The devil’s advocate: just for the heck of it

Hence the argument that Biblical records are evidence is a fallacy. The so-called records are ‘modern’ and were created centuries after the event. How, therefore, can we claim that they are accurate or authentic records when there exists a gap of so many centuries.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The physical evidence in the real world shows that the earth is young, probably a few thousand years old as Biblical chronology shows. The so-called ‘scientific’ evidence that the earth is several billions of earth old is based on assumptions and has no hard physical evidence. — upsidedown119


‘upsidedown119’ has been flooding Malaysia Today with comments, in particular in his or her debates with ‘Lord Jim’. I thought I would join the fray just for the heck of it and play the devil’s advocate. ‘upsidedown119’ posted the comment above in response to my article Keeping the faith. Maybe I can respond to that response.

Religionists always use the argument that science cannot prove this or prove that. Hence claims by scientists cannot be accepted as fact or evidence. Religion, however, can prove all its claims because it has Biblical records to support these claims.

Most times science is based on observations, sometimes with experiments thrown in. From these observations, scientists make assumptions and come to conclusions. At the end of the day it is all just that — observations and assumptions, and conclusions based on these observations and assumptions.

Hence science is still not really conclusive. It is what at that point of time they think it means. There have been occasions later on, it could even be centuries later, when scientists come out with new findings based on new observations and they deduce that earlier observations and assumptions, and the conclusions resulting from them, were wrong.

In other words, nothing is permanently conclusive. It is only conclusive at that point of time. That could change later when new findings emerge. Science is always searching and researching for new evidence to either prove earlier findings correct or to prove them wrong.

In the old days, say 2,000 years ago, there was no technology called carbon dating. Hence the only source of reference as to how old the earth is was Biblical records. Today there are many ways to date archaeological discoveries. And, through modern technology, archaeological discoveries of what appear to be human remains have shown that they are hundreds of millions or even billions of years old.

Let us assume that science and technology is wrong and wherever science is in conflict with Biblical records we reject science in favour of Biblical records. This is well and fine. But then we would have to question the accuracy and authenticity of Biblical records.

Biblical records of, say, 3,500 years ago, must be authenticated through the same process that science proves other things. In other words, can we carbon date these Biblical records and prove that they are 3,500 years old?

The oldest Hebrew manuscript (not complete text) is about 200 BCE — that is 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. That means there is a ‘gap’ of roughly 1,000 years or more from the time of the event till the time of the records.

The oldest complete Greek text is dated more than 300 years after Christ. And Greek was not the language that Christ spoke. Hence there is no Aramaic record from the time of Christ. In other words, this is a ‘translation’, but a translation of what? There is no original text in Aramaic.

This means we must take everything at ‘face value’ based on accepting the word of the creator of the document, as the legal fraternity would say. And this would also mean at least 300 years have passed from the time of the event till the record of the event.

What happened in those ‘missing’ 300 years?

Between 1946 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea Scrolls are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but some written on papyrus and bronze. These manuscripts have been dated between 408 BCE to 318 AD.

Around 40% of the Scrolls comprise of Biblical records but then they are in Hebrew, not Aramaic. Hence the evidence is still not conclusive. There are no Aramaic Biblical records from the time of Christ amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls. And there are certainly no Biblical records from 1,000-1,500 BCE, what we refer to as The Old Testament.

Hence the argument that Biblical records are evidence is a fallacy. The so-called records are ‘modern’ and were created centuries after the event. How, therefore, can we claim that they are accurate or authentic records when there exists a gap of so many centuries.

Human memory is fallible. What happened hundreds of years ago when all those people involved in the event have already died and when stories of the event were passed down by word of mouth over centuries will invariably be distorted and exaggerated. Even stories regarding Robin Hood are questionable even though that was supposed to have been less than 1,000 years ago.

The earliest official written records in England were created about 1,000 years ago during the reign of King William the Conqueror. Before that there were no official records other than those created by the church and even then mostly regarding the palace and the royal family.

King Arthur was supposed to have lived around the late 5th and early 6th centuries. However, till today, they still do not know the location of Camelot and whether Camelot and Arthur really did exist or is a mere myth.

We can trace the history of England to about 55 BCE. And this is only because the Romans came to England at that time and they maintained records. Before 55 BCE England more or less did not exist, so to speak, from the records point of view. Around 410 AD the Romans left England but by then Christianity had come to England — around 100 years before that. So the church ‘took over’ when the Romans left.

So England’s historical records can be accurately traced back to about the time of Christ. Nevertheless, while there are records from this era, there are no records of an Aramaic Bible. Many records from the time of Christ are available except records of an Aramaic Bible. The earliest Bible is in Greek and dated about 300 years after Christ.

Hence, in short, nothing is conclusive. Hence, also, we cannot argue that one type of evidence outweighs another. If we want to accept Christianity based on evidence then there are none. Christianity must be accepted based on faith, not based on evidence.

And faith is the word to describe lack of evidence.