The Absence of Evidence

Christians have a problem. Their problem is much of their 100 percent accurate Bible does not have the evidence to definitively prove, or even support that the Bible is 100 percent accurate. A favorite counter of apologists though is “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Which is logically true, but let’s examine that a little bit deeper.

While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, the absence of evidence can lead us to make fairly accurate predictions. Take sloths for instance, I have no evidence that a 5 toed sloth does not exist. What I have is good evidence that every sloth species that we are currently aware of either alive today or extinct have been either 2 toed sloths or 3 toed sloths. Now it is entirely possible tomorrow some biologist in Costa Rica, or some paleontologist in Canada might discover a 5 toed sloth either a single mutated individual or an entirely new species, at which point I would need to reevaluate my views on the subject. For the time being however, I am very comfortable stating 5 toed sloths do not exist because all available evidence points in that direction. In light of the available evidence, the absence of evidence provides no reason for me to believe in the claim that a 5 toed sloth exists.

Let’s apply this to the Bible. When examining the Bible as an historical text (that is a text from history, not a history textbook) it is the position of mainstream scholars of all faiths that the exodus story, as well as its leader Moses are both fictional. We have zero archeological evidence to suggest that 2-3 million Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt, that the ten plagues happened, that 2-3 million Jews wondered around a relatively small desert for 40 years, or that a Canaanite conquest ever happened, and if it did, definitely not in the scale proclaimed in the Bible. That’s four events that include any number of smaller details that should be attested through archeology and other historical analysis. Only one needs to be untrue for the inerrancy of the Bible to be shatter and the entire foundation of Judaism and therefore Christianity to come crashing down like a house of cards, and we have zero evidence to confirm any of it. Now again, just because evidence hasn’t been found yet doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, new evidence could always be found tomorrow. However, the fact that experience tells us that the events as described in the Bible would leave behind a mountain of positive evidence, and the fact that we have searched for decades and have been unable to uncover any evidence to suggest the exodus story, as described Biblically, is accurate, the absence of evidence here is incredible suspicious and we can with a high degree of confidence conclude that the exodus story is in fact fictional.

Furthermore, we do have positive evidence of much smaller nomadic tribes living in Canaan worshiping a tribal storm god named Yahweh as part of a larger Canaanite pantheon during the time period 2-3 million Jews should have been wondering around in the desert, which makes the lack of evidence for 2-3 million Jews running around the desert even more suspicious and suggests a different development of the Judaism religion/culture, and consequently Christian tradition thanthe development described in the Bible. So the fact that we do have evidence for smaller nomadic tribes but no evidence for the 2-3 million Jews, we can again, with a high degree of confidence conclude that the Biblical exodus story is not historically accurate. 

I would even go so far as to say that if the Bible did not exist the historical and archaeological evidence produced in the past 200 years would never lead us to entertain such stories as remotely plausible. And since part of the circular reasoning of Christianity is “The Bible is 100 percent accurate because God exists, and because the Bible is 100 percent accurate we know that God exists,” the Bible being wrong, doesn’t necessarily prove that a god doesn’t exist or even necessarily that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist, but it does require a serious recalibration in Christian thinking.