My Junk Commentary on Junk Journalism

About a week ago, the Independent (U.K.) published an article claiming to have debunked the Bible. At issue was the Canaanites, the people that occupied the Promised Land prior to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The article claims that the Bible lied because DNA testing has established a genetic link between the ancient city of Sidon and people in modern-day Lebanon. “See?” they claim, “Canaanites survived, so the Bible is false!”

Now, as providence would have it, I actually was called upon to teach on Sidon and Tyre a few months ago, the great ancient Phonecian cities that are often biblically and historically linked. Now why, you ask, was I doing that? Because it was a Bible study of the book of Isaiah, which was written hundreds of years after the purge of Canaan. So, one might ask, why would the Bible later describe the continued existence of a city and people it claimed earlier to be destroyed?

The answer is actually very simple: The Bible never claimed the Phonecians of Tyre and Sidon were destroyed. In fact, it makes quite the opposite claim in Judges 1:31-32:

“Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon or of Ahlab or of Achzib or of Helbah or of Aphik or of Rehob, so the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land, for they did not drive them out.” (ESV)

Also listed in Judges 1 are several other Canaanite cities and peoples that the Israelites failed to completely wipe out. So, while Israel was given the command to wipe out the Caananites (the only biblical text the Independent seemed interested in addressing), it is a well-known fact by anyone who has studied the subject from a biblical perspective that they did not completely carry out the order. If anything, discovering descendants of Caananites in the area of Tyre and Sidon does not disprove the Bible, it confirms its historical account of events in the area. At least The Telegraph, another U.K. paper, conceded that point in its article on the subject, stating that “The Bible claims elsewhere that the purge was not successful, an account backed up now by a scientific study.”

Now why does this matter? It’s no secret that both the scientific community and the mainstream media are increasingly secularized and have an ax to grind with Christianity and the authority of the Bible. The Independent article leads with a reference to Richard Dawkins, making it clear who they ride for. So for a media outlet to run an article claiming to debunk the Bible is at least consistent within their worldview. The problem, of course, is that the worldview is so pervasive in how the media reports the news, even to the point where it will cause a media outlet to publish something dishonest. They take something that actually proves the historical accuracy of the Bible and, either out of laziness or blatant disregard, twist it into a contradiction. It’s a poor attempt at “Checkmate, Christians!” from one of Britain’s largest papers that should be much more concerned about journalistic integrity. People would generally expect to pick up this paper and be able to believe what it says.

And people do believe it. I’ve seen some of my secular friends share this article, probably thinking that The Independent would not so blatantly lie and therefore their position just got stronger. Because the internet age offers so much media that is so readily accessible, people have the option to fill their days only reading about what they want to hear. But they don’t get the full story. As I demonstrated earlier, there’s nothing here that disproves the Bible’s case; quite contrary, it strengthens it. But most secularists won’t do the research and cross-checking necessary to find that out. Instead, they’ll just plaster this article on their Facebook and Twitter feeds and perpetuate the misinformation.

Discourse dies in echo chambers. No one learns or grows from hearing only what they want to. Earlier, I called upon my fellow Christians to refrain from the sharing of “fake news” and other dishonesty online. The same now applies to my secular friends. We do nothing to advance civility (which desperately needs to advance in this age) or the flourishing of society by spreading lies about one another. Let’s do better. ♦


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