story. There was the first man made from mud. His name was Adam. Then his, the woman was pulled out of his side from his rib. According to science, by the way, according to the fact of evolution, there could not have been an Adam and an Eve. That’s impossible. There could not have been a first man and a first woman. But even if there were, they would have come out of Africa, not out of the Middle East. This  foundational story was clearly written by people who didn’t know much about science or biology. There is a magic tree in a pristine garden. There is a talking snake who tempts the woman. By the way, um, you look up the word fable in the dictionary, you will see—for example, here is the American Heritage: “a fable is a usually short narrative, making an edifying or cautionary point, often employing its characters, animals that speak and act like human beings.” The Israelite story has a talking animal. It has two talking animals, actually. There was Balaam’s ass. Animals don’t talk, by the way. They don’t have vocal cords. That’s one of the ways that we know this is a mythical story. There is this unforgiving angel with the flaming sword barring entry into the garden. There’s an unforgiving God- character who destroys every living thing in a world-wide Flood, for which there is no evidence, by the way. There are cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire and brimstone . A woman was turned into salt. There was the story of the captivity in Egypt of these Israelite slaves. Sticks turning into snakes. The Nile River turning into blood. A one-day exit of two or three million people from Egypt into the Exodus. The Exodus story. The crossing of a Red Sea. Which, by the way, was totally unnecessary. You can get to the Sinai Peninsula without having to go all the way down south across the Red Sea. That was clearly added as a mythical story because there were a lot of other sea/ocean crossing stories in other mythologies too, so the Israelites wanted to have one of their own. They could have got there much more easily than having to go down and cross this Red Sea. There is a pillar of fire. There is a burning bush that talks. There’s a race of giants called the Nephilim. (A lot of these mythologies had giants in their stories.) There is food  falling from the sky. There were trillions of quail that were blown up out of the ocean to feed these people. There was water which came from a rock that was being struck. By the way, the Persian god Mithra shot an arrow into a rock, and water came out of it, too. Moses hit the rock with a rod. Very similar, parallel stories that were going on back then. There was clothing that did wear out for 40 years. There is this mountain in the Sinai Peninsula, from which a law-giver goes up to the top to get the law—just like the Greeks went up to the top of Olympus. Many of the mythologies back then they had to go up, as if God were a physical kind of a being that has a high and a low. They had to go up to the top of something to get to this being. This God of these Israelites kills all the followers of Korah by opening the earth and swallowing them up. That looks like a big, action-hero movie. Wouldn’t that be something to see on T.V.? They disagree with Moses’ authority, just like Luther disagreed with the pope , so what did Moses do? You’re dead. That’s a story in there. Korah and 250 of his followers. There’s a massive military conquest of Canaan, for which there is no historical evidence. Where are all those implements of warfare? Where are all the chariots? Where are all these Israelites? These captive slaves suddenly became these fierce warring soldiers and went in and did all of this killing? There is no evidence for any of that. God kills the Amorites with these meteorites from the sky. Then he makes the sun and the moon stand still. Human skeletons, that are dead, come back to life and walk around. A disembodied hand floats in the air and writes on the wall, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. And on, and on, and on, and on. These Israelites have these stories that sound, quite frankly, and if you are honest, you have to admit, compared with other mythologies, they sound quite mythological, don’t they ? They are not the kinds of the things that we would ordinarily say, “Yep that happened.” Like what if I told you, when I came up here to this building, a black and white cat came up to me and said, “Dan, welcome to the University of Whitewater, I hope you have a great time here.” How many of you believe that happened? Why not? Are you all a bunch of skeptics? Why don’t you believe that story? What if I wrote it down? A talking cat spoke to me. Would you believe it? Why don’t you believe it? Are you doubters? You don’t believe it because you know cats don’t talk. It’s a crazy story. It’s an outrageous story. And you are much more likely to think that I am making it up, right? then that it actually happened. Well, if you are likely to think that about me, why not think that about the ancient Israelites? They made it up. There is no archeological evidence for any of those stories that I just told you. Any of them. You will find archeological evidence for certain  cities and certain groups of people. But if anyone should care about this foundational myth, the Jews themselves and the Israelis should care, but did you know, that almost all rabbis will tell you the stories of the Old Testaments are allegorical, they were not historical. In the Jewish temple in Madison, Wisconsin, where I played the piano once for a wedding, I looked at the Torah and right in the preface it says, “These stories are not to be taken literally. These are just stories.” They are like legends, right? The Jews themselves treat these stories as legends, as myths. The Israelis over in Israel, if anyone would care about the foundational story of the nation of Israel, the Israeli scholars themselves should. And yet the archeologists over there are throwing up their hands and saying, nope, there’s nothing. None of these stories has any archaeological evidence at all. Israel Finkenstein, for example, who teaches there in Israel, they had access to the Sinai Peninsula . They were able to look and see. Was there a group of 2 or 3 million people wandering in that peninsula for forty years with all their cattle and all their tents? No, there was not. The Israeli archeologists and historians themselves agree that the story is mythological. It did not happen. Where is the evidence for that supposed exodus? Where is the evidence for the huge military conquest of Canaan? Where are all the bones of the thousands of giants that supposedly lived during that time? The Nephilim that scared the Israelites so much that they had to huddle back. Even though that they had this huge God, they were afraid of the giants—for forty years.
My second point is that there is no literary evidence for any of the stories that are in the Old Testament. No mention of them in any culture—Greece, Babylonia, Persia, India—that were contemporary with the time. Egypt—Egypt—of all things, who kept a lot of records, should have made notice of the three days of darkness or the Nile River  turning to blood or 3 million slaves escaping across the river. Egypt should have had some stories about these things. Nothing. Silence. The literary record is completely silent about these stories in the Old Testament. The Assyrians, the Ugaritics, the Mesopotamian and so on. The plagues that supposedly killed all the Egyptians and all their livestock—that would have been a huge. That would have been bigger than a 9-11 story that we are remembering here. It would have been bigger than what just happened in France. Much, much bigger. Yet nothing. Egyptian history, Egyptian literary records are silent about these Israelite myths that the Israelites made up.
My third point is that there are many literary parallels and precursors to the Israelite stories in many other mythologies of the time. It looks like the Israelites, to a large degree, were copying and mimicking stories like, for example, there were at least 50 or 60 other  law givers and reformers of the time, and isn’t it interesting that a whole bunch of them were two-syllable names starting with the letter M? Not just Moses, but there was also Manes, there was Manis in Phrygia. There was Mannus in the Germany area. There was Manu in India. There was Minos in Crete; there was Menes in Egypt. There was another Monius in Egypt. Then in Greece, there was a Musaeus, like Moses. And there were a bunch more of them. The fleeing from oppression was a theme that showed up in a lot of ancient mythology and other pagan exoduses. Crossing of the seas, the slaughter of innocents, the magical rods, the plagues and the pestilences. These stories that were floating around had people wandering in the wilderness for a long time. They had water coming out of a rock. They had food coming down from heaven. They had mythical giants in their stories, just like the Israelites had mythical giants in their stories. They had these testimonies of covenants  and testimonies in their laws and all these things. And they got their laws from the top of a mountain here and there, and even Egyptian pygmies had a mountaintop myth of going up to get the law from their God. So it was common currency. It wasn’t exactly a template, but it was like you could see that the Israelite stories were cut from the same fabric of all these ancient pagan myths of the time—not exactly, everyone is different, obviously. If they weren’t different, we wouldn’t have comparative religion. So each one put their own wrinkles on it. But you can see that there is a good naturalistic explanation for the story that does not require us to bend the laws of nature and have talking snakes and talking donkeys. If you have to make yourself believe that, there’s something wrong with your reasoning process that God can do miracles. A cat can talk; a donkey can talk—although you were skeptical of my story, just like I am skeptical of the story of the Israelites.
Number four, there are many historical mistakes in the Old Testament. There are anachronisms. (How are we doing for time ? Oh good, perfect.) For example, there were many cities mentioned in the Old Testament that did not exist at the time. The city of—How do you pronounce it?—Ai—Ai was supposedly ruined. That word Ai, by the way, in the original means ruins. But at the time it was supposedly happened, that city wasn’t even there. The Philistines were much later than the supposed patriarchal time. There were no Philistines inhabiting that coast there in Southern Canaan at that time. That’s a later story, as if the later writers in the 5th and 6th century B.C. knew about it and thought it was ancient enough to be in their own patriarchal stories. The Arameans, who are mentioned in the Bible, were not actually there at that time those stories were supposedly happened. The land of Goshen. That word Goshen itself referring to part of Egypt—that was a later phrase that they did not use back in the time that Moses lived, but probably the most damning is camels. The patriarchal stories mentioned camels. Camel caravans and herds of camels . Did you know that there were no domesticated camels during the time of the patriarchs? And yet the stories about Joseph and Abraham talk about these camels carrying the goods, because the later writers didn’t know that camels weren’t that old. In fact, there have been studies in Tel Aviv Magazine; they show the introduction of domestic camels, not just wild camels, but domestic camels used as in herds and in caravans. They pinpointed it to around the year 930 B.C., when camels basically were domesticated. Way too late for them to appear in the Old Testament stories. That’s a mistake. That’s an anachronism. The Old Testament writers goofed. And so on. Of course, Moses could not have written the book of Genesis because whoever wrote it describes Moses’ death and burial. So it is obviously somebody else who wrote it.
And my fifth point, of course, is that outrageous claims require outrageous proof. You can discard this one if you want. We don’t even need this argument, but really , when you think about it, these are pretty outrageous claims. They are claims that nobody in their right mind would go, “Oh yeah, that happened.” But if you’re raised in a religion where you feel the love of God and you want to know Jesus and you want a Bible book for you, then suddenly that all becomes true in your brain. You surrender the rational thinking. You surrender what historians and scholars know they must do to be honest with history and to evaluate things probabilistically. What’s the probability that that cat spoke to me out there? It’s not zero, but it’s very, very low. What’s the probability that a snake spoke human language? It’s not zero, but it’s very, very, very, very—it’s so low that we can round it off to zero. By the way, do not accuse me of having a, a a priori bias against the supernatural. My argument is not that the supernatural cannot happen, because I wasn’t there. You weren’t either. You weren’t there when I saw the cat out front. My argument is that if we want to do good history, we have to assign those events  very low probabilities. So the fact that there is no archeological evidence; there is no contemporary, literary confirmation; there are historical anachronisms in the stories; the Old Testament stories appear to be cut from the same fabric of other ancient mythologies; and the tales are too outrageous to be believed on their own merits—leaves us no choice if you are an open-minded, rational person that leaves you no choice, but to conclude that the Old Testament is mainly fictional. (Applause.)
Matthew Schultz: Just very, very quickly, many of you have received the question forms at the very beginning. If you don’t mind passing them to the side rows for them to be picked up for when they will be asked during our 10-minute break as well as at the very end at which there is unlimited time for questions. The rest of the debate will be a 20-minute opening from Mr. Ross , followed by 10 minutes each for a rebuttal, and 5 minutes each for a cross examination, followed by a 10 minute break; then there will be a quick 15-minute presentation, a third one from both of them, and then 5-minute concluding statements from both. Thank you.
I would like to begin my statement today by thanking Set Free, the Secular Student Alliance, and the Philosophy Club for hosting this debate today. I would like to thank Mr. Barker for coming here to defend the affirmative in our proposition today, and thank the students who are here—and the students who will be watching these videos in the future—for taking the time to investigate this extremely important subject. And most of all, I would like to thank my God, who saved me through the death and blood of His eternal Son Jesus Christ, and who has given us His infallible Word that we may learn to know Him, serve Him, and enjoy Him forever. I will be responding to Mr. Barker’s opening statement in my second speech, which will be coming up after his second one.
Our proposition today is that “The Old Testament is  Mainly Fiction, and not Fact.” Mr. Barker is affirming this proposition, and I am denying it. Let me define the terms of this proposition.
1.) By Old Testament, I mean the 39 canonical books of the Bible in Hebrew.
2.) By “Mainly,” Mr. Barker needs to prove that the majority—at least 51%—of the Old Testament is fiction, and not fact. While I believe that the Old Testament is 100% accurate, and I will argue along those lines, for Mr. Barker to win this debate he needs to prove not that there is a scribal error in a particular Hebrew manuscript, not that a particular sentence or two is hard for us to understand, but that a majority of the Old Testament is fictional.
Furthermore, since Mr. Barker is in the affirmative, he needs to do what he said in his own words: in his book, Godless—namely, “that the affirmative, not the negative … in that situation the proponent must make a case beyond a reasonable doubt” (which he said in his book Godless on pg. 104).
So he does not just need to cast a certain amount of doubt, or demonstrate that it is possible for something to be maybe difficult for us to understand, but he must prove  that the majority of the Old Testament is fictional, not factual, to win this debate.
3.) By “fiction,” (I have a slide on that) I mean the dictionary definition of “something feigned, invented, or imagined, especially a made-up story.” By “fact,” I mean “an event or thing known to have happened beforehand.”
How do we know the Old Testament is fact, not fiction? There are many lines of evidence in this regard. First, the Bible is an accurate record of past historical events.
Indeed, Archaeologist Nelson Glueck who said: “It may be stated categorically (We have a slide for it if you can get to it.) that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. (We have a slide for it if you can get to it.)
Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae [tiles] in the vast mosaic of the Bible’s  incredibly correct historical memory.” Dr. Glueck was the president of the Hebrew Union College whose pioneering work in Biblical archaeology contributed to the discovery of 1,500 ancient sites. He was not some crazy fundamentalist person. He was actually a member of the extremely liberal Reform Judaism movement, which does not hold to inerrancy or anything even close to it. But, yet he said / made this very remarkable statement about the archaeology of the Bible. So that’s one thing. Now I was thinking, how in twenty minutes can I somehow cover the historicity of the whole Bible. That’s going to be a difficult thing to do. So, what I am going to try to establish here is that the Bible actually is a record. If the Bible is the Word of God, then of course it is historically accurate in everything that it says. And we are going to look today at some evidence that it would actually be what it claims there.
In the book of Isaiah, chapter 44, Jehovah says that He is able to predict the future. And because He is able to show the things that are coming and that shall come, that shows that he is the True God.
And certainly that would be quite a claim  if somebody could predict specific things about the future. That would be evidence that this might actually be the case. And actually right after that He predicted the specific name of King Cyrus who 150 years after Isaiah 44 was written allowed the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild the temple, which Isaiah 44 predicted and mentioned his name. We are going to look at one particular book here (because we only have limited time) to look at some of this evidence that there is actual prophecy. Clear, specific, predictive prophecy in the Bible.
In the book of Daniel, which we are going to be focusing upon in my presentation today, there are a number of very clear, specific predictions that were made—predicted things hundreds of years that took place later. For example in Daniel chapters 2 and 7 (if you can get to the slide of that) which we are not going to spend most of our time focusing on, but in Daniel chapter 2 and 7 there is a prediction of four different empires.
He predicts the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empire.
And there are specific things in Daniel’s vision of chapter 2 and chapter 7 where these things are discussed. He mentions  specifically, for example, that Babylon it says in Daniel Chapter 2 the Babylonian king is the head of gold. Or the Medo-Persian Empire is mentioned in another one of the chapters that the king of the Medes and the Persians is the animal represented there. So there’s a prediction in the sixth century in Daniel of four successive empires: the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman Empire. Also, in Daniel chapter 11 (you can get to the slides of that) Daniel, from the sixth century to the time of 165 B.C., has many, many specific predictions about the Greeks and the Persian Empire.
And you can go, in Daniel Chapter 11 (you can keep clicking here) to verse 2 of chapter 11. We have, it says in chapter 11, (this, by the way, was written in the first year of the Persian domination after the Babylonian empire had kind of come to an end here. That’s the context here.) And it says, “There shall stand up yet three kings in Persia,” Daniel 11 predicts.
Those three kings were Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius I . And then it says in Daniel 11, “the fourth shall be far richer than they all.” That’s Xerxes I. “He shall stir up against the realm of Grecia,” it says there, and he assaulted Greece in 480 B.C. (next slide).
Daniel 11:3-4 then says, “And a mighty king shall stand up,” (That’s Alexander the Great.) It says, “His kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity.” Alexander died in 323 B. C—his kingdom was divided, not to his sons, but to his four generals, Ptolemy over Egypt in the South, Seleucus over Syria in the North, Cassander over Macedonia and Greece in the East, and Lysimachus over Thrace and portions of Asia Minor in the West. Then verse 5 says (Daniel here writing in the first year of the Persian domination) says then “the king of the south shall be strong” and in this next portion of Daniel chapter 11, he starts to focus upon the two nations that are on both sides of Israel. On the north, the Syrians. On the south, Egypt. Egypt is called the king of south. And the Syrians are called the king of the north.
And Daniel chapter 11 and verse 5 says that “The king of the south  will be strong and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him,” and the Northern King (Seleucus I) was stronger than the king of the south, Ptolemy, and he gained control of the area from Asia Minor to India.
And then Daniel 11 and verse 6 predicts, it says, “And in the end of the years,” after a period of time, “they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come  to the king of the north to make an agreement.” And the successors of Egypt there, Ptolemy II Philadelphius, gave his daughter in marriage to the Syrian successor, Antiochus II, around 252 B. C. And Antiochus divorced his wife to make this union to take place. But then it says, “But she shall not retain the power of the arm, neither shall he stand nor his arm.” And the first wife who the guy divorced to marry the other lady, murdered Antiochus’ wife and their infant son. It was kind of a bad situation there, but it fits with the verse there. (Then you can go to the next slide, please.)
Then in 11:7-9 it says, “But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate .” That’s Ptolemy III; he was a successor king. And it says he “shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail,” and that is exactly what he did. He went and he was able to gain victories over the Syrian armies and took a lot of the territory back again. (Go to the next slide.)
In chapter 11:10-11, it says, “But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces,” and Syrian “sons” Seleucus and Antiochus the Great, that continued the war with Egypt. And it says, “the king of the south . . . shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north . . . but the multitude shall be given into his hand” Antiochus recovered Syria and Israel from Egyptian dominion and it happened just like Daniel had predicted.
Verses 12-16 go on to predict the battles of Egypt and Syria over Israel. It says, “And in those times . . . many shall stand up against the king of the south.” And Antiochus the Great, Philip, king of Macedon, and other people were opposing them in Egypt there. “And he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.” The glorious land from Daniel’s perspective was the nation of Israel , which was consumed by these marauding armies that were coming in. (And you can go to the next slide.)
And there we see that at that time, “he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand on his side, neither [be] for him.” And so Antiochus, seeking alliance with Egypt, arranged the marriage of his daughter, Cleopatra, with Ptolemy Epiphanes, in 193 B. C.; but Cleopatra did not favor her father nor stand on his side. Instead, she favored her husband and what was going on with them.
It goes on in Daniel 11, continuing there in that passage, it says that, “Then shall he turn his face unto the isles . . . but he shall stumble and fall.” So he is coming again against the Romans—he was defeated by the Romans there—and “then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.” And the successor to Antiochus there, he did indeed raise the taxes there and sought the riches in the temple in Israel. And he did not die in battle nor anger—he probably was poisoned—so he did not die in a tumult or battle. (Go to the next slide.)
And then Antiochus IV Epiphanes, is the one who is focused upon mainly in this passage, because he was the one who brought the most trouble to Israel in that he tried to end the Jewish worship entirely. And it says in “and in his estate, shall stand up a vile person [Antiochus], whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom, but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom  by flatteries.” And so the proper heir was actually—he eliminated the proper heir, and he took the kingdom in a way that was not as legitimate heir there. (And you can go to the next slide.)
And then he made, “and after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully . . . [h]e will enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province . . . and he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army. . .” And he did indeed. He made a covenant of peace with the Egyptians. He used that to go in and plunder Egypt, and he started a war there. And then they tried to make this peace treaty that both the Egyptians and the Northern Kingdom spoke lies at one table . They tried to negotiate something and they were both lying about that. (You can keep going to the next slide.)
And “then shall he return into his land with great riches.” He took great riches from Egypt. That’s exactly what happened. And, “his heart shall be against the holy covenant.” What he did after he came back out of that land is he ended up having the high priest, Onias III assassinated. Or he was at least supportive of that. And he ended up trying to eliminate the Jewish religion entirely, which ended up causing revolt that began the Maccabean revolution. (You can go back to the previous slide for a second.)
And when he was in Egypt, it says there “the ships of Chittim will come against him,” and that’s actually the Romans, who came from that land and they told him he needed to get out of Egypt because if he doesn’t get out of Egypt they were going to fight with him so he did that because he didn’t want to fight the Romans. So there again, another thing predicted there by Daniel. (Go to the next slide.)
And it says what he did then in 165 B.C was that he “pollut[ed] the sanctuary, [he took] away the daily sacrifice, and [put] in place the abomination that maketh desolate.” In other words, he shut the temple down. He sacrificed an unclean animal on the altar . And that was not a good situation for the Jews. And it says then also, he tried to get everyone to stop worshipping the God of Israel. Those people that did “wickedly against the covenant” to try to get them on his side—the people who didn’t really care about the Jewish law. (Go to the next slide.)
“And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.” And here we have the beginning of the Maccabean revolt, where the people that actually cared about the God of Israel decided to stand up and they were fighting against this and many of them got killed. Then when it seemed like they were starting to get victory, many people ended up cleaving to them with flatteries and they ended up taking over. There is more that could be said about that. I have in the back a seventy-page discussion of the Book of Daniel as evidence of the Bible as the Word of God, but I have limited time here. So you know, what can you do, you have to cover what you can cover. I think that hopefully that’s pretty clear, there’s some pretty specific, pretty detailed predictions made in Daniel. That would be good if it was  just history, but it is not history. It was something that was written hundreds of years beforehand and that would seem to be impossible without God and if God is a truthful God, He can definitely predict the future and we can count on the Bible being reliable.
(You can go to the next slide.)
Also in Daniel there are approximately 135 detailed prophetic statements, in Daniel 11:1-35. And every single one of them was fulfilled and historically confirmed.
(Go to the next slide please.)
Daniel Chapter 9 also predicts the specific day and time that the Messiah would come, under the Romans.
(You can go to the next slide.)
Here it says:
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy” [Daniel 9:24.]
And so, the seventy weeks there are weeks of years. You can see that for a number of indications of the context.
Chapter 10:2-3 contrasts these weeks of years with normal weeks. The word week just means seven. The word is used in the Mishna of weeks of years  specifically. And so, we can see that there. The weeks/ years that they talk about are 360-day years. They didn’t have a calendar just like our modern calendar. The Jewish calendar was 360 days. That was also the case with the land where this prediction was made. The Persians had one; the Babylonians had one. So it was actually also fitting the context where the prophecy was made. And actually if you look at the interpretation of the 70 weeks prophecy, they were actually expecting—the Essenes, the Pharisees, the different groups at the time were actually looking for this to happen around the time it actually took place, because they were interpreting Daniel Chapter 9. (Go to the next slide, please.)
So this is actually what is going on with the prophecy. It says (well, there’s a little slide there). There is 69 weeks until the Messiah be cut off. And then the 70th week there’s a gap actually in the passage, and then you have the 70th week [of] the future.
(Go to the next slide please.)
Daniel 9:25 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: (three score means sixty, a score is twenty , so sixty nine weeks total) the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
And after those first seven weeks of years, 49 years, they did indeed rebuild Jerusalem.
“And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;” And so after the 69th week, the Messiah will be “cut off,” which is a term for death under the curse of God, but He didn’t die for Himself; he died a substitutionary death. And then the people, the prince that shall come (that would be the Romans) would destroy the city and the sanctuary. And that’s what happened to Jerusalem in A.D. 70. We can see this. So now all we have to do is figure out is when this decree was issued and when it comes to an end.
The decree was issued on March 5, 444 B. C. That was the day when Nehemiah (it’s recorded there) that the decree was issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. We can figure out the date of that decree from a number of historical sources. And you just make the calculation there 483 (360-day years) and you change that to solar years. You go forward that number of years, and lo and behold , it comes out to A. D. 33. So the book of Daniel predicted that the Messiah would be cut off, but not for Himself, in A. D. 33. And actually, what’s even more amazing, if you actually figure out the number of days exactly, it actually comes out not just to the exact year, but to the exact day that Christ presented Himself riding in on the donkey as the Messiah in Zechariah 9.
And that is why (go to slide with the donkey)
And there were donkeys in the Bible, see?) if you go to Luke Chapter 19 (and the next slide)
that when actually this specific day was going to take place, Christ actually wept over the city of Jerusalem, and He said, “If thou hast known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.” Because He knew this was the exact day upon which the 69-week prophecy would come to an end. And then He predicts, just like Daniel 9 said, that the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed. He then says, “That the day shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee , and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side and shall lay thee even with the ground.” So he predicts that Jerusalem will be destroyed, which is exactly what Daniel says was going to happen. (Next slide please.)
And so then we also see that not only was the specific day, that Messiah is coming, predicted in Daniel 9, but also we have a statement that the Romans, the people (“the prince that will come,” the fourth empire of Daniel Chapter 2 and 7), will destroy the city, which happened in A. D. 70. The only times the city of Jerusalem was destroyed was 586 B.C., if I remember correctly, when the first exile happened, and then 70 A. D. (You can go to the next slide please.)
So, and then the last week is actually a future thing. You can see that it says in Daniel 9 there, it says AFTER the 69 weeks, then there’s a gap clearly in the passage so then we have the future week that is going to happen in the future. (Go to the next slide.)
The writings of Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Nostradamus, and all western philosophers and eastern teachers, do not have anything like the specific, detailed, clear predictive prophecies  of the Bible, which would be a good reason to actually think that it is accurate. And from God. Now maybe you can say that maybe these predictions of Daniel are somehow changed; maybe they put them in later and something happened there and it was kind of put in afterwards. Well, that is not a reasonable thing to conclude.
We have over 6,000 manuscripts of the Old Testament and we have over 5,500 New Testament ones. We have no other document that even comes close to the number of manuscripts we have of the Bible. So if we can’t count on the Bible being reliable, we can’t count on anything in history, nothing. We don’t know anything at all because if this is not enough evidence, then really what could we have in terms of evidence? So it’s not reasonable to think that it has been changed. (Go to the next slide please. Next one after that.)
So then how do we know… maybe, maybe … Daniel wasn’t written in the 6th century; maybe it was written later, but we are going to get as far as we can here, and when he tells me to stop here, then I am going to stop.
The book of Daniel, how do we know that Daniel wrote it in the sixth century? Well we know if from a number of reasons. First of all, he claims to have written it.
He says, I, different things in there, claiming to have written the book, so that’s at least something . (Go to the next slide please.)
Also, it’s not pseudonymous. We know that because, first of all, there is no clear evidence of pseudonymity in the Old Testament and much clear evidence against it. Actually in Israel you would get executed if you tried to come up with something like that. And not only was pseudonymity not accepted in Israel, it wasn’t even accepted in the cultures around it. The Assyrians, Babylonians, the Greeks, they actually would give you heavy punishment if you did something like that. That wasn’t accepted. (Next slide please.)
Also, there is no evidence that any Jew questioned Daniel’s authorship in the sixth century from the time of its composition until the modern area. So the Jews all thought that it was Daniel the whole time. They thought that. Josephus, the early Jewish historian, described Daniel as one of the greatest of the prophets. Josephus actually records when Alexander the Great came into the city of Jerusalem in the 300s B. C. and the high priest Jaddua brought the book of Daniel to him and said, “Look, this book predicts  that you are going to come and destroy the Persians.” And, of course, Alexander the Great liked that, and so he gave special privilege to the Jews. So here Josephus records that even before the book was even written according to an anti-supernatural view.
Am I up? Thank you very much.
Daniel Barker: Thank you, Tom. You are a very smart guy. Very articulate. Very likable person, too. And very brave to do this kind of thing. But very beside the point. Our debate tonight is not is there a God? There might be a God. I am not arguing for atheism tonight. I am convinced there is no God. But that’s not our debate tonight. Our debate tonight is not there’s a God who can issue prophecies that are true. That’s not our debate tonight. Our debate is about is whether the Old Testament itself is fiction. Whether it is historical. I gave you an example of a number of Israeli archeologists and historians who  are convinced that the archeological record does not support any of the stories of the Old Testament. Tom gave you the name of one who is convinced of the opposite. So there you go, we have competing scholars. You don’t have to be an expert to understand that the experts disagree with each other. Surprise, surprise, there are different points of view all over the place. So maybe during his rebuttal Tom will address some of the issues that I raised. He said that this archeologist has archeological proof. He didn’t give any, he didn’t offer any. For any of the claims that I was talking about. But the reason Tom is totally beside the point with this debate tonight is that the prophecy of Daniel is irrelevant. He admits that it is a late, one of the later books written. He admits that there is controversy over the date of the writing. But notice that when Daniel writes, he doesn’t mention any names. Supposedly, we are supposed to be impressed  that the all-caring, all-knowing, omniscient God of the Universe cares about us so much, He loves us so much that He tells some prophet named Daniel about some events that are going to happen in his lifetime, with no names. He didn’t mention the name Alexander the Great when he should of. Didn’t God know that name? Back in Isaiah 7:14, supposedly is a prediction of the birth of Jesus. Why didn’t Isaiah say, by the way, His name will be Jesus, instead of Immanuel? Was Jesus ever called Immanuel? No, that was a mistake. Very mushy, very imprecise. And suppose I agree. I am not agreeing. But suppose I agree, yeah, Daniel was a real prophet. How does that make the majority of the Old Testament historically reliable? There might have been some guy that had some great gifts. Wow, that might have been true. I doubt it. I think that there are other ways to explain what happened. And Tom even hinted at it. That some of these stories could have been redone. We know  that happened all the time. Jews and Christians were all the time, even though, it was against the law to write pseudonymously. To make plagiarism. It happened all the time. It was against the law in the first century, but we know that Christians were tampering with their own documents. Paul even admitted it. He said, you’ll hear that there are some people writing letters pretending to be from me. So he admitted that there were forgeries happening in the first century among Christians. So there were also Israelites and Jews committing forgeries, even in their own time. Scholars disagree about this. But these four empires that Daniel mentions were not even named. And what a thing, I mean, if he had this gift of prophecy, wouldn’t you rather use it for something like, important? Like, by the way, medicine. By the way, germs. By the way, wash your hands before you eat because there are these little things called germs. That would be a useful thing rather than some obscure king somewhere that is going to do something, that may or may not have happened at the time in some vague way. Yes, it is pretty amazing when you put some things together, but this fulfilled prophecy thing is a red herring. It’s like it’s trying to distract you from the fact that the Old Testament stories themselves are not historical. That they have mistakes and anachronisms. That they are outrageous. So it’s beside the point. Let’s say there was a prophet named Daniel. He was just one writer in the book and the mistake that a lot of believers make and I used to make as a Christian minister was to treat the whole Old Testament and New Testament as if they were one coherent unit, like it was “the word of God,” when it’s really just a bunch of scattered pieces of books that were later canonized and put together, supposedly under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But when you look at them, you can see that some of them have something to say; some of them didn’t. Some contradicted each other. The New Testament writers contradicted each other a lot. But  Tom alluded to a really fatal flaw in the whole Daniel and the 70-weeks prophecy. He admitted that they were doing the calculation with a 360-day year to make it work out. That’s 5 1/4 days off, right? He said that it’s possible that they were using that kind of a day back then, but he gave no evidence for that. The reason they use that 360-day year, which is not a good thing to do if you are calculating the future, is because if he used 365 ¼, it doesn’t work. The dates don’t work out like you want. You are probably 7-10 years off if you use the actual length of the year. But if you use this 360, which is a pretty neat number by the way—360 degrees in the circle. It is divisible so many things (12 and 5 and 6 and a bunch of numbers). It is kind of a neat number. But the year is not 360 days. It is 365 1/4. So even right there, he is showing that somebody is monkeying with the numbers to get it to  work out pretty close to where you want it to be. And by the way, he even admits that some of the New Testament writers knew about these things. The New Testament writers were writing fiction, as well. Matthew, for example, was fathered going through the Old Testament looking for supposed prophecies like Isaiah 7:14. Guess what?! I found the prophecy of a child and that’s Jesus. He was really sloppy. Matthew was really sloppy. New Testament writers even, some of them might even known about Daniel. And said, “Oh wow; let’s make it happen. Write about this time.” You don’t know that that couldn’t have happened. It’s pretty sloppy. It didn’t mention any of the names, any of the places, any of the events in the life of Jesus. And, by the way, another seemingly fatal flaw in this 70-weeks prophecy thing is that right at the beginning it admits that after the 70 weeks, will be the end of sin. Did sinning stop? During the time of Jesus? Are any of you sinners? Yes, you would admit you are a sinner. I am not a sinner; there is no such thing as sin. That’s just a phony concept. By the way, I like to say,  that if salvation is the cure, then atheism is the prevention. Just don’t be sick in the first place. And even Jesus said that. They who are healthy don’t need the doctor. Only they who are sick. But right there the prophecy fails. At the end of seventy weeks was not the end of sin. And then another, on its face it looks like a great argument. 6,000 manuscripts. It has to be true. You know how many million copies there are of Richard Dawkins, the God Delusion? Millions of copies and dozens of languages. Does the sheer number of copies make it more truthful? If I were to write my cat story, about the black and white cat on a piece of paper and then make copies and copies and send it all over the internet and people forwarded it millions of times, does that make it more true because there are more copies? That’s really a non-argument, and it’s kind of embarrassing that someone would—Josh McDowell does that a lot. The number of manuscripts.
Of course, you know Bart Ehrman showed that there are more  contradictions between the manuscripts than there are actual words in the New Testament itself. The manuscripts don’t always agree with each other. And I am sure Tom will agree with you on that. Manuscripts do have differences. He would probably say that they don’t differ on any major events, but there are differences in manuscripts. So I think, and Tom was honest enough to say he will address my remarks during his rebuttal, but I think so far nothing he has said tonight adds even an iota of evidence towards the claim that the Old Testament as a whole is a historical book. What if I were to grant, all right, there was a real prophet. There really was a real prophet and his name was Daniel. What if I were to admit that? How does that make the Old Testament historical? How? What if in a novel by Steven King somebody were to make a prediction in it that came true? Would that make the whole thing is historical? No. This whole thing about Daniel and fulfilled prophecies which, if you just scratch  beneath the surface a lot of the time, they are not prophecies at all, they are reworked they are remade prophecies Daniel is late. We don’t know the exact date of the authorship. We don’t know how much tampering was done with it. But even granting Tom’s point about Daniel, which I don’t do, but even if we did do it, it doesn’t add any evidence or rebuttal to the claim that the Old Testament itself is mainly fiction.
Thomas Ross: OK. 15 minutes. OK. 10 minutes. Thank you. Ok, I am just going to continue a little bit because some of the things he brought up were actually addressed in parts of my presentation that I haven’t gotten to yet. We mentioned that all Jews until the modern era believed Daniel was the author of this book. So they seem to think it was actually written by him in the sixth century.
All Christians did as well. There’s no evidence that any Christian questioned Daniel’s authorship until modern times. Christ said that Daniel the prophet wrote it . So my point with all this is that modern authors that say that Daniel did not write it in the sixth century are actually going upon no evidence at all. There’s absolutely no evidence that anybody who lived back then said that he didn’t. So we have to say that people who lived in the twentieth century knew more about what happened than people who were living back then. All of them. I guess that is possible, but it doesn’t seem super likely. Furthermore, to make the prophecies sort of happen after the fact is not possible. For example, Ezekiel quotes Daniel in the sixth century.
Daniel was his contemporary. He refers specifically to Daniel in the sixth century as a real historical person. (Go to the next slide for the quotes)
It says there in the book of Ezekiel, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God” [Ezekiel 14:14]. So here Daniel is given as an example of a righteous person, an extremely righteous person, and is well known for that. And Ezekiel is his contemporary. Also Ezekiel 28:3, “Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel;” He says to the King of Tyre [1:00]; Tyre was being very proud and so on.
And so here we have reference to the wisdom of Daniel, which is actually alluding to Daniel 1:17 in all likelihood. So we have a specific allusion in the book of Daniel in the sixth century which is not possible if it actually wasn’t written until 400 years later. (You can go back to the previous slide please. No other way, other way.) So also we have other references—The Book of Tobit. Tobit is an Apocryphal book, which was written in the third century B.C., which is before 165 if you have to date these things. Tobit has verbal illusions to Daniel. The Book of Watchers, the first part of pseudepigraphal book of Enoch, is also dated the third century B.C. And it also has clear references in it to the book of Daniel. Also the Hellenistic Jewish historian Demetrius in the third century B. C. has also already drawn up a chronology of Daniel chapter 9.
So here he is drawing up a chronology of Daniel Chapter 9 of a book that has not yet been written. That is not, maybe, I don’t know, I can’t do that. That would be a miracle. For sure. Also the book of Ecclesiasticus has [1:01] clear references to Daniel. It contains a prayer that the prophecies of Daniel would be fulfilled soon. Yet this was written before the time these predictions would have to have taken place. First Maccabees which is recognized as not inspired, but it is reliable, historical document, records the prayer of Matthias on his death bed. He counseled the sons to emulate the example of “Daniel, who for his innocence was delivered from the mouth of lions and the example of his three Hebrew friends because of their faith were saved from fire.” So Matthias, though he died before the time that the supernaturalists say the book of Daniel was written. So how could he do that if it wasn’t written yet? These are referring to this. Third Maccabees does the same thing. So we have clear references of that. Furthermore, the early (you can go to the next slide now) –
in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have very early copies of Daniel. In terms of it being changed or whatever, we have actual clear. You know, if Richard Dawkins’ book was millions of copies, you wouldn’t be able to change it either. OK, I concede, Richard Dawkins book was not changed with the millions of copies [1:02]. And neither was Daniel because of all the copies of it, OK? The book of Daniel here, we have in Qumran it is the same text in your modern Hebrew that you have in hand. And we have copies of it that are very early. Scholars have said that the copies, the early date of the copies of Daniel that we found at Qumran make the late date highly problematic. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint, according to the letter of Aristeas, was translated in the third century B.C. Now and that again is before the date that anti-supernaturalists have to say the book was written. The letter of Aristeas says the whole Septuagint was translated. It even refers to earlier translations that were made at the time. Now I am not saying that the letter of Aristeas was inspired or perfect but at least, what I am saying is that the actual extant evidence that we have dates Daniel to before the time that you have to say it was written on the anti-supernaturalists’ dating presuppositions. Furthermore, and that was also recognized by later commentators [1:03] on the LXX. They all say that it was translated before this time. Also we have sixth-century Hebrew and Aramaic in Daniel. The Hebrew of Daniel fits with the period of Daniel. The Chaldean Aramaic excludes any later period. You can’t just forge a sixth century document several centuries later very easily. Imagine if I was going to pretend to write a play of Shakespeare and I, not only was going to forge a play of Shakespeare, but I was also going do it somehow without any real copies of stuff from the time. That would be very, very difficult to do. I would reveal my later date in different anachronistic things. But Daniel’s Hebrew and Aramaic fit the time extremely well; in fact, when it was translated in LXX, some of the Hebrew was so archaic that they didn’t know what it meant already, which shows that it is also early.
Also, in terms of is there actual history in here? So we have specific prophecies; and is there history here, as well? For example, Belshazzar in the nineteenth century—critics similar to Mr. Barker were saying [1:04] that he was not a historical person. He was a myth. But in 1854 we found the Nabonidus Cylinder at Ur, which had this name Belshazzar. It verified that he was exactly what the book of Daniel said he was. He was in that position over the kingdom, while Nabonidus was the guy over him was actually in the Arabian Desert worshiping a god, Sin. Which is kind of an interesting thing. I am not making an argument out of that, but he was worshiping an idol named Sin in the desert.
(Go to the next slide please.)
Darius the Mede was considered to be a non-historical figure, but now we actually have evidence that he was a historical person. He was not confused with Darius I. He was actually the governor of Babylon for a while. The book of Daniel mentions, people say that Daniel 1:1 says it was the third year of Jehoiachim king of Judah when Nebuchadnezzar came. Jeremiah 25 says it is the fourth year. So is it an error here? Third year, fourth year? Well, actually the Babylonians dated the year kings reigned differently than they would in Judah. They dated [1:05] the first year of the king’s reign from, if he took reign in the middle of year the next year was when he started. So the Judeans would start from the back; they would go the other way. So actually that dating system is not an inaccuracy. It actually evidences that somehow Daniel is using an archaic, sixth-century Babylonian dating system when supposedly it was written hundreds of years later.
(Next slide please.)
Nebuchadnezzar. The book of Daniel mentions that Nebuchadnezzar was the builder of Babylon. He was the one who built the whole area. That is not something that is mentioned in any extant, Greek historian or whatever. So how did Daniel know this in the second century supposedly if it wasn’t written back then instead of centuries earlier? It was very difficult. Also Shushan the province is mentioned. The province was different in the second century. It mentions a specific province. It uses the Babylonian numbering system. Daniel 5:5 mentions that the Babylonian palace walls were plastered, which has actually been confirmed. We have dug up the palace walls and they have plaster on them. So somehow he knew what the walls were several centuries later. Daniel mentions [1:06] the differences between specific different Babylonian and Persian customs. There are different references to the Chaldeans to what they were.
(Next slide please.)
Babylonian Names. Daniel’s three friends were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You can actually find these names as high court officials on a clay prism found in Babylon. Mentioning about Nebuchadnezzar’s government in 593 B.C. Look them up and you can read the documents. I did it before I came here because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making something up. They are right there. You can read their names. And somehow in the second century he knew the names of these people. The specific officials of Babylon, centuries earlier.
(Next slide please.)
Daniel also predates the split of the Essenes from the Pharisees and Sadducees; both groups accepted the book of Daniel—they split off before the time that supposedly the book was made up. Ancient historical parallels support prophets recording their predictions right away. There is no evidence that the time for these sort of late, making it up later, so the Maccabean date is not based upon anything real. It’s just based upon the [1:07] anti-supernatural presupposition. It’s not something that is actually accurate. After 160 years of Greek rule there are only three Greek words in Daniel. They are specific ones for musical instruments; this would be very surprising if it was actually the case that they were there for 160 years already. I’ll also point out that he said that there were no mentions of specific kingdoms of any kind in the book of Daniel in the prophecies of the four kings. Daniel 8:20- “The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia.” Ok, that sounds like something. Daniel 10:20, “Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” That sounds like a company there, you know. “Now I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecian (Daniel 11:2).” I think if you are honest and you look at Daniel chapter 11. You look at the prophecies there, it’s a very specific thing [1:08]. And the fact is if there are actual prophecies in the Bible. This would be evidence that God actually gave it to us and then we can consider the whole thing accurate. In terms of 360 day years, ancient India, ancient Persia, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt—they all have 360-day years. So he can deny that if he wants to. You can investigate that on your own. They did. So to say that nobody had 360-day years is simply not accurate. If you compared Genesis 7:24 and 8:3 it mentions that the flood was 5 months long and the flood was 150 days long. 30-day months, 360-day years. So I think that that also is simply not a good thing to conclude. And I would like to know also— Time. Thank you.
Matthew Schultz: The next part is the cross examination, which is going to be a back and forth. A ten-minute total event. If I can have both of you up front [1:09]. Five and five for a total of ten.
Dan Barker: So I get to ask you as many questions as I can for five minutes and you answer as briefly as possible and I will try do the same thing so we can get as many of them in as possible.
So when did the exodus happen?
Thomas Ross: I believe that it happened in 1446 B.C., though some scholars think it happened in the thirteen century, but in either case it was a definite historical event.
Dan Barker: What language was written on the tablets of stone of the Ten Commandments?
Thomas Ross: I believe it was written in Hebrew.
Dan Barker: Hebrew?
Thomas Ross: Yes sir.
Dan Barker: And what year did that happen?
Thomas Ross: I believe it was 1446 B.C.
Dan Barker: 1446 BC? God wrote with His finger on the tablets in Hebrew?
Thomas Ross: Yes, sir. Since I believe that miracles are possible, I believe that it is possible for things that don’t fit into your worldview to happen.
Dan Barker: Well, it has nothing to do with my worldview. Are you aware of the fact that there was no Hebrew language in 1446 B.C. [1:10], that the Hebrew language does not originate until the tenth century? There was no Hebrew alphabet until about the tenth century? Are you aware of that historical, archaeological fact?
Thomas Ross: That is simply false. That is not true.
Dan Barker: Do you have any evidence that the Hebrew language was being written and spoken before the tenth century, B.C.?
Thomas Ross: I can get you some. I can’t like pull up a chart or something, but there is evidence that the Hebrew language did exist at that time.
Dan Barker: There was?
Thomas Ross: Yes, sir.
Dan Barker: Well, everything I read says it was not. The Hebrew language was not a Semitic dialect until the 10th century, B.C. So there’s no way. Of course, I’m supposed to ask you questions.
Thomas Ross: Yeah, that’s right.
Dan Barker: So, where are the Ten Commandments? I mean, this is supposedly God’s important… Moses went up to this mountain out on the Sinai Peninsula that was smoking and quaking and screaming and people couldn’t see him and then he came down with—the second set that he came down with—so where are they?
Thomas Ross: I’ve got a copy on my computer here.
Dan Barker: Where are the physical stones?
Thomas Ross: I don’t know where the physical stones are [1:11].
Dan Barker: You don’t know.
Thomas Ross: No, I don’t.
Dan Barker: So is there any way that any evidence to confirm that those stones were written in Hebrew?
Thomas Ross: Well, one thing I would say is that the Pentateuch is in the form of a Suzerain-vassal treaty, which is a treaty format that only existed around the time that Moses was supposed to come out of Egypt. It did not exist several centuries later on the late-date assumption. So, actually, if you look at the treaty format, some scholars have said that if we didn’t have something like Moses we’d have to assume that there was a person like that to make the document look like it did.
Dan Barker: Yeah, that seems historical. It seems like you would need people that make up lies even. I mean, you need human beings to do that. So who was—
Thomas Ross: What I’m saying is that—sorry, go ahead—it looks like a fourteenth century document, though.
Dan Barker: So who was the pharaoh in the exodus story?
Thomas Ross: I think it was Amenhotep III, but some people say it was Ramses II; but he was a historical pharaoh, yes.
Dan Barker: So you’re aware of the fact that the Israelite stories mention all these kings by name. By the way, Daniel didn’t mention names. He just said Greece. Persia [1:12]. He didn’t mention names of the people. He knew about Greece, but you’re aware of the fact that the Israelites mention here was this king by this name; here was this king by that name. For historical reasons, why didn’t the writer of the Pentateuch mention the name of the pharaoh of Egypt?
Thomas Ross: He just didn’t write it down. Why don’t you mention many names of people in your books? I mean, that doesn’t mean he’s not a historical person because he didn’t say, “This is the guy’s name.”
Dan Barker: Tell me why did the Israelites have to take this long, round-about way to get to the Sinai Peninsula, when there was a shorter route to get there, instead of going all the way south to cross the Red Sea? Why?
Thomas Ross: Because there were Egyptian garrisons on the northern route, which is historically verifiable, so they actually couldn’t have gone through without having had war, which is why also the Bible says that they went the southern route to avoid the war.
Dan Barker: Really?
Thomas Ross: Yes, sir.
Dan Barker: God wanted to avoid a war? The God of war, who equipped His warriors with military finesse, who invaded and conquered the Canaan, the Promised Land. These brave Israelite warriors [1:13], who were chased by this pharaoh (nameless pharaoh), this God was not powerful enough to let them break through a few garrisons at the border?
Thomas Ross: It wasn’t a matter of power, but if I was a bunch of slaves that wasn’t used to fighting, I would probably like to get some time before I had to fight Egyptian garrisons. And there were Egyptian garrisons there.
Dan Barker: So you admit they took a roundabout way.
Thomas Ross: Yes, of course they took a roundabout way.
Dan Barker: To get across.
Thomas Ross: It took them forty years. That’s pretty roundabout.
Dan Barker: To get across the sea. Forty years it took them to go 130 miles.
Thomas Ross: Well, they weren’t traveling the whole time. They were stationed in various places for a long time, but I’m just saying certainly they weren’t aiming for speed. It wasn’t like Uber or something.
Dan Barker: You know how many people there were that were traveling there?
Thomas Ross: The Bible says 603,000 men.
Dan Barker: 559.
Thomas Ross: Oh, OK. Great.
Dan Barker: 603,559?
Thomas Ross: Yes, on the assumption that the word thousand actually [means]—I think that that is the actual number. There are some scholars that say that the word thousand is referring to bands, in which case you could have a smaller number. But in either case, it definitely could happen. I think it’s thousands. But even if you said it was just bands ( 1:14] because the word thousand can be translated that way) it would still actually be a historical event.
Dan Barker: So the total number of people would have been 2 or 3 million people?
Thomas Ross: On the assumption the 650,000… yes.
Dan Barker: Plus all their livestock?
Thomas Ross: Yes.
Dan Barker: Plus all their tents that they had one day to put together? Right? So they somehow in one day
Dan Barker: Three million people got across. You believe that is a historical fact?
Thomas Ross: Yes.
Moderator: Reset the clock. Mr. Ross, you have the floor.
Thomas Ross: I’m not going to start until my computer turns on.
Dan Barker: Pray for it.
Thomas Ross: It turned on. Yeah, there we go.
Dan Barker: It worked! It’s a miracle! (laughter)
Thomas Ross: Right. Mr. Barker, Looking at page 640 of On the Reliability of the Old Testament by KA Kitchen, are those pictures of camels? Is that a picture of a camel at Ur? Is that a picture of a camel at Biblos in second millennium? Is that a picture of a camel in the early second millennium in Syria? Is that a picture of a camel in Egypt in 13th century, B.C.? Is that a picture of a camel at Pi-Ramesses on a pot in the 13th century B.C.? [1:15]
Dan Barker: Maybe. But let me answer your question. I did not say there were no camels before that time.
Thomas Ross: Oh, ok.
Dan Barker: There were camels. There were camels millions of years ago. And there were camels in that part of the world.
Thomas Ross: Oh, ok.
Dan Barker: Even before that time. The question is, were there domesticated camels that were being used as … for caravans and beasts of burdens. You probably saw the article in Tel Aviv Magazine.
Thomas Ross: Is that a pot on the camel, that it’s carrying?
Dan Barker: I don’t know what it is. It looks like a scribble to me. But, whatever it is
Thomas Ross: It says, “loaded camel figure.” And there’s a slot for the hump and a load for the camel to carry. That’s camels from Ur of the Chaldees, which is where Abram is from. Those look like camels to me. So I don’t know about the…
Dan Barker: Those are drawings. Do you know the dates of those drawings?
Thomas Ross: Yes, this is nineteenth, eighteenth century, B.C. …
Dan Barker: But in any event,
Thomas Ross: B.C. Yes, this is early second millennium, this is early second millennium, thirteenth century B.C. This is actually where the Israelites were, at Pi-Ramesses, 13th century, B. C.
Dan Barker: Doesn’t that look like it’s a broken part, and somebody just penciled in that little part in the middle?
Thomas Ross: Ok, I’m done with that. If you want to say they’re not camels, that’s fine.
Dan Barker: Look at it [1:16]. Look at the picture.
Thomas Ross: You can say they’re not camels. I encourage you
Dan Barker: He’s got a piece of a potsherd and someone drew in the hump.
Thomas Ross: Ok, no problem. That’s fine.
Dan Barker: The hump is not in there, is it?
Thomas Ross: Do we have an ostracon that refers to ‘Habiru engaged in construction work at the city of Pi-Ramesses?
Dan Barker: Apiru — we do, but Hab[iru] —there’s scholarly debate about whether Apiru is a cognate of the word Hebrew. Some people say yes; some people say no. There were Israelites in the area. There were Israelites at the time. There might have been some small bands, but there’s no evidence that there was 3 million Israelite slaves in Egypt at the time.
Thomas Ross: Do quail migrate through the Sinai Peninsula twice a year?
Dan Barker: I don’t know.
Thomas Ross: If they do, would that support the possibility of there being quail at the time there?
Dan Barker: It would support the possibility, yeah.
Thomas Ross: OK.
Dan Barker: But 30 trillion stacked up—
Thomas Ross: Does the Bible say 30 trillion?
Dan Barker: The Bible says that the number of quail was up to 2 cubits high in a circle a [1:17] day’s walk outside of the camp.
Thomas Ross: Could the quail have been circling around, so they had to hit them, instead of being (sound effects) —
Dan Barker: It says they fell to the ground.
Thomas Ross: Yep.
Dan Barker: And they fell to the ground in a stack that was 2 cubits high, which is about here.
Thomas Ross: It says a stack two cubits high.
Dan Barker: Yes, they were in a pile which
Thomas Ross: What’s the verse that says “stack”?
Dan Barker: It was in a pile that went all the way across a day’s journey on both sides.
Thomas Ross: I’d like to see the verse that says “stack.” There’s no verse that says “stack.”
Dan Barker: Well, I don’t have it right here in front of me, but they fell to the ground to a height of two cubits.
Thomas Ross: Do you believe the JEDP theory for the Pentateuch?
Dan Barker: I think that’s a viable idea. The documentary hypothesis is, I think, very strong among many, but you can obviously see Yawheh by some writers and
Thomas Ross: Are there any manuscripts of J? Have we found any manuscripts of J?
Dan Barker: I don’t think we have.
Thomas Ross: Have we found any manuscripts of E?
Dan Barker: It depends on how old is the manuscript. We have manuscripts.
Thomas Ross: Of E? Really?
Dan Barker: I don’t know.
Thomas Ross: No, we have none. Zippo. Do we have any manuscripts of D?
Dan Barker: It’s a hypothesis, right?
Thomas Ross: Do we have any manuscripts of P?
Dan Barker: [1:18] Well, no we don’t; but you are aware of the fact that the documentary hypothesis hypothesizes that those manuscripts are there, because of the literary…
Thomas Ross: So it’s kind of a faith. In other words, they hypothesize those manuscripts are there because if you assume miracles are impossible, you can’t admit Moses wrote it. That’s why they assume those manuscripts are there. There’s no evidence at all for JEDP.
Dan Barker: I think that—to answer your question—I think that’s an unwarranted ad hominem accusation. Historians are not anti-super-naturalistic, and if you have to stoop to ad hominem to make your case and accuse people of having a bias, that shows a little bit of desperation, but no one claims that the documentary hypothesis has found those original documents. The documentary hypothesis assumes that, look at, here we have this writing style from this one; but this writing style only uses this word for God; it’s this way in the priestly—the P documents—only use this word…
Thomas Ross: Are there any—How come [1:19] nobody until the 19th century realized that there were really these sources in there? Aren’t there totally reasonable explanations of the text without assuming those sources are there?
Dan Barker: It’s called literary criticism. You do it with all branches of literature. You can see influences from one group to another. You can see influences from one type of people to another. You can see differences in languages. So, I’m saying that the likelihood of the documentary hypothesis being true is very high. It’s not 100%. There might be other things that come to knowledge. But it makes perfectly good literary critical sense to assume that there were different documents that were pieced together later into what we call the Pentateuch.
Thomas Ross: When those documents were supposed to have been written, the Suzerain-vassal treaty format, which was what the Pentateuch was written in, had not existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. How did those different documentary sources figure out that the Pentateuch was in a Suzerain-vassal treaty format?
Dan Barker: I don’t know.
Thomas Ross: Thank you.
Moderator: The next part is going to be a simple ten-minute break; however, there can be questions asked of the debators. Do we have, at this time, questions picked? All right.
Moderator: Ok. Uh, if you wish to leave for a bathroom break, you may leave at this time. It will be [1:21] just a simple ten-minute break in which questions will be asked.
Dan Barker: (undiscernable) hear too many lectures and talks, but did you notice, just for the record, we’re doing a debate with opening statements and then rebuttals, did you notice that Tom did not rebut my opening statement? Did you notice that? Did you notice that when I got up to rebut, I rebutted his opening statement. He claimed he was going to rebut my opening statement during his rebuttal but did not. He just went on with more of the same. So, as a debate point, he blew it on that one point. What he was really rebutting was his own rebuttal basically. Or he’s rebutting my rebuttal. Uh, he admitted, by the way, that this 360-day year is what they used. And I heard about that as well, but even if that’s true, 360 is wrong. How many days are there in a year?
Dan Barker: .24 and whatever— yeah, close enough. I did a debate in Bellview, Washington, on February 29 [1:22], 2000, and you know what was significant about that? (I debated Phil Fernandez.) That was one of the century years that you do have the leap year every four years rather than you don’t, to make the calendar work out. Three hundred sixty is wrong. Using that number to count the days is a mistake. It’s wrong. It’s bad history. It’s special pleading. It’s monkeying with numbers. The biblical writers were fond of monkeying with numbers and they were fond of tampering with things. Matthew especially. I think Matthew was the worst. Luke was better. I think Luke was a little bit better writer. Now notice that my original thesis did not say that there’s no history in the Bible. I did not say that. Remember when I talked about Steven King? There was a Los Angeles. Wow! There was a Central Park in New York City. Right? So you could prove that those places actually existed. Right? Am I right? Does that mean Steven King’s book The Stand is historical? Who thinks it is? So you can see that this is a red [1:23] herring. This is a non-argument he’s using to say that, look, archaeologists have shown that that city did exist. No one’s claiming that there’s no history in the Old Testament. Obviously there’s some history in it. Right? But it’s historical fiction. There’s a difference between historical fiction and fictionalized history. Historical fiction is some story that wasn’t true but then you dress it up with historical facts, like Steven King’s writings. It’s not a true story but you put it in a historical setting. The writers of the Old Testament did that. They had these untrue stories that were based on previous mythologies and then they dressed them up in a historical setting. That’s called historical fiction. That means the Old Testament is fictional. Fictional history is different. Fictional history is where you start with an actual historical person but then you fictionalize their life. Like what was that silly movie about Abraham Lincoln and the zombies. Yeah, so that wasn’t a true story, was it? But there was an Abraham Lincoln, right [1:24]? So that’s more like legend and historical fiction is more like myth. The Old Testament is more like myth.
That does not mean, and please don’t misunderstand me, that does not mean that there is no history or no truth in the Old Testament. There is some. There’s history and truth in the writings of Steven King. It’s there, right? But, on balance, the story is mainly fictional. It’s not true. Those of you who believe it have been misled. You have been lied to. You’ve swallowed this lie, just like if it was the Greek mythology. Just like uh, if it were the Persian mythology. My Native American tribe—my dad’s an American Indian—the Lenope tribe—we’re called the Delaware Indians by the government—we’re a really smart tribe of Indians. We’re the tribe that sold Manhattan to the Dutch for $24. Boy, that’s really smart. And we had seven migrations, finally ending up in Oklahoma. But we have some stories about our foundational myths. In fact [1:25], Canal Street in Manhattan right now, used to be a river. It was the Manetta River that was made into a canal, then made into a street. The Manetta River is where our hero, our ancient hero Nanubush, conquered the snake Manetta and drove that snake underground into the Manetta River. And it was a great time in our history. That Manhattan Island is our Promised Land. Our religion. Our god. By the way, there were Native Americans—our tribe was on this continent at least 12,000 years ago if not 15,000 years ago which, if you think about it, was 9,000 years before the world was created if you’re a young earth creationist. We had these stories long before the Israelites came on the scene. The Israelites are newcomers. There were all these myths and stuff happening before they came along, and it’s very clear that they swapped, they borrowed, they interpolated, they rewrote things— just like—it’s just like the Broadway musical Westside Story. Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim admit that Westside Story was based on Romeo [1:26] and Juliet. It’s the same story but they modernized it. They brought it up into the future, so if you think about it, instead of the Jets and the Sharks and the Capulets and the Montigues, you can see that they were re-writing an older template. The Israelites did the same thing. There’s hardly anything in their stories that did not exist in mythical stories before that time. All of those stories were cut—not directly borrowed. Westside Story is not a copy of Romeo and Juliet, but you can see the template; you can see the pattern. And in the Old Testament, you can see the patterns. You can see the templates. If you look at the whole picture. Christians are always telling me I should look at it in context, then I’ll understand it. Well, do that. Look at the context. Look at the time of history in which these stories were written down. They’re not special. They’re not unique. They’re just as outrageous and just as crazy as any other mythologies.
Tom asked whether 21st century historians would know more than [1:27] the ancient writers knew. Well, yes, they often do. Often historians know more, because the ancient writers had anachronisms, which I pointed to, which Tom did not rebut, by the way tonight. And maybe he will get to some of that, but often modern historians can look back and see. They can see the mistakes that those ancient writers made when they were assuming things about their own history that were wrong. Because they were writing—in fact, much of the Bible is not even pretended to be history. It’s supposed to be a tale of salvation and sin and obedience to this war god, who is so jealous. By the way, did you know—do you know what name God called Himself in the Bible? He said, “My name is” . . . what?
Audience response [Jehovah, etc.]
Dan Barker: Nope. When He said “My name is” in Exodus 34, what was His name? You should know this if you believe in it. You should know what the name of God is. “My name is Jealous.” That’s what He said. Look it up in Exodus 34. “I am the Lord your God, whose name is Jealous.” The Lord Jealous. He’s [1:28] fiercely jealous, like a controlling husband over his wife the Israelites that he needs to love and they need to love him; otherwise if they don’t, he’s going to kill them. He’s going to massacre them. He’s going to make them eat their children. You look through the Bible. It’s horrible. This is the kind of stuff of ancient mythology. And he commands filicide. He accepted the filicide of Jephthah’s daughter. And then rewarded Jephthah for burning his own daughter as a sacrifice to God. He needs blood in order for sins to be atoned. Actual blood. He needs blood. He needs something to die. So this looks like ancient mythology. A God of the universe who can do anything he wants has to kill animals? When they were out of the Sinai Peninsula for those forty years wandering around—imagine that. Three million people. How many tents is that? How much land is that? How much grazing land would those cattle need? There was one story in there where they sacrificed 240,000 lambs, which means [1:29] there were a lot more sheep and cattle than that. 240,000 lambs and yet they needed manna from heaven. So, where did they graze? Scholars have predicted that in order to support that kind of a group, you would have to have grazing land about the size of Rhode Island. It’s just a crazy story. This three million people? Picture how big that is. And they can’t go 130 miles in forty years? You and I could walk it in about a day and a half. It’d be like walking over to the Minnesota border. If you walked non-stop pretty quick, you could do that. It took them forty years because they were scared of the giants? Doesn’t that sound like mythology? And, by the way, did you notice a contradiction in what Tom said? It was against the law for people to write fake books—pseudegraphic books. But he admitted in his supposed rebuttal that there actually were pseudographical writings by the Jews back then. They actually did write fake books back then [1:30]. And the Septuagint we know—we shouldn’t put too much stock in the Septuagint because it’s a Greek translation of one version of the Hebrew Scriptures, but the Septuagint made mistakes too and one of the most glaring mistakes of the Septuagint was Isaiah 7:14, which, as Tom will tell you, Isaiah 7:14 says, “A young woman shall conceive.” Almah. When they knew the word for virgin was betulah. And they used that word. But Isaiah’s wife was a young woman, and she conceived and had a son, but Matthew was reading—not the Hebrew—he was reading the Greek. He was reading a mistaken translation, because the Greek says parthenos, which means virgin. So Matthew blew it. He was a sloppy scholar when he said, “Oh, look at, a virgin shall conceive”— he didn’t know that he was reading a corrupted translation from the earlier Hebrew. The Septuagint’s not the Word of God. And yet the first-century Christians read from the Septuagint, which was in many cases, a bad translation. We learn a lot from it, but we can see that the people who wrote those books were [1:31] human beings, right? The people who wrote those books down. Human beings make mistakes. We all know that. I make mistakes. Tom makes mistakes. You make mistakes. So what made those ancient writers exempt? They were human beings. They made mistakes.
They goofed. They misinterpreted. They borrowed. They sometimes lied in their writings, and even Paul admitted that. In the Greek writings. So, I guess the point I want to make is Tom didn’t really rebut the issues that I raised, and I hope he does. And, by the way, he set up a straw man. He said I said something I didn’t say. I did not doubt the historicity of Belshaazar, and yet in Tom’s rebuttal he said that I did doubt the history, and you heard me say earlier that Daniel is irrelevant. Suppose there is one book that actually is truly prophetic. Yay! Does that mean the whole Old Testament—the whole thing—is that the kind of thinking you have—that if you find one truth [1:32] in there, then the whole thing must be true? My argument is that, on balance, even if there is some archaeologically valid sites and names in the Bible, and even if, contrary to my assumptions, there was a fulfilled prophecy . . . even if that were true—that does not mean that the Old Testament is a historically reliable book. That does not mean that it is not fictional. It is indeed fictional, for all the reasons that I gave earlier, those five points, which I hope Tom will at least address maybe one of them.
Thomas Ross: Maybe Mr. Barker might not have read this—he’s a very busy man, but we did send him over a month ago on the terms of conditions for the debate it says in the statement of what we’re doing that “This debate is over the fictional or factual character of the vast general body of the Old Testament. That is, it is a debate over history [1:33], prophecy, and archaeology, not over creation-evolution and Genesis 1-11 or pre-history, geology, or biology. These would be worthwhile debates, but they are for another time.” So I wasn’t actually expecting to hear much about Genesis 1-11, because that was actually in the terms and conditions of the debate that that’s a different debate for a different time. I think those are historically accurate documents as well, but I wasn’t actually expecting to deal with that, because the terms and conditions of the debate said that wasn’t actually what we were going to be talking about.
Mr. Barker spent a lot of time showing that he didn’t like God. He says God is cruel and God is this and God is that. And again, that’s another debate. His view of morality is far inferior to what the Bible teaches, but that’s a different debate. So, I’m convinced. I agree Mr. Barker does not like God. I believe that with all my heart. OK, that’s great. But that’s not the debate. That’s a different debate. He also says is basically some of the things he’s saying about this being incredible is basically saying on his view of the world, that miracles are impossible. And I agree. If I accept his assumption that miracles are impossible, then yes, we will conclude that the Biblical miracles didn’t happen. But that’s [1:34] just his presupposition of the impossibility of miracles.
He said that he was going to give five things in this debate. Number one was there is no archaeological evidence for events in the Old Testament. I gave numbers of—I couldn’t cover the whole Old Testament in twenty minutes—but I gave many examples of archaeological evidence for things in the Bible. I even showed him pictures of camels when he said there were no camels. We went through all kinds of things. The names of the three Hebrew children in Daniel are right there. They’re on a document. And this is right there—there’s the document. You can see their name there. I gave many examples. The walls of the Babylonian palace have plaster on them and how was he supposed to know that several centuries later? We’ve dug this palace up. The walls are exactly what Daniel said. There’s lots of things like that that I gave. I gave examples where he’s quoting Daniel in the 6th century. He says it’s not specific. I would encourage the audience to read through Daniel chapter 11. Read the pamphlet we have in the back there; see if those prophecies in Daniel 11, Daniel 9 [1:35], Daniel 2, Daniel 7—see if they are these vague whatever, can mean anything thing. Read them for yourself and see if that’s the case. And, remember that if this is a document that was written before the time of the Maccabean period, these are clear, unmistakable evidences that there’s predictive prophecies validating God’s claim that He can predict the future because He’s the true God. And, if He’s the true God, we can conclude that everything in there is true.
He mentioned these—he said there’s these mythical parallels. He didn’t mention any specifics. He didn’t put up a quote of whatever mythical parallel—that mythical thing is really, really non-historical. It’s really bad. I would encourage you to watch Mr. Barker’s debate with James White over whether the New Testament Jesus is a legend. He says there are these mythical parallels. He thinks that in the Gospel of Mark, it’s copying Homer. And just all these terrible arguments. So we need some specific myths here. Also [1:36], a parallel doesn’t prove that it’s made up anyway. We need something better than this. This is not good history to just cite vague myths of whatever and nothing specific here. Historical anachronisms—we didn’t get any historical anachronisms. I can’t think of any. I’m not infallible. Maybe he gave one that I can’t think of. Historical evidence—I’m going to give you some more things. He was talking about the exodus. We mentioned that there’s references to ‘Habiru engaged in construction work at the city. We know in the New Kingdom period, which is the period when Israel would have been there, there were actually many slaves—Canaanite slaves. In fact, the word for Canaanite and slave kind of became synonymous in Egyptian, because they had so many slaves then. They didn’t have Canaanite slaves in many earlier periods; they didn’t have many Canaanite slaves in later periods, when supposedly, on these mythical JEDP documents of which the Old Testament was made up—they didn’t have Canaanite slaves really back then. That’s kind of an interesting situation. His view of the Pentateuch is that it’s made up of these four documents—which [1:37] we have no copies of, no evidence, no references to them anywhere in any document that exists—but I’m the one that has an unjustified faith when he’s believing that Moses didn’t write it, even though it looks like a treaty format that existed at the time but no, no, no—a thousand years later, when they didn’t even know about this treaty format, somehow J, E, D, and P, who we have no evidence for, kind of came together and—here we go—and that’s how it came about. That’s not good history.
We know that there’s references to the different places. If you get a good book on Old Testament history like K. A. Kitchen’s On the Reliability of the Old Testament, or Joseph Free’s Archaeology and Bible History, you can actually find the places they went in the exodus. You can locate these cities. They’re actual cities that are there; there are actual places that are there. He said that it took them forty years to go across. They weren’t like walking like (sound effects) . . like really slow. They were stopping [1:38] in places. This is not a good argument against the Bible being historical to say that it took them so long it must be a myth. They were staying in different places. That’s just a very bad argument. Kitchen, who is a very, very scholarly man—he was the professor of Egyptology at the School of Archaeology Classics Oriental Studies University, Liverpool—his conclusion was: “The exodus is both a viable and realistic proposition. The narratives show a practical knowledge of Sinai conditions, not readily to be gained by Late Romance writers in exilic Babylon or an impoverished Persian-Hellenistic Judea, hundreds of miles, of miles from the places and phenomena in question.” So that’s pretty clear.
He just brought up Isaiah 7:14. The word almah was a young woman of marriageable age who was a virgin. In Israel, unlike today, if you were a young woman of marriageable age, you were a virgin. If you weren’t a virgin, bad things would happen to you when you got married. So it was a young woman. Yes. But was it just any young woman? No, she was a young woman who was a virgin. He says it should be bethulah. Matthew didn’t know what he was doing, it should be bethulah. Joel 1:8 [1:39] says, “Lament like a virgin [bethulah] girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.” So if it had said bethulah, he would have said, “Joel 1:8. Joel 1:8—not a virgin, not a virgin!” So, sorry, actually almah is a great word to use. And he’s saying it’s just some young woman giving birth. Let’s think about the context of Isaiah 7:14. Let’s think about this for a second. Isaiah 7:14—Isaiah is trying to give a sign to the king that he can trust God and not give in to this country that had way more, more military. Isaiah says, “Ask a sign of your God in Heaven above and earth beneath so that you can trust in God.” So he’s asking for this huge sign.
And he says, “Oh, no, I’m not going to ask for a sign.” So Isaiah gives a sign—that a virgin shall conceive. That’s . . . that’s a miracle. A virgin conceiving would be a real sign. A young woman giving birth? Listen, King, you can trust God because a woman’s going to give birth, whose married and just like normal, so you know, obviously. Is that a sign? A miracle? No, almah is a great word. Isaiah [1:40] 7:14 is accurate. A virgin shall conceive. It’s actually what it is saying.
He said there are 360-day years but somehow the year is 365.2 [whatever days long]. So he didn’t deny that these countries had years that were 360 days long. And he didn’t deny that it worked out to the right day for Christ. OK? Is that chance? Chance somehow decreed Nehemiah’s 360-day year, which is what they had, [and] Oh Wow! Somehow it’s the right year. Somehow the people who lived back then—the Essenes, the Pharisees, these people who were thinking of Daniel 9— somehow they thought the Messiah was coming in the first century. It’s chance! Chance! Not specific! Not specific! It is specific. There’s other historical things and all kinds of historical stuff that doesn’t make sense in later conditions. For example, you’re not going to find some scroll that says “Abraham.” Abraham was a nomad. He wasn’t some major, big, big person [1:41]. But can you see that this fits the time period that it was written, or does it fit some way later time period? It fits the time period in which it was written very, very well. So, for example, when Rachel stole the gods of Laban and then Laban sent all the guys and was chasing him—why were they so mad that they had these gods? I mean, couldn’t you just buy them on E-bay or something, get them back? Well, why were those gods valuable? Because those were the family inheritance. If you had the gods, you actually could take all the inheritance of somebody. That’s an example of a custom that was extant at the time that Abraham was supposed to exist—Jacob and those guys, OK? So, we see, there are many other things like that where we actually see it exists. Sodom and Gomorrha. The cities actually exist. We see that there was actually a time when they were destroyed by fire. That’s archaeologically valid. Genesis talks about the four kings, the five kings. We actually can see the routes that they went. It fits the time. It fits the time exactly. The tablets that I mentioned—the Nuzi tablets—actually show that [1:42] possession of the father’s household gods plays an important role in the inheritance. During that time, there were slaves in Egypt. Canaanite became a synonym for slaves. We also see that, I mentioned already, that there are all kinds of other things like that. Just get a good book on archaeology. Look it up.
Daniel chapter 11, which he didn’t really—he just said that it’s really vague. You know some of these things are—oh, the screen isn’t even on. That’s nice. Can we turn that on? Oh good. Some of the things in Daniel chapter 11 are not very vague. It says specific things about the kings. It says like who’s going to give his wife to the other one. It says about what they’re going to do in terms of having these covenants and treaties and so on. It’s not vague at all. It’s very, very specific. These predictions are not just some sort of weird generalization thing there and if he says oh maybe there was prophecy—maybe it actually was there—well [1:43], then it has to be God that did it because there’s no way that the 150+ things that are specifically mentioned in the book of Daniel, chapter 11, and in other chapters in Daniel, there’s no way that that could have been just made up somehow by chance it just happened. That is not a reasonable explanation of things at all. We have—the grammar of the Old Testament—the vowels and the consonants fit comparative Semitic grammar of the other countries that are around there. It fits when it claims to have been written. Not some way later thing. So this actually fits stuff. It fits the context when it claims to have been written perfectly. And it doesn’t fit later contexts. Moses in Egypt. Or Joseph in Egypt, rather. When Joseph went to Egypt, it says that he was in a popular high place and then there came a time when there was a pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph. What was that? How could the pharaoh not know about Joseph? Well, at that time, there was a group of people called the Hyksos and they came in and [1:44] they were a minority government that ruled over Egypt for a while. So that fits. So Joseph was with the reigning line of kings and then all of a sudden this other group of people comes in who are a different group and they take over, and that’s why they don’t know who Joseph is. And that minority group—that’s why in Exodus it says the Israelites are more numerous than we Egyptians. Well, were the Israelites more numerous than the whole country of Egypt? No, they weren’t. But they were more numerous than the minority government that was ruling over the land. So that was a pretty good thing. Somehow this later they just knew all these details of these specific things—they fit the history very well. How did they do that? How did they do that? We have references to like when the pharaohs came in in the 1200s. We have references to them coming in and taking over in the land. There’s references to Israelites being there at that time. So that fits again. All these things fit. Fit very well. We see times where they’re making straw without bricks like in the Bible. There’s references to that. So all these things fit [1:45] very, very well.
Can you go to the end, where I was going to show the slide? Mr. Barker says that he does not have an anti-supernatural bias. I would encourage you to consider whether that really is the case or not. This is what Mr. Barker said (I think it’s like one of the last slides).
This is what Mr. Barker said in the debate he had with Dr. Bass from Dallas Seminary. He said, “Even if Jesus did exist, even if I agreed with [his opponent] Dr. Bass 100%—yep, He rose from the dead; yep, there’s a God; yep, I don’t deny any of that—does not mean that He’s my Lord. If He did exist, I will go happily to Hell. It would be worse of a hell for me to bow down before a Lord, regardless of the legend and historicity issue. Even if I agreed 100%, I would still reject that Being as the Lord of my life because I’m better than that.”
Dan Barker: “Amen.
Thomas Ross: “I cannot accept Jesus as Lord. You’re much more free to live and enjoy your life unshackled from the demands than have some Lord of your life. To me, I think that’s more important than all this historicity stuff which [1:46] you heard me admit is a matter of probabilities; I might be wrong. That still doesn’t mean that Jesus is Lord. He’s not the Lord of my life.”
I’ll let you decide if that’s bias or not. OK? Don’t have that attitude. Be honest with the texts of Scripture. It is . . . it is . . .it is not made up later. It’s true. It has predictive prophecies that are very specific. All the books fit the times that they were written. Don’t have the attitude that “I am not willing to listen to this evidence because I do not want Jesus to be my Lord.” Now, you know what, if that’s your attitude, don’t even investigate it because, you know what, you’d be better off not knowing the facts. So just go your way, believe your lie, don’t get any more evidence for it because it’ll just make your eternal damnation worse, OK? But if that’s your attitude, then just ignore the facts. Put it all out of your mind. Believe, “Oh, it’s all made up.” No camels. You know, no facts that fit these things. Not there. Believe that. Go ahead. But if that’s not your attitude, if you are willing to have Jesus as your Lord, if the Bible is true, then [1:47] look into this. Look into the facts, people. See if this is actually an accurate, historical document—in fact, the very revelation of God. And, by the way, in terms of the purpose of the debate—Mr. Barker did not even come close to proving that over 50% of the Bible is legend. He made these vague references to things. He didn’t even come close to that. He . . . legend? He did not prove that by any means. So I would encourage you that in this short period of time, can we cover every single thing? We can’t cover every single thing. I probably forgot some things that he said. I wasn’t trying to. I want to deal with them, but I’m not infallible like the Bible is, so I don’t remember everything he said. But there’s plenty of evidence for the Bible. There’s specific prophecies. We went over lots of them. There’s all kinds of evidence. It’s true. Thank you.
Dan Barker: So this is our final closing; then we do questions? Is that right?
Moderator: Yes sir.
Dan Barker: Ok, very good [1:48]. So we heard another straw man from Tom tonight. I never did say that I had an anti-supernaturalistic bias against miracles; in fact, I have repeatedly said that miracles might happen. My claim is to say that they are extremely unlikely. Unlikely. You probably think it’s possible that that cat spoke to me, don’t you? You think it’s possible but it’s very unlikely. Right? So that’s not saying you have an anti-cat-speaking bias. It’s just saying that, based on previous knowledge, and what we know about the world, you’re going to give that an extremely low probability. In fact, in science, scientists will admit, “Well, we have a 98%, a 99%, let’s round it off, for now we’re going to go with it as a fact,” admitting that they might be wrong.
I happily admit I might be wrong but Tom is right. If the God of the Bible does exist and if that Jesus actually did exist [1:49] as presented in the Bible, if it were presented to me as a fact, right? There’s Jesus. I have a moral obligation to denounce that monster. I am better than that. I don’t send people to eternal torment because they disagree with me. I don’t call people fools simply because they’ve used their brains to come to another conclusion. I don’t threaten with violence. I don’t threaten genocide of entire nations. I don’t put down women and call my lover a whore and a prostitute if she looks at another man. That’s what the God of the Bible did all over the place. I don’t threaten with pestilence and curses the covenant of God in the New Testament. Really, that covenant, “You shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart”—was said before they were going to go in and commit genocide before these people. They were going to harvest crops that they didn’t plant and live in cities that they didn’t build. They were killing man, women, and children because they worshipped the wrong god. You are better than that and I am better than that [1:50] brutal, blood-thirsty monster that’s in that book. If he did exist, I would happily go to hell. Happily. Proudly with some integrity rather than pretend to worship such a monster that we see in the pages of the Bible. Think about it. Use reason. Use morality. Wouldn’t you praise somebody who stood up to Hitler and said, “Nope. Put me in the gas chamber. Fine. I would rather resist you than go along with your murderous plan for the human race.” It’s not a bias. I don’t say that because I have a bias. I say that because I drew a moral conclusion. I look at the evidence. I look at . . . he didn’t exist and it’s all a fiction; but if he did, then I would denounce him morally. He’s cruel. He’s not worthy of my respect as a human being. If he wants to prove what a big macho man he is and send me to hell anyway, let him do it. If he’s that powerful and that cruel, let him do it. Fine. Does that make it right? Does might make right? Do threats make something morally right [1:51]? Does stealing and genocide and ethnic cleansing and pestilence and curse hurling and slave mongering—does that make it right because the big powerful god said it? But, of course, it’s all a myth. It’s a good thing it’s a myth, isn’t it? It’s a good thing it’s a fiction. I think that good Christians and good Jews would prefer that it not be true because if it were true, what a horrible world we would live in.
So, how do you know what is true? How do we actually know what truth is? What is truth? Jesus said “I am the Truth.” But truth is not a thing or a person. A person can’t be the truth. That’s just rhetoric. Truth is the degree with which a statement corresponds with reality. And when you look at the Old Testament, you see that most of it does not correspond with reality. Some of it does. And I repeatedly said—and I think Tom is mischaracterizing what I’ve been saying tonight—there is some truth in the Old Testament. There is some history in the Old Testament. Big deal. You can find an inscription. Wow, that city [1:52] did exist! Big deal. But don’t you see my comparison with Steven King? Yeah! But big deal. Are the stories true? Yeah, you might find a certain mountain. You might find a certain piece of pottery. Yeah, great, I agree with you. But are the stories true? Is it a fable; or is it a fact?
It’s not true because your parents say it. It’s not true because your church says it. It’s not true because your teachers or your preachers or some holy book that you happen to be born into—you happen to be born into this culture—if you were born in Baghdad, it would be the Koran that you would be worshipping. It’s not true because some leaders, dictators, religious masters tell you that it’s true. Something is true by observation. Not by what you wish. Not by what makes you feel good. Truth comes through observation and through reality. By the way, Isaiah 7:14—you’re wrong about that. I’ll explain why. If you look at the next verse—look at chapter 8 [1:53] of the book of Isaiah, we see the fulfillment of that prophecy. It says, “Behold, a young woman shall conceive.” That young woman was the prophet’s wife. She did conceive in Chapter 8. She did give birth to a son. His name was not Emmanuel. He was supposed to overthrow the Assyrians. That failed. That prophecy that was a local prophecy made back then in Isaiah 7:14 failed. The almah was the young wife of the prophet.
Thomas Ross: I’d like to thank the audience for coming today. Thank you for taking the time to investigate this important topic. I’m thankful for everyone who came out. I’m thankful for Mr. Barker being willing to debate this subject and for all of you for being able to consider this. I’m not going to—In the concluding statement, you’re really not supposed to introduce new information, so I’m not really going to be doing that with Mr. Barker’s statement, because he was introducing lots of new information and you’re not supposed to do that in the concluding statement. But I’d like to just remind you of some things [1:54] that were already said in this debate. He said, “Facts. We have plenty and plenty of facts.” Can I cover every fact in twenty minutes? No. Here is some facts that this particular book of the Bible, which I was focusing on, which he didn’t refute any of these facts: it’s a sixth century composition written by Daniel. And if it is, there’s clear predictive prophecies and it’s historically accurate, too, which is, you know, what we’re talking about here.
So, Daniel claims to have written his book. (If you go through the slides here.) He claims to have written it. (Next slide.) We know that, that, that pseudonymity was not acceptable in the canonical books. Now, we’re not saying that nobody ever tried just writing a story, OK, but in the canon—it wasn’t accepted in the canon. That was not an acceptable thing. We see that all the Jews thought that it was written by him all the way back. There’s no evidence of anybody else— no Jew—saying that it wasn’t written by him. No Christian said that it wasn’t written by him. We see also that it’s quoted by Ezekiel, his contemporary. It specifically says Daniel, referring to his wisdom, referring to his righteousness; as a [1:55] contemporary it mentions him in the sixth century. So, obviously, the book—it exists, OK? It wasn’t made up later. We have other references. (You can go back, to the other slide.) It was referenced in Tobit, which is before the time that Antiochas Epiphanes lived. It’s referenced in the book of Watchers. It’s referenced in the Maccabees. This guy in the book of Maccabees speaks about the book of Daniel. Matthias. But Matthias died before the time that the anti-supernaturalist date says the book was written, OK? So these are facts. Facts that show that this is a true, predictive prophecy, truly historically accurate when it claims to be a sixth-century document. (Next slide, please.) We see that the Septuagint—all the evidence that we have says that it was written before the time of that anti-supernaturalist date was saying. We have references that Daniel’s three friends—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—were all on actual documents dating back to the time in the sixth century. How did the second century guy know that? We have references to Nebuchadnezar being the builder of Babylon, which [1:56] we discovered—not references, there’s no way a 2nd-century guy would know that, OK? They’re are all facts. OK? We know that there are references to the Babylonian wall being plastered, references to the numbering system they had, references to the Babylonian and Persian customs—these are facts, facts. Not just made-up whatever. We figured out that Mr. Barker does not like God, and I agree. If that was the debate, whether Mr. Barker likes God or not, I will concede the debate to him. That wasn’t the debate tonight. It wasn’t about morality. I think he would lose the debate on morality. That wasn’t the debate! The debate is whether the Bible is mainly legend or facts. And I’ve given fact after fact, after fact, after fact; and he has not dealt with them. We have this cylinder, with Hananiah, Mischael, and Azaraiah referenced right there on a cylinder. Some of the things he tried to bring up were simply false. There’s no evidence. He said some extreme statements [like], “No archaeological evidence at all.” For any of these things we give archaeological examples. We know that the slaves were there. We know that the Pentateuch [1:57] was written in this treaty format that fits the time that it was written. Lots of facts. Camels—no camels—I showed pictures of camels, OK? (Go to the next one here.) The late date is simply anti-supernatural? Fine. That is the fact. He can say that he’s not anti-supernaturally biased. You can decide for yourself on his quote that he said, whether that’s biased or not, OK? The book of Daniel is written in sixth-century Hebrew, sixth-century Aramaic. It does not fit the second century. If it was in the second century, it would have Greek stuff in it. We have documents that are earlier than that from the second century. This is an early document. And if it’s early, you read it through. Read Daniel 11. Read Daniel 2 and 7. Read the pamphlet we have back there and see if these are genuine predictive prophecies. He did not deny that from the decree of Nehemiah in 444 B.C. to the Messiah—he did not deny that it worked out. He just said, “Oh, they can’t have a 360-day year,” even though that’s what they had. No, no, no. They should have used something else. So, is it chance that it worked out? This isn’t some random number. It’s not like [1:58] 26.894 and you make that work out. No, this is the year they had. This is a reasonable interpretation. He did not give any alternative explanation for it. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in Daniel chapter 9. He didn’t explain. How is that the case? We have copies of Daniel that date to before the Roman times. We have copies of Daniel that date to before the prophecies of Daniel 9 were fulfilled, copies that are older than the time the Romans took power. How did Daniel know about the Romans? How did Daniel know these specific dates? It’s because it’s historically accurate. Even its predictions are historically accurate. This shows that the Bible is fact, not fiction. Thank you.
Moderator: All right. The next part is going to be the question portion. Each question will be directed towards one of the debaters, and they will be given a maximum of one minute to answer the question and, if they so choose, the [1:59] other person may respond and they would have 30 seconds at most.
Uh, I’m going to try to get through these as quickly as possible, as we are running out of time. Thank you.
The first question will be for Dan Barker. The question reads, “Since holidays are established to commemorate historical events, like Independence Day, what could be the origin of the Jewish Passover if you deny that the historical event, sorry, the historial event of the exodus?”
Dan Barker: The Jews, when the celebrate Seder today—and most of my Jewish friends and the rabbis that I know—do not think it was a historical event. They think it was a mythological—they say it was an allegorical story. They do not think it was historical. There are some Orthodox Jews who do. But you can celebrate an event that wasn’t based in history. That’s no big surprise. You can celebrate something that didn’t happen, although it was meaningful [2:00] in your foundational myth of your country. So, and by the way, I wouldn’t use the word celebrate, because the Passover is celebrating the death of innocent children who happened to belong to the wrong religion. Bloodshed. Every time I see one of those little matzo crackers, I think dead babies. That’s what they’re celebrating. The God of the Universe killing innocent babies to convince pharaoh to change his mind. So if they want to celebrate that, fine. But you can celebrate like, you know, like Switzerland. Did William Tell actually exist? Probably not. But they still celebrate the foundation of their country by having a celebration over that myth.
Moderator: The next question—
Thomas Ross: I’ll respond. One, I think it’s a good question that the Passover existing would actually support the existence of an actual event. I think it’s ironic, as Mr. Barker keeps talking about morality instead of the topic at hand, historicity, that he’s in favor of the legality of taking little babies in the womb and murdering them, although he complains [2:01] about other types of murder. I think that’s an interesting thing. One actual other interesting [thing] with Passover is actually Passover—this is not in Exodus—but we actually have a reference in an Elephantine document, a command from the Persian King Darius II that the Jews should celebrate the Passover or the feast of Unleavened Bread.
Moderator: The next question will be asked for Mr. Ross here and it is by an individual named Ed. Archaeology and evidence have shown particular events to be excluded from occurring. Specifically, Jericho was abandoned at the time of the supposed conquering of Canaan and had been for a while. How do you respond to such a statement?
Thomas Ross: First, I would say that there is some dispute about when Jericho was destroyed. Garstang actually thought that he found the layer—the [2:02] archaeologist—when Jericho was destroyed—the demolition layer. That was possible. Some other archaeologists think that actually that whole period of time washed away. Now if the whole period of time eroded and washed away, then you would not expect to find anything. So for another situation like that, actually where the Israelites were living in Egypt was the Delta region, there’s practically no documents of any kind at that time. And so slaves living in mud hovels aren’t going to write a lot of stuff. So there are certain times where you wouldn’t expect, where it would be unreasonable to expect, lots and lots of evidence. So if Garstang is right—we found where Jericho was. If the other guys are right—then it might have all just washed away and we have no evidence of anything at the time. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t there.
Dan Barker: He seems to be agreeing that there is a lack of evidence there. By the way, I have to say, and this might be irrelevant, but you bordered on slander there by saying that I am a person who supports murder. I do not. And that was below the belt. That was ad hominem. That was unfair. I do not support murder. The God of the Bible does, but I don’t.
Moderator: Thank you. The next question [2:03] is asked for Mr. Barker. Can you give proof for the historical errors in the Old Testament? For example, can you give proof for there being no domesticated camels in the times of the pharaohs?
Dan Barker: Yeah, well, I will point you to and I don’t have the . . . maybe I can look it up here.
Moderator: Sorry, my apologies, the patriarchs.
Dan Barker: Time of the patriarchs?
Moderator: Yes sir.
Dan Barker: Yeah. Well, Tel Aviv Magazine by Israeli scholars, who have examined that whole area archaeologically, and I forget the woman’s name who was the author of it, you can find it online. Look online. Domesticated camels in the time of Israel. My argument was not that there were no camels, and yet Tom seemed to be thinking that was my argument. There were camels. There were camels in the Americas, I mean, there were pre-cursors to them. The article was were there domesticated camel herds or caravans? There were none. And that article in Tel Aviv Magazine points to the archaeological evidence that the introduction of domestic animals [2:04] to the Middle East, not to the rest of the world but to the Middle East, was around the year 930 B.C.E. Before that time, there were no camel herds or populations or camel caravans. In spite of some of these broken fragments that Tom thinks show that they’re carrying something on their back.
Thomas Ross: I think I did show him actual pictures of camels carrying stuff. There’s other evidence for camels, as well. Genesis does not even say there’s these huge herds of camels being raised, just a few camels. So if he concedes there are possibilities of a few camels, then there’s no historical problem here. He somehow needs to prove that there were no camels and nobody was riding them when they were riding them. Somehow I don’t think you can do that. And the camel argument is not a good one. He’s actually arguing some kind of, I think he’s a little bit out of date with certain things. Like there’s lots of things that people used to claim that were problems with the Bible that the more we find, they’re legitimate.
Moderator: Mr. Ross, would you agree with the paint, excuse me . . . [2:05] point that one reason for increasing skepticism today is the freedom of information and (the) right to voice skepticism?
Thomas Ross: I do not think that’s a reason why. I think one big reason why skepticism is increasing is because actually in our educational system, you get it pounded into you for years and years and years. For example, when I was growing up, I had evolution pounded into me so hard that I thought if you disagreed with it, you were just some kind of brainless fool. And I hadn’t read anything on either side. So I actually think that atheistic bias in our state school system is a very, very good reason for an increasing amount of skepticism and, actually, I think another reason is a lot of corrupt, false Christianity. Just because somebody says that he’s a Christian does not mean he’s a Christian. If you think that salvation’s by works, if you think that you’re going to heaven because you can speak in tongues or you asked Jesus into your heart, that doesn’t mean you’re saved. The Bible says, “Repent . . . believe the Gospel.” There’s a lot [2:06] of corrupt Christianity. And that stuff can’t change your life, can’t do anything good for you and so when that turns you off, then you can become, you know, a skeptic or an atheist and that’s very reasonable. May be less damage that way actually than keeping your false Christianity.
Dan Barker: I think all of us are skeptics. Every Christian in this room is a skeptic when it comes to someone else’s religion. You’re skeptical of the Persian religion. You’re skeptical of the Muslim religion. You’re skeptical of my Native American ancestors’ claims of the origin of the earth on the back of a turtle. You are correctly skeptical of those claims. Skepticism is no big, new thing. It’s probably true that now that the Internet hast more information out there, it’s easier to check up and see why we have good reason to be skeptical of these outrageous claims.
Moderator: Mr. Barker, how do you explain the finding of chariot wheels and military gear at the bottom of the Red Sea in the place where the Bible claims the Israelites left Egypt?
Dan Barker: There was a man who said that he found a chariot [2:07] wheel at the bottom of the Red Sea. There is no chariots. And there are no wheels. He said there’s an 8-spoked chariot wheel that he found at the bottom of the Red Sea. Archaeologists have not made that claim. Historians have not made that claim. That was made by uh, an American evangelical preacher who said he saw this wheel with eight spokes on it, but he misplaced it. Nobody can find it. So . . . sure, you’re going to find some artifacts through history; but if you find an artifact that maybe kind of looks like something that happened in the Bible, does that prove that the Bible actually happened? That’s really, really grasping at straws. And, in this case, it’s a non-existent straw.
Thomas Ross: I believe you can actually find pictures of the wheel, so it’s not non-existent.
Moderator: This is to Mr. Ross. Why is it permissible for God to have a shifting morality? Deuteronomy 13:6-10— when to stone your family.
Thomas Ross: Don’t start the question till I take a look. 6-10, right?
Dan Barker: What was the verse, Deuteronomy?
Thomas Ross: I don’t believe that God actually does have a shifting morality. Actually, I think that, apart from revelation from God, we actually can’t have any justifiable morality of any kind. So, if we’re all just cosmic broccoli, then we actually don’t have any significance of any kind. I believe that the laws in the Bible are just and actually, in a theocratic system, God was actually, you know, with the Canaanites—so in this passage, I think it was a right law, Deuteronomy 13—and also if you’re going to have, when they came into the land of Canaan—if you can dry up the Red Sea and you can make plagues come and you can make manna come and you can make the day last longer—if that’s the only time you have any kind of aggressive war, how many aggressive wars are we going to have? I don’t think we’re going to have very many. So there’s actually—I think the Biblical morality is totally justifiable. And if we’re going to attack the Biblical morality, first we have to establish what our objective basis is to attack it. Otherwise, we’re borrowing from the Bible; we’re borrowing from Biblical morality, to attack it.
Dan Barker: It doesn’t matter what you believe, Tom. You can have your beliefs. We all have our beliefs. You can believe what you want about your God. Christians today think slavery is wrong. I don’t think that any Christians today believe in slavery. But the Bible—the Old Testament, is a slave manual. Right after the Ten Commandments, the God of the Bible tells them what to do. How to buy slaves. You pay more for a male slave than a female and if they have children, well then the children have to stay with the master. The master can do what he wants sexually with the female slave. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there about nothing anti-slavery in the Old Testament. Or in the New Testament. So there is indeed a shifting morality in the Bible.
Thomas Ross: I’d like someone to ask me a question about slavery.
Moderator: For the sake of time, I am only going to ask four more questions, two for each speaker. This question goes for uh, Mr. Barker. There is evidence of giants. Skeletons were even found in Wisconsin; so are giants really mythical?
Dan Barker: Well, if by giant you mean big person, yeah. There’s always going to be somebody at the tail end of the Bell Curve. You’re going to find some individuals in every population that you would call. There’s probably some in this room. Andrew. Stand up, Andrew. Is he a giant or what? No? Well, he’s a pretty big guy. But there’s no evidence of giant giants. There’s no evidence of the Nephilim, who were supposedly the offspring of the sons of God but the daughters of men because they saw they were fair. Actually, intercourse between angels and human females—there’s no evidence of any of those giants. And there should be. There should be thousands of skeletons in graveyards of the supposed race of giants that that the Israelites were afraid of. There’s not.
Thomas Ross: You have plenty of examples of large people today. Arguing that some people in the Bible were large is not a very good argument. I think it’s an argument that evidences his anti-supernaturalist bias. It talks about large people that are giant. They want to fight. I’d rather be big if I was going to fight. That’s not a very good argument. I also think the sons of God, daughters of men passage is actually about the sons of God were actually the godly line and daughters of men were the ungodly line, so actually, there’s not anything there anyway, so he’s trying to get mileage out of something that there’s not something to get mileage out of.
Moderator: The next question is for Mr. Ross. Do you believe your wife, sister, or mother, when she was younger, should sit on a pillow throughout her menstruation because she is / was unclean?
Thomas Ross: There are ceremonial laws and civil laws and moral laws in the Old Testament. And those are not just arbitrary classifications. They are justifiable. Some of the ceremonial laws of Israel were actually just to set them apart as a people. They did have a good purpose. They distinguished them from the other nations. So I think that that law did help classify them as separate from the other people and so that’s what it was. So, no I don’t think that, so does my wife do that? No, she doesn’t go on a pillow. If you’re wondering.
Dan Barker: So I would say that’s some evidence that a lot of the Old Testament’s irrelevant today. We’re better than that. If you want to consider those ceremonial laws, you could say the same thing about the laws against homosexuality in the Bible, which were considered during the holiness code, ceremonial laws. That was for that time and not for today. It’s wonderful that we now have gay marriage, which is an improvement over the old ceremonial laws of the Old Testament.
Moderator: Next question is asked by Luke Rains and is for Mr. Barker. If reason is the basis of truth, how can man know the truth if man is not all-knowing?
Dan Barker: Well, that question assumes that the truth is a thing. Truth is not a thing. You put a capital T on it, that doesn’t mean, Oh, there’s truth somewhere. Truth is just a label for the degree with which a statement corresponds with reality. So the way to know is to look at that statement and see if it corresponds to some degree or another. If it corresponds high enough, we say, “Yep, that’s true.” If it doesn’t we say “No.” The only way to do that is through observation. There were a lot of Christians who used to believe that men had one fewer rib than women because the Bible says that. They believed it. I knew people who said that. Observation shows us that’s just not true.
Thomas Ross: But the Bible never says all men have one fewer rib than women; that is simply not in there. I would suggest that he tries to do a better job arguing against the Bible.
Dan Barker: I never said that.
Thomas Ross: It sounded kind of like that, I thought.
Dan Barker: I never said the Bible said that.
Thomas Ross: OK, if you didn’t say that, fine.
Dan Barker: I said Christians believe it.
Thomas Ross: Yeah, Christians believe all kinds of things that are weird. So do atheists. But that doesn’t prove that it’s false. I would suggest that logic, the scientific method, even making objective claims like Mr. Barker said, “Truth is not a thing”—he’s making an objective claim of truth. He’s proclaiming it’s true that truth is not a thing. He’s actually borrowing from the Biblical system of thought to attack it.
Moderator: And the last question is from J.D [2:14]. And this is for Mr. Ross. Prophecies in one book do not establish the legitimacy of the Bible. What evidence from other books do you believe establishes the Biblical legitimacy?
Thomas Ross: One thing I would say— the books—there is a kind of unity to them. If one actually gives evidence that the Jehovah God of the Bible exists, and there’s clear evidence for that, that would be good reason to conclude that the rest of them are true. That isn’t the only book with that kind of evidence. There’s actually thousands of, there’s 1,800 predictions in the Bible that are very specific, there’s hundreds of Messianic prophecies—the Bible’s also confirmed by archaeology. And, most of all, the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Creator and Lord of the Universe, actually said that the Bible is true and that’s a great reason to believe it. And also, I know the Author. And since I’ve come to know Him, I know for sure that it’s true.
Dan Barker: I used to believe that I knew the author, but now I know that I was deluding myself. Those who claim to know Jesus don’t. You have an idea in your mind but you actually don’t have. If you can use personal experience to validate the historicity of an ancient collection [2:15] of books, that’s really distressing. That’s really sophomoric. You should look at it with its own merit and not inject your own personal bias presupposition against the natural—what you seem to have—accusing me of the opposite . . . presupposition. So, let’s go where the evidence leads. Let’s use reason. Let’s use kindness. And let’s follow the facts wherever they might lead. In my case, they lead away from the factual Old Testament.
Moderator: Real quick here, how about a round of applause for our two debaters?
Thomas Ross: Thank you, Mr. Barker.
Dan Barker: Good job, you were very articulate.
Thomas Ross: I’d like to thank those who made the slides, too. I am not good at making slides. That was so helpful. Thank you very much, my slide-makers.
Moderator: Uh, do either of you have anything else you wish to sort of plug here before we start closing up [2:16]?
Dan Barker: So my current book is called Life-Driven Purpose, which turns Rick Warren upside down. The Purpose-Driven Life is the wrong way to look at the world. You can find that online. But my new book, uh, God, the Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, I can’t wait till that comes out. We want to get it in every hotel room in the country.
Thomas Ross: I would encourage those who have come to this debate to check out my website, FaithSaves.net. I would also encourage you to get a copy of that book in the back, The Historicity of Daniel. That’s also on the website. There’s other resources, scholarly resources giving evidence for the Bible is true. And I would also, (encourage) you to consider . . . the Bible actually is self-attesting. If you’re honest with it—read the Gospel of John, you’ll see that it actually is true. It’s actually is God’s own Word. Thank you very much for coming.
Matthew Schultz: All right.
Matthew Schultz: As president of the Philosophy Club, I’m going to plug my organization, as well. Very shamelessly. We meet every Thursday in Room 2314 here in Highland from 6:15 to 7:15 and debate various topics that are democratically chosen. I know it’s been a long night and I thank all of you for coming out to see this and I wish all of you a pleasant evening.
The End of Part 1 of the Transcript of the Barker-Ross Debate:
“The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact.”
To See Part 2, “Archaeology and Prophecy Validate the Bible as the Word of God,” as well as The Dan Barker – Thomas Ross Debate Arguments Examined and Analyzed, please visit FaithSaves.net.