“He [Whitefield] … preach’d one evening from the top of the Court-house steps, which are in the middle of Market-street, … I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, … I found his voice distinct till I came near Front-street… Imagining then a semi-circle, … fill’d with auditors, to each of whom I allow’d two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand. This reconcil’d me to the newspaper accounts of his having preach’d to twenty-five thousand people … and to the antient histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.”
Benjamin Franklin’s observations of George Whitfield’s preaching were the scientific measurements of a single observer. Though a single observer, even a careful one like Benjamin Franklin, might be more prone to error than a large number of observers, Franklin’s measurements were still scientific. Franklin used a step-by-step process of investigation. He physically walked off the distance to determine the range of Whitfield’s voice. Next he compared his observation with previous witnesses of Whitfield’s audiences and range. Finally he adds similar established historic accounts of commanders addressing troops (adding that he previously doubted their truth).
In the following paragraph the Bible presents step-by step scientific proofs of the accuracy of the historical event of the Exodus. Three hundred years after the event Jephthah confirms its occurrence (Judges 11:26). At the time of the beginning of Solomon’s temple construction the official historical record of the event (I Kings 6:1) confirms that 480 years have passed. If someone falsely claims that the Biblical record of the Exodus is not scientific, that is an issue of his unbelief, not an issue of science.
In the book of Judges, part of Jephthah’s speech to the Ammonites includes an approximate date for the Exodus. …”Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?” (Judges 11:26, KJV) By the time of Solomon, the date of the Exodus was the foundational date for the kingdom. And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD. (I Kings 6:1, KJV)
Though the comparison of modern calendars with ancient calendars is very difficult and it is easy to be a few years off, I Kings 6:1 gives a precise date to the Exodus. Anyone who understands that Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in 966 BC of our Gregorian calendar knows that the Exodus took place in 1446 BC according to our Gregorian calendar. If you are interested in understanding these discrepancies, please see the Section Two Appendix on Calendars. Anyone who uses a slightly different date, such as 1444 BC or 1447 BC is not disagreeing about the date of the Exodus. He is simply disagreeing about the proper method of scientifically reconciling ancient calendars to our modern Gregorian calendar. Clearly this documentation of the Exodus is scientific history, actual events recorded and verified by scientific methods.
4 thoughts on “The Scientific Method According to Ben Franklin: George Whitefield’s Preaching and the Exodus”
Paul, thank you very much for your comment. First, all scientists see what they are working on “in their imagination,” so I am not certain I understand your point. It was almost a decade after Einstein published his general theory of relativity before there was any experimental data to verify it. Jephthah’s statement that the Israelites had lived in the Arnon Gorge for 300 years is what scientific history calls a primary reference or primary source.It is verified by the dating of the building Solomon’s temple by the Exodus. There are no primary documents to challenge these dates scientifically. If you chose to reject these primary references, then the study of history leaves the realm of science and becomes nothing but conjecture.
Paul, if you can take the time to read our latest post, http://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/scientific-history/ you should find the answer to your question.
I am a little confused. Ben Franklin did his studies at an event he was personally at to make his single observer observations. Jephthah restates an event that is in the oral history that he could not possibly have been around to possibly see, except in his imagination. How is this scientific? Thank you.