Why? Because the Bible speaks of the very earliest cultures as being highly civilized, with musical instruments, woven tents and clothes, metal working, animal husbandry, etc. (Genesis 4:3–4, 17–22). The fact that we find people in the very earliest times living in caves simply means that they lived in caves instead of houses. We find people around the world doing this very thing today. For instance, some families living along a 40 mile stretch of the Rhone River in France dwell in the caves that are situated there.
In Cappadocia, Turkey, almost every family living there has carved out a cave home from the strange formations.In Cappadocia, Turkey, almost every family living there has carved out a cave home from the strange formations. And there appear to have been cave dwellers in every generation since the beginning of time. Even Jesus was born in, lived in (His traditional home in Nazareth was partly a cave), was buried in, and was resurrected from a cave. As reported in an issue of National Geographic, “stone age” cave dwellers in the Philippines appeared so authentic to a research team that they published an entire book about them, The Gentle Tasadays. It was only later that the team discovered that the government paid the people to live like that as a tourist attraction. I do not mean to infer that such misreading of the data is common. However, it does illustrate that we must always be careful not to quickly conclude that our discoveries are the “last word” in our field of expertise.
The Bible has incidents of cave dwelling also. Refugees lived in caves (Genesis 19:30; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6).
And we wonder why other reasons have not been considered for cave dwelling.
Pre-dynastic People in the Ancient Near East Were Few in Number
After the Flood of Noah’s day, it took some time for enough people to gather together and build cities. But it did not take thousands of years!
As researchers write about this situation, they grossly overestimate the time from early man to modern man. For instance, highly respected anthropologist Robert Braidwood said,
“Prehistory means the time before written history began. Actually, more than 99 per cent of man’s story is prehistory. Man is probably well over a million years old, but he did not begin to write history (or to write anything) until about 5,000 years ago.”1
We should be shocked at such a statement. To see why, look at the diagram below. It is true that there was no writing before 5,000 years ago. That is because the Great Flood occurred ca. 2450 BC and everything before that time was destroyed. Thus, all pre-Flood humans were wiped out. A time line shows the fallacy in Braidwood’s statement:
|HISTORIC MAN||PREHISTORIC MAN|
|5,000 years||995,000 years!|
|1/4 inch||Line extends 6 more feet!|
It seems ridiculous that we should be expected to believe man could not read or write for all that time, then suddenly within a very short time, perhaps not even a hundred years, he was writing all over the Middle East in a number of languages!
Radioactive Isotopes Do Not Help
The use of Carbon-14 does not help in this situation. Carbon-14 and other isotopic elements should not be used to determine the absolute age of a specimen, according to Willard Libby, founder of the method. Only measured are the amounts of the remaining 14C against stable 12C.2
Consider the following quotes from “Rolling Back the Years”:
“With radiocarbon, it’s not possible to obtain absolute dates—there’s always a bit of the unknown.”3
Some archaeologists use it because they feel it gives absolute dates. During 25 years of excavations in Israel we have never used 14C dating because it is too inconclusive. Even though there have been some noteworthy improvements in the radioisotope methods, the same problems still persist. And this goes for all radioisotopes used in dating.3
“[Carbon-14 is g]arbage in garbage out. . . . One of the biggest issues . . . is contamination . . . . It soaks up anything in the ground . . . even very small amounts of modern contamination can be fatal for old samples.”3 [emphasis added]
“What scientists are really holding out for is tree ring data that can calibrate absolute radiocarbon dates back to 60,000 years. . . . This hinges, of course, on whether they can find sufficiently old trees and samples that represent a continuum of ages throughout the past.”3
However, these secular researchers know, and so do we who accept the biblical timeframe, that they will never find successive tree rings with which to date 60,000 or 30,000, or even 10,000, years ago.
“At the moment we have a floating chronology. . . . It is not connected.”3
That is, the researchers have calibrated back around 5,000 years, but tree rings can take them no further.
What he is saying is that they can only go back 5,000 years using hard tree ring evidence. What they are hoping for is to go back 60,000 years, but there is no way to calibrate the time in between. Isn’t it interesting that 5,000 years ago was roughly the time Noah and his family members were saved by the Ark!
Three problems that 14C faces are true for all isotopic methods. They are:
- We cannot know what the ratio of daughter element to parent element was in the formation of the specimen.
- We cannot know whether there has been leaching in or out of the elements.
- We cannot know whether the decay rates have changed through time, perhaps due to what one archaeologist suggested while trying to determine some dates from ruins in Mesopotamia. The prominent British archaeologist, M.E.L. Mallowan once said, “ . . . at this end of the third millennium (BC) there was some physical disturbance in the solar magnetic field, which may have affected the level of the carbon-14 activity in the carbon exchange reservoir. . . . Published dates are more than 500 years too low.”4
Some evangelicals find it difficult to reconcile biblical dates with “scientific” dates. But maybe biblical dates are correct and the secular scientists are wrong! The Bible is God’s inerrant Word. Is it possible that some evangelical scholars are afraid of what their contemporaries will think of them if they oppose the “scientists” of today? Biblical archeologists are not against actual science and hard evidence. But we are against arbitrary estimates and interpretations that contradict the clear revelation of history given by God in His Word.
It may seem rather drastic to consider that early post-Flood man lived only around 4,500 years ago. We have heard so much from the opposite camp. I wonder whether they have carefully examined the slipshod way high dates were arrived at before 14C was discovered.
The Development of Language and the Inerrancy of Scripture
A major difficulty is to take data from secular archaeologists and make it fit with an inerrant Bible. For instance, the Hebrew Bible says in Genesis 5:1 that the history of Adam was written! The word for “book” used here, sefer, always means the account is written. Also, Adam and God spoke to each other in some language.
Later, in Genesis 26:5, the writer tells us that Abraham kept four kinds of God’s commands. They were all written commands. The Hebrew is very clear on this. One command, chukot, means an inscribed writing. What this (and other material) means is that the men of God mentioned in the early chapters of Genesis apparently used an ancient form of alphabetic Hebrew that could be written down.
Alphabets of thirty signs, more or less, are easy to learn compared with cuneiform characters, which frequently have several possible syllables for just one sign. In contrast, anyone could use the primitive Hebrew alphabet, including children.
Thus, it is more probable that the Northwest Semitic languages came out of Hebrew and not vice versa, as most scholars think. Those that claim Hebrew came out of some other already existing language(s) follow each others’ ideas instead of starting with the Bible and checking it out with other literature.
Finally, Genesis 5:1 is not an anachronistic (or later) insertion into the text by later scribes! We cannot absolutely prove that it isn’t, but we think every reason is there to adopt it as written. Conversely, no one can prove Hebrew derived from Northwest Semitic, either.
Admittedly, there are some tough problems to explain in correlating ancient history with the Bible. And we cannot be dogmatic about these things, but our modern youth are hearing so much bad thinking. Neither are they given enough information and guidance to think things through biblically. They—and every one of us—need to learn how to question what they are hearing from their teachers and the media, while constructing alternative interpretations that honor the Bible and the best methods of archaeology.