Answers in Genesis Revises Egypt’s History

A few years ago we posted our Top Ten Reasons Noah’s Flood is Mythology. It’s been viewed over 10,000 times. Reason number three was:

What about Egypt? They have a written history that precedes, is co-existent with, and which continues uninterruptedly after the time of the Flood, yet somehow they were unaware of that catastrophic global event. The same is true for the Chinese and other cultures. How did a global Flood somehow ignore them, leaving their societies intact?

The problem of Egypt has finally come to the attention of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum.

This dazzling essay appears at the AIG website: Doesn’t Egyptian Chronology Prove That the Bible Is Unreliable? You know it’s authoritative because it was written by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, a creationist gynecologist. It’s very long, with numerous charts and chronologies, so we’ll have to skip a lot. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Egyptology, originally expected to support the history recorded in the Old Testament, has produced a chronology that contradicts the Bible. This so-called traditional Egyptian chronology would have the pyramids predate the flood of Noah’s day; such cannot be the case, for pyramids could never withstand a worldwide flood. And when traditional Egyptian chronology is used to evaluate archaeological findings, landmark events such as the mass exodus of Hebrew people from Egypt appear to have left no evidence. Such discrepancies between traditional Egyptian chronology and the Bible are used to attack the Bible’s historical accuracy.

But that doesn’t bother a good creation scientist. We’re told:

Instead of simply assuming the accuracy of traditional Egyptian chronology and modifying the Bible, people should carefully examine traditional chronology to see if it is as reliable as some claim it to be.

You know what’s coming. Let’s read on:

Though traditional Egyptian chronology dominates modern understanding of ancient history, traditional chronology is inconsistent with the Bible. When there is a discrepancy between traditional chronology and the Bible’s chronology, scholars usually ignore the Bible. Though many claim that traditional chronology is indisputable, a close look at this chronology reveals its shaky foundation. … Before exploring an acceptable alternative to traditional Egyptian chronology, this chapter will show some of the errors it is built on.

You will observe, dear reader, that no such skepticism is aimed at the bible’s version of history. Skipping a big discussion of early chronologies, with which we’re not familiar, we’re told:

Just as carbon dating is more consistent with a young earth than most people realize, carbon dating is consistent with a much younger Egyptian civilization than traditional chronology claims.

[…]

Revised chronology bolsters the Christian’s trust in the Bible and equips him with answers for a skeptical world.

[…]

Space does not permit analysis of all the revised chronologies. … The Christian should only accept revised chronology that is consistent with the Bible. New evidence may someday shed new light on the identity of a pharaoh, but nothing should ever rock the Christian’s faith in the trustworthiness of God’s Word.

Yes, one must have a reliable standard of reference. She continues:

Most histories begin with the unsubstantiated notion that primitive people slowly developed civilization from rudimentary beginnings. Archaeology around the world has instead revealed advanced ancient technology without discernible periods of evolution. This sudden appearance of cultures possessing advanced technology approximately 4,000 years ago is consistent with the Bible’s account of the Flood, the proliferation of intelligent people on the plains of Shinar, and their subsequent scattering from the Tower of Babel.

Uh huh. Here’s more:

Abram’s [that’s Abraham, presumably] visit to Egypt may explain Egypt’s sudden advance. Abram grew up in the advanced but idolatrous culture of Ur about three centuries after the Flood. Josephus wrote that Abram “communicated to them arithmetic, and delivered to them the science of astronomy; for before Abram came into Egypt they were unacquainted with those parts of learning; for that science came from the Chaldeans into Egypt.” Based on Josephus’s statement, Abram’s visit to Egypt may well have occurred during the fourth dynasty.

Does this make any sense to you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re skipping a huge amount of text because we just can’t process it. It revises history so that Egypt fits nicely into biblical chronology. Moving along, we come to the “Conclusion” section:

God determines truth. Historians examine fragmentary clues and fill in the gaps based on their presuppositions. Those presuppositions may be biblical or traditional. Accepting traditional Egyptian chronology necessitates rejection of biblical truth. Accepting biblical chronology allows a reconstruction of ancient chronology on a foundation of truth. Viewing the evidence from a biblical framework makes the histories of Egypt and the Old Testament fit together like two sides of a zipper.

So there you are. Your Curmudgeon isn’t an Egyptologist, so we can’t provide any serious criticism of Dr. Mitchell’s version of history. If she’s right, then Egyptian history doesn’t contradict the Flood or anything else in the bible. But she’s using the bible as her unquestioned authority for the rejection of everything that doesn’t fit. Perhaps we’re being unfair, but we have doubts about her methodology.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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28 responses to “Answers in Genesis Revises Egypt’s History

  1. My brain hurts. : (

  2. The Curmudgeon inquires “Does this make any sense to you?”. And the rational world replies, “neither that, nor anything else we’ve ever heard from a creationist makes any sense”!

  3. so-called traditional Egyptian chronology

    Ooooh! Good dig right from the start!

    for pyramids could never withstand a worldwide flood

    How do you know? Were you there?

    people should carefully examine traditional chronology to see if it is as reliable as some claim it to be.

    Sooooo, you’re saying that the Bible cannot stand up to the same sort of scrutiny? Do I understand that correctly?

    reveals its shaky foundation

    Read, “Pot, meet kettle.”

    Just as carbon dating is more consistent with a young earth than most people realize

    You keep using the words “carbon dating”. You do understand that it refers to how certain materials, under very specific conditions, are used to determine the age of those materials, right? It does not refer to getting all gussied up for a night out with someone named “charcoal”. You get that, right?

    equips him with answers for a skeptical world

    Again, you keep using that word “skeptical”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Space Reality does not permit analysis of all the revised chronologies

    FTFY.

    The Christian should only accept revised chronology that is consistent with the Bible

    Let me translate for any noobs in the audience, “If it doesn’t agree with AIGs understanding of our very specific version and translation of the Bible, you are to put your hands over your ears and eyes, then scream as loud as you can, ‘LALALALALALALA!'”

    Abram grew up in the advanced but idolatrous culture of Ur

    How do you know it was “idolatrous”? WERE YOU THERE?!?! I’ll bet you wanted to be, didn’t you, you naughty, naughty girl, you!

    Historians examine fragmentary clues and fill in the gaps based on their presuppositionsthe evidence.

    Again, FTFY.

    the histories of Egypt and the Old Testament fit together like two sides of a zipper.

    Yeah, your fly is undone there, lady. Or as we used to say back in grade school, “XYZ PDQ!”

  4. So, The Flood was supposed to have happened 4,000 years ago, huh? Hmm. The oldest known bristlecone pine is 5,064 years old. It’s truly a wonder how it survived being submerged in salt water for well over a year.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristlecone_pine

  5. AiG’s version of “1984” Newspeak. And the pyramids would never be able to withstand a flood? What utter nonsense and self-deception they extol.

  6. DavidK:
    “And the pyramids would never be able to withstand a flood? What utter nonsense and self-deception they extol.”

    I was thinking the same as well, but then thought Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, the creationist gynecologist, may have been referring to the pyramids’ contents, not the pyramids themselves. The mummified pharaohs’ remains show no signs of water damage, so it’s clear they were never submerged.

    Of course, she’s ignoring the fact that there is no evidence that the traditional Egyptian chronology is incorrect. AiG’s creationists are well-practiced in creating nonsense to support their Young Earth Craziness (YEC), whether it’s indicting all the worlds’ Egyptologists or creating new laws of physics that would support non-symmetrical light speed to explain the presence of galaxies that appear to be billions of light-years away and thus billions of years old. (Of course, such a thing is impossible because every True Christian KNOWS the universe is only 6,000 years old.)

  7. Derek Freyberg

    Thank you Gary – you’ve said it more eloquently than I ever could.
    Let’s send Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, and her equally YECist husband Dr. Tommy Mitchell, back to ancient Egypt to verify “were you there?”.

  8. I like Gary’s were you there?

  9. Dave Luckett

    If you want to know what this “traditional” dating of the pyramids and of Egyptian history in general is based on, it’s the writing of an Egyptian priest called Menetho, from the third century BCE. He, in turn, was using earlier Egyptian records and king lists.We actually have a specimen of one of his sources, or something very like one: the so-called Turin Papyrus. Menetho gives the supposed length of the reigns of all the kings of the thirty dynasties into which he divides the history of Egypt. These reigns, unlike Mesopotamian, Indian and Chinese claims, are realistic in length.

    Menetho is a very valuable historical source, but he was only as good as his own sources, and it was always recognised that he can’t be simply accepted without supporting evidence. Astronomical data, too voluminous to explain in detail, does supply some cross-checking.

    Radiocarbon dates for wood found on site, sometimes within the monuments, even within the pyramids themselves, gives dates that vary from Menetho by about two centuries, but rarely more. The dates for material associated with the pyramids vary from 2500 to 2200 BCE. Because wood was in short supply in Egypt, and was used for a long time after being felled, probably about 2300 BCE for the Pyramid of Merneptah, and 2400 for that of Khufu (the Great Pyramid) is about right.

    More importantly, the thousand or so years of continuous Egyptian civilisation that preceded the great monuments at Giza was not interrupted by any great flood. Most of Egypt is close to sea level, and it is famous for being flat. Since no great flood interrupted Egyptian civilisation, there was no great flood.

  10. IIRC, Abram and Sarai visited Egypt BEFORE God renamed them Abraham and Sarah. So she’s right on that one.

    But then, I wasn’t there.

    There are some 20 GOOD ways of deep (multimillion year) radiometric dating, including 238U and 235U to lead, and K/Ar,, Sm/Nd and Rb/Sr. But it’s always 14C that the YECs refer to, presumably because it’s uniquely error and contamination prone, and can’t give ages > 60,000 yr (at which point the error bars stretch to infinity).

  11. I think she could have been less verbose and just wrote “the bible’s right, everyone else is wrong, yah boo!”.

  12. These incoherent ramblings are the pseudo-history version of “not even wrong”.

  13. “Just as carbon dating is more consistent with a young earth than most people realize”
    So much for AIG accepting observational science.

  14. Dave Luckett, I have no idea why you got caught in the spam filter.

  15. When they say, Just as carbon dating is more consistent with a young earth than most people realize, yes … Carbon dating is “only” off by one order of magnitude from YEC. Most people think, ISTM, that carbon dating works back for millions of years, not limited by less than 60,000 years.
    Other radioactive isotopes take us back by several orders of magnitude. As well as a few other totally unrelated physically based chronologies.
    I would not be surprised to find out that the creationists are being that way with words.

  16. Of course Josephus would make such claims. Born Joseph ben Matityahu, the first-century Roman-Jewish scholar had every incentive to claim that the Egypt his people despised had gained its civilization from culturally superior Hebrews, whether or not it was true.

    And the issue of Egyptian chronology does not, in any case, cover the absence of ANY mention of a Great Flood from ANY period of Egyptian, or Chinese, history.

  17. “…for pyramids could never withstand a worldwide flood…” Well then, it’s a darn (a stronger word should go here, but the site probably won’t allow it!) good thing the alleged flood never happened, isn’t it.

  18. If huge stone pyramids could not withstand a worldwide flood … one might wonder how a wooden box could withstand it.

  19. TomS says: “If huge stone pyramids could not withstand a worldwide flood … one might wonder how a wooden box could withstand it.”

    That’s a problem, but Dr. Mitchell overlooks the biggie: Why, with all the hieroglyphics on all those tombs, and all those commemorative monuments, didn’t the Egyptians even mention the Flud?

  20. Mizraim, Noah’s grandson, founded Egypt around 2188 B.C., a date consistent with both biblical and secular records. The Egyptians, the Sumerians, and the Mayans all retained the technology to build pyramids.

    The Mayans? LOL.

    Mizraim was, per the bible, the son of Ham and a grandson of Noah. He would have grown up with stories of the flood and the ark and the covenant. He was at Babel, and saw the work of god first hand. Despite that, he founded a civilization with no mention of the Hebrew god or the flood anywhere in it’s writings. In fact, his colony invented an entirely new set of gods and new religious practices, completely inconsistent with the Jewish god. All this was done within a century or two, because, per our creationist gynecologist, they built their first pyramid about three centuries after the Mizraim family arrived. The descendants of Mizraim were apparently highly, um, concerned with procreation.

    In the real world, assuming biblical history to this point was true, these were people who would have been engaged in subsistence agriculture and hunting for several generations – there were not enough other people in the world to trade with, and those other people were busy establishing the Chinese civilization, the Mayan civilization (!) and others around the world. Distances between these tiny populations would have inhibited trade, much less armed conflict. But that’s just nit-picking.

  21. Arg. SC, can you fix the missing tail end of the block quote?

    [*Voice from above*] He’s busy with cosmic concerns, so I stretched forth my mighty hand, and lo, all is well.

  22. michaelfugate

    And in other breaking news CMI in Australia gets tax breaks for creationist film……
    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/apr/29/australian-film-agency-awarded-creationist-film-aud90000-anti-evolution

    I am sure it was as “truthful” as anything from AiG

  23. @SC wonders why the Egyptians didn’t mention the Deluge.
    Is it then a matter of which testimony one is going to believe? Pyramidal or Scriptural?

  24. Has anyone ever updated the Bible chronology since Ussher?

  25. michaelfugate

    From the Wikipedia entry on “Chronology of the Bible”:

    As recently as the 18th century, scholars of the stature of Isaac Newton believed that the date of Creation was knowable from the Bible. Today, the Genesis account of Creation has long since vanished from serious cosmology, the Patriarchs and Exodus are no longer included in most serious histories of ancient Israel, and it is almost universally accepted that Joshua and Judges have little historical value. Even the monarchy is questioned, and although scholars continue to advance proposals for reconciling the chronology of the Books of Kings, there is “little consensus on acceptable methods of dealing with conflicting data.”

  26. A lot of fundies will say that the Hyksos = Hebrews, thus connecting the Israelites to Egyptian inscriptions. Because there’s no mention at all of any Israelite slave in Egyptian records, no mention of the plagues or the Exodus, the fundies are desperate to concoct an Israelite slave army building pyramids, as we see here in this AIG fantasy, so many of them dream of equating Hyksos = Hebrews. Interestingly, this AIG article mentions the Hyksos but does not equate them to the Hebrews. The Hyksos conquered Egypt, formed the 15th dynasty, and conquered Thebes, plus they practiced horse burials and worshipped a desert god equated to the Egyptian Seth, so they’re not a good match for the Hebrews running away from Egypt.

    The AIG article cites Josephus as their authority for the ridiculous claim that the goat herder Abraham taught math to the Egyptians! But, AIG makes no mention of the fact that the authority they cite, Josephus, also equated the Hyksos departing for Canaan as the Biblical Exodus, which puts the Exodus in the Hyksos period (16th century BC), contra AIG’s other claims.

    The AIG article tries to gloss over many problems. For example, they push all the Egyptian dynasties later in time by many centuries in order to make the pyramids post-Flood, which they do by hypothesizing that multiple Pharaohs (2 or 3 at all times) ruled simultaneously, which is like saying that the United States was founded 35 years ago because George Washington, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln were all president at the same time.

    Like many fundies, they cite non-creationist scholar David Rohl and his “New Chronology” to justify pushing Egyptian dynasties 600+ years later than real historians. But the problems here are 1. David Rohl’s “New Chronology” is considered pseudohistory and not taken seriously by other historians, as a hypothesis it went nowhere, and 2. His “New Chronology” only pushed Egyptian history up about 300 years, but fundies need 650+ years, and 3. his chronology is based on astronomical events known scientifically, it’s allegedly totally fixed and unique timewise– so you can’t just help yourself to another 350 years on top of what Rohl hypothesizes, you can’t just push historical lunar eclipses anywhere you like in time as if they were air hockey pucks.

    AIG’s other problem is that, after they’ve pushed the Egyptian dynasties forward in time by centuries, they have to push the history of the Israelite enslavement back by several dynasty #s to starting about Dynasty number 12, way back from what all other Biblical experts would say. Oops, chariots weren’t invented way back then, but the Bible says Pharaoh chased the Hebrews in chariots. AIG gets around this by saying, here’s an inscription with a pair of gloves, and gloves = chariot. Yay Bible.

    And then there’s the whole problem of their contradictions of Sumerian chronology, documents and inscriptions. We have Sumerian beer recipes older than Noah’s Flood. But that’s a story for another day.

  27. Most Young Earth Creationists love to cite an alleged “average population growth rate” which they claim “proves” that today’s population of the earth is consistent with applying that growth rate to a starting point of three fertile couples (the three sons of Noah and their waves) departing the ark after the flood. Yet I never see them dealing with the fact that their somehow perfect formula for the earth’s population for any year after the flood yields not all that many people at a time when we know that Egypt had lots of people building a great civilization with far more people than the formula predicts for the entire planet!

    I haven’t looked up how many people lived in various other civilizations at the same time–but I do know that their human population formula predicts a very low number in the year 2300 B.C. Why? Answers in Genesis published their calculations for the date of the flood and they came up with 2348 B.C. So according to their population formula, a half century after the flood there simply couldn’t have been enough people “begatting” (no matter how fruitfully) to produce any major civilizations.

    Yet, it gets worse. Remember that YECs denounce uniformitarian calculations because “You weren’t there. So you couldn’t know that the laws of physics were the same back then and the rates could have been quite different.” Nevertheless, as pointed out with the Discoveroids, it doesn’t matter if today’s arguments for YECism harmonize with last week’s or last year’s reasoning. Apparently their fans have very short memories, so consistency doesn’t matter.

  28. MichaelF quotes Wikipedia: “it is almost universally accepted that Joshua and Judges have little historical value.”
    That’s not entirely correct. The books tell us quite a lot about the mindsets of the people who wrote the books and for whom they were written. But that obvioulsy won’t make Ol’ Hambo happy.