The Fine-Tuning of the Multiverse

The two most common arguments for the existence of God today are based on the beginning of the universe, discovered in the early 20th century, and the fine-tuning of the universe, much more recently discovered by scientists in the last half century.

The fine-tuning of the universe refers to the fact that the universe is constructed by, in effect, various sets of constants that, were they to be any different by a miniscule scale, life in its entirety not only would not exist, but could not exist. As Martin Rees reveals in his book Just Six Numbers, explained by Rich Deem;

Another finely tuned constant is the strong nuclear force (the force that holds atoms together). The Sun “burns” by fusing hydrogen (and higher elements) together. When the two hydrogen atoms fuse, 0.7% of the mass of the hydrogen is converted into energy. If the amount of matter converted were slightly smaller—0.6% instead of 0.7%— a proton could not bond to a neutron, and the universe would consist only of hydrogen. With no heavy elements, there would be no rocky planets and no life. If the amount of matter converted were slightly larger—0.8%, fusion would happen so readily and rapidly that no hydrogen would have survived from the Big Bang. Again, there would be no solar systems and no life. The number must lie exactly between 0.6% and 0.8%.

So, the universe is finely tuned for the existence of life. But how did the fine-tuning come about? Since of course it is far too improbable for the constants to turn out the way they are by chance (the probability that the cosmological constant would be set just rightly to allow life is something like 1 in 10^60), chance is obviously out of question. Obviously, the most intuitive option is that God designed the universe. Indeed, it seems to perfectly correlate with what we are symbolically told in the opening chapters of Genesis, that God created all that exists to our aid so that we may rejoice in it and worship God its Creator (The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands -Psalm 19:1).

An atheist of course, cannot accept that. So, we are given an alternative way to understanding the constants — “Maybe there’s a multiverse,” we are told, “Maybe there is an inexpressible number of universes so that at least one of them had to have the constants we see in our universe.” So, the question arises, is there a multiverse so that we can explain why the constants of the universe are so finely tuned as to allow the existence of life (and moreso, advanced biological life)? The answer is, probably not. There seems to be no evidence for this supposed multiverse, even though we can look some 90 billion light years in diameter in our universe. Secondly, as the great philosopher Richard Swinburne puts it, “To postulate a trillion trillion other universes, rather than one God, in order to explain the orderliness of our universe seems the height of irrationality.” The multiversal hypothesis, when putting it alongside the competing God hypothesis, violates Occam’s Razor. According to Occam’s Razor, when understanding a phenomenon or something of some sort, we always ought to prefer the explanation that makes the least amount of assumptions.

The multiversal hypothesis seems to make an extraodinary, if not literally infinite number of assumptions (as some variations of the theorem postulate an infinite number of universes). Firstly, you must not only assume your numberless universes exist, but you also need to presume the existence of a mechanism that exists beyond the confines of space-time in order to continually produce these universes, there must be a universe producer of some sort (you can’t use God), in which no evidence suggests that such a thing is even naturally possible. This is irrational. God is just one assumption, and as some philosophers believe, God is an infinitely simple assumption (since complexity is determined by the parts or constituents that make up the whole, and God is not made up of any parts or constituents).

And, to me, the most daunting problem with the multiverse is that it explains absolutely nothing — it just pushes the cause one step back (contrast that with God, who is the uncaused first cause), which would require yet another explanation on top of itself to explain the multiverse! The multiversal hypothesis is shredded by Occam’s Razor and explains nothing. Therefore, the theist can once more rejoice in the science and philosophy that has affirmed his belief in God.

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Have a good defense for the hope that is in you

1 Peter 3:15: but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

According to the Bible, we ought to have good reasons for the hope that is in us and in Christ when anyone asks us to give an account for it. In other words, we are biblically commanded by God to train ourselves in a defense of the evidence and reason that is within us for the kingdom awaiting us. Truly, this couldn’t be made more clear than in 1 Peter 3:15. However, our commands regarding our defense are even more multitudinous than that alone, behold;

2 Corinthians 10:4-5: …We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

So, we must be ready to not only give a defense for our hope but also be prepared to destroy the accusations set against us. This is all too necessary when it comes to the modern church, with accusations coming from every side against our truth, from the Atheists and the Muslims and whoever else steps against us. More and more, great men from our side such as William Lane Craig and Michael Licona take to handling these accusers, but every Christian should be prepared to do this and engage in study that aids them in their pursuit of spreading the gospel, the good news. Truly, no other belief system on Earth commands its adherents to take part in an intellectual and reason-based pursuit of investigating and defending their theology — other religions simply declare themselves without thinking at all about something like this.

Time and time again, the early church leaders not only stepped forth and defended Christianity from their accusers, but the early church phenomenally destroyed those who sided against them in intellectual debate.

Acts 6:8-10: Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they began to argue with Stephen. But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.

How clear it is now why Christianity spread so quickly soon thereafter the advent of Jesus’ ministry on Earth! Truly, the unbelievers were both told of the truth and shown it, they did not possess any capacity at all to deny it for they themselves were shown, upfront, that they are dealing with the facts of God Almighty Himself. Indeed, we can’t just let the early church leaders take such actions, we must follow their footsteps and take to this ourselves. This blog that I started was created itself, for the sole purpose of administering to the lost and building up a foundation of evidence regarding various histories of the Bible and rebutting the accusations against them, as well as various subjects of God as well. Hopefully, both you and I will be able to partake in our studies as the early leaders did and Jesus Himself who was the intellectual champion of His time, so that when we bring the gospel to the lost, they will surely believe. Thank the good God!

Acts 18:28: for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

Biblical City of Bethsaida Found

Mark 8:22-25: They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people—they look like trees walking.” Again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly.

Yet another biblical archaeological discovery has come in within the last week, the identification of a New Testament city that was said to be the hometown of some of the twelve disciples of Jesus, that being Peter, Andrew and Philip, the city of Bethsaida. Jesus was also reported to have miraculously cured a blind man here.

As seekers of truth, we can learn something important from Bethsaida. In Matthew 11:21, after Jesus finishes performing some miracles in Bethsaida and the people remain unrepented of their evils, Matthew writes of Jesus angrily declaring “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago.” 

The truth is that many people, regardless of how much evidence you show them for anything, be it the historical veracity of the Bible or literally performing a miracle before their eyes, will remain ignorant to the light, because as they love the darkness (John 3:19).

Anyhow, this comes in the latest of a slew of archaeological discoveries in the last month, where we’ve already seen confirmation of 1 King 21’s description of Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel and Jeremiah 52’s description of the Babylonians burning down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. In the last few years alone, a number of fascinating findings throughout the land of Israel continue to shed more and more light on the background and historicity of the biblical narratives. As these pile on, we see the criticisms on the historicity of the Bible falling apart, one after another.

Now, this discovery enlightens us further on the geography outlined in the New Testament, and we know another location that Jesus stepped in during His lifetime before He was crucified in Jerusalem on a Roman cross. God continues to reveal to us what we seek. Keep praying.

New Evidence Confirms Jerusalem Destruction as Bible Records

Jeremiah 52:12-13On the tenth day of the fifth month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guards, entered Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the Lord’s temple, the king’s palace, all the houses of Jerusalem; he burned down all the great houses. 

Around two weeks ago, it was announced by IFLScience that recent archaeological excavations have shown that about 2,600 years ago, during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, the Babylonians decided to cause a widespread fire that ended up burning down the city, the capital of Jerusalem. And indeed, these archaeological discoveries in ancient Jerusalem perfectly corresponds to what the Bible narrates in 2 Kings 25:8-9 and Jeremiah 52:12-13, thus we have yet another archaeological confirmation of the biblical narratives. This is the second time an archaeological find has proven the Bible this month, the first being earlier in July when archaeological excavations in Jezebel confirmed that the region housed vineyards.

The biblical books of II Kings and Jeremiah tell us that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Israel around 587 BC and eventually conquered the nation and burned down the houses of the city of Jerusalem. The excavations confirmed a widespread fire during this period by showing that the entire area was practically burnt around the early 6th century BC in accordance with Babylon’s invasion of Jerusalem. The story tells us that Nebuzaradan’s, a high-ranking military figure of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, brought the Babylonian forces and encircled Jerusalem. He then broke into the city, destroyed the Temple (hence ending the First Timple Period), burned down all that he could and forced the population into exile. We now know this entirety is a historical truth. Thank God.

Copies of copies, the telephone game

A few weeks ago, I was having a debate about the reliability of the New Testament with someone who goes by Professor Taboo. Once, he claimed that the New Testament couldn’t have been preserved because we know messages get corrupted throughout time as they’re continuously transmitted because of the telephone game. He said the following;

“But if the originals are lost, and the nearest-originals do not have as many additional events as the copies done 300-years later (which make up the vast majority of your 25,000+ manuscripts), what does that imply about the veracity of ANY manuscripts/testaments written AFTER Paul’s epistles about 52 — 60 CE? Wouldn’t this progression be similar/identical to the Chinese whisper/telephone game where the final story is convoluted or contaminated from its original content and meaning?”

Many people, when talking about whether or not the Bible is preserved or not, have sought to use the example of the telephone game to prove that the Bible couldn’t have been preserved. In the telephone game, you have a group of people that form a circle. One person begins with a message and whispers it to the person beside them, and then that person whispers whatever it is that they heard to the next person beside them, and so on and so on until the message gets finally passed on through the entire circle. By the end of the round, the original whispered message becomes completely corrupted as the message slowly becomes misunderstood through its transmission in the circle as it slowly becomes less and less like the original, and everyone has a good laugh at the end.

So wouldn’t the same happen to the Bible through its preservation? As the Bible gets copied and copied into more and more manuscripts, the message gets more corrupted through each transmission as happens in the telephone game, and what we have today is only the result of a long history of corruption and textual mistakes that is nothing like the original text, which we know happens because of the telephone game.

Here, I’ll show this analogy clearly doesn’t stack up. Indeed, trying to use the telephone game as an analogy for the transmission of the biblical text is actually fallacious, just because the two processes are so unlike. In a round of the telephone game, one person can only tell the next person the message one time, whereas when copying a manuscript, you can cross-check the original as many times as you want before copying it down. Furthermore, in the telephone game, you have to intentionally whisper the message to the person beside you, to try to make sure they have a hard time getting the message, something that is totally unparalleled when a scribe copies from a manuscript. The objective of the telephone game is to corrupt the message, whereas the objective of manuscript transmission is to preserve the message. As the prestigious scholar, Daniel Wallace remarks;

…it’s a ridiculous comparison, frankly. For one thing in the telephone game the purpose is to skew the message so you can have a big laugh, and in fact the message is usually somewhat convoluted right to begin with, difficult to remember, and not something that’s easily communicated. Secondly, it’s all done orally, by whispers without repeition. You don’t get a chance to say “tell me that message again.” Thirdly there’s a single line of transmission only. Fourthly you only get to interview the last person in the line of transmission. With the New Testament manuscripts we’re dealing with written documents, we’re dealing with documents that are copied multiple times, and even the original texts of the New Testament would have been copied multiple times, so you’ve got various streams of transmission, not oral transmission, you’ve got multiple copies, and you can interview the witnesses earlier on in the transmission, so the comparison is really quite silly, it just doesn’t work.

In other words, the analogy of the telephone game falls apart when trying to challenge the preservation of the New Testament, especially when you just take a look at the astounding preservation of the biblical text we have through our many tens of thousands of copies we have preserved from ancient times.

Old or Young Earth?

Once, I had a conversation with a very nice fellow Christian who told me that I presented my arguments for my claims in a very clear, concise, decisive and convincing way. He only had one disagreement with me though, and that was regarding the age of the universe. I think it is billions of years old, however, he believed that this view was incompatible with Scripture. I responded to him, and I think that I’d like to share this response with everyone else who decides to read it to give everyone a better understanding of my view on the Bible, and why I take it. This was my response to him;

Hello, and thanks a lot for your kind words about my argumentation, research, and presentation of my facts.

It seems that you have a word or two for me about the age of the Earth. Listen dude, God gave us two ways to know the truth, and one of them is the Bible. The other one is nature, and the fact is that these two can’t contradict each other. If it is an objective fact that clouds exist in nature, then it must also be an objective fact that clouds exist in the Bible because these two sources cannot conradict each other, they both have the same source of course, God. Likewise, if it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in nature, then it’s an objective fact that the universe is billions of years old in the Bible, because these sources cannot contradict one another.

On that note, I do think there is good reason to think the universe is billions of years old, and there are good reasons why the primordial history of Genesis (Genesis chapters 1-11) is non-literal. Firstly, the age of the universe. There are galaxies that are located billions of light years away from our own galaxy, and light from those galaxies has reached our own galaxy. So, light that is located, for example, three billion light years away from us has arrived to our galaxy, meaning that it took three billion years to do so (since light travels one year in a light year). In other words, as far as I know, there is good reason to believe that the age of the universe is rather large. If my scientific theory is true, then the same is true in the Bible regardless of how ‘clear’ a simple reading of scripture might be, since it is true in nature. So this is why I think the age of the universe is very large.

Now, for my reasons for not interpreting Genesis 1-11 necessarily literally. It’s possible, and I’m always open to it. I’ve been a young-earth creationist in my life before. I’m simply trying to find the truth and I’ll leave old earth creationism in an instant if I don’t find it viable. But for now, I do. Let’s go to the flood story in Genesis. Specifically, the following passage;

Genesis 7:1-2: Then the Lord said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and its female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female,

God tells Noah to take seven pairs of every clean animal and two pairs of every unclean animal. However, God only revealed the list of clean animals in the Torah to Moses, meaning that the entire concept of clean and unclean animals was non-existent in Noah’s time — so how could God have told Noah to take pairs of clean and unclean animals? It makes no sense. I think it’s possible to make sense of Noah’s flood story in the following way: Jesus died for the sins of the world and took its punishment upon Himself, so that we don’t have to. On the other hand, God is showing us that, with Noah, what happens when humanity and the entire world pays for its own sins. God destroys the entire world and kills almost all of humanity, besides Noah, the one righteous man. God destroys the world for its sins, in effect. And what happens almost immediately after Noah gets off the Ark? According to the Bible, he got drunk (Genesis 9:21). So what happens now? Noah is destroyed and the world ceases to be. But that’s not what happens, as Noah’s keeps on having descendants. I think that Noah’s story presents a message, alongside the rest of the Genesis’ primordial history, about the coming of Christ and God’s plan for the world.

God created all reality and everything in it. I don’t exactly accept evolution, and I do lean towards the idea that God started humanity with Adam and Eve. I can’t claim to know how God did it all, but I don’t think that God did it in the way that you think it happened. I’d like you to see this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9h-hmlMz5c

Canaanites still alive?

Recently, some geneticists found out that the ancient Canaanite’s are still around. Some people around Lebanon have retained over 90% of their ancient Canaanite DNA. How did they (the geneticists) figure this out? Quite simple, really, they found some DNA belonging to some dead ancient Canaanite’s about 3,700 years old, deciphered the DNA, and compared it to DNA patterns in the modern Middle East and found a match!

The Canaanite’s aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still around. But doesn’t the Bible say they were to be wiped out thousands of years ago?

Deuteronomy 20:16-18: However, you must not let any living thing survive among the cities of these people the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. You must completely destroy them—the Hethite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite—as the Lord your God has commanded you,so that they won’t teach you to do all the detestable acts they do for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.

These verses caused a lot of media outlets to declare that the Bible had been wrong about the Canaanite’s, with one outlet (sciencemag, unfortunately one that usually publishes good media coverage of science) going so far as to title its report something as odious as “Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites”. So, has the biblical account been “countered”? As already proven, hardly.

Let’s take a look at the passage above. First of all, we need to start with the fact that the Bible never, at any one point, declares that the Canaanite’s had in fact been ever wiped out — in fact, later biblical books after Deuteronomy continue to mention the Canaanite’s. This account says that the Canaanite’s will be wiped out, as the Israelite’s continue taking the promised land. However, we know that the Israelite’s never took the entire promised land (or even close) because they continued to break their covenant with God and disobey His commandments — hence, His promise to the Israelite’s to grant them the entire promised land, contingent on them following His laws, never went through. Thus, the ancient peoples inhabiting the promised land were also allowed to remain in it because of the sin of Israel. That is the biblical account in its full context, and now that we know exactly what the biblical account says, the latest skeptical assault on the authority of the Bible has been countered, one might say.

Update: The ScienceMag article realized its mistake when trying to discredit the veracity of the biblical account, and so it recently changed the title of its page from Ancient DNA counters biblical account of the mysterious Canaanites to Ancient DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

Why Naboth had a Vineyard

1 Kings 21:1: Some time passed after these events. Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard; it was in Jezreel next to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.

Yet another fascinating archaeological discovery tells us why Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard — because Jezreel, the land where he lived in was filled with wine-production in biblical times, and in biblical times, wine came from vineyards, and so Jezreel was full of vineyards, and we indeed do know now there were vineyards in Jezreel. In essence, archaeology has helped confirm another story in the Bible (which made some headlines in the last week) as well as increased our understanding of the texts. It seems as if not a single year goes by without archaeology affirming yet another narrative in the most important book to all Christians in the world.

In 1 Kings 22, we are told the story of a man named Naboth, who had a vineyard in Jezreel that he inherited from his father. The king, Ahab, sees Naboth’s vineyard and wants it, so he offers up some silver to Naboth in order to purchase it from him. Naboth rejects the kings silver, unwilling to sell off his inheritance. Ahab gets bitter about it, lies on his bed and refuses to eat, which catches the attention of his wife, Jezebel. Jezebel finds out why Ahab is having a bad day, and stages a mock trial to execute Naboth so her husband can get the vineyard. Jezebel’s mock trial works out, Naboth is stoned based on false charges of cursing God, Ahab hears about it and possesses the now ownerless vineyard formerly belonging to Naboth.

God saw the entire thing. God ends up delivering a prophecy of destruction to Ahab on his household through his prophet, Elijah, and the story continues from 1 Kings 21-22. Now, according to the archaeologists excavating Jezreel, because we know that in fact there were vineyards in and around Jezreel as the Bible notes and that their purpose was to supply national commodities like wine, we have good enough reason for considering the narrative as historical. God is great!

Is The Lake Of Fire In The Old Testament?

The most fearful thing for an unbeliever is being cast by God into the lake of fire. As Hebrews 10:31 illustrates, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” The human fear of God and judgment is readily noted throughout our Bible, and it’s something that most of us all likely have come about. But what if… Later biblical authors just made it up?

Recently, I’ve been coming across the claim by non-believers that I’ve been talking with that say the concept of eternal torture in the afterlife is nowhere to be found in the Old Testament, and thus, is a New Testament invention as the biblical tradition continuously became more exaggerated with the passing of time. So, I took to studying the Old Testament in some way, and see if this claim stacks up. I’ve come across this claim by many people in many contexts, and so this is certainly one of those online skeptic classicals.

Firstly, before we see what the Old Testament has to say, we need to understand what the New Testament says about the eternity of torture in the afterlife. Although people refer to this as hell, in the entire Bible, this is most certainly not hell. Hell is not a place of eternal torture, biblically speaking, it is the lake of fire that is the place of eternal fire and tortureIn fact, towards the end of the New Testament, we are not only specifically told that hell and the lake of fire are two different things, but we are told that hell and death will literally be cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:14: Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

So, the final place of unrelenting agony is the lake of fire, not hell. So, how does the New Testament actually refer to the place of hell anyways? In reality, the actual English word hell only came into existence in the 8th century AD from Germanic derivation. Thus, it becomes immediately clear that the New Testament never refers to hell in the original Greek language, that term is only found in our modern English translations. In reality, the original Greek uses a single specific term for ‘hell’, that is, hades.

Hades is a place deep within the Earth where the souls of all the wicked dead lay after their death, and stay there until they are cast into the lake of fire by God, where they will be tortured in fire forever. Now that we’ve clarified this, the question becomes if the concept of the lake of fire (an eternal torture and fire) appears in the Old Testament. The deniers say it doesn’t. What does the Old Testament say?

Daniel 12:2: Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt.

In this verse, things become quickly clear. We are told that some people are resting in the “dust of the earth” (sheol), and soon, they will either depart to one of two places, either eternal life or eternal contempt (an eternity after death either way). The places of eternal life and eternal contempt appear to be opposites — eternal life being heaven, and eternal contempt being the lake of fire. It does appear, from this verse, that the concept of an eternal torture awaiting the wicked does appear in the Old Testament. There are more verses to examine, of course, before relenting in our study.

Jeremiah 23:40: I will bring on you everlasting disgrace and humiliation that will never be forgotten.”

Again, we see another explicit reference, by God Himself in this verse, where God will throw someone into some form of eternal unpleasance. These two aforementioned verses do not yet speak of an eternal fire, but there is one last verse to look at before deciding on whether or not the skeptics are right about this.

Isaiah 66:24 “As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.”

The last verse of Isaiah’s book tells us that some people will be in an undying fire after death, a place where their worm will never die (see Jesus speak in Mark 9:48). This verse unambiguously declares the unrighteous will enter into an eternity of fire and doom in the afterlife, consistent with both what we know from Daniel 12:2 and Jeremiah 23:40. Interestingly, another verse (Isaiah 50:11) also says that God says to the wicked “you will lie down in a place of torment.” So, I think it’s clear now that the lake of fire is explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament, hence, not a later invention that comes about through the advent of the New Testament. Thus, the skeptics turned out to be wrong.

The Life of David

King David (reigned 1010-970 BC) was the second king of Israel and one of the most famous men of the Hebrew Bible. The king was said to have united the both kingdoms of Israel and Judah and ruled over them as the united monarchy. The life of David is mostly chronicled throughout the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Some of the most important and well-known events of the life of David include his rise from a shepherd to attaining the throne of Israel, his battle with the giant named Goliath, and his conquering of the ancient city of Jerusalem.

Early Life

The tradition of David’s life starts in his youth. David started out as a young shepherd who cultivated sheep, a typical occupation of his time. Early on, David became interested in music, especially of playing the lyre, and would be soon accredited with writing many psalms in both his youth and his reign as king over Israel.

As Saul, the current king of Israel began to sin, God began to torment him. Through the advice of his servants, Saul had come to the belief that he required a musician to play for him in order to ease him of his anguish. One of his servants said that they may be aware of such a man to help him, the son of Jesse, David. Thus, Saul requested David to become his personal musician, where he would perform his musical tunes in order to help calm Saul. Saul quickly came to trust David, making him into one of his armor-bearers. David had become a member of Saul’s court, and so Saul requested David to play the lyre for him when he felt tormented, which would help calm and ease him.

Fight Against Goliath

Soon after David began playing the lyre for Saul, Israel found itself in a war with the Philistines. The Philistines held a camp at Ephes Dammim, located between Sokoh and Azekah, and the forces of Saul were based in the Valley of Elah, slowly advancing in order to confront the Philistines.

Suddenly, the champion of the Philistines, a man named Goliath (whose hometown was Gath) emerged, towering in height over every man nearby. Goliath was said to have been wearing full-body armor made of bronze and equipped with both a javelin and a spear. Every morning and every evening for forty days, Goliath came forwards to taunt the Israelites and challenge any single man willing to fight him head on. Goliath claimed that if his opponent won, the Philistines would become servants of the Israelite’s, but if he won, the Israelite’s would become servants of the Philistines.

“Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” (1 Samuel 17.8-10)

The three eldest sons of Jesse (David’s older brothers) were also in this war. Jesse, their father, asked David to go to the camp of Saul’s army with some grain and bread to give to his elder brothers. David got to the camp, and when he was looking for his brothers, Goliath again emerged and uttered his regular defiance. In bravery, David wished to personally deal with Goliath. Saul attempted to stop him, telling David that he was still in his youth and not experienced enough for this battle, but David countered by saying that he had killed a lion and a bear when protecting his sheep, and therefore was able to fight Goliath. Saul, convinced by David’s arguments, allowed him to fight.

David and Goliath approached each other, and after remarking some angry words against each other, Goliath began stampeding towards David. David took out a sling and struck Goliath in the head with a stone, and then used a sword to kill the weakened Goliath. David became victorious, and this allowed the Israelite’s to defeat the Philistines and then plunder their camp. David, in his victory, took the head of Goliath to Jerusalem. Seemingly an out-of-the-ordinary act at first, an explanation as to why David did this with Goliath’s head is provided by Hoffmeier;

…it might be suggested that David’s purpose in taking Goliath’s head to Jerusalem reflects the common Near Eastern practice of humiliating one’s enemy by displaying the remains of the fallen hero, chieftain or king, and announcing the good news of an enemy’s defeat. David’s actions in several instances show that he was shrewdly trying to consolidate his claim to the throne after being anointed by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:13)… By taking the giant’s head to Jerusalem David was not just announcing his victory over Goliath and the Philistines, but was also putting the Jebusites on notice that just as he defeated the Philistine champion, Jerusalem’s demise was only a matter of time. (108)

The Psalms of David

David, in the traditions found in the Book of Psalms, Old Testament, and the New Testament, is attributed to have written over 70 of the 150 Psalms. Psalms, in specific, are short songs written in devotion towards God in the Bible. Early on in the biblical account, we are told that David was a man who could play the lyre and conducted music for Saul, and so it is easy to see how and why David would become interested in composing music in devotion to God. In specific, David is attributed to having written Psalms 3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133, and 138-145. In addition, the New Testament attributes Psalm 2 (Acts 4:25), Psalm 45 (Heb. 4:7), Psalm 69 (Rom. 11:9), and Psalm 95 (Heb. 3:15) to David.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. (Psalm 138.1-3)

Historically speaking, it has not been proven that David actually wrote any of the psalms attributed to him, leading many modern scholars to reject Davidic authorship in the Book of Psalms. Other scholars believe that David’s early reputation as a musician and author of songs (as found in the early 8th century BC document, the Book of Amos, 6:5) makes it possible to associate David with writing some of the psalms attributed to him. At best, this aspect of David’s life remains unclear.

David in the New Testament

In the New Testament, David is mentioned several times, almost always in the context of being an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Jews had believed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, and they believed he would symbolically reign on David’s throne.  In all the Gospels, Jesus is said to be a descendant of David (e.g. Matthew 1.1, 12.23; Mark 10.48; John 7.42; Luke 18.38), and this is repeated in the Book of Romans (1.3), II Timothy (2.8) and the Book of Revelation (5.5). David also has an important appearance in Hebrews 11, which is considered the New Testament “hall of fame” for men in the Old Testament who have done many righteous deeds before God.

David Becomes King

After his battle with Goliath, David quickly built an impressive reputation and soared through the ranks of the military with his countless successful militaristic adventures, pleasing his fellow Israelite’s. Soon enough, David even formed a great relationship with a man named Jonathan, the son of King Saul.

Saul began to notice this, and one day, after yet another fantastic military victory lead by David, Saul heard his men chanting the phrase “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Quickly, Saul became increasingly afraid of David, believing that he could take his throne. As Saul’s fright of David grew, he gave his daughter Michal to David in marriage and watched as David’s adventures and victories continued mounting.

Saul’s fear quickly turned into action, and Saul commanded his attendants and Jonathan to try to kill David. Jonathan greatly loved David, and so decided to warn him of his father’s plans. David, thanks to Jonathan, was able to escape and hide in safety in a Philistine land. Saul pursued David and even attempted to personally kill David multiple times, but every time David would acquire the advantage over Saul, acquiring the opportunity to kill him, but instead spared Saul’s life every time. Caught up in another war with the Philistines, Saul himself ended up losing his life, paving the way for David to become king over all Israel.

David’s Leadership over Israel

At the age of 30, David entered into Hebron, where all the tribes of Israel gathered and anointed him king over Israel (c. 1010 BC). David, who now ruled over the kingdom of Judah, immediately moved to take Jerusalem, which was held by the Jebusites. David was able to defeat the Jebusites and conquer Jerusalem and renamed the fortress located there as the City of David. It is easy to see why David would choose Jerusalem as his stronghold, as it was a politically neutral territory since it was never allotted to any of the twelve tribes of Israel. Soon after this happened, he began building a friendly relationship with Hiram, the king of Tyre, which lead to Hiram helping David build his own palace.

At this point, David now was setting his eyes on the Ark of God (also known as the Ark of the Covenant). The Ark of God was located in Baalah, a Judean city, and so David marched into Baalah in order to take the Ark and move it into the City of David. In the midst of these events, however, one of David’s servants mishandled the Ark, causing God to strike his servant dead. David feared God on that day and did not take the Ark, rather, it stayed with a man named Obed-Edom. David, however, did not give up, and so he tried to take the Ark again after three months, this time succeeding. David managed to bring the Ark to the City of David, and he became so joyful that he started to dance before God.

Eventually, war was lurking, especially from the nearby Philistines. Throughout David’s reign, he defeated the nations of Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Philistia and others. Perhaps one of the greatest moments of David’s life was the birth of his son and heir, Solomon, destined by God to take the throne of Israel during the older years of David (c. 970 BC). And thus, the life of the king comes to an end.

Historical Background of David’s Life

In 1993 AD, excavations were being directed by the archaeologist Avraham Biran in the ancient site of Tel Dan. Tel Dan was located in northern Israel and at the base of Mount Hermon. In 1993, the surveyor of excavations at Tel Dan, Gila Cook, discovered what would become a very important artifact for the determining whether or not David truly existed. In the vicinity of Tel Dan, a basalt stone was found, containing an inscription that dated to the middle of the 9th century BC. The inscription on this stele contained thirteen lines of writing in the Early Aramaic script.

This fragment is known today as the Tel Dan Inscription. On the 9th line of the text, the Tel Dan Inscription mentions the ‘House of David’ (bytdwd), a phrase believed to reference the dynasty of Israel established by David. Soon after publication, this finding was challenged. Scholars immediately began arguing about the translation of the text. Those who did not share the view that the Tel Dan Inscription refers to a historical David preferred a translation of the original Aramaic where, rather than mentioning David, the inscription actually mentioned a deity named Dôd, and some even went as far as to question the authenticity of the artifact itself. However, scholars soon came to the conclusion that the Tel Dan Inscription is authentic and that it mentions a monarch named David. Susan Ackerman gives a full summary of the scholarly debate and argument on the Tel Dan Inscription;

According to the revisionist account, however, the evidence of the Tel Dan stele is to be dismissed either as fraudulent (a forgery planted in the remains of Tel Dan by someone attempting to play a joke on the excavators), or as referring not to the “house of David” but to the “house of [a god] named Dôd.” This reading is achieved by adding vowels to the steles btdwd so that it reads bêt-dôd rather than bêt-dāwīd and then understanding the bêt-dôd by referring to a place or temple name, analogous to, say, the place and temple name bêt-‛el, or Bethel (the “house of God” or “house of [the god named] El”). The revisionist argument concerning forgery is dismissed by most as patently ridiculous and even seems, as several scholars have pointed out, intended as a gratuitous insult directed against the excavation director at Tel Dan, the esteemed Avraham Biran. The latter argument, concerning the reading “house of [a god named] Dôd,” while at one point plausible, is now judged to be extremely unlikely, given that the second of the two Tel Dan fragments (Fragment B), found a year after the discovery of Fragment A, quite arguably contains, in line 7, the name Jehoram, son of Ahab, who reigned from ca. 849-843 BC over the northern kingdom of Israel… This royal name is followed, moreover, in line 8, by what seems to be the name of Ahaziah, son of Jehoram… who, according to the biblical account, was the king over Judah, the southern half of Israel’s divided kingdoms, during part of the time that Jehoram ruled in the North… Such a concentration of royal referents in lines 7-8 virtually demands that the reference to bytdwd in line 9 be read as a referring to the royal “house of David” of which the southern King Ahaziah was a scion. (156-157)

So, although once debated, Grabbe notes that today the Tel Dan Inscription “is now widely regarded (a) as genuine and (b) as referring to the Davidic dynasty and the Aramaic kingdom of Damascus” (333).

In 1994, a single year after the initial discovery and publication of the Tel Dan Inscription, two well-known epigraphers André Lemaire and Émile Puech independently came to the conclusion that the Mesha Stele also likely mentioned the House of David, and this inscription also dates towards the middle of the 9th century BCE.

Our records for David are by no means entirely conclusive, however, they represent an important segment of the archaeological verdict on whether or not David was truly a man in the past, and seem to tilt the argument in David’s favor.

Another issue regarding the history of the life of David is the extent of his kingdom. David’s power had been characterized by some scholars as stretching over a simple and agrarian society that barely had control past the boundaries of Jerusalem. Although technology has greatly advanced, when an archaeologist wants to find out what happened in an ancient city or kingdom, he must still do things the old-fashioned way. Get a team, get some funds, and get digging. This is exactly what Yosef Garfinkel from the Hebrew University and Sa’ar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority did in the ancient site of Khirbet Qeiyafa from 2007-2013 AD. The findings at this site have become very important to modern scholars concerning the debate over the expanse of David’s kingdom.

Khirbet Qeiyafa is located about 30km southwest of Jerusalem on top of a hill, covering an area of about 2.3 hectares and surrounded by a roughly circular city wall stretching approximately 600m. According to radiocarbon tests conducted by the excavation team, the city was occupied in the period of c. 1020 – 980 BC, about the same period as David’s reign. Khirbet Qeiyafa had a centralized administration stretching over 10,000 square feet, requiring over 200,000 tons of stone to construct. Qeiyafa also has various important architectural features, including two four-chambered gates (one in the south, one in the west of the site) and a gate piazza next to each of these gates. This city, if part of the kingdom of Judah under David would indicate that David possessed a kingdom larger than scholars had previously thought, and he may have been a substantial king.

The majority of scholars believe that Khirbet Qeiyafa is, in fact, a Judean site. However, there have been a few scholars who have sought to identify it as Philistine or Canaanite, especially since it is located on Israel’s border with Philistine. The evidence, however, favors the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa as Judean, for some of the reasons that include the following;

  • Urban Planning – The “urban planning of the site [Khirbet Qeiyafa] includes the casemate city wall and a belt of houses abutting the casemates and incorporating them as a part of construction” (Garfinkel, Ganor, Hasel 55). These urban planning features at Khirbet Qeiyafa are typical of Judean sites, including Beersheba, Tell Beit Mirsim, Tell en-Nasbeh and Tell Beth-Shemesh, making Khirbet Qeiyafa more reminiscent of  Judeans site in this respect
  • Diet – In a typical Philistine site, up to 20% of the bones found will be from pigs, and pig is also a common diet in many Canaanite sites as well. However, pig bones are usually not found at any Judean sites as Jewish beliefs held that pigs were unclean, and so could not be eaten. No pig bones have yet to be found at Khirbet Qeiyafa
  • Jars – Judean cities typically have a large number of impressed jar handles. At Khirbet Qeiyafa, 693 impressed jar handles have been found. Such a high quantity of impressed jar handles are not found in sites at Canaan or Philistia
  • Cult – Sites in Canaan and Philistia are usually filled with hundreds of cultic figurines, however, there is an enormous absence of such figurines at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Only three figurine items have been found at Khirbet Qeiyafa, which are similar to the two found at Moza (another Judean site)
  • Metal tools – Most of the tools found at Khirbet Qeiyafa are made of iron, which had been adopted by Judah at its time, whereas Canaanite sites at the time were still using copper and bronze

Thus, the information we have allows for the identification of Khirbet Qeiyafa as a Judean site, and because it is powerful and heavily fortified, the director of excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa has, therefore, concluded the following about its implications for the account of David’s Judean kingdom;

“The location of Khirbet Qeiyafa and the data uncovered clearly demonstrate that it was a Judean city and not a Canaanite or Philistine one. Nor did it belong to the northern Kingdom of Israel. The new radiometric dating support the biblical narrative about state formation in Judah. The archaeological data and the biblical text both indicate that a new social organization developed in Judah in the late eleventh/early tenth century BC… On the other hand, in the biblical tradition this period is the era of King David. This narrative, like any historical narrative, suffers from various shortcomings but can no longer be rejected out of hand. In the late eleventh/early tenth century BC a small kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah, began to develop in the hills of Jerusalem and Hebron. It’s founding father was David.” (Garfinkel, Kreimerman, Zilberg 236)

Thus, archaeology has shed considerable light on not only the existence of David but the expanse of his kingdom, which it continues to do in several smaller findings throughout Israel. For example, excavations in the Timna Valley (located in southern Israel), currently being excavated by Erez Ben-Yosef from the Tel Aviv University, have found foreign fabrics dating to the time of Solomon’s reign. Such fabrics indicate that the kingdoms of David and Solomon participated in complex trading networks. Another finding in 2016 AD was that of a large palatial building dating to the reign of Solomon (10th century BC) found in the royal city of Gezer, which may be a reflection that the Solomonide kingdom could have had some wealth, and the time of Solomon may have its own implications for David’s reign.

Another archaeological finding that was able to shed some light on the life of David, rather than his rule, has actually come from the land of the Philistines. In 2005 AD, at excavations in the hometown of Goliath, the Philistine city of Gath (modern day Tell es-Safi), a Semitic inscription dating to the 10th-9th centuries BC was found, bearing an Indo-European name that highly resembled ‘Goliath’. Although the name is not exactly equivalent to Goliath, nor is the person’s name to be directly identified with the Philistine giant Goliath, Aren Maeir, the head of excavations at Tell es-Safi says that this inscription reveals the following;

“What this means is that at the time there were people there named Goliath. It shows us that David and Goliath’s story reflects the cultural reality of the time.”

So, did David truly slay Goliath? Perhaps this cannot itself be certainly known one way or another, however, the story seems to possess authentic historical memories, explicitly showing the great importance archaeology has been to historians in uncovering the mysteries of the ancient world. Although, it is true that David was said to have captured Gath sometime after he became king, despite there being no evidence for a destruction of the city of Gath during the time of David. Either David temporarily captured Gath, but did not destroy the city (unlike Hazael, who captured and destroyed Gath in the 9th century BC), or simply did not capture Gath at all contrary to the biblical record. The only thing that can be certain is that David did not destroy Gath.

Conclusion

David was definitely a profound figure, which is something that most scholars seem to be able to agree on despite the differences they maintain when reconstructing the historical background to his famous, and perhaps even infamous deeds. His reputation has broken beyond the boundaries of his home in ancient Israel and has extended over numerous cultures. Today, all three Abrahamic faiths honor David as an extraordinary man, whose reign is considered by many to be the pinnacle of ancient Israel’s history.

Bibliography

Émile Puech, “La stèle araméenne de Dan: Bar Hadad II et la coalition des Omrides et de la maison de David,” Revue Biblique 1994.

André Lemaire, “House of David; Restored in Moabite inscription,” Biblical Archaeology Review 1994.

Aren Maeir et al, “A Late Iron Age I/Early Iron Age II Old Canaanite Inscription from Tell es-Sâfi/Gath,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 2008.

Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh,” Israel Exploration Society 1993.

Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “The Tel Dan inscription: a new fragment,” Israel Exploration Journal 1995: 13.

David Noel Freedman, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Eerdmans, 2000), 318..

Igor Kreimerman, Peter Zilberg and Yosef Garfinkel, Debating Khirbet Qeiyafa (Israel Exploration Society, 2016).

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed (Touchstone, 2002).

James Hoffmeier, “David’s Triumph over Goliath: 1 Samuel 17: 54 and Ancient Near Eastern Analogues,” Egypt, Canaan and Israel: History, Imperialism, Ideology and Literature 2011.

Lester L. Grabbe, Ahab Agonistes: The Rise and Fall of the Omri Dynasty (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2007), 333..

Susan Ackerman, When Heroes Love (Columbia University Press, 2005), 156-157..

Yulia Gottlieb, “The Advent of the Age of Iron,” Tel Aviv 2010.