Saturday, August 01, 2015

Wiki "me" dia - The Inherent Bias in Wikipedia

The Cyrus Cylinder
I was recently doing some research on Cyrus II, also known as Cyrus the Great. He is founder of the Persian Empire (550 to 330 BC), and is the Cyrus in the Bible that God calls "My shepherd" (Isaiah 44:28) and His "anointed" one (Isaiah 45:1). The world knows him as Cyrus the Great, and military leaders from Alexander the Great to Patton studied the character of this king of Persia who conquered the Babylonians (October 11, 539 BC) and allowed the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their city and their Temple. Anyway, I normally don't look at Wikipedia when doing any kind of research, except to possibly examine sources in the footnotes, but in this case I read the entire entry for Cyrus the Great

Anyone--and I hope there are only a few people in this category--who believes Wikipedia is the end all in terms of accurate information should understand that Wikipedia information is always slanted toward the bias of the writers and editors who take their time to input data.  

For example, throughout Western civilization, it is common knowledge that Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 BC, a country where tens of thousands of Jews had been held in captivity for many years. The Jews had been taken to Babylon (modern day Iraq) by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who in his rage against the Jews destroyed their city (Jerusalem) and the Temple of God in 586 BC. Some of the Jews taken into Babylonian captivity included men like Daniel, Jeremiah and others biblical authors. Nobody can fully understand the Old Testament without the historical understanding of the Jews in Babylonian captivity during the 6th century BC.

In 539 BC, "the Lord's anointed one" - Persian king Cyrus the Great - conquered Babylon and released the Jews, allowing them return to Israel. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews rebuilt their city and the Temple. Anybody with familiarity with the biblical text and ancient western civilization knows this story by heart.

In 1879 British explorers found The Cyrus Cylinder. This ancient treasure is written in Babylonian cuneiform and perfectly describes, from Cyrus' perspective, his conquest of Babylon in 539 BC. The cylinder has sometimes been described as "the first charter of human rights" in that it reveals Cyrus the Great's magnanimous heart toward the people he conquered, allowing them freedoms according to their traditions and beliefs. As I read Wikipedia's entry about The Cyrus Cylinder, the third paragraph of the entry jumped out at me:
"The Cylinder's text has been traditionally seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of Cyrus' policy of the repatriation of the Jewish people following their Babylonian captivity (an act that the Book of Ezra attributes to Cyrus), as the text refers to the restoration of cult sanctuaries and repatriation of deported peoples. This interpretation has been disputed, as the text identifies only Mesopotamian sanctuaries, and makes no mention of Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea."

The way the writer for Wikipedia frames his "information" about the Cyrus Cylinder makes one think that there is reason to distrust the Bible and the Jewish records of Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezra and Nehemiah. If I had the ability to edit Wikipedia, I would point out:

(1). No other Mesopotamian "cult" but the Jews has a written record of Cyrus and his decree to repatriate subjugated peoples, so to say the Cyrus scroll "makes no mention of Jews" is like saying the Constitution of the United States makes no mention of the amendments to it.
(2). The Cyrus Cylinder confirms -- to the letter -- everything that the Jews in their ancient writings said Cyrus did.
(3). Without the Bible and the information given us in the Old Testament, very little would be known of Cyrus. In fact, he bore the name Cyrus the Great in the time of Alexander the Great because of the Bible.

It's a little known fact that when Alexander the Great took his army to conquer the Persians in 330 BC, he came to Jerusalem, the major crossroads between Greece and Persia (modern Iran). The Jewish priests met Alexander and showed him the scroll of Daniel, pointing out that the ancient text prophesied his victory against the Persians (see Daniel 11:3).

The only ancient record worthy of our trust,  the only religious source of fulfilled prophecy of among all the religions of the world, and the only book upon which you can stake the eternality of your soul, is the Bible. It would seem to me that if the enemy of truth wishes to confound the world, he will inspire writers to place their bias against the Bible into Wikipedia, and that is exactly what is happening.

Everyone has bias. Truth transcends bias. God's Word is truth. Wiki "me" dia is not.


Bob Cleveland said...

Of course. A real "Well DUUUH" moment.

Information on Wikipedia is put up (and edited) by all sorts of people. Believers, Atheists, people from other religions, Agnostics, etc. Consequently, short of some miraculous intervention by God, there will always falsehoods mixed in with the truths.

Unless knowledgeable, studied believers review and edit every single word, there will always be a mixture of error.

Hence the wisdom of refusing to accept it as truth, and checking references and sources.

Christiane said...

In Catholic circles, there is acceptance of the Cyrus Cylinder as a statement on the return of the Babylonian captives to their original homelands:

Bob Cleveland said...

One other thought (?): I always refuse to accept any further evidence as to the truth of the Biblical account of how things were. The creation, the sun standing still, etc. Even to discoveries of ancient treasures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cyrus thing, anything.

My reasoning is that, were I to accept such evidence, I would be bound to also consider evidence which refutes the Biblical account. And that, I would never do. So, to avoid hypocrisy.........

Christiane said...

that is an interesting comment, and I thought it a lot . . . I don't know whether you are a 'young Earth' believer, but that would be one way of avoiding any conflicting natural 'evidence', I suppose

I have heard stories of folks who said that God placed phony geological 'evidence' on the Earth to test the faith of believers, and that logic seems also to be a way of not accepting such 'evidence'.

My thought is that God is not in competition with His Creation; that He is the Creator of all that is seen and unseen 'ex nihilo'.

I think someone once wrote about 'following the bread crumbs' He left for us in the natural world. I love that analogy. If true, it seems He has tried to take care of His poor children who lost their way, and I do think that the natural wonders of this world point to Him, so that even through the eyes of the most isolated savage on Earth, a prompted simple beginning of 'wonder' is meant ultimately to lead to faith in the Creator Himself, for it is promised that when God begins a work, He will bring it to completion. :)

Rex Ray said...

Bob, do you believe every word of the Bible is perfect?
I stand on Jesus’ words ‘Truth will set you free’.
I believe everyone will agree Bible Writers did not go into a trance and God moved their minds and hands to write Scriptures.

That being said; is it true what Jesus said: (John 16:32)? “But the time is coming…when each of you will be scattered, each of you going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.” Vs: (Mark 15:34) “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” [I believe the only response from God was tears.]

Jesus did not lie because he believed what he said, but learned later.

The same with Bible Writers such as what Peter wrote: “…you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. THEN you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 NLT)

Based on this Scripture, many people believe you must be baptized to be saved..

Would Peter have written what he did if he had seen Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit BEFORE they were baptized in (Acts 10:44)?

Can we depend on the guys with ‘white hats’ to tell the truth ALL the time? God told Moses three times he could not enter the Promise Land because Moses did not have faith in God to speak to the rock. (Numbers 20:12 & 24 and 27:12-14)

But Moses told the people three times he could not enter the Promise Land because: “The Lord was even angry with me because of THEM and said to me, “You shall not enter the Promised Land.” (Deuteronomy 1:37, 3:26, 4:21)

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Could that include the Bible? We should worship the One that sent the message without worshiping the message. I had rather say with Job, though he slay me, yet I’ll trust the Bible

Bob Cleveland said...

Rex: If I allow this discovery to affect .. even affirmatively .. my opinion of, or reliance on, the truth of Scripture, then to refuse to acknowledge "scientific evidence" which refutes the Bible would be hypocritical of me. So I do not.

God has proven scripture. As to the account of creation, any evidence or opinions I hold must come from scripture. As it happens, I've noted that God referred to every "morning and evening" as a day. We conclude that a day was 24 hours when the sun, moon, and stars were created, and if He'd called something else a "day" in the previous verses, that would constitute confusion. And God does't do that.

Yes, the words in the original are the same.

Scripture proves scripture. Nothing else does. Further "discoveries" don't.

God handled that task quite well. Science can no more prove or disprove scripture than a traffic court can affirm or overturn a Supreme Court decision.

Gordon said...

Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8 "With the Lord, a single day is like a thousand years" (or a million or more ?). Could this help us to understand the creation story ?

For me, there can be no doubt the God is the Great Creator and sustainer of the universe. But how He did this I do not know, nor do I need to know. This can be left to the scientists to try to explain, if they ever can.

The Bible uses picture language in many instances to convey absolute truth, which is far better than using the medium of ever changing scientific explanations. I don't think a literal understanding of a seven day creation was intended, any more than was the statement in Joshua 10:13 that the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and didn't move but delayed going down for about a full day. It was figurative language yet we know and believe exactly what was meant.

SJ Reidhead said...

There is a systemic effort of 'skeptics' to infiltrate and override anything written on Wikipedia. They have an extremely bad reputation, are extremely biased, and consider themselves not only atheist, but decidedly anti-Christian. Wikipedia periodically kicks entire groups of them out as contributors, but they keep returning, under different identities. They also have a pattern of systemic harassment and bullying on different mainstream sites, where someone who is Christian might comment. Their harassment is so pervasive, I've just about quit commenting about anything Christian. It's not worth it.

Rex Ray said...

Thank you for replying. I’ve always admired your wisdom. I see you have your mind made up and NOTHING can change it. In my opinion that trait for anyone is not what God intended for man.

I believe God gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us and none of us has learned so much that we don’t need Him anymore.

You did not answer if you believed every word in the Bible was true with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but said, “God has proven scripture”, “Scripture proves scripture”, and “God handled that task quite well”.

Do you agree “God’s ways are not man’s ways”? For instance ‘man’ would not have had the lineage of Jesus being a prostitute, an adulator, and a murderer.

If Noah’s ark was found and it fit the Bible’s description in every detail and even if the waste of each individual animal was identified, would you believe it?

At present, I’m refuting a paper claiming the KJ is the only English Bible that is perfect.

The paper quotes “…slew the brother of Goliath…” (2 Samuel 21:19 KJ) but in (verse 22 KJ) “These four were born to the giant in Gath…”

How were they born of the giant when one was his brother? Other translations omit “brother” in verse 19.

Rex Ray said...

It’s good you reminded us that a “single day is like a thousand years’.

How old did Eve look when she was one minute old?

I believe when God made a rock, He could make it look like a million years old if He wanted to.

Bob Cleveland said...

Rex Ray: Thank you.

The Bible is God's word. Nothing man can do can either prove or disprove what it says. Any difficulty I have coming to grips with the absolute truth of scripture is do to my flawed, sinful, finite mind. At creation, God said He did it a day at a time. I have no desire to speculate on whether He meant something else by that. Why would I want to? I accept them as a day, the same way I accept today as a day. 24 hours. I credit the doubt as to what He said as meaning the same thing we mean today, by saying "day", to the same source that caused Eve to doubt the truth of what God said to Adam.

As to the words I use to describe scripture, attach whatever handle you want to, to them.

Unknown said...

It's all slanted, even the academic versions of texts. Wikipedia is only more blatant in its tendentiousness.

Wade Burleson said...

SJ, Bob and Gary - Your comments are very revealing. Thanks for the input about Wiki.