Breaking News: New Evidence Reveals Gospels were Written During Jesus’ Lifetime!

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Jerusalem, Preuters News 

Leading evangelical Christian scholars claim to have recently discovered fragments of first century documents in caves outside Jerusalem which indicate that all four canonical gospels were written during the lifetime of Jesus, not decades after his death as liberal and god-hating atheist/agnostic scholars suggest.  These Christian scholars claim to even have evidence that Jesus dictated the entire Gospel of John to the beloved disciple while hanging on the cross!

Evangelical Christians state that they have always known that the “experts” were wrong on the dating of the Gospels due to the testimony of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, but they now have hard evidence to prove it!

When this reporter requested to see the evidence, evangelical scholars demurred, stating that they would release the evidence when it has been fully authenticated, possibly in ten to twenty years.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

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Best Evidence Against the Divine Inspiration of the New Testament

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Christians believe that the 27 books of the New Testament are the inspired Word of God based on very little evidence.  If asked, they will pull out a short passage from I Timothy, which they believe to have been written by the apostle Paul, which is very similar to a passage in the Gospel of Luke.  They see this as evidence that Paul was quoting the Gospels as inspired Scripture.  They then point to a passage in II Peter, which they believe to have been written by the apostle Peter, in which the author infers that Paul’s writings are divinely inspired.  So the logic is this:  Peter, the chief disciple of Jesus, confirmed the divine inspiration of the writings of Paul, and Paul confirmed the divine inspiration of the Gospels.  All based on two brief passages in I Timothy and II Peter!

The problem for this argument, however, is that almost all scholars believe that II Peter is a forgery; it was not written by Peter.  And, scholars are divided on the authorship of I Timothy.  Many do not believe that this book was written by Paul.

Pretty flimsy evidence, isn’t it?

But in desperation, Christians will then resort to this claim:  Very early in the history of Christianity the overwhelming majority of Christians came to agree on the canon of the New Testament.  This is a sign of the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The problem with this claim is that disputes about which books were and which books were not “inspired” persisted for several hundred years after the death of Jesus.  In fact, the epistle of II Peter was not universally accepted as part of the canon until the time of St. Jerome!

Christians will then make this desperate claim:  “But the Gospels, which contain the central truths of Christianity, were recognized by all Christians as Scripture very early in time, probably even during the life of Paul and Peter who were executed in the 60’s!”  What evidence is there for this claim other than the vague reference in I Timothy, a book whose authorship is disputed?  Answer:  statements by the early Church Fathers.  But how good a judge of divine inspiration were the early Church Fathers?  Had God given the early Church Fathers special insight into the divine status of all the “gospels” and epistles floating around the Roman Empire in the first two centuries of the Common Era?  For an answer to that question, let’s look at the position of the early Church Fathers on the divine status of the books of the Old Testament, specifically, the Apocrypha (included as part of the Old Testament in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, written a few hundred years before Jesus).

F. F. Bruce uses extensive quotes from the early church fathers in both chapters five and six of his book The Canon of Scripture (InterVarsity Press, 1988). Chapter five includes church fathers in the east (Justin Martyr, Melito of Sardis, Origen and Athanasius, etc), while chapter six looks at the Latin west (Tertullian, Jerome and Augustine). The record is mixed; some accepted the apocryphal books with qualifications, others were more critical. Few accept them outright.  —Source

So why should we trust the judgment of the Early Church Fathers regarding the inspiration of the books of the New Testament when these same early Church Fathers were wrong about the divine inspiration of books in the Old Testament? No modern Protestant Bible includes the books of the Apocrypha.  Martin Luther, not God, decided in the sixteenth century that these books were not inspired and should not be included in the (Protestant) Bible.

And yet, modern Christians, based on the above very weak evidence, insist that we accept the 27 books of the New Testament as the inspired words of God the Creator to push their first century moral standards upon the rest of us!  In addition, they promote the divine inspiration of these 27 books to preach a method of  “eternal salvation” which is radically different from the method taught in the Old Testament.

Isn’t it obvious…

Christianity is truly a house of cards!

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Yes, Virginia, Demons are Real

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Medieval art depicting demonic activity

 “In the medieval era the average citizen was on the look out for signs of demonic possession or demonic signs. If a farmer’s crops failed he might accuse his neighbor of sending demons into his fields at night. If a woman gave birth to a stillborn baby she might be accused of consorting with demons. Even dogs and cats might be accused of demonic possession.  The penalty for consorting with demons was generally death by fire.  According to the Bible, 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” “

 

John, conservative Christian:   Gary, for contemporary evidence of demonic activity and what the Christian response should look like, I suggest you read Deliverance from Evil Spirits – A Practical Guide by Francis McNutt. It is the best book I have found on the subject and I hope you find it as enlightening as I did.

 

Gary:  Hi John. If I asked you to read a book regarding contemporary evidence for the existence of broom-riding witches would you read it? Would you even consider the possibility that such a book might be “enlightening”?

I doubt it.

Why? Because the claim that broom-riding witches exist is silly. And so is the claim that invisible little devils exist which inhabit and control the bodies and minds of human beings. When a respected modern, national scientific society publishes a peer-reviewed article which concludes that demon possession is real, you will have my full attention. But until that time, I suggest that you trust science and reason, John, not ancient, scientifically-ignorant holy books.

Do you know why Jesus believed that the Gerasene man was possessed by a demon, John? Answer: Because Jesus was just as superstitious and ignorant about seizure disorders and mental illness as was everyone else in the first century. Science hadn’t yet informed humanity of the etiologies of seizure disorders and mental illness. Jesus was dealing with the best information available at the time. Jesus may have sincerely believed in demon possession, but he was sincerely mistaken.

Let’s appreciate the literary beauty of these ancient tales but let us grieve for the massive human suffering that has occurred due to the ignorant superstitions of ancient cultures and their religions.

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A consorter of demons meets her justice

 

 

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The Anti-Semitism of Early Christianity

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Justin Martyr

 

As we have seen, near the end of the first century, the final canonical Gospel to be written, [Gospel ofJohn, speaks of Jesus’ mortal enemies as “the Jews” (not some of the Jews, but “the” Jews) and declares they are not the children of God but the “children of the Devil.” For this Gospel, Jesus a fulfillment of all that was predicted in Scripture, and “the Jews” can’t see it.   With hardened hearts they not only reject his message that he has come to bring salvation to the world, they kill him for it.  In John, even more than the other Gospels, “the Jews” are responsible for Jesus’ execution.  Jews, in effect, are Christ-killers.

From about forty years later (ca. 130 CE) comes the Epistle of Barnabas, a book that very nearly came to be included in the New Testament (it was considered Scripture by some early Christians, up to the fourth century). The ancient author of the book argues at length that Jews are a recalcitrant people who have never understood the Scriptures God gave them, thinking, in error, that God meant for the laws of Moses to be followed literally.  For this author the Old Testament is not Jewish but Christian, and the Jews never have been the people of God since the time they broke God’s covenant, immediately upon receiving it from Moses.  Some of the book’s most intriguing passages provide the true “spiritual” interpretations of the laws of Moses, as the author argues they were never meant to be taken literally.  The proscription against pork is actually an injunction not to behave like pigs who grunt (that is pray) only when hungry (i.e. in need);  Resting on Sabbath (the seventh day) indicates prophetically that the world will last 6000 years from creation – since it took six days, and “with the Lord a day is as a thousand years”—but that the “seventh” day of rest (= millennium) is soon to appear.  And the requirement for circumcision is actually a hidden reference to the “cross of Christ.”   These interpretations, the author avers, are open to anyone with eyes to see the truth – but not to Jews who foolishly assume that God forbids pork, requires people not to work one day a week, and orders Jews to cut the foreskins of their infant boys.

About twenty years later come the writings of Justin of Rome, including a book-length public debate allegedly held with an otherwise unknown rabbi Trypho, over the validity of the Christian interpretations of the Jewish Bible. Here for the first time we see how both Jews and Christians understood key passages in completely contrary ways.  including, most famously, the one passage of Scripture (Isaiah 7:14) that Christians used to show the messiah had to be born of a virgin.  Trypho argues that the verse had nothing to do with either the messiah or a virgin (an argument that critical scholars accept today).  Still, since it is Justin himself who records the debate, his arguments (both here and everywhere) are meant to strike the reader as much more plausible.  Some of the arguments are far from benign: Justin claims, for example, that God gave Jews circumcision not to set them apart as his chosen people but to mark them off to governing authorities so they would know whom to persecute.

—New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman

 

 

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Comparing the Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus and Caesar’s Crossing of the Rubicon

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Gary:  Were you there to see this “resurrection”? Is there a video of the event?  Yet you believe it to be true, even if it defies science. Why?

Neil, conservative Christian:  Do you believe that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon and became the emperor of Rome? Were you there to see it? Was there a recording of the event? Of course not.  None the less we have good reasons to believe that it happened. So obviously this is a silly standard.

Gary:  There is a very big difference between these two claims.  I accept the claim that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon for one simple reason: Like most educated citizens of the industrialized western world, I accept overwhelming majority expert opinion on all issues about which I am not an expert. We trust overwhelming majority expert opinion because these experts use a tried and tested method of universal truth investigation: the scientific method.  The overwhelming majority of experts (historians, in this case) believe that there is sufficient evidence to believe that Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon was an historical event.

So again, why do you believe in the first century, science-defying, “resurrection” of Jesus of Nazareth?

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Copies of the Koran have Much Fewer Scribal Alterations than Copies of the Gospels

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New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, on his blog:

[O]ne question that I get frequently, especially from Muslim readers, is about the manuscript tradition of the Qur’an in relation to the New Testament.  Even though I’m not an expert on the manuscript tradition of the Qur’an (oh boy am I not an expert), I know enough to answer with some authority this particular question. The question is whether…the Qur’an is more reliable than the New Testament.   What the questioner almost always means by that is that the ancient manuscripts of the Qur’an tend to be amazingly similar to one another.  Virtually identical up and down the line.   Scribes kept it the way it was, without changing it.  That’s in contrast to the New Testament, where scribes changed it all the time, often in insignificant ways and sometimes in rather startling large ways, either by accident or on purpose.  Can we be far more certain that we know from early times exactly what form of the Qur’an was in circulation, based on current manuscripts, as opposed to the New Testament.  Yes.  Does that make it more reliable – i.e. that what it says is *true*?  Of course not.  It just means you have a better idea of what it originally said.

Sometimes an analogy helps.   With the invention of printing we have far, far, far better accuracy in determining what an author wrote.  There are still problems.  But they are minor by comparison with manuscript traditions.   When I publish a book, you know almost exactly what it was I wanted it to say, word for word.  Almost exactly (unless, e.g., the press published a misprint).  Does that mean what I wrote is true?

Put it in crass terms.   If you have five million copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and there are no differences among the wording of all five million copies, would you want to conclude therefore that [Mein Kampf] is more reliable, more “true,” than, say, the Qur’an or the New Testament?  Of course not, the fact that you may know what a person actually said doesn’t make it true.  You might think it was more true, but the fact that all the copies are the same has nothing to do with it.

I should point out that some [of] our Christian friends are guilty of this same untenable leap of logic as our Muslim friends.  I frequently hear Christian apologists argue that since we have so many more manuscripts of the New Testament than for any other book in antiquity, we can therefore trust it.  No, not true at all.  We may choose to trust it, just as we may choose to trust the Qur’an.  Or Cicero, or Homer, or Plato, or Aeschylus.  But choosing to trust what an author says is not related to the question of how many manuscripts we have of the book, or of how accurate those manuscripts are.

 

 

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Personal Experiences are Occasionally Valid Evidence for Supernatural Claims

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Who is YOUR guardian angel?

 

Conservative Christian:

[Let’s] examine what you mean by evidence. If you are like most of them, evidence is limited to what may be observed at least indirectly through the five senses and that by more than one person in different places and at different times. This is a minimum requirement for any kind of certainty.

For certainty in argument, proof must be based on deductive logic alone. The alternative inferential logic can give the most reasonable option but can never give the logical necessity required for formal proof. That leaves very little that we can prove in a formal sense. No one-off events, no personal experience, no history, no ethics, no love or other sentiment. To require this kind of proof in all daily living is impractical, even dysfunctional.  We do need certainty in scientific areas like engineering and medical research. To promote certainty, we look for outcomes that are both valid and reliable. They are reliable when the rule holds and we get the expected outcome every time. They are valid when the outcomes are what they say they are; they are true to their nature.

Note that the quality of truth applies only to validity. Conversely, some questions are in psychology tests purely because they give a reliable outcome and have no logical connection to that outcome. Statistics only.

So, your demand for ‘proof’ is inappropriate if it includes an assumption of reliability. One-off events and personal experiences are valid on occasion even without scientific reliability. The processes we use to establish such truth involve inferences at the conscious level and intuition sub-consciously. There are also cross-checks that give adequate reliability. We assume these processes in daily life. Without them, we tend to become dysfunctional and experience too many fractured relationships.

Gary:  All this may well be true.  My child’s love for me cannot be proven scientifically yet I believe it to be a fact.  I assume that my child loves me based on factors that cannot be measured, weighed, or examined under a microscope.   And when it comes to personal experiences, it is certainly possible that supernatural events occur in the lives of individuals, events which by definition defy the laws of science, thereby making it impossible to validate the veracity of these claims with the standard methods used by science.

However, atheists such as myself do not claim that it is impossible that events which cannot be measured and quantified by science do not occur.  They very well may.  What we state is that if one is going to make a universal truth claim; a claim that is true for every person, at all times, and in every location, then there must be verifiable evidence to support such a claim using universally accepted standards of evidence.  Subjective preferences and personal experiences are not sufficient for universal truth claims.

So, if you as a Christian wish to believe that a first century Jewish baby was born of a virgin mother, fathered by a (holy) ghost, and given supernatural powers that give him the ability to grant you life after death, that is your certainly your choice.  But don’t expect most modern, educated non-believers to accept these fantastical claims as fact without quality evidence!

The problem for Christians is:  quality evidence does not exist for your 2,000 year old supernatural tale.

 

 

 

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