Josh McDowell on glottogony

Joslin "Josh" McDowell, a Christian ...
Josh McDowell. Image via Wikipedia

In a recent post, I mentioned that I had reread Josh McDowell’s “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict.” I was flipping through some of my notes, and I wanted to give an example of just how ridiculous McDowell’s research is.

Let me mention that when I was in middle school, I spent many hours watching a video series McDowell sold to churches. I imagine it was something my youth pastor showed us to give himself a little vacation from coming up with “original” material.

This is all to say that my church leaders thought highly enough of McDowell’s academic prowess to use his material in our church.

The Reliability of the Old Testament

In the chapter titled, “Is the Old Testament Historically Reliable,” McDowell explains that, yes, there were creation myths of Babylonia and Sumeria that seem very similar to the biblical story. Only the biblical story is more accurate than those other stories. This ideology falls in line with the Christian idea that the devil tried to confuse believers by having similar creation myths that predate the bible by 1000s of years.

McDowell discredits the gods in those other myths, because they are “evil” and freakishly different than the god of the bible. You know, the different gods … the weird ones … the foreign ones … they are bunk. The regular, run-of-the-mill god in the bible is the much more believable god. He created the heavens and the earth in six days (Genesis 1). He advised his followers to throw babies against rocks to kill them (Psalm 137), and the same one who forced his followers to rape women (Judges 21: 11-12) or rip open the pregnant ones (Hosea 13:16) in villages that they pillaged.

That’s not freakish at all.

Absurdity and The Global Flood

McDowell admits that other flood stories from Sumeria and Babylonia existed before the biblical one, but he credits the bible with the most accurate version. He gives no real rationale for this attribution except for his story is better than theirs. He explains that the biblical account of the flood “is more realistic and less mythological than other ancient versions indicating its authenticity.”

Why is the biblical version of creation more genuine than other creation stories?

McDowell answers:

The other versions contain elaborations indicating corruption. Only in Genesis is the year of the flood given, as well as dates for the chronology relative to Noah’s life. In fact, Genesis reads almost like a diary or ship’s log of the events. The cubical Babylonian ship could not have saved anyone. The raging waters would have constantly turned it on every side. However, the biblical ark is rectangular – long, wide, and low – so that it would ride the rough seas well. The length of the rainfall in the pagan accounts (seven days) is not enough time for the devastation they describe. The waters would have to rise at least above most mountains, to a height of above seventeen thousand feet, and it is more reasonable to assume a longer rainfall to do this. The Babylonian idea that all the flood waters subsided in one day is equally absurd.

My purpose for this post was to discuss glottongony (the origin of languages), so I don’t want to go into much detail about the flood. If you want to just hear about glottongony, skip to the next section. But just to cover my bases, here is why McDowell is a complete buffoon in regards to historically proving a global flood:

  • Contrary to the statement above, the date for the flood is not given in the bible. That is an outright lie. And just like the academic credibility of Dr. Carl Werner, McDowell doesn’t cite a reference for the exact place in the bible we should look for such a date. Should Moses really have written the account, he would have only heard of it in oral stories. And oral stories are known to be embellished.
  • The chronology of Noah’s life has absolutely no scientific merit. There is no indication that any man lived to be 500 — as the bible says of Noah. The bible says that Adam lived to be 930. Methusulah lived to be 969. McDowell has the audacity to say that this account in the bible doesn’t embellish anything. But there is no evidence that men lived to such old ages at any time at any point in history. Historical accuracy is not McDowell’s goal.
  • There is no archeological evidence that a rectangular boat like Noah’s ever existed. Surely it would have been modeled after an existing successful floating vessel.
  • The length of the rain (40 days) would have covered 17,000 ft? Really? Where is all that water now? Is it hiding in the fresh waters of Lake Michigan? Did all that water magically disappear? There is absolutely no evidence for a global flood. Yes, there are flood stories in many cultures, but come on, that doesn’t prove a global flood.
  • The Babylonian account is absurd? Dear Joshy boy, your standards are low for recognizing absurdity.
  • The greatest absurd deception is the idea that all the animals on all the earth travelled to one spot on earth in time for the flood, entered the ark on their own free will, some creationists think dinosaurs were in that group, and that they lived together for 40 days on a boat much too small to support that number of animals. So all the food that carnivores and herbivores required, all the room necessary for them to shit and piss, all that was possible on the comedy factory known as Noah’s Ark.

Glottongony, Gullibility, The Tower of Babel and You.

If you wanted to discredit Josh McDowell’s entire 800-page book, you could read the first two sentences of this section, put the book down, clap your hands together as if they’re dusty and say, “Complete rubbish.”

McDowell writes:

There is now considerable evidence that the world did indeed have a single language at one time.

Where did McDowell hear such a preposterous idea that there is evidence of one single language at one time? He says, “Sumerian literature alludes to this fact several times.”

Ta-dah! Complete rubbish!

You have to give this guy credit. Millions of Christians stand by this man’s work as the source for an intelligent view about protestant Christianity. He did something right.

Let me get this straight, the Sumerians are discreditable idiots when it comes to creation myths and flood stories. But when it comes to using Sumerian literature to ascertain one world language, their literature is gold.

I take it back. At the end of the section a few paragraphs later, McDowell credits a few guys with idea of one language at one time. He mentions them, but gives us very little information about them or what they wrote. They are Alfredo Trombetti, Max Mueller [sic] and Otto Jespersen, three linguists from the early 1900s who aren’t recognized highly for their one-language concepts.

To my knowledge, none of these men are recognized for their ideas in glottonogony. McDowell is dropping their names for superficial credibility like a Hollywood starlet at a party.

En Conclusion

Like a typical apologist, Josh McDowell doesn’t care if he tells the truth. He wants you to believe what he already believes. He’s interested in truth on a relative scale. Sure the Sumerians back him up on one language. But they don’t back him up on creation and floods, so in those regards, they are wrong.

These “truths” are coming from a man who has an entire chapter dedicated to the evils of moral relativism. There’s not much more relativistic than willfully deceiving readers with “truths” that are flip-floppy and unverifiable.

Do you realize how much money Josh McDowell made on his books and video series?* And for scholarship that would embarrass a 5th grader? Look at that guy in the photo above.

I don’t care if you don’t believe me. I want you to check into what I’m talking about. I want you to be skeptical. If you believe what I say, you’re a moron. By all means, look this stuff up. In this age where the Internet is at your fingertips, get out there and find information.

You know what would be tempting? I should renege on atheism. I should sit down and write a book and produce a video series. I have all the necessary elements at my finger tips. There is much money to be made in the land of the Yeshua Fog™.


Should I do such a thing, don’t be surprised if this post gets deleted.




*I must redirect you to the comments below. Tom Gilson, who worked with Josh McDowell internally, explained that I was incorrect regarding the income that Josh McDowell makes from the book. McDowell doesn’t make much money from it at all. I am curious to know what the book revenue means for his organization, though, which Gilson alluded to, but didn’t go into detail.

Gilson also says that this is a controversial post. I’m not sure how pointing out how poorly argued and researched this book is qualifies as controversial. Surely given the facts of basic science, no one would believe the rubbish McDowell writes, right? Controversy implies that somehow McDowell is accurate and it would be worth accepting what he writes as true.

9 thoughts on “Josh McDowell on glottogony

  1. In doing my Wednesday Night Bible Studies, Josh McD was partially my inspiration. I thought, what did he see in this? Well, now that I’m re-reading the Bible, I think he saw dollar signs. Now I want to read his “More than a Carpenter” where he talks about it, because frankly, I don’t buy that “the power of God” was evident in the Bible. The Bible is a jumbled mess.

    1. WordPress has this new feature that gives “related articles”. I noticed one for you came up. I didn’t have a chance to read it before I linked to it, but I thought it was cool that your name came up.

      I love the community of non-believers that I know.

      Keep up the good work!

  2. Good to see two of my favorite bloggers talking in one thread. Great post Jeremy, I really appreciate the insight into McDowell’s works. I have never read his books, and don’t really plan to. I have heard some good things about WLC though, do you have any suggestions for Christian apologetics books that won’t fry my brain?

    1. Who or what is a WLC?

      Some apologetics that won’t fry your brain? I’ve read Rob Bell and Shane Claiborne, and they didn’t kill me.

      The old schoolers, people like my Uncle Herm, hate Rob Bell. He’s not a “real” Christian. He’s behind a pretty strong movement though.

      And by the way, I wanted to say that the reason god sent the flood was because horny angels were having sex with mortal women because they’d grown so beautiful. These evils were too gross for god to imagine so he killed all of humanity … instead of remedying the universe of horny angels.

      I take it these horny angels still exist and descend to Earth to have sex with hot women. I mean, god obviously kept the angels around. He only destroyed humanity. Once humanity repopulated itself, sexy women came with it, did it not?

      The bible is the source for more questions than answers.

  3. William Lane Craig.
    I have heard that he makes a more reasonable argument than most. I find it hard to believe though.
    The church I attended was not big on apologetics, they believed that too many of them inferred too much and departed from scripture. I want to get into a bit of modern apologetics and ID/anti-evolutionary literature, just to see how those people can think like that.
    I agree that the bible was confusing to me and to hear many people wiggle their way out of my objections only serves to solidify my atheism….

  4. Ahh, William Lane Craig. He’s out of Rob Bell’s league by a huge margin.

    I’m not a fan, personally. It’s not just because he’s a believer and I’m not. It’s just that when other people are gawking at how he’s the smartest guy in the room, I can’t help but think otherwise.

    But I know Luke over at Common Sense Atheism respects him quite a bit. I’m not saying this to be a smart ass, but it makes me feel dumb that I don’t get that he’s smart.

    I don’t know if that makes sense.

  5. Just to address a single point here: actually, I do know how much money Josh makes on his books and videos: very, very little. He doesn’t make an outrageous amount of money, and he doesn’t earn it from that source.

    As an HR director and later a member of the auditing team in the organization for which he works, I had direct access to his salary information as recently as last year. The mission organization of which he and I are both a part has a firm commitment to a moderate salary and lifestyle, which he lives out both at home and while traveling. The last time I met him on the road, he and his team members were at a mid-range business travelers’ hotel. I forget which one, but it was something like Courtyard Marriott or Comfort Suites.

    Not only that, but little to none of his salary comes from his book sales or his speaking fees. Certainly not more than one-quarter of it, but probably much less. The rest of his (moderate) salary—or possibly all of it, I’m not looking up details this morning—comes by way of donations from persons who want to support his work. He uses his book sales and speaking fees to help support office and ministry expenses, which would include salaries for his small team of staff.

    I can assure you he is not in this for the money.

    I don’t have time to interact with the rest of your tendentious post here, but on this point I have direct information to correct your misleading rhetorical question.

    1. Tom,

      Thank you for responding and correcting the inaccuracies above regarding McDowell’s income from this book. I will addend the original text to refer to your response.

      I am curious, though. Maybe you can shed some light on the following questions since you have such a close connection with McDowell:

      • How much money does Josh McDowell make a year?
      • How much does his organization bring in per year?
      • How many people does he employ?
      • What are their average salaries?
      • How much in charitable donations does McDowell’s organization send out per year?

      I’m assuming you’re a Christian, and as a Christian you must give more than what anyone asks of you. Any extra information you can shed on the finances of McDowell’s organization, I would be much obliged.

      Happy New year,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s