Made Up Skeptics/Denialists in Apologetics

I have noticed a curious tactic by Christians to make up denialists or skeptics, sometimes denialists or skeptics who never existed, whenever any discovery related to the Bible is made which is interpreted by them as supporting the inerrancy of the Bible. This is an attempt by them to indulge in both the “we were right before” and the “they were wrong before” fallacies at the same time, curiously forgetting the lack of evidence for the kings of Genesis 14, the lack of evidence for the existence of Girgashites and the Perizzites and the Hivites ((: ), three down, three to go), the archaeological impossibilities of Exodus-Joshua (see bibleorigins.net), and the shrinking evidence for the glory of Solomon. Let’s take a look at some cases in which the made-up skeptics/denialists happened to have a curious lack of existence.

Hittite denialism:

Christian Backstory: “Skeptics denied the existence of the Hittites due to lack of historical evidence until Sayce in 1882 (or the 1906 translations) changed everything”.

Fact: Since the beginning of Egyptology, there has been a debate whether to identify the Hatti (Khita) of the Egyptian inscriptions with the Hittites of the Bible. Contra the Christian legend, Sayce’s discovery of the ruins of Boğazkale changed quite literally nothing, and the 1906 identification of the inhabitants of Boğazkale with the Hittites (Hatti) of the Egyptian inscriptions by the decipherment of the Treaty of 1258 BC changed barely anything. If it did change anything, it showed that the Hittites of the inscriptions were unlikely to be the Hittites of Genesis. It is admitted there were instances of Neo-Hittite denialism in the 19th century by the unlearned who did not know of Assyriology. However, further study shows that the denialists of the Biblical Hittites did exist, but only after the discovery of the Hatti of Egyptology, when M. G. Kyle wrote about an unnamed denialist of the Biblical Hittites in The Fundamentals.

Conclusion: The conclusion is only partially true (the implied conclusion, that Abraham and Joshua’s Hittites are proven to exist in the supposed time of Joshua and Abraham, is completely untrue) and the backstory is totally false, although some details in it have resemblance to reality.

Pontius Pilate:

Christian Backstory: Skeptics claimed Pontius Pilate never existed until a 1961 excavation at Caesarea Palestina showed he did.

Fact: No skeptic is stupid enough to forget or deny Josephus or Pilate’s coins.

Conclusion: Bullshit.

Come on, folks, remind me of more!

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

6 thoughts on “Made Up Skeptics/Denialists in Apologetics”

  1. United Monarchy:

    Christian/Jewish Backstory: Skeptics doubted David even existed, until the “beit dvd” stella and the discoveries of his palaces by Mazar.

    Facts: Some probably did doubt David’s existence, but the most likely position was always held to be that he was simply a more minor figure and the real doubt was about the existence of a united monarchy and a grand empire. These are only getting less and less plausible as finds accumulate. The only exceptions might indeed by Mazar’s findings of massive construction in Jerusalem, but these are controversial and in any case even by Mazar the “empire” wasn’t that large.

    Conclusion: While there are some elements of truth here, it’s largely false. There is little doubt that David (or Solomon) didn’t have a huge empire or did massive constructions (at least outside of Jerusalem), and severe doubt whether there ever was a united monarchy.

    How did I do?

  2. Actually, the Tel Dan stela was found at the time following the collapse of the Albright school in the 1970s, and the resulting scholarly debate that erupted over issues considered by that school settled, but, in fact, having little evidence to support them. Not a single person who argued against Davidic historicity was an archaeologist, or even bothered to use archaeological analysis for his purposes, until Jamieson-Drake, a minimalist, used archaeological data (in 1991) to argue that Judah’s general population was barely literate until the days of Hezekiah. The Tel Dan stela added only fuel to the fire which was the debate over the historicity of the United Monarchy, though it severely damaged the credibility of the minimalists in the minds of the public, who probably did not even know of the existence of minimalists before 1993, and the scholarly community ignorant of the dispute(s). Only in the year 1996 did there become even the slightest archaeological reasoning to deny Solomon Hazor X, Megiddo VB, and Gezer VIII, and, thus, argue for a lack of a “Great United Monarchy”. Indeed, in my mind, only since 2005 have good arguments been presented for the position that David and Solomon only ruled a small chiefdom.

    Other than that, all correct.

  3. Actually, there is considerable evidence that there certainly WAS dispute about the extent and size of the Hittite empire, if not the existence of the Hittites at all – until the more historically recent discoveries about the Hittites made clinging to those arguments seem quite ridiculous. These discoveries DID change many things and they weren’t the “ho-hum, another rock found from the Hittite empire” findings that you make it out to be. If what you claim in this blog entry can be proven with any weight of evidence, then please present it and submit it to Wikipedia so that the supposed gross inaccuracies found there about the Hittite empire can be updated (see extract from Wikipedia below):

    “Before the discoveries, the only source of information about Hittites had been the Old Testament (see Biblical Hittites). Francis William Newman expressed the critical view common in the early 19th Century, that if the Hittites existed at all “no Hittite king could have compared in power to the King of Judah…”.[4] As archaeological discoveries revealed the scale of the Hittite kingdom in the second half of the 19th Century, Archibald Henry Sayce postulated, rather than to be compared to Judah, the Anatolian civilization “[was] worthy of comparison to the divided Kingdom of Egypt”, and was “infinitely more powerful than that of Judah”.[5] ” – from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hittites

    1. I’m fairly confident that the inscriptions of Ramesses II regarding the Battle of Kadesh were already translated by the 1870s, but I can’t be sure until Google Books’s “Custom Range” feature allows me to narrow down specific dates.

  4. An example of a specific part of history questioned by critics was
    the matter of the Hittites. Some questioned the historicity of such a
    people, although they are mentioned about forty times in Scripture. As
    late as 1904, a “foremost archaeologist of Europe” said, “I do not
    believe there ever were such people as Hittites. . . .”27 Two years
    earlier, E. A. Budge, of the British Museum, had expressed doubt
    about any confirmation of their existence.28 But by 1906, H. Winkler
    of Berlin had found their ancient capital (Hattusas) at Boghaz-koy,
    in central Turkey; since then many tablets written in the Hittite language
    have been found, published, and studied. G. F. Wright, of
    Oberlin College, referred to a prominent English biblical critic
    who had declared that “an alliance between Egypt and the Hittites
    was as improbable as would be one at the present time between
    England and the Choctaws.”29 Wright continued, “It was pure ignorance,
    not superior knowledge, which led so many to discredit these
    representations.” SOURCE: Criswell Theological Review 1.2 (1987) 281-294
    [Copyright © 1987 by Criswell College, cited with permission;
    digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]

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