Nobel Prize Winner John Walker pictured below:
On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
There are 3 videos in this series and they have statements by 150 academics and scientists and I hope to respond to all of them. Wikipedia notes: Professor Sir John Ernest Walker (born 7 January 1941) is an English chemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997. He is currently a group leader at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. Walker was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, the son of Thomas Ernest Walker, a stonemason, and Elsie Lawton, an amateur musician. He was brought up with his two younger sisters in a rural environment and went to Rastrick Grammar School. At school, he was a keen sportsman and specialized in physical sciences and mathematics the last three years. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St Catherine’s College, Oxford.
He began study of peptide antibiotics with Edward Abraham at Oxford in 1965 and received his DPhil in 1969. During this period, he became interested in the spectacular developments in molecular biology. From 1969 to 1971, he worked at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and from 1971–1974 in France. He met Fred Sanger in 1974 at a workshop at the University of Cambridge. This resulted in an invitation to work at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council, which became a long-term appointment. Among the other staff was Francis Crick, who was well known for his discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. At first, he analyzed the sequences of proteins and then uncovered details of the modified genetic code in mitochondria. In 1978, he decided to apply protein chemical methods to membrane proteins.
He shared his Nobel Prize with the American chemist Paul D. Boyer for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate. They also shared the prize with Danish chemist Jens C. Skou for research unrelated to theirs (Discovery of the Na+/K+-ATPase). Sir John was knighted in 1999 for services to molecular biology. He is a member of the Advisory Council for the Campaign for Science and Engineering, a fellow of the Royal Society London. a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences and an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Oxford.
His comments can be found on the 3rd video and the 126th clip in this series. Below the videos you will find his words.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
I grew up at Bellevue Baptist Church under the leadership of our pastor Adrian Rogers and I read many books by the Evangelical Philosopher Francis Schaeffer and have had the opportunity to contact many of the evolutionists or humanistic academics that they have mentioned in their works. Many of these scholars have taken the time to respond back to me in the last 20 years and some of the names included are Ernest Mayr (1904-2005), George Wald (1906-1997), Carl Sagan (1934-1996), Robert Shapiro (1935-2011), Nicolaas Bloembergen (1920-), Brian Charlesworth (1945-), Francisco J. Ayala (1934-) Elliott Sober (1948-), Kevin Padian (1951-), Matt Cartmill (1943-) , Milton Fingerman (1928-), John J. Shea (1969-), , Michael A. Crawford (1938-), Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), Sol Gordon (1923-2008), Albert Ellis (1913-2007), Barbara Marie Tabler (1915-1996), Renate Vambery (1916-2005), Archie J. Bahm (1907-1996), Aron S “Gil” Martin ( 1910-1997), Matthew I. Spetter (1921-2012), H. J. Eysenck (1916-1997), Robert L. Erdmann (1929-2006), Mary Morain (1911-1999), Lloyd Morain (1917-2010), Warren Allen Smith (1921-), Bette Chambers (1930-), Gordon Stein (1941-1996) , Milton Friedman (1912-2006), John Hospers (1918-2011), Michael Martin (1932-), John R. Cole (1942-), Wolf Roder, Susan Blackmore (1951-), Christopher C. French (1956-) Walter R. Rowe, Thomas Gilovich (1954-), Paul Quincey, Harry Kroto (1939-), Marty E. Martin (1928-), Richard Rubenstein (1924-), James Terry McCollum (1936-), Edward O. WIlson (1929-), Lewis Wolpert (1929), Gerald Holton (1922-), Martin Rees (1942-), Alan Macfarlane (1941-), Roald Hoffmann (1937-), Herbert Kroemer (1928-), Thomas H. Jukes (1906-1999), Glenn Branch, Geoff Harcourt (1931-) and Ray T. Cragun (1976-).
Had an early association with the church but like most people who become interested in science there is a conflict between the Christianity you were brought up with and has become part of you and the logic of science and that has to be resolved. It took slightly longer than some people to resolve it. I came under fire and I tried to protect my position as a believing Christian as an undergraduate from other people who made me think about it and ultimately decided they were incompatible, so lost my religion and that is my current position; however, I still enjoy going to Chapel and taking part in the service, though not participating properly, but participating in a ritual that is part of me but which I cannot resolve; now decided that I don’t want to resolve it. I think Richard Dawkins would give me pretty short shrift for retaining those views, but I think it is part of my make up and I don’t want to get rid of it. ; I do get some spiritual satisfaction in a way that I can’t fully explain, so don’t apologise for going to Chapel in Sidney where we now have very fine music; I read novels and also biographies of scientists; interested in the history of science and history in general; still very much imbued with something that comes from my mother, that you should be improving yourself all the time; want to learn about things I didn’t know so learning Italian at the moment to improve my ability to listen to Italian opera;
JUST LIKE CHARLES DARWIN DR. WALKER GAVE UP HIS CHRISTIANITY WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY AND BELOW IS MY RESPONSE TO DR WALKER WHICH I MAILED LAST MONTH TO HIM:
February 23, 2015
Dear Sir Walker,
Recently I read that you knew Francis Crick, Sidney Brenner, Hugh Huxley, Fred Sanger, Max Perutz and Aaron Klug; I must that was a very amazing group of scholars to be around.
I just finished reading the online addition of the book Darwin, Francis ed. 1892. Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters [abridged edition]. London: John Murray. There are several points that Charles Darwin makes in this book that were very wise, honest, logical, shocking and some that were not so wise. The Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said of Darwin’s writings, “Darwin in his autobiography and in his letters showed that all through his life he never really came to a quietness concerning the possibility that chance really explained the situation of the biological world. You will find there is much material on this [from Darwin] extended over many many years that constantly he was wrestling with this problem.”
Recently I watched a lengthy interview you did on You Tube with Dr. Alan Macfarlane and I was very interested in this quote from you:
Had an early association with the church but like most people who become interested in science there is a conflict between the Christianity you were brought up with and has become part of you and the logic of science and that has to be resolved. It took slightly longer than some people to resolve it. I came under fire and I tried to protect my position as a believing Christian as an undergraduate from other people who made me think about it and ultimately decided they were incompatible, so lost my religion and that is my current position; however, I still enjoy going to Chapel and taking part in the service, though not participating properly, but participating in a ritual that is part of me but which I cannot resolve; now decided that I don’t want to resolve it. I don’t know Richard Dawkins but I think Dawkins would give me pretty short shrift for retaining those views, but I think it is part of my make up and I don’t want to get rid of it. ; I do get some spiritual satisfaction in a way that I can’t fully explain, so don’t apologize for going to Chapel in Sidney where we now have very fine music; I read novels and also biographies of scientists; interested in the history of science and history in general; still very much imbued with something that comes from my mother, that you should be improving yourself all the time; want to learn about things I didn’t know so learning Italian at the moment to improve my ability to listen to Italian opera;
I just want to say that Alan Macfarlane’s series on You Tube has been so enjoyable to watch and I have got some much out of them. Thank you for taking the time to sit down with him and give such a thorough interview. I especially enjoyed hearing about your interaction with Jacques Monod the famous evolutionist. You noted Jacques Monod was aloof but this was a difficult financial period for the Institute which he was trying to resolve; one of his ideas was to sell the buildings which were on a valuable site in Paris and to move the Institute to the Cote d’Azur; managed to get Government funding in the end. You pointed out that there was NO WAY THEY WERE GOING TO CLOSE THE PLACE WHERE PASTEUR WAS BURIED (The Pasteur Institute).
Let me tell you something: Dr. George Wald–Professor Emeritus of Biology at Harvard University—he won the Nobel Prize in Biology in 1971—writing in Scientific American on the origin of life, has said this—and I want you to listen carefully: “There are only two possibilities as to how life arose: One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution. The other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility.” And, we would all say amen. Either God did it, or it just happened accidentally. All right. But now, let’s go on. So far, he’s doing good. He said there’s no third possibility. “Spontaneous generation, that life arose from nonliving matter, was scientifically disproved 120 years ago”—that was 120 years from when he made this statement—“by LOUIS PASTEUR and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion: that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God.” So far, so good. But now, tune your ears, and don’t miss this. I want you to hear what this Nobel Prize winning scientist, Professor Emeritus of Biology at Harvard, said. Now remember, he said there are only two possibilities: Either there’s a creative act of God, or it is spontaneous generation that arises or moves to evolution. He said—and I’m continuing to quote: “I will not accept that…”—what that is he referring to? That it is a supernatural creative act of God—“I will not accept that philosophically, because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe what I know is scientifically impossible: spontaneous generation arising to evolution.” Two theories: God did it; it just happened. “To say it just happened is impossible, but I believe it, because I don’t want to believe in God”—written in Scientific American. (I actually corresponded with George Wald several times and I sent this above quote to Antony Flew in 1995 and he referred to it in his book “There is a God” in 2007.)
I THINK DARWIN OPENED UP ABOUT HIS MOST INNER FEELINGS MUCH MORE THAN HE HAS BEEN GIVEN CREDIT FOR AND THAT IS WHAT I WROTE YOU ABOUT TODAY SINCE YOU ALSO DEALT WITH THIS SAME ISSUE OF LOSING YOUR BECAUSE OF EVOLUTION!!!!!!
Just like Darwin you lost your faith not overnight but it was over time. Also your love of music made me think of you when I read the book Charles Darwin: his life told in an autobiographical chapter, and in a selected series of his published letters because of what Darwin said about science causing him to lose his aesthetic tastes. I am going to quote some of Charles Darwin’s own words and then include the comments of Francis Schaeffer on those words. I have also enclosed a CD with two messages from Adrian Rogers and Bill Elliff concerning Darwinism.
“I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did….My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive….The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
Francis Schaeffer commented:
This is the old man Darwin writing at the end of his life. What he is saying here is the further he has gone on with his studies the more he has seen himself reduced to a machine as far as aesthetic things are concerned. I think this is crucial because as we go through this we find that his struggles and my sincere conviction is that he never came to the logical conclusion of his own position, but he nevertheless in the death of the higher qualities as he calls them, art, music, poetry, and so on, what he had happen to him was his own theory was producing this in his own self just as his theories a hundred years later have produced this in our culture.
“I may state that my judgment often fluctuates . . . In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”
Francis Schaeffer asserted:
What we find now is that he comes to the place in being agnostic, but as we read through this section on religion what we find is in reality his reason leads him against this position, which is interesting but his theory makes him accept the position of agnosticism….. I think what you have in Darwin is a magnificent example, although a sad one of what I lecture on in apologetics, and that is if a man takes a set of nonchristian presuppositions he is forced eventually to be in a place of tension. The more consistent he is with his own nonchristian presuppositions the more he is away from the real world. When he is closer to the real world then he is more illogical to his own presuppositions.
“But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”
Francis Schaeffer observed:
So he sees here exactly the same that I would labor and what Paul gives in Romans chapter one, and that is first this tremendous universe [and it’s form] and the second thing, the mannishness of man and the concept of this arising from chance is very difficult for him to come to accept and he is forced to leap into this, his own kind of Kierkegaardian leap, but he is forced to leap into this because of his presuppositions but when in reality the real world troubles him. He sees there is no third alternative. If you do not have the existence of God then you only have chance. In my own lectures I am constantly pointing out there are only two possibilities, either a personal God or this concept of the impersonal plus time plus chance and Darwin understood this . You will notice that he divides it into the same exact two points that Paul does in Romans chapter one into and that Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) will in the problem of existence, the external universe, and man and his consciousness. Paul points out there are these two steps that man is confronted with…
Here below is the Romans passage that Schaeffer is referring to and verse 19 refers to what Schaeffer calls “the mannishness of man” and verse 20 refers to Schaeffer’s other point which is “the universe and it’s form.”Romans 1:18-22Amplified Bible (AMP) 18 For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. 19 For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor andglorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile andgodless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]
“Mr. Darwin…considers that the theory of Evolution is quite compatible with the belief in a God; but that you must remember that different persons have different definitions of what they mean by God.”
Francis Schaeffer commented:
You find a great confusion in his writings although there is a general structure in them. Here he says the word “God” is alright but you find later what he doesn’t take is a personal God. Of course, what you open is the whole modern linguistics concerning the word “God.” is God a pantheistic God? What kind of God is God? Darwin says there is nothing incompatible with the word “God.”
” Science has nothing to do with Christ, except in so far as the habit of scientific research makes a man cautious in admitting evidence. For myself, I do not believe that there ever has been any revelation.”
Francis Schaeffer observed:
So he has come to the place as an old man that he doesn’t believe there has been any revelation. In his younger years he held a different position.
The passages which here follow are extracts, somewhat abbreviated, from a part of the Autobiography, written in 1876, in which my father gives the history of his religious views:—“During these two years* (ft note *October 1836 to January 1839.) I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality.
Francis Schaeffer noted:
So you find that as a younger man he did accept the Bible. As an older man he has given up revelation but he is not satisfied with his own answers. He is caught in the tension that modern man is caught in. He is a prefiguration of the modern man and he himself contributed to. Then Darwin goes on and tells us why he gave up the Bible.
I suppose it was the novelty of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 to 1836, to see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos. The question then continually rose before my mind and would not be banished,—is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament? This appeared to me utterly incredible.
Francis Schaeffer asserted:
Darwin is saying that he gave up the New Testament because it was connected to the Old Testament. He gave up the Old Testament because it conflicted with his own theory. Did he have a real answer himself and the answer is no. At the end of his life we see that he is dehumanized by his position and on the other side we see that he never comes to the place of intellectual satisfaction for himself that his answers were sufficient.
“BUT I WAS VERY UNWILLING TO GIVE UP MY BELIEF; I feel sure of this, for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans, and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeii or elsewhere, which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels.
Francis Schaeffer commented:
This is very sad. He lies on his bunk and the Beagle tosses and turns and he makes daydreams, and his dreams and hopes are that someone would find in Pompeii or some place like this, an old manuscript by a distinguished Roman that would put his stamp of authority on it, which would be able to show that Christ existed. This is undoubtedly what he is talking about. Darwin gave up this hope with great difficulty. I think he didn’t want to come to the position where his accepted presuppositions were driving him. He didn’t want to give it up, just as an older man he understood where it w—-ould lead…
The area of Biblical Archaeology has advanced so much since Darwin wrote these words in the 19th century!!!!! DR WALKER ASK YOURSELF THIS SIMPLE QUESTION BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR FAITH IN THE ACCURACY OF THE SCRIPTURES: Is the Bible historically accurate and have I taken the time to examine the evidence? Here are some of the posts I have done in the past on the subject and if you like you could just google these subjects: 1. The Babylonian Chronicle, of Nebuchadnezzars Siege of Jerusalem, 2. Hezekiah’s Siloam Tunnel Inscription. 3. Taylor Prism (Sennacherib Hexagonal Prism), 4. Biblical Cities Attested Archaeologically. 5. The Discovery of the Hittites, 6.Shishak Smiting His Captives, 7. Moabite Stone, 8. Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, 9A Verification of places in Gospel of John and Book of Acts., 9B Discovery of Ebla Tablets. 10. Cyrus Cylinder, 11. Puru “The lot of Yahali” 9th Century B.C.E., 12. The Uzziah Tablet Inscription, 13. The Pilate Inscription, 14. Caiaphas Ossuary, 14 B Pontius Pilate Part 2, 14c. Three greatest American Archaeologists moved to accept Bible’s accuracy through archaeology.,
“But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. THE RATE WAS SLOW that I felt no distress. Although I did not think much about the existence of a personal God until a considerably later period of my life,”
Francis Schaeffer commented:
So there is something deficient in his position from the beginning. The word of God if it is going to mean something, must mean a personal God. The word “God” is without much meaning otherwise.
Francis Schaeffer noted that in Darwin’s 1876 Autobiography that Darwin he is going to set forth two arguments for God in this and again you will find when he comes to the end of this that he is in tremendous tension. Darwin wrote,
“At the present day the most usual argument for the existence of an intelligent God is drawn from the deep inward conviction and feelings which are experienced by most persons.Formerly I was led by feelings such as those just referred to (although I do not think that the religious sentiment was ever strongly developed in me), to the firm conviction of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul. In my Journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body; but now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become COLOUR-BLIND.”
Francis Schaeffer remarked:
Now Darwin says when I look back and when I look at nature I came to the conclusion that man can not be just a fly! But now Darwin has moved from being a younger man to an older man and he has allowed his presuppositions to enter in to block his logic, these things at the end of his life he had no intellectual answer for. To block them out in favor of his theory. Remember the letter of his that said he had lost all aesthetic senses when he had got older and he had become a clod himself. Now interesting he says just the same thing, but not in relation to the arts, namely music, pictures, etc, but to nature itself. Darwin said, “But now the grandest scenes would not cause any such convictions and feelings to rise in my mind. It may be truly said that I am like a man who has become colour-blind…” So now you see that Darwin’s presuppositions have not only robbed him of the beauty of man’s creation in art, but now the universe. He can’t look at it now and see the beauty. The reason he can’t see the beauty is for a very, very , very simple reason: THE BEAUTY DRIVES HIM TO DISTRACTION. THIS IS WHERE MODERN MAN IS AND IT IS HELL. The art is hell because it reminds him of man and how great man is, and where does it fit in his system? It doesn’t. When he looks at nature and it’s beauty he is driven to the same distraction and so consequently you find what has built up inside him is a real death, not only the beauty of the artistic but the beauty of nature. He has no answer in his logic and he is left in tension. He dies and has become less than human because these two great things (such as any kind of art and the beauty of nature) that would make him human stand against his theory.
Darwin like you was consistent with his view of the UNIFORMITY OF NATURAL CAUSES in a closed system and it cost him the love of music, art and the beauty of nature. TWO OTHER ALSO HELD THIS SAME view of uniformity of natural causes in a closed system in 1978 when their hit song DUST IN THE WIND rose to the top 10 in the music charts.
IF WE ARE LEFT WITH JUST THE MACHINE THEN WHAT IS THE FINAL CONCLUSION IF THERE WAS NO PERSONAL GOD THAT CREATED US? I sent you a CD that starts off with the song DUST IN THE WIND by Kerry Livgren of the group KANSAS which was a hit song in 1978 when it rose to #6 on the charts because so many people connected with the message of the song. It included these words, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”
Kerry Livgren himself said that he wrote the song because he saw where man was without a personal God in the picture. Solomon pointed out in the Book of Ecclesiastes that those who believe that God doesn’t exist must accept three things. FIRST, death is the end and SECOND, chance and time are the only guiding forces in this life. FINALLY, power reigns in this life and the scales are never balanced. The Christian can face death and also confront the world knowing that it is not determined by chance and time alone and finally there is a judge who will balance the scales.
Both Kerry Livgren and the bass player Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same interview can be seen on You Tube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. DAVE HOPE is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.
The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.
Thank you again for your time and I know how busy you are.
You can hear DAVE HOPE and Kerry Livgren’s stories from this youtube link:
(part 1 ten minutes)
(part 2 ten minutes)
Kansas – Dust in the Wind (Official Video)
Pre-Order Miracles Out of Nowhere now at http://www.miraclesoutofnowhere.com
About the film:
In 1973, six guys in a local band from America’s heartland began a journey that surpassed even their own wildest expectations, by achieving worldwide superstardom… watch the story unfold as the incredible story of the band KANSAS is told for the first time in the DVD Miracles Out of Nowhere.
Adrian Rogers on Darwinism
The Bible and Archaeology – Is the Bible from God? (Kyle Butt 42 min)
Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, a 19thCentury English historian and prolific writer, held a pervasive anti-Biblical bias. He believed the historical accounts in the Book of Acts were written in the mid-2nd Century. Ramsay was skeptical of Luke’s authorship and the historicity of the Book of Acts, and he set out to prove his suspicions. He began a detailed study of the archaeological evidence, and eventually came to an illuminating conclusion: the historical and archaeological evidence supported Luke’s 1st Century authorship and historical reliability:
“(There are) reasons for placing the author of Acts among the historians of the first rank” (Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, p. 4).
Ramsay became convinced of Luke’s reliability based on the accurate description of historical events and settings. Ramsay wasn’t the only scholar to be impressed by Luke’s accuracy:
“One of the most remarkable tokens of (Luke’s) accuracy is his sure familiarity with the proper titles of all the notable persons who are mentioned . . . Cyprus, for example, which was an imperial province until 22 BC, became a senatorial province in that year, and was therefore governed no longer by an imperial legate but by a proconsul. And so, when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Cyprus about AD 47, it was the proconsul Sergius Paullus whom they met . . .’ (F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, p. 82).
Luke’s narratives include detailed and specific descriptions related to the locations, people, offices and titles within the Roman Empire. In fact, many of Luke’s claims were eventually confirmed by archaeological discoveries:
Related to Quirinius
Luke wrote that Joseph and Mary returned to Bethlehem because a Syrian governor named Quirinius was conducting a census (Luke 2:1–3). Archaeological discoveries in the nineteenth century revealed Quirinius (or someone with the same name) was also a proconsul of Syria and Cilicia from 11 BC to the death of Herod. Quirinius’s name has been discovered on a coin from this period of time, and on the base of a statue erected in Pisidian Antioch.
Related to Erastus
In Romans 16:23, Paul wrote, “Erastus, the city treasurer greets you.” A piece of pavement was discovered in Corinth in 1929 confirming his existence.
Related to Lysanias
Luke described a tetrarch named Lysanias and wrote that this man reigned over Abilene when John the Baptist began his ministry (Luke 3:1). Two inscriptions have been discovered that mention Lysanias by name. One of these, dated from AD 14–37, identifies Lysanias as the tetrarch in Abila near Damascus.
Related to Iconium
In Acts 13:51, Luke described this city in Phyrigia. Some ancient writers (like Cicero) wrote that Iconium was located in Lycaonia, rather than Phyrigia, but a monument was discovered in 1910 that confirmed Iconium as a city in Phyrigia.
Related to the Pool of Bethesda
John wrote about the existence of a pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9) and said that it was located in the region of Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, surrounded by five porticos. In 1888, archaeologists began excavating the area near St. Anne’s Church in Jerusalem and discovered the remains of the pool, complete with steps leading down from one side and five shallow porticos on another side.
Related to Politarchs
For many centuries, Luke was the only ancient writer to use the word Politarch to describe “rulers of the city.” Skeptics doubted that it was a legitimate Greek term until nineteen inscriptions were discovered. Five of these were in reference to Thessalonica (the very city in which Luke was claiming to have heard the term).
Related to the Pool of Siloam
John wrote about the “Pool of Siloam” (John 9:1–12) and described it as a place of ceremonial cleansing. Archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun excavated the pool and dated it from 100 BC to AD 100 (based on the features of the pool and coins found in the plaster).
Related to Pontius Pilate
For many years, the only corroboration we had for the existence of Pontius Pilate (the governor of Judea who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus) was a very brief citation by Tacitus. In 1961, however, a piece of limestone was discovered bearing an inscription with Pilate’s name. The inscription was discovered in Caesarea, a provincial capital during Pilate’s term (AD 26–36), and it describes a building dedication from Pilate to Tiberius Caesar.
Related to the Custom of Crucifixion
While thousands of condemned criminals and war prisoners were reportedly executed in this manner, not a single one of them had ever been discovered in any archaeological site. In 1968, Vassilios Tzaferis found the first remains of a crucifixion victim, Yohanan Ben Ha’galgol, buried in a proper Jewish “kôkhîmtype” tomb.
Related to Sergius Paulus
In Acts 13, Luke identified Sergius Paulus, a proconsul in Paphos. Skeptics doubted the existence of this man and claimed that any leader of this area would be a “propraetor” rather than a proconsul. But an inscription was discovered at Soli in Cyprus that acknowledged Paulus and identified him as a proconsul.
In addition to these archaeological discoveries, there are many other details recorded in the Book of Acts corroborating its historical accuracy. Luke describes features of the Roman world corroborated by other non-Christian historians:
Luke includes a correct description of two ways to gain Roman citizenship (Acts 22:28)
Luke includes an accurate explanation of provincial penal procedure (Acts 24:1-9)
Luke includes a correct depiction of invoking one’s roman citizenship, including the legal formula, de quibus cognoscere volebam (Acts 25:18)
Luke includes a accurate description of being in Roman custody and the conditions of being imprisoned at one’s own expense (Acts 28:16 and Acts 28:30-31)
Archaeology is a discipline of “fractions”. Given the nature of archaeology, we shouldn’t expect to find corroboration for every claim of history, regardless of historic author. But in spite of the inherent difficulties and limitations of the discipline, the archaeological evidence supporting the claims of the New Testament is incredibly robust (refer to the Biblical Archaeology Society for additional evidence). As a detective, I’ve also come to respect and recognize the limits of corroborative evidence. Archaeology sufficiently corroborates the history of the New Testament, providing us with “remarkable tokens of (Luke’s) accuracy”.
FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 35 Robert M. Pirsig (Feature on artist Kerry James Marshall)