Agnosticism, Atheism, Bible Geography, Christianity, Faith, God, Religion, Truth

This City Doesn’t Exist

TyreStreetThis might look like your typical city street, but don’t be fooled. This city street doesn’t really exist. Confused? Let me explain.

This city street has the misfortune of being built in a spot that the Bible says would remain desolate forever. Ezekiel 26 and the next two chapters prophesy that the city of Tyre would be destroyed and never be rebuilt. This is why we can’t be misled by pictures like these. Despite their seeming undeniable hold upon reality, Tyre can’t really be there. After all, many Bible apologetics books have stated that Tyre is just a bare rock where fishermen spread their nets. That’s all fine and good, but we probably shouldn’t tell that to the people living there. Imagine how disorienting it would be to find out your city isn’t there!

TyreCondosHow do we explain this anomaly? I can only think of two possibilities. Perhaps we are witnessing a tear in the fabric of reality. This might simply be a glimpse of a reality in which Ezekiel did not prophesy that Tyre would never be rebuilt. Somehow we’re able to see it, but it’s obviously not our reality, because Ezekiel said Tyre shouldn’t be here.

However, there is another possibility. There’s a remote chance that Ezekiel was wrong about Tyre. A ludicrous proposition, I know, but technically, it is a possibility.

TyreSidewalkWe may never come to a true resolution of this ambiguous issue. Is it really there, or isn’t it? It seems that each individual will have to come to his or her own conclusion. One thing is certain, however. The apologists have definitively staked out the position that Tyre doesn’t exist, while the residents of Tyre disagree.

If you’d like to learn more about this issue, you can read this article.
TyreMapTyreHarbor

100 thoughts on “This City Doesn’t Exist”

  1. Ezekiel 26:14:
    14 I will make you a bare rock. You shall be a place for the spreading of nets. You shall never be rebuilt, for I am the Lord; I have spoken, declares the Lord God.

    Ezekiel 26:21:
    I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more. Though you be sought for, you will never be found again, declares the Lord God.

    Ezekiel 27:36:
    The merchants among the peoples hiss at you;
    you have come to a dreadful end
    and shall be no more forever.

    So far, it sounds like we all agree that at the very least, these passages aren’t literal. After all, Tyre is definitely there today. So was Ezekiel just using poetic language to say that Tyre would be destroyed some during its long history? If so, I don’t understand why a prophecy would be necessary. That has happened to virtually every city throughout the world. So even if we said he was right, anyone could have made that prediction.

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  2. Finally, I’d like to refer back to this point:

    For the Bible to be false, the writers would have had to have been geniuses while at the same time being idiots. It just isn’t logical for it to be as cohesive a text when written by so many from different backgrounds and from different countries, speaking different languages, with all the obstacles of communication that existed from that time without some explanation other than man’s imagination.

    I just don’t believe that’s true. The different languages point is moot. When the New Testament was written, they had the Old Testament in Greek to refer to. Also, it really doesn’t fit together all that well. Some of it does, granted. But there are other places that appear to be completely at odds with one another. The NT has a totally different view of God from the OT — the Trinity is introduced, salvation happens differently and applies to different people, etc. It’s not hard to base later material off earlier material. People do it all the time. It wasn’t miraculous that the latest Star Trek movie had Kirk and Spock in it. They were based on the versions that came before. The writers of the Bible did the same thing.

    If the Bible had been written simultaneously across huge distances and through many languages/cultures, but still fit together seamlessly, then that would be good evidence of a miracle (provided they had no modern communications). But the Bible was put together sequentially, and men (as William has pointed out) decided what should be included and what shouldn’t. Nothing about that seems miraculous to me.

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  3. Nathan,

    Do verses 21 and 36 refer to the city or the kingdom? There is a city of Tyre, but as I understand it, it is adjacent to the old site. However, there is no kingdom or world power of Tyre as there was in ancient days. Why does the absence of a nation not fit with the prophecy? How does the prophecy exclude this?

    Dad

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  4. William,

    I have seen and heard a lot of supposed contradictions and errors in the Bible, but I’ve never actually seen one where there wasn’t a reasonable explanation for the supposed “error”.

    I don’t see the logic in the agnostic and atheistic arguments when I look at the Bible objectively.

    Thanks,

    Jim

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  5. Tyre was a city-state. I don’t think we can really try to separate the idea of the kingdom from the city. Tyre held a large sphere of influence, but Tyre itself was still just the city, as far as I understand it.

    Plus, I really do think that if Ezekiel’s point had been that the kingdom would fall and would never hold such prominence again, I think he would have said something like that. Too, from what I’ve read, Tyre did return to a great deal of prominence and continued that way for centuries. Its lowest point seemed to be at the end of the 12th or 13th century (I can’t remember which right now).

    Also, I don’t think it’s true that modern Tyre doesn’t sit on the same site as the original. I’ve heard that claim too, but I haven’t been able to find any actual evidence of it. I do think some of the western part of the island is now submerged, but most is not. Some of the island is still in ruins, just like you can see ruins in Athens or Rome. But modern Tyre still spans the island, the causeway, and the mainland.

    I really do feel like it’s a major issue. If Ezekiel was really inspired, then I think God would have had him write this just a little bit clearer. But his description of Tyre’s future is so extreme, I find it hard to read another meaning into it. Of course, that’s just the way I see it — other people certainly view it differently.

    Thanks

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  6. This is in reference to Jim’s (my Dad’s) earlier point that the reviews in my Books section seemed to lack objectivity:

    Let me add that I will take your point seriously and try to make sure that I’m not losing objectivity. I felt the need to make that caveat about Josh McDowell’s book because I didn’t want to only post positive comments about it and have people wonder why it didn’t change my mind. I guess I felt like I had to be clear that even though it was a good book, I had reasons for not finding it convincing. I probably should have been more thorough in that review (the others as well), but I was trying to do it quickly. I may go back and edit those at some point.

    Thanks again for your comment — I think it was well thought out.

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  7. @Jim Owens

    If you’re looking objectively, as I believe I am, then we just see it differently.

    But if your idea of being objective is to read only the literature that supports your desired conclusion, give no consideration to any other possibility, while simultaneously criticizing other religions for doing the same thing, then we disagree on objectivity. Not saying you do that – just offering a disclaimer.

    And I am curious, do you believe everything that is old and claims to be from god, or are you skeptical of everything except the bible?

    William

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  8. @Nate

    Could it be that only the ancient city of Tyre was destroyed, the ancient city, with its inhabitants and infrastructure. And destroyed to what extent. Do the scriptures say the city would be levelled completely? Is this a reference to the ancient city (the city of the time) or to future people and buildings?

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  9. William,

    I try to be objective about everything. However, when someone prefaces their material by telling me they don’t believe in God (as an article on Daniel that Nathan gave me to read) and that their intent is to prove their conclusion, I am going to be very skeptical. I believe for one to draw the conclusion that their is no God is to ignore the complexity of creation and is problematic on many levels. If someone claims to believe in God, and if they have some religious manuscript or document that they believe to be a “better” guide than the Bible, then I try to examine it objectively.

    It amazes me that the very ones who criticize people of faith for using circular reasoning or being close-minded or intolerant are guilty of the same things in their arguments and beliefs. Nathan is obviously intolerant of those who believe in God, because he is trying very hard to convince people to give up their faith (this blog is evidence of that). The evidence of close-mindedness is found in the dismissal of reasonable explanations for the “contradictions” and “errors” contained in the Bible. After all, presenting a reasonable explanation is seen as “explaining away” the problem and is not recognized as valid. However, if it is not explained, you would say that proves your point, while explaining it is not accepted. It’s a no win proposition.

    I believe most of the people blogging and posting on here are sincere, but obviously there is much disagreement. I think it boils down to choice. If one is convinced there is a God because of all the evidence around us, then the Bible and it’s stories and concepts are believable. The testimonies of the witnesses seem credible, and there is enough evidence in history to support it. If you don’t believe there is a God, then obviously the Bible has to be false, regardless of the evidence for it. The questions that can be raised, the lack of evidence for certain claims, etc. become the focus and are used to support the claims for the Bible being myth. It’s a choice, and in the words of a character from an Indiana Jones movie, we should “choose wisely”.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if I’m wrong, there is no God, then I’m no worse off to believe in God and the Bible and pattern my life after the precepts contained therein. I’ll actually be a better person for it. If you are wrong, and there is a God, then you will have missed out on the most important thing there is.

    It seems to me that if we make an error, it should be toward God, not away from Him, but that’s just my opinion and it seems logical to me.

    Jim

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  10. @Jim Owens
    I can see where you’re coming from, but I feel the need to dispel some of your preconceived notions.

    It’s not that I believe there is no God, it’s that I am unsure of ones existence. And I am sorry, but i just haven’t seen any reasonable explanation about all of the problems within the bible. Tyre’s prophecy being among them. the “you can’t take it literally” just seems like a cop out. I would imagine that you would say a lot of the bible should be taken literally (if i am wrong then feel free to correct me), but how do you determine which is literal and which is figurative? it would seem like your soul depends upon it. When there is a prophecy regarding a city, it just seems logical that in order fro it to be valid, in order for it hold any weight with the people it pertains to and those looking on, that it would be specific and unambiguous as to its meaning. When Ezekiel said that Tyre would be destroyed, never rebuilt, and never found again, yet we see it Tyre there today, and read where Jesus even acknowledged its existence, then I would would think you would even have to admit that you could at the very least see where people question it. Ezekiel cant be taken as literal – if he can be taken seriously at all.

    You wrote:
    “One thing to keep in mind is that if I’m wrong, there is no God, then I’m no worse off to believe in God and the Bible and pattern my life after the precepts contained therein. I’ll actually be a better person for it. If you are wrong, and there is a God, then you will have missed out on the most important thing there is.”
    But that isn’t completely accurate. If you’re serving the wrong god, then you’re toast too. There is more than just two choices. You seem to have no problem in discounting every other religion but your own, like most people (not an attack, but an observation).

    also, I hope you re-read what you typed above, especially the part where you talk about being objective. I know you say you’re being objective, the method you describe seems to disagree.

    And I am not trying to be rude or disrespectful, but you also mention where people on this blog have contradicted themselves, then could you please point to a specific instance or instances. I certainly don’t want o contradict myself.

    One last thing. If you said that if you start with the preconceived notion that god isn’t real, then it’s easy to find away to dismiss the bible or god. But isn’t the opposite just as true? If you start off by saying there is a god and the bible is his word, then couldn’t you (and I would argue many do) dismiss any reasonable argument to the contrary? And if God can do anything, if God can suspend the natural laws that we live in (meaning absurd sounding things are perfectly within God’s ability to perform), If some of God’s dealing are beyond our comprehension, then couldn’t any contradiction be “rectified” by saying “god can do what he wants,” or “we can’t understand all of God’s ways…?” The question is, what would people do when they just want to find the truth, when starting off in a neutral place? And, how can i be sure that I am following god, how can we be sure the bible is from god (it should be better than the bible tells us to, or that we have the bible)?

    Thanks,

    William

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  11. William, Obviously, determining what is literal and what is figurative is a challenge at times. We have to look at the context and let that indicate. Tyre was not just a city, but a powerful kingdom controlling trade and trade routes. It influenced many of the other kingdoms of the day. Which part of the prophecy deals with the physical city of Tyre, and which part deals with the Kingdom of Tyre and it’s influence on world affairs? I don’t know for sure, and neither does anyone else. Addressing this point ends up with a lot of speculation. Now, I can’t speak for anyone else, but it seems to me that when an authoritative source, which has a majority of it supported by known historical facts, has a portion where it is not clear as to the exact meaning, then I don’t automatically assume it has a meaning that would make it erroneous. I’m sure I’m not stating this very well.

    In my opinion, the best approach for me is to start with a big picture and then narrow the focus. In other words, is it more reasonable to say intelligence was involved in creation than chaos and random happenings? In view of the complexity and consistency in nature, it seems to me that intelligent design is more logical. If there is a being powerful enough to create the universe, then is it unreasonable to accept that He could do what He wanted, and that His knowledge and power far exceeds man’s? It seems reasonable to me.

    There are many things about the Bible that cause me to believe it’s authenticity. Just the fact that it was written over so many years by people from so diverse backgrounds, languages, and cultures and yet is so cohesive and long-lasting is a tremendous thing for me. It strains credibility (in my mind) to try to believe in a conspiracy as massive as would be required to pull this off. It is much easier for me to believe the Bible is what it claims to be. I have examined other religious texts, but thus far I have not seen any as impressive, coherent, and with as much external evidence to support it as the Bible.

    I cannot disagree with some of your last comments. As I said, I believe it comes down to a choice as to what you will put your faith in.

    Jim

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  12. Ryan,

    I’d recommend reading chapters 26-28 of Ezekiel and see what you think. The prophecy was given to the city of Tyre at the time Ezekiel lived, which was during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in Babylon. Ezekiel says that Nebuchadnezzar would attack Tyre — there’s some disagreement as to whether Ezekiel meant for later nations to attack as well. If he did, he didn’t specify who they would be or when they would attack. History (and the Book of Ezekiel) tells us that Nebuchadnezzar failed to take Tyre itself, though he did destroy its suburbs on the mainland.

    To me, the key isn’t so much whether Tyre was ever destroyed — it was taken many times throughout its history. I think the biggest issue is that Ezekiel says more than once that Tyre would never be rebuilt, yet it always has been.

    Thanks

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  13. I’d like to add that I think referring to the “kingdom of Tyre” is overstating things a bit. Tyre, Sidon, and the other cities of Phoenicia were much like the Greek city-states of Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. We don’t normally speak of those as kingdoms. They were independent cities with a lot of influence, but I think calling them kingdoms is going a bit too far.

    I understand the tendency to make these kinds of distinctions because it helps muddy the water a little bit. If we can think of Tyre as not just a city, then we can try to fit Ezekiel’s prophecy in a little better. But it seems to me that it’s just making things unnecessarily complicated, and I also think it’s taking us further from the truth.

    Simply put, Ezekiel prophesied that Tyre would be destroyed — I won’t get into the details about who would do it or when it would happen. He also prophesied that it would “never be rebuilt,” “be no more forever,” and would “never be found again.”

    But Tyre has been rebuilt many times since then. It’s still there now. So I just don’t see how someone can still say the prophecy is true. However, some do, and I think we’re quickly coming to the point where we’re just repeating ourselves. I’m not sure that there’s much more of value we can say about Tyre.

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  14. I think confining a meaning to something the writer didn’t intend would be leading further from the truth. Can you say positively that it is only the city being referred to? Is the prophecy limited to the physical confines of the city itself? If so, then if the footprint of the rebuilt city is outside of or adjacent to the ancient city, then is it the same thing? Isn’t your view somewhat like saying Isaiah 53, when saying Jesus would be led and be “like a sheep before the shearers is dumb”, that he would literally be sheared of all the hair on His body? Since there is no record that this happened, then is this another example of an error?

    I agree that there is really nothing else to say. It is obvious we have all made our choices.

    Dad

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  15. @Jim Owens
    Isaiah 53 is a bit different. he said that “he” would be led like like sheep before his shearers is dumb…” this is clearly talking about the manner in which “he” (doesn’t say Jesus) would be led. Quietly, without a word. Even if taken literally, I don’t think it says he would be sheared and removed of wool.

    Ezekiel says Tyre wouldn’t be rebuilt or found again. Why wouldn’t one assume that Ezekiel is talking about Tyre? And have you seen the pictures of Tyre? There isn’t room for a city to sit beside it… Modern Tyre takes up all the land with the exception of a space big enough for a few back yards.

    I don’t know, Jim. Would you say that Atlanta or Stalingrad were destroyed and never rebuilt too because the literal bricks were not re-stacked and the political structure is now different? or because those inhabitants no longer live there. It does seem like a stretch.

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  16. Dad,

    I think the reason we haven’t been able to reach any kind of consensus is that you have some presuppositions that you aren’t willing to reconsider at all. Earlier, you mentioned that when someone tells you up front they don’t believe in God, you don’t think you have to listen to them. But why? How can you know they’re wrong if you aren’t willing to listen to their point of view?

    You’ve closed yourself off in this never-ending feedback loop where ideas different from yours have no chance of getting through. You believe there is a God based on the intricacies of creation. Okay, but that doesn’t mean it’s the God of the Bible. You also believe this God would definitely give us some kind of revelation. But why? Who are you to say what God would or would not do? From there, you decide that revelation must be the Bible because (from a high level) it seems to fit together, some of its history has been verified, and it claims to be inspired. Because of this high level decision, you elevate it to an AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE. Once it reaches that status, it can apparently only be disproved by another authoritative source. So if some history disagrees with the Bible (by the way, despite your claims to the contrary, there is historical information that directly contradicts the Bible), then it can be dismissed because it’s not from an “authoritative source.” Or if a book points out a contradiction in the Bible, that book can’t be right because it’s not an “authoritative source.”

    In other words, you’ve built this bullet proof bubble around your beliefs, but it’s all based on a Jenga tower of presupposition: you assume God exists because of nature (despite never really investigating the evidence for evolution, the big bang, etc), you assume he would communicate with us because… well, just because!, and you assume that communication is the Bible because you think it makes sense at a high level (disregarding the many problems with details, like the prophecy of Tyre). So you’ve got this conclusion that’s impervious to any other point of view, but you didn’t really get there through rational investigation. You were raised with this set of beliefs, and whenever you “examined” something to the contrary, it was probably by reading another Christian’s explanation of why some people don’t believe. Anything written by an actual skeptic has been avoided like the plague. No wonder you don’t find it persuasive!

    Instead, I think you should be willing to examine anyone’s claim, regardless of their position. Truly convicted people are not afraid of other points of view. If you’re right, then further examination should only give further credence to your views. If you’re wrong, then wouldn’t you want to know that?

    From there, I think you just have to examine the Bible for what it is. It claims to be inspired — maybe it is, but there are many religious books that claim to be inspired. So far, we would both agree that none of them are. So perhaps we should test the Bible before we just accept it. History agrees with some of what is recorded. That’s a mark in the Bible’s favor. However, that doesn’t seal the deal. Lots of books record history accurately, but that doesn’t mean they’re inspired. As we continue, we also see that some history actually disagrees with the Bible (evidence indicates that David and Solomon, if they existed, did not control kingdoms nearly as sophisticated or powerful as the Bible indicates; Jericho seems to have been long abandoned when Joshua was supposed to have sacked it; there’s no real evidence that the Israelites were ever in bondage in Egypt or wandered the wilderness for 40 years; Belshazzar was not Nebuchadnezzar’s son despite Daniel’s claims; Tyre is still here despite Ezekiel’s prophecy, etc). That doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong, but it should get our guard up a little further. Maybe history is incomplete or incorrect, but this is still a mark against the Bible. Many things in the Bible are in agreement with one another. That’s a mark in its favor. However, there are somethings that are not in agreement — even worse, some passages seem to directly contradict others. That’s a pretty bad sign that should start making us quite skeptical. Some prophecies in the Bible seem to have come true, which is a great mark in the Bible’s favor. However, upon closer examination, most of those prophecies seem to have been written about after the events in question occurred. And some prophecies don’t seem to have come true at all. That’s a severe problem.

    Obviously, it would take forever to go into each of those things individually, and there are many more considerations too: doctrinal and philosophical issues, the history of the canon, etc. But I think this is the only objective approach to take. Any time you short-circuit it by saying “but creation proves God’s existence,” then I think you’ve failed to remain objective. The question isn’t really whether or not God exists, it’s whether or not the Bible is inspired by him.

    The Bible was put together by men who compiled letters that were copies of letters written by men who claimed to be men that received divine revelation from God. Most Christians today don’t believe God speaks directly to anyone anymore. Nor do they think he spoke to the compilers of the Bible, or the people who copied the texts. William is right — our faith in God sure does require an awful lot of faith in man.

    Sorry this comment is so long, and I hope it hasn’t offended you. That’s honestly not my intent — but I do think this sums up one of our biggest areas of disagreement.

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  17. Nathan,

    As you are aware, there are many areas concerning this where we disagree. We have talked about some of these at length as they relate to “errors” and “contradictions” within the Bible. You know my stance and reasons for believing the Bible account, and there isn’t time or space here to revisit them.

    However, let me correct some misconceptions you have about me. You say I have never investigated other theories of creation other than the Bible account. This is an erroneous assumption on your part. I believe I have had much more instruction in college in biology and chemistry than you have, and I found much to look further into during that period of education. I had indepth conversations with professors who had PhD’s in their fields, and I did a lot of research on my own into science as well as history to answer some questions that had been raised because of this. My faith in God and the Bible is not because of what someone told me, but rather a result of many things that I have examined and observed over my life. The fact that you would think you are the only one to have questions or to examine the claims of the Bible or the existence of God is absurd and insulting.

    One of the problems is that when you see a passage that SEEMS to contradict something, you assume it is a contradiction. It seems to me that if a contradiction is suggested, you accept it whether it is the only possibility or not.

    You say our faith in God requires a lot of faith in man, but I think your view requires much more. The Bible text hasn’t changed through the years, while scholars and scientists have changed their views on their disciplines often through the years. You bring up David and Solomon, for example, and at one time no evidence outside of the Bible had been found at all to suggest they were real. However, at this time there is evidence that has been discovered that mentions them ( I can’t think of the specifics off the top of my head, but I can find it if you need it). There are other examples similar to this. My point is that you must be careful about saying the lack of evidence proves the Bible claims are false. It just isn’t true.

    I don’t mean to offend you either, but I wish you would wake up and recognize your error and correct it.

    Love,

    Dad

    P S I’ll try to not clog up your blog. Honestly, I shouldn’t even look at it. I always get upset by the things I read that you write. I just thought your attitude on the whole “Tyre subject was inappropriate.

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  18. I’ve been following this discussion for the past few days and I’ve really wanted to contribute something to the discussion. But I haven’t found anything to add that hasn’t really been hit on the head. I left the church out of many frustrations and it was only after being disassociated with that worrld that I finally gained a clearer perspective. I fully believe that what Nate has found IS the truth and having known him for 25 years, I don’t believe for one second that the line of reasoning that brought him here was anything short of a sincere pursuit of the truth. We arrived at the same conclusion independently, from different angles. In fact, we went a couple of years without contacting each other as we were both unaware of the other’s deconversion.

    I find that I now feel foolish for my fervent belief for 12-15 years. Mr. Owens, you essentially ask “if I’m wrong, what have I lost?” You’ve lost a chunk of your family and branded your son a heathen and a fool. Is it worth it? Is it what God would really want? Does withdrawing from him stand ANY chance of encouraging him to return to the fold? Absolutely not. In fact, I’ve long questioned the CoC doctrine of withdrawal. I’m not sure the biblical precedent exists in the way you apply it. And even if it does, surely you find yourself questioning its effectiveness right now. Though I feel certain you won’t concede your stance, I hope you will eventually reconsider shunning your son and his family.

    Graham

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  19. Thanks Graham.

    Dad, I hope I didn’t offend you in any way — I’m sorry if I did. I know this situation is difficult, and I know we’re both just doing what we think is right. Love you too.

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  20. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the question. I think it would be best to answer this in a new thread, so I’ll make a new post about it. Should have it up today or tomorrow.

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  21. Pingback: Finding Truth
  22. I’m a little confused–unless simply because the prognostication was given in The Bible we must assume it was correct. But was the Christian prediction of the Year 2000 correct? Like the Mayan predictions, including December 21 of this year, ancient Vedic predictions and prophecies, Michael Nostradamus, etc., some are so vague it’s easy to ascribe any meaning you want, and some are just flat wrong. Why do we worry so much about some of these silly things?

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