Its a sad fact that some Christians are willing to make up “evidence” to prove the Bible. An example was brought to my attention recently in the form of a book by Harry Rimmer, published in the early 20th century. He tells breathlessly of an excavator who discovered a lion’s den at ancient Babylon, complete with an inscription identifying it as “The place of execution where men who angered the king died torn by wild animals.”
Dead Men Tell Tales, by Harry Rimmer, 1952, p. 326.
What!? Nothing about this account is credible. Archaeologists don’t fall into ancient wells. The ancient Babylonians didn’t leave inscriptions identifying the purpose or use of structures. Even magnificent structures like royal palaces were not so identified. In fact, this supposed inscription sounds exactly like the kind of statement that would be made up by a local guide to impress gullible tourists. One wonders where Rimmer picked up this story. He gives no citation, so its impossible to even attempt to track down his source.
Our suspicions are raised even higher when we read on the previous page of a kiln-like structure found nearby. Miraculously, it was also clearly labelled for later explorers: “This is the place of burning where men who blasphemed the gods of Chaldea died by fire.”
Dead Men Tell Tales, by Harry Rimmer, 1952, p. 325.
Once again, such inscriptions are not known from any excavation of any structure in this area or period. If they existed there would be many more examples, not just two from exciting finds with direct biblical connections, and they would appear in the archaeological literature. But they don’t, because neither is actually true.
Leaving the rest of the book aside, one has to wonder whats going on here. Is Rimmer just super gullible, or is he actually fabricating these things himself out of thin air? Neither is an attractive option, but there doesn’t seem to be a good alternative.
A classic example in more recent times is the long list of incredible discoveries claimed by Ron Wyatt. This intrepid soul claimed to have discovered nearly every amazing artifact known from the Bible: Noah’s ark (complete with anchors), Mt Sinai (in Saudi Arabia!), the rock that Moses struck to bring forth water, the chariot wheels of Pharaoh’s army at the bottom of the Red Sea, remains from Sodom and Gomorrah, complete with “sulfur balls” (on the west side of the Dead Sea!), and even the Ark of the Covenant itself (under Gordon’s Calvary!) with the blood of Jesus still sprinkled across its top. Unfortunately, all of his photos of the ark came out blurry. Hmmm.
From the website of the Wyatt Museum, we get this description of the items he discovered in the cave with the Ark of the Covenant: “The objects he saw in that chamber that he feels confident in identifying are: the Ark of the Covenant in the Stone case; the Table of Shewbread; the Golden Altar of Incense that was in front of the veil; the Golden Censer; the seven-branched Candlestick holder, (which didn’t have candles but had tiny, bowl-like golden oil lamps which are built into the tips of the candlestick); a very large sword; an Ephod; a Miter with an ivory pomegranate on the tip; a brass shekel weight; numerous oil lamps; and a brass ring which appeared to be for hanging a curtain or something similar.
“There are more objects, but these are all Ron could positively identify. All of these objects were covered by the dry-rotted dark-colored animal skins, then dry-rotten wooden timbers on top of the skins, and finally the large rocks piled over everything.”
A similar modern example, although not so extreme, is Bob Cornuke. Like Wyatt, he also claimed to have found the true Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia. He also discovered the anchor’s from Paul’s shipwreck off the coast of Malta. Even Ron Wyatt hadn’t thought to discover those! And he claimed that a pile of dark-colored rocks on an Iranian mountainside were the remnants of Noah’s ark.
Why make up such things? Maybe Ron Wyatt said it best when he noted that “All of us have had the frustration of trying to convince somebody the Bible is true, with basically no proof . . . Well, now God has provided the proof.” Well, actually Ron himself provided the proof, or the claim that there was proof. As it turns out, his personal claim was the only “proof” there was, since scientific evidence was never forthcoming. He never retrieved one of the “chariot wheels” from the floor of the Red Sea for scientific analysis. He never shared an actual picture from the cave of the Ark of the Covenant. He never showed the scientific results of the supposed chromosomal anomalies of the blood sample he supposedly took from the mercy seat of the ark.
For Wyatt it was also a fundraising platform. “We’re still digging, and there’s some real expenses involved in archaeological excavations. In fact, it will take millions of dollars to do Noah’s ark.” Money, fame, and an urgent (if misplaced) desire to “prove” the Bible– those are probably the major motivations for these kinds of fibbers. Do they believe their own propaganda? Hard to say. Hopefully the reader will retain some common sense with a dash of skepticism.