Volume 2, Issue 3
January 22, 2012
'Where faith partners with truth'?
You may have wondered about the subtitle of this newsletter: 'Where faith partners with truth.' It needs explaining. If we are talking about scientific evidence of the Flood, why faith? In fact the chief defenders of the Flood today do refer to their defense as Creation Science. These newsletters have mainly reported on issues in science and history. But however interesting, my chief concern is faith. I decided to address Noah's Flood because I knew that it, more than evolution, was the linchpin for the scientific challenge to biblical faith. It is also where biblical apologists have failed to impact the scholarly community.
But why 'faith's partnership with truth'? Doesn't everyone claim to be on the side of truth? Who admits to spreading falsehood? In fact there are some: mainline churches who teach Noah's Flood as myth. Their motto should be 'where faith partners with myth'. Faith is too often contrasted with truth if rarely so explicitly as the child who explained to his classmate: 'Faith is believing what you know isn't true.'
There is something called fideism, appearing in the wake of the Reformation, that often amounts to this child's explanation of faith. Fideism is usually linked to the teachings and practices of the Church rather than the Bible. As Ignatius Loyola explained it: "If the Pope declares white to be black and black to be white, you must believe it regardless of what your eyes might see." His formulation was to defend the Roman Catholic Church but mainline Protestants came to embrace a form of fideism that placed faith and science in separate realms. They look to science for truth and for them science trumps faith whenever they conflict. Their "faith" is more slave than partner to science.
If we are going to have blind faith, the object of our faith ought to be truly divine - authentically infallible and the source of all truth. It should not be contradicted by what we believe as fact. Otherwise, we place faith in an idol. Any source of authority from which we cannot or will not appeal becomes effectively our "God." If that authority is not truly God, it is an idol. The idol might be our church, our nation, science, or the rulings of a supreme court. It may be some tradition or leader. But I believe in the adage 'It is human to err.' Only prophets and apostles who are truly inspired by the God of Truth and the Scriptures that preserve their testimony can be infallible.
Even so, these same Scriptures recommend that we test whether the prophets and apostles are true or false. That would include their writings. Our Scriptures have indeed been tested more than any human witness or document. The God of the Scriptures proves himself to his people whenever they trust him enough to allow him to do so. Thus, our faith in the Scriptures is not founded on blind fideism. But once faith has become established firmly in our hearts, we have reason for blindness to everything that would challenge our faith. A faith that is not established so firmly will not be able to overcome severe challenges.
Another reason that I chose 'where faith partners with truth' is that many dismiss The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood with a seemingly pious, "I just believe the Bible!" That response would be admirable were I presenting evidence against the Flood. What they seem to be saying is that they do not need if they even approve of searching for evidence of things mentioned in the Bible. I suppose they have no interest in biblical archaeology.
They may sense the risk in seeking extra-biblical evidence for things in the Bible. Indeed, the Bible is remarkable for making so many extraordinary claims however wonderful they may be. Testing the Bible against the evidence of history may seem the greatest of risks. Moreover, unlike myths and philosophical religions, the Scriptures make a multitude of references to specific individuals, places, times, peoples, and events, which means that we can search archaeological and textual evidence to judge their truth. Suppose the evidence really does contradict the Bible as modern science and scholarship have claimed? If they are telling the truth, that destroys any faith worth having, evidenced by the declining members of mainline churches. This does explain the loss of faith in the Western world, but if faith cannot withstand testing, is it a faith worth having?
Many evangelicals keep their religious beliefs separate from teachings of science just as do the fideists but in their case by refusing to admit there are contradictions between science and the Bible. I know intelligent Christians who believe that the teachings of science support the Bible! Of course, intelligence is not the same as a sound grounding in Western science and scholarship. Many intelligent nonbelievers who are familiar with Western science and scholarship reject them. But evangelicals are remarkable for affirming both the Scriptures and "true" science, whatever the latter might be.
Creationists at least understand that there exists a contradiction between mainstream science and the Bible, even if their success is also because so many lack a firm grounding in the teachings of modern scholarship and science. Though Creation Science addresses extra-biblical evidence, it is never going to be contradicted by any type of evidence because it is grounded in dogma: fossils were created by the Flood; all human remains are from after the Flood; the world was created from 6-10,000 years ago in the space of 144 hours; evidence of the antediluvian world was essentially destroyed by the Flood. Creation Science amounts to coming up with theories to explain everything according to these dogma. It is a partnership between faith and dogma. Dogma is correct opinion, but it is not truth. It is why Creationist Science is no more in danger of being refuted than Darwinian evolution. As I explain in the article on Karl Popper (below right), it is because neither of these schools make predictions specific enough for testing. We can test the Scriptures, but we can test neither Darwinian evolution nor Creation Science.
Those who have read my book know that is not the way I went about searching for archaeological evidence of the Flood. I looked for evidence that might count either for or against(!) the historicity of the Flood. I begin by establishing criteria that I believed would be archaeological evidence of the Flood: (1) The disappearance of mankind from the earth some time prior to about four thousand years ago; (2) following that, evidence of a new spread of mankind from the Ancient Near East; and (3) clear discontinuity in the material cultures belonging to the new spread from the archaeological remains of the former populations. Because I trusted ancient history as currently taught, I concluded that the continuity of civilizations like that of Egypt disproved the Flood. I didn't give up my faith because it was grounded in a personal experience that my heart refused to deny. But the problem of the Flood hung over me as the shadow of a dark and depressing cloud.
I had given up searching for the Flood when, surprisingly, I discovered the population discontinuity around the date of the Flood while engaged in an altogether different archaeological quest. Still, it would still be many years before I gained complete confidence in the biblical account. That happened as my new insight began clearly up one scientific muddle after another and as the historical sciences became far more integrated and simpler.
My pious friends describe me as a doubting Thomas. I don't think those who do this had the same scientific education. Nor are they concerned about widespread unbelief in the historicity of the Flood. Those indoctrinated in the teachings of modern science and scholarship may need to see the scars of the Flood. But those who have claimed the fossils and Grand Canyon as scars from the Flood have only make us less inclined to believe. I ignored such "evidence" for a careful search based on what had to be the case according to the ancient witness of the Scriptures.
In truth, it was not doubt but faith that cause me to search for evidence of the Flood in a way that was testable. One should not confuse this type of testing, which is about trusting God, with the biblical injunctions that refer to trying God through unbelief. It was in fact widespread unbelief that I was testing. Do those who refuse to put the Scriptures to work to challenge unbelief really have faith? The brother of Jesus declared, "Faith without works is dead." [James 2:17, 26] What good is lamp if we don't put it to use? Jesus gave a parable about entrusting his servants with a various sums of money. He was not referring to capitalism because he didn't leave us with money. He left his Church with the Scriptures, the witness of his apostles and prophets.
Of course, there is much more to do with the Scriptures than learning about science and history, but if they are not telling the truth about the past why should we believe they tell us the truth about the even more inscrutable future? We don't need to protect the Scriptures through dogma. As I discovered, the Scriptures are more than capable of defending themselves.
Best regards,
Philip Williams
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In this issue
Explaining 'Where faith partners with truth'
The light by which we see
Scientific paradigms cannot be proven
From verifiable to falsifiable

The light by which we see
Whomever or whatever authority we implicitly believe is the light by which we see  
bulbofconversion bulbofconviction
Conversion    Conviction
Since the light by which we see is whatever authority we implicitly believe, what keeps us in darkness are not the things that we do not know. Rather, it is the things about which we are certain that are not in fact true. These are things that we have not so much as thought about doubting. We may have for so long believed them that we don't remember having gone through the process of accepting them as new ideas, as illustrated above. 
I learned this from my experience in searching for the archaeological evidence of Noah's Flood. Time and again, I discovered the evidence of the Flood hidden from me due to things that I had learned from teachers of history and science which were not in fact true. For example, I had been taught as fact that Egypt's history was continuous from the Stone Age, that the chronological periods of ancient history were established based on clear strata from archaeological remains.
When I did come to suspect some of the scientific "truths," I investigated how these truths had come to be established. Again, I was stunned to discover time and again that they were based merely on fashions and speculation. For example, I learned that the Ice Age was simply a reinterpretation of what were once understood as diluvial remains; that the various Paleolithic "periods" that now define mankind's early history were subjective speculations that Charles Lyell (1797-1875) and Edouard Lartet (1801-1871) created based on artifacts that had been found with the remains of extinct species of European animals. The religious interpretations of what I now understand as burial caused by the Flood were due to Europeans projecting their increasing loss of faith by presuming that early man was exceedingly religious.
But my greatest problem in searching the archaeological evidence for Noah's Flood was my implicit assumption that I was enlightened. Unlike simple Christians like my father who trusted the Bible, I understood what the modern world knew about the past. I accepted these teachings as based on solid evidence. Why else would they be so widely believed and taught in the world's best universities? I did not understand how much science depends on social and political fashions and how political power, money, and ambition corrupt truth. What our world understands as its enlightenment is but a shroud of almost impenetrable darkness.
Fortunately, there is a way to penetrate that darkness, at least for those who are hungry for truth but, like me, have been deceived by the darkness that appears to the world as light. We must first be humble enough to read the Scriptures for understanding. If the Scriptures are good light, we should be able to use them to study history and science, though, in the case of the archaeological evidence of the Flood, that seems to have been something that Christians have been reluctant to do.
It also means being humble concerning how well we know the Scriptures. We may have been reading the Scriptures through our present understanding of the world, which is usually some tradition or older science. If our understanding of the Scriptures does not improve through actually using them, something is wrong: either the Scriptures or more likely how we have been reading them. Searching the evidence with a good light is an exciting adventure, and not just in what we discover about the world but also what we discover in the Scriptures.
We need not defend the Scriptures any more than we need to defend God. Both God and his Scriptures are capable of defending themselves as they answer our most troubling questions. 
Scientific paradigms cannot be proven 
And their acceptance may be due to social and political fashions


The phrase paradigm shift has entered our vocabulary owing to the philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn. His book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions appeared at a time when most philosophers were convinced that new scientific theories were accepted due to new experiments or discoveries. Kuhn showed that large scale scientific theories, which he referred to as paradigms, are necessary for science, but they can neither be proven nor disproven from the facts. Whatever objective facts might seem to contradict a paradigm will be answered by modifications that allow the older theory to incorporate the new facts.


Kuhn distinguished between normal science, when scientists work within an accepted paradigm and revolutionary science when scientists shift to an entirely new paradigm. Scientific revolutions do not occur based on new discoveries or experiments because everything observed can be explained either by the old and or new scientific theory. As Kuhn demonstrated, the Copernican Revolution (that the earth, rather than being stationary, spins as it orbits the sun) did not take place due to the weight of the evidence which, as known at the time, better favored a stationary earth. Rather, scientific revolutions occur due to social and political forces, as proponents of the new theory gain new disciples and as those defending the old theory fail to obtain them.

It was perhaps Kuhn's insight more than anything else that shifted twentieth century thought from belief that objective truth about our world can be obtained through modern science to the skeptical fashion of postmodernism. We should keep in mind that postmodernists ignore the modernist presupposition underlying their skepticism. Thus, it is impossible to be a postmodernist without also being a modernist. In any case, those who acknowledge their inability to know truth have nothing to tell us about the subject of truth: whether truth exists or whether it can be known. They have no way of judging whether there be a God of Truth or whether such a God might reveal truth to the man he created. All that postmodernists can do is humbly acknowledge the limits of science.
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From verifiable to falsifiable  
For determining science from non-science
One of the twentieth century's most influential philosophers of science challenged the long-held belief that scientific views were those that were verifiable. Karl Popper noted that his friends who were admirers of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Alfred Adler (psychiatrist of 'inferiority complex' fame) were all impressed by the explanatory power of the theories they championed. Marxist's theory could explain everything that happened in politics and society, even that which failed to happen. Freud and Adler could explain every action of human beings as due respectively either to sexual repression or an inferiority complex. Popper could not think of any human action that could not be equally well explained by either theory.
Popper noted how that conversion to these different theories was similar to a religious conversion. But Marx, Freud, and Adler claimed scientific status for their respective theories. Popper sought to determine how their theories differed from those of Einstein, one who had no need to claim he was doing science. Importantly, he noticed that only Einstein's theories made predictions that might easily have proven false. Though many then doubted whether Einstein's theory of General Relativity was true, no one doubted that it was a scientific.
Popper pointed out that good scientific theories are like those of Einstein that make predictions sufficiently specific to be tested. But this means that a scientific theory always has the potential of being disproven, while no scientific theory can ever be verifiably proven. Following Popper, falsifiability rather than verifiability came to distinguish scientific theories from pseudo-science such as Marx's dialectical materialism, Freud's psychoanalysis, and various types of astrology and magic. 
Importantly, Popper agreed that Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection could not be tested due to the fact that it made no specific predictions. Natural selection amounts to saying what survives survives It is what logicians refer to as a tautology, something that is logically true but entirely void of information about the actual world. Accordingly, Darwin's theory of evolution should be denied scientific status. Disappointingly, that was something that Popper refused to do. 
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Christian Leaders & Scholars is the newsletter and publication site of Philip Ernest Williams, author of The Archaeological Evidence of Noah's Flood (2011). The site is also a ministry not only to Christian leaders and scholars but all who are interested in the more difficult issues pertaining to the Bible and its implications for science and history. (Read more)