Bachmann: Archeology Proves the Bible is True

GOP politician Michele Bachmann recently commented:

…You know the remarkable thing–when you read the Bible, every archeology find that’s ever come forward has only proved the authenticity of the Bible…

Such a statement is both interesting and very problematic because Bachmann’s words are false, and because correctness is found much more in the exact opposite. That is, almost every archeological discovery ever has disproven the authenticity and accuracy of the Bible, especially fundamentalist readings.

Side note: Prior to the rise of modernism in the GAPE (c. 1880-1920) there were (basically) no Christian fundamentalist. Fundamentalism emerged as a reactionary force against the emerging science, especially ideas popularized by Darwin and Freud, and technology, for example. Baptists and other branches of evangelicalism prior to the GAPE would have found this fundamentalist hermeneutics very strange and wrong. 

Archeological digs have proven, again and again, that the Christian Bible does not speak to documented history. The Bible, in ways, is a good example of history that is not true but accurate: Accurate in terms of hopes and fears. Nonetheless, as I have written about in various ways before, archeology very specifically shows that the Biblical creation myth and flood myth, for example, are not true accounts of the past. Moreover, some archeological digs even question whether there actually ever was a person named “Jesus.” Not to mention that all extant copies of texts that have become part of Christian theology are copies of copies with different languages mixed and lost in the process.   

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The even bigger issue here is that we live in a society where people like Bachmann can lie with little consequence. Given the available knowledge in our society and given the access we all have to hard-core evidence, Bachmann’s assertion is not a matter of differing hermeneutics (or interpretation). She is lying. Bachmann is knowingly and willingly promoting an agenda that will only speak to a very specific and small audience. Her uses of theology are the kind that prompted the excellent book:

Why Christianity Must Change or Die 

Bachmann’s claim could even be a kind of cry for help or a cry of cognitive dissonance in that she hopes that vocalizing such will somehow make it true. 

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda



Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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5 replies

  1. Your last sentence says it all. And I say this as a practicing Christian, although of the sort that does not deny science.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Even though Bachmann may really believe what she says, there is something true in what she says, e.g. the existence of Jericho, just as one example. The truth about what made it fall may not be correctly described in the bible, but there are some elements of truth in it. The inaccuracy comes from the description of the hows and whys, and even the existence of many events, but the truth may be coming from some basic concepts. Almost every belief system at various times when the bible was being written, re-written, edited, transcribed, etc. did have an origin story, and many of them overlapped, reflecting the intercommunication among cultures, and thus making it seem to have actually occurred.

    One problem with history is that it is difficult to prove, or better yet, test hypotheses, simply because it happened in the past and we have to rely upon written or oral tradition to find out what happened. History is written from a viewpoint, always that of the survivors. Archeology can help to support or deny an interpretation but is not a true test, since you cannot randomly assign different people/sites to control and experimental groups. Instead you have to look for analogous situations where people might have responded similarly to the concept you want to test. And obviously, what you can test is only a general concept and not the specifics of the event. Not that people don’t try, but the absence of written material is not proof of non-existence. The absence may reflect the lack of interest in recording the event. It was not important to any of those with the power to record. So your hypotheses cannot be anything as specific as did God cause the fall of Jericho? or Did Jesus exist?

    As such, there will always be people who will interpret the evidence differently. But the same conclusion can be applied to scientific research.

    I think we want the evidence in the study of history to be as strong as what we get in science, but even there we get a lot of studies that are based upon faulty assumptions. We can try to strictly adhere to scientific methods but in the end, our own ignorance will cause us to make the wrong assumptions. That is why scientific conclusions are never absolute, and “settled.” The interpretation of history has to also be ready to change interpretation of events as we gather more knowledge about human behavior in general, at the present and in the past, and recognition of new sources for inference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for these great comments and thoughts.

      I like how your comment addresses how Bachmann’s words also shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how archeological research is conducted.

      I also like how you state that history is written by the survivors. (I’ve always seen the “winners write the history” philosophy problematic and inaccurate.) I’ve never made that specific connection, but I do talk with my students about the difference between “history” (everything, everywhere, always) and “History” (aspects of the past that have survived.)

      I agree that history and other such investigations do well when the follow the methodologies of the scientific method.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your statement about how “history” differs from “History.” Neither may end up being factual, as stated by anyone, because we cannot know the real “history” or “History” fully and can never be fully confident of what anyone claims about either. I also must argue against having a “consensus” opinion/interpretation simply because it gives us some level of satisfaction that proves to be unwarranted in the long run. But humans really, really want to have something to believe in, because without it, we have a really hard time reaching a conclusion we can act upon. Thus, the mistaken belief in either. And, as stated before, those assumptions get us into trouble.

    Other social animals would probably laugh at us if/when they fully understood our dilemmas. Elephants and whales evolved their societies before we did, and can make the claim that the human social system, with all its philosophical conundrums, still has a questionable longevity. I suspect that they make assumptions, much as we do, based upon their experiences. For instance, elephants probably assume we love peanuts as much as they do because that is the food we bring to them the most. Whales probably assume we like fish as much as they do for the same reason. They both probably assume that our diets are pretty much the same as theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

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