Kings David and Solomon are said to have ruled over a huge kingdom that stretched from the Euphrates River to as far as the border of Egypt (according to the Bible). Archeological confirmation of the existence of such an expansive kingdom is inconclusive, however. Some apologists hold that evidence for their reign would not have survived some three millenia later. In this essay, however, Robert Shaw considers a similarly sized civilization, contemporaneous with that of David and Solomon, to explore what remnants of a three-thousand-year-old polity can reasonably be expected to be discovered today.
Published on the Secular Web
The story of Moses and the Exodus continues to be seen as a historical fact by many Americans, and its events are commemorated with a ‘Seder’ meal in over a million households every year. In this article, Robert Shaw considers whether or not the story can be placed comfortably into the timeline of Egyptian history as we currently understand it.
The Bible has long been lauded as a moral guidebook for humankind. In this article, Robert Shaw asks whether the Bible offers any guidance to help us deal with the more complex issues that we face in the modern era. At a time when many minds are focused on the forthcoming US presidential election, Shaw also considers whether the Bible gives any counsel as to how countries should be governed, and what types of political leaders are biblically preferred.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led many, whether believers or not, to consider how widespread suffering can be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. In this article, Shaw considers the arguments advanced by people of faith to square this circle, such as the idea that the novel coronavirus has been sent by God as a punishment.
In this article Robert Shaw examines some of the successes attributed to the authors of the Bible, and compares them to those of other secular prophets such as Nostradamus, in being able to precisely tell the future. Shaw looks at a number of ways in which these prophecies are given the appearance of fulfillment by those that advocate their validity. He then argues that the skill of being able to predict the future accurately is scientifically impossible.
An embellished and creatively written history of the origins and development of a Canaanite tribe underlies Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. None of the myriad of documents from ancient Egypt ever mention hundreds of thousands of foreign slaves leaving following a series of catastrophes, for example, nor has any archaeological evidence of the movement of a supposed half a million refugees from the Sinai peninsula ever been uncovered. Nevertheless, the Jesus of the Gospels seems to concur with this erroneous version of history, affirming the Genesis creation myth, the existence of the mythological Noah and Abraham, and the historicity of Moses’ exodus, among other things. The Qur’an and Islamic exegesis subscribe to the historicity of such people and events no less. The arbitrary selection of Yahweh—the Canaanite god of metallurgy—from the vast Canaanite pantheon of gods over 2,500 years ago has had a profound effect on the belief systems of billions of people who have lived since.
Christianity has brought many people to believe that those who behave badly face permanent torture in the afterlife. In this article, Robert Shaw argues that the historical Jesus envisaged a rather different fate for such individuals, and that the very idea of Hell as pictured by many Christians today was in fact an invention of the later Church.
In this article, Robert Shaw explores the crucifixion of Jesus and how the Gospel narratives of this event were embellished with allusions to Old Testament passages. In addition, Shaw shows that early Christians developed an interpretation of Jesus’ death as part of a premeditated divine plan that was at odds with contemporary Jewish expectations of the Messiah.
It’s that time of the year when the story of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth begins to pervade the everyday lives of people in the West. In this article, Robert Shaw looks at the origins of the story in first-century Palestine. Neither the earliest Gospel nor the earlier letters from St. Paul to fledgling Christian churches around the Mediterranean make any mention of the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, but later embellishments are weaved together with contrived reinterpretations of Old Testament passages to bolster Jesus’ messianic credentials.