Comment on Changing the Wording of Adventist Fundamental Belief #6 on Creation by Sean Pitman.
The Bible has proven so accurate about the life of Nebuchadnezzar (when the “higher critics” long claimed that he never existed, that he was just a myth), that I would accept the Biblical claim of Egypt’s defeat without extra-Biblical confirmation.
However, in this particular case, there is extra-Biblical evidence of Nebuchadnezzar attacking and conquering Egypt:
Historical notices in cuneiform inscriptions about Nebuchadnezzar support the Bible record. They state that it was in the 19th year of Nabopolassar’s reign that he assembled his army, as did his son Nebuchadnezzar, then crown prince. Both armies evidently functioned independently, and after Nabopolassar went back to Babylon within a month’s time, Nebuchadnezzar successfully warred in mountainous territory, later returning to Babylon with much spoil. During the 21st year of Nabopolassar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar marched with the Babylonian army to Carchemish, there to fight against the Egyptians. He led his forces to victory. This took place in the fourth year of Judean King Jehoiakim (625 B.C.E.).—Jer. 46:2.
The inscriptions further show that news of his father’s death brought Nebuchadnezzar back to Babylon, and on the first of Elul (August-September), he ascended the throne. In this his accession year he returned to Hattu, and “in the month Shebat [January-February, 624 B.C.E.] he took the vast booty of Hattu to Babylon.” (Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, by A. K. Grayson, 1975, p. 100) In the fourth year Nebuchadnezzar led his forces to Egypt, and in the ensuing conflict both sides sustained heavy losses. Egypt was doomed to drink the bitter cup of defeat, according to the prophecy already pronounced by Jeremiah (25:17-19). Egypt’s downfall began with its decisive defeat at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar as crown prince in 625 B.C.E., an event described at Jeremiah 46:2-10 as well as in a Babylonian chronicle. Egypt made one last attempt to remain a power in Asia. A military force of Pharaoh (his name is not mentioned in the Bible) came out of Egypt in answer to King Zedekiah’s request for military support in his revolt against Babylon in 609-607 B.C.E. Producing only a temporary lifting of the Babylonian siege, Egypt’s troops were forced to withdraw.—Jer. 37:5-7; Ezekiel 17:15-18.
One Babylonian text, dated to Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year (588 B.C.E.), has been found that mentions a campaign against Egypt. Whether it relates to the original conquest or merely to a subsequent military action cannot be said. —Ezekiel 29:18-20; 30:10-12.
At Ezekiel 29:1-16 a desolation of Egypt is foretold, due to last 40 years. This may have come after Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Egypt. While some commentaries refer to the reign of Amasis (Ahmose) II, the successor of Hophra, as exceedingly prosperous during more than 40 years, they do so primarily on the testimony of Herodotus, who visited Egypt over a hundred years later. But as the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1959, Vol. 8, p. 62) comments on Herodotus’ history of this period (the “Saitic Period”): “His statements prove not entirely reliable when they can be checked by the scanty native evidence.” The Bible Commentary by F. C. Cook, after noting that Herodotus even fails to mention Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Egypt, says: “It is notorious that Herodotus, while he faithfully recorded all that he heard and saw in Egypt, was indebted for his information on past history to the Egyptian priests, whose tales he adopted with blind credulity. . . . The whole story by Herodotus of Apries Hophra and Amasis is mixed with so much that is inconsistent and legendary that we may very well hesitate to adopt it as authentic history. It is by no means strange that the priests should endeavour to disguise the national dishonour of having been subjected to a foreign yoke.” Hence, while secular history provides no clear evidence of the prophecy’s fulfillment, we may be confident of the accuracy of the Bible record.
Again, consider that there is a difference between something that is only verifiable and something that is actual open to potential falsification.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Thanks Wes. 🙂
I actually agree with you here…
Of course God can produce miracles such as an axe floating on water, the virgin birth of Jesus, and the resurrection of a human body several days after death. I never said they were impossible, for God can perform miracles which defy all understanding and simply cannot be explained.
God can also perform miracles that can be explained and understood – as easily as we can understand how to make a chocolate cake or a space ship. Such things might seem miraculous from the perspective of those who don’t know how to make such things – like striking a match in front of people living in the dark jungles of Africa.
Miracles are a matter of perspective. What seems perfectly natural to God might seem quite amazing and miraculous to us. It’s only different in degree or level of knowledge and creative power – that’s all.
That is why such miracles are not beyond the power of science to detect as requiring the input of very high levels of creative power and intelligent design.
Even someone who can’t make a match or a chocolate cake knows that such things require creative intelligence to produce when they see them…
If you want to insist that science can explain these claims from the Bible as readily as my claim that Mrs. Kent can make a chocolate cake, you’re not only delusional, but you have every one of your readers wincing about such a ridiculous claim.
As I’ve explained many times, these things are all relative. I never said that they were all on the same level of creativity or design. What I said is that science can detect the need for intelligence, at various levels, to explain such things.
Beyond this, the notion that these stories really happened as described, that they aren’t just “cleverly invented stories” (2 Peter 1:16), isn’t based on faith alone if you want your faith to be something more than mere wishful thinking. You need some kind of evidence to support the credibility of the story teller. A fantastic story demands fantastic evidence that God not only exists but that He really did act in the manner described.
There’s no comparison between God’s remarkable miracles and the human accomplishment of making a cake. You are denigrating your creator.
Hardly. I’m pointing out that God’s creations, while often vastly superior to our own, are detectable in nature and in the written Word (using scientific methodologies for detecting design on various levels of creative power) as requiring very very high levels of deliberate design and creative power.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…