Originally published in Creation 14, no 1 (December 1991): 4.
You can’t always know whether something is true or not. But you can at least be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and search the Scriptures to see if such things are so.
A woman called to tell me some exciting news. ‘What do you think about the latest discoveries in Palestine?’ she asked.
‘Which discoveries?’ I replied.
‘It’s so exciting’, she said. ‘Someone has found the exact spot where Jesus was crucified and has even discovered the earthquake that swallowed Korah and his men.’
For those of you who are a little hazy on what happened to Korah, the Bible tells us in Numbers 16 that he led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. After ignoring a warning from Moses, Korah and his rebels fell into the earth when the ground beneath them suddenly opened. The ground then closed back over them.
I asked the caller how anyone today could identify the exact location of Jesus’ crucifixion. What would prove it? Bloodstains or evidence of a cross wouldn’t prove it, even if they still existed, because they could have belonged to anyone crucified in ancient times. And how could anyone today find where Korah and his group were consumed? The earth closed back over them—and that was about 3,500 years ago.
After thinking it through, the caller said: ‘No one could really know today, could they?’
Thinking things through has always been a necessity for us Christians.Thinking things through has always been a necessity for us Christians. Wrong information is often given by well-meaning people, and the Bible warns us to beware of the more serious problem of false teachers. So we need to be cautious. Paul told his co-worker Timothy to guard against false doctrines and not listen to old wives’ tales (1 Timothy 4:7). But how can you be fairly sure whether a story is true or not? One way is to compare it with Scripture and give the details a bit of thought.
Over the centuries countless people have visited the Holy Land and brought back souvenirs of wood and nails supposedly from the cross on which Jesus died. A newspaper reporter calculated that the cross would have had to be as high as New York’s Empire State Building to supply all those pieces of wood, and the metal from the nails could replace a large part of London Bridge. The fact of the crucifixion is biblical. But the genuineness of the souvenirs needed thinking through.
In the same way, a common story in some circles is that scientists at NASA were checking planetary positions for the space program when they discovered there was a ‘missing day’ in history. This story is told apparently to confirm the account of Joshua’s long day (Joshua 10) for those who need more than the biblical record.
But if you think this through, there seems no way that a day in the distant past could be scientifically shown to be missing. You would need to know the planets’ positions on the day before the missing day as well as after. There is no way of calculating that. In fact, this story has been traced back at least to the late 1800s, with other details substituted for space computer calculations.
We also need to think carefully through the evidence for evolution.
For instance, the ‘earliest’ fossil bat looks like today's living bats, the ‘earliest’ fossil cockroach looks identical to today’s cockroaches, the ‘earliest’ fossil fish is clearly a fish, and so on. So it doesn’t seem wise to accept without question that they have evolved from other creatures. Likewise, as there is no known way that non-living matter can create a living animal or plant, then the Bible’s account that God created life seems more reasonable than pinning your faith on an unknown evolutionary law that seems not to exist. And if you can’t show that life could have evolved from non-life in the first place, you’re in trouble after that. Evolution couldn’t continue if it couldn’t get started.
It’s important also to think through individual claims which are said to prove evolution. Often the ‘proof’ is merely that a small horse has allegedly ‘evolved’ into another type of horse, or a light-coloured moth has ‘evolved’ into a dark-coloured moth of the same species. This normal variation within type is often accepted as proving that horses or moths have evolved from some completely different type of creature. In fact, some people reject creation on exactly that flawed thinking. No one disputes that there are different types of horses, moths, etc. But neither has anyone proved that major groups can evolve from other major groups—fish to amphibian, reptile to bird, and so on. Heredity doesn’t work that way.
Wrong information has been provided since the serpent in the Garden of Eden told Adam and Eve that he knew better than God did. You can’t always know whether something is true or not. But you can at least be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and search the Scriptures to see if such things are so. You will find you can sort out many false statements and old wives’ tales if you carefully compare them with Scripture and then think through the details.