Yesterday I became aware of an article that illustrates the dubious way Biblical inerrantists use (and that is the appropriate word, rather than something like “engage in”) archaeology. It included this:
Peterson supports conservative Christians getting involved in archaeology in order to use archaeology as a way to prove the Bible historically.
“We interpret the data from the fact that the Bible is inspired, and that it is history. The Bible can be validated based upon archaeology,” Peterson said.
Can you see the issues? The Bible can be “validated” through archaeology, according to Brian Peterson of Lee University. How? By using it to do precisely that.
That isn’t how history is supposed to work, and selecting and manipulating evidence to bolster one’s inflexible stance is not the same thing as what we normally mean by “validation.” While ideology and perspective cannot be eliminated from academic study, the aim is for those who engage in research, by being open to conversation across our competing ideologies and perspectives, to thereby correct for one another’s biases.
The inerrantist, however, doesn’t want their biases corrected. They want evidence to be gathered, selected, and used inasmuch as it can make those biases seem to be supported.
That is exactly what we see in this instance. Because the archaeological evidence at what experts agree is the site of ancient Ai does not support the Bible’s account of things, inerrantists have been trying to find another site where the evidence is compatible with what the Bible says, which they hope to claim is in fact ancient Ai.