CMI’s upcoming Egypt now closed for booking!

Erin Hughes chats with CMI-US CEO, Gary Bates on his return from a research trip to Egypt.

Photo: Gary Batesgary-bates-and-scott-gillis-red-pyramid-at-dashur-egypt
CMI’s Gary Bates and Scott Gillis at the Red Pyramid at Dashur, Egypt.
Photo: Gary Batescliming-through-the-90-metre-long-tunnel-in-the-bent-pyramid-at-dashur
Climbing through the 90 metre long tunnel in the Bent Pyramid at Dashur.
Photo: Gary Batesscott-in-front-of-a-massive-stature-of-rameses-ii-inside-his-temple-at-abu-simbel
Scott Gillis standing in front of a massive statue of Rameses II inside his temple at Abu Simbel.
Photo: Gary Batesboy-king-Tutankhamun
Gary Bates looking at images of the boy king Tutankhamun presenting offerings to the god Amun, inside Tut’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor.

Exciting news!

Conducting tours of Egypt was a first for CMI but it created a lot of excitement among CMI supporters. It comprised three tours led by CMI-US CEO, Gary Bates, with assistance from CMI’s Egyptologist Gavin Cox, and geneticist Dr Robert Carter (details available at creation.com/egypt2022). Due to the pandemic we had to defer them until travel restrictions were lifted and we could all travel safely, but there is great news! Egypt is now open for business and Gary Bates and Scott Gillis have just returned from a trial run of our proposed itinerary to check on conditions at the places we will be visiting. We saw the excitement they returned with, which makes it so evident for our supporters that these Egypt tours are sure to be a trip of a lifetime. Click the video below to hear what Gary had to say about his recent trip to Egypt.

Why would CMI be interested in bringing supporters from all over the world to travel with us in Egypt? I took the opportunity to sit down with Gary Bates and get his thoughts about the tour.

EH: How will a trip to Egypt impact people’s understanding of the Bible?

GB: Egypt is hugely important when we’re thinking about the early post-Flood history of the Bible. The nation is mentioned over 290 times in the first 5 books of the Bible, known collectively as the Torah or Pentateuch. It is the birthplace of the nation of Israel, through the events of the Exodus.

The Giza pyramid complex. Pyramids were actually giant tombs of the pharaohs.

The Egyptians were obsessed with death and the afterlife, and they made huge monuments to prepare them for the ‘next world’ and they adorned these monuments with their past and hopefully their future stories. So, we have a lot more artifacts than most other ancient people groups. Everyone knows about the pyramids, but some of the other buildings are simply massive in scale, especially when you consider that they were carved with simple hand tools out of solid rock. And archaeologists reckon that only 30% of Egyptian history has been uncovered, and a lot of it still lies under the sand. Funds willing, what might be exposed in years to come?

Photo: Gary Bateshypostyle-hall-at-Karnak-Luxor
Some of the massive columns in the hypostyle hall at Karnak, Luxor
Photo: Gary Batesgary-climbing-2-3-million-blocks-that-make-up-the-great-khufus-pyramid-giza
Gary Bates climbing on some of the 2.3 million blocks that make up the ‘great’ (Khufu’s) pyramid at Giza.

Reconciling Egyptian dates with the Bible?

However, when we try to fit Egypt in the Bible’s history of the world, a lot of people see these as problems for the Bible’s accuracy. As a ministry we often get asked, if the Flood was in 2450 BC, did the pyramids survive the Flood, seeing as conventional dating puts their construction at around c.2,650 BC. Even many respected evangelical scholars come to differing views on some of these questions, particularly when it comes to determining the identity of the pharaohs in Joseph’s day and the pharaoh of the Exodus.

Some years ago, I studied to try to understand this issue for myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel across the world doing ministry with CMI, and after an African ministry tour my wife Fran and I took a trip to Egypt. And to this day it goes down as one of the most unforgettable experiences we’ve had and, of course, I’ve returned there since. I wrote a comprehensive article trying to explain how all this might fit in a biblical worldview because I was sick and tired of hearing the secular guides provide dates on things that conflicted with biblical dates. But in fairness too, the issue is so complicated that you really find you can’t be dogmatic with some of the answers. In fact, what I learned is that we need to be careful with anyone who says “I’ve solved it all!”

EH: What sets CMI’s Egypt tour apart from a secular tour company?

GB: Of course, when you take an Egypt tour from a secular company, the sites are being presented to you outside biblical history, and often in a way that contradicts it. I’ve heard some say that the Hebrews were never in Egypt, for example. Being by yourself attempting to reconcile this is difficult, but on these trips, Gavin Cox, Robert Carter and I, as tour leaders, will be there to frame these amazing sites within biblical history, and even more importantly, to help you think through these issues for yourself and present the different possible options. For example, The Ptolemaic Temples like the one at Kom Ombo were built during the intertestamental period (between the Old and New Testaments). We believe that many of the events in this period were referred to in the prophecies of Daniel 11 and the breakup of Alexander the Great’s kingdom after his death.

The Ptolemaic Temple of Kom Ombo.

Gavin Cox has a Master’s in Egyptology, so he qualifies as an expert in this area. And we’ll be presenting multiple talks before dinner in the evenings to help people understand the different options around things like the Pharaohs of Joseph’s and Moses’s day. This is obviously important to us because people respect CMI’s information and our commitment to intellectual integrity and Scripture. So, we won’t be playing fast and loose or being dogmatic about things where there just isn’t enough evidence to come down on a particular conclusion. BTW we’ve also got some games and quizzes to play after dinner so we can have some great fellowship time with each other, and to decompress after our busy days.

Pre or post Flood?

commons.wikimedia.org, Wilhelmsfossilized-oysters
Nummulites and fossilized oysters. Qarara, Egypt.

When I mentioned about people asking if the pyramids were built before the Flood, of course, the pyramids could not have survived the Flood. But did you know if you look at the limestone blocks that make up the pyramids, you can see fossils of shellfish and other marine life? So, we would say that not only were the pyramids post-Flood, but that they exist because of the Flood. This is because they were built with limestone—a sedimentary rock that was formed in water. In fact, about 80% of the limestone is made up of a fossilized, coin-shaped marine organisms called nummulites.

Another issue is that a lot of people say there is no evidence for the Hebrew nation ever being enslaved in Egypt. But if you understand ancient Egyptian culture, that’s not surprising. They are known for embellishing accounts of their kings’ accomplishments for example. The pharaohs were living embodiment of their gods. You just wouldn’t expect to find Hebrew slaves memorialized on dedicated Egyptian monuments, especially with the plagues God unleashed on Egypt, humiliating the Egyptian gods and their Pharaoh. It would be like me putting a mention of Richard Dawkins on my headstone when I’m gone.


But this does not mean that Egypt is completely silent. There are various events that we can look at that give us a synchrony with biblical events. But being a Bible-first ministry, there are lots of clues in Scripture that indicate who might be some of the major characters of Egyptian history that interacted with the Hebrews when they were there.

If people want to know more, the four main CMI guides on the trip worked together to produce a booklet with a lot of this information.

What we are seeking to do in this tour is addressing this key issue of biblical history front and center to try and find the solutions about ancient Egypt and the Bible.

EH: What are some of your favorite sites that the tour will be visiting?

We’ll be visiting too many amazing places to mention them all. They are listed on our the destinations page of our Egypt website, but some of the Egyptian building projects are simply amazing. In the Valley of the Kings, there are over 60 tombs that were cut into solid rock with copper and bronze hand chisels. Then the walls were smoothed and plastered and painted. One tomb in particular extends 650 feet underground. Imagine the dust. There was no natural light—just oil candles. The amount of work required was staggering and the conditions must have been abysmal.

Then there’s the Temple of Rameses II south of Aswan on lake Nasser at Abu Simbel. This temple was cut into the side of a limestone mountain. Outside there are four massive, seated statues of Rameses, and inside there are massive columns, hallways, and rooms, all excavated out of a mountain, with scenes depicting Rameses’ life history. Next door is a similar one dedicated to his wife Nefertari. Now, of course, we know much of the story he was projecting was exaggerated. And this is one of the problems we have with Egyptian history; they were masters of disinformation, so we have to view some of what they left us with suspicion.

Just cruising!

Memphis ToursEgypt-tour-boat
The actual ship that will accommodate CMI guests as they cruise down the Nile.

But most of all, I think people will really enjoy cruising down the Nile, which is a really great experience. The boat we have hired holds about 100 people, and for two of the trips, we have the whole ship to ourselves—just for CMI supporters! We want to now fill this first Khufu tour also.

Shadufs like this have been used for thousands of years in Egypt.

They served fantastic, fresh food, and going down the Nile it was like cruising back in time. You can see the working folks’ tombs cut into the sides of the bank. You can see boys riding donkeys bareback and the fields, and much of it is still subsistence farming. For example, 2500 years ago, Herodotus described lifting machines, most likely based upon the shaduf. It’s a cantilevered system that has a bucket on one end and a counterweight on the other end. It’s used to lift water out of the Nile and empties into a little irrigation canal, and they still use that today to water their crops.

EH: Let’s talk more about the timing issue, because this is something that a lot of people wonder about that’s right at the heart of CMI’s mission.

We definitely disagree with mainstream scholars regarding timing. I actually wrote an article, Egyptian Chronology: framing the issues. And if you read that article, you will see some quotes from even some of the best-known mainstream Egyptologists who all agree that Egyptian chronology is in need of serious revision.

The reason why is because the standard chronology came from an Egyptian priest named Manetho who wrote The History of Egypt in the third century BC. We have no original copies left. The information comes from copies of copies, and these copies also disagree with each other vastly. So, although there is information about the pharaohs and how long they ruled (but note, not the actual dates), even secular scholars recognize that Manetho was demonstrably wrong, even about the most recent periods we know the most about, and which he was closest to. Even his contemporaries of the day criticized him for deliberately attempting to inflate the chronology in several ways. Think about this stunning fact. Manetho lived closer to the moon landings than he did the to the earliest parts of Egyptian history that he was attempting to chronicle. But his chronology is still the main structure used today, simply because it is the only ancient source that tries to provide a framework for everything we look at. I don’t know of any other area in archaeology that is given such a framework before one even starts digging. For years, this was considered the best work on Egyptian chronology, and it still has enormous influence.

But as Christians, we have a chronology, too, that comes from Scripture. We’ve written an article about how the Bible teaches 6,000 years, and about how much our conclusions can differ from that depending on whether you believe in a long or short sojourn (the Hebrew occupation in Egypt), or if you want to use the Septuagint text to have a few extra hundred years to solve a few of the issues.

One important thing to know is that the New Kingdom, which started with the 18th dynasty, around the 1500s BC, is very well-attested to because it is the most recent and the wealthiest of all periods. And we can be fairly confident about those dates within a few tens of years perhaps. We believe the pharaoh of the Exodus would have been a New Kingdom Pharaoh. I have a favourite contender but I’m not letting on just yet. People will have to come on the trip where I’ll do a presentation on this topic… haha.

EH: Any closing thoughts about the trip?

We’re putting together a tour with top class ship and accommodations. All meals, transport (including domestic flights within Egypt), entry fees and local tour guides are included, all for the one price, which is an incredible value due to the relative weakness of the Egyptian currency. Western companies were almost double the price. We’ve worked really hard with the local crew to put together an incredible tour that will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who choose to come with us.

But even more than seeing all the sights, people who come on this trip will have the chance to fellowship with like-minded Christian creationists from our sister offices around the world, and even CMI staff who are leading the tours. There will be a lot for us to talk about and discuss, and we anticipate this being one of the more special aspects of the trip, particularly as we cruise down the Nile and break bread together.

Covid has been an interruption, and things continue to change in this regard. But most of the world is now open for travel albeit a few restrictions and requirements needed. The FAQ section of our Egypt website is always updated with the latest requirements by the Egyptian government.

This tour is obviously something we’ve been working on for a while. But coming or not, I would encourage folks to grab our terrific booklet about the sights of Egypt and how to reconcile it all with biblical history. Called Tour Egypt, both it and the tours are firsts for CMI. I’ve been in ministry a long time, but I am very excited for the folks who’ll be coming. I can’t wait to serve them in this way.

Published: 8 February 2022

Helpful Resources

Tour Egypt
by Gary Bates, Robert Carter, Gavin Cox, Keaton Halley
US $12.00
Soft Cover
Evidence for the Bible, MB Edition
by Clive Anderson and Brian Edwards
US $25.00
Hard Cover