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Will camel discovery break the Bible's back?
Camels, shown here in the Liwa desert outside Abu Dhabi, are the subject of a surprising new discovery.
February 11th, 2014
01:56 PM ET

Will camel discovery break the Bible's back?

Opinion by Joel Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) - It’s been a rough 2014 for the book of Genesis.

First a Noah’s Ark discovery raised a flood of questions, then there was the much-hyped debate over life’s origins between Bill Nye the Science Guy and creationist Ken Ham.

And now this: a scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, weren’t domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth.

Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of having carried heavy loads, Israeli archaeologists have dated the earliest domesticated camels to the end of the 10th century BCE.

But according to the traditional biblical chronology, the patriarchs were schlepping around Canaan on camels over a millennium earlier, all the way back in 2100 BCE

Taken on its own, this may seem a rather minor problem.

After all, this is Genesis, in which some people live to be 900 years old (hello, Methuselah), all of humanity emerges from Babylon, and the Dead Sea is created from the backward glance of Lot’s wife. (Not to mention the six-day creation story and the stuffing of all land animals on a single boat.)

How important could camels really be?

For those who believe the Bible to be fundamentally true, this is hardly going to change any minds. For those who believe it to be entirely false, this is surely not the most damning piece of evidence.

What the camels in Genesis reveal, in fact, has nothing to do with the “truth” of the biblical story at all.

Instead, the presence of these camels in the story highlights, in a very clear way, the essential humanity of the biblical writers: like the best authors, they simply wrote about what they knew.

The patriarchs are depicted as nomadic, never settling for long in one place, but moving constantly from location to location throughout Israel (and beyond).

An ancient Israelite, wanting to tell the story of the wandering of his ethnic and national ancestors, would have naturally looked to the nomadic peoples around him as models. And indeed, throughout the Bible camels are commonly associated with those tribes who lived in the desert: Midianites, Ishmaelites, Amalekites, Kedemites.

The biblical authors simply transplanted the nomadic standards of their time into the distant past.

There is nothing deceptive about this. They weren’t trying to trick anyone. They imagined, quite reasonably, that the past was, fundamentally, like their present.

They had no real alternative. In ancient Israel, in the period when the Bible was written (which ranges, conservatively, from the 10th to the third century BCE), no one had any way of knowing that camels had not always been domesticated pack animals. After all, we didn’t know that for sure until this past week.

Without any evidence to the contrary, it is perfectly natural to assume that things have always been the way that they are now. Today we have more information about the past than any other moment in history. In ancient Israel, they had virtually none.

And yet we still fall victim to this basic, very human, historical fallacy.

It has been suggested that this anachronism in the biblical text is akin to importing semitrailers into the medieval period. But this is a level of ridiculousness too far.

I would suggest that it is more similar to describing a medieval Italian as enjoying pasta with tomato sauce. How many people, even today, know that tomatoes only came to Italy from South America in the 16th century?

The camels in Genesis may be “wrong,” but they are not a “mistake.” We all imagine the past to the best of our knowledge, the biblical authors included.

The lasting lesson of the camel controversy, such as it is, is a simple one: no writing, not even the Bible, is timeless or without context. Views of the past are contingent on both what we know and how we know it.

The Bible is a historical record, but it tells us just as much, if not more, about the people who wrote it as it does about the people they wrote about.

Since the stories of the Bible remain so central to who we are as a culture, even today (and even for those who dismiss it), it seems entirely fitting that we should be equally interested in the ancient people who composed them.

Despite their lack of historical knowledge — and, equally, because of it — they, more than the characters in the Bible, are our true cultural ancestors.

Joel S. Baden is the author of "The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero" and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The views expressed in this column belong to Baden.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Creationism • Evolution • Judaism • Middle East • Opinion

soundoff (3,276 Responses)
  1. igaftr

    ok...just have to tell my best camel joke.

    A soldier in the French Foreign Legion is given an assignment to a remote outpost. He arrives on the base and they show him around. There is nothing around, nothing to do, no women.
    He sees they do have a camel and asks "what is the camel for"
    The officer showing him around say "well sometimes the men get a bit lonely if you know what I mean, so we have the camel.
    That's disgusting think the new recurit, I'll never get THAT lonely.

    A few months go by, and the soldier is really getting lonely...so he goes to the guy who showed him around " hey, I am pretty lonely...is the camel available?'
    Sure says his friend, you'll need this stool.
    So he takes the stool and stands behind the camel and takes care of his business.
    He returns the stool to his friend and says, that wasn't too bad, is that how the other guys do it?

    His friend says" No...the other guys usually ride her into town"

    February 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      An oldie but goody...

      February 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      😯

      February 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
    • The Running Twit

      ouch!

      February 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
    • ausphor

      igatfr
      The biblical references to jesus mounting an ass do not at all comport with your analogy.

      February 11, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
      • The Running Twit

        did he entered Jerusalem on the ass, or he entered the ass in Jerusalem?

        February 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    @ddeevviinn

    There is no such thing as "supernatural". It is not logical. If something exists, it is natural. The bible describes magic which does not exist.

    February 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
    • joshtheapologist

      What you just said is absolute hogwash. You have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that every thing only exists as natural, and you never will. Even the most brilliant scientists there ever were did believe in the supernatural, as well as many today. Logic is a human concept, to describe the natural. You cannot attempt to debunk the supernatural with a product of mankind. We know so little about what there is to know, and as our knowledge increases, so does logic. I have seen many people misuse the word logic to mean that if something isn't logical, it cant happen. That is not what it is, but rather a tool designed to help man when pondering knowledge. I pity you and all the other arrogant self-obsessed and presumptuous idiots out there.

      February 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        super natural....lol

        February 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
      • dandintac

        Josh,

        You know, you could very easily prove him wrong. Just produce a sample of Supernature. Then it can be verified, and Apple will have to mutter an apology. But just saying "hogwash" won't cut it. So you have a golden opportunity to embarrass Apple and make him/her blush. Please demonstrate supernature's existence.

        Otherwise, supernature remains purely an unsupported assertion, and that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

        February 20, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
  3. MadeFromDirt

    Absurd. They find camel bones around one site, and generalize about the entire region. More importantly, the site of these bones was a copper mine, where camels were loaded to their limit. Nomadic people have no reason to haul around heavy items. So domesticated nomadic camels would not develop changes in their bone in the same way as did camels used for mining copper.

    But Baden, don't let bigger facts or even biology stop you in your grand leaps to conclusions, or from setting up false straw men as your way to refute Genesis. Just keep digging your hole, trying to get away from God, and in the end you will succeed.

    February 11, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
    • ddeevviinn

      Absurd being the operative word here.

      February 11, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
      • bostontola

        Absurd:
        young earth
        earth created before the stars
        birds created before land animals
        Pi = 3
        bats are birds not mammals
        the list goes on and on...

        February 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LOL ... Am I the only one that read that Baden is an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School?

      But don't let me stop you from accusing him of being an atheist... LOL

      February 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
      • MadeFromDirt

        So what? Baden's occupation says nothing about the state of his spirit. For that, his fruits tell all. He is eager to declare the Bible inaccurate, and that is equivalent to saying God is a liar, and saying that God cannot be trusted, and saying that man has better answers, which is the same as deniers do, except for the ones who are afraid to admit their hate of God, and instead try to hide their hate behind ignorance and the atheism label.

        If sceince contradicts Scripture, it is because the sceince is wrong, or the interpretation of Scripture is wrong (or both are wrong). God has not revealed all mysteries of the past, but He gave us minds and reason to discover it.

        Besides, your "twin" knows that belief in God does not make you justified before Him.

        February 11, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          You sound stressed... and crazy

          February 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • henrystockwell

          If one believes the Bible to be inaccurate, then one does not believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. One does not have to believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God in order to be a Christian, nor does it imply that one calls God a 'liar' by not believing the Bible is inerrant.

          February 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Henry, I disagree. If you carry your proposal forward, that you can believe the Bible to be flawed and yet somehow still consider yourself to be a Christian, you will find that eventually your faith in God unravels, and is replaced by faith in man or self, and your relationship with God will be broken. Scripture declares itself to be inerrant and complete. Scripture does not instruct or permit us to pick and choose the truth we like. Why would God have allowed His Scripture to be preserved inaccurately? How could God righteously judge the world if His Scripture is not His complete inerrant Word? If the Bible is not inerrant, who decides where it went wrong? Who has the authority to decide where God made a mistake?

          February 11, 2014 at 7:37 pm |
        • jroth420

          Wow. Knowing that people that "think" (and I use the term very loosely) like you do, frighten me more than a shark arm wrestling a bear for the right to devour me alive.

          February 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        • MadeFromDirt

          jroth, think about limiting yourself to one bowl a day. Sharks don't have arms, and animals are unable to negotiate terms of a contest.

          But anyway, I wish you would have specified which of my comments were most unnerving. Was it my double typo-misspelling of science? Or maybe it wasn't my comments that are frightening, it is your own conscience, where the law of God is written on your heart, telling that you are unable to measure up to the perfect standards of Holy God. But fear not, do not run and hide, or pound your chest with temporary bravado like most. By grace and love, God offers a proxy to you, who lived a perfect life as a man, as our representative to repair the fall of Adam, and who endured the righteous wrath of God for you.

          February 11, 2014 at 11:51 pm |
        • wesscott2014

          The bible constantly contradicts itself. The "four gospels" are rife with contradictions about the sermon on the mount, the wedding at Cana (Jesus' wedding to Mary of Bethany) and numerous other matters. None of the "four gospels were even written contemporary to Jesus' lifetime, the oldest being Mark, which was written 35-42 years after Jesus supposed crucifixion.

          Believing in fairy tales does not make them real. It just dumbs you down to believing in other fantasies and machinations.

          February 12, 2014 at 10:55 am |
        • MadeFromDirt

          Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each emphasize a different aspect of Jesus's life, ministry, and purpose. His ministry lasted three years, and He repeated his lessons over and over, at a time when written records were just becoming more widespread among the public. Initially, Jesus' actions and teachings were passed from person to person verbally. At the time, not even His disciples knew of Jesus' dual –nature, or that He would be crucified as atonement for God's chosen people. Most of Jesus' teachings were in parables, which made it easier for people to remember, and small details were not relevant to the big messages which were carried forward. Yes, the earliest manuscripts we have are after His resurrection, but there were earlier writings that were not on durable material, and writings that were destroyed by the Romans and Jewish leaders, but the surviving record captures all the necessary Truths, even though the Gospels cover only a small fragment of Jesus' activities during His time on earth.

          Wesscott, the Bible is the most studied and dissected ancient docment in the world. You and the others before you see contradictions and call Truth a fairy tale because it offends your pride and desire to live outside of God's authority. Any of its "contradictions" are resolvable through careful study, and understanding the historical context and the limited vocabulary of the time. God crafted the Bible in a way that the wicked are blind to its Truth. Despite all its enemies, the Truth of the Bible still persists today, and it penetrates to change the hearts of God's people and will continue to do so until the last day, whether you and pseudoscholars like Baden accept it or not.

          Besides, if you really believe you came from nothing, that you are a result of a random event, then why should you or anyone else think your opinions are anything more than random nerve firings, worth nothing? Or, if you think your existence and mind actually have value, where does that value come from? Did you create your own soul? Will you regenerate yourself when your flesh inevitably decays back to dirt?

          February 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
    • new-man

      Unfortunately, Mr. Baden teaching OT (at a "divinity school") without the Holy Spirit is like a taxi driver flying a commercial airline.

      Thank God wisdom is freely given to those who ask. And best of all, it's done without reproach... because it's the will of Father that all come into the fullness of the seven spirits of the Godhead (Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Might, Fear of the Lord, Spirit of the Lord).

      February 11, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
      • doobzz

        Ah, so he wasn't really a Christian? Or just not the right kind of Christian?

        February 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • new-man

          why do you assume Mr. Baden is a Christian?

          February 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
        • doobzz

          I don't.

          February 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
        • new-man

          on this note of agreement, I bid you blessings and a good night.

          God lives in us and through us by His Holy Spirit.

          “It’s not about you loving God, it’s about God loving you!”
          Blessings.

          February 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
        • doobzz

          Good night.

          February 11, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
  4. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Check 1... Check 2... ^o)

    February 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Nope... didn't work

      February 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
      • Akira

        Sorry.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          If I could get the sarcastic smiley to work on here, it would save me a lot of typing... LOL

          February 11, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
    • In Santa We Trust

      :sarcastic

      February 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        nope

        February 11, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          :sarcastic:

          February 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          nope

          February 11, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        😦

        February 11, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          :->

          February 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          :-@

          February 11, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
    • doobzz
      February 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
      • doobzz

        🙄

        February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
    • doobzz

      Will an eyeroll do?

      🙄

      February 11, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
  5. bostontola

    These archeological findings are interesting, but there is other historical and archeological data available. There are records in Persia much farther back for camel use. They were tamed at least 3000 years ago (not the same as domestication). They were used mostly for milk rather than work. On the other side (geographically), Egypt doesn't have records of camel use until around 500BC. To declare that the camel was not in use in Israel until 1000 BC, seems premature given the small sample size analyzed. These new findings prove camels came into use no later than 1000 BC, not that they weren't in use before 1000BC. The small sample size is a clue that camels probably weren't in widespread use before then, but Abraham was a wealthy and important man in the story, and may have had a tool (camels) that most people couldn't get. All speculation for sure, but this is not compelling evidence to me, as yet .

    February 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • The Running Twit

      maybe because the camel is to high from the ground compared to goats.

      You know what I mean? lonely goat herders get lonely and........

      Fifty shades of goats!

      February 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
      • bostontola

        nasty....funny but nasty.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        A guy from Georgia told me once (not kidding) that taller animals are no problem... they call it "Stump Broke" down on the farm.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          We couldn't tell if he was messing with us or not... but we were all sufficiently impressed

          February 11, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
        • The Running Twit

          saw what it means on wikipedia, or wickedpedia!

          February 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Holy crap... I never thought to Google that... but there it is! Hilarious!

          February 11, 2014 at 4:38 pm |
        • The Running Twit

          the road sign.... is there one allowing it?!?

          February 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @ddeevviinn

      There is no such thing as "supernatural". It is not logical. If something exists, it is natural. Therefore if the "miracles" in the bible happened, they would be possible today just as they were then. I feel like I am talking to a small child.

      February 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
      • The Running Twit

        what people do not understand from the natural world, they label it supernatural. they should say instead that they will investigate it

        February 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
      • ddeevviinn

        "There is no such thing as the " supernatural"". Once you provide me with ample evidence substantiating this claim, I will agree. The fact that the supernatural cannot be proven is not evidence.

        By the way, not sure who Alyssa M. is, but the implication in my feeble attempt at sarcasm was that my wife was the unsatisfied party, not the other way around.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          If something exists....it exists. Simple. Why is this so difficult for you? You say you don't believe in magic then turn right around and say you do believe in the supernatural. I don't think you are a credible witness.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
        • jroth420

          Actually the fact that it can't be proven (or even demonstrated reliably for that matter) is exactly why it doesn't exist.

          February 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    Three giants tower over their children;
    Tumbling rocks over an ancient river bed;
    Bright green moss connecting root and boulder;
    Branches reaching out in every direction to drink each drop of light;
    A spreading canopy over a pristine patch of forest, this is God’s face.

    February 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
    • wesscott2014

      To quote from St. Francis of Zappa, "Hey, we can't really be dumb If we're just following God's Orders. Hey, let's get serious... God knows what he's doin'. He wrote this book here and the book says: He made us all to be just like Him," so...
      If we're dumb... Then God is dumb... and maybe even a little ugly on the side."

      February 12, 2014 at 11:03 am |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    AMAZON.COM BOOK LISTING

    The Bible
    "a collection of stories by bronze age desert dwelling goat herders"

    REVIEWS:

    Bob from Seattle says "it's a useful tool to keep my kids in line".

    Benny H says "it's an invaluable fund raising tool. I made millions!"

    Arthur from Little Rock says "I like how it makes me right about them gays and them educated types"

    Martha M from Dallas says "it is great comfort in my old age and reassures me that I will have somewhere to go."

    General William B, USMC says "great tool to get my men to charge in to battle harder than the enemy's men."

    Cletus from Birmingham says "I like it 'cos it helps me meet purdy ladies when I go to church on sunday"

    A from Houston says "it's a great comfort as it helps me explain all the voices in my head"

    John from Oklahoma City says "I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Reading it has give me a university degree, when I thought I was never going to get a real one!"

    February 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      John from Oklahoma City went on to a faculty position at Oral Roberts Univ. in Tulsa. He is teaching something. Great job!

      February 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • The Running Twit

      how people get university degrees from that book gets beyond me!

      You have english, french, american, russian literature and on and on that can be studied and compared... but getting it on middle eastern bronze age goat herding literature!

      February 11, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
      • igaftr

        The get the degrees from OTHER people who got their degrees in a book, in schools where they teach the book as if it were reality, taught by more people who got degrees in a book. A truly useless cycle, but the degrees only mean something to other people who think the book is real. Meaningless to anyone else.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • The Running Twit

          Yeah! Vicious circle!

          And the only thing entering the circle is what little information that goes according their book.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
  8. ddeevviinn

    Well, that settles it for me. If there is one piece of evidence that would cause me to reject and denounce my Christian faith it is that " Using radiocarbon dating of camel bones that showed signs of carrying heavy loads..."

    Dammit, the atheists were right all along.

    February 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Yup, but maybe the presence of "magic" in the bible should have been a clue for you too.

      February 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Or the virgin birth or resurrection story or men living to be 900.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
        • Akira

          I can't even fathom wanting to live to be 900...

          February 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          Yes, I see now, you are absolutely correct. Fortunately, I am now able to embrace this undisputable notion that, without assistance of Intelligence, a random electrical spark engaged in in ter course with a couple of amino acids and VOILA here we are. PRAISE BE TO ABIOGENESIS!!!

          February 11, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • Akira

          Beware of falling snark ahead.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
        • henrystockwell

          I have a theory about the men who purportedly lived until the age 900. I'm probably not the first to think about it like this, so I'm not trying to take credit. I wonder if a year (back then) was equal to the moon's monthly cycle. Approximately 12 moons/year, (in our years), right? 900 divided by 12 = 75. 75 is a reasonable age. And back then, living to age 75 would have been a long time, especially since most people didn't make it past age 40.

          February 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Interesting but it fails. There is nothing to support such a theory.

          February 12, 2014 at 7:22 am |
      • ddeevviinn

        I've spent considerable amounts of time reading the biblical literature and have yet to come across said " magic." If I do, I'll be sure to let you know.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          No need, I read it too and there is lots of magic. I am satisfied it is nonsense. Perhaps you skipped over those parts.

          February 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          And I'm satisfied that you are incorrect. At least we're both satisfied. ( Something my wife doesn't always tell me. Drum roll!!! ).

          February 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Every atrocity and homicidal act hat you so willfully ignore, as well as every 'miracle' supposedly carried out by your god and his supposed son, would be the "magic"

          February 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • igaftr

          no magic?
          Changing water to wine
          Walking on water
          healing the sick
          drowning the world in an amount of water equal to five times the water on the planet
          fitting several of every animal on a boat that could not hold half of the animals and have enough to eat and drink
          the fidelity test in numbers
          making striped goats by having goats stare at stripes
          changing people into a pillar of salt
          plagues of toads

          Where do you NOT see magic?

          February 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          You have to get creative sometimes ddeevviinn...if you can do it with the bible, by golly you can make yourself believe your wife is Alyssa Milano.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          Apple

          And I'm satisfied that you are incorrect. At least we are both satisfied. ( Something my doesn't always tell me. Drum Roll !!!).

          February 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          OOPs. (Something my WIFE doesn't always tell me. Drum Roll!!!) Should make a little more sense.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          iga

          I don't see it anywhere, but that is because I don't equate the supernatural acts of God with that of magic. You have chosen to limit your reality to only those things that can be found with in the closed system of naturalism. I believe in the supernatural realm. It's really that simple and divergent.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • igaftr

          devin
          Yes...I have limited myself to reality.
          You have created a fantasy worls where magic ...sorry...god exists and cares about, you, created in your mind a supernatural realm.....delusion and dreams. Grow up.

          February 12, 2014 at 8:12 am |
        • wesscott2014

          Examples of biblical "magic":

          Talking serpents that urged a woman to eat an apple

          God created Adam and Eve, then somehow the world got populated, but it was not incest

          Noah took two of every living animal aboard a single boat and they did not even eat each other

          Only Noah and his family were spared from death by the great flood and the world again populated, but it was not by incest

          Turning sticks into snakes

          Parting the Red Sea with a stick

          Turning water into wine

          Rising from the dead

          Feeding 5,000 men (plus the women and children) on 5 fishes and two loaves of bread

          And these are just a few examples of "biblical magic." There are many more. It takes a willfully ignorant person to read a book as full of bs as the bible and actually believe it. Unfortunately, there are far too many such people in the world today, and that is why we have wars.

          February 12, 2014 at 11:13 am |
    • danab1234

      If the talking snake and invisible guy in the sky who can make people out of magical ribs didn't change your mind than nothing will. Go put your head back in the sand. Enjoy giving 10% of your income to the child molesters at your church.

      February 11, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
  9. Vic

    Now that's splitting hairs and the hair that split the camel's back, denying camels their ancient history.

    One of the simplest things to go around by the oral tradition is the use of animals for transportation, which, in turn, is passed down from generation to generation. How complicated could it be to know when camels were used? Plus, humans could had ridden camels alone without cargo long before using them for cargo, where a human weight alone is a much lighter load than with cargo, that it might not show load stress in previous fossils, let alone that those projected camels are only the known ones by archeologists. Who knows?!

    Meanwhile, Radioactive Decay and Radioactive Isotopic Dating methods have always been debated to have problems, especially half-life ones, and lack reliability. Whatever projected reliability is only in theory and has not been achieved in practicality.

    A simple but not limited to example:

    While coal is believed to be about 300 millions years old, it contains substantial amounts of Carbon-14 which has a half-life of approximately 5730, with a margin of error +/- 40 years, and can only trace age back to approximately 50,000 years.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
    • joey3467

      Since it is by and large only young earth creationists that dispute carbon and other dating methods it is safe to assume that you don't know what you are talking about or are lying on purpose. If the best you can do to support your position is lie why even bother?

      February 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      While coal has been reported in rocks as old as Proterozoic (possibly 2 billion years) and as young as Pliocene (2 million years old), the great majority of the world's coal was laid down during the Carboniferous Period, a 60-million-year stretch (359-299 m.y.a.) when sea level was high and forests of tall ferns and cycads grew in gigantic tropical swamps. (Andrew Alden – U.S. Geological Survey)

      February 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • Alias

      Using carbon (aka coal) to dispute carbon dating ..... wow.
      The science is strong with this one.

      February 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • Frank

      Exactly! You nailed all the contentious points with this "last straw study" nicely in that post!

      February 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
    • igaftr

      Vic
      Nice misrepresentation of the science of carbon dating.
      Your information is vastly out of date.
      They are far more accurate AND note in the calculations the variances ( called standard deviations) and can trace much farther back with relative accuracy.

      Also, carbon dating is but one method out of many.

      for example...you can go back in ice core samples as far as 800,000 years, and still locked in the ice is a tiny amount of the atmoshpere from that time, telliing us volumes of information. This information can be correlated with other information to get a very accurate picture.

      Stop getting your arguements from answers in genesis..they are flat out lying in most everything on their site.

      February 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
  10. Apple Bush

    If I could write the Bible today, I would insert “dune buggies” for camels and make many other changes to attract the kids to the word of God. The arc would be a space shuttle naturally, and the parting of the Red Sea would be in 3D.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Fifty Shades of Lot

      February 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Steamy...

        February 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
      • Alias

        Give due attention to the hookers too.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Russell Crowe as Noah, coming to you in IMAX next month.

      http://www.noahmovie.com/

      "This film is not yet rated"

      That last bit I found funny.

      February 11, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        NC-17

        February 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
        • snufflopagus

          AB, it's really NCC-1701. 😉

          February 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Space drama! Brilliant.

          February 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • doobzz

        Do you remember the Jon Voight miniseries about Noah several years ago? When he said, "He puts his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.", Mr. Doobzz and I did a stereo spit-take.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
      • doobzz

        On the other hand, I'd still pay good money to see Russell Crowe in a skirt.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
    • wesscott2014

      And Moses would look just like Charleton Heston.

      February 12, 2014 at 11:17 am |
  11. realityyyyyyy

    1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis are significantly ahead of any camel studies:

    To wit:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    February 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
  12. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    If you can post your opinion... I can post mine. That's called "Free Speech"

    February 11, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
  13. doobzz

    "I would suggest that it is more similar to describing a medieval Italian as enjoying pasta with tomato sauce. How many people, even today, know that tomatoes only came to Italy from South America in the 16th century?"

    Yes, but no one is trying to encode beliefs from a cookbook into civil law.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
  14. robertbeliefblogginbrown

    Dromedaries

    These camels were domesticated even earlier than the Bactrians, before 3000 B.C. in the Arabian peninsula.
    http://www.camellosafari.com/camels/history/history.html

    February 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
    • Alias

      you do realize that this is not a scientific source, and it may well have used the bible as a reference?

      February 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
      • doobzz

        My guess is that he probably does realize it, but just doesn't realize why it matters.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
      • robertbeliefblogginbrown

        Researcher Pamela Burger, who heads one of the few research groups to study camel genetics, was interested in learning about the domestication of camels which took place around 3,000 to 6,000 years ago.
        Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112858021/camel-genome-reveals-evolutionary-history-052813/#k7QFk265EuPj4juM.99

        February 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • igaftr

          She was probably going on the limited information available, and since the bible does show a picture of life back then, she had no reason to assume it wasn't at least close.
          I bet she doesn't make that mistake again.

          February 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
  15. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I hope something comes along that brings more people to the realization that the Bible is only a product of human imagination. This probably isn't it.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  16. Apple Bush

    What this should tell a Christian is that a "god" did not have a hand in writing the bible.

    February 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
  17. robertbeliefblogginbrown

    According to the article
    “In ancient Israel, in the period when the Bible was written (which ranges, conservatively, from the 10th to the third century BCE)”

    Moses wrote the first 5 books
    “Rabbinical Judaism calculated a lifespan of Moses corresponding to 1391–1271 BCE;[6] Jerome gives 1592 BCE, and Ussher 1619 BCE as his birth year.[7]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses

    I think he wrote around 1500 bc, but what is 500-1200 years give or take?

    February 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • Alias

      Torah Bible

      February 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
      • Alias

        That should have been 'Torah is not equal to the Bible.'

        oops.

        February 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Moses" didn't write anything.

      For the "writing down" of the Pentateuch (five books of Moses) you can start here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentateuch

      February 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
      • robertbeliefblogginbrown

        From your source,
        “According to Jewish tradition (later adopted by Christianity) the Torah was dictated to Moses by God, with the exception of the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, which describe the death and burial of Moses.”

        February 11, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • wesscott2014

          And Moses said unto them, "Behold, God has given me these 15, er, 10 Commandments...)

          Source: History of the World, Part 1

          February 12, 2014 at 11:22 am |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Like I said.

        There's no evidence that "Moses" existed or that the exodous happened.

        February 11, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
  18. ausphor

    For Lawrence of Arabia wherever you maybe...
    So I guess we can assume that the real LofA had dune buggies to transport his butt and his fanatics across the desert in relative comfort, no camels required?

    February 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  19. Frank

    How do you prove "domestication" in the past?

    February 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Frank

      To prove that you need a camel bone from the time of Abraham. There is no indication that a Camel–named:Abraham's Camel were ever found for testing to conclusively determine that Abraham's camel was not domesticated. This study is a stretch of someone's wild(undomesticated) imagination. 😉

      February 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
      • crittermom2

        You can't prove a negative. Proving that Abraham's camel was not domesticated? Um, if it weren't domesticated, it wouldn't have been considered "his" camel. All they're saying is they have not found any domesticated camels from that time period.

        As for how Abraham really did travel ... that's kind of the point. If he didn't have camels, he probably couldn't. Which leads us to ask how the other parts of the story could have been true ... or not.

        February 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
    • Frank

      Btw., Abraham travelled quite a bit in the desert terrain, what possible modes of transportation did he use? We can be sure it was not an airplane or dune buggies that was used.

      February 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
      • ausphor

        Frank
        Jesus liked donkeys and Simon Peter.

        February 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • The Running Twit

        his wifes?

        February 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
  20. Dyslexic doG

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! Comedy gold!

    OK Christians. Let me see you proclaim one more time that there has never been anything proved wrong in the bible.

    Then we atheists can give you a laundry list of contradictions and historical inaccuracies and pure fantasy and downright foolishness.

    And then you can proclaim one more time that there has never been anything proved wrong in the bible.

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!

    February 11, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
    • Alias

      i have to agree with the author here,
      people who ignore all the other science are not going to give this any thought either.

      February 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
    • doobzz

      Well, surely "camel" didn't mean camel, it meant another animal. Just like unicorn doesn't mean unicorn, slavery doesn't mean slavery, god creates evil means god creates natural disasters, etc.

      Christians will find a way to rationalize this away, just like they do to every other scientific discovery, until it becomes impossible to deny. They they'll claim that they were the ones to "discover" it in the first place.

      February 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • kcdalahast

      Are you unaware that a lot of Christians don't claim the Bible is infallible? A lot of churches will openly discuss this finding.

      "We atheists"... most atheists are embarrassed by atheists like you. They call you "internet atheists" or "militant atheists". They claim you act just like the religious. It is quite ironic.

      February 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
      • joey3467

        Then you should join is in trying to help the rest of the Christians learn that most of the bible is in fact entirely made up.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
      • doobzz

        Are you Teresa MacBain? You sound just like her. She was on here a while back acting all snotty and condescending till someone brought up that whole Harvard thing. Then she disappeared.

        February 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        "most atheists are embarrassed by atheists like you"

        OK. how many atheists did you survey to come up with this "fact"? Or is it not a fact but something that you just "believe"?

        February 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        sorry kcd: most of us have respect for Dylexic's posts.
        You talk about internet and militant atheists, while I'm guessing that outside of the internet you don't know many Atheists at all. You can call us internet Atheists but I can assure you that that is not what I am, to call us that is to presume that we are not Atheists beyond the internet and that is strictly not true. As for militant, not at all. Atheism only defines my lack of belief in gods, I will stand up against people pushing their religion in my face or the public square, instead of keeping it in their homes and churches-the only two places it belongs.

        February 11, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
      • kcdalahast

        Yea, I know atheists very well. Very few are like Dyslexic dog or TruthPrevails.

        Thank God.

        February 12, 2014 at 1:00 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.