In his book, The Archaeology of Ancient Israel (Yale University Press, 1992), Amon Ben-Tor states the following in the introduction: 

[An] …intense urge to prove the Bible cannot affect the pious believer. For such a person, the scriptures contain their own truth and need not be criticized or proven. This need is prevalent, in what must be construed as an irrational manner, among large sections of the secular public, which find it important that the archaeologists prove that all the events in the Bible did indeed occur and that all the figures mentioned and the episodes described are entirely consistent with reality. There is in this demand a violation of archaeological integrity and an attempt to impose upon archaeology unattainable objectives – that is the proof of faith [1].

Is Ben-Tor correct? Is it irrational to want to know whether or not the stories in the Bible have a historical basis? Can archaeology actually prove faith, as Ben-Tor alleges? Is it the case that the theological content of what Christians believe is connected to history?

The cornerstone truth of Christianity is the historical, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, two-thousand years ago (1 Corinthians 15:1-28). For Christians this is a fact which we hold to be grounded in reality [historical reality], and not merely in our imaginations, nor our hearts or our spirits. Ben-Tor is a great archaeologist, and he has certainly contributed greatly to our understanding of ancient Israel and the ancient Near East. His statement above, however, reveals a deeply flawed philosophical understanding of the relationship between faith, on one hand, and reason, science, & history on the other.  

Ben-Tor is certainly not the only one who thinks this way. Sadly many others (including Christians) don’t have a firm grasp on the relationship between faith and reason (evidence)., For the Christian who doesn’t know some of the reasons and evidences why Christianity is true, he or she is in danger of having their faith severely shaken, if not completely shipwrecked altogether. 

Just to be clear, I am not saying that archaeology can PROVE the Bible in a purely mathematical, or deductively logical sense. Archaeology is, however, an inductive science and contributes greatly to the overall case for the Christian faith and belief. When it comes to the Old Testament, archaeology is also important for faith and belief, but additionally for biblical inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16), inerrancy (John 10:35), and integrity (Luke 16:31). 

The theological truths of the Bible are mediated to us through ancient languages, ancient cultures and history. The science of archaeology therefore, is an invaluable tool in helping us [the modern reader] to understand the original context of Scripture — an essential and foundational principle in biblical hermeneutics!. Archaeology has also affirmed the existence of many people, nations, places, and events recorded in the Bible, so it can also function as an apologetic [apologia – defense] against biblical skepticism. 

Pilate Inscription is one of two archaeological artifacts which independently confirm the existence of the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate who is mentioned in the New Testament.

The radical and unhealthy separation of faith and reason usually arises from two kinds of people:

(1) Those who are non-believers [religious skeptics, atheists, or religious agnostics]

(2) From religious believers who somehow think that it is a virtue to believe without reasons or evidence, or that it somehow preserves the purity and integrity of faith. 

Both views have a great misunderstanding of what constitutes true, biblical faith, as well as a misunderstanding of the relationship between faith and reason. This article is primarily addressed to the second group of people, the religious believers who think that they are preserving the integrity of faith by believing apart from, or even in spite of evidence, or the lack thereof. 


Some Christian believers point to Hebrews 11:6 as evidence directly from the Bible that God places a high priority on faith, and not evidence. They hold that when it comes to God or the Bible, no evidence at all is required. God is not reached by reason or evidence — He can only be reached by faith. This viewpoint is what philosophers call fideism, and it was popular among some Christian theologians and writers about a century ago [ex. Karl Barth, Søren Kierkegaard, etc…]. According to Christian apologist, Dr. Norman L. Geisler, “Religious fideism argues that matters of faith and religious belief are not supported by reason. Religion is a matter of faith and cannot be argued by reason” [2].  

The entire counsel of Scripture is clear and unanimous that God does indeed place a very high value on faith, and its great worth in the spiritual and personal development of His followers. It is not my place here to minimize faith in any way (see Hebrews 11), but our understanding of the role of faith in Scripture must also be balanced with an understanding of what it also teaches about the role of the mind and the role of reason as well. 

There are at least three main problems with fideism which we will breifly deal with next. 



While a fidiestic epmpahsis on faith without evidence might sound pious on the surface, it is actually unbiblical. In many places in the Bible God calls his followers to rightfully utilize reason in order for us to come to correct conclusions. In Isaiah 1:16, God states to the Israelites, “Come now, Let us reason together says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow: though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient….” 

When asked which was the greatest commandment, Christ responded by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And a second is like it. ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:36-37). Christ included loving God with the mind as an essential part of the greatest commandment. 

In 1 Peter 3:15 the Apostle Peter stated “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] for the hope that is within you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” Peter understood that believers would at some point need to present and make the case for Christ as true Messiah and Resurrected Savior of the world to those who would ask. We must do the same. 

The book of Acts, is held by most NT scholars to have been written by the Gospel writer Luke. He opens the book Acts this way: “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts: 1:1-3).

Additionally, the Apostle Paul appealed to those who were “eyewitnesses who were still alive” and could corroborate what he was writing and preaching about the risen Christ. 

In addition to writing the Gospel of Luke, Luke also wrote the book of Acts as a continuation of the Apostle’s ministry in Judea, Asia Minor and Rome. In his book, “The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History” Roman historian Colin Hemer has identified and confirmed 84 historical and geographical details in the last sixteen chapters of Acts alone.

Even to doubting Thomas, Jesus pointed to His scars as evidence of His identity and resurrection. “Then He [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Put your fingers here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27). 

These verses are just a small sampling of many Scriptures in which evidence is presented as reasons to believe. God has never asked anyone to sacrifice the mind He created in them in order to belive or have faith. 


Secondly, fideism is self-defeating. Fideists use reason to make the case that reason should not be used in religious matters, which is self-defeating. Rational discourse demands that one follow the laws and basic principles of reasoning and one of those laws is that one should have sufficient reasons for ones beliefs. The fideist places the highest value on faith without reason or evidence, but if he or she USES reasons or evidence to show why we shouldn’t use reasons or evidence in matters of religious faith, then they are undercutting their own philosophy. If they say that it only applies in religious matters then they are being inconsistent in the application of reason and irrational. Ultimately, fideism is self-defeating. 


Finally, fideism confuses belief “IN” with belief “THAT.”

The distinction between belief IN and belief THAT is a crucially important distinction when it comes to talking about archaeology, and evidence for the Bible.

We would agree with the fideist that faith is essential when it comes to belief IN God. Believing “In” God, and one’s trust or belief “In” the Bible is a personal matter and is made on the individual or personal level. But believing “that” God exists, or “that” the Bible is trustworthy, historically reliable or scientifically sound is a matter of reason, evidence and thought. Before a person gets on an elevator, there must be good evidence THAT there is a solid floor to stand on when he or she steps inside (especially if it is a 20 story building!). Likewise, if a person is evaluating the Christian message and claim, then there is nothing wrong whatsoever in evaluating evidence THAT it is true, before putting their faith IN it. 

Genuine, Biblical faith is not a blind leap into the darkness, it is informed assent, and/or trust that there are good reasons to place our faith IN it. 

At Epic Archaeology we present sound historical and archaeological evidence THAT the Bible can be trusted when it comes to historical matters recorded on its pages. We trust you can see the evidence THAT the Bible is a trustworthy account of what God has done in the past. Trusting “in” something is a matter of the heart and the will, but believing “that” something is trustworthy [such as the Bible] is a matter of the intellect and the mind.


There is a general understanding among professional archaeologists that “nothing is 100% certain” when it comes to archaeological discoveries. This certainly doesn’t mean, however, that certainty is elusive or unattainable, but rather that it is graded on a scale of probability. Archaeological artifacts and discoveries present a cumulative case that is made over years of digging, research and fieldwork. So, while Bible believing Christians and Jews say that the Old and New Testament is “proved” by archaeology, what we really mean is that when it comes to history the Bible is a very reliable source indeed. There is still plenty of room for faith to flourish in historical and archaeological research, but there is also a place for reason and evidence to have its place as well. Faith is only as good as its object, and the object of our faith is based on reliable and dependable evidence from multiple areas of study (*from science, history, philosophy, and archaeology). 

For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. – 2 Peter 1:16

Speaking of archaeology as a “cumulative case,” I will conclude with a list of people mentioned in the New Testament that have been verified either by historical inscriptions, archaeology, or both. These confirmed historical figures and similar evidences, are good REASONS why we can trust the New Testament is giving us an accurate account of who Christ is and that He rose from the dead, just as He said. Whether or not you believe IN this evidence is for you to decide.


[1] Amon Ben-Tor, Editor, The Archaeology of Ancient Israel (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992) [Introduction], 9 [emphasis mine].

[2] Norman L. Geisler, The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 246.