The Fivefold Challenge [ref001] [ref002]_The_Skeptical_Review_: 1995: Number Four: The Fiv

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The Fivefold Challenge [ref001] [ref002]_The_Skeptical_Review_: 1995: Number Four: The Fivefold Challenge Introduction Fundamentalist Christians claim that the Bible is a historically accurate work in every detail. They delight in showing how "modern archaeology" has verified this little biblical detail or that minor biblical event. But something they don't talk about much is the failure of modern archaeology to confirm some major events in the Bible. Specifically, there are five major miraculous events in the Bible which are completely unconfirmed by modern archaeology. These miracles are: The parting of the sea by Moses [ref003] (Exodus 14:21-31) The stopping of the sun by Joshua [ref004] (Joshua 10:12-14) The reversal of the sun's course by Isaiah [ref005] (Isaiah 38:7-8) The feeding of thousands of people by Jesus using only five loaves of bread and two fishes [ref006] (Mark 6:34-44; see also the parallel accounts in [ref007] Matthew 14:14-21, [ref008] Luke 9:12-17, and [ref009] John 6:1-14) The resurrection of the saints, and their subsequent appearance to many [ref010] (Matthew 27:52-53) The Argument From Silence When skeptics point out that some event in the Bible is unconfirmed by non-biblical records, fundamentalists usually respond by claiming that this is an argument from silence, and that just because nobody else confirms it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Sometimes, this is a legitimate response-- the argument from silence is not always valid. If the event is an ordinary event which attracted little attention, or a private event not witnessed by others, than the argument from silence cannot be used to show the event never happened. But in the case of the above five miracles, the argument from silence is perfectly valid. All five of these miracles were allegedly witnessed by thousands of people-- indeed, two of these miracles would have been visible worldwide. Hence, fundamentalists cannot claim that the events were simply not noticed by others. Furthermore, all five of these events were of an extraordinary nature. They are the most impressive miracles in the Bible, more impressive than even the resurrection of Jesus. It would be absurd to claim that other people could have witnessed a change in the sun's course, or the resurrection of a large number of long dead people, without having been amazed by it. Such events would have attracted widespread attention and generated dozens of documents concerning them. Take the resurrection of the saints, for instance. Other first-century Christians would have used this event as further proof of Jesus' divinity-- Paul and the other gospels would certainly have mentioned it, for instance. Or how about the sun turning backwards? This would have been visible worldwide, and thus other cultures active at the time would have noticed the event and offered their own explanations, in keeping with their own cultural and religious beliefs. And so forth. Hence, the argument from silence is valid in the case of these miracles. If no other evidence can be found to support them, we are justified in concluding that they never happened, and thus that the Bible is wrong in at least five points. The Challenge With this in mind, I present The Fivefold Challenge. The challenge is this: Pick any one of the five miracles listed above, and provide one piece of documentary evidence that confirms this miracle. The evidence must conform to the following requirements: The evidence must be contemporary. It should have been written shortly after the miracle in question. The evidence must be independent. The author must have obtained his information about this miracle from a source other than the biblical book(s) in which the miracle is described. The evidence must be unambiguous. The document should clearly describe the miracle in question. I will not accept claims which argue from double entendre or hidden meanings, unless you can prove that a person living in the time and place in which the document was written would have clearly understood the hidden reference. The evidence must be reliable. The evidence must have been written by a person known to be reliable. If the document's author is unknown, the rest of the document must be shown to be reliable. Other miraculous claims within the document will disqualify the document unless these additional miracle claims can themselves be independently verified. Reward (Sort Of) I wish I could offer a monetary reward for anybody meeting the challenge, a la Ralph Nielsen or the Skeptical Review. Alas, I just don't have $1,000 to toss around-- not that I'm worried about losing it, but I believe it's wrong to offer a reward you can't pay, even if you know you'll never need to pay it. I'm also not interested in getting sued over the matter, which has happened to some skeptics who offer rewards. So instead, I'll offer something more valuable-- a chance at saving my eternal soul. If somebody manages to meet the challenge successfully, I will either read three books of that person's choice, or attend a church of the denomination of that person's choice for three months. To a fundamentalist, that kind of reward is probably more valuable than money anyway. Conclusion Those wishing to take me up on The Fivefold Challenge may contact me at the following address: Robby Berry 2496 Hard Road Dublin, OH 43016 E-Mail: Unless you specifically ask me not to, I reserve the right to publish your answers, with your name intact. So to those fundamentalists who truly believe that archaeology confirms the Bible (and who would like a shot at impressing, and maybe even converting, an atheist) here's your chance to prove it. I wish you luck-- you'll need it. FREE SUBSCRIPTION: A free one-year subscription to _The_Skeptical_ Review_ can be obtained by emailing [ref011] or by writing to P.O. Box 717, Canton, IL 61520-0717. File contributed by [ref012]Farrell Till; page maintained by the [ref013]Internet Infidels. [ref014]Email: [ref015] [ref016]JL [ref017]Copyright © 1995 [ref018]Internet Infidels. HTML Reproduction Rights Reserved. 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