Science and Religion Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City

Christianity is not a Bronze or Iron Age Faith

Atheists commonly claim that we are following a Bronze or Iron Age faith and morality. They ask, why should we run a modern society on Bronze or Iron Age rules?

Our faith is revealed to us by God. God is omnipotent. By his infinite power he could communicate with Bronze or Iron Age people and preserve his message to the present day if he chose to do so.

Christianity, however, is not a Bronze Age faith. The Bronze Age ended in the Middle East about twelve hundred years before Christ was born. After that iron was the predominate metal so for the next six to seven centuries the Middle East was in the Iron Age.

Christianity is also not an Iron Age faith because the Iron Age ended almost six centuries before Christ began teaching.

It might seem strange that the Iron Age ended when iron, usually if the form of steal, is still the predominate metal we use. However, the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age refer to the periods before history. Much of our knowledge of these periods is based on the study of human artifacts, including those made of stone, bronze, and iron. The invention of historical writing by Herodotus brought the Iron age to an end because from then on our chief source was not the study of artifacts but the study of historical records.

The Iron Age actually ended before Herodotus because he wrote about events before he was born. Therefore the The Iron Age ended about 550 BC about six to seven decades before the birth of Herodotus and almost six centuries before Christ founded Christianity.

Historical Period

Written history teaches us details of the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis and many other events that simply analyzing pottery, tools made of stone, bronze, and iron, and other human artifacts could never tell us. We understand the historical period in detail in a way we do not understand earlier periods.

The histories of Herodotus are part of a much larger flowering of writing as literature. This writing as literature was probably greatly facilitated by the development of the alphabet. The flowering of writing as literature as opposed to bureaucratic record keeping happened about half a millennium before Christ.

Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle had already taught and Plato and Aristotle had written their books long before Christ was born. In philosophy courses we still study the works of these Greek philosophers. My first college philosophy course was on Plato's Republic, which might be described as Plato's interpretation of the teaching of Socraties. A friend of mine earned a PhD in Philosophy, his topic was a small part of the work of Aristotle. So the ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are still considered relevant.

Furthermore, Euclidean geometry had been developed and the Greeks knew not only that the world was a globe but its circumference. A fare amount of what we currently teach in elementary and secondary school had already been discovered or at least suggested as speculation.

The Old Testatment

Even the Old Testament may not be a product of the Bronze or Iron Ages. Scholars commonly suggest that the early books of the Old Testament were first composed, perhaps based on earlier written material, in Mesopotamia during the Babylonian captivity. It was at this time that the Jewish religion centered on the temple shifted to a religion centered on the written scriptures and the synagogue.

If the scholars are right, the writing of even the early books of the Old Testament were a product of the same flowering of written literature that produced Herodotus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and many other thinkers that are still treated with respect by modern academia. So even the early books of the Old Testament maybe post Iron Age.

There can be no doubt the later books of the Old Testament and the New Testament are post Iron Age.

Not that the scriptures have to belong to any age. While they have human authors, those human authors were directed to write what they did by God. It is his authorship that we trust, even if his human instruments lived in what we now consider a primitive age.


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