An Argument from Silence that Proves Nothing |

TBC Staff - EN

[TBC: One of the means used by skeptics to attack the biblical account is the relative lack of evidence for a Hebrew presence in Egypt. It is instructive to consider something written by Robert Dick Wilson ninety years ago.]

An Argument From Silence Which Proves Nothing [Excerpts]

This is an argument from silence which proves nothing absolutely. There is a history of the United States called Scribners by William Cullen Bryant and others. It has 53 pages, double column, of Index. The word Presbyterian does not occur in this Index; the word Christian only in the phrase Christian Commission; the word church only twice. And yet, this is a history of a republic founded by Christians, observing the Sabbath, devoted to foreign missions, and full of Christian churches and activities. Thirty-five hundred pages quarto and no mention of Thanksgiving Day, nor of the days of fasting and prayer during the Civil War, nor of the Bible except in the relation of the Bible Society to slavery!

Nor does it prove that the law did not exist, to show that it was not completely observed, or that things forbidden in it were done. Does the crime wave that has been sweeping the world since the close of the war prove that the Gospel does not exist? In one week of December, 1920, the front page of one of our great New York dailies had scarcely space for anything except reports of murders, burglaries, and other crimes. Are the Ten Commandments unknown in New York City?

But the critics assert that a long period of development was necessary before such a system of laws could have been formulated, accepted, and enforced. I agree readily to this; but I claim that all the development necessary for the formulation may have taken place before the time of Moses and that its hearty acceptance by the people and its enforcement depended upon moral rather than intellectual condition. As far as intellectual requirements are concerned, there is nothing in the law that might not have been written either in Babylon or Egypt centuries before Moses. Then as now it was spiritual power and moral inclination that was wanted rather than intellectual perception in order to do the right and abhor the wrong. In each successive generation of Israelitish men each individual of the nation had to be converted and to submit his soul and conduct to the teachings of the divine law. The ancient Jewish church had its ups and downs, its times of strenuous faith and of declension and decay, just as the Christian church has had.

(“Is the Higher Criticism Scholarly?,” Clearly attested facts showing that the destructive "assured results of modern scholarship" are indefensible, By Robert Dick Wilson, Ph.D., D.D., Professor of Semitic Philology in Princeton Theological Seminary [Originally Published in 1922].)