Category Archives: Bible Related

Bible Related

Faith and Patterns of Evidence

I have written blog entries related to the Exodus on two other occasions and I am returning to the topic again. I’m returning to it again because over this year (2020) I have been reviewing the film series, “Patterns of Evidence.”

Science and the Exodus (2013)
The Exodus and the Corona Virus (April 2020)

Patterns of Evidence” has been a very significant series. It does a great job of laying out the issues in an understandable way for people. Most of the series of films was released in Theaters, except for the last film which was released online and then sold on DVD and Blue Ray discs. The first film was “Patterns of Evidence: Exodus”, second was “The Moses Controversy” (this was in two parts), third was “The Red Sea Miracle Part 1”, then the final film was “The Red Sea Miracle Part 2.” The first film addresses mainly the date of the Exodus and the historical and archeological evidence of the Israelites in Egypt and that they moved to Canaan. The second film addresses the controversy about the question of could Moses have written the Pentateuch, including Exodus. It makes the case that there was an ancient written script that was used in Egypt and evidence for the same form of writing shows up in Canaan. Some scholars make a case that this ancient form of writing, referred to as “proto-sinaiitic” is related to ancient Hebrew as well as other ancient languages of the people in Canaan. Then the last two films explain two primary approaches to relating the Biblical account of the Exodus sea crossing to archeological evidence. One is called the “Egyptian Approach” and the other the “Hebrew Approach.” There are also other approaches mentioned in the films, including the view of Colin Humphreys (which I addressed in 2013 in my blog article “Science and the Exodus” linked above).

This film series interviews many scholars of different kinds, which is one of it’s strengths. Many programs have been produced for television on the Exodus. But most of these programs either don’t use well qualified sources or they don’t do an adequate job of seriously investigating all sides of the issues. Most documentary programs pertaining to the Bible that show up on television are very poorly researched and they seem to be designed more to present dramatic claims or put forward one person’s point view. They aren’t designed to look at all sides of the issue. In the Patterns of Evidence videos you hear from many scholars who are skeptical of the Bible, to different degrees. But you also hear from some really good Bible scholars, and other scholars that have expertise in particular issues that are relevant, such as geography, engineering, or semitic languages. You hear from both agnostics and Bible believing scholars. This is actually rarely done well in documentaries.

Often Bible related documentaries don’t really handle the Scripture carefully enough. Also, you can’t adequately deal with many questions about the Bible and history in one relatively short program. So I am glad to see this series of films delving into the questions more in-depth. It has answered a number of questions of mine and confirmed some things I’ve found in my own research. So I would highly recommend the Patterns of Evidence series. I hope that people will take the time to see the entire set of films so they will get the whole picture. Some questions do not have just one totally settled answer. There may be more than one possible answer. The last two films are like this, on the Red Sea miracle. If you expect these films to give a simple answer to the question of “Where did the Exodus sea crossing take place?” you may be disappointed. I’d say it presents five possible sites for the Red Sea crossing. But to me it narrows down to two. I think it comes down to either Nuweiba beech roughly in the middle of the Gulf of Aqaba or the area around the Southern outlet of Aqaba. It may be that how you arrive at your own conclusion may be just as important as which answer you accept.

An issue that kept coming up in my mind as I watched the programs was, as it inteviewed a scholar, I kept wondering how much does this scholar believe the Bible? Sometimes well meaning believers of different backgrounds come to different conclusions. But in the films you often see some of the differences between skeptical scholars and Bible believing scholars. Hence the two approaches, the “Egyptian approach” and the “Hebrew approach.” Sometimes the connections between certain things is not so clear as I would like it to be. But still, I think plausible answers are presented. The Exodus story starts with miracles and the Red Sea crossing question makes you wrestle with how you view miracles. It is important to be careful in interpreting Scripture when you are weighing what it says against secular scholarship. It is not always Christian scholars who find archeological evidence agreeing with the Bible. Also, Christian archeologists often don’t agree with each other. But this does not mean there are no answers. It does mean you have to put some effort into finding satisfying answers. I tend to go along more with the Hebrew approach in the Patterns of Evidence films, but I don’t mean to ignore the secular scholars. The Patterns of Evidence films did make some issues clearer to me about 1) the date of the Exodus versus scholarship about ancient Egypt, 2) a possible method of writing existed that Joseph and Moses could have used, 3) problems with the Red Sea crossing being in the Nile Delta region, and 4) the reasons to believe the Red Sea (or Reed Sea if you like) was somewhere along the Gulf of Aqaba.

There are more films coming and other videos that seem to be offshoots of the series. One set of these I purchased was called “The David Rohl Lectures.” David Rohl is an archeologist in the films and I believe he is an agnostic. I was once an agnostic so I was interested in what he had to say. This video set consists of four lectures, one about the Israelites in Egypt, one on Dr. Rohl’s view of the Exodus, and two about Kings and events during ancient Israel’s history. The last two had a lot of new information to me and they are quite good. The great thing to me about Dr. Rohl’s work is how it shows how the Biblical events do line up with archeological evidence regarding timelines. But he also has to buck against some accepted history to show this. So it shows problems that have existed with secular scholarship for a long time.

Another set of programs related to the series is new. It is a series of four programs by Dr. Douglas Petrovich, who also appears in the Patterns of Evidence films. He has wide-ranging qualifications both regarding Biblical languages and historically. He is saying there is evidence the ancient proto-sinaiitic written script mentioned in the films was the first form of Hebrew writing. Also, he says it was the first alphabetic form of writing. He is not saying it was the first language or the first form of writing. Prior to it there were a couple of other forms of writing but they were not alphabetic. They consisted more of symbols representing ideas, such as ancient cuneiform and heiroglyphics. We all learn the English alphabet in America and other countries. But what is an alphabet? It’s where the characters represent sounds in the spoken language. Representing ideas phonetically using a written alphabet made it easier for more people to learn how to write than using cuneiform or heiroglyphics. Dr. Petrovich’s ideas are going to be controversial in the scholarly community. But that means I have to hear it.

Evidence about the past is never 100% complete. So however far you go in pursuing answers to the “why believe” questions, you make a decision at some point to choose what you will believe. I’ve found there is much more evidence for the truth of the Bible than people think there is. Biblical Christianity is based on historical events much more than other religions. I think more people need to see the Patterns of Evidence videos. They may challenge your assumptions, but I think they do it in a healthy way.

For those who are interested in learning more about all this, I’d go to the website below and sign up for an email newsletter that is called “Thinker Updates.” They are full of great information where you can dig into topics dealt with in the films. Other Christian organizations are now selling these videos as well.

Encountering Noah’s Ark

On August 9, 2017 I visited the new Theme Park/Exhibit called The Ark Encounter in the Cincinnati area, in Kentucky. The Answers In Genesis (AIG) ministry has built a full size replica of Noah’s Ark for people to visit.

Caption:  I stand perhaps 150 yards from the AIG Ark Encounter near Williamstown, Kentucky.





The dimensions of the Ark from Genesis (see the KJV or NKJV Bible)
Length: 300 cubits
Width: 50 cubits
Height: 30 cubits

As built by Answers In Genesis (20.4 inches per cubit, or 1.7 ft./cubit)
Length: 510 feet
Width: 85 feet
Height: 51 feet
Cost: Approximately 100 million dollars

I believe Adam, Eve, Methuselah, Noah, and others mentioned in Genesis 1-11 were real people and that the global Flood was a real event in the time of Noah. The Ark Encounter from Answers In Genesis is a great place to visit. Everything is well done and there are activities to do outside the Ark itself, such as a zip line ride and a small zoo. There are a number of small shops to get crafts and snacks. There is also a very nice restaurant that has a marvelous buffet that is able to handle a large crowd. On the Ark itself is 3 levels of exhibits. It took my friend and I perhaps something over 5 hours to see everything. You realize how big the Ark is as you walk to see it all. It really is a lot of walking. The Ark Encounter is built almost totally of wood. It is said to be the largest timber-framed wooden structure of its kind in the world. It uses 1.5 million board feet of heavy timber. Some of the building methods followed those used by Amish builders, who are experts in building wood structures. The back side of the Ark is connected to a building made with modern typical construction methods which includes the elevators and restroom areas. The Ark is also set 15 feet above ground on special concrete piers. Inside, there are areas that demonstrate how various kinds of animals could be housed and managed inside the Ark as well as how Noah’s family would live. There are two theater areas inside the Ark. Though the structure is wood, the displays and exhibits are very high-tech. Some exhibits were created using 3D printing technology. I would say the exhibits essentially answer all the common questions people have about Noah’s Flood and Noah’s Ark.

As we were arriving to the Ark Encounter, it occurred to me that what Christians were doing today in visiting the Ark today in Kentucky is much like when Noah was building the original. Noah spent years building the structure and had to solve many challenging problems to do it. He must have done it outside of cities of the time, in order to have space and wood to do it. People probably came out to see it, even if just to laugh at Noah. This is like today, when people visit the Ark. Some come with family though they don’t believe it, and so they see the faith of others and they wrestle with what faith in the God of the Bible means. The gospel is presented at the Ark Encounter in multiple ways, so it really is a good place to bring non-christian friends or family. So people go outside of Cincinnati today to see the Ark (south of Cincinnati near Williamstown, KY). The people of Kentucky and Cincinnati know the Ark is there and so it is a witness that points to the faith of Christians who believe the Bible is literally true. There are still people who believe the book of Genesis tells us real history, even today in 2017. This faith is not outdated or misplaced, nor is it wishful thinking. The Ark Encounter exhibits demonstrate reasonable answers to the questions people have, in order to remove obstacles to people believing in Christ. So, Christians demonstrate their faith today in going to see the Ark. We don’t actually know how Noah and his family solved all the problems of living on the real Noah’s Ark, but this is not a problem. If we can come up with reasonable answers to the questions today, then Noah could have found reasonable answers to the problems then.

Caption:  Front end of the Ark.  Friend Mark stands near it.







The Ark Encounter affirmed many things that I have taught about Noah’s Flood and Noah’s Ark over the years. But I also learned a number of things in my Ark encounter. I learned about extinct animals I had never heard of because the exhibits showed replicas of a number of extinct animals, that would have been on the real Ark. I learned about methods of removal of waste from the Ark and ventilation of the Ark that would be feasible for Noah’s family to use on-board the Ark. I learned that the number of animals needing to be on-board the Ark could have been less than I had expected (about 6,700 by AIG research). In a number of ways, Noah’s family had to find ways to “work smarter, not harder” to manage caring for the animals. The Ark Encounter helps visitors find answers to their questions on the Flood. The Ark Encounter also helps people imagine the corruption of the preflood human society, where people lived at the same time as dinosaurs. Geological evidence for the Flood, the cause of a post-flood ice age, and other scientific questions were addressed also. Reasonable well-informed answers are provided. Granted some of the exhibits are based on speculative reconstructions, but demonstrating that this can be done today implies it is plausible Noah and his family could have done it in the past.

The Answers In Genesis Ark structure is not the first replica of Noah’s Ark that has been built, but it is probably the most authentic. In 2012 CNN did a story about a man in Dordrecht, Netherlands who built a replica of Noah’s Ark. It has been called Johan’s ark, after Johan Huibers, the man who built it. Johan is a wealthy businessman. He built it to be a “Bible museum.” Huibers did not have the means to built an ark in an authentic way. He put barges together and then put wood around it. Huibers did make it the Biblical dimensions but he seems to have used a smaller value for the length of a cubit than Answers in Genesis, if the CNN article is correct.

In Bremerton, Washington there is a Noahs Ark Restaurant, but it is not built as a replica of Noah’s Ark, it is more of a theme of the restaurant. There have also been a number of churches built to be similar to Noah’s Ark. Churches have always considered it as a salvation message, that Jesus is like “our Ark” and the one way to be saved.

There has also been ship engineers and naval architects who have studied Noah’s Ark. Some have made small scale engineering models and studied them in wave tanks. The late Henry M. Morris showed that the dimensions of the Ark made it almost impossible to capsize in the water. The engineering studies have consistently shown the unique proportions of the Ark from scripture make it quite stable in the water. Another study by a mechanical engineer (from the 2013 International Conference on Creationism) looked into whether immersion in water for extended periods of time would weaken the structural strength of the Ark. The conclusion was that any weakening effect was not great enough to threaten the structural integrity of the Ark.

In our modern world, where Bible stories are often thought of as like myths or legends, the Ark Encounter shows that we can believe the Bible is really true. Much attention to detail in the exhibits demonstrate how a family like Noah’s long ago might have managed all the challenges and lived through the experience. The sight of the AIG Ark structure is very impressive. It will undoubtedly spark much conversation about the Bible and the book of Genesis. The key issue brought up by the Ark Encounter is probably the authority and historicity of Genesis in the Bible. The Ark Encounter is a quality attraction that I highly recommend.

Caption:  Noah reaches to catch the dove to return him to his cage.







Website from Tim Lovett and others on the engineering of the Ark.