By: Brian Cunningham
Archaeology cannot prove the Bible is true. However, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t critically important for establishing the reliability of Scripture. In fact, it’s undeniably important for a variety of reasons. First, imagine for a moment that the historical claims of the Bible (people groups, political leaders, geographical locations, customs, etc.) could be demonstrated to be a work of literary and mythical fiction. We should logically conclude that the work could not be inspired by God. Because how is it possible to believe a work, or a group of works, are inspired by God but are factually inaccurate? It seems that it would be impossible.
Second, there would be no logical or good reasons to believe the words and actions of Jesus took place, given they are supposed to be recorded acts of history. What then would happen to the Christian religion? For the most part, Christianity would crumble leaving us swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Those who would continue to follow the Christian faith at this point would do so based on a mentality of fideism. In other words, it would take an astronomical amount of faith in order to believe the claims of Christianity because there simply wouldn’t be any proof.
Third, consider another religious work that cannot be verified in any shape or form by the way of archaeology. The Book of Mormon claims to be the inspired word of God. The problem for Mormons, however, is the book is filled with historical claims that cannot be verified. First, Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the book of Mormon from golden tablets that were written in “reformed Egyptian.” The problem for Mormonism is that there has never been anything discovered that even comes close to suggesting that reformed Egyptian ever existed.
Second, the book of Mormon holds there was a great battle in North America involving a people group known as the Jaredites. In Ether 15:2, the book of Mormon states that “nearly two million” of the Jaredites were killed in a great battle. Additionally, another battle near the Cumorah hill is said to have taken place between the Nephites and Lamanites where 230,000 people were said to have been killed. Unfortunately for proponents of Mormonism, no archaeological evidence can be found demonstrating that these three people groups existed, let alone that a great battle took place. Archaeologists and anthropologists state that it would be impossible for such civilizations to exist and leave absolutely no trace that they were ever there.
Finally, as far as the as the book of Mormon is concerned, we must consider the works of Thomas Stuart Ferguson. He founded the archaeological department at Brigham Young University for the sole purpose of providing evidence that the book of Mormon was historically reliable. However, after years of research and study, he stated, “[I]t cannot be established factually that anyone, from Joseph Smith to the present day, has put his finger on a single point of terrain that was a Book-of-Mormon geographical place.” In conclusion, he determined the book of Mormon was a work of fiction created in the mind of Joseph Smith.
Archaeology Verifies the Bible
Unlike the book of Mormon, the Bible can be verified via archaeology. Consider just a few of the findings: (1) An ossuary box dating to the first century with the name of Caiaphas inscribed on it is believed to belong to the high priest who condemned Jesus to death (Mt 26); (2) Synagogue at Capernaum (Lk 7:1-10); (3) An inscription was found in 1993 providing evidence that King David existed; (4) An inscription bearing Pontius Pilates name was found in the early 1960’s.
In conclusion, a non-Christian publication, US News and World Report, published an article at the turn of the century which stated, “In extraordinary ways, modern archaeology has affirmed the historical core of the Old and New Testaments—corroborating key portions of the stories of Israel’s patriarchs, the Exodus, the Davidic monarchy, and the life and times of Jesus.”
 (Jeffery Sheler, “Is the Bible True,” US News & World Report, October 25, 1999, 52.